2018 Sermon Series: Foundations
2018 Sermon Series:
Acts and the Mission of God
Here are a few reading suggestions:
Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
Purchase on Amazon
Mark Batterson was a failed church planter who was seeking to better understand how to be used by God. He moved to Washington DC where he started a church around the principle of circling prayer. Batterson had read the Jewish legend of Honi, the Circle Maker, whose people were experiencing intense draught. Honi drew a circle around himself and told God he would remain in the circle until he answered his prayer for rain. The legend spurred Batterson on to circle his dream of planting a new church in prayer. He began by circling Washington DC in prayer. Then as his church began to grow he would circle buildings and people in prayer, trusting that God would rise up to answer.
One of the core tenets Batterson makes in the Circle Maker is to pray big and pray through. Throughout the book he points out how God can handle our biggest prayer. Not only can he handle them, God longs for us pray big prayers that he can answer and show his power and strength. However, often in prayers of any size, but particularly in praying big, we stop short of God’s response. We assume that silence means a “no”answer. When in fact silence could mean we simply haven’t prayed long enough. Praying through involves a persistence commitment to continue praying until you hear a definitive answer.
The book has its flaws like any book worth reading. However, the practices, inspiration, and principles gleaned far outweigh the parts of the book that are not as helpful. If your desire is to develop a way of practicing big prayer then Batterson’s The Circle Maker is the right book.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Purchase on Amazon
When discussing books on Spiritual Disciplines there is no better starting place than Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Certainly books on spiritual disciplines have existed before Richard Foster wrote this work, many of which have influenced Foster’s thinking and approach to the disciplines themselves. However, few, if any, sought to take on writing about all of the “classical” disciplines in one book. The classical disciplines, which are simply the core disciplines that have existed in experiential Christianity since ancient times, have often been seen as practices that only the most pious or most contemplative individuals could interact with. One of the strengths of Celebration of Discipline is in Foster’s ability to help people of all walks of life interact with these disciplines on a daily basis. You do not have to be extraordinary spiritual people to engage in extraordinary spiritual disciplines. Foster’s book helps everyone understand how to engage with the extraordinary through regular rhythms of discipline in prayer, fasting, meditation, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.
Each chapter is oriented around a different spiritual discipline. However, the brilliance of Foster’s book is in the way he is able to help us see how each discipline interacts and informs the other disciplines around it. No discipline is done in isolation of the others. They all work together to bring intimacy to our relationship with the creator of the universe.
But perhaps the most significant element of this book is how Foster helps us understand the point of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines in and of themselves are powerless rhythms. In other words, they are not the point. What they do is help point us to the one who has power to transform us. Spiritual disciplines are how we open the door to relationship with God. As soon as we mistake the disciplines themselves as spirituality then we have missed the point entirely. Spirituality is about intimacy with the Father. And spiritual disciplines are the way we create the intimacy we long for.
Celebration of Discipline will help guide the process to a more holistic approach to intimacy with God. It is worth your time.
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
Purchase on Amazon
There are a lot of daily devotional books out there. It seems like every year 15 new “daily devotional readers” hit the shelves (or Amazon), making it a challenge to know which ones are worth us spending each day working our way through. But when it comes to daily devotional books Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest” is hands down the best out there.
Chambers, a preacher and chaplain in London, spent much of his life teaching and preaching God’s word in numerous capacities. After his death shortly after World War I, his wife, Biddy, compiled “My Utmost for His Highest” from the many transcripts of Chambers’ teachings and sermons.
The book has served as a standard bearer of sorts for the countless daily devotional books that have come after it. And like every book ever written, there are parts that are great and others that are less than great. However, the power of My Utmost for His Highest rests in its longevity and ability to speak into the reality of a life spent with God, challenges and victories alike.
I highly recommend My Utmost for His Highest as a place to begin a daily discipline of scripture, prayer, and journaling. You will be blessed and challenged by this book.