Available on Amazon.Com: Book Format or Kindle
(See hyperlinks for convenience locating each title on Amazon.Com)
Most of the books available on Amazon.Com are set at a low price. I publish there for convenience of ministry, not profit. The Bible is such a large book! And I believe in “layer learning” as the natural way God designed us to learn (see Freder’s Favorites). I’m using what I believe is the Apostle John’s three spiritual developmental “cycles” of growth (click here for a summary). So, the book order tends to lay a foundation or framework to build upon. Of course, read in any order you feel is best for you since you are the gatekeeper of your heart.
First Cycle of Books: Beloved Child
John gives us three fairly clear markers for our essential training targets as we grow in this cycle. (1) Accepted through forgiveness because of the empty cross and tomb, (2) Beloved in the Family of God, (3) Commissioned for the Kingdom of God. These are the ABC’s of value and worth (Accepted, Beloved, Commissioned). I’ve aimed these at the beginnings stages of our growth. Yet these are also helpful for me as a spiritual “tune-up.” Since spiritual growth is not primarily linear and chronological as physical growth is, we cycle back with new experience and growth to strength previous cycles. Although we may grow rapidly in our spiritual life, we never outgrow deepening our experience as a beloved child.
Foundation Stones (topical)
These one-page “blog” length meditations are reflections on my early Christian life. These are some key building blocks God built into my life that fueled 45+ years of growth as a lifelong life-learner. Read by themselves, one a day or more, alone or with a group, as best fits you. Also available is a read-along with John 1-11 to add optional Scripture reading to these Foundation Stones.
Jesus Is Enough! (John 15)
A reflective guide through Jesus’ “last words” in John 15, the life-releasing picture of the Vine and the branches. What a glimpse into how to thrive spiritually, for both new and for mature Christians. This life-releasing picture of the Vine and the branches is one of the spiritual “artesian wells” that I return to when I struggle spiritually. These short, 2-page daily reflections help us soak in this life-releasing picture of Jesus’ relationship with us for a month.
Discover the Welcoming Heart of Jesus (Gospel of John)
The Gospel of John was written that we might know the Father and Son and have eternal life. This is a companion to guide through the Gospel of John, focusing how Jesus engaged people with His gentle and humble heart. Superb for a guided study for a small group.
Times of Refreshing (a 21+-day devotional on key topics)
This 4-page 21-day devotional focuses on our spiritual foundation. It’s structured around the ABC’s of value and worth from this initial cycle of growth. The last sections begin to transition us into the second cycle, servant-warriors. God’s Family deserves healthy nourishment to stimulate growth aimed at our spiritual developmental levels on this lifelong adventure of faith, so build the foundation strong.
Second Cycle of Books: Servant-Warrior
John gives us three crystal clear markers for our essential training targets as we grow in this cycle. (1) Jesus-followers rely for our strength on Jesus Christ, (2) Followers of Jesus choose God’s Word as our resting place and authority for life and ministry, (3) Jesus-followers overcome evil as a pattern in our lives so we may also serve others to overcome. These are the ABC’s of value and worth (Accepted, Beloved, Commissioned). I’ve aimed these at the beginnings stages of our growth. Yet these are also helpful for me as a spiritual “tune-up.” Since spiritual growth is not primarily linear and chronological as physical growth is, we cycle back with new experience and growth to strength previous cycles. Although we may grow rapidly in our spiritual life, we never outgrow deepening our experience as a beloved child.
These are less sequence oriented, so dive into what strikes a personal chord with you as the gatekeeper of your heart.
DiscipleMaking Companions, an 8-Part Series
An 8-part series (5-6 weeks each) that lays down a dual foundation. First, DMC acts as a “cultural engineer” to help small groups develop a culture conducive to growth. Although these are excellent to help us to learn to study personally, learning deepens as we study God’s Word together. Second, one key theme is the additional focus of each DMC to build strong pillars for growth.
BIBLE: Philippians THEME: God’s Word interpreted & applied by the Spirit
2. Ephesians: Renewed Identity in Christ (6 weeks)
3. Genesis 1-4: God’s Unchanging Eden Intent (5 weeks)
BIBLE: Genesis 1-4+ THEME: God restores His unchanging Eden intent
4. Mark: Carriers of Jesus’ Authority (6 weeks)
BIBLE: Genesis 1-4+ THEME: We now carry Jesus’ authority
5. 1 Thessalonians: Disciples Making Disciples (5 weeks)
BIBLE: 1 Thessalonians THEME: Maturing & Making Disciple
6. Ephesians 4-6: Generously Share Life (5 weeks)
BIBLE: Genesis 1-4+ THEME: Generously share Jesus’ life
7. 1 Peter: Relational Evangelism (5 weeks)
BIBLE: 1 Thessalonians THEME: Maturing & Making Disciple
8. Psalms: God’s Presence & Prayer (5 weeks)
BIBLE: Five Selected Psalms THEME: Cultivating God’s presence & prayer
Luke-Acts: a Two Part HisStory, Joining the Family Business (12-week study)
In some ways, this is the capstone for this DiscipleMaking Companion series. This “companion: walks us through the history of New Testament times (HIS-Story). Luke co-authors both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts with the Spirit of God. Your faith comes alive as you read “as if you were there.”
This companion walks us through the NT in three-months. Each book is arranged in the chronological order in which it was written (my best attempt!) This brings out fresh insights into how the early church grew and how the progressive needs of a growing spiritual movement were addressed.
