"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6.
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was caught in the planning of assassinating Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Gestapo by being hung at the Flossenburg Concentration Camp in 1945. He wrote The Cost of Discipleship almost 70 years ago at an age not much younger than I am. Megan read this book back in her Wheaton days, and I thought I should read it since it is considered by many to be one of the most important Christian books ever written. I zipped through Bonhoeffer's Life Together a few years ago, but I was not as motivated to complete The Cost of Discipleship. The Cost of Discipleship is an exposition of what it means to truly follow Christ, and it is not exactly light reading. The book provides us the true meaning of grace, gives an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and explains what is required of followers of Christ.
"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves... the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ... Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock... It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."
Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary A. Haugen -I spent over three hours listening to this free audiobook from christianaudio.com and learned a great deal about the horrors of slavery and sexual exploitation that exist in many third world countries. Additionally, I learned a lot about Gary Haugen's organization, International Justice Mission, a Christian human rights agency that fights these and other forms of violent oppression while attempting to rekindle the social engagement of evangelical Christians. Just Courage reminded me a little of another audiobook that I recently listened to - Francis Chan's Crazy Love.* Both books have a message of breaking free from the comforts of the status quo and having an authentic faith that confronts the sins of the world with solid, even far-reaching, solutions. I find the significant amount of daily time that ICM spends in corporate prayer to be commendable, but I strongly disagree with some of the theology of the various people mentioned in the book or endorsing the book. Despite that, Just Courage reminded that I must not just believe the words of Isaiah 1:17, but that I must be a courageous doer of the Word. "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."
* After writing this book review, Christianity Today posted an article about Francis Chan called Crazy Passion. Through the article, I found out that Chan donates much of his book royalties (which total about half a million dollars) primarily to organizations like Haugen's International Justice Mission.