Chasing The Dragon, by Jackie Pullinger

Chasing The Dragon surprised me in many ways, over and over again. I cannot say enough, of just how much I loved this book. For a little over a year now, I've noticed God revealing more and more to me about the Holy Spirit, when up until that time, He, the Holy Spirit, seemed like such a mysterious part of the trinity. In many churches, we nearly ignore His presence and work all together, treating His help and gifts as optional extras to our relationship with Christ, only for edgier, more radical Christians, and that the average follower of Christ, can continue following Jesus without seeking His help.

This book ministered to me in this, that the more Jackie utilized the Holy Spirit's promise of help and empowerment, the more people were freed from the darkness of drugs and sin. We read stories like this, of great revivals, where the Spirit moves with the velocity and potency of lightening, and we wonder why we don't see Him at work around us today. The answer is us. The Holy Spirit, God, is offering the same help, guidance, gifts, and power that He did when He came upon the disciples at Pentecost. Someone shared with me recently, that they think the American church today is afraid to receive the power of the Holy Spirit; I don't think that's too far off. I look at how much Jackie sacrificed in her 20 years in the Walled City, and know surrendering my fears, reputation, time, and much more is something God wants of me and that I'll have to be willing to give up anything and everything. I can say that I am willing and desire to be totally surrendered to God, but I can't say it isn't a daunting thought for my flesh.

The kind of church family Jackie started in Kowloon is something not many of us have ever experienced; it seems almost alien, but you can't deny the fruit that came from it or God's presence in that work. I've only heard one person speak in tongues before, what would it be like if every believer prayed that way; if I could pray that way?

Chasing The Dragon, by Jackie Pullinger inspires me to seek God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, fully, desiring everything He has to offer, all He wants me to give up, all the He wants to bless me with, and all the ways He wants me to grow and change. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out all fear. If I can just cling to God's love for me, and trust in His proven promises, it won't matter how much total surrender scares me. God's love is perfect and undermines my fears, empowering me to surrender all.

-Hannah M

Prayers For Prodigals, by James Banks

Prayers for the Prodigals

90 Days of Prayer for Your Child

By

James Banks

“Parents can bless their child in no greater way than to pray for his or her salvation. Yet sometimes knowing what to pray can be difficult.” As a parent with a prodigal child I find myself not knowing how or what to pray for my prodigal child because I sometimes find myself wondering what I could have done different in raising my child, or where did I go wrong that my child is a prodigal. Other times I look at my prodigal’s life’s decisions and rebellion that I become angry and critical towards my child.

The prayers contained in this book address these feelings and many more. An example of a prayer in the book reminds me that “the struggle is not my child, but with spiritual forces that influence him to turn away from you.” Other prayers include “when you’ve said something you regret,” “How long, O Lord,” and many more. This book provides comfort to parents whose children are prodigals and prayers to pray for them.

-Elsa

How To Study The Bible And Enjoy It, by Skip Heitzig

For some people, the thought of studying the Bible is connected with drudgery. The consider the concepts too difficult, too ancient, or too boring to bring any kind of enjoyment.

Pastor Skip explains that it does not have to be that way. God did not design the Word to be that way. Instead, God delivered His Word in a way that it is accessible to normal people, not just scholars. There is great joy for every Christian who learns to study the Bible!

This book teaches us a few simple tools that will help any believer to study and find the incredible riches found in God’s letter to His followers.

Pastor Skip begins with tips on how to select the right Bible and translation for you. Then he challenges the reader to have a hunger for God’s Word. The main content of the book focuses on teaching how to observe the text, interpret it, and most importantly, apply it to our lives.

-Jerry

Chuck Smith, A Memoir Of Grace Autobiography

Pastor Chuck Smith has been used by God in a mighty way. This is his life story which records Pastor Chuck telling the amazing work that God has done in him, as well as through him. All in all it is a testimony of the grace of God.

Chuck’s journey began long before he began pastoring the little church called Calvary Chapel. As a teenager he heard the call of God to go into ministry.

