“Disciple-shelf” Part 2: The Books and Why

These collections will have comments on either where I came across the book, or what it meant to me, and where it can be found today. The Rating scale is from 0-4, which indicates difficulty or level of interest.

One more word before I begin: The Bible is of course the most important book in discipleship, and the ultimate rule in faith and practice. Until you learn the original languages, and can make a decision how to handle the English translations stick with the bible through which you have seen Jesus Christ most clearly.

Collection 1: Deep Personal Intimacy with God

3-4 Refiner’s Fire Vols. 1 and 2 by David Wilkerson

  • This was on My Dad’s list: a collection sermons which reveal Jesus in a heart-fiery way. Worth reading three or four times just to get all that is there. This was on my Dad’s list. Available on rarechristianbooks.com.

2 Power through Prayer by E.M. Bounds

  • A Classic: the best book on prayer I know of. Available on Amazon.

3 Reese Howells: Intercessor by Norman Grubb

  • My Dad gave me this book when I was ready for it. It’s the story of a person who grew to know the Lord and the Lord led him through various trainings so that he could accomplish the supernaturally impossible. Amazon.

2 The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • This is a no non-sense call to radical following Christ. No bookshelf on Discipleship is complete without it. Amazon.

1 Knowing God by J. I. Packer

  • A heart-felt and moving classic detailing some intimately relational ways of God. It’s like Existence and Attributes of God Lite. Amazon.

2 Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere

  • A book which really helps navigate the controversy surrounding hearing the voice of God today still. It is very helpful for how to handle it when God does speak with you. Christianbooks.com

2 The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

  • Another Puritan classic about the place of Contentment in the Christian Life. This was also on my Dad’s list. Amazon.

0 Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel

  • Pastor John Outlaw gave me this pamphlet as a good indicator of if a person will be faithful enough to be discipled. If they brought it back and had some thoughts he would agree to disciple them. Amazon.

4 Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock

  • This two volume book of treatises is simultaneously the most intellectually dense book to read and the most devotional. It combines heart and mind, truth and love in a very respectful and inspiring exercise of the soul beholding God, and the human condition. No matter how smart or emotional you are, you will be stretched beyond yourself and called to try to embrace the immensity of the infinite ocean of God’s goodness. This was on my Dad’s list. Christianbooks.com

1 Revival God’s Way or Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill

  • An impassioned appeal for the Revival of God’s people in Prayer according to God’s purpose. Amazon.

2 The Training of the Twelve by A. B. Bruce

  • How would you like to be trained right alongside the twelve disciples. This book simulates this very thing. This was also on my dad’s list. Amazon.

Collection 2: Biblical Theology Worldview

1 Prodigal God by Tim Keller

  • The best explanation of the Prodigal Son which has something for everyone. It gets to the bottom of the gospel for people who have grown up in the church, and who have grown up outside of it. Amazon.

2 Orthodoxy by G. K Chesterton

  • This book is an offered cure to people who are stuck in a black and white world of rationality. This is an appeal to the fantastical and the colorful as an important part of knowing the truth and beauty of God. Amazon.

3 From Eden to New Jerusalem by T. Desmond Alexander

  • A Biblical Theology of the progression of the themes of God’s work in and through the Old and New Testament. This is one of many and this one is an easy one to digest and introduce Biblical Theology. Amazon.

3 In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis by Henri Blocher

  • A book that has given me helpful ways to examine the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis. It is very helpful to humbly examine the different theories for how long the world took to be created according to Genesis. Amazon.

3 The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser

  • This book opened my eyes to things which English translations and church history had obscured from the author’s thoughts in the Bible about the Supernatural world. Very fascinating to at least be aware of this perspective and see if it is convincing to you. Amazon.

2 On being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O Forte

  • There are few tenets of the Christian faith more central than Christ’s work on the Cross. This principle is at the heart of the Gospel, and must be applied throughout the Gospel and the Christian life. Amazon.

2 Prophetic Ministry by T. Austin Sparks

  • The best work on the whole work of prophecy from internal relationship with God, outward proclamation, and the heart of all prophecy that I have ever read! rarechristianbooks.com.

1 Wild at Heart by John Elderedge

  • A book about recovering and embracing Biblical Masculinity. The companion book for women is Captivating, which is also very good. Amazon.

1 Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan

  • Arguably one of the most important books in the Christian faith, as it demonstrates in a storied form how a Christian can interact in all phases of his life. I recommend unabridged. Amazon.

