Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dear Jess,

I was relieved by these words in Jessica's last email (yesterday or the day before):

"I hope you know how much you are helping me. It was stories like these that I really needed to hear in order to see where people come from....and I don't know if books about "miracles" were going to help. You did, however, suggest some books, so feel free to pass those titles along whenever you get a chance. Happy New Year!"
Dear Jess,
I'm so glad to hear that our conversations have been more helpful than totally overwhelming :)

(Thank you to those of you who have shared your stories in comments and emails. That's a vulnerable thing to do, but I whole-heartedly believe that when we tell our own personal stories, the message of the beliefs within them become more valid. When we can speak from our hearts rather than talking in vague terms about religion, we learn more than we thought possible from each other.)

You asked if it would be okay to take a few days to ponder things. Absolutely not, hurry up!! (Kidding of course.) Take your time, lady. A lot has been said, so much to chew on. If I were you it would take me two weeks to respond.

You and I have also been talking about books that might help, so below are my recommendations. There are quite a few, but I thought if I gave you a bunch to check out, you could decide what interests you the most:

Philip Yancey:
"What So Amazing About Grace?"
"Soul Survivor"

Anne Lamott:
"Traveling Mercies"
"Plan B: More Toughts on Faith"

John Eldredge:
"The Sacred Romance"
"Waking the Dead"

Francine Rivers:
"Redeeming Love" (fiction)

You also asked about starting to read the Bible and wondered about recommendations for where to begin. Many people think the New Testament is the best place to start. I think it's difficult to just sit down and read the Bible at any point without some guidance, especially if it's new to you. I would encourage you to get a study to go along with what you choose to read. Some are cheesier than others, or maybe even just boring. So I'm hoping someone could give recommendations for good studies in the comments.

Any Bible study by Beth Moore is excellent in my opinion. I love how she so frequently teaches the definition of the words of the Bible from the original language. Learning the original definitions of the words has been one of the key things in having the Bible "come alive" for me. I am constantly saying, "OH, so that's what He meant." I'm moved and touched by how I can see LOVE in what He was saying when I truly understand it.

I'm pretty sure you could get Beth Moore studies on Amazon or something. There are books and workbooks that carry you through certain parts of the Bible. It might all sound kind of foreign at first (the studies) but I think if you're patient with it, you'll be surprised (in a good way) by God's intentions for you. He has the ability to make the Bible "come alive" for you too.

I also wanted to pass on two blog links for you.
Conversion Diary (a former atheist becomes a believer)
Bring the Rain (a Christian music artist's wife who lost a full-term baby girl shares her faith and her walk through grief)
(the links are going to take you directly to two posts I think might be of some help to you.)

I love it that you're interested in giving Bible reading a try, you brave woman! Be patient with yourself and open to it taking some time to grasp what's so great about it :) I know if you're taking this step of faith, God will speak to you. I just know He will. Cause He rocks.



MidnightCafe said...

I'm glad Heather mentioned books by Anne Lamott. I almost mentioned the same in my last post. I would totally recommend those! If you're looking for someone who is really down-to-earth and doesn't speak a lot of Christian-ese, who tells real live faith stories without sugar-coating them, Anne Lamott is your woman!

I also wanted to mention a book I have called "Meet the Bible." It's one of those read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year books, only things like the genealogies and multiple repetitions of the same stories have been taken out. So, you're not literally reading through the whole Bible word for word, but you get the idea of how the whole Bible flows together and the over-arching story of love and redemption. Each daily passage from the Bible is followed by some commentary by either Philip Yancey (whom Heather also mentioned) or Brenda Quinn. These are two very wise people who have spent lots of time studying the history surrounding the Bible, as well as the original language. Total reading is 2-3 pages a day.

Finally, if you're interested in Beth Moore's Bible studies, you can also check out her website: . There are some MP3's there that you can download if you go to the store part of the website if you want to get a feel for her stuff right away.

And, as Heather also said, take your time, lady!! This is a lot to take in. Nobody here is going to get impatient with you.

pam said...

I'd also add Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. According to Rob, "This book is for those who need a fresh take on Jesus and what it means for us to live the kind of life he teaches us to live." His books are very real, hip, and speak to the heart of being a Christian, especially for anyone who may be uncomfortable or suspicious of the traditional church. He shakes it up a bit. Highly recommended!

If you're tired of reading :-), there's also a series of short videos called "nooma" that are thought provoking rock-video type clips on religious topics. Great conversation starters!

Thanks so much for giving us a chance to ashare our favorites.

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