He attended Bible college, where he met and married Kay. And then went on to pastor many different churches in California and Arizona over a 17 year period. Did you know that Pastor Chuck pastored two different churches right here in Corona, CA?

During this time of ministry God taught him the essential truths that his ministry at Calvary Chapel came to be founded upon. Chuck shares how he learned to teach the Bible chapter by chapter and verse by verse, how important the grace of God is, and how God provides where He guides.

Chuck then shares about the work God did at Calvary Chapel during the Jesus movement. He tells the story of watching the hippies and praying for them, and then meeting one for the first time.

Calvary Chapel has grown tremendously and touched many lives with the Gospel and the simple teaching of God’s Word. This is the story of a man who had much smaller goals, but was changed and used by God in a radical way.

-Jerry

On Being A Leader For God, by Warren Wiersbe

The church desperately needs good leaders, but what makes a good leader? In this book Warren Wiersbe shares what Christian leadership is all about using the Bible and his vast experience in churches and ministry.

This book is meant to be a sequel to the well-known and loved book On Being A Servant Of God by Wiersbe. In that book we have a powerful exhortation to serve God's people and maintain a servant's heart in ministry. In this book we have a broader look at the responsibilities, character and Biblical description of a Christian leader.

Wiersbe has an amazing style which makes his points easy to understand. He weaves into the chapters illustrations, stories and examples that help the truths sink in as well as give us a sense of their practical applications. He does not just write about theories or ideals, but he helps us to see what it looks like in a godly leader.

Wiersbe addresses topics such as discipline, opportunities and problems, personal giftings, authority, responsibility, accountability, humility, delegation, new methods, opposition and much more.

I strongly recommend this book for all Christian leaders, whether you are leading within the church or somewhere else. These truths will challenge you to make the most of the role that God has given to you.

-Jerry

Gray Matter by David Levy, MD with Joel Kilpatrick

Gray Matter by David Levy, MD with Joel Kilpatrick

Biography & Autobiography/Medical

God is good. This book invites you to see the hand of God move in the lives of people who have undergone surgery in the most delicate part of the human body, the brain. Dr. David Levy, a neurosurgeon from San Diego, CA recounts how he has seen God’s goodness through the power of prayer.

Dr. Levy gives us a glimpse into the world of neurosurgery; the delicate and precise use of instruments that travel through the vascular system of the human body into the brain to untangle webs of arteries that cause aneurysms, strokes or death. But the gray matter exists when God challenges him to pray for his patient bringing God into the forefront of medical science.

Through this book, we see God working in Dr. Levy’s life by tearing down his pride, ego and fear so he can pray with his patients. We see God’s goodness and faithfulness before and after the patient’s surgery (physical and spiritual). Dr. Levy talks about how anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness can cause serious health problems through the various patients he has treated. Some of the patients have experienced domestic violence, failed marriages, and day to day life struggles.

This book reminds us that God answers prayer and He is good in all circumstances. It is a must read book that challenges us to pray for others, and know his answered prayers are good regardless of the outcome.

-Elsa

Set-Apart Femininity, by Leslie Ludy

It's kind of mind-boggling that the Lord finds you perfectly beautiful - is it not? Most of us don't fit into what society says is perfect beauty, so it seems who can pull off "allure" but some runway model? You look in the mirror and see flaws flaws flaws, what shouldn't be, what use to be, etc - and this is what the world will tell you that you aren't pretty unless you have this makeup, this body, weigh this much, and it goes on. But God says you are beautiful, and the Lord is always always right. This is a call to pursue the Lord's definition of beautiful (because without Him, we are the opposite of attractive), not what the world tells you is gorgeous. It's easy to think and hard to do - because many of us fear if we stop trying so hard that no one will give us a second glance, even if it is petty to yearn for attention from anyone but the Lord. This book doesn't preach about not caring whatsoever about how you look, but it calls attention to fitting into the world's standards vs. following God in His way. Because Naomi Campbell seemed really pretty until the news that she had an ugly temper and hit her maid with her cell phone came out. And haven't you ever noticed someone so kind-hearted, good and on-fire for Jesus that beauty never seemed so beautiful?

