The Spirit of the Disciplines: Dallas Willard

“Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried.”  GK Chesterton We are saved by grace alone, however, grace does not mean that sufficient strength and insight will be automatically infused into our being in the moment of need. Why do faithful church members sometimes not grow to maturity in Christ?  We have somehow encouraged a separation of our faith from everyday life. An individuals character is nothing but the pattern of habitual ways in which that person comports his body. What are the disciplines for the spiritual life?  They [...]

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: John Mark Comer

You become what you give your attention to. We are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Problem: The greatest enemy of our spiritual growth is busyness Comer meets with John Ortberg, a California-based pastor and writer, who shares a story about Dallas Williard, who was a philosopher and spiritual leader at USC: But behind the scenes [Ortberg] felt like he was getting sucked into the vortex of megachurch insanity.  So, he calls up Willard and asks, “What do I need to do to become the me I want to be?” There’s a long silence on [...]

Empty Promises: Pete Wilson

Summary: this book is about idolatry.  “The human heart is a perpetual factory of idols.”  John Calvin.  It’s not a matter of do we have idols, it’s what are they and how do we put God back in first place.  Which idol is God’s biggest rival in your life?  What we worship shapes who we are. The human heart is a perpetual factory of idols.  John Calvin Idolatry is when I look to something that does not have God’s power to give me what only God has the power and authority to give. Idolatry isn’t simply a sin.  It’s what [...]

Your God is Too Safe: Mark Buchanan

Surely the most needless tragedy in the body of Christ is bored Christians.  Following Jesus is the wildest ride on earth.  It’s time we took off the seat belts. I reckon this: the idol of the nice god, the safe god, has done more damage to biblical faith—more damage to people coming to faith—than the caricature of the tyrant god ever did.  The despotic god, howling his rage, wielding punishment with both ransacking destruction and surgical precision, at least inspired something in us.  We were afraid.  We wanted to appease.  But the Milqestoast-Pampering deity is nothing but a cosmic lackey, [...]

When the Game is over it all goes back into the box: John Ortberg

Wise people build their lives around what is eternal and squeeze in what is temporary.  Not the other way around. This is our predicament.  Over and over again, we lose sight of what is important and what isn’t. We all want God, Anne Lamott writes, but left to our own devices, we seek all the worldly things—possessions, money, looks, and power—because we think they will bring us fulfillment.  But this turns out to be a joke, because they are just props, and when we check out of this life, we have to give them all back to the great prop [...]

The Practice of the Presence of God: Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence developed the habit of continual conversation with God.  Whether at prayer or at work, it became his practice to focus his heart and mind on God, thanking Him, praising Him, and asking for His grace to do whatever had to be done.  And if he allowed himself to forget God, he confessed that to Him, drawing his thoughts back to God, like wayward children. We must always keep our eyes on God and His glory in all we do, say or undertake.  May the goal toward which we strive be to become perfect worshippers of God in this [...]

The Life You’ve Always Wanted: John Ortberg

It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner. In a sense, each of us chooses a “spiritual strategy” whether or not we are intentional about it.  We can choose it by default. Every once in a while do something good and make sure no one finds out about it. For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith.  It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. The strongest argument for Christianity [...]

The Ishbane Conspiracy: Randy Alcorn

Teenagers imagine they’re independent thinkers.  But all of their decisions are influenced by the group.  Once we get them on the river of peer influence, the current does the rest.  The adults aren’t any better.  They live their lives enslaved to others’ opinions and oblivious to the Enemy’s (God). I favor anything that makes them ignore the Enemy’s fundamental teaching: one life on earth, followed by one death, followed by one judgment and one eternal sentence. “Put on the whole armor of God” the Enemy commands them.  He provides it, but the good news is, they have to put it [...]

The Hole in our Gospel: Richard Stearns

The idea behind The Hole in Our Gospel is quite simple.  It’s basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God.  It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.  If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith—and mine—has a hole in it. James 2:14-18: What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and [...]

The Discipline of Grace: Jerry Bridges

“Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried.”  GK Chesterton We are saved by grace alone, however, grace does not mean that sufficient strength and insight will be automatically infused into our being in the moment of need. Why do faithful church members sometimes not grow to maturity in Christ?  We have somehow encouraged a separation of our faith from everyday life. An individuals character is nothing but the pattern of habitual ways in which that person comports his body. What are the disciplines for the spiritual life?  They [...]

The Screwtape Letters: CS Lewis

One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing. The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. What you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.  It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds; in reality our best work is done by keeping things out. Some are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to [...]

