The Supernatural Ways of Royalty, by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson
One of the four things the earth cannot handle, is a servant who becomes a king (Pro 30:21-22). A servant doesn’t know how to rule – he hasn’t been trained. Worse, an abiding sense of insignificance combined with a poverty mentality means he will undermine, even destroy, those he would govern. We were born slaves to sin but now we reign with Christ. We are servants-turned-kings. Yet we will not walk in our true identity unless we lose the pauper mindset we grew up with. Although this book lacks focus and is weakened in places by religious jargon, it will open your eyes to your royal inheritance. Vallotton’s personal stories of supernatural experiences are inspiring. This is definitely a book to read and talk about.
Do Christians Still Have a Sinful Nature? Revised Edition, by Ryan Rufus
Recently I asked the question, “Do NIV readers have a sinful nature?” This was a tongue-in-cheek jibe at some sloppy translation done in the New International Version of the Bible. The title of my post was inspired by the book Do Christians Still Have a Sinful Nature? by Ryan Rufus. Many Christians have been told that they have two natures and the one that wins is the one they feed the most. It’s the old black dog/white dog story. But this simply isn’t true. As Ryan Rufus explains, you are a new creation and the old has gone. This book is more than an answer to a question (and the answer is “No!”). It’s a primer on how to live by grace. It deals with questions many Christians have, such as, “Why do I still keep on sinning?” and “How can I stop sinning?” The revised edition comes with discussion questions and is suitable for a 5 week study course.
So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman
I was initially put off reading this book because I thought it was just another church-bashing piece written by a burnt-out pastor. It’s not. For starters, it was written by two people, not one, and it’s a novel. It’s basically a conversation between a disillusioned Christian called Jake and someone who just might be the original apostle John. Jake starts the book enslaved to institutional religion. He knows something is wrong but he can’t put his finger on it. Then, through a series of conversational discoveries, Jake comes to realize that the religious system which has locked many Christians into task-based friendships based on performance and accountability, is nothing like the body-life that God wants for all of us. Grace is not just for individuals; it’s for families and communities. God is the God of community and His nature draws us into community. Church life is not about putting on a show but celebrating His work in the lives of His people. This is not our obligation, but His gift to us. This book is a is a tornado of fresh air. It will help you get real in your relationships for it shows you what grace looks like when it is experienced together with others.
The Battle for Middle-earth, by Fleming Rutledge
If you’re looking for an epic read over the holidays and you’re a Tolkien fan, this one will interest you. In The Battle for Middle-earth, Fleming Rutledge reveals that The Lord of the Rings contains not one story but two. On the surface there is the well-known story about a fellowship working together to rid the world of an evil ring. However, just beneath the surface lies a deeper narrative where the hero is no hobbit but an unseen God operating for good through the “little ones” that nobody else notices. By drawing on Tolkien’s letters to fans, Rutledge reveals the biblical motifs that frame the action in both The Lord of the Rings and its predecessor, The Hobbit. On their own, the hobbits never stood a chance against the might of Sauron. But they weren’t on their own. Although Tolkien never explicitly mentions the hand of Providence in either story, he left so many hints that you’ll wonder how you missed it. Rutledge’s carefully researched book is a fascinating read that will change the way you read Tolkien.