More than anything, my mind is opened up and my soul is refreshed by the written word. This list of books is for any of my friends here who like to read and would benefit from a good dose of grace.
Call the Midwife, series by Jennifer Worth
At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar Lond’s East End slims. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies illuminate a fascinating time in history. Beautifully written and utterly moving, Call the Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone. ~From the back of the book
Those who perform a service well must do so without judgement. The women in this book who serve their community as nurses and midwives do so in a way that will leave you breathless because they value and learn from those they serve. These are stories of true need, heartache, and love. Squeaky-clean Christians would do well to read these messy-beautiful humble stories that will make you laugh and cry.
“Now and then in life, love catches you unawares, illuminating the dark corners of your mind, and filling them with radiance. Once in a while you are faced with a beauty and a joy that takes your soul, all unprepared, by assault.” Jennifer Worth
(also a great TV series on PBS!)
Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, it also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.
“I found out everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home” Denver Moore
Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily P. Freeman
What would happen if we let grace pour out boundless acceptance into our worn-out hearts and undo us? If we dared to talk about the ways we hid, our longing to be known, and the fear in the knowing? Emily Freeman invites you to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. ~from back cover
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen
No one should leave church feeling manipulated, controlled, shamed, or condemned. But places of shelter and encouragement can become abusive if spiritual leaders begin to use their authority to meet their needs for importance, power, or spiritual gratification. Here you’ll discover how to identify an abusive church and also how to break free from its destructive legalism. Insightful, practical, and solidly grounded in Scripture, this book has what you need to recover a grace-filled relationship with God and His church.
Families Where Grace is in Place, by Jeff Van Vonderen
Here is a message about how God’s grace can transform relationship within a marriage and family. The first step is learning the simple difference between God’s job and ours. God’s part is to fix and change. Our responsibility is to depend on the Holy Spirit, serve our families, and help to equip them to be all they can be. ~back cover
Freedom From Performing, by Becky Harling
My aunt read this book and knew my heart needed the message, too. I will always treasure her copy of the book that she gave to me, full of her underlines and notes.
For years, author Becky Harling lived for the rave reviews of others, until God directed her from performance-driving theatrics to a leading role as a grace-motivated follower of Jesus. She only needed to be herself, and so do you. ~back cover
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
The late Lewis, Oxford professor, scholar, author, and Christian apologist, presents the listener with a case for orthodox Christianity. This is definitely not the shouting, stomping, sweating, spitting televangelist fare so often parodied; Lewis employs logical arguments that are eloquently expressed. ~quote from Michael T. Fein on amazon.com
I love Lewis’ honesty as he writes in a logical way regarding Christianity. The words he writes about “religious” people and their pride make me want to shout “Amen!” There is good reason that this book is considered a classic. I learned much from Mere Christianity at just the right time in my spiritual journey.
What’s so Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancy
Recommended to me by my friend Christie, years ago. This is one of the first books I read that showed me the practical ways grace is lived out.
In What’s So Amazing About Grace? award-winning author Philip Yancey explores grace at street level. If grace is God’s love for the undeserving, he asks, then what does it look like in action? And if Christians are its sole dispensers, then how are we doing at lavishing grace on a world that knows far more of cruelty and unforgiveness than it does of mercy?
“Having spent time around “sinners” and also around purported saints, I have a hunch why Jesus spent so much time with the former group: I think he preferred their company. Because the sinners were honest about themselves and had no pretense, Jesus could deal with them. In contrast, the “saints” put on airs, judged him, and sought to catch him in a moral trap. In the end it was the “saints”, not the “sinners”, who arrested Jesus.” Philip Yancey
101 Cups of Water, by C.D. Baker
My friend Kathy discovered this book a few years ago and bought me a copy. It was a much needed dose of real grace for both of us.
For every time you’ve tried too hard, fell too far, or struggled too much, the refreshing cups in this book–or reminders of God’s infinite grace and mercy–will renew you like cool, clear water after a long, dry walk on a dusty, pitted, uphill road.
“I’ve been a believing Christian since childhood,” author C. David Baker explains, “but it’s my personal failures that have led me to the deep well of Grace.”
David poured his dashed hopes, broken dreams, haunting doubts, and paralyzing fear down that well and found all that’s collected here, all he, like you, needs for living with peace, joy, and purpose: cool cups of relief, comfort, revival, and sustenance.
Because Water Is Life ~from amazon.com book description
He Loves Me, by Wayne Jacobsen
My friend Hannah read this one first and sent it to me. She knew I would benefit from Jacobsen’s words, too.
“So many Christians believe God’s love is fickle: when they sin, He turns away in disgust and anger. They vacillate between “He loves me” and “He loves me not” because of their behavior. That reasoning, writes Wayne Jacobsen, is as flawed as pulling petals from a daisy. Rather God’s love is sturdy, enduring, and undisturbed by people’s failings because God loves humankind not for what they do–but who they are. They are God’s beloved creation.”
Tattoos on the Heart, The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Greg Boyle
The latest book in my journey of discovery regarding God’s grace and love, this book was so gripping that I immediately sent a copy to a kindred spirit friend. It blew us both away. Why? Because this man LIVES out grace. The book he wrote is rich-full of his thoughts and stories as he works with and learns from the gangs in his neighborhood.
For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.
Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle’s gentle, hard-earned wisdom.
These essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love and the importance of fighting despair. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.
As I write about these books, I am struck by how they all came into my life at just the time I was ready to read them. That’s God for you! I hope that they are a blessing to you, as well.
Happy Grace-Full Reading!
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. Zeph. 3:17