Dig Deep – Book Recommendations

Bookshelf

Goodness, Truth and Beauty

Books are like people. They are beautiful and complicated.  Recommending books is kind of like recommending someone for a date.  There’s a bunch that can go right in the match. But there are typically a few land mines and booby traps as well.

Everything in life that is worth doing takes risk.  So rather than edit myself, I’d like to risk trusting your discernment and your walk with God through these titles. Clearly many of them are written from a variety of worldviews. The goal therefore is not to adhere with any book’s position but rather to glean from each creative work the pieces that most speak to you – your life, your story, and the core beliefs upon which God and His Kingdom have been and are being established here on earth.

So take this list, not as an endorsement of any author or worldview, but as (the beginnings of) a humble catalogue of possible waypoints as you navigate this decade of becoming good soil.  Indeed, they are lampposts, treasures and fuel that I’ve found along the way.  And what I can assure you is that whether in small measure or in large, I have found some piece of the Kingdom mosaic of truth, beauty and goodness in every one of these resources…

As a transition into my book recommendations, let me offer a story taken from Seattle Pacific University’s journal recounting a story of the personal correspondence between C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia and an eager 9 year-old fan, Laurence:

“Laurence confided to his mother that he was afraid that he loved Aslan the lion (the Christ figure in the series) more than he loved Jesus. Did that make him an idol worshipper? Philinda promptly wrote in care of the publisher and told Lewis of her son’s confusion. So concerned was the author when he learned of Laurence’s distress that the Kriegs had an answer in just 10 days.

‘Tell Laurence from me, with my love,’ Lewis wrote in a detailed letter, ‘ … [He] can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before. … I don’t think he need be bothered at all. God knows all about the way a little boy’s imagination works (He made it, after all) … .’”

What I love about these books is Jesus and His Kingdom.

I pray that these would become nourishment in this decade for you as well…

Click here to dig deep into the Recommended Readings (or go to Dig Deep in the navigation bar).

Who Will Carry Your Casket?

Iraq, Baghdad, man carrying reusable casket

I’ve been a groomsman in quite a few weddings.  And it’s truly an honor.  In some way it is an outward expression of saying “I will” to walking alongside that man and that marriage into an unknown landscape ahead.

But carrying a casket is different.

Being a groomsman says, “I will”.

Carrying a casket says, “I did.”

This decade is a crucible. It is a decade of being refined by fire.

Broken down.

Built up.

Repeat.

Jesus suggests that the gate and the road are wide that lead to death and many choose to travel that path.  The path to life, which few choose, is one with a narrow gate and a narrow road..

I want to find it. I want you to as well. And entering through the narrow gate and traveling the narrow road is a journey that cannot be done alone.

In this decade of excavation and becoming good soil, I’ve come to define a peer as “someone who wants the same thing I want and has to fight through the same crap to get it.”

Dan Allender says it this way:

Find like hearted kings living in the same direction.  Sign treaties. When one kingdom is at war, both are at war.

On how many fronts can you successfully fight a war and be victorious?  Be honest.  And how much of your time in any given day/week/year can you be at war and sustain life over the long term?

It will only be a few. And It’s always been that way; Jesus offers the model with his closest brothers-in-arms.

I’ve been at war since March 1st. Swept up in the battle for the hearts of others from the redwoods of Northern California to the bushveld of South Africa to the mountains of Colorado and beyond.

Alex has had my back the whole time. I have been at war and he has been beside me. I would not have made it without him and a small handful of others.

Not only survival (which is a necessary and admirable first step), but more… life, real life, and joy, much joy, along the way.

We cannot live a supernatural life and travel the narrow road without signing a few treaties with a select few good and holy kings.

Who will carry your casket?  What stories will they tell of the camaraderie you shared in both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat?

Solomon says that a man is worse off than a stillborn child if he does not receive a proper burial (Eccl). I can imagine few things more central to a proper burial than who will carry my casket.

It will only be a few.

Ask God. Speak their names.

Offer your sword and your strength, with great discretion, and sincere devotion, whatever the cost. (In the midst of writing this, I received a mayday call from one of these men. Had to drop everything and go on a rescue mission. Treaties aren’t cheap or convenient. But it’s some of the best currency I spend.)

The reward will last forever.

Father, I want your honest counsel.  How many fronts can I fight on, and sustain? Who are these men that you are asking me to sacrifice for? Sacrifice with? Give me the grace to risk. To sacrifice. To engage. To receive. To love. Guide me in releasing the relationships I am carrying that are not ordained for this season.  I want to agree with what you have in these close relationships. Give me a wise and discerning heart.  Forgive me for walking alone out of motivations that are not rooted in your heart for my life and your Kingdom resources.  I want a supernatural life.  I want to share that life with a few.  Reveal the path.  Shine your light on the narrow gate.  Lead me down the narrow road.  Today.  I open my heart to a revelation from you.  I stand against my enemies. Fear of man. Shame. Doubt. Discouragement.  I forbid setbacks of the past to shape my choices to move toward Life today.  Come Father, in all your generosity. Come Holy Spirit and lead my path. Come Jesus and be my life, inextinguishable.

way of heart

Way of the Heart

Peels back many layers to get to our heart and the heart of our God in order to bring hope and homecoming.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Since it was first published more than twenty years ago, The Way of the Heart has helped millions of men and women cast off the anger and greed that trouble the world–and find love, compassion, and peace in the heart of God.

Inspired by the ancient teachings of St. Anthony and the Desert Fathers, The Way of the Heart clears before us a spiritual path consisting of three stepping-stones: Solitude (learning not to be alone but to be alone with God); Silence (the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive); and Prayer (standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart).

Distinguished theologian Henri Nouwen brilliantly illuminates each of these disciplines. In reflections that are beautifully clear and practical, as uplifting on the fourth reading as on the first, he helps us separate the wheat from the chaff in our spiritual lives–and reconnects us with what truly matters.

Within this one small book lies the most relevant and inspiring challenge that we shall ever face: to surrender the compulsive noise of the world for the way of the heart that leads us to God.