The Fabry Family

Connect with Me

Connect with Chris on Facebook Follow Chris on Twitter Watch Chris on YouTube

Featured Books

Featured Books
Latest Release!

Blog Archive

Personal Stuff

My Photo
Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
View my complete profile

Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

With the turmoil about taxes in Washington, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about finances.

My father grew up poor and lived in the coal fields of West Virginia. My mother grew up in a place called Camel’s Creek. They told us stories of how little they had about this time each year, perhaps to curb the greed and avarice of our hearts. My father told one story about a time in his life when the family barely had enough to eat. On Christmas Eve his father and mother presented the children with an orange and a piece of candy. You could see the fire in his eyes as he talked about it.

Once, when my father was in elementary school, he was enamored with the opportunity afforded to those students who could purchase a harmonica. The teacher was giving lessons to any child that could come up with the 5 cents it cost to buy one. My father asked his mother, pleaded with her, but with tears in her eyes she told him they didn’t have the extra nickel to begin his musical career. My father could have been Buddy Greene.

Years later, in hopes that it would stop his telling that sad story, I bought him a harmonica. He laughed and smiled, but there was something sad in his eyes as he looked at it. I don’t think he ever played it.

Through the years, we’ve talked as a family about cutting back at Christmas. Not spending as much. How commercial everything has become. The overspending and the crowds steal the joy and all that. This year, I think we’re actually going to do it. This year, I don’t think we have a choice. There is fear and uncertainty around us. There are questions about the fiscal climate in our country and what will happen in another recession.

When things get tight financially, you’re forced to make decisions. The definition of what you “want” and what you “need” gets more clear. And that’s not a bad exercise to go through, particularly those of faith who believe God is the provider.

Every time we ask people to call on Chris Fabry Live about their most memorable Christmas, I never hear, “There was this Christmas when the presents were piled so high and everybody got a computer and an iPod Touch and all the toys we could play with.” No, they usually begin the story like this: “I remember a really hard year for our family because my father had lost his job and we had to move out of our house and live with some relatives.” Or they’ll talk about losing a family member on top of the financial struggle. And then they’ll mention some kind thing, some generous neighbor, some anonymous person from church who delivered food or a toy that showed someone remembered, someone was thinking of them. They mattered in the world.

When times are good and everyone has plenty, it’s easy to forget the truth about ourselves. We gauge our worth by what we have, what we drive, how much is under the tree. But the fiscal cliff jars us into the realization that we are fragile. Wealth and savings can be spent or taxed or taken away. There are some things that can’t be taken. Some things that can’t be bought. And some things we would never have enough to pay for, no matter how hard we try.

This is the hidden message of Christmas. The lights and trees and Santa obscure it. You and I were so poor, unable to pay the debt we owed. We were spiritually barren, outcast, with no hope of ever having a relationship with a holy God. We had gone over the spiritual cliff.

But someone decided that you mattered. Someone remembered you. Thought of you. A generous, loving God decided to give a gift unparalleled. Himself. God wrapped in human flesh. Human holiness. A child who would live perfection so that he could give himself freely as a sacrifice to absorb the penalty and then give us that perfection. Something we didn’t earn or deserve. A gift.

This is the story of Christmas. We didn’t have a nickel to give God. So he gave everything for us. 
Thursday, November 22, 2012
I spoke on the air about the Cowboy Wedding we attended. What an experience. We feel very close to this family and what they've been through the past few years. Instead of focusing on the bride, I wanted to focus on Levi.

Here is a picture of Levi and me from August, 2010.

This was before his heart surgery, when the family had many questions about the future, about whether his little heart could heal, and what life would be like as they moved forward.

I think we're all like that on varying levels. We wonder what "normal" will be like. If there will be an empty chair at the table this time next year.

Levi's family does have an empty chair at their table now. Every night they're reminded of their loss.

But Levi's chair is not, thank God, empty. The empty chair is for  their oldest daughter, Iliana. She married Chance a week ago in an unforgettable ceremony.

At the service the groom and groomsmen made their way to the front. Then came a moment that took my breath away. No, not the beautiful bride, but a tall young man carrying a Bible. It was Levi.

God has a way of replacing the empty chairs of our lives. On Thanksgiving Day, Iliana returned with Chance for dinner.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise him for little hearts that grow.
Praise him for a family's love so rare.
Praise him for the need of an extra chair.
Friday, November 9, 2012

I've heard a lot sadness and fear since the election. One man emailed me and told me it was time to overthrow our government. I disagree. In fact, I think November 6th was a D-Day of sorts.