-Justine

Traitor, by Daniel Massieh

The first time Daniel stepped foot into church he did so with the intent of catching Christians practicing lewd and sinful acts of which he was sure they practiced. To his initial disappointment these Christians didn't engage in such acts, and the confusion led him to question God later on that same night. The moment he realized who God is as his loving Father (and not as a diety posed to strike at whim) his life took on an entirely different purpose. So enamored was Daniel with Jesus Christ that he set to spread the good news throughout Egypt, but in a Islam land this was a dangerous mission. More than shock and bewilderment, there was intense anger toward Daniel's transformation. His evangelical mission eventually led him to a tiny prison cell where starvation, bitter cold, and darkness was all too real; but the reality of God and His love for him was a presence felt even stronger. This is an extraordinary read, reminding us how the love of God prevails and how it preserves those who love Him no matter how dire the surroundings. -Justine

If God, Why Evil?, by Norman Geisler

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes bad people are found innocent for crimes they did indeed commit. Most of the time, “God works in mysterious ways” isn’t an answer that pacifies. It does seem an insane contradiction – that evil should exist so abundantly in a world that is supposed to be governed by an all-powerful and all-loving God. Because of evil, Atheists come to the conclusion that no such God thrives. Because of evil, even strong believers begin to doubt God and his plan. But, whether circumstances point to it or not, the Lord always always works everything out for good. This book is refreshing and makes complete sense – like looking back at an impossible situation and now being able to say, “Ooooh! So that’s why that had to happen”

The Making Of A Man Of God, by Alan Redpath

The account of David’s life contained in the Scriptures is a lot more than just a story of what he experienced. For example, the account of David’s battle with Goliath pictures the victory that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. From this we learn the key to effectiveness in the church, and why so many things are not effective.

Redpath works through David’s history, highlighting the many lessons illustrated by this man of God. He deals with the contrast between Saul’s decline and David’s rise., how important a good friend is, how David handled the pressures of opposition, persecution and depression, how David learned to inquire of the Lord, and how to go from deep crying to joyful praise. David was a man just like us and the lessons that can be learned from his life are applicable to each of us.

Redpath gives a clear picture of the events that occurred using the accounts in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles and the Psalms that David wrote along the way. Using these he draws out the spiritual lessons and illustrations they contain, and he  also makes sure to point out and dwell on the personal application for the truths found in David’s example. If you desire to be a man or woman of God, this book will be an invaluable resource for God to work in you.

-Jerry

“David had the anointing of God upon him because of faithfulness in the obscurity in his home life, because there he passed the test.”   -Alan Redpath, page 33

Hand Me Another Brick, by Charles Swindoll

This book by Charles Swindoll is an in-depth study of the book of Nehemiah. Swindoll begins the book with the background and overview of Nehemiah’s work in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He follows Nehemiah’s three different roles: Cup bearer, builder and governor.

Swindoll considers the prayer life of the cup bearer. He digs deep into the story to uncover the powerful principles that Nehemiah lived by as he waited and  prayed for Jerusalem. Did you know that he waited and prayed for four months before the king gave him the approval to go to Jerusalem?

Next Swindoll considers Nehemiah the builder. We have much to learn from Nehemiah from his example in building. He models for us how to handle criticism, strong opposition, threats, discouragement and issues of sin.

The final role that Swindoll examines is Nehemiah as the governor. How a leader handles promotion and authority is even more important than how a leader handles difficulty. Nehemiah used, but did not abuse his authority. Nehemiah did not just build a wall, but he helped bring about spiritual revival to the people.

