I’m back with a few book recommendations, now that many of us have more time to read (and I’d love to receive some recommendations from you too, so we can share them here!).
Given our current situation, some of us may be drawn to books that seek to provide answers to the ever-present question: ‘Why does the Lord allow suffering in His world?’
Sharon Dirckx’ Why and C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Problem of Pain, are a couple of great choices for this topic. Ian, my husband, highly recommends Alister McGrath’s The Great Mystery and Ravi Zacharias’ Why Suffering (Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense). I’m sure many of you you can recommend some favourites, and I’m looking forward to read your recommendations.
In the Books for Life book club we are currently reading Laura Storey’s book When God Doesn’t Fix It – Lessons you never wanted to learn, truths you can’t live without, another informative and inspirational book looking at how we can turn our focus from “why me/why us?”-type questions to asking ourselves how we can glorify and honour the Lord in any situation we find ourselves in. The next book I have in mind for the book club is Liz Carter’s Catching Contentment. It’s on my bookshelf, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Has anybody read it? It was published in November 2018.
This year I’ve also been drawn to learning more about the attributes of the Lord, such as his omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, sovereignty, self-existence, and so on. If this is something you too would like to look into, one of the books I can highly recommend is Jen Wilkin’s None Like Him – it will make your heart sing! :-)
Tim Chester’s Enjoying God and Sam Storms’ One Thing are two treasure-filled books for those who would like to focus more on enjoying their close relationship with the Lord. As you may have guessed, the title of Sam Storms’ book is inspired by the deepest desire of our hearts, so beautifully expressed in Psalm 27:4:
“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that I will seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” (ESV version)
Still on this topic, I can also recommend a couple of my go-to books which never fail to lift my spirits and steer my heart towards the Lord. I keep these books constantly within reach, in case I want to re-read a paragraph or a few pages:
Greg Boyd’s Present Perfect – this book draws on the wisdom and experience of Brother Lawrence, JP. de Caussade and Frank Laubach, as well as on those of the author, a pastor and theologian, to help us engage with the Lord constantly during the day, and learn how to be increasingly aware of His presence during the day and be present to him as we serve others. It is written in a simple language, and the layout of the pages and attractive formatting of quotes from the three contemplatives help readability and recollection. My copy of the book is very colourful – full of highlighting and notes, just like an often-used and much-loved book ought to be! It’s one of the books I’ve been giving as a present to friends and family in the past year, it’s a true blessing.
Abbot Christopher Jamison’s Finding Happiness is another go-to book for me (remember him from The Monastery tv programme a few years ago?). Love, love, love this book!
A great joy for me in 2019 was to discover Brennan Manning’s books and learn about his (often troubled) walk with the Lord and his insight into the great mystery of the Lord’s love for us. Abba’s Child, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus and The Wisdom of Tenderness spoke to me in ways I never thought possible (by the way, did you know that the Lord doesn’t just love you, but also LIKES you? This could be a potential game changer, it could revitalise your walk with the Lord! :-)). I’m looking forward to reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Furious Longing of God, All is Grace, and a couple of his other books this year, the Lord willing. I know they will be a treat and a delight.
For anybody who is thinking of deepening their prayer life and spending more time in intercession I can highly recommend Mike Bickle’s Growing in Prayer. I read this book a few years ago, and keep going back to it every now and then, just like to Richard Foster’s Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. Robert Benson’s In Constant Prayer is another rare jewel. Timothy Keller’s Prayer has a lot to offer. Pete Greig’s How To Pray is absolutely brilliant, a few of us have studied it recently along his new Prayer Course videos and were greatly encouraged by it. I’m sure we all have our favourite books on prayer – why not share yours? E-mail me!
If you are like me, you probably find it important to keep your perspective clear. One book that helps in this respect is John Ortberg’s Eternity Is Now in Session. Amazing. So is Paul Tripp’s Forever. And… do you ever think of heaven? We did a study on heaven in TLC some time ago, it filled us with gratitude and joy. If you’d like to know more about what the Bible teaches about the present heaven and the new heaven and earth, I can recommend Randy Alcorn’s Heaven (there is a shorter version of the book too), and David Oliver’s recent (self-published) book All About Heaven. I ordered his book because I heard his interview on Premier Christian Radio, he wrote the book after the death of his son last year. Both books are truly inspirational, and they join up the dots revealed to us in the bible about what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him.
I’ll stop here. I recommended more books than usual because during these weeks of social distancing and isolation we may all have more time to read, and perhaps even those of us who are usually extremely busy will be able to spend more time with good books. Please keep your recommendations coming, let’s share our favourites with one another – email me at email@example.com, so I can post them in GodReads!
May the Lord guide us to the right books for us in the coming weeks.