Must Reads

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People always want to know what books I’m finding helpful in my journey so we’ve begun to compile a list of books that help encourage the dynamics of relational Christianity. If you’d like to buy the book you can click on  and you’ll find yourself at Amazon.com. Lifestream Ministries receives a small referral commission from Amazon for every order placed through the links on this page. Blessed Reading.

As to my own books, I think people might find it interesting to red in this order: He Loves Me!, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore! The Shack, A Man Like No Other, In Season, Authentic Relationships, and The Naked Church.

Then I’d recommend these books in order of how they have most shaped my journey.

Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli

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This is that rare book that will capture your heart as well as your mind, and the one book I’ve read in the last twenty years that I truly wish I had written. Mike Yaconelli will encourage you out of the stale confines of religion and help you rediscover with childlike simplicity and awe what a relationship with Father is really all about. He writes: “This is an adventure book, written by a man who came precariously close to losing his childlike faith, and who is still in the midst of discovering how to be a child again. It is not a book of answers from someone who has arrived; it is merely glimpses from someone who is still stumbling around yet hot on God’s trail.” And he does it so well. I dare you to read this and not come away with a renewed passion to live in the danger of loving the Living God. Chapter titles include: Risky Curiosity, Wild Abandon, Wide-eyed Listening, Irresponsible Passion, and Happy Terror. If you read one book this year, make it this one. You will not be disappointed!

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California

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This is the best book on the Christian life I have ever read. It was recommended to me by one of my friends in New England and I was not disappointed. Here is how our relationship with Jesus leads to grace-based transformation of how we think and live in the world in God. Walk with him through the Sermon on the Mount and you will find more treasures than you’ve ever seen before. Wiping away all the religious gobbledygook that twists the passage into meanings Jesus never intended, Willard lets us see how God had always planned to put his life into us and make us his lights in the world. I took notes on almost every page of this book. I’ll warn you that it is a bit ‘scholarly’, so you have to enjoy the fancy words, but in it he offers a curriculum of Christlikeness that can help be a guide to the kind of learning experiences that can help you be more like Jesus.

Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards

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Possibly the best book ever written for those who are dealing with betrayal and conflict with other believers, but I do get letters of concern about recommending Gene’s books. I greatly appreciate what Gene has written to encourage believers to think outside the box and experience God’s life. At the same time, I have deep concerns with how Gene himself actually lives out the things he teaches and the communities he has planted. Like anything else, you need to enjoy the meat in what he writes and toss out the bones. Since I have been unable to talk with him personally about my concerns, I’ll not give more details here. You will enjoy his books….

Also from Gene Edwards

  • Overlooked Christianity amazon_order_here_sm
  • How to Meet Under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Available from SeedSowers • P.O. Box 285 • Sargent, GA 30275 • 1-770-254-9442)

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

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It has been a long time since I have read a book that impacted me more than this one. It is a real-life story of some of the same themes in He Loves Me and The Shack. I laughed out loud and I wept at the challenges some kids have to face just because of where they were born. Gregory Boyle is a man loving broken lives at ground zero of the gang culture in Los Angeles. Yes, he’s a Catholic priest, and that may bother some of you, but I love the way God is working out his love in this man. There is some coarse language here as he reveals Jesus’ ability to make himself known at the most brutal edge of human brokenness.

The Shack by William P. Young in Collaboration with Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings

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If you have not read The Shack, you’re missing what I think is one of the best books that’s been written in the last 40 years. It is fiction, but it is one of the most creative explorations of God’s love and intimate care in the midst of unspeakable tragedies. Religious publishers turned this book down initially, so Windblown Media was birthed to bring this wonderful book into print. It is now available at Amazon.com and discriminating bookstores. You can also add them to a Lifestream order. It is also available now in a special hardback edition.

Soul Talk by Larry Crabb

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The man who helped me write the Jake Colsen story said this is the best book he’s ever read, and if you want to learn how to converse with others on this journey, getting past surface issues to the underlying realities, this book will help a ton. But like all Crabb books, I think the first 2/3rds of his books is where the meat is. The last third are usually how-to steps that are almost worthless.

Also from Larry Crabb

  • The Pressure’s Off amazon_order_here_sm
  • Finding God amazon_order_here_sm
  • Connecting amazon_order_here_sm

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

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You’ve got to love Brennan Mannings honesty as a former priest and alcohol struggling to learn to live in the love of the Father. He has many excellent books, but this is one of my favorites. In here he helps us see that God’s invitation is not for us to wake up every morning trying to be loved by God, but waking up each morning as the beloved of God!

Also from Brennan Manning

  • Ragamuffin Gospel amazon_order_here_sm
  • Ruthless Trust amazon_order_here_sm

The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin

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One of the best books I’ve ever read about Jesus’ style of ministry and leadership, which is polar opposite to the way the world does it and to the style used in all of our religious institutions. Gayle is a wonderful friend of mine and has been a real help to me over the years. You can order from Amazon.com or at Gayle’s own website, Servant Quarters.

Also from Gayle Erwin

  • The Father Style amazon_order_here_sm
  • Handbook for Servants amazon_order_here_sm
  • The Body Style amazon_order_here_sm
  • That Reminds me of a Story amazon_order_here_sm

That They May All Be One Even as We Are One by T. Austin-Sparks

that_they_may_all_be_oneFew men have written so eloquently about the centrality of Christ and the importance of relationship like T. Austin-Sparks. Seedsowers.com offers a lot of his books and they are excellent. Perhaps the best summary of his teaching comes in this two-volume set of observations on the journey by T. Austin-Sparks taken from recordings made in Philippines toward the end of his life. You can read it on-line at: www.Austin-Sparks.net. Just go toward the bottom of this page and click on “That They May All Be One…” You can also order this two-volume set from some dear saints in Tulsa who do not charge for books, but any contributions you make will be used to reprint and distribute even more books: You can send in an order or contact them directly at Emmanuel Church • 12000 E. 14th St. • Tulsa, OK 74128-5016 • Phone: (918) 838-1385. If no answer call: (918) 437-7064

What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey

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A classic as you learn the difference between living in grace or ungrace toward yourself and others.

The Remarkable Replacement Army by Stan Firth

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In his newest book Stan uses an extended metaphor about a “replacement army” in Norway during World War II to resist the Nazi occupation and help overthrow their German invaders to share some powerful observations about people who no longer fit into the religious systems they once did. He describes a transition going on in the world from the traditional congregation as we’ve known it and a more relational networking of passionate believers that he says will define church life in this century. It will challenge many of you. It will encourage others of you. And it will help many of you who are asking how you can live more effectively beyond the congregational model. Though this book can bog down a bit, persevere through it. You will find it inspiring and insightful. I posted a longer review on my blog. A free PDF download can be found on the book’s website: www.remarkablereplacementarmy.com