What We're Reading
What We're Reading
Dave and Wes (and others) review books they are reading that you may find helpful or interesting to look at yourself.

July 2018
Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation, by Robert Mulholland, Jr. Expanded Version.  IVP, 2016. 220 pp.
Christine Labrum put me on to this book as a useful introduction to the process of being formed into the likeness of Jesus. One of the author’s key points is that formation is a process in which we surrender control of our lives to the Lord. Mulholland has some great observations about the manipulative patterns in the life of Jacob and how spiritual growth requires that he (and we) relinquish that pattern if we are to be healed.   (DGD)
Reading level:  Moderate
The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering your True Self, by Robert Mulholland, Jr. IVP, 2006.  168 pp.          
A sequel to the book mentioned above.  A key idea in this book is the distinction between the true self and the false self.  The true self is what the Holy Spirit wants to recover in us.  The false self is our humanity deformed by sin and the flesh. Mulholland describes it this way:  “I began to realize that underneath the thin veneer of my religiosity lived a pervasive and deeply entrenched self-referenced being which was driven by its own agendas, its own desires, its own purposes, and that no amount of superficial tinkering with the religious façade made any appreciable difference.” Many of us have had the same experience--this is why spiritual formation is difficult but necessary!   (DGD)
Reading level:  Moderate
Mirror for the Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram, by Alice Fryling. IVP, 2017.  190 pp.
Wes and I have become intrigued by the Enneagram, an ancient guide to understanding both the strengths and weaknesses of our personalities and how God might be inviting us to grow into maturity.  The Enneagram describes nine “spaces” that are characteristic approaches to life.  Each of us tend to demonstrate a preference for one of those spaces. Living as God intends us to live in a particular space is a gift to us and to others, but each space has a characteristic distortion or sin that trips us up. Guess what my space is?  What is yours? How can this help us grow?  This is the best introduction to the Enneagram that I have read.  (DGD)
Reading level:  Light/Moderate
The Sacred Enneagram:  Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, by Christopher Heuertz. Zondervan, 2017.  268 pp.
A significantly more difficult read than the previous book by Fryling but also more insightful.  (DGD)
Reading level:  Heavy

The Lost World of the Flood, by Tremper Longman and John Walton. IVP, 2018. 180 pp.         
Walton is a professor at Wheaton College and Tremper Longman teaches at Westmont College in California. Both are OT scholars. In this book they deal with some of the details of the Noah story against the backdrop of similar stories from the ancient world. They argue that these stories have a common background in a real historical event.  They also believe that the biblical account makes use of hyperbole (a type of figurative language which uses exaggeration to make a point). Putting these two ideas together allows them to posit a real flood but not a world-wide flood.  This better accords with the readings of modern geology which provides no evidence for a universal flood.  Frankly, I was disappointed in this book because it provoked too many additional questions that the authors left unaddressed.   (DGD)
Reading level:  Moderate/Heavy
The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World, by Bruce W. Longenecker. Baker, 2002. 192 pp.
This delightful, engaging book is historical fiction, but historically accurate.  The premise comes from Revelation 2:13, where Jesus commends the church in Pergamum because it did not deny the faith, “even in the days of Antipas, my witness, my faithful one, who was killed…”  Antipas shares a name with the Herod who ruled during Jesus’ day.  Was Antipas perhaps an affluent Roman citizen steeped in the emperor worship of the day?  If so, how is it that he came to be not just a follower of Jesus, but a martyr as well?  Through a series of letters from the gospel writer Luke, Antipas is exposed to the person of Jesus.  As you follow Antipas’ journey toward faith, you’ll also learn about the harsh and heartless conditions of the Greco-Roman world that the early church had to endure.    (Janice Freytag)
Reading level: Light
The Mission of the Church: Five Views in Conversation, by Craig Ott, ed. Baker, 2016.
If you are looking to get up to date fast on what is the cutting edge of “the missional conversation,” this is the book to read. “Five views” are presented, but (in good missional style), the authors engage one another conversationally and dialogically, rather than competitively or combatively. It is a book that seeks to address the question, “so what is the purpose of the church?” from a missional perspective. The five contributing authors include not just evangelical theologians but representatives from the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Liberationist/Social Justice perspectives.  (Todd Mangum)
Reading level:  Heavy