-Jerry

“What do we mean when we use the word leadership? If I were asked to define it in one single word, the word would be ‘influence.’ You lead someone to the measure you influence him.”  -Charles Swindoll

Foxe's Christian Martyrs, by John Foxe

If I were to keep constant focus on Christ, if I were to be burned alive at stake, I am confident His love for me could be felt burning hotter than the flames that would lick my skin. If you were to be isolated for following Jesus, if your name was to be hideously slandered, I am confident His love for you would be a comforting companionship that could out rival any supposed friendship on earth. Men would torture, kill, maim, and abuse those who seek after God’s divine will and Word. Yet for all these men have “achieved”, God’s kingdom could not, would not, shall not be stinted in advancing among the hearts of His followers. Skeptics and catholic Pharisees and all non-believers in between, could not stop others from following Christ, not for lack of trying (no, men truly outdo themselves and their resources when trying to destroy what God has planned) but because God is that wise, powerful, mighty, that far ahead of us. I think if the entire world went blind, His Word would then be audibly heard. Picturing things like starvation, infection, burnt flesh, beatings and the like would make anyone cringe. To imagine going through such things just because you were a disciple to God is horrific to mention, yet when “Foxe’s Christian Martyrs” went through such ordeals most lifted their hands, praising God for his influence, even to the end. This is how mighty God is, and how he can sustain us so – His love and strength mightier felt than any opposing influence on earth.

-Justine

Dynamic Spiritual Leadership, by J. Oswald Sanders

His first book on leadership was so powerful that J. Oswald Sanders received many requests for another leadership resource. He responded with this in-depth look at  the Apostle Paul’s leadership qualities.

Paul stands out as a great leader in the New Testament church. He played an instrumental role in the foundation of churches, missions, doctrine and the Scriptures. Sanders digs into the letters of Paul to uncover real qualities and practical truths as an example for us. As inspiring as Paul was, he was a human being just like you and I. This makes him a great model for us!

Paul was steadfast in his convictions, he endured great hardship and difficulty. He understood the importance of a clear conscience, and zealously pursued purity and growth. He sought to please God, and kept his eyes always on eternity.

Sanders analyzes Paul’s high view of God, his focus on the cross of Jesus, his prayer life, his ministry on the mission field, how he trained others, and much more. This book is a great resource for anyone who wants to grow and be challenged to lead others in the body of Christ.

-Jerry

“The apostle’s leadership was not perfect, but it provides us with a tremendously encouraging and inspiring example of what it means to continue pressing toward maturity.”   -J. Oswald Sanders, page 45

A Tale Of Three Kings, by Gene Edwards

This book is indeed a tale. It is a dramatic re-telling of the stories of Saul, David and Absalom.

There are two parts to this story. Both parts have important and valuable lessons that have such depth they cannot be fully discovered in one sitting. Then the contrast between the two parts adds even greater depth, value and essential lessons.

The first part follows the tale of David as a young man and Saul as king of Israel. In this part of the drama Edwards challenges us to face the King Saul within all of us. He also helps us to understand how to deal with King Sauls in our lives so that we do not become King Saul II.

The second part follows the tale of David as king of Israel and Absalom as a young man. Here Edwards gives insight into the Absalom within all of us, the rebellion, the ambition and the dreams. He also helps us to understand how to deal with Absaloms in our lives so that we do not become Absaloms or Sauls.

This book is not a meaty in-depth Bible study, but do not let the light story telling fool you. There are powerful lessons in here that can change lives. Powerful lessons that every Christian will need at some point in their life.

-Jerry

“What does this world need: gifted men and women, outwardly empowered? Or individuals who are broken, inwardly transformed?”  -Gene Edwards, page 42

Spiritual Leadership, by J. Oswald Sanders

This book is the classic definitive work on spiritual leadership. It is a must read for every Christian leader. Not just once, or twice, but over and over again. Although the book is not very thick, it has immense depth and value. Sanders has a way of cutting through the fluff, right to the point to bring conviction and challenge.

Sanders begins the book explaining that the body of Christ has great need for spiritual leaders. Many Christians are uncomfortable with the desire to lead, but he explains how the desire can be God-given, noble and honorable.

Although the need is great and the cause is noble, there is a standard for those who lead. A Christian leader needs to have godly qualities, Christ-like character, and Biblical practices. Sanders goes beyond observing general qualities and characteristics, he also gives us practical points so that we can change and grow.

