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May 21, 2023 Mario Villella Discipleship

Recently it was suggested to me that I should write a newsletter article with some recommended reading. It seemed like a good idea, so here we go.

I’m sure there are some of you who have thought to yourselves, “Hmm, I’m a new Christian and I don’t even know where to start. What would be a good thing for me to learn?” And then maybe someone else might be thinking, “Well, I’ve been a Christian for twenty years, but I haven’t really needed to know anything about the topic of divorce until just now. I wonder what my church leaders would recommend?”

So, here are some categories and some recommendations based on things I’ve taught or read, or in some cases, based on recommendations from other members of the staff of Good News Church.

For Those Who Became Christians As Adults

A common concern that I’ve heard from some people is, “Hey, I’m 40 years old and I just became a Christian. I didn’t grow up in church, and so I feel like I’m way behind. I never got taught all those Bible stories that church kids learn when they are little. How do I catch up?”

Well, one easy thing to do would be to pick a up good Children’s Bible and read through it without shame. Personally, I like the Jesus Story Book Bible. However, Kennon Bickhart recently told me that Kevin DeYoung’s Children’s Bible is even better in that it’s more in-depth and tells more stories.

Also, the One-Minute Bible for Students might be a helpful devotional if you are new to Bible reading. It covers 700 scriptures (out of the thousands of verses in the Bible) and follows the general flow of Biblical history drawing from all 66 books in the Bible.

I also love what Max Anders has done with his “30 Days to Understanding…” series. He’s written more than one book that begins with those words, and I think “30 Days to Understanding the Bible” is a great survey of the entire Bible. It includes fill-in-the-blanks as you go along, to help you memorize what you are learning. By the end of the book, you should be able to summarize the whole Old Testament with a string of short sentences. The same author has also written a New Christian’s Handbook that covers all kinds of topics.

How To Study The Bible

I did a series on this back in 2021. Also, I remember when I was a younger Christian finding Kay Arthur’s book on this topic helpful.

How To Pray

This is one of those things that you probably will learn best by doing it. Although, you may find it helpful by praying with other people and listening to how they talk to God. If you need inspiration, I recommend the movie War Room as a nice kickstart. While I do not pray the way they do in that movie (ie: writing out prayers and taping them to the wall of my closet) the way that movie emphasizes the importance of prayer is inspiring.

Additionally, I preached a two-week series on the topic in 2017. I also remember reading Elmer Towns book, Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough, back in my teens and it shaped the way I think about and pray the Lord’s Prayer. And while we are on this topic, Kennon recommends the books, Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian and The Possibility of Prayer by John Starke.

However, one thing that might help you even more than any of these suggestions would be you simply and actually praying with other Christians. I think we learn a lot this way. There is a prayer group that meets at our church every Sunday morning at 8:00am in the KidZone building. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind you showing up and just listening to them pray for the first couple of weeks until you get the hang of it.

Skepticism About Christianity

The Reason For God by Tim Keller and Christianity Considered by John Frame are my two favorite books on doubt and faith. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell are also well-known as good books on this topic.

How To Share Your Faith

Jeremy Richards is a minister who attends our church and he has taught about this topic on Sunday morning at Good News. A more in-depth version is available at Living Waters Ministries’ (where Jeremy learned his method) on their website. There’s a book available called Way of the Master and an online evangelism class. I also went through a training called Share Jesus Without Fear that I thought was good.

Bible Studies

What if you want some help understanding a particular book of the Bible? I will say that I have very much appreciated the Christ-Centered Exposition Series put out by Holman Reference. I think there is a book in this series for almost every book of the Bible. Each chapter covers the main teaching in each passage, but in an easy-to read devotional way. These are not scholarly commentaries. Also, each chapter ends with discussion questions, so they could easily be used by a group for bible study discussion.

N.T. Wright’s For Everyone series is also good. However, it doesn’t contain discussion questions, and I don’t agree with his interpretations as often as the writers of the Christ-Centered Exposition series. Nonetheless, Wright is a well-respected Christian scholar who has written a helpful series of books making the New Testament more understandable.

Growing In Your Faith

I really appreciated Jim Putman’s book Real-Life Discipleship. Based on its subtitle, “building churches that make disciples” I’m guessing that this book was written for church leaders. However, I would think the sections on spiritual infants, spiritual young adults, spiritual parents, etc. would be helpful to any Christian who wants to figure out where they are now and where they want to end up.

Various Topics

Here is a collection of resources on various topics that come up in life: As far as parenting goes, my community group went through Ted Tripp’s series Shepherding a Child’s Heart and found it to be helpful. Regarding marriage, we just completed a series on that topic at Good News and it is on our website. For the topic of divorce, I recommend John MacArthur’s The Divorce Dilemma. On the topic of racism, I appreciated Voddie Baucham’s sermon on the Table of Nations. Additionally, our church has books on the topic of work and handling conflict that are available for free at the information center in the church lobby (on the left wall.) Share the Love recently released a training that they hosted for their camp counselors. The teacher was me; the topic was gender and sexuality and a video of it is available on YouTube. Though it wasn’t intended for the general public, many of the things in it might be helpful to you if you are having to deal with a lot of the newer views on gender and sexuality. When it comes to the controversial topic of predestination, I recently wrote a decent-sized essay on the topic and was hoping it would be helpful to someone. As far as resources on money are concerned, I have always appreciated Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, although I’ve heard that Realign by Josh Lawson is also great, and is more comprehensive as it covers more topics (like debt, spending, etc.) and not just the topic of giving.

Other Recommendations From Our Church Staff

Lastly, I will include some other recommendations from the rest of our staff. At the most recent staff meeting I asked our staff what resources they would recommend, and this is some of what they sent me:

Doug Davison recommends: Jenny Stanley recommends: Kim Dehart recommended: Kennon recommended several books including: Of course, there are many other good resources out there not included in these lists, but I hope you will find some of these helpful to you as you navigate your life before God.
The person who wrote this article. Find out more information about them below.
Mario Villella

Lead Pastor / Elder

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