"It is one thing to know the doctrines of the incarnation and the atonement and a hundred other vital doctrines. It is another, more searching matter to know His heart for you. Who is he?"
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland
I believe if more people took the time to really learn who Jesus is, if they took the time to see his heart, more and more people would fall in love with Him. Dane Ortland writes, "The message of this book is that we tend to project our natural expectations about who God is onto him instead of fighting to let the Bible surprise us into what God himself says." This book is centered on Matthew 11:29 where Jesus says "I am gentle and lowly in heart." (which is the only place Jesus tells us about his own heart). What does it mean when he describes himself as gentle and lowly? How does that fit in with His holiness, mercy, wrath and the "God of the Old Testament?" This book is theologically rich (yet not boring- it is very compelling!) and uses teachings from the Puritan age to bring clarity into what the Bible has been telling us all along about the heart of Jesus. It amazes me how we can think we know who Jesus is and yet we can ALWAYS learn more. I love how the author doesn't paint Jesus as simply love in a mushy superficial way. Don't get me wrong- this book will definitely widen your understanding and appreciation for the deep compassion and tenderness of Jesus but Ortland doesn't ignore the reality of the wrath and anger of God and what that means for unbelievers and believers. He ties it all together. This book is a must read for any Christian. No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, it will revitalize your soul and make you fall for Jesus all over again.
"I have spent years working with Christian professors at leading secular universities in fields ranging from physics to philosophy. Some grew up in the church. Others encountered Christianity later. All have found that their faith has stood the test of their research and left them more convinced that Christianity represents our tightest grasp on truth and our best hope for the world."
Confronting Christianity by Rebecca Mclaughlin
I found out this was my pastor's current favorite book (a few months ago) so naturally I had to read it! In this book, the author explores 12 hard questions of the Christian faith. Some questions that Mclaughlin addresses include Hasn't Science Disproved Christianity? How Could a Loving God Allow So Much Suffering and Isn't Christianity Homophobic? This would be a thorough, eye-opening book for any skeptic and also very helpful for any believer to better understand the questions unbelievers may have about Christianity. One thing that really stood out to me was the amount of research cited at the end of each chapter. Each chapter McLaughlin cites 15-50 different resources. This is not solely an opinion based book. She clearly has done her research, talked with the top scientists, scholars and biblical teachers, etc. This book will challenge your thinking and at the same time help solidify the truth of important biblical foundations so you are ready to defend the faith.
"When we pray the Scriptures, all we are really doing is taking words first breathed by God and speaking them back to him in prayer form...There is not a need we will face in parenting-or that our kids will face, as they grow- that God has not already thought of, and provided for, in His Word."
Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodie Berndt
This is a great book to keep on your nightstand or on your coffee table. It is one you can pick up and flip to whichever chapter you would like. It is one I know I will be referencing over and over so that I can pray purposely and intentionally for my kids as they grow. I am not an eloquent speaker and sometimes that makes me self-conscious because I can't articulate what I want to say and what is in my heart. I love that this book simply points me straight to the Bible of what to pray for and how I can pray for my children. The book is divided into five parts of various prayer topics. The five parts include: Praying for Your Child's Faith, Praying for Your Child's Character, Praying for Your Child's Safety, Praying for Your Child's Relationships, and Praying for Your Child's Future . Through personal application and stories, Jodie Berndt offers encouragement, practical advice and her own experiences and struggles within each prayer topic. At the end of each chapter is a list of prayers you can use pertaining to that topic. These prayers are directly out of Scripture with fill in the blanks to personalize the prayer. For example in Chapter 9, Praying for Physical Health, Safety, and Security, one of the prayer prompts is:
Let _____ take refuge in you and be glad; let them ever sing your joy. Spread you protection over _____ that they may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11
This book is the perfect tool to be led into Scripture and pray God's will for my children throughout their lives. What a powerful role we have as parents.