If we believe Jesus is the Son of God, and we've accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, you are my brother and sister in Christ. I think that sentence covers it. When I first started going to the Reformed church I attend now, we recited the Apostle's Creed after taking Communion every third Sunday. Growing up, the only corporate prayer or creed I ever participated in was the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), so this was new to me. Over the years, I have learned more about the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. If we are brothers and sisters in Christ, I also believe you should be in agreement with these words penned by our early church fathers.
From there, it gets a bit complicated, and I do not claim to have it all figured out. We can disagree on some pretty major points of theology, I think. As my dear friend often reminds me, consider the fruit. A Christian will bear godly fruit. On the other hand, we attend church with those who are content to know very little about the doctrine of their particular church. I don't think contentment based on ignorance is enough. My heart cry is more of Jesus. It's insatiable. In today's post, I want to share with you the books that have expanded my Christian faith. They've taught me much about how other Christians worship. I'm going to be adding to this list, because it's not long enough. All around the world, even down the street from us, our brothers and sisters are worshiping Jesus in all kinds of ways. Learning about how they do this has encouraged and grown my faith.
These books helped me understand there are Christians out there, brothers and sisters of ours, who worship Christ in a different way ritually and/or culturally.
Madhouse Sabbath (by Lauren Winner)
I'll always be grateful to Lauren, because she introduced me to this whole idea of exploring my faith in a bigger way. When she left behind the Jewish faith of her childhood, there were things she missed. As an Episcopalian exploring her new faith, she discusses spiritual practices in Christianity that tie to Judaism. She also looks at those elements of her faith that help her grow in relationship with Jesus. All the while, she's living hear everyday life, and sharing observations with us on the that as well. If you want to widen your scope on Christianity, Lauren Winner's books are an excellent place to start.
Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith (by Michelle Van Loon)
When I heard several bloggers mention this book on social media, I had to get a copy myself. Michelle also grew up Jewish, and has participated in a variety of worship styles since becoming a Christian. She's found a great deal of meaning in continuing to fill her days with holy celebrations. This book is an excellent resource for understand the Jewish holidays we read about in our Old Testament, and also the church calendar practiced by more traditional liturgical churches, such as Episcopalian, Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic. It follows an organized format and is an overall easy read.
Facing East (by Frederica Mathews-Green)
I went searching for this one. Ultimately, I'd like to find a memoir from every denomination. They offer great insight on what it's like to be a Lutheran, Baptist, Amish, Catholic, Anglican, every day. That's what I want to know! In this case, Frederica went from being a Protestant (that's every Christian who's not Catholic or Orthodox) to Eastern Orthodoxy. What a transition! She goes into great detail about the different services she participates in, what felt awkward and new to her for a long time, and how she lives out the church calendar year now. A very good read!
Jesus Without Borders (by Chad Gibbs)
I read two books almost back-to-back from new writers who traveled the world to meet other Christians, and learn what Christianity is like for them. This book is a fascinating read. The author offers insight from his trip to 13 different countries. I'm going to give you just one quote from the book, because it's awesome.
And you might find yourself somewhere like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, singing hymns in a cave with pilgrims from around the world. And you might stop and think, This is weird; I have some important doctrinal disagreements with a lot of these people. But then you’ll remember you’ve all come to this cave in the West Bank to worship the same Savior.
Coffee, Tea and Holy Water (by Amanda Hudson)
The second book I read from an individual who wanted to learn what it was like to worship Jesus in other countries. She visited five places in all, and her book read a bit like a travel guide as well. She had her best cup of joe in Honduras, FYI. These books offer such a good way to learn about other cultures as well.
This is where I put those books that almost made the list. Son of Hamas (Mosab Hassan Yousef) - This one doesn't talk about how the author lives out his Christianity, but rather how he found Christianity. He grew up the son of a powerful Muslim leader, but God had a plan to rescue him and introduce him to Jesus. It's a powerful story that made me realize many have a harder time coming to the Christian faith than I do (such an understatement). Along these same lines, I'd include Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? (Tom Doyle, with Greg Webster). Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty: An Intimate Portrait Of My Grandmother - This one is on my e-reader, waiting for me to find the time to dive in, because from what I read, it offers a wonderful glimpse into the life of a remarkable Catholic woman.
To read my list, Ten Books On Faith That Changed Me, click here.