Collection 3: Outworking of Faith

1 Pushing yourself to Power by John Peterson

  • A great book on Physically strengthening with functional strength, so that the man of God may be exercised for godliness. Amazon.

1 Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

  • There are so many disciplines which each of us have not heard of, but this book provides chances to grow in ways you didn’t even know you could. Amazon.

1 Discover your God-given Gifts by Don and Katie Forture

  • Useful for discovering how you are built to function in the body of Christ based on personality. It’s based on Romans 12:3-7, and theorizes that the whole body is to be broken up into these various body parts and functions. Great for figuring out how the church as a whole should work. Amazon.

2 Spiritual Warfare by Dr Karl L Payne

  • A very accessible, and all bases covered explanation for how to deal with demonic influences appropriated with the arenas world, and the flesh. Amazon.

4 The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall

  • A three-volume, Puritan, thorough, and devotional Classic about how to apply the Armor of God and the strength of God in Spiritual Warfare in the Christian life. This was on the original list my Dad referred to. Amazon.

1 Out of the Saltshaker and into the World by Rebecca Pippert

  • A great accessible work on the dynamic of Evangelism. Amazon.

2 Introduction to Biblical Preaching by Donald Sunukjian

  • A good start to preaching Biblically and well. Amazon.

2 7 Lessons for New Pastors by Matthew Kim

  • A good beginning book for Pastors. Amazon.

2 When Helping Hurts by Stephen Corbett & Brian Fikkert

  • No one should attempt foreign missions or ministry to the poor without reading this book. Amazon.

2 Culture Making by Andy Crouch

  • A great way to consider different approaches to culture as a Christian and strengths and weaknesses of both. Amazon.

2 Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • A good treatise on how fellowship works in the body of Christ. Amazon.

Collection 4: The Church’s Journey

1 Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

  • A picture of the reality of recent persecution. This is the story of the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs. Amazon.

2 Theology in Context of World Christianity by Timothy Tennent

  • All over the world different cultures are experiencing Christianity differently. Amazon.

1 Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L Shelley

  • A great story of how the church has grown through the past 2000 years, very digestible and easy to appreciate. Amazon.

2 Handbook of Denominations by Mead, Hill, and Atwood

  • A good resource for getting a feel for what different Christians believe and their history. Amazon.

3 The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins

  • I bet you didn’t know that Christianity has splintered into East and South. A Fascinating picture of the global church outside of Western Christianity. Amazon.

3 Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe

  • The stories of people who carried their testimony even unto death through Church History. Amazon.

Collection 5: Bible Translation in Original Languages

1 Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) (The Hebrew Old Testament) by Bible Society, Kelley, and Scott

  • This is the Old Testament in Hebrew with Masoretic punctuation, Vowel pointing, and Textual Criticism. Amazon.

2 Basics of Biblical Hebrew 2nd Ed. by Pratico and Van Pelt

  • The Book to teach you the basics of Ancient Hebrew. Amazon.

3 Basics of Biblical Hebrew Workbook 2nd Ed by Pratico and Van Pelt

  • The Workbook that teaches you the basics of Hebrew. It is futile to try to learn Hebrew without it. Amazon.

2 Pocket Dictionary of the Study of Biblical Hebrew by Murphy

  • There are a lot of words that you’ll run across in your study of Biblical Hebrew. This is a dictionary to help you out of the confusion hole. Amazon.

3 Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew to English Lexicon by Brown, Driver, and Briggs

  • The most thorough Hebrew Lexicon I know of. Amazon.

2 Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by William Holladay

  • Not as thorough as BDB, but sufficient for general dives into the text to discover the meaning of Hebrew words. Amazon.

1 Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 28th Ed. by Institute for NT Textual Research

  • The New Testament in Koine’ Greek with Textual Apparatus. Amazon.

2 Basics of Biblical Greek 3rd Ed. by William D. Mounce

  • The Book to teach you the basics of Koine Greek in the New Testament. Amazon.

3 Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook 3rd Ed. by William D Mounce

  • The Workbook that teaches you the basics of Greek. This is a must-have companion with the Book. Amazon.

4 Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics by Daniel Wallace

  • This will spell out just about every nuance in the New Testament in detail. If you find something and it’s not in here, it probably isn’t real. Amazon.

3 Syntax of New Testament Greek by Brooks & Winberg

  • This will help you pick up on the significance of nuances in the language. Amazon.

3 BDAG Greek-English Lexicon by Bauer, Danker, Ardt and Gingrich

  • This is the Lexicon for the New Testament. This is where you will learn what the Greek text words mean. Amazon.