“Big God! Bold Design,” a Trilogy
(see below for hyperlinks to all three in this Trilogy)
This Trilogy fuses together what God is bringing to light in the last decades for our solid, life-giving historical roots. This primer is a basic, life-oriented theology, recapturing the mystery of God and the dignity of humanity as image-bearers. Ideally, read them in order since they build upon each other.
Book One in the Trilogy: God’s Initiating First-Love
Focus on our beginnings in Genesis 1, 2 and 3. Without light from these four chapters, we miss the essential context of all the great workings of God. I only know of two places to go to find out what God’s original and unchanged Eden-Intent is. First, Genesis 1-2, the creation (with an honest look at Genesis 3, how evil entered God’s perfect creation). Second, Jesus in His incarnation, especially seen as we read the Gospels.
Second Book in the Trilogy: Free Indeed!
Book Two builds upon Book One. The work of Jesus through the empty cross and tomb are astounding. We explore some of the facets of this salvation event through the four primary pictures describing it. Do you know what Jesus did for you and what your new identity is in Christ?
Book Three in the Trilogy: Sailing the High Seas
Book Three is the capstone with four very life-focused chapters how we can walk this out by partnering with the Spirit in the 21st century in the ordinary and extraordinary.
13 OT Biographies plus Proverbs (13 weeks)
All my school life, history had been one of my least favorite subjects with all its dates to memorize. Then a prof taught me history from a BIOGRAPHICAL perspective, focusing on one key figure in each time period. History came alive for me! If you were to vote on a Spiritual Hall of Fame for OT Saints, who would be your first three inductees? Here are thirteen of mine, focusing on one key event in each life plus extended reading as an option to read through the entire historical section of the OT. I want the OT history of God’s people to come alive for you, too, like perhaps it never has before. Excellent for group studies, with a bonus study in Proverbs.
Cultivating Enjoyment of God’s Presence (focuses on God’s presence & prayer)
This could be my favorite book I’ve written. I’ve returned over and again to reread this book to keep my life focused in the most challenging seasons of my life. For our busy 21st century lives as Christians, these musings look over the shoulders of great Christians of the past, both in Scripture and from those who felt the inward longing and did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual responsiveness. Nothing is more crucial today.
Additional New Testament-Focused Books
Jesus Sows a Culture of Freedom (13 weeks, NT freedom, selections from Genesis 1-3, Mark and Galatians plus Matthew 5-7)
The Spirit gives us a flash of bold courage and asks us to risk-take (which means we will mistake-make). And some people won’t like it. They won’t understand such freedom and will label it negatively. But because of the Good News, none of this moves us a centimeter. Oh, to be so free! Such a man is free…from what people think, from religion, from false obligations, from rules-keeping, from self-indulgence. Oh, it doesn’t mean that such a free person will never again stumble. We are still very much in-process. Yet it does mean we are no longer in bondage. So, now we are free to love and serve God with our whole hearts, to serve others regardless of return, to even serve our enemies. We no longer have anything to protect so we don’t need to project.
Because Jesus came to sow a culture of freedom, this book is a unique blend of three chapters from our oldest book (Genesis) plus three of the earliest NT teachings about freedom.
The Psalms are God’s garden for praise and prayer. Psalms has given me language to express what I feel inside when I don’t have adequate language to express. Psalms captures the full range of our authentic relationship with God, ranging from the rawness of dark depression to the rapturous rejoicing of the heart set free. From doubt about God’s care to an abiding trust based on His care, even in trials. This booklet provides a short summary of all 150 Psalms, acting as your companion as you read through the Psalms. Enjoy the journey.
Radical Mutuality (1 John)
In 1 John, the aged Apostle John felt compelled to write what was essential from his perch 25 years after the last NT book had been written. This ancient/new 1st century mental map turned the world upside down then. His approach koinonia (community) flowing out of the relational Trinity can do the same for us today. For a post on Radical Mutuality.
Created Community (Ephesians)
Ephesians is Paul’s model for living a flourishing Christian life. Ephesians reflects the distilled essence of what Paul spoke as he planted and strengthened thriving churches.
Third Cycle of Books: Dad of Teens/Grandpa
John describes each of the first two spiritual developmental cycles with three clear markers. Not so this cycle! So cryptic. So indefinite (“Him who…” rather than specifically Jesus or our “Father” like with a “beloved child”). So vast in is sweeping grandeur (“Him who is from the beginning”). So inadequate for an inquisitive mind that wants everything spelled out in detail, like me. Fortunately, God seems to graciously give us foretastes of this cycle throughout our journey. This temporary taste releases a longing to persevere to experience “more.” By that I mean “more” of what Jesus has already provided through His life and death, resurrection and ascension, yet we have not yet “unwrapped.” If you have raised and released teenagers with “good enough” training, I believe you have a taste of this stage. At least if my experience is somewhat normal. I experienced foretastes of this early in my Christian life, and am pushing through for “more” of Jesus.
Begin Strong, Finish Stronger (for those in mid-life or mature younger adults)
With the subtitle Twilight Reflections, you may get the mistaken impression that this book focuses on finishing well for retired folks. Not so! I’m writing reflections from my twilight years as insight to impact our entire Christian journey. Start strong; finish stronger.I wrote “Begin Strong, Finish Stronger” for anyone in whom the Spirit has stirred a longing for “more.”
A Bonus to Deepen Prayer (NOT on Amazon.Com)
Why Prayers Are Unanswered by John Allan Lavender (a free PDF…not Amazon.Com…out of print)
Despite the title pointing to the problems, this small, older book is chock full of very positive helps as a primer on prayer. Unfortunately, the book is out-of-print book. Click on the title above for a free PDF copy.