Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Personal & Family Devotional Resources (James Grant)

James Grant, who blogs at In Light of the Gospel (I recommend that you follow either via RSS or email subscription), has posted a very good list of resources for personal and/or family worship.  His list covers the following areas:

  • Resources for Family Worship & Discipline
  • Resources for Family Devotions
  • Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
  • Prayer and the Christian Life

If I could be so bold as to suggest a few other titles (and I'm sure James did not expect his list to be exhaustive), I would recommend the following additions to this list.

The following titles deviate slightly from the type James has recommended under the heading "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life," but I think that they are excellent for encouraging spiritual growth:
  • Paul David Tripp's Broken Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad (Shepherd Press, 2009).  This is a simple, yet sound and foundational introduction to living the Christian life.  I read this through very quickly last summer just after it was released and was greatly humbled.  I gave a copy to a friend and recommended it to my dad who, in turn, has given away a handful of copies to others.  Last fall, our Bible study group chose this book for next group study.  Just before Christmas we finished working through Part One (Knowing).  Brent, one of our teachers, put together an excellent summary of Part One.  You are welcome to view/download it here.  This book has made for a wonderful group study.  I believe that we all have grown together as we have adjusted our view of God, ourselves, and living in this broken world with both humility and confidence.  Part Two is filled with practical and pointed application.  We just began our journeyt through this section this week. 
  • C. J. Mahaney's The Cross-Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing (Multnomah, 2002) is a short, excellent challenge to those of us who have been tempted to think that the Christian life begins with the Gospel but then moves on to something else.  Mahaney clearly shows us that the gospel (the cross-work and resurrection of Jesus Christ) not only introduces us to life in Christ, but that it also guides us and sustains us throughout life.  In 2006, Mahaney followed up with a second book titled, Living the Corss-Centered Life which also comes highly recommended.
  • Tullian Tchividjian's Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (Multnohmah, 2009) is likewise excellent.  Tchividgian's challenge to the Church is to offer a Christian counter-culture to the world rather than conforming to the world's culture.  Tchividjian believes that people, especially estranged children of Christian families, are looking to the Church for something different, rather than the same thing they get everywhere else. The heart of this little book is a call to apply Ephesians 4-5 to our lives.  This book would make for an excellent starting point for a small group discussion, for personal study or for a family study (particularly for those families that have teenagers).
 Under the heading "Prayer and the Christian Life" I would include the following:
  • John Baillie's A Diary of Private Prayer (reprint, paperback edition, Fireside, 1996).  This is absolutely fantastic.  I have been using it throughout this past year and plan to continue doing so.  It is also excellent for helping you teach your children how to pray.  I recommend you search for a hardcover edition.  It will be more durable for frequent use.  Printing this in paperback was a foolish idea.
  • Andrew Murray's classic With Christ in the School of Prayer (reprint, Hendrickson, 2007). This is an excellent exposition of key passages in the NT related to Jesus praying or teaching his disciples to pray. Passages from the epistles are also included. In all, there are 31 short chapters, perfect for reading devotionaly throughout a month.
  • Bill Hybels' Too Busy Not to Pray (20 Anv Rev edition, IVP, 2008).  I found this book at the local library and checked it out not knowing what to expect. It turns out that his handling of the subject was very helpful. I appreciated his pastoral approach which supplied a more theological and expositional foundation to the subject of prayer. I didn't get to finish the book, but I was helped by the portions I read. Hybels aim was to convince Christians of the necessity and joy of praying to a God who hears. He offers an introduction to the ACTS system of praying (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication), although he readily admits that one program will not fit all persons. This is one of many helpful tools for pray-ers.
  • Leonard Allen's compilation The Contemporaries Meet the Classics on Prayer (Howard Publishing, 2003). This is another book that I found at the local library. It gathers together under 10 headings the best passages on prayer from classic works to contemporary works. Selections are included from John Bunyan, George Muller, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Andrew Murray, E. M. Bounds, C. S. Lewis, Simon Chan, Thomas Merton, Bill Hybels, Joni Eareckson Tada, Eugene Peterson , Walter Brueggemann, Richard Foster, and more. It is a fantastic volume to add to your library. The broad range of authors in one book is a treasure. This is a fantastic entry-point into the literature on prayer.

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