Christians have their Bible. Muslims have their Quran. Jews have their Tanakh and Talmud. Almost all faiths have texts to turn to as sources of inspiration and truth. Readers, too, tell us there are books that have guided their faith over the years. Here they share a diverse selection of favorites.
MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST
by Oswald Chambers
by J.I. Packer
by R.C. Sproul
"In my lifetime I've encountered only three books besides the Bible that have created new spiritual awakenings in my spirit."
-- Paul Klose, Augusta
NOTES TO MYSELF BY HUGH PRATHER
"I still remember how from the first time I picked it up every word struck my soul. There was so much wisdom and truth in each word that it felt like the words wrapped around my soul and clung to my spirit the same way a spider web I would see on the front porch through the dense fog as I opened the front door each morning. I somehow knew even at the age of 15 the power in those words was something I should live by.
"That book helped me to understand that I have to move beyond the superficial things in life to allow myself to become what God created me to be. I have my own inner rhythm and must follow that even if others do not understand. I am still learning that concept and am at peace with who I am though others often do not understand. It's my journey and in the end I will give an answer to my creator for the way I handled the twists and turns. I don't know if this book is even still in print, but it should be a must read for everyone between the ages of 15 and 21.
-- Jill Brown, former Augusta resident, now of Wooster, Ohio
by Trevin Wax
"The theme of Wax's book is how Christ subverts the Caesars that our society holds dear. He calls them the idols of our culture. One of them is the Caesar of success. Many of today's churches define success with buildings, budgets, and members. Other chapters of note include subverting the Caesar of money -- taking the "Almighty" off the dollar, subverting the Caesar of sex by celebrating marriage, and subverting the Caesar of power by finding our place as servants.
"Holy Subversion made me realize the Caesars in my own life that needed subverting and my need to reclaim the subversive nature of Christian discipleship. We should live in such a way that our decisions and choices are influenced primarily and foremost by Christ rather than by culture."
-- The Rev. Dan White, pastor of North Columbia Church, Appling
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
by Rick Warren
"Rick Warren's book helped show me that I need to seek what purpose God has for me on this Earth because he definitely has a plan for me to accomplish. It also showed me that compared to eternity that our time here on Earth is but a short time and though we may suffer now it certainly won't last forever if we live for him."
90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN
by Don Piper
90 Minutes in Heaven definitely changed my attitude on Heaven and what it will be like. I now look forward to spending eternity there with Jesus and those in my Christian family that have gone before me. It also taught me that here on Earth, I need to graciously let others help me and not always be the independent one who can do it all herself."
THE UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
by Thom S. Rainer
"The Unexpected Journey was a very interesting insight into why people are drawn to Christianity and why they converted from other faiths. It truly made me more aware of how to approach others with different beliefs."
-- Kathy Leysath, Martinez
God is the Gospel by John Piper
"In the last year, I have begun to listen to and read the works of John Piper. After the Bible, I can now say that my favorite book is God Is the Gospel. I have come to realize that for years I have rejoiced in the achievements of the Gospel: reconciliation, forgiveness, justification, and eternal life to name a few. But I had missed the point of all these blessings: to bring me into God's presence in worship, praise, and adoration, celebrating his glory, and enjoying him forever.
"To me the best example is the account of the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus heals all 10, but only one "gets it." He stops, returns and falls at the feet of Jesus and thanks him. The other nine went away rejoicing in the blessings they had received, but missed the bigger blessing of being face to face with God himself.
"Prior to grasping this point, I celebrated what God had done for me and then went my own way, asking for his help when I couldn't 'handle it myself'! I now realize that he is the Gospel, not all the wonderful things He has done for me. As Rick Warren said, 'It's not about you.' "
-- Michael Valadez, Augusta
by Francis Chan
"This is an easy read, but its message is so profoundly simple that it sort of grows on you over time. Chan is all about having an encounter with God, with having a quality of life that can't be explained without God. My favorite quote from the book is, 'This is the question I just can't get around: If it's true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit's temple, then shouldn't there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not? Yet, when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them?' "
-- The Rev. Carolyn Moore, pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church in Evans
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
by Max Lucado
"Although I have read all of his works, this early work and inspirational classic is still my favorite. The main question examined in this book is how can God in heaven relate to us here on Earth? The book emphasizes that God has been through some stressful times, just as we all have, as it examines the only day in the life of Jesus, other than the Crucifixion, that is documented in all four gospels.
"The book reveals the attitudes that Jesus had as he encountered various trials and challenges throughout the day including the beheading of John the Baptist, feeding the multitudes and later calming the storm at sea. In the Eye of the Storm is a great book for those seeking to find peace and joy in the storms of life.
-- Lance Danko, North Augusta
THE DIVINE COMEDY
by Dante Alighieri
"Some of the most profound books challenge me and what I'd call the classics are all very different in approach, but all very significant to my life and faith. Dante teaches me the power of story and imagery."
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"Bonhoeffer, in his writing and his life, serves as a powerful example of difference between cheap grace and costly grace, and the responsible living that demands of us."
THE CHRIST OF THE INDIAN ROAD
by E. Stanley Jones
"Jones served as a missionary for many years in India and warns of faith that is not contextually appropriate and relevant in word and deed to local people in everyday life.
"Each of these speaks to different aspects of Christian faith that may often be obscured, confused, or missing. These books have all helped awaken me to stronger life and faith as they speak to both 'head and heart' while having practical application which helps invigorate a contemporary, living faith."
THE DIVINE MILIEU
by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
"Pierre Teilhard shows a way of participating fully in the world rather than renouncing it (for him that was as a noteworthy scientist of his time), yet also being a person of deep and growing faith who consistently recognizes God's work in this "divine milieu."
-- The Rev. Scott Parrish, outreach and mission ministries, Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta