(**Most book links go to Better World Books where you can have books shipped anywhere in the world for FREE).
- Growing Your Faith - Starting Your Faith - Truth About Your Faith - Curious About the Faith - Parenting by Faith - Marriage by Faith
- Fictional Reading for Faith - Funny things about Faith
Growing your faith
My Bible Plans (Online). Make a plan to read the Bible! The two most important factors for persevering in Reading God's Word is making interactive (see IV Press Online Studies) & keeping yourself accountable. Accountability starts with a Plan. My Bible Plans is a website that allows you to (1) Choose the Books of the Bible you wish to read (e.g., John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John); (2) The duration in which you wish to read them (e.g., 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, etc.); (3) Store your plan online and/or print it out; (4) Read the Bible in different formats: It can be sent to your email each morning, sent as an RSS Feed, or sent in audio format. Other than implanting the correct interpretation & application into your brain (see study + Holy Spirit), this site does it all.
- For users wanting to keep track on their smartphone & a richer (though harder to navigate) site, YouVersion is worth checking out as well.
IV Press Online Bible Studies. (Online) If you want a helpful (and free) companion to guide you through books of the Bible, look no further. Just pick a book and follow my lead. Click on Link above. Then after the final backslash type in the book of the Bible you wish to study. (Ex: ivpress.com/bible/john). Be flexible and try a couple times--for Philippians type in phil; for Leviticus type in lev.
Experiencing God Workbook by Henry Blackaby & Claude V. King. Still one of the most helpful guides to being in tune to the will of God. Biblically rich and immensely practical, Blackaby and King provide a great context under which to learn HOW to spend quality time with the Lord that will encourage faith to action.
The Ragamuffin Gospel or Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. A very influential author in my own life regarding matters of grace and trust. In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning opens your eyes to the relentless love of God expressed through the radical grace of Jesus Christ. A story teller & thought-provoker, you need not agree with every quote & theological point to see truth about God's Grace. In Ruthless Trust, Brennan explores the core of following Christ--TRUST. Full of inspirational stories, deep ponderings, and biblical direction in the midst of hard times.
The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guiness. Os Guiness, a writer of great depth, explores the issue of God calling us to Himself and how that entails vocational calling. Not a step-by-step guidebook, Os draws upon centuries of Christian thought on this issue and forces the reader to work and pray through hard questions. Has been inestimably valuable in determining calling in my own life.
How to Read the Bible for All its Worth by Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart. A great guide to understanding how to read the different parts, or genres, of the Bible in context. For instance, how do you understand God's law in Genesis-Deuteronomy and apply it to everyday life. (**5 copies available @ Christian Enlightenment Bookstore - Across from CNB on Elgin Ave.)
Starting your faith
Basic Christianity by John Stott. The classic introduction to what you'll need to know about the Heart of Christianity (the gospel) and what God requires of man. Pastor John Stott's book should be read by anyone who is new to the faith and can benefit anyone in the faith -- no matter how mature. (**See also our Book Table on Sunday Mornings).
Read, Mark, Learn by Mark Blanchard. One of my favorite resources for new or young believers. Journey through the entire Book of Mark in manageable steps and in only 60 pages -- all the while receiving instruction on the basics of Christian faith & living.
Come and See from the Master's Plan Foundation. Visually rich and new/hip material for a new believer that contains a lot of helpful Scripture, a verse to memorize each session, good questions, and quotes from famous Christians. Be patient, it may take a minute to download the full, free material. Also, we would encourage you to spend the paper and the ink to print out so you can write and jot notes down on it.
Three areas of Study include: I. Our Relationship with God; II. Our Relationship with Others; III. Life in this World. Daily studies include: God: Creator and Sustainer; Jesus: God's Son; Jesus: Crucified and Resurrected; God's Word; Listening to God; Faith; Obedience; Prayer; Loving others; Key Relationships; Fellowship; and much more.
Welcome to the Family from Youth for Christ. This is a great resource designed for older students, but usable for new believers of any age. Click on these Chapters to a PDF of each chapter - Chapter 1: Welcome to the Family ; Chapter 2: Communicating with God ; Chapter 3: God's Love Letter to Us ; Chapter 4: We need Each Other ; Chapter 5: God has Wonderful Plans for Us ; Chapter 6: Steps for Continued Growth
My First 30 Quiet Times by Ty Saltzgiver. I've handed approximately 100 of these out in my lifetime and have yet to hear anyone disappointed by the encouragement & guidance they received. If you'd like to try the first 10 chapters of this book, 'pastor o's blog' and go to entries 2.11.10 and 3.12.10 for PDF documents I've attached.
Truth about your faith
Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Another classic. J.I. Packer, professor at Regent's Divinity School for years and renowned scholar, has truth & explanation for it packed into this 200+ page masterpiece. Packer does a more than apt job of explaining the Attributes of God & how man is called to respond in turn all without getting lost in any technical theological jargon. If you're looking to go a little deeper, look no further. Chapter 21 "These Inward Trials" is one of my favorite pieces of writing I've ever benefited from. (**Available at our Book Table on Sunday Mornings)
The Christian Doctrine Section of carm.org has excellent breakdown of the Christian faith. Basic Christian Doctrine, The Trinity, the Holy Spirit, Jesus.