June 6, 1944. A pivotal point in the conflict of World War II. On D-Day, many soldiers exiting the landing craft were slaughtered. Pinned down on the beach by machine-gun fire from above, they scurried for cover. They were forced to adapt to the deadly conditions.

They could have given up. They could have run back to the water to try to find safety. Instead, they changed the plan. They figured out a way to move up the hills and take out the entrenched, fortified positions of the enemy. The Germans did not adapt, they stayed where they were, and were defeated.

I'm encouraged by that story today. I've seen Saving Private Ryan enough times to visualize a little of what they went through. Though they were afraid, they didn't give in to fear. They adapted. They changed their plan, their way of thinking of how the battle might be won.

November 6, 2012 was our opportunity to reconfigure. But I'm not talking politics. The enemy on the hill is not a Democrat or a Republican. The enemy is not your pro-choice or pro-gay marriage neighbor. Or the Affordable Care Act. Or President Obama. Or John Boehner. I may disagree about the policies and politics and morality of my neighbor, but they are not the enemy. And defeating "them," whoever "they" are, is not the point of this post.

When I say "you," "we," or "our" from here on, I mean the Church, the body of Christ. Followers of Jesus. And the battle is not against flesh and blood.

What we have in any life change (or non-change) is opportunity. But we can only seize that opportunity if we have the vision to adapt. And the adaptation is much bigger than businesses trying to figure out how to live in this economy, with these health care laws and the social and political realities of 2012.

The biggest adaptation, the very core of this reconfiguration, comes in my own heart. It is a spiritual one. Get this right and you can't lose. Get it wrong and you'll miss what God is trying to do in and through us.

You and I were put on the face of this planet at this time in history for a reason. And though I would love to see America embrace biblical values in every sphere, I ultimately don't have the power to make that happen. But I do have the power to choose something other than fear.

Peter, in a tumultuous political world, spoke to believers who were suffering under Nero. They were being persecuted. Peter encouraged them to live blameless lives. He encouraged them to live what they said they believed in the face of great opposition.

Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts.

This army moving forward will change the world by changing hearts. Find your place in that army and do your duty. Work at it with all your heart. Show the world what love looks like. Show the world what it looks like to have peace in the midst of a storm. Show the world what faith and hope can bring when it's placed in God.

Whether our economy flourishes wildly in the next four years or we go off a fiscal cliff, whether social changes restrict abortion or cause it to increase, whether marijuana or marriage laws swing in a way that dismays or encourages, allow this time, this current situation, to embolden you and focus your soul on the truth. And the truth is, we have some really good news for people who are perishing.

The Church, Christ's body, never loses an election. The church is victorious because Christ was and is victorious.

We don't serve a dead ideal, we serve a risen Savior.

So adapt. Allow God to reconfigure your heart. Don't give in to fear. And do this for the glory of God and his Kingdom.

As you adapt, stay involved. Pray for our president. Pray for our leaders. Pray for wisdom and discernment. Pray for the poor. Pray for the widow and the orphan. And as God leads you, roll up your sleeves and get to work in issues of justice and mercy. Pray that God will mobilize his people to adapt to his Kingdom principles so that whatever happens, people will see us living out what we believe.

Some will say this is giving up. That's the irony. When you adapt and reconfigure to God's Kingdom, you don't just survive. Something comes alive inside. You realize outside forces don't have the power to hold back the truth. When God penetrates the fear in your own heart, he will show you how to thrive through the power of Christ. And when we thrive, we begin to gain a vision of strongholds we couldn't see. We discover new battles on beachheads we didn't know existed. We help liberate others and provide a avenues to true freedom, something that can never be given by any human government.

This is what must motivate our lives. This is how real change happens. Allow God to reconfigure your heart. Then we can move up the hill together.
Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012
There I was, minding my own business, writing at 11:11 AM Pacific Time, when out my back window, what to my wandering eyes do I see...or is it wondering eyes? Oh well, whatever the wonder/wander, I saw this above the Rincon Mountain Range. It's flying over Tucson in honor of Gabby Giffords. Pretty cool way to end the morning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Here's a picture that says it all. Brandon Phillips looking back at Teddy as he ran to the dugout. We talked about this on Chris Fabry Live. Have you ever seen anything as great as this?

Photo from The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger. To see the full set of pictures, click here.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Got up early to take Tebow outside. If I ever get the book completed that I'm working on, it will be because of his weak bladder.

Not a cloud in the sky. The moon was a crescent and above it some planet. Venus? I made the left to go to Tebow's favorite morning spot (he would kill me if he knew I was telling this) and in the sky I saw the strangest cloud I'd ever seen. It looked a lot like this:
I watched the cