As requested, here are some of the books I've referred to in recent messages and some I have not, but rank as some of my favorites. Enjoy!
"The Gospel According to Judas" by Ray Anderson - Erin's and my beloved professor at Fuller. His theology undergirds everything we do at Epic. I couldn't be a pastor without his insights. This is his most accessible writing, about the extend of God's grace using a fictionalized dialogue between Jesus and the famed betrayer. At once beautiful and moving. (For the more serious student of theology, check out Anderson's "Soul of Ministry," his theological treatise, and the must-read "On Being Human.")
"The Mystery of Marriage" by Mike Mason - the best book on marriage I've ever read. Profound in every way, on nearly every page.
"Sacred Journey" by Frederick Buechner - Quite possibly my favorite author of all, and one of the reasons I could be a minister and stay human. First in a trilogy of memoirs both honest and heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful. Buechner shares about his own father's suicide and daughter's bout with anorexia, and mostly about the mystery of being human. Start here, and if you like, keeping reading with "Now and Then" and "Telling Secrets."
"Grace (Eventually)" by Anne Lamott - Right up there with Buechner. Raw, earthy, and sacriligeous (I love it!), but always sweet with grace. Her stories about raising her son as a single mom are priceless in their honesty and hope. A book every parent should read, really. Start here, and if you can't put it down, also pick up "Traveling Mercies" and "Plan B."
"Drinking: A Love Story" by Carolyn Knapp - A book that changed my life. Best book on addiction I've ever read, honest and painful. It's not about the alcohol, but about the hole in our hearts in need of love.
"Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller - not particularly deep, but enjoyable, often poignant musings on faith by a skeptic, sprinkled with humility and humor. See also "Searching for God Knows What."
"Irresistable Revolution" by Shane Claiborne - Not down with the title, but nevertheless a challenging read about practicing justice as a lifestyle and the power of grassroots faith, with terrific stories about getting out there and asking boldly.
"Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson - Winner of the National Book Award. A completely captivating and haunting story of two men whose lives intersect at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago; One of the best books I've read - Ever.
"In the Heart of the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick - Another winner of the National Book Award. Before the Titanic, there was the Essex. Another fascinating and engrossing tale of coincidence, fate, and humanity at brink's end.
"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver - Such a compelling story come to life it reads like non-fiction. Narrated ominously from the perspective of a wife and three daughters, a very tragic and humorously perceptive telling of a minister's family in Belgian-colonizied Congo in the mid-twentieth century.
"Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri - The Pulitzer Prize winner's latest, this time an intimate, subtle, and human telling of the longings and disappointments of the Bengali-immigrant experience through the eyes of the second-generation.