Collection 6: Sound Biblical Interpretation

2 Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard

  • Great introduction to Hermeneutics. Amazon.

2 New Testament Exegesis by Gordon Fee

  • The Process of New Testament exegesis from Beginning to End. Amazon.

2 Biblical Words and their Meanings by Moise’s Silva

  • Key to a formative understanding of how Word’s meaning are shaped by context. Amazon.

3 On the Reliability of the Old Testament by K.A. Kitchen

  • The most fun any academic has had proving that the Old Testament is reliable. Amazon.

I say again. The most important book in your library is always your copy of God’s Word. Be ready to change Bibles and how you read the Bible as you grow as a Christian.

And I close with the reminder: Christianity can be aided and supplemented by books but ultimately it is exercised internally and externally and eternally. May these books bear you to a clearer manifestation of Christ in you, the hope of Glory.

Your servant,

Aner327

His Face

Someone on Facebook asked the question: “What made Jesus compelling to you?” My answer was, “His Face.” He said that he was “interested to hear more!” I asked him if I could give him a long answer as to why. This is my long answer as to why I find His face compelling.

How do I know Jesus’ face? I’ve been collecting a kind of mosaic.

  1. In the Scriptures in the original languages. My Dad wrote this for me in my first Greek New Testament. It’s from A.T.R. “A Grammar of the Greek New Testament” pg xix. “There is nothing like the Greek New Testament to rejuvenate the world which came out of the Dark ages with the Greek Testament in its hand. Erasmus wrote in the Preface to his Greek Testament about his own thrall of delight: ‘These holy pages will summon up the living image of His mind. They will give you Christ Himself, talking, healing, dying, rising, the whole Christ in a word; they will give Him to you in an intimacy so close that He could be less visible to you if He stood before your eyes.’” I personally have found this to be true not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old. The Face of Yahweh, is revealed at last in the divine human face of Jesus. “He who has seen [Jesus] has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
  2. Visions. He has let me see something of Him, which of course is appropriated to my being enabled to receive, and the purpose He has for me according to which any revelation is designed to conform me to Him. This is submitted to Scripture. Also, all of this is in relationship with God, as I seek to engage with God with a “pure in heart” (they will see God) and “clear conscience.” (1 Tim 1:5)
  3. Scripturally exemplified relationships. When I see Jacob’s story of wrestling with the “man” I see how he engaged with Him, and afterward went to see Esau. When he saw Esau, Jacob says, “. . . I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably.” Gen 33:10 This is translatable as “I have seen your face like seeing the face of God, and you have favored me.” How did he know what seeing the face of God was? He recognized the favor in Esau’s face according to God’s face. So, I recognize Jesus’ face in love and relationships. As the musical Les Miserables ends, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
  4. Interest. I am a very interested person, because I know that through Jesus everything was made, which means everything that exists has come through Jesus, and I like tracing it back to him. As G.K. Chesterton says, “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.” I have an open face to see the world, to know what it all means as coming from Him. This open face is what I love about children (I’m a school teacher) because their hearts are so full of wonder. And when I welcome them in His name I welcome Him, and I recognize Him. (Mark 9:37)
  5. Art. When I see a painting that answers what He has revealed to me through His word, through the Holy Spirit, through relationship, and the world around me, I do not worship that “image” or “idea,” I take it to God as I seek to know Him face-to-face personally not eidetically or un-livingly. Examples: The famous picture by Akiane Kramarik, the Nathaniel Hawthorn Story: “The Great Stone Face,” Michael Card’s Song “His Gaze” are all parts of the mosaic, which bear some likeness to the One I know personally!
  6. Glory. Not the glory of man, but as I worship Him, I know His glory, and that glory is the revelation of Christ. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” And the more time we spend “seeking His face” in worship, the more the light of His face will shine through us.

So, I know His face by pure heart, clear conscience, and sincere faith in His Word, by His Spirit, with love, throughout creation, from his revelations, and as worship. And it is beyond compelling. It is beyond compare. It is . . . altogether lovely.

The Pray-er and the Pastor

Once there was a young man who was a devoted Pray-er. He was not very popular and never got invited to parties. The local Pastor invited him to his party and welcomed him into his home, but when he sat at the table with everyone else, the people clamored to get near the popular Pastor, and the Pray-er was politely acknowledged and forgotten about.

On the Day of the Lord, the Pastor and the Prayer were both welcomed to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Pastor was so excited, and he remembered the time Jesus said, “He who humbles himself will be exalted,” so he sat in the lowest seat he could find. The Prayer also sat in the lowest seat he found.

