Saturday, December 29, 2012

Read the Bible in 2013, and Other Fantastic Christian Books

This week's Bible study tip is simply: Read the Bible a lot!!!  Reading the Bible daily, and reading all of the Bible without skipping books, is utterly critical for those who desire to truly understand God's Word.

A lot of people enjoy partaking of "Through the Bible in a Year" plans, either as a way to prompt them to dive into God's Word daily, or as a means of familiarizing themselves with the entire Bible in addition to their more in-depth study into specific books or topics. 

If you're interested in reading through the Bible in 2013, check out the new tab above titled, "Weekly Scripture Readings."  I've designed it for those who are a bit more ambitious, as following the plan will have you read through the Old Testament once and New Testament three times in 2013.  I include links and Christian quotes, so make reading through the Bible one of your New Year's resolutions and check out the page. :-)

If the one I've compiled isn't your style, BibleGateway also offers a nice selection of reading plans.  For example, you can choose chronological or historical reading approaches, read just the New Testament in a year, read the Bible in only 90 days, or even listen to an audio Bible for the year instead of reading it visually.

For the year's end, I thought I'd also share some of my absolute favorite Christian books that I read this past year:

A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers:  This collection of five novellas elaborates on the Biblical accounts of five women of great faith, but does so in a way that doesn't come across as a mirror image of so many other women-of-the-Bible books.  In focusing on motivations and emotions, it makes the women seem very much like the real human beings they were instead of distant historical figures.

Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins:  Telling the story of redemption through two people, a murderer on death row and his prison chaplain, this book's deep characterization and forward but realistic handling of the topic of salvation give it rare power.
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren:  This book exemplifies subtle Christian content in that the main character slowly becomes a seeker of the truth in the course of the book (and it's set up for her to grow more in the rest of the series) while living plenty of "real" life, thereby making it an ideal novel for readers who enjoy books where faith is present, but not the main focus.  Time travel, the history of 1400s Italy, romance, and action-laden adventure all grace Waterfall's pages, making it a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Cuts Like a Knife by M.K. Gilroy: Recently, I've grown fond of mysteries and suspense novels with female investigators as protagonists, but in the realm of secular publication where such series are prevalent, the books often include quite a bit of sexual content.  So, I was thrilled when I found Cuts Like a Knife, a dark, in-depth suspense novel with an independent, capable heroine - but without inappropriate content.
Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge:  This book is a gloriously refreshing look at Jesus's personality as evidenced through the Gospels, peeling off the layers of stiff religiosity and revealing glimpses of our loving, amazing God.  Truly one of the best books I have ever read (and I've read a lot of books).
The Passionate Intellect by Norman Klassen and Jens Zimmermann:  Exploring the Christian roots of humanism, as well as critiquing the philosophy and comparing its variations to Christianity, I recommend this book as utterly essential for any college student (current or future) taking classes in the arts, literature, philosophy, or religion.  Speaking from experience, humanism will pop up in college classrooms at unexpected times, so prepare yourself with this excellent book.
What were some of your favorite reads of 2012 (Christian or secular)?  Have you read any from my list, and if so, what did you think of them?
Do you plan to read through the Bible (or a portion of the Bible) in 2013?  Have you done so before?


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