7 Christian books to encourage your faith

Photo 08-10-2016, 16.53.21

I read, a lot. Maybe this is not surprising coming from someone who writes quite a bit. But I read — I read the Word of God every morning. I read articles and books for my studies and Master’s thesis. I read books that encourage my faith and challenge me to grow. I read blog posts that speak right into my heart, full of comfort and encouragement. I even read fiction every now and then, when my heart needs something light to escape to. Words have a way with my heart, pulling the strings of my soul and rearranging them the way that it all becomes more beautiful.

I believe that we should be people who read, people who challenge ourselves to further our faith and beliefs by reading those books that do it so biblically. So here are 7 books that I recommend for all Christians to read.

1. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts is the book, after the Word of God, that keeps changing my heart and my soul the most. I have cried while reading this book, so many times — because these words are so beautiful, and the raw faith in the midst of the messy life is incredible. This book is definitely the best one there is about cultivating gratitude and why, indeed, it is essential to our Christian walks to give thanks in everything, always. (Buy here.)

2. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

There is something about these words penned by Oswald Chambers, that challenge me deeply almost every day and always in the best way possible — the way that is inspired to become more like Jesus; the way that sees the wickedness of my own heart and all the wrong ways, yet knows there is hope for today. I love reading My Utmost for His Highest during my morning devotions, walking through the days . (Buy here.)

“It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the blows which must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to have the vision “batter’d to shape and use” by God? The batterings always come in commonplace ways and through commonplace people.” (Oswald Chambers)

3. The Calvary Road by Roy Hession

The Calvary Road is a short book but it is full of wisdom and great encouragement for the practical Christian life. Hession discusses the themes of brokenness, humility, confession and revival — all of these done in a way that will change a heart in incredible ways. I think The Calvary Road is an essential read for all Christians, as it encourages our faith but also challenges us to honesty about the condition of our heart. (Buy here.)

“To be broken is the beginning of revival. It is painful, it is humiliating, but it is the only way.” (Roy Hession)

4. How to Pray by R. A. Torrey

Torrey’s How to Pray was first published in 1900 but here is the thing — these incredibly wise, understanding, and insightful words on prayer are just as valuable today. In How to Pray, Torrey describes the ways of “prayer that avails much.” I have read this a few times, and every single time I feel like I learn so much more about prayer and even more so, how to pray. I find that prayer is the one aspect of my Christian life that I struggle the most with. I get easily distracted, I push prayer aside as less important than something else, or I pray halfheartedly. But this book, it keeps changing my heart about prayer time and time again — which is why I wholeheartedly recommend it. (Buy here.)

5. On Being a Servant of God by Warren W. Wiersbe

In On Being a Servant of God, Wiersbe shares his insights on what ministry means, encouraging the reader with his heart for those in ministry. Those of us in ministry, we easily feel the attacks of the enemy and discouragement takes hold of our hearts. There are so many needs to be met, and we can only give so much. Wiersbe does a great job conversing the basic principles of ministry and serving others in this book — and he does it in a way that will grow in you an eagerness to seek God and love His people. On Being a Servant of God is, I think, an essential read for everyone in ministry. (Buy here.)

“If God has called you to minister, no matter what that ministry may be, He hasn’t made a mistake. He knows what He’s doing, and the best thing you can do is gratefully submit to His will and trust Him to work.” (Warren W. Wiersbe)

6. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

The book of Hosea is one that, in all honesty, is so hard for me to read and yet, there is so much to learn about the love and forgiveness of our God in the book of Hosea, which is why I keep reading it again and again. It breaks my heart, to think how many times I wander away from the Lord and how He welcomes me back time and time again. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers captivates the story of Hosea so beautifully, and this is one of my favorite reads. Yes, this is fiction — but this story is one that will certainly encourage your faith as the love, forgiveness and grace of God are revealed through the story. (Buy here.)

7. The One Year Bible (NKJV)

In all honesty, I think being in the Word every day is what always encourages and strengthens our faith the most. Knowing the beautiful promises of our Lord, the scandalous grace and all-conquering love of our Savior — this is where we are made to stand on a firm ground. I have read through the Bible in a year almost four times now, using this One Year Bible during my morning devotions and I really like it. I do not like marking my Bible, but I have no hesitations underlining and writing on this — and I get to follow along the things and thoughts I learn along the years. (Buy here.)

What books would you recommend on top of these? Leave a comment below!

