welcome. why "weak on sanctification"?

this accusation is often made about lutheran christians. because we focus so strongly on god's justifying grace in christ, and our continual need, as "sinner-saints," to receive god's gifts of grace through word and sacrament, people say we are "weak on sanctification." i prefer to say we are strong on jesus, whose sanctifying work in our lives is the fruit of the gospel all along our lifelong journey. i would much rather focus on what he has done than on anything i might do.

the weekly discussion

each week I set forth a topic to promote discourse about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. i would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on each week's subject. these discussions are usually posted on mondays, so if you missed this week's post and would like to catch up on the conversation, just scroll down and join us.

October 18, 2009

the weekly discussion—october 18

recently, i listed some of the books that i have been reading lately. for this week's discussion, it would be great to have a conversation about what books have been feeding your mind and spirit.

i'm particularly interested in hearing about books that have given you formative insights in the following areas:
  • the spiritual life with christ
  • the church: its history, life, and ministry
  • loving your neighbor and serving your community
  • truths about life, the world, and/or human nature
  • important people, events, and/or movements in history
  • the relationship between religion and science
it doesn't matter whether the books you recommend are non-fiction, fiction, or poetry, classic or contemporary. i'm just always interested in hearing about good books!

"let the wild rumpus begin!"

today's van gogh

green ears of wheat, 1888


  1. Mike,

    Here are a few that have been foundational for me.

    'The Hammer of God' by Bo Giertz.

    'Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work' by Eugene Peterson

    ' The Contemplative Pastor' by Eugene Peterson

    Robert Capon's books on the Parables of Jesus.

    'Bed and Board' by Robert Capon

    'Getting Things Done' by David Allen

    By the way, nice blog. I like the name.


  2. "Beginning to Pray," by Anthony Bloom, is one of the sanest and most practical guides I've ever read. It's available in paperback in various places on the Web. I recently reread "Castle on the Hill," by Elizabeth Goudge, and was struck by how profoundly Christian her sensibilities were in every area of life. It takes place during the bombing of southern England, and was written then, too, without the author having the luxury to see that the English would win ultimately.

  3. Patrick, thanks for joining the discussion, and for the kind comments.

    Peterson's books have saved my life several times, reminding me of the fundamentals of my calling. I have not yet delved into Capon, though he comes highly recommended by people I admire. Thanks for pointing me that way again.

  4. thanks, Damaris. I prize your recommendations and will check them out.

  5. I recently read Phyllis Tickle's memoir, "The Shaping of a Life". I've enjoyed her writing and used "The Divine Hours" for a number of years now, so it was a pleasure to read the account of her early encounters in spiritual formation. Both her Southern upbringing and church origins were much different than mine and yet I've come to embrace many of the elements of faith she writes about, especially since my move to Lutheranism.

    I also recently finished "Living Prayer" by Robert Benson. I liked that he compared prayer to a dance and invited readers to join the ancient rhythm in a variety of ways. This is not an instruction manual, but the sharing of personal reflections and experiences in prayer.

    I always have several books I am reading at the same time and right now I am trying to finish "An Altar in the World" which you mentioned, Mike. It is one of the best books I have ever read and it's one I can't read too much of at a time. The idea of seeing all of life as sacred and the specific applications of such a belief requre time to process and reflect. I have also just started a book my sister gave to me about the Christian response to the "immigration problem", entitled "Welcoming the Stranger" (IVP). I've only read a couple of chapters but already I am challenged to step away from the political rhetoric and consider the immigrants around me in light of Kingdom values.

  6. Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris

  7. I'm no fun.

    I've been reading "Excel Power Programming with Visual Basic."

  8. Sorry to chime in so late, busy week in light of the respite at The Abbey of Gethsemeni.
    Right now I am reading (or read recently) 3 books.
    "Streams of Living Water" by Richard J. Foster, A great read for unerstanding the different traditions of the Christian Faith. I think it has helped me to remain centered in my own Christian Faith traditions, but to have an understanding and deeper insight about traditions that I am less informed about. A very good and insightful read.

    I just read (again) "In the Name of Jesus" by Henri J.M. Nouwen about reflections on Christian leadership. A small book that can be digested in a single afternoon. I found it to be heartwarming, and insightful study on Christian leadership. I think this book should be in every Pastors library.

    Been reading, "The Gospel of The Kingdom" a small gem of a book written by New Testament scholar and theologian, Dr.George Eldon Ladd. A good study on "Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God" As a "Vinyardite" I find this book insightful in the things that sets the foundational basis for the theology of the Vineyard movement.