Murray&Carol in 1976

On Good Books

In the end, whether or not we are conscious of it, we choose the influences that shape us - for this life and for eternity.

Here are books I've read in recent years ....


1.    C.S. Lewis, Transposition and other Addresses. Geoffrey Bles, London. 1949. 64 pages.

A little treasure, previously unknown to me, found among my father's books, by my no-longer-living-mentor-for-the-year of addresses given during the war years (1939-1944). Transposition is a thoughtful reflection on the limits of our epistemology.

2.    Gordon Carkner, The Great Escape from Nihilism. Infocus Publishing, 2016. 226 pages. ISBN 978-0-9950968-2-0

A thoughtful PhD level response to the de rigor universal skepticism and cynicism plaguing the west, having replaced transcendence (monotheism) with existentialism (atheistic humanism). A good exposure to modern philosophy, particularly the debate between Charles Taylor and Michel Foucault.

3.    Paul Tournier, Guilt and Grace Harper & Row

A masterful classic psychological study of ubiquitous true and false guilt and the necessity of healing grace. If God-in-Christ hadn't brought it, we would have to had made it up - except that grace can only come from beyond.

4.    Michael J. Miller, translator, Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2010. 287 pages.

I like this overview of Catholicism, especially social thought prioritizing the common good. Great sense of history. Loaded with insightful quotes of contemporary and ancient mystics, theologians and warm-hearted thinkers.

5. Richard Plass and James Cofield, The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove. 2014. 182 pages.

Richard has been friend from the last 60's, church planter, counselor and now helping people build on strengths and address their weaknesses primarily using the enneagram perspective on personally.

6.    Julie Canlis, A Theology of the Ordinary. Godspeed Press, Wenatchee, WA. 2017. 67 pages.

Rich theological reflections on the hallowing of the ordinary in our lives in God's incarcation and embrace of the physical world. A gift from Rich Plass, along with his Relational Soul.

7.    Michael Gerber, E-Myth Revisited Harper-Collins. 2002, first edition 1986. 200ish pages.

Successful businesses are not only built by creativity and hard work (the "Entrepreneurial-Myth") but by producing and managing a highly detailed template by which untrained hires produce the same results (e.g. a franchise-able operation). Just trying to keep up with our entrepreneurial kids :-)

8.    Michael S. Heiser, Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World and Why it Matters. Lexham Press, 2015. 167 pages. ISBN:978-1-57799-558-6

Still widely ignored with undue assurance.

9.    Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. Sentinel Random House: New York. 2017 244 pages ISBN 978-0-7352-1329-6

Decried by reviewers as too radical. Vital for parents who care about transferring Kingdom values to the next generation in society and their own families.

1. Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, 1886. 58 pages. (Read here.)

Melanie introduced us to a couple great books on mortality this year (Atul Gawande & Paul Kalanithi). Earlier this year I read this Russian short story (which Paul Kalanithi had read while processing his illness) and posted it to the web (link above) to give easy access.

2. Mark Andrew Ritchie, Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomano Shaman's Story. Island Lake Press, Chicago. 1996. 258 pages. ISBN 0-9646952-1-9

The best autobiographical introduction to Shamanism I know of. Shatters all kinds of western conventional thinking. Important to read to understand first nations worldview also.

3. Catherine F. Rollins, 52 Simple Ways to Encourage Others. Oliver Nelson, Nashville. 1992. 134 pages. ISBN 0-8407-9614-5

So important in today's world. Easy read, practical, doable.

4.    Jan Dargatz, 52 Simple Ways to Build Your Child's Self-Esteem & Confidence. Oliver-Nelson 1991, 144 pages.

A book I wish I'd come across 35 years ago. Looking for opportunities to apply oe of these principles each week will bring immeasurable good.

