Every day for years, I’ve done the same thing. I’ve read my Bible, then two e-mail devotions I get on a daily basis, write in my prayer journal, and I compose a daily prayer prompt for my blog. My morning devotion time doesn’t change often, but this year, it’s undergone a major makeover.
I spent several months looking at the ever-growing stack of spiritual growth books to be read, and realized—I was going to have to shake my morning quiet time up a bit. Bible reading isn’t optional for me—it’s how I start my day. But the two e-mail devotions were optional. As much as I loved them, I’ve replaced them with reading a chapter a day from one of the aforementioned books.
I love it. It’s been an incredible way to start my day. I’ve started with some amazing books, and it’s been both challenging and enriching. Because I’ve been so excited about what I’ve been reading, I started a Reading List page on my website, MyGraceFullLife.com. Every time I finish a book this year, I’ll add to the page. With that said, I wanted to go ahead and share the first three books in this month’s column.
It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, by Lysa TerKuerst. This book is a game changer. If you follow Proverbs 31 Ministries, you may already know that Lysa is the president of the organization and that the last few years have been anything but easy for her. Between her near-death experience with a distended colon that almost ruptured, her husband’s affair and their separation, and a breast cancer diagnosis, she has, in her words, “licked the floor of hell.” But she is a survivor in the truest sense of the word. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way is a book about how to survive life’s disappointments by leaning on God. She shares her story—sometimes with self-effacing humor, sometimes with heart-wrenching honesty, and always with the hope of Jesus. Through it all, even as she recounts the reconciliation in her marriage, she shares a faith in God that is bigger than any hurt or disappointment.
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of theHoly Spirit, by Francis Chan. I’ve owned this book for a while, but it was one of those I’ll-Get-To-It-Eventually books that I always kept near the front of the stack, but never started. But when I decided to shake up my morning routine, I knew this one would be one of my first. I have highlighted every page and made so many notes down the side. . . . I loved this book. It is wonderfully written, filled with Biblical truth, and is focused on our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Only seven chapters long, this book packs a powerful punch. Author Francis Chan spends time asking questions designed to make the reader think, and gives excellent illustrations to help us understand the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan. I had a different book I was planning to start after Forgotten God, but when I was telling a friend about it, she recommended another Francis Chan book—Crazy Love. Friends, I was so blown away by this book, I went to the used bookstore mid-read and bought all their copies so I could give them away (my copy is covered in notes now). I would even dare say that next to the Bible, this may be the best book I’ve ever read. It was thought-provoking, challenging, and convicting. The author challenges the reader to stop trying to fit God into a box and recognize that we cannot fully define who He is. Yet, despite all His power, He loves us with an all-consuming kind of love. Francis Chan also inquires into our response to God and challenges us to look to God with the kind of awe, wonder, and reverence He deserves. This book is a must-read.
With every spiritual-growth book I read this year, I’ll be adding to the Reading List page. It’s so exciting to me that God equips men and women to write books from which we can learn and grow. And as much as I love the Bible, and it is the book that I read daily and will read for the rest of my life, I believe God gives us the opportunity to learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ. While I tend to be highly selective of whose books I’ll read (and moreover, whose I won’t read!), I trust the authors of the books I recommend. If I don’t—they won’t be posted on my website.
I am very excited about this change to my daily devotion time. As I write this, I’m currently reading They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edman. My review should be posted by the time this magazine goes to print, so be sure to check out my website (again, MyGraceFullLife.com).