Then the Bridegroom came in and greeted his guests with warmth and joy! He walked to the end of the table farthest from the head, and politely acknowledged the Pastor. He said, “Faithful Pastor, you may go higher. Go and sit with my groomsmen.” The Pastor rose and was exalted before all the guests. The people rejoiced to see him move to a place close to the Groom!

Then the Bridegroom turned to the Pray-er and said, “My friend, it is good to see you. Come sit with Me.” And He took his hand, and led him up to the seat on his left side, and sat him down closer even than His own best man! The people were dumbstruck, and the Pastor was deeply insulted!

The meal progressed, and the Pray-er spoke, listened, and laughed with the Bridegroom, and the Pastor stared with longing in his eyes. Finally he couldn’t restrain himself and he walked over to the groom and said, “My Lord, thank you for honoring me to sit at the place for your Groomsmen. Please tell me: what did I lack to sit with You at the table?” And the Lord said, “Friend, you have served Me well, which is why I honored you with My groomsmen, and I am glad you are with Me now. This young man devoted himself to being with Me. We have been intimate friends for years, and we have shared much joy and sorrow of life together. Should he not be close at hand to share in the greatest joy of My life’s new beginning?”

Seduction

Hollow walls clank with plastic loneliness
Cascading upon non-existent ears
Cacophony of mirrored similitude
Quickly faded into oblivion

A question breathes: Who hears me?
Or am I just an echo?
What tenderness will tender to me
The sweet embrace of difference?

And then it comes: life’s vain promise
To flaunt and flail with ecstatic groaning
Only to taunt and cheapen and ruin
That piece of me meant for an “other.”

Held tight in Styrofoam more silenced than before
I see where independence leaves me:
Wishing for a different echo
That blissful, so sweet company.

Trust in God’s Economy: Part 2–The Man

So then what will it take to have this kind of intimacy with God? Abraham will be our subject of study, as he was for the Apostle Paul in Romans 4. I will examine them in my favorite fashion of Levels of Intimacy with God.

  1. Genesis 12: the Answering the Calling of God: God calls an individual to leave his home and his family behind so that he can become something else, something more than he could have been on his own. If there is obedience to this calling then “You’re off!” The reward for his obedience was the first level of Intimacy with God: God appeared to him. (vs. 7)
  2. Genesis 13: is the Casting off of Compromises: God called Abraham to leave everything behind, but still Lot went with him. It got to the point where they had to separate. If Abraham had stayed allied with Lot, he would not have been able to enjoy the blessing of God to the fullest. In our lives, compromises look like any decision we have made that falls short of God’s character of design for our lives. The reward for Abraham after he proved himself trustworthy in this was God said, “After Lot was separated from him, ‘Now lift your eyes in every direction . . . this land I will give to you and your descendants.’ The borders and the full extent of the promise was shown to him
    Recently, I thought it appropriate to mention another dimension of this idea of God trusting us. I recently read in Proverbs 3:32 about the upright, “He takes the upright into His confidence.” If any are unconvinced of God’s trust, the wisest of men shows us that it is available.
  3. Genesis 14-15: is the Denial of Worldly Reward. Abraham rescued the King of Sodom, and gave a Tithe to Melchizedek, and denied any compensation from the King of Sodom. The reward: God said he’d protect and provide for him. Furthermore, He reveals something about his character.  This is where God’s blessing and personal revelation REALLY gets special. God promises to carry his own word through to completion to His own detriment. Abraham who cut the animals in two pieces, could not keep the birds away, but God moved between the two pieces of the animals showing He would bear the weight of the breach of the Covenant. This God is so trustworthy, but he only entrusts such revelation to those who will prove this level of trustworthiness for this intimacy.
  4. Genesis 16-21: the Casting out of the Bondwoman, the easy, less-than-perfect life we have created for ourselves. Abram needed to send away Hagar because her son was to have no inheritance with the child of the promise. In our lives, this looks like getting rid of every fruitless and meaningless pursuit to which we have devoted ourselves and invested our lives, so that God can know that it is Him we want. By this point in the story, God gives Abraham a new name, and a son.
           
                  Also, at this point, it is worth noting that Abraham was given personal insight into his plans and even giving him a voice in affecting them. When God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18, he said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am going to do?”