5.     Ivan Rudolph, Living Beyond: Making Sense of Near Death Experiences. WestBow Press (Thomas Nelson/Zondervan) 2015. 374 pages. ISBN 9781512716962

Much has been written about near-death experiences, mostly from the perspective of an individual's story or small sample of such stories. Rudolph is unique to my awareness in that he has read several thousand diverse near-death stories from which he identifies broad themes and comes to important conclusions. If you read only one book in this list ...

6. Bill Lawrence, Wilderness Wanderings: When a Zigzag Line is the Shortest Distance to Fruitfulness. Leader Formation, Dallas, 2016 71 pages.

Bill is seasoned OC leader. Sometimes counterintuitive character formation lessons prerequisite to leadership formation lessons not to be missed from the lives of people God has used for good.

7.      Augustine of Hippo, City of God. Edited and abridged by Vernon J. Bourke. Image Books, New York. 1950. 563 Pages. ISBN 978-0-385-02910-0

One of a handful of books which has shaped Christendom and western civilization for centuries. Not an easy read but a recommended and remarkable experience.

8. Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air. Random House, 2016. 225 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Can't be read without confronting our own mortality and requiring of ourselves an answer to the question of meaning, not just the meaning of our lives drawing from what we contribute to others (i.e. 'do') in the limited years we have but 'being' questions which have more profound answers to identity then what we do.

1.    Ken Shigematsu, God In My Everything: How An Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God, Zondervan. 224 pages.

An excellent explanation and adaption of Benedictine spiritual disciplines to modern life enabling busy people the benefits in all spheres.

2.    George Weigel, The Final Revolution, Oxford Press, 1992.

A gripping historical study of the victory 'soft'/spiritual power against the brutal iron hand of communism. Insights into the dangers of totalitarianism of all stripes.

3.    Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

The story of the life, struggle and conversion of one of the men who has left his mark on all streams of the Christian church and in many ways has defined western civilization.

4.    Mike Kuhn, Fresh Vision for the Muslim World, Colorado Springs, Authentic Books, 2009. 266 pages. ISBN 978-1-60657-019-7

Helping us feel what it's like to see the world - history, politics, western culture - through Muslim eyes and hearts and worldview.

5.    David Garrison, A Wind in the House of Islam, Wigtake Resources. 261 pages. ISBN: 978-1-939124-03-6

The amazing story, pain and challenge of how God is drawing Muslims to Christ around the world for the first time in 14 centuries.

6.    Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

One of the few books in my life I've read a second time (which hopefully says something significant.

1. Richard Bewes, Wesley Country: A Pictorial History based on John Wesley's Journal. Creative Publishing, Worthing, England, 2003. ISBN: 1-904636-01-2

Easy to read insights into 17th century England and Wesley's incredible endurance and courage in staving off, in the view of many historians, an English version of the French Revolution.

2.    Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World. Zondervan, 2001. 441 pages. ISBN 13: 978-0-310-26449-1

An encouraging and inspiring historical study essential to understanding the shaping of western civilization. Critical reading, along with Rodney Stark's For the Glory of God, in the current environment of historical revisionism.

3.    Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

4.    Ed Hird, Restoring Health: Body, Mind and Spirit

Ed is an Anglican friend of 35 years who has written his learnings and insights in this subject for emerging leaders in the context of a commentary on Titus.

5.    Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov. 860 pages

Widely acclaimed as one of the world's greatest novels. Read at least one of the great Russian novels.


1. Stuart King, Hope Has Wings: the MAF Story. Harper Collins, 1993; Mission Aviation Fellowship, UK, 2004. 354 pages. ISBN 1-874367-58-2

2. Vishal Mangalwadi, Truth and Transformation: a Manifesto for Ailing Nations. Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2009. 307 pages.

The central role of truth in the deep and lasting transformation we seek.

3.  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, The Russian Messenger, 1873. 1170 pages.

