Additions to My Bookshelf. And Yours?

Over the last year I’ve worked my way through several books. I’ve listened to the authors, taken down notes, applauded, wept a few times, and had a rather one-sided debate with a few of them as I read along. I love books. I love authors. I love the way putting words down on paper incarnates ideas that might otherwise remain ghosts of the mind, flitting here and there in our gray matter.

@@Here are eleven books that'll open up the Scriptures to you in new, insightful ways.@@ I pass them along to you in case you’re looking for a new read for yourself, or maybe a gift for someone else. So as not to play favorites, I’ve listed them alphabetically, just like we lined up in Kindergarten. Their titles are self-explanatory, and there are plenty of reviews in Amazon if you’re inclined to read them. I’ll simply leave you with the title, author, and one quote in particular from each that struck me as remarkable.

Read, learn, enjoy, and translate their words into prayers and life and love.

The Pursuing God: A Reckless, Irrational, Obsessed Love That’s Dying to Bring Us Home by Joshua Ryan Butler
“Jesus arrives not with a ladder for us to climb out of creation, but a shovel he’ll use to dig up the wicked root of our sin within creation. And in its place, he’ll plant the sacrificial love of God, burying his own body like a seed deep in the death of our world, cracked open to bring new life rising up from creation’s cosmic broken heart.”

Beloved Mess: God’s Perfect Love for Your Imperfect Life by Kimm Crandall
“While you were still sinning God came after you! While you were still selfishly pursuing your own interests, binging and purging, finding your worth in your work, cutting your own body, using people for sex, indulging in pornography, overeating, abusing alcohol, turning over to drug addiction, and giving God and the rest of the world a cantankerous kiss-off, he was stubbornly seeking to redeem you.”

Man Turned in on Himself: Understanding Sin in 21st-Century America by Heather Choate Davis
“Despite the great gifts of initiative and creativity that an individualistic culture can yield, the very real downside is a citizen trained 'to think of all things in terms of himself and to prefer himself to all.' And so, with E Pluribus Unum on its seal and homo incurvatus in se in its heart, America grew up, making its choice of masters.”

Home: How Heaven and the New Earth Satisfy Our Deepest Longings by Elyse Fitzpatrick
“Why this universal craving? Because we’ve got an ‘infinite abyss’ within each of us, and will only find true happiness when we stand face-to-face with the One for whom we were created, the One whose face we’ve searched for day after day throughout our entire lives.”

Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther’s Commentary by R. J. Grunewald
“The article of justification must be sounded in our ears incessantly because the frailty of our flesh will not permit us to take hold of it perfectly and to believe it with all our heart.”

The Christian Life: Cross or Glory? by Steven A. Hein
“God’s justice and omnipotence are hidden under the opposite. They are manifested and made perfect in the shame and weakness of the cross. Apart from his mask, of course, the Lone Ranger just disappears from sight. And apart from the crucified Christ, you cannot find the just and gracious God at all. The cross of Christ also exemplifies how God is at work in the world and in our lives—under the mask of opposites.”

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith by Jen Pollock Michel
“To borrow from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lord’s Prayer is our 'yes to God’s earth.' The Lord’s Prayer is incarnational in the same way that Jesus is incarnational. It teaches us what it means to be fully human and pictures for us the good life. To pray it again and again is to imbibe the holy teloi of God. But that plunge into holy desire doesn’t remove us from earthly life; it implicates us, gets us busy in the business of loving and worshiping God in our neighborhoods and churches and cities.”

The Problem of Suffering: A Father’s Hope by Gregory P. Schulz
“We may want theodicy, to justify the ways of God to man, but God’s will is for us to suffer so that He may teach us the mystery of His love—not by justifying His ways, but by justifying us. We think that we need answers, but God knows that we need Jesus Himself.”

People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality is Not Just an Issue by Preston Sprinkle
“Jesus—the biblical Jesus—took a stand. But it was a stand on love. If you are a nonaffirming Christian—who believes that practicing gay and lesbian people are living in sin and that homosexual relations are among the most sinful things a person could engage in—then, if you truly desire to follow Jesus, you should have more LGBT friends and not less.”

A Glorious Dark: Finding Hope in the Tension Between Belief and Experience by A. J. Swoboda
“On Friday, Jesus hangs on his cross with his clothing having been ripped off. He bares all before a world mocking him. God does that, choosing loving vulnerability in a world of fake, glossy masks. The gods of Greek mythology would never have let their weakness, vulnerability, or brokenness show. But Jesus wasn’t a god of Greek mythology. They wore masks of strength and power. But Jesus was different. The God of Christianity has no masks. He hangs there, just as he is, for us to love him as he is.”

Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with the Love of Jesus by Jessica Thompson
“I’ve heard that this word sympathizing is akin to this picture: If you put two pianos in the same room and you strike a note, putting hammer to string, on one of the pianos, the same string on the other piano will vibrate. That is a picture of Christ’s heart and our own. If one of his family is hurting, his heart hurts in the same way.”