Have you been tagged? It’s all over Facebook right now. Post ten books that have “stayed with you” in some way. Then tag ten of your friends to do the same.
Here are my ten:
10) A Reason for Joy- Thomas Thigpen
9) God’s Story Your Story- Max Lucado
8) The Journey of Desire- John Eldridge
7) A Mother’s Heart- Jean Flemming
6) Tramp for the Lord- Corrie ten Boom
5) One Thousand Gifts- Ann Voscamp
4) Approval Addiction- Joyce Meyer
3) Rennovation of the Heart- Dallas Willard
2) Our Covenant God- Kay Arthur
1) The Bible -God
Some of the authors on my list have been labeled as questionable in Christian circles because of some things they teach. Take Ann Voscamp. Ann’s most successful book, One Thousand Gifts, illustrates a time in her life where she eagerly sought and experienced a mystical spiritual experience. She quotes spiritist and New Age writers in the book which has (rightly) made it a topic for much debate. On the other hand, the book focuses 95% of the time on cultivating a heart of thankfulness. Throughout the book Ann uses Scripture and brings acute focus on God. I would like to tell her how grateful I am for modeling continuous, overflowing thanksgiving. That’s why the book has stuck with me. So, where does Ann stand and how should we respond to her as believers?
Joyce Meyer is another controversial author. I am unsure of her feelings about contemplative prayer and mysticism, however she is known for her self-help methods and her knack for using the gospel as a means to prosperity. Joel Olsteen would also fit into this category. Both have been accused of teaching false doctrine, and I share the sincere concern of many. Yet these authors seem to use a lot of scripture to build a case. Where do they stand?
The pendulum has been swinging since the serpent first tried to deceive Eve in the garden. As long as there have been people there has been a choice to listen to God or to another voice. The “new” (not really new, just new to our era) spirituality is a swing of the pendulum. In the early 20th century there were many movements based on holiness and the Word of God (The roots go back a bit further, but I’ll skip that for now). The movements were motivational, God-focused, and reached hundreds of thousands, even millions with the message of Christ–A great swing for the pendulum! But eventually that fervor for Jesus swung into legalism (rules, rules, rules on what makes a “Good Christian”). Don’t dance, don’t go to theaters, don’t play cards. Even if you aren’t doing something wrong, someone might see you and think that you are. Then you might cause them to stumble. People failed, people judged, and people longed for another way.
And so the pendulum has swung again: Let’s just love Jesus, and love others like He did. Isn’t that what he said was greatest anyway? Forget the doctrine. Forget the rules. Give me an experience I can hang onto. Show me how spirituality and Jesus can help me to have a better life. Here’s a champion of that thought process:
Even a novice can pick out the deception in that philosophy can’t they? Yet belief can seem confusing can’t it? All the various teachings, the books, the videos? Even your friends approach God in differing ways. That’s why we need a standard. We need something unchanging that we can stand on. Stop the pendulum! Give me something I can hold on to! Give me something I can understand! Ideas come and go, and then resurface in new clothing. There is nothing new under the sun. But there is a solid place to rest. There is one way to stand on solid ground when we are reading, listening, watching events that were created to influence us as Christians. You know the standard. It’s God’s Word.
I have loved and studied the Scriptures for over thirty years. Recently I have been given the opportunity to study them more intensely and I continue to be amazed at the things I learn. The Scriptures are living and active, and yet as solid and unchanging as anything I know.
Translators and historians do a great job of going back several thousand years to retain the biblical teachings of our earliest forefathers in the faith. Led by God’s Holy Spirit, the Scriptures have been preserved for us as our standard. Reading them is anything but dull, and the more I read, the more I understand the character of God. The more I read the more I relate to Him. His amazing message is love, grace, justice, and mercy. I am not afraid of Ann Voscamp (or any other famous person) because I value first and foremost the scriptures and I weigh other ideas on the scale of Biblical truth.
May I encourage you too to look into the scriptures. Intently. You will find life, and clarity. You will be less likely to be deceived. You will learn to understand God’s purpose for you and for mankind. You will be molded and formed to the person He has made you to be. But best of all, you will learn to know Him as a Father, Savior, and One who will guide you. And you won’t have to be afraid either.