Bible.org has some more in-depth articles on various matters of the Christian faith. I hesitate to recommend any site (with literally hundreds of articles from dozens of authors) -- but it's fairly reliable and certainly helpful all-in-all. Articles on everything to how to set up children's ministry to the doctrine of grace.
BlueletterBible.org has some great online tools for Bible Study.
Loveintruth.com is a great help in learning how to faithfully interpret God's Word.
Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is discipline of taking Scriptural data and systematically synthesizing the information so we can study it by larger themes & topics (examples include 'Salvation' 'The Church' 'The character of God' & the 'Inerrancy of Scripture'), The most accessible, easy-to-read but also one of the best works Systematic Theology is Dr. Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. If you have $, spend it on a Bible. If you have more $, spend it on this book. Dr. Grudem, a professor at my Divinity School for many years, organizes the book into questions, which sound like questions ordinary "Joe Christian" might have ... as opp. to 'Scholar Steve.' At the end of each chapter he also includes Study questions, a Scripture memory verse, and even a worship song that relates to the theme of that chapter. This book been a tremendous blessing in its provision of insight & clarity for sound beliefs.
The Local Church. The importance of getting involved in a local church. Great but very frank article on the matter by the folks over at teampyro. If you're unsure or have significant reservations as to your involvement in the local expression of God's Church, be forewarned that you will be challenged. I hope you are open to it. Meanwhile, this is a bit fuller treatment of the idea of church membership entitled: "Why join a church?" -- it's longer but a bit more tempered than the above article.
Curious about the faith
Carm.org provides all your one-stop shopping needs for questions about Christianity (except it's not really shopping but FREE)-- a simple explanation of the basics of Christianity, how do other major and non-major world religions compare to Christianity, how did we get the Bible we have, the existence of God. Almost anything you can imagine in a readable, thorough place and format. You'd do worse to spend two hours one night pouring through this website.
More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell set out to refute the claims of Christianity from the evidences of history, archaeology, science, philosophy, & literary studies. One result: He became a Christian. A second result: This book (a much shorter & better read than his Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Volumes I & II) . Josh examines crucial claims to the person of Jesus and sets forth all possibilities for the reader to consider. A wonderful book and only about 100 pages. This book is available for purchase at our SCC Book Table on Sunday Mornings.
The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. Tim Keller, your pastor's favorite living pastor, has for good reason been called "C.S. Lewis for the 21st Century" by Newsweek Magazine -- and much of the praise is because of this book. A stimulating and enjoyable read (that's a tough combination), Keller addresses frequent doubts that skeptics bring to Christianity. And he does so using literature, philosophy, anthropology, and pop culture. I've had a number of skeptics tell me they have genuinely enjoyed the read. If you haven't read it and don't mind going a little deeper, I highly recommend.
Parenting by Faith (see also our expanded list of family resources)
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. Great book to read while pregnant, after having a child, or being a parent of younger children. Has become a modern classic. The focus on the book is less on behavior and far more on drawing out your child's heart in conjunction with this sacred trust God has granted parents - a responsibility for shepherding their child's heart. This book is available for purchase from our SCC Book Table on Sunday Mornings.
Parenting Adolescents by Kevin Huggins. Having worked with teenagers for a number of years and read lots of content on this subject, this was by far the most biblically sound & helpful in helping the parent both establish high standards for teenagers and offer high grace. Adolescence is truly an impressionable period in that someone is bound to make an impression - the question is whom. (Out of Print, see Pastor O for available copies).
Marriage by Faith
The Marriage Builder by Larry Crabb. Kindle Edition, Print Edition. Still my go-to premarital counseling book, Dr. Crabb is really strong in two areas. (1) Impressing upon us the biblical truth that each party in marriage has both personal need and responsibility to find his/her security and identity in Christ so that we can be equipped to give our spouses a subjective taste of the unconditional love of Christ no matter how your spouse responds. He really engages us with stories and know-how to live out seasons of marriages when it doesn't "feel" as much like a two-way street; (2) His chapter on Communication is chalked full of some of the best content I've ever read on the subject. >> Great to do with spouse - wonderful discussion questions in the back.
When Sinners say "I Do" by Dave Harvey. Kindle Edition (just $1.99), Print Edition. The title speaks for itself. Each person no matter how idealized we build them up to be, brings baggage into marriage - namely, themselves. However, applying the grace of God expressed through the cross is transformational. Dave Harvey explains how to start down that path.
Intended for Pleasure by Dr. Ed Wheat and his wife Gaye. Kindle Edition, Print Edition. For those who wonder: "What role does God intend for sex to play in marriage?", this book will blow the doors off various assumptions and preconceived ideas and provide the practical helps few mature Christians are willing to tell us.
The Family Life website always has really strong and reliable articles to help you become the spouse God intends you to be. Also helpful are daily romantic tips for HER and for HIM as well as their Marriage Newsletter that can be sent to your inbox. Blended families, Divorce, Remarriage are also covered.
Ficitional Reading for Faith
Funny things about Faith