My slight obsession with books and a few of my favorites

I love books…but I haven’t always. In fact it wasn’t until after I graduated high school that I really got into reading and learning. Looking back I probably could have been quite the nerd back then. However, like most people, I can only really apply myself to learning about something that I actually care about.

These days I can compare my book buying habits to my CD buying habits back in the day. I use to buy between 4 and 8 CDs a week when I was in high school. Why wouldn’t I? I had a crappy job and no real responsibilities, it was clearly the logical thing to do…

Don’t get me wrong, I still love and appreciate music, probably even more than I did when I was 16. Since then My taste in style and artists has grown and matured. Notice I said grown, not changed. I still love The Ramones, Black Flag, Rancid, Minor Threat, Figure Four, New Found Glory, Terror, Alkaline Trio and all of the other bands I grew up on. Thankfully through the years I’ve learned to explore music and art outside of just the punk and hardcore scene.

When it comes to music these days my wife and I prefer to just purchase the record (even though we still don’t have a record player yet), get the album online or purchase the CD at a show. We still occasionally buy a CD from the store, but not so much these days.

Anyway, back to the books. My wife and I have a pretty good collection of books built so far in our short time marriage. Even though we don’t buy books every week it seems like we add a few books to our Amazon cart and wish list all the time. I also have a bad habit of reading four books at a time, which ends up taking longer than if I just read one of them at a time. I just love being able to learn, grow and see different opinions and interpretations of scripture other than mine or what I already know and believe. By the way, the majority of books that I read are centered around topics such as the Christian life, church history, church practice and Jesus himself. I’d just like to give you guys a small list of my all-time favorite books (so far at least). These books have played a huge part in my life as a Christian and have revealed Christ and scripture to me in ways that have been challenging and really life changing.

These books are in no certain order of importance or favoritism, they’re just altogether favorites.

1. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

2. The Centrality of Jesus Christ (The Collected Works of T. Austin Sparks: Volume 1)

3. From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola

4. Christ the Sum of All Spiritual Things by Watchman Nee

5. Against the Tide by Angus Kinnear (biography of Watchman Nee)

6. Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna and Reimagining Church by Frank Viola (two different books but I believe they go hand in hand to create one complete work)

7. The Community Life of God by Milt Rodriguez

8. Created for Community by Stanley Grenz

9. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

10. The Normal Christian Church Life by Watchman Nee

11. The Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola

This list could go on but I want to keep it fairly short for now. I’m also sure that as the months and years go on this list will continue to grow and change. But for now these have been the most influential and helpful books that God has put in my path. I’m very thankful for all of these writers and what have given to Christendom through Christ.

What are some of your favorite books? (fiction or non-fiction, all time favorites)

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My experience reading The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

So this is the first blog I’ve posted since last week, and it’s a
short one. However, this post will be leading right into the blog that I will be writing tomorrow.

This is not a full book review. It is simply a brief synopsis of my experience with this book.

A couple years ago a friend told me about this little book called The Normal Christian Life by a man named Watchman Nee. I found things that my friend was saying to be very interesting, much deeper than things I’ve read and teachings I had heard in the past. After a short time I went to a local bookstore to find this book that seemed to have so much truth in it. Sure enough the bookstore had it, and it was even really cheap. So I started reading The Normal Christian Life for the very first time. I was amazed at how difficult it was for me to understand what Watchman Nee was talking about. I’ve never had to read a book so slow, read such small pieces at a time or re-read so many pages and chapters, every page was like a new revelation. I carried this book with me everywhere I went for about a year. If I had my Bible with me, sure enough that little book was with me as well. So after about a year of reading, thinking, meditating and talking about the teachings contained in this book I finished reading it, and have since then read various sections of it over and over. When I step back and look at the truths contained in The Normal Christian Life I realize that they are basic Christian truths, at least they should be. Points such as our death in Christ, our new life in Him and the fact that we can’t please God so we should stop trying should all be very elementary in the Church, but yet I had a hard time understanding them at first, even after growing up around Christianity nearly my entire life. The Normal Christian Life is a book that I recommend to every Christ follower, no matter their background, doctrines, church practice, age or even their denomination.

I’m telling you all of this because I be posting another blog tomorrow about one of the truths I learned from reading this book that completely changed my life and view on a lot of things. It was a truth that set me on a long journey which I am still on. What I’m going to share tomorrow is something that I believe should be one of the foundational pieces of truth for beginning this lifelong journey toward Christ and in Christ. I suspect that tomorrow’s post will be pretty long, longer than usual, so please feel free print it out and continue reading or simply keep coming back to pick up where you left off. I won’t be posting any other blogs after tomorrow’s until next week.

Jesus Manifesto: A Book Review

So I have been meaning to start doing book reviews on here for a while now, and of course sometimes I can be a procrastinator….even about things I care about. But anyway, this will be my first book review on this blog, with hopefully more to come in the future.

When I first saw that Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet were going to be writing a book together after releasing their joint essay, I got pretty excited. The essay itself was a kick back on track for many believers, showing us that Christ is all and in all. Of course I was already a fan and beneficiary of both Viola and Sweet’s writings, so the fact that they were collaborating was a plus as well.

First, this book does not exist to give us a step by step guide for living a better Christian life such as many mainstream books these days. Instead, it gives us a glimpse of the beautiful, all encompassing Christ that we so often lose sight of. If there’s one thing that I know I walked away from this book with was the realization of how we all so easily lose sight Christ, the true Jesus that is, not the Santa Jesus, or the Civil Rights Jesus, or the Moral Teacher Jesus, but the one true Son of God, the life giving spirit, the Christ in whom all things are summed up.

This book doesn’t just give us more theology and more doctrine, but it shows that Christ is far too immense to be locked into a systematic theology. So many believers might say “I understand Jesus, but it’s time to move onto deeper things.” Point: You cannot graduate beyond Christ while in this life. Viola and Sweet show us that Christ is the one “thing” we seek, any other spiritual “thing” trembles in comparison to Christ, even good things. Jesus Manifesto proves that all spiritual things are found only in Him alone, and they can never be detached from Him.

Jesus Manifesto calls out the types and aspects of Jesus that so many believers get caught up in, the “things” that are in Christ, as opposed to the one true Jesus, and they reveal them for what they are. I believe that this is a very important book not only for our generation, but for for generations to come. We have to see Jesus Christ for who He really is and experience His life for what it really is. We have to obsess over this Christ, Jesus Himself, so that “…in all things He might have the supremacy.”

Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet have sounded forth a decree to the Body of Christ to return to its first love. Jesus Manifesto contains a heart cry that will speak for years to come, and yet it’s merely a glimpse of the vastness of Christ and His riches.

There are few books that I believe should be read by every Christ follower, and this book is one of them.