Making the Cut {Religious/Personal Growth}

We've arrived at the Final List...maybe. I've rather enjoyed cataloging my selections of re-read-able books, and since I had to leave so many wonderful works off (or I simply forgot about them until after the posts were published), I may revisit this idea later in the summer. Consider this your heads-up!

Today, however, we're discussing those books that fall into the Religious and Personal Growth categories, so let's get started, shall we? Oh, and by the way, I cheat on this list by grouping several books under each number, so make sure you read every description to catch them all, okay? Thanks.


The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
It's not a surprise that a book by C.S. Lewis should make this list. In fact, the biggest problem was narrowing it down to just one! However, as much as I enjoyed Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters, it was Lewis's definition of the various types of love that instantly came to mind. Peter and I found a copy of The Four Loves on CD, originally read by C.S.Lewis, himself, for the BBC, and we listed to it while driving around Oregon back in 2005. We liked it so much, we started over from the beginning as we headed down the California coast, just to make sure we hadn't missed anything. It has ended up being a must-have on long trips, as we continually pick up something new each time we listen, and Lewis is a delightful traveling companion.


What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
Shortly after I graduated from college in 2003, I picked up this book and decided to give it a try. My brother and Philip have been friends for many years, and my mother had given me several of his books (nicely tucked away on my bookshelves), but I had never gotten around to reading any of his work. I selected his book about Grace as my intro-to-Yancey, and settled down to see what all the fuss was about. {For the record, I have since read several other works by him, but haven't become a fan} This book took me completely by surprise. Yancey isn't gentle - he discusses everything from homosexual friends to problems in the Church, and gives a booster-shot reminder of what Grace has done for us. Worth reading.


Today Matters by John C. Maxwell
If you've been reading the blog for any time at all, you probably have picked up on the fact that I am a fan of John C. Maxwell. One of the things that I appreciate the most about him is that he staffs his weaknesses, but that's a whole other blog post! Four years ago, we were faced with an uncertain future and battling discouragement, when a friend suggested that we read Be a People Person. After several years of working in missionary aviation around the world, we were burned out, fed up, discouraged, and completely at a loss as to what God was going to do with us next.  Peter landed a job with his old company, and I started getting used to seeing rejection letters in our mailbox with my name on them (which is why we read Failing Forward). However, it was when we opened up Today Matters, that things really started to change, and we realized that the little steps taken every day were what added up to the reaching of much larger goals over time. Making each day matter is part of the reason we're in the place we are, today.


All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam
Before we got married twelve years ago (yesterday), Peter picked up several books by the original financial guru, Larry Burkett, to help set us off on the right course. The thing about money books is that they can have the best ideas in the world, but if you don't put the ideas into practice, they don't do you any good. I would say that the majority of our money-management know-how came through learning from our own stupid mistakes. Over the last few years, I've read both books and blogs about money and handling finances, and I even helped run a four week course based on Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. However, it has only been within the last year that we have really gotten serious about how we handle money, and that coincided with an opportunity I received to review All the Money. Vanderkam doesn't follow the rules of traditional frugality, but her methods and theories fall right in line with the way Peter and I now deal with our finances: memories over stuff, quality over quantity, giving over hoarding. I'm not a fan of finances books in general, but I have no qualms recommending this one.


As I was compiling this list, I realized that there actually aren't a lot of books in the religious or self-help categories that I consider worth of re-reading. In fact, many of them barely make it to my first-time reading list. The majority of my growth as a Christian has not come from reading the wisdom of man, but by reading the Words of God, as found completely packaged and neatly bound in this excellent book called, The Bible. In fact, of all of the books that I have recommended over the last few weeks (and even over the years of this blog), the only book that is truly worthy of being read over and over again, is God's Word. It is the only book that actually has the power to change your life, the only message that can affect you for eternity. During junior high and high school, I wore out my NIV Student Bible, I traveled the world toting my tiny snap-flap NIV that Peter purchased for me on our honeymoon, and late last year, I finished reading through the Bible using the New Living Translation (NLT). My current Bible-of-choice is an older NIV Study Bible, complete with notes and maps, the pastor at our church uses the New American Standard version, and we have friends who are fans of King James (KJV). The point isn't so much which version you read, as much as it is that you simply read it

** A WORD OF WARNING! ** Newer versions of the NIV (from 2011 on) have become Gender Neutral! Because of this change (which saddens me greatly), I have to recommend that if you are looking for a new Bible, you should look at the NASB or the ESV (Study or Student), rather than the "updated" NIV. There's a good article about these changes on Desiring Virtue, if you want to find out more.

And that does it for me.

What would make YOUR list in these categories?


  1. I've been meaning to tell you how much I love "Til We Have Faces" by C.S. Lewis. Even though I can't claim to get every analogy in the book! :) I've found that it resonates most after a personal tragedy or dark spiritual time. I truly get the despair of not being known, and I look forward to the time when I will See and Be Seen.

    1. That's one Lewis book that I haven't made it around to yet, but it's on my list. Thanks for the quick review!


A reminder: there are more than 400,000 words in the English language, please use them wisely.


Related Posts with Thumbnails