Tuesday, May 8, 2012

20 Book Recommendations

Below are 20 books that I have read, some more recently than others, but one thing that they all have in common is that they have pushed me to Jesus in a deeply profound way. Without hesitation, I suggest for you to pick up a copy of any of these books and enjoy the beauty found within their pages. It's not about a good author or good penmanship, but about us turning our hearts to God. 

20 Books That Have Pushed Me to Jesus (in no particular order)
Click on the book image and it'll take you to a place where 
you can find out more info on the book and where you can purchase it for cheap.

1. Radical by David Platt

2. Lover of My Soul by Alan D. Wright

3. No Compromise by Melody Green

4. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

5. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

6. Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill

7. In His Steps by Charles Sheldon

8. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

9. The Wisdom of Tenderness by Brennan Manning

10. Deep Unto Deep by Dana Candler

11. Enjoying Intimacy with God by Oswald Sanders

12. The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

13. Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson

14. Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

15. The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey

16. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller

17. True Discipleship by William McDonald

18. Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

19.  Morning & Evening by Charles Spurgeon

20. Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp

What books have pushed you to Jesus? 
Have you read any of these?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review: It's the Little Things You Do.

It's the Little Things You Do.
Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

I'm in love with the simple truths found in this book. Each chapter is a little nugget worth more than I know. It was a billboard-size reminder of the legendary truth that God actually is really involved in the little things of each day and for that I am forever grateful.

One thing that I can say about 2011 is that I found God in the little things. Yes, He's always been there but it was this year that He won me over by using the little things that mean a lot to me to show me just how much He cared. He knows my heart so well. If you're asking what the little things are, then it's hard to explain. For me, it's finding a great book that fits the season of my life at a Thrift Store for cheap. Or it's catching the red light just to be in perfect view of the setting Sun. It's those things that mean a lot to me that I know He does just to say, "Courtney, I know that you love these things. I love you so much that I care about the things that you care."

So without a doubt, I know that it's in the little things that You do that You win me over -- again & again. Once again, it reminds me that You are not some cosmic being that is univolved in my life. It's in the little things that You confirm that You really are real. That You are closer than I know. & more importantly, You show that You love me in a deep and personal way. Like a good Lover, You know the way to my heart. So thank You for the little things because without them, I would believe so many lies about You.

My favorite chapters in this book were Happy Thanksgiving and Writing in Pencil. Below is a link to an excerpt from Writing in Pencil.


2011 in Review: The Gift of Going Second & The Hard Lessons That Follow It.

The Gift of Going Second & The Hard Lessons That Follow It.
Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession and Grace by Anne Jackson

Consider this book as a Christian version of Post Secret. If you don't know what that is, then I'd suggest joining the rest of us by just simply Googling it.

Permission to Speak Freely was probably one of the easiest books I have ever read. Not only because it had pictures but because I truly felt as if Anne was sitting across from me in a coffee shop and sharing her heart with me as I read. Her book is filled with raw stories and real revelation from the Lord that anyone can relate to - some simple, some complex.

But nonetheless, it deals with some pretty tough issues like sin, confession, grace and fear. All areas that I find myself being pretty weak in. Few books have ever 'empowered' me like this one. After reading it, I felt liberated to follow in the footsteps of the author and simply walk out the truths that she laid out. It challenged me to live out my story and to share it often. God is surely moving in my life and who I am to withhold the testimony that He has given me?

One lesson that was especially hard to learn this year was to come to terms with the reality that I'm broken and messed up. I can easily say that I'm not perfect, but my self-righteous, has-it-all-together, perfectionist mindset has a hard time believing those words much-less living them out.

This year, I had to come face to face with the sin in my life. Ultimately, I just had to realize that my role in the Gospel was to be the one who was broken, sinful & in need of a Savior. I must rip off the mask that I am pressured to wear and begin to live a more vulnerable and less fearful life.

Confessing my sin still makes my weak in my stomach, but I am now grateful that He is teaching me to boast all the more gladly in my weakness for it glorifies Christ in my life.

Charles Spurgeon continued to teach me this, when I stumbled upon the following quote by him. "I have a great need fro Christ and I have a great Christ for my need." I am thankful beyond words that Jesus didn't mind getting His hands dirty with me this year as I began to learn how to deal with things in my life.

Take a second and read an excerpt from my favorite chapter in this book called, "the Gift of Going Second". May we always be those who give the gift of going second to those around us and boldly declaring that we NEED Christ all the more in our lives every day.

“Whenever somebody confesses something, and they’re the first to do it, it’s usually a pretty hard step to take. … What happens on the other side of that confession is something beautiful. … When you go first, you’re opening up this amazing opportunity for trust. You’re saying, ‘I’m broken.’ That trust carries so much power with it. It can give people the courage to go second. … It’s the Gift of Going Second that starts waves of confession and healing.”

2011 in Review: Jesus Christ is the Scandal of God.

Jesus Christ is the Scandal of God.
the Ragamuffin Gospel & the Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

Furious Longing was the first Manning book that I picked up and I fell in love with the profound simplicity of Brennan's writing. Furious was the doorway to what God was intending to do with Ragamuffin. Sheesh, what an adventure that is turning out to be.

Ragamuffin easily tops the rest of the books from 2011. Well, it might be tied with another but you'll find out about that soon enough. But without a doubt, I'll be revisiting this book for many years to come. Thankful to God for the journey that book brought me on with Him.

Sometime this past year a good friend of mine took a minute to prophesy over me a very strong word from the Lord. She saw the Lord taking me on a journey that was going to change my life, the way I saw God and it was going to bring monumental amounts of growth for me in the Lord. Little did she know that now as I reflect on this past year all I can do is praise God for the accuracy of that Word.

