#TheBookshelf - Ruth Cooke
Ruth Cooke lives in East Belfast with her husband, Ed, son, Nathaniel, and Rocky the Greyhound. She has worked with International Justice Mission for over seven years, and is a committed member of Collective, a network of Home Churches in and around Belfast.
Christian Classics - The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
This exercise has caused much thought and wrestling as I delve into my memory to recall the books I’ve read over the years, and as I try and choose one per category! For Christian Classics, I absolutely loved The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. I was blown away by the depth of insight into human nature – Lewis just knows people, and how our hearts and minds work, so well. As we read this book, we cannot fail to see ourselves in the sin or the foibles of at least one of the characters, and we are subtly encouraged to have our eyes opened to the reality of our Enemy at work in the world.
Theological Foundations - Walking in Victory - Dennis McCallum
Someone else mentioned Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Keller so I won’t (!) although I found it very helpful at a time of the loss of a close family member. I’ll go for Walking in Victory by Dennis McCallum which walks the reader through Romans 5 to 8, unpacking the role of the ‘law’ and what it means to live by grace. We all struggle with ‘besetting sin’ and get frustrated at ourselves – but this book helps us to grasp the good news that grace sets us free from the cycles of self effort, failure and guilt.
I also want to give a nod to The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent – a must-have, pocket sized reminder of all that Christ’s death has achieved for us. Every read through will leave you with something new to chew on and think over.
Discipleship & Development - Organic Disciplemaking - Dennis McCallum & Jessica McCallum
I’m torn for this section as there are several I want to mention – Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster which meant a lot as a student, The Marriage Builder by Dr Larry Crabb (which deals with our identity as Christians and the impact that can have on our relationships) – but I’ll go for Organic Disciplemaking by Dennis McCallum & Jessica McCallum. My church is made up of a network of home churches which are our focus for developing community, outreach and discipleship. Each home church has within it a network of discipleship relationships – intentional relationships with the Word of God at the heart. This book by McCallum is an extremely practical read and useful for anyone who wants to develop discipleship in their own relationships or indeed in their own church. It gives concrete ideas and steps to raising up leaders who can then lead and disciple others.
Church & Mission - Good News About Justice - Gary Haugen
I’ve worked for IJM for quite a few years and use the word ‘justice’ pretty much daily. For inspiration, and biblical reflection, on the Christian call to seek justice as one aspect of the mission of the church, I turn to Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen, IJM’s founder and CEO. Gary uses his various experiences around the world to paint a picture of the evil humankind is capable of – but also gives us a firm foundation of biblical truth that God is good and He is just. He leaves us inspired that great change is possible – and actually great change in so many communities in the world has already come about often at the hands of committed believers in Christ.
Culture & Literature - The Axe and the Tree - Stephen Griffiths
I’m not sure this book quite fits in here but last year I read The Axe and the Tree by Stephen Griffiths, the story of Elim missionaries in Zimbabwe in the last century. It shows some of the complexities of working in a culture not your own, and the intricacy of how the gospel impacts cultural practices and where the outworking of the gospel can – and should – look very differently depending on the culture around it. The book also relates a massacre of Elim missionaries, a story I was not familiar with until reading the book, and I found myself having to close it at times in disbelief and sadness at the evil people can carry out. I believe, however, that it is vital for us to know the truth of what others have faced in taking the Good News of Christ to other parts of the world – so that we can humble ourselves in gratitude, and wrestle with the complexities of the Gospel and culture.