If you decide to read one of these or have already read one, share your thoughts and comments …

DEEP & WIDE by Andy Stanley

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Andy Stanley shares  the story of his early days in ministry, serving on staff with his father, and the difficult journey to the beginnings of North Point Community Church.  As a speaker and author on the national stage, it’s easy to view him through a lens of celebrity.  The transparency with which he recounts the story, reveals the authentic and humble heart of a pastor who truly loves Jesus and people.  It sets up the turn into sharing Andy’s heart about what it means to be the Church, what Jesus intended the church to be like, and how we need to return to the simplicity and power of the New Testament Church.

It’s an easy yet captivating read that I found hard to put down once I got started. It’s full of both principles and practical examples that point to a new (yet old) way of doing and being the church.   It’s a must read for anyone who desires to be in a leadership role in the church and is more concerned about who you are reaching than who the church is keeping.

 

COVENANT & KINGDOM by Mike Breen

61hJcq+pPlL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_For many, Scripture falls into much the same category as Shakespeare: valued and enjoyed, but seldom understood. It is not, however, out of reach. The ability to identify the main themes of any passage is a skill you can learn, even as you seek to apply its truth to your own life.  Covenant and Kingdom: The DNA of the Bible guides you on a Scriptural quest for knowledge and understanding. Stories and verse from the Old and New Testaments are woven together and cross-referenced, until the connections are clear and indisputable, like DNA from the Bible.

Although the great Biblical themes of Covenant and Kingdom find their fullest expression in Jesus, Covenant goes all the way back to the beginning, when the only thing required was to maintain the “oneness” that God had created. After the Fall, the way was blocked; yet, God built a bridge, in Covenant, back to us. In Jesus, that Covenant was fulfilled, as on the cross, he offered himself as the ultimate blood sacrifice.The Bible is about God, our Father, inviting us to know him in a very real and personal way. Covenant and Kingdom: The DNA of the Bible provides guidance to the path of understanding that it will take to develop, to the fullest, your own individual relationship with God.

BUILDING A DISCIPLING CULTURE by Mike Breen

Building A Discipling Culture

We are in the midst of a discipleship crisis in the Western church. The people sitting in our pews are rarely becoming like the people we read about in Scripture. They may come to a worship service, join a small group or even tithe, but their lives just don’t seem to look
like Jesus’ life.  The truth of the matter is that we don’t have a missional problem or leadership problem in the Western church. We have a discipleship problem. If we make disciples like Jesus made them, we’ll never have a problem finding leaders or seeing new people coming to faith.

The central issue is that we have no idea how to make disciples who can do the things that Jesus did for the reasons Jesus did them. Building a Discipling Culture is the product of more than 25 years of hands-on discipleship practice in a post-Christian context that has turned into a worldwide discipling movement, dealing specifically with how to make the types of missional disciples Jesus spoke of. We all want to make disciples. Most of us are unsure how to do it.  Building a Discipling Culture provides practical tools to deepen your walk as a follower of Jesus, to make disciples like He did, and to equip your disciples to make disciples of their own.

RADICAL by David Platt

What is 41QxhEWm8DL._SS400_Jesus worth to you?

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily…

But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple–then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a “successful” suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.  Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment–a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.  Read at risk of peril to your comfortable faith… This will ROCK you!

REAL MARRIAGE by Mark & Grace Driscoll

51dn1Ib1t-L._AA160_In Real Marriage, Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace, share how they have struggled and how they have found healing through the power of the only reliable source: the Bible. They believe friendship is fundamental to marriage but not easy to maintain. So they offer practical advice on how to make your spouse your best friend – and keep it that way. And they know from experience that sex-related issues need to be addressed directly.  Stunningly honest and vulnerable, Real Marriage is like a personal counseling session with a couple you cannot surprise, you cannot shock into silence, who will respond to every question with wisdom, humility, and realism.

If you want to have a long-lasting, fulfilling marriage you should read this book. Wrestle with this book. Pray over this book. Share this book. Share this book. And discover how God can use it to change your life.  My wife and I read this book and then went away for a couple days to talk and pray about the things that God revealed to us.  There was so much, we only got half way through.  Something we need to remedy… It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read on marriage and can be a catalyst for deepening your covenant bond with your spouse.

WHEN HELPING HURTS by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert (foreword by David Platt)

51V2gQeyzOL._AA160_Emphasizing the poverty of both heart and society, this book exposes the need that every person has and how it can be filled. The reader is brought to understand that poverty is much more than simply a lack of financial or material resources and that it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve the problem of poverty.

While this book exposes past and current development efforts that churches have engaged in which unintentionally undermine the people they’re trying to help, its central point is to provide proven strategies that challenge Christians to help the poor empower themselves. Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts catalyzes the idea that sustainable change for people living in poverty comes not from the outside-in, but from the inside-out.

In a season where the Church is waking up to the need to compassionately serve others in order to have the chance to lead them to Jesus, there is a tension between service that helps and service that actually enables and hurts.  It’s a new perspective on the age old proverb about the difference in giving a man a fish or teaching a man to fish.  Any disciple or church that is looking to engage in community service or global missions would benefit from reading When Helping Hurts.

CRAZY LOVE by Francis Chan

31jgWQwVrsL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe–the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor–loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not…we all know something’s wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts–it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis Chan describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

FORGOTTEN GOD by Francis Chan

imagesA follow up to the profound message of Crazy Love, Pastor Francis Chan offers a compelling invitation to understand, embrace, and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and … the Holy Spirit. We pray in the name of all three, but how often do we live with an awareness of only the first two? As Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit—the Helper—so that we could be true and living witnesses for Christ. Unfortunately, today’s church has admired the gift but neglected to open it.

Breakthrough author Francis Chan rips away paper and bows to get at the true source of the church’s power—the Holy Spirit. Chan contends that we’ve ignored the Spirit for far too long, and we are reaping the disastrous results. Thorough scriptural support and compelling narrative form Chan’s invitation to stop and remember the One we’ve forgotten, the Spirit of the living God.

RENOVATION OF THE HEART

41WaQiJ-zAL._AA160_As Christians, we know that we are new creations in Jesus. So we try to act differently, hoping this will make us more like Him. But changing our outward behavior doesn’t change our hearts. Only by God’s grace can we be transformed internally. Renovation of the Heart lays a biblical foundation for understanding what best-selling author Dallas Willard calls the “transformation of the spirit”––a divine process that “brings every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God.”

This fresh approach to spiritual growth explains the biblical reasons why Christians need to undergo change in six aspects of life: thought, feeling, will, body, social context, and soul. Willard also outlines a general pattern of transformation in each area, not as a sterile formula, but as a practical process that you can follow without the guilt or perfectionism so many Christians wrestle with.  Don’t settle for complacency. Accept the challenge Renovation of the Heart offers to become an intentional apprentice of Jesus Christ, changing daily as you walk with Him.

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