April 2018
The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith
by Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich. 
Sheffield Publ., 2005. 2nd edition. 266 pp.
The idea of life-stages is helpful and important to processing our growth as believers. The means and manner of God’s work in us is not a straight line.  A deeper understanding of how we mature will help us to respond to God appropriately.  (Dave)
Reading level:  Moderate
Listening to God in Times of Choice: The Art of Discerning God’s Will
by Gordon T. Smith.  IVP, 1997.  150pp.
Gordon Smith is a wise student of the spiritual life and a thoughtful guide to the process of discernment. Lots of nuggets to reflect on in this little book:
“We must free one another to listen to God.”
“We never discern with absolute certainty.”  
“The most helpful place to begin [discernment] is with the principle of friendship with God.”  (Dave)
Reading level:  Moderate
The Gift and the Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today
by Craig S. Keener. Baker, 2001.  213 pp.
Keener is a respected NT scholar in the charismatic tradition. He argues for the continuation of all the gifts of the Spirit in the church today.  On the other hand, he recognizes and critiques some of the weaknesses of Pentecostal-charismatic teaching and practice. An irenic and thought-provoking book.   (Dave)
Reading level:  Moderate
Open to the Spirit: God in Us, God with Us, God Transforming Us,
by Scot McKnight. Waterbrook, 2018. 204 pp.
Scot McKnight is a friend and former colleague from days at Trinity Divinity School in Chicago and a well-known NT scholar. I think this is one of his better books:  biblically focused but not “heavy.” A nice overview of the ministry of the HS. He presses home the question to Evangelical Christians:  are we really open to the Spirit’s work in our lives?  Recommended reading!  (Dave)
Reading level:  Light
What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)
Nancy Guthrie. Crossway, 2016.  180 pp.
A very practical book that is based on real life feedback from interviews done of those who have suffered deep loss. We can find ourselves wondering how to help someone who is grieving but paralyzed by what to say. This book will give you more confidence as you humbly navigate the way forward with your grieving friend.  (Wes)    
Reading level:  Light

February 2018
With:  Reimagining the Way You Relate to God
by Skye Jethani.  Thomas Nelson, 2011.  207 pp.
This is a very clever and readable discussion of five different ways that people chose to relate to God. Filled with excellent insights, this book definitely a keeper!  (DGD)

God Soaked Life: Discovering Kingdom Spirituality
by Chris Webb.  InterVarsity, 2017.  187pp.
A good overview of the fundamentals of the spiritual life. Webb is a good writer although I enjoyed more his previous book The Fire of the Word.  (DGD)

When the Spirit Comes with Power:  Signs and Wonders among God’s People

by John White. InterVarsity, 1988.  252 pp.
Christian Psychiatrist John White provides a very thoughtful analysis of the so-called “Third Wave” of the charismatic movement based in part on personal observation and friendship with John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard churches.  (DGD)

The Joy of Listening to God,
by Joyce Huggett.  InterVarsity, 1986. 227 pp.
Easily read book recounting the author’s journey into a deeper life of “listening prayer.” Helpful in getting us beyond the idea that prayer is simply “talking to God.”  (DGD)

Joy Unspeakable:  Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit
by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Harold Shaw, 1984. 280 pp.
Lloyd-Jones was one of the most influential Evangelical preachers of the 20th century. As a younger man he was deeply impacted by the Welsh revival in the early part of the century.  In this series of sermons, he discusses the need for a deep work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and in the church as a whole.   (DGD)

Theistic Evolution
ed. by J.P. Moreland, Stephen Meyer, Christopher Shaw, Ann Gauger, and Wayne Grudem. Crossway, 2017. 1007 pp.
A collection of essays critiquing (not endorsing) theistic evolution. Not an easy read, but an important book for Christians who want to deal thoughtfully with the Bible-evolution debate.  (DGD)

Power Encounters:  Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare
by David Powlison. Baker, 1995. 160 pp.
A good book to correct some of the craziness in the Christian world about the power and influence of demons. Powlison’s key point is to distinguish between moral evil and situational evil. He argues convincingly (I think) that scripture never instructs us to deal with moral evil by expelling demons.  The book is out of print, but there are some used copies on Amazon.  (DGD)