The Bible:
This should be obvious, but I find a lot of Christians in 2009 are very ignorant regarding the scriptures. Many people have not read it, even though they identify themselves as followers of Jesus. This amazing book of spiritual truth will change your life if you are really seeking God. I would encourage you to immediately ask God to reveal Himself to you as you read. Purchase a modern translation. I would suggest the New King James version, the New Century Version, the New International Version or New American Standard. There are many others. Go to a Christian bookstore and ask for help finding the translation that best suits you.

If you have not read any or much of it, don’t open it at the beginning and try to read from start to finish. Since the whole of the bible is pointing toward the Messiah, learn about Jesus first by reading the Gospel accounts of His life and ministry written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I would begin with Mark because it really cuts to the chase; then John which is the deepest and most loving account; then Matthew; then Luke who was a physician and interviewed lots of witnesses and traveled with the Apostle Paul.
After these, I would then read The Book of Acts, written by Luke the physician who also wrote the gospel. It is an amazing story of the disciples’ lives immediately after Jesus left them and details the beginning of the Christian church. Paul’s letter to the Christians living in Rome is called Romans and is a very good study in the principles and doctrines of the Christian faith. You will find a lot of the Old Testament quoted in everything I have mentioned, so find out how it all began by going to Genesis. I found this writing compelling and very enlightening from a historical perspective. Like a good novel, it was hard for me to put it down and just kept reading all the way up to Psalms. 1 Corinthians through the book of Jude are all of the letters included in the bible written by Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude and give great instruction in living this life of faith. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are considered to be wisdom literature. The prophetic works begin with Isaiah and end with Malachi. A lot of it is hard reading and takes some digging and studying to put them in perspective with the history, but knowing how much was prophesied years and years before it happened, including many references to what occurred in the life of Jesus makes it very rewarding. The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, usually just referred to as Revelation is also hard reading and there are a variety of interpretations of John’s mystical writing, but as the book says “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Rev 1:3

Dig in. You won’t understand everything. I certainly don’t, but what I don’t get here, I put on the back burner to ask Jesus when I see him.

The Message, by Eugene H. Peterson:
This is a wonderful paraphrase of the bible in very up to date language. It should not take the place of a word for word translation, but it makes the bible stories and letters come to life much like a novel.

Heaven, by Randy Alcorn
I cannot think of a category to put this book in. It is unquestionably the best book written regarding the place we will spend eternity.

Christian Apologetics:

In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter advises us to, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Webster’s defines apologetics as, “the branch of theology having to do with the defense and proofs of Christianity.” The apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 is to, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I have found some books helpful in pointing out biblical foundations and in helping me answer or at least understand some of the understandable skepticism that people have toward Jesus. This spiritual life in Christ is not supposed to be based upon blind faith. In order to share the hope that is within you, it is helpful to know the bible and understand its’ intellectual and spiritual dimensions.

The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

A Case for Faith, by Lee Strobel

The books by Lee Strobel are easy reading and answer some basic questions in very straight- forward and non-academic way

Unshakable Foundations, by Norman Geisler and Peter Bocchino
This is a stellar work documenting the basic questions in a deep and philosophical way. It is an academic study, well worth going after.

Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell
Another amazing book!

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
What can I say? It is written by C.S. Lewis and wonderful for the thinking skeptic.

Christian Lifestyle:

In John 3:3 Jesus said, “You must be born again to see the Kingdom of God.” However even after we have accepted His gift of new life, we are still living in this shadowland, we still live in human flesh with all of its’ temptations and we have an adversary who wants to destroy our lives. Because of these things and the fact that we must choose whether to obey Him or not, it is helpful to learn from those who have been at it longer and have a gift for revealing life’s pitfalls.

The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning

Blue Like Jazz, by Don Miller

Searching for God Knows What, by Don Miller

Walking with God, by John Eldredge

Waking the Dead, by John Eldredge

The Sacred Romance, by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis

Soul Survivor, by Philip Yancey

Christian Fiction and Parables:

Jesus used parables and metaphor in his style of teaching. Among other things, He referred to the Kingdom of God as a pearl of great price and a hidden treasure. He told of a prodigal son’s wayward lifestyle and subsequent return to his father. He spoke to people well acquainted with the soil, fishing, and the typical lifestyle of that day. There are some great authors that have written in the parable and fiction style that speaks to us in our current world. Here are some of my favorites.

Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan

The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Triology, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Deadline, by Randy Alcorn

Dominion, by Randy Alcorn

Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn

This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti

Piercing the Darkness, by Frank Peretti

Biography:

It is a great faith builder to see what other men and women have gone through in this life. Follow their successes and avoid their failures.

No Compromise- the Life Story of Keith Green, by Melody Green and David Hazard

Rebel with a Cause, Franklin Graham

Billy Graham’s son is the leader of Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian organization that helps victims of disasters and war all over the world.

Mother Teresa: A Simple Path

God Grew Tired of Us, by John Buldau

The story of a man’s life in Sudan and how he survived the warfare waged against his people and then escaped to tell his story; heartbreaking reading, but necessary.

Born Again, by Charles (Chuck) Colson

Surprised by Joy, by C.S. Lewis

The early life and conversion of Lewis.

Against the Tide: the Story of Watchman Nee, by Angus Kinnear

The Autobiography of George Muller

A Passion for Souls: The Life of D.L. Moody, by Lyle W. Dorsett

Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson

Tortured for Christ, by Richard Wurmbrand

Stronger than Prison Walls, by Richard Wurmbrand

God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

Long Time Gone: the autobiography of David Crosby

Although not a Christian, David Crosby’s story is well worth reading for anyone involved in drugs or considering what might be the outcome of a life given to that lifestyle