Here in hinds' sight, He did a work in me that shook me to my core. Little did I know that opening the Ragamuffin Gospel would be the beginning of a journey with the Lord that has changed everything in my life.

"Because we approach the Gospel with preconceived notions of what it should say rather than what it does say, the Word no longer falls like rain on the parched ground of our souls. It no longer sweeps like a wild storm into the corners of our comfortable piety." pg 117, Furious Longing of God

This quote alone speaks volumes about who I was previous to reading Ragamuffin. I loved Jesus, yes. I read my Bible, yes. I went on missions, yes. But the journey He brought me on was one where He opened my eyes to the reality of the Gospel! Beloved, in doing that He made me come ALIVE on the inside! I found a TREASURE of infinite worth in understanding the implications of the Gospel for real! He became to me a source of Joy, of delight and of treasure!

I fell in love ALL over again!

"He has a single relentless stance towards us: He loves us" pg 18, Ragamuffin Gospel

"My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it." pg 23, Ragamuffin Gospel

"Jesus Christ is the Scandal of God." pg 101, Ragamuffin Gospel

I'm choosing to not un-pack the quotes above because you deserve a journey of your own in finding out the immeasurable riches of this glorious Gospel!

I only pray that He would do to you what He has done to me and by that I mean, would He simply seize you with His love. {see below}

"Over a hundred years ago in the Deep South, a phrase so common in our Christian culture today, born again, was seldom or never used. Rather, the phrase used to describe breakthrough into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was, " I was seized by the power of a great affection."' pg 197, Ragamuffin Gospel

May it be so Lord, for Your beautiful name.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Return to the Gospel: You are the God of my exodus.

[scattered thoughts lead to messy posts.
despite it all, my hope is that you would still
see Him. hear Him. & turn to Him.
for that is all that matters.]

i once heard a teaching about how the exodus from Egypt to the Promise Land
was really a small journey that was elongated.
what took 40 dreadful years could have taken something like only 7 days.

sounds a lot like my life.
what i so selfishly want is for one foot to be leaving Egypt
while the other is hitting fresh ground in the Promise Land.

[quickness of journey is what i secretly desire.]

i think, if we were honest, we all want it.
deep down inside.

but still.
time is something i will never author.
only He will.

something inside of me cringes at the idea of 40years.
why, Lord?
why so long?
is what i wine about often.

i forget so easily that He has plans
that maybe don't line up with mine.
but they are full of beauty and one day i will trust
that they are best for me.

maybe, just maybe...
those 40years cause something to arise inside.
maybe those 40years cause longing for the Promise Land.

maybe, just maybe...
those 40years cause something to die inside.
maybe those 40years cause death to the Egypt within.

maybe, just maybe...
the Great Shepherd knows what He is doing.
maybe He leads well after all.

teach me to not despise the journey that You have me on, God.
to not hate the time You are investing in me.
oh God, teach me to love You through it all.

but i know that You are a good Teacher.

in hind-sight i realize one of the greatest lessons that i have learned
was what i feel has been Your plan all along.

surely i have fallen and stumbled over my own two feet
sometimes more than others.

i'm realizing that through those dark nights of the soul
where i had to stare the flesh within me face-to-face.
it was in those nights.
in those dry & dessert filled seasons.
that You was doing surgery within me.

because now i feel it.
i awake to realize that something monumental has happened within me.
something that i surely did not do to myself.
but something that You have marvelously done.

"for the righteous falls seven times and rises again..."
proverbs 24:16

for the longest time, my battle was against my falling.
i strived and strived to eliminate my falling.
to exalt my perfection.
to limit my imperfection.

but You have showed me the way of Life.
that You are the only thing to be exalted in my life.

not my sin.
not my short-comings.
not my own weakness.

and in the beauty of Your plans,
You have strengthened me to rise again.

You could have taken away my ability to fall.
but instead You have made it for me
to NEED You.
You have designed it for me to run to You
time & time again.

in the valley of weakness,
You have shown me that running to You is better.
far better.
than running from You.

You put a craving for another place in my heart.
when it's so easy to look back to the egypt that i've come from.
i have come realize that it's nothing compared to the home You've showed me.

the home that i have in You.

a wise man once told me that abiding is simple.
though i didn't understand him then.
i faintly am beginning to now.

he said,
'abiding is to just keep coming back to Him'

though i wander, You always bring me home.
thank You, Jesus.
You are the kindest man i know.

through all of my journey.
You have lead me well.
from my seasons of slavery.
to the places You have promised.

teach me to call on You
as the God of my exodus.
for no one else will do
what You alone have done in me.

until You speak again,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time to let my fingers dance upon this keyboard again.

i can't remember the last time I wrote something from my soul.
it's been ages, i feel like.

but yesterday i felt something stirrin'
and this morning i woke up knowing that today was the day
the day when the writer within would awake from its slumber.

it feel sooooo good to be back here at this place where i can let my heart
display the feelings it cannot express on its own.

i am a different woman from the last time i wrote.
and my heart seemingly beats to a different drum.
similar yet different.

and yes, a new season is where i have found myself
but at the end of the day He has stamped one thing upon my heart lately
and it will keep me here until He says otherwise.

and here is what i have found that He has written: 'this too I have authored'.
such peace those five words bring me.
such hope as well.

i find myself after three years of having a pulpit to talk, talk, talk
the same talking that expressed what i usually would write.
now without the flashy pulpit to talk, talk, talk
i will gladly resume the joy that i find in writing.

so, i shall toast this morning to my fingers finally dancing again
upon the familiar place of a keyboard.

finally, i am ready to write again.
after years of silence.
i am ready to speak with my hands again.

so dance little fingers, dance.

until He speaks again,