4. Alex Smith, A Christian Pocket Guide to Buddhism OMF Christian Publications, 2009. 119 pages.

5. Moody Adams, The Titanic's Last Hero: A Startling True Story that can Change Your Life Forever. Ambassador International (, 2012 ISBN: 978-1-620200-05-6 or eISBN: 978-1-620200-006-3

6. Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart. Darton, Longman & Todd, 1981. 96 pages. ISBN 0-232-51887-4

7. Henri J. M. Nouwen, In Jesus Name: Reflections on Christian Leadership. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1989. 100 pages.

8. R.A. Torrey, How to Pray. Fleming H. Revell, 1975. (First published 1900) (Read here)

9. Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Thomas Nelson, 2010. 608 pages.

A wonderful new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the first book I read, aside from the New Testament, after giving my life to Christ: The Cost of Discipleship.

10. Addington, T. J. Leading from the Sandbox Navpress, 2011, Kindle Edition.

11. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health. Benbella Books, Dallas, Texas, 2006, 350 pages. ISBN 978-193210066-2

A remarkable study demonstrating the role of diet in health, troubling to some but placing a significant degree of control back into our hands.

1. Jerry Trousdale, Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus Thomas Nelson, 2012. 240 pages.

Discover a transforming tool in your daily walk with Christ, and in bringing others to Christ, including Muslims and people of every other worldview. Simple, clear and a compelling story.

2. Stephen R. Smith, Final Assault: A Novel about Finishing the Task, self-published on Kindle, 2012

3. Sarah Anne Stuart, Treasured Stories of Christmas, New York: Bristol Park Books, 2010, 368 pages

4. Bruxy Cavey, The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus, NavPress, 2007. 265 pages.

Jesus did not come to begin a new religion but to make religion, as the world knows it, unnecessary.

5. Michael Lewis, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World NY, London, W.W. Norton & Co. 212 pages.

The power and danger of debt at the national level, great enough to roll back a developed nation to become a developing nation.

6. Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith, Zondervan, 2010. 219 pages. ISBN: 978-0-310-41259-5.

The roots of the "new" (angry) atheism, from the brother of one of it's primary proponents.

7. Georges Houssney, Engaging Islam, Treeline Publishing, 2010. 206 pages. ISBN 978-0-9830485-0-3

8. Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Jesus Is the Victor, Rifton, NY 12471, Plough Publishing House, 2011. 46 pages.

This book, and the next, reveals the power of the demonic, to be ignored to our peril,  and the wonderfully greater power in the authority of the Lordship of Christ.

9.  Christoph Friedrich Zuendel, The Awakening, Rifton, NY 12471, Plough Publishing House, 2011. 122 pages.

1. Robyn Meredith, The Elephant and the Dragon Norton, 2007

2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, (Kindle). 199 pages.

3. Todd Burpo, Heaven is For Real Thomas Nelson, 2010

A wonderful story of the reality of heaven discovered by a four year old boy who confounded his parents.

4. James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small

5. Brian Klemmer, The Compassionate Samurai, Being Extraordinary in an Ordinary World, Hay House, 2008.

6. Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities, (Kindle), 237 pages.

7. James Herriot, The Lord God Made Them All, 347 pages

8. Kyriacos C. Markides, The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality, (Doubleday: New York, 2001.) ISBN 0-385-50092-0, 243 pages.

Orthodoxy has suffered more martyrdoms than any other traditions but remains a mystery to many western Christians. This book by an appreciative skeptic provides winsome insights.

9. Ahmed Ali Haile, Teatime in Mogadisu, Waterloo, Ontario, 2011. 140 pages

10. Dave deVries, Six-Word Lessons to Discover Missional Living: 100 Lessons to Align Every Believer with the Mission of Jesus, Leading on the Edge International at Kindle, 2010.
1. Macdonald, Fiona, The History of Scotland for Children. Lomond Book, Broxburn, Scotland, 2008. 190 pages ISBN 978-1-84204-073-7

2. Hunter, George, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West Again, Nashville, Abingdon Press, 2000. 137 pages ISBN 978-0-687-08585-9.