Linking up: Modest MondayWord Filled WednesdayWise Woman Linkup

book review: when calls the heart

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When Calls the Heart (Canadian West Book #1) by Janette Oke. Bethany House Publishers, February 1, 2005. First published in 1983. Kindle edition. 228 pages. $3.44.

Rating: 4/5.

When Calls the Heart is the first book in the Canadian West series by Janette Oke. This book introduces us to Elizabeth Thatcher, a young and educated woman from the East, who moves to the West with the purpose to teach school, without knowing exactly where she would be teaching. After a series of events, Elizabeth finds herself in a small town called Pine Springs. There she faces the challenges of teaching pupils of all ages and all stages of education, of learning to live in the countryside in the small teacherage, of living somewhere new without knowing anyone there. Elizabeth also swears that she is not looking for a husband nor has any intentions to get married but this, too, is challenged when she meets the handsome Royal Canadian Mounted Police member Wynn Delaney.

I recently read the Acts of Faith book series, written by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn, which I loved. In all honesty, I love reading romance novels; yet I am fairly picky about the writing style, and therefore do not read romance novels that often. I also demand quite a lot from historical novels, for often they are written in a style that is not easy to picture or to relate to. However, When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke passes both of these easily. I read this book in a day, as it was such an enjoyable and compelling read. Given that in a few days, I am leaving to New Zealand to live there for the next four months, it was easy for me to relate to the thoughts and wonderings of the main character, who contemplated her move to the West and all the fears that came along with it. In addition, When Calls the Heart is clearly a Christian novel.

This book, however, is clearly a part of a series. We are introduced to quite many characters and yet, the reader becomes familiar pretty much only with the main character. This book also ends way too soon, in a bit unsatisfying way. Which is why one should prepare to buy the next books in the series when reading this book.

All in all, When Calls the Heart is wonderful, light book that is still very compelling, and therefore quick to read — truly a “good mood read.” I would recommend this to anyone and everyone searching for a bit of romance written in a clean, Christian way.

Linking up: A Little R & R WednesdaysCoffee & ConversationWholeHearted Wednesday

book review: Life is Beautiful by Sarah M. Johnson

Life is BeautifulSarah M. Johnson. Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God. Morgan James Publishing, 2015. 198 pages. $14.19.

How many people do you know who have survived an airplane crash and simply walked away from it, without any injuries? Sarah M. Johnson is one of those people, and this is her story.

In Life is Beautiful, Sarah Johnson shares her powerful story of how she survived a plane crash, where she lost her father and brother, and the days after with her mother in the hospital with extreme injuries. She also shares growing up with a father who used drugs, and battling depression and alcohol use in college herself. All through these experiences and going through therapy, she finds a relationship with God and eventually turns for the better. All of this is truly an inspiring testimony, telling of the goodness and compassion of our Lord on all those in need of help.

While this whole book is a powerful testimony of a journey towards a relationship with God, what strikes me is that there is nothing about Sarah’s relationship with God literally in the first half of the book. I understand this is because it is only when Sarah meets her boyfriend Jacob, who is a believer, that she starts to think about these things. However, this is basically said to be a story about a lost girl becoming a true, confident child of God. But Sarah’s growing relationship with God is only barely mentioned in the book.

The writing style of the author does not impress me either. The author skips between the plane crash and earlier events in her life, making it sometimes difficult to follow the thought or the story the author is trying to tell. It seems like the author is also skipping between writing styles within one page as well, as the description of scenery is very beautiful with fancy words, yet the dialogues are quite choppy and simple. However, I know that I am very particular and picky when it comes to words so this might not bother others the way it bothered me.

Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God is an inspiring story and a powerful testimony of the works of the Lord even in this day. This book testifies of God’s grace for those with a difficult upbringing or who have gotten lost in the ways of the world. If you are struggling with losing family members, depression, or alcohol use then yes, this could be a book to give you hope of a better future. There is still, however, a whole lot of room for improvement in the writing itself and what matters to me and why I would not recommend this book, is that God is barely mentioned in the book and this book offers in no way anything more about God or how to get to know Him (which, to me, are crucial, even if it is a biography). But in case you are looking for a testimony to read of the miracles God works still these days? Yes, you might want to consider this.

About the Author:
Sarah M. Johnson is currently a graduate student seeking her Marriage and Family Therapy degree. She will graduate in 2015. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work. After graduating, she plans to open up a private practice office and guide those who are seeking their own self-discoveries of love and happiness.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Linking up: Literacy Musing Monday