The Christian walk
Four classic books
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Effective Biblical Counseling by Larry Crabb: How can Christians become more like Christ? In Effective Biblical Counseling, psychologist Larry Crabb argues that Christian counselors play an important role. When people struggle with harmful or sinful thoughts and behaviors, Christian counselors prompt them to ask “What will please God?” instead of “What will make me happy?” In this 1977 book, Crabb states that some Christians will still need secular techniques and medication, but he also lays out in 200-plus pages counseling basics that can equip everyday Christians to help hurting people. Crabb’s chapter critiquing popular ideas from the 1970s feels dated, and he sometimes references now-obscure authors. That said, caring Christians can still find the basics of Biblical counseling clearly stated in the book.
The Apostle: A Life of Paul by John Pollock: In this biography first published in 1969, British author John Pollock hoped to bring the real Paul into focus for new generations. To get to know his subject, Pollock walked and drove the Roman roads Paul traveled. He also took the New Testament seriously. Like the author of Acts, he introduces us to Paul with the stoning of Stephen. We also see Paul’s life-changing encounter with Christ on the Damascus road and follow his missionary journeys. Pollock gives the story new life, writing at times like a novelist. He draws scenes and describes Paul’s thoughts and feelings based on evidence and careful deduction. One minor criticism: Pollock doesn’t dig deeply into Paul’s theology here. But that is easily remedied by reading Paul’s letters alongside the book.
Joni by Joni Eareckson Tada: Joni Eareckson Tada’s story begins on a sunny afternoon in the Chesapeake Bay. With a thoughtless dive into shallow water, Tada, 17, suffers instant paralysis from the neck down. She describes with heart-wrenching detail her struggle to adapt, including her anger at God’s unwillingness to heal her. Past the point of despair, Tada begins to listen to God’s Word. She finds new Christian friends and learns new ways to savor life, such as by painting using a brush held in her mouth. Ultimately, God transforms her into a powerful witness for the gospel. Tada’s writing is clear and crisp, and her winsome personality comes through. Since its publication 45 years ago, the book has sold more than 3 million copies and been translated into more than 40 languages.
The Pastor’s Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand: Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that aids persecuted Christians, grew out of the persecution Richard Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina, endured in Communist Romania. Richard’s story, Tortured for Christ, may be better known, but Sabina’s autobiography published in 1970 packs a more literary punch. Still in print in e-book and audiobook form, The Pastor’s Wife tells hair-raising stories of the couple’s work in the underground church. Sabina also frankly describes the cruelty they experienced in prison. Yet her humble, persevering witness shows in her words to a prison guard: “I was impulsive, too. I used to rage and strike out until I learned what it really means to love. … If you look into my eyes, you will see yourself as God could make you.”
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