3. Mellis, Jim K., Abu Sharif: The Mystery of the Hundredth Name. Goel Publishing, Netherlands, 2003. 134 pages ISBN 90-805855-1-3

4. Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2008.

5. T.H. White, The Once and Future King, HarperCollins Voyager Classics, London, 1958. 697 pages.

6. A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God, I Talk Back to the Devil, and Who Put Jesus on the Cross? OM Publishing (Paternoster), 1996. 118, 146 and 174 pages respectively.

7. James Herriot, All Things Bright and Beautiful
1. Rick Joyner, The Vision [Including The Final Quest and The Call] (Thomas Nelson, Nashville), 2000.
2. Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch, The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church, Hendrickson Publishers, 2003 ISBN: 978-1-8768-2587-4
3. William Paul Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity. Hodder & Stoughton, 2007
4. N.Tom Wright, New Heavens, New Earth: The Biblical Picture of Christian Hope Grove Books, Cambridge, 1999.
5. Brian Hogan, There's a Sheep in my Bathtub: Birth of a Mongolian Church Planting Movement. Asteroidea Books, 2008 ISBN 978-0-9799056-0-5
6. Brent Eldridge, Team: Six Essentials for Building a Productive Team Resource Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2008.
7. Tim Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Hodder & Stoughton), 2008
8. L'Engle, Madeleine, A Wrinkle in Time. Dell Publishing: Laurel-Leaf Books, 1973.
9. L'Engle, Madeleine, A Wind in the Door. Dell Publishing: Laurel-Leaf Books, 1973.
10. L'Engle, Madeleine, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Dell Publishing: Laurel-Leaf Books, 1973.
1. Bell, Rob, Velvet Elvis
2. Yunus, Mohamed, Banker to the Poor, PublicAffairs, Perseus Book Group, New York, 2003.
3. Bryson, Bill, A Short History of Nearly Everything
4. Barton, Ruth Haley, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, InterVarsity Press, 2006. 190 pgs.
5. Alcorn, Randy, The Treasure Principle, Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs, 2001. 120 pages. ISBN 978-1-59052-508-1
6. Clarke, John and Lyza, The Inheritance: The Real Journey of Life - Out of Ourselves and Into God, (printed 2003 ISBN: 1-894928-43-1) Available at
1. Kate Fox, Watching the English
2. Rutz, James. MegaShift
3. Peterson, Brooks. Cultural Intelligence
4. Claro, Robert. A Higher Purpose: For Your Overseas Job. Crossover Books by CSM of FMB-SBC, Inc. P.O. Box 2656 MCPO, 1266 Makati City, Philippines ISBN 971-717-810-5 or (tentmaking)
5. Stephen Tomkins A Short History of Christianity, 2005
6. Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical (Zondervan, 2006)
7. Ron Jarvis, Iron and Art, (Beverly Books, Dorset, England DT5 2DS. 2001) ISBN 0-9540688-0-7
8. Ken Edred, God is at Work
9. Barry Johnson, Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems, HRD Press, Massachusetts, 1992. ISBN 0-87425-176-1
10. Co-Active Coaching
11. Dennis R. Hoover, ed., Religion and Torture in an Age of Terrorism, Faith & International Affairs, Summer 2007.
12. Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change
1. The Open Secret - Newbigin
2. Of Mice & Men - Steinbeck
3. Ken Blanchard, Self Leadership
4. Foreign to Familiar - Sarah Lanier (hot/cold cultures)
5. My Descent into Death - Howard Storm, (DoubleDay2005)
6. Visions Beyond The Veil - H. A. Baker (Osterhus Publishing)
7. Coaching for Performance - Sir John Whitmore
1. Turner, The Man Called Cash
2. Christianity on Trial, Vincent Carroll & David Shiflett (Encounter Books, San Francisco), 2002.
3. H. A. Baker, Plains of Glory and Gloom
4. Paul Borden, Hit the Bull's Eye