  5. Genesis 22 Fifth, the Sacrifice of the Promise. The final test of any believer (Trust-er) It was faith in God that enabled Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, not because he didn’t love Isaac, but because he did, and it says in Hebrews that he “trusted” that God could raise the dead. This faith is truly saving faith, but it did not presume on God, but waited for His call to give it up. His reward: insight into His secret plan to redeem the whole world, and a secure place in making it happen. Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)

I have written of these things in brief, but they are worth deep seeking out in His Word. Abraham is the prototype for saving faith, and the more he trusted God, the more God entrusted Himself to him. This level of trust isn’t merely a calculating judgment for means-to-ends purposes. This is a personal revealing of one’s self and a bringing alongside of his friend. This is genuine friendship with God in the truest sense. This is how all nations can be blessed. More on that in the next article.

Encouragement: Pursue this intimacy with God. Abram messed up at the beginning and end of his walk with God and in the middle, but what remained was his trust in God. If you want insight on how to grow in Trust with God, I believe it is largely cultivated in the Fourth Stage of a believer’s life: Wilderness, so you can see my writings on the subject for more thought-food.

Here, I have provided spiritual guiding principles, but let the evil one evoke no condemnation in you. If it’s fear that makes you run from God, it is a lie of Satan. Still, this type of pursuit of God is not for everyone. Jesus knew this when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

Trust in God’s Economy: Part 1–The Word

One of the most special subjects, tender to my heart, is God’s decision to trust us. I realized the other day that God’s ability to trust me with anything has been the cornerstone to the formation of my conscience. There was a time when I was a little boy, I lied to my parents about cleaning my room, and I had promised God that I would tell them before I went to bed. I had gone to bed, but could not bear the simple thought of breaking a promise to God: not because I was scared God would do something to me, but just because it was fundamentally wrong. I said, “I made a promise to God, and I am NOT going to break that promise.”

But some people say, God trusting us? God shouldn’t trust us, we’re totally treacherous.” Yes, but if you read the Old Testament, God tested how much he could trust his blessing to his people, and use them by various ways to show that they were fully devoted to him: Abraham being the prototype. For example, why else would God have asked Abraham to make the sacrifice that He himself would one day make? (Genesis 22)

Plus, consider that every time God speaks to an individual, or gives a person a commandment, it is an act of trust: prove your worth to me, and my worth to you by your ability to follow this simple task. If a person obeys God’s voice, then they are proven to be trustworthy. And the Word of God will always do more than just test a man’s actions; “The Word of the Lord is living and active sharper than any two edged sword piercing to the division of soul and spirit and joints and marrow, and it discerns the thoughts of the mind and the intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Ultimately God’s Word reveals something about a person whenever it comes. If a person hears his word and obeys it, he is worthy of trust with more of His Word. But if he hears his word and does not do it, he has proven himself to be fruitless, defective, and useless to the Master.

This is plain to see in Parables of Jesus, but it still seems to deal on the level of “professional trustworthiness” if you will: Can Jesus trust me with greater tasks in his business? This of course, is a true Dimension to God’s trustworthiness. After all “He who is faithful with little, will be faithful with much.” But there’s another very, very sweet and for me a tearful realization that there is something more special kind of trust to have with God.

For the devious are an abomination to the Lord; But He is intimate with the upright.~Proverbs 3:23

Intimacy: a closeness of sharing one’s very self: this is a privilege for the upright. Trust in God’s economy is for those who walk without “deviation” who are whole-hearted, trustworthy, simply devoted–in a word– faithful. This trust in God’s economy is a currency often neglected in the Church. This is not just “I know God.” or “I have a relationship with Jesus.” kind of intimacy. This is a privilege of getting to “see God.” that is a blessing for the pure in heart (Matthew 5:8). Not all self-proclaimed Christians can claim this privilege. It takes a degree of sacrifice that nominal Christianity cannot afford. It takes, to use a Biblical type, Abram’s leaving his home and his family at the call of God, it takes Abram’s separation from Lot, it takes a denial of worldly reward, it takes a disowning of one’s own failed creations, it takes the total surrender of every preciously irreplaceable gift of God– it is the desire to know Him no matter how hard, or how good the cost. This progression brings about the reward of which the Prophet wrote in Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.” ~Jeremiah 9:23-24

Such a special gift of intimacy with God, of which one may humbly boast, comes by showing one’s trustworthiness, not just in obedience, but also in devoted affectionate love to the One who is truly worthy of it. Indeed, the warning is there for those who choose not to pursue this:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised—Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.” ~Jeremiah 9:25-26

My encouragement: pursue intimacy with God at any cost. No matter what you have done, if your heart within you is moved to pursue this closeness with God, it is His drawing you, and He will by no means cast you out.