Sacred Pathways: Gary Thomas

We were created to love God and have a relationship with him. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless.  We have almost forgotten that God is a person, and, as such, the relationship can be cultivated as any personal relationship can.  A.W. Tozer Sacred Pathway—the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him.  Do we have just one pathway?  Not necessarily.  Most of us, however, will naturally have a certain predisposition for relating to God, which is our predominant spiritual temperament. The aim of this book is to help people understand the [...]

Rumors of Another World: Philip Yancey

The modern age has perfected means but confused ends.  Albert Einstein One has only the choice between God and idolatry.  There is no other possibility.  For the faculty of worship is in us and it is either directed somewhere into the world or into another. We should look at every human relationship as a tool for character formation. I could summarize my entire spiritual pilgrimage as an effort to move the operating center from myself to God. Jesus reserved his hardest words for the hidden sins of hypocrisy, pride, greed and legalism. Greed is the economic engine of our nation, [...]

Radical: David Platt

Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses.  His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that.  He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things.  And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction. I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.  We were settling for a Christianity that revolves [...]

Pursuit of Holiness: Jerry Bridges

Hebrews 12:14: Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy, without holiness no one will see God. God has called every Christian to a holy life.  There are no exceptions to this call. Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness”.  They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy.  But God has not called us to be like those around us.  He has called us to be like himself.  [...]

Prayer: Philip Yancey

Executive summary:  Philip Yancey deals with controversial topics of living a Christian life with brutal honesty.  Yancey’s niche is writing about subjects that are challenging and difficult to understand.  He puts in words, what many Christians are feeling but are afraid to articulate.  In this book Yancey communicates his thoughts on tough questions like; what is prayer? Does it change God’s mind or ours—or both?  If God knows everything, what’s the point of prayer?  Why do answers to prayer seem so inconsistent, even capricious?     Yancey stated that to him, prayer is the area where two themes of struggle [...]

Paul: Charles Swindoll

I know of no other person in the Bible, aside from Christ himself, who had a more profound influence on his world and ours than Paul. Grit—firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.  CS Lewis We confuse conversion with maturity.  We’d rather these new converts clean up their act straight away before we grant them our genuine seal of Christian approval.  How sad.  Somewhere [...]

Million Miles in a Thousand Years: Donald Miller

The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either. A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. What I’m saying is I think life is staggering and we’re just used to it. We all are like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we’re given—it’s just another sunset, just another rainstorm moving in over the mountain, just another child being born, just another funeral. If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, [...]

Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Eugene Peterson

Disciple: says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ.  We are in growing-learning relationship, always.  A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman.  We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith. Pilgrim: tells us we are people who spend our lives going someplace, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ.  We realize that “this world is not my home” and set out for “the Father’s house”. No literature is more [...]

Lifestyle Evangelism: Joe Aldrich

The impact of a church’s evangelistic effort is directly proportional to the health of its corporate life. Christians are to be good news before they share good news. The greatest force in evangelism is a healthy marriage. Reply to critics:  I like the way I do it better than the way you don’t. God is not in the business of putting healthy babies in malfunctioning incubators.  Churches must become candidates for God’s blessing. I am a leaky vessel and I need to keep under the tap.  DL Moody Poor people need to take rich people out to dinner and listen [...]

Irresistible Revolution: Shane Claiborne

Being a Christian is about choosing Jesus and deciding to do something incredibly daring with your life. The scriptures say that we should not fear those things which can destroy the body, but we are to fear that which can destroy the soul (Matt.10:28).  While the ghettos may have their share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of the more subtle demonic forces—numbness, complacency, comfort—and it is these that can eat away at our souls. From my desk at college, it looked like some time back we had stopped living Christianity and just started studying it. If [...]

In The Name of Jesus: Henri Nouwen

1.  The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross.  This is paradoxically the way to joy and the peace of God, a joy and peace that is not of this world. 2.  What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible?  Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love.  It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own [...]

Humility: Andrew Murray

It is not sin that humbles us most, but grace. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of man.  It is the root of every virtue. Pride, or the loss of this humility is the root of every sin and evil. Humility is the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all. We must make humility the chief thing we admire in Christ. The lesson of humility is [...]

Halftime: Bob Buford

First Half Listen to the Gentle Whisper. How can we be so successful but feel so unfulfilled? Most of us know what we believe but not what to do about what we believe. The first half of our life is about belief : accepting Christ for who He is and developing spiritual maturity. The second half is about good works : finding our ministry in the church and doing our mission in the world. The first half is about getting an education, gaining experience, learning, and earning money. The second half is more risky and involves investing our gifts in [...]

Forgotten God: Francis Chan

I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.  I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power.  I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through.  That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed. From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten.  While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence [...]