"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home." - C. S. Lewis

The Bookshelf

I like to read books, but I love to read a good book!  There are so many books I have read over the years that I would love to share with you sometime, but for now, here are a few of my favorites.  This is an incomplete list that will likely be added to from time to time.  The following books (in no particular order) have greatly affected my perspective on the time on earth I have been given and how I should approach it.  Whether the books below carry an author's teaching or life lessons, or even a fictional story, they are all educational - and, in their own ways, unforgettable.  Of course, as they always said on Reading Rainbow, "You don't have to take my word for it!"

If I could only recommend one book to you, this just might be it! A family friend recommended I read Desiring God, so I checked it out, not realizing how much it would shape the way I think about some things. Through this book, John Piper changed the way I look at living the Christian life. Motivation is one of the areas where he challenged the way I have always thought. Why do I live "the Christian life"? Because...it's "right"? Because it's my "duty"? Where does my heart lie? What is my motivation - what should be my motivation? After laying the groundwork of this paradigm shift (at least it was a shift for me), Piper proceeded to change the way I think even about other areas of the Christian life (prayer, giving, missions, etc.). I started the book thinking I would finish it somewhat quickly, then realized I would have to slow down and digest it piece by piece. Definitely a book I will read again!

"Love is the overflow of joy in God which gladly meets the needs of others." - John Piper

 Surprisingly, this is actually a work of fiction (so far, it is the only work of fiction on this list). But in reading it, I thought about the persecuted church for the first time. Sure, I knew that there are Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith. Up until then, however, I didn't like to hear the stories. I didn't want to see the pictures. It isn't fun, is it? Thinking of the suffering others go through (and we may one day face as well) is not a pleasant pastime. As someone smarter than me once said (I wish I could remember who), "If it isn't worth dying for, it isn't worth living for." The stories of persecuted Christians point to the faithfulness of God and the importance of living for a better country, a heavenly one (Hebrews 11). Even though Safely Home is a fictional book, it is based on what is reality for many Christians around the world. It opened my eyes to stories, problems, and hardships that are very, very real. My brothers and sisters around the world persevere through these difficult days. And one day, they will receive a reward that will far outweigh their pain.

I have long heard praise for Francis Schaeffer, but, up until now, I knew very little about L'Abri - the organization Schaeffer and his wife, Edith, founded. Through the book, L'Abri, Edith Schaeffer shares the story of L'Abri's founding and early years of operation. It is an amazing read! The Schaeffer family faced many difficulties and struggles, but God faithfully led them through everything and exponentially grew the ministry. Throughout the book, Edith Schaeffer traces the unmistakable work of God in L'Abri's history, reminding us again and again that there are no "coincidences" - only the sovereign, loving plan of God. Francis Schaeffer died in 1984, and Edith in early 2013; both left behind legacies of service and love toward any and all God brought their way. L'Abri is a fascinating inside look at one family's life of service as well as their ministry - founded on, rooted in, and wholly dependent on God.

 It's so easy to get caught up in the trivial over the eternal. How many times do I start my day with grand intentions, only to grow frustrated when my plans are derailed by some trivial inconvenience? In Forever, Paul David Tripp says "eternity amnesia" plagues us, as we forget all too often that we were made for eternity. In eternity these little minor inconveniences will not be very important. How we responded to them will be.

"This present life is not all there is...Forever is a reality. It is the product of God's plan and design. And once you believe in forever and live with forever in view, not only will you understand things you have never understood before, but you will live in a radically different way than you did before." - Paul David Tripp, Forever

 The Heavenly Man is a first-hand account of the Chinese underground church in recent decades. Despite the persecution and desperate situations Chinese Christians often face, God has set apart millions for Himself inside that country. While the accounts of Brother Yun's sufferings and persecutions are often hard to read, his story of God's presence even in Yun's darkest times is unforgettable. With miraculous escapes, selfless Christians, and unlikely converts, Yun's story is an incredible read. Yun and his family (as well as many others) have suffered much for the kingdom of Christ. As we read their stories, may we be encouraged in our own boldness and passion for those who have never heard the Good News that has saved us - and sustained Yun throughout his life.

“When God starts to move, the best we can hope to do is go along for the ride. All man-made plans and strategies become futile and worthless, and are swept away like an umbrella in a mighty hurricane.” - Brother Yun

After reading this book, I think my best summary would just be, "Wow."  This might be my favorite book I have ever read!  The story of the ten Boom family opens with a few charming, touching chapters detailing the life of a family who dearly loved each other and deeply desired to honor God throughout every aspect of their lives.  The dark clouds of the Nazi occupation of Holland in World War II only deepen this family's commitment to God, each other, and the people around them.  Even in the midst of tragedy and heartache, the ten Boom family kept their trust in God's power and presence, and they saw Him work even in the darkest of circumstances.  The thrilling story will keep you reading until you finish the final chapter...and it will stir you to consider your own life as you read of the ten Boom family legacy.

“That night Father and Betsie and I prayed long after the others had gone to bed.  We knew that in spite of daily mounting risks we had no choice but to move forward.  This was evil’s hour: we could not run away from it.  Perhaps only when human effort had done its best and failed, would God’s power alone be free to work.” - The Hiding Place

Brother Andrew made countless trips behind the Iron Curtain to deliver Bibles to persecuted believers, encouraging underground churches while also opening a whole new world to church members at home. While communism certainly still exists, the front seems to have shifted. Today, oppressive governments around the world are often Islamic, not communist, countries. How should Christians respond to Muslims? More than just a how-to book, most of Secret Believers is a narrative, weaving together true stories from Middle Eastern countries about believers who risk far more than we do here. At the end of the book, Brother Andrew draws on his years of experience with persecuted Christians to encourage (and define) a Christlike response to Muslims today.

“Christians need a new filling of the Holy Spirit to love those who disagree with them. And the greatest expression of love is to share with them the most precious thing a Christian has, which is the good news of the salvation of Jesus Christ.” ― Secret Believers

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