Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Resources

Christianity has a rich collection of literature written over a span of 2000 years. One site which probably contains more digitized Christian books than any other is the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (Link at http://www.ccel.org/) Their recommended "short list" of classic Christian books includes the following:

St. Augustine
The Confessions of St. Augustine -- The most popular work of the man who more than any other shaped western civilization. The first 10 chapters constitute a spiritual autobiography and some spiritual and philosophical reflections; the last three chapters are a reflection on the creation story of Genesis 1.

John Bunyan
Pilgrim's Progress -- A spiritual allegory. Of books written in English, one of the all-time most popular. Audio available

G. K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy -- Chesterton's writing reminds me of C.S. Lewis, but a little more colorful, a little more quirky. This book is an apology for the Christian world-view.

Jonathan Edwards
Religious Affections -- "What is the nature of true religion? . . . [What are] the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God?" In this classic work by America's greatest theologian and philosopher, Edwards considers the nature of revival and the genuine work of the Holy Spirit. Don't read this book if you want to keep worshipping your idols.

George Fox
Autobiography of George Fox -- This is a fascinating journal of the exploits of the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). It is also very illuminating about the political and religious state of seventeenth century England -- for example, Fox lives through the commonwealth period, meets Cromwell, and prophesies his downfall after he treats Quakers badly. Audio available

Ignatius of Loyola
The Spiritual Exercises Spiritual exercises arranged into 4 weeks, by the founder of the Jesuits.

John of the Cross
Ascent of Mount Carmel
Dark Night of the Soul -- The writings of St. John of the Cross are unsurpassed for mystical theology. The "dark night" is a must-read for anyone seriously concerned about growing spiritually.

Thomas à Kempis
The Imitation of Christ -- This book is said to have been published in more editions than any other, apart from the Bible, with 6000 appearing by the turn of this century. This little devotional book is simply written but immensely moving. Highly recommended. Audio available

William Law
A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life -- This is one of two or three books that greatly influenced the young J. Wesley. Audio available

Brother Lawrence
The Practice of the Presence of God -- In this little collection of letters and reflections, Brother Lawrence encourages us to be continually in God's presence. Audio available

Keep in mind that these books span a large timeframe (Augustine wrote in the 5th century; Chesterton wrote in the late 19th century). Their authors span a wide range of Christian beliefs. You might find that you don't agree with every single author on every last detail. Yet, as a part of the body of Christ, they still have much to teach us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bible Resources

We are blessed to live in a time in which so many resources which allow us to read, study, search and reflect on the Bible. Here are just a few links to finding a way to read or listen to God's Holy Word.

Bible Gateway biblegateway.com is a great way to look for a text of the Bible. It can be read in a large number of translations such as the New International Version, New American Standard, English Standard Version or even the King James Version. You can look up passages by book, chapter and verse. You can search it by keyword. It also contains a number of links to non-English translations. If you're on your computer, IPod or some other mobile, wireless device, this is a great way to get a hold of the text you're looking for.

Perhaps you want to download a portion of the Bible for use on your IPod, mp3 or some other audio device. One site which offers free downloads of each chapter of the Bible. They are in the public domain. In otherwords, there is no copyright restriction. The site is for the World English Bible audiotreasure.com/webindex.htm

There are a number of companies which produce Bible software for mobile devices. I have used Olive Tree software for my Palm Tungsten "E". A link to them here www.olivetree.com/ provides you the opportunity to download a number of currently used Bible translations for a minimal price. Olive Tree also offers a number of free resources, (found here at olivetree.com/resources/free/), some of which are older translations of the Bible, but some are other types of books, such as those of Christian biography, theology and prayer.

There are a number of plans for reading the Bible through completely. One plan which I have used multiple times is that of the One Year Bible. Link at oneyearbibleonline.com . There is a page for specific use of mobile devices which allow you to access these readings from your Blackberry, IPod, etc. Link at www.oneyearbibleonline.com/oybomobile.asp?version=51&startmmdd=0101

Memorizing portions of the Bible is a great way to keep God's Word in your heart and mind. One site which can help is memoryverses.org/. Another is creativebiblestudy.com/Biblememorization.html which employs a number of techniques and even gives links to print off sheets which can be stored as small cards which can easily be carried and used where the opportunity allows.

There are two downloadable pieces of Bible software which I highly recommend. The first is E-Sword. E-Sword is software which enables in-depth study of the Bible. Once it is downloaded, it remains on your computer (thus it is not an internet link such as Bible Gateway). Some of the Bible downloads have a small cost. However, a version as recent as the English Standard Version (put out in 2002) is a free download. The link for E-Sword is here.

One other free Bible Study resource I would like to recommend is Quick Bible. It does not have all of the features of E-Sword. However, if you are looking for a free, searchable Bible in a modern translation, Quick Bible may be what you are looking for. It is produced by the Lockman Foundation, the translators of the New American Standard Bible (probably the most literal translation of the Bible into English). The link for the download can be found here.