-Jerry

“We can lead others only as far along the road as we ourselves have traveled. Merely pointing the way is not enough. If we are not walking, then no one can be following, and we are not leading anyone.” -J. Oswald Sanders, page 28

The Jesus Style, by Gayle Erwin

Do we dare to actually model our lives after Jesus? Here is a better question, do we dare not to model ourselves after Jesus? Jesus calls us to follow His example, which is radically different and contrary to what we are used to.

Gayle does a masterful job of drawing out deep heart issues and practical life issues to challenge us. Jesus’ example is so simple, and yet these points will stretch us to the limit if we seriously consider following Him. Applying these truths will require a transformation of our lives from top to bottom, from work to family, from leisure to service.

Are you ready to be challenged to the core? Are you ready to put into practice the truths that Jesus taught? Jesus humbled Himself. He did not lord over others (even though He had the right to). Jesus lived as an example and served His followers. Jesus did not force people to follow, but took a position of lowliness, last or least. Through it all Jesus fully obeyed the Father and kept His heart pure.

Although this example seems way beyond our reach, Gayle helps us to understand what each one really means for us today. He delivers solid, simple, powerful application for living the Jesus style.

-Jerry

“The world has seen no power greater than that of Jesus, and the church exercises no power greater than that of living and loving lifestyle of Jesus” (Gayle Erwin, page 162)

From Fury To Freedom, by Raul Ries

Anger is the hardest thing to control. A huge gruesome monster with an insulting tongue, thrashing fists, and insensitive claws – out of bounds anger is synonym to sin. Being a man with an infamous temper, Raul Ries broke people like his wife and young children and even unfortunate strangers who happened to cross paths with him. As a fighter with an abusive upbringing Raul channels his rage into pain for others. Then comes a fateful day when he comes home to find his wife’s suitcases packed and at the door. At long last she has decided to leave him. With a plan to murder in his mind, and a gun in his hand he plots to take the lives of his family. By miraculous intervention, Raul discovers the power of Jesus and how the Lord can control anger. No longer a slave to sin (and his fury) but filled with the Holy Spirit he becomes a man transformed. The change in Raul is so astonishing, like a spider becoming a butterfly (no one saw it coming!) Jesus saved Raul from himself, and the result is awesome. Witness how God can take a man with hate in his blood and turn him into a pastor with love in his eyes.-Justine

Ruth Graham Bell: Celebrating

How lovely it is to meet someone on fire for Jesus! They that whole-heartedly seek after Him are beautiful. Those who are so in love with Christ are the best people on earth, aren’t they? True followers of Christ are honest, sincerely thoughtful of others, and inspiringly considerate of Jesus and His role in their life. Ruth Bell Graham shined with the light of Jesus so much so, possessing all the aforementioned qualities and more. There are so many different perspectives about her from her siblings, to her parents, to her husband, to old friends; every single incident had someone in admiration of Ruth. Snippets of her life and moments in time reveal Ruth as a wonderful woman, even her “faults” (which I should mention seem to only be found by Ruth herself) are endearing. Reading the biography of someone that can be described as an apple of God’s eye is like cold water on a hot day - refreshing.-Justine

When A Woman Lets Go Of Her Fears, by Cheryl Brodersen

It’s hard following after God when there’s an invisible chain that tethers you down. Maybe your mind thinks, “God is strong” and your spirit feels like, “God is my shield” but then the pit of your stomach buts in and goes, “But I don’t know… this looks risky. Who knows what can happen?” That chain that keeps you down where the Lord would free you is one powerful opponent – Fear. On one hand, fears can keep you safe. Fear of pain equals things like helmets and kneepads. On the other hand, fear can be the biggest bully. Fear tells you to avoid talking to people because there might be rejection. If fear controls all that you do (even in the most mundane circumstances), then it’s time to give them up to God. Of course, for a lot of people, giving your fears to the Lord is scary in itself. Because what if *gasp* He makes you face them? Trust in the Lord, and see that doing things His way is always best and your faith will be all the more secure as a result. What it comes down to is this – is it better to be a slave to fear or a servant to Christ?-Justine