Books You Should Read (UNDER CONSTRUCTION!)
The following books have all inspired me in some way throughout my life. I highly recommend you read as many of them as possible, both for the sake of gaining solid insights in life, and also just for the sake of being a more well-read individual.
An outstandingly detailed biography of the life of one of the 20th century's most influential martyrs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and minister who died in a Nazi concentration camp because of his involvement in numerous anti-government activities. While any one of his books could speak for themselves about the depths of this man's faith and character, I think the life he lived is just as inspiring as the words which he has left to posterity.
Category: Daily Life Issues
This book is an excellent investment for anyone experiencing disappointment or loss in their life. Pastor Brady Boyd tells the tragic story of a shooting on his church campus which took place in 2005, and claimed the lives of two wonderful teenage girls. Although the subject matter is very heavy, Pastor Boyd does an excellent job of sharing the uplifting message of God's hope in the midst of soul-rending pain, and strives as best he can to answer the question, "where is God when I'm suffering?"
Category: General Christian Doctrine
Written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer before his imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, this book contains excellent biblical insights for a growing Christian (and we should all be growing). He starts by introducing the idea of "immediacy," or the notion that groups, organizations, and other individuals will all try to lay claim to our loyalty and devotion, sometimes to the point that they conflict with our desire to remain faithful to Christ above all else. Bonhoeffer then goes on to say that any such person or group who tries to claim immediacy in your life before Christ must be rejected, or at the very least made to understand that your devotion to them will be at best secondary to your devotion to Jesus Christ and his word. He then spends the second half of the book walking chapter-by-chapter through the Sermon on the Mount.
This book contains some of the most solid theology I have ever read from a Christian author. Neil T. Anderson systematically takes you through numerous scriptures and explains the importance of finding your identity in Christ. Discovering your true nature as a Christian saint, rather than a "reformed sinner," will help you overcome sins and feelings of inadequacy which may have held you back for a long time. I believe this book should be mandatory reading for anyone who seeks a leadership role within a church or other Christian organization.
Charles Colson, a longtime friend and fellow evangelist of Billy Graham, writes about the importance of sacrificing for your faith. Chuck takes you through countless stories of people who made extremely costly decisions to stand by their faith in the face of persecution and personal sacrifice, and reminds us all that to be a true follower of Christ, you better be prepared to count the cost and make the hard stand when nobody else will.
The definitive treatise on Christian apologetics. C.S. Lewis discusses many of the common bonds of belief that we as Christians all share, and also offers some of the most thoughtful and circumspect arguments in favor of the Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis presents many of the pitfalls which entrap and derail believers in their efforts to seek God, but he does it through the highly creative perspective of a demon and his uncle, who write letters back and forth on the subject of how to best disrupt Christians from living out their faith and making an impact for God's kingdom.
This is a theology textbook used by many seminary schools and also laymen like myself to provide a comprehensive program of study for our Christian faith and doctrine. Barackman's work is very detailed, easily accessible to the common reader, and studiously annotated with supporting scripture references on every point. His Baptist leanings are at times glaringly obvious, but nevertheless he does a very good job of presenting a thorough case for every major theological perspective without discounting the arguments of those whose theology may differ from his own.
Category: Male Interest Studies
This is the best Men's Bible Study book I have ever read. I have read it several times, and also led a men's Bible study on it. Steve Farrar uses the examples of Joshua and Caleb as models for what the true picture of a Christian man should look like. He discusses many relevant cultural issues we face as Christian men in America today, and also expounds on the importance of perseverance through hardship and having a boldness for doing what is right.
This is another excellent study for a men's group to do together. There is an accompanying video series, although the book can just as easily stand on its own. John Eldridge talks about the lost art of manliness, and how our culture has done almost everything it can to stamp out the warrior ethos and adventuresome spirit that God intended for us as males to possess. John articulates how the main desires that are buried deep within the heart of every man include things like a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to love. He encourages us through scripture to see how God intended for us to own our masculinity, and to use it in the ways God designed us to in order to lovingly protect and strengthen our families.
As a nice complement to all the testosterone of the first two studies, Stu Weber talks in great detail about not just a man's need for a warrior ethos, but also the need for things like mentorship, leadership, and love, and how a balance of these four things creates a healthy environment in which families, churches, and societies can flourish. Stu places great emphasis on the importance of finding a balance in life in each of these four areas, because running too far in any one direction can leave your "pillars" out of alignment, and lead to a collapse in your life's structure.
Leadership is a subject I am passionate about. This book is by far my favorite read on the subject, both because it is concisely written with easily-distilled insights, and also because I have a personal connection to the author (he was once the pastor of my church). I have filled several leadership positions throughout my time in the military, and this book has been indispensable to me at every level of authority.
Another fine example of Christian leadership principles in action. Dave places more emphasis on a balance between leadership and entrepreneurship, since the inventive spirit of an entrepreneur is what fuels innovation and developments which in turn causes your organization to approach situations with outside-the-box thinking that gives you an edge on the competition. Dave also has many pragmatic insights to share from his years leading the financial advice institution that bears his name, from issues like hiring and firing with compassion and intelligence to managing your business's finances as studiously as your own personal accounts.