*I realize I am bit late with this list. It was a draft for 5 months and I forgot to publish it until now.
1. Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton
“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
Chesterton’s writings have had tremendous impact on my life. I connect with his understanding that humor and mystery are two necessary components for a healthy understanding of life. Orthodoxy is perhaps his most concise and rich work. Full of incredible analogies and perspectives on faith, God, and the church, it is a must read for any person who has wrestled with the complexities of Christianity.
2. Becoming Human – Jean Vanier
“Loneliness is part of being human, because there is nothing in existence that can completely fulfill the needs of the human heart.”
There is a tangible power when one writes from experience. Vanier is not a scholar as much as he is a man who has given his life for others. He is a living example of servant leadership. Vanier is a devout Catholic who is deeply compassionate, and has perhaps the greatest insights on brokenness and pain I’ve ever read. This is one of a few books that has nearly brought me to tears.
3. A Diary of Private Prayer – John Baillie
“Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of Thee, let my first impulse be to worship Thee, let my first action be to kneel before Thee in prayer.”
I stumbled across Baillie in college, and his prayers have stuck with me to this day. If you want to experience renewal in your prayer life, I highly encourage you to spend a month with John Baillie’s diary of prayer.
4. In Memoriam – Lord Alfred Tennyson
“Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
If Lewis’ A Grief Observed was written in poetic form, I think it would resemble something close to this spectacular work. Tennyson writes this (long) poem after the death of his close friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. It is unrestrained emotion and brilliant poetry that makes you feel and ponder the depths of the human condition. I find myself being affected more deeply with each reading.
5. The King Jesus Gospel – Scot McKnight
“We need perhaps to pause to remind ourselves again what Paul is saying: he is saying that the gospel he gospeled is the authentic, reliable gospel of the apostles—he both received that gospel and passed it on. He’s no innovator when it comes to the gospel.”
Just like the quote about the apostle Paul above, McKnight isn’t really saying anything new, but he has way with words that clarifies what many are trying to say into something convincing and concise. There seems to be a new resurgence and emphasis on preaching the full Gospel of Jesus, while many contemporary Christians have preached personal salvation and called it “the gospel”. McKnight brings a different and fresh perspective, as well as great scholarship to this very engaging book. This book had me physically nodding my head and mumbling “yes” and “amen” aloud as I was reading. It allowed me to better understand my own angst and frustration that I had difficulty putting a finger on as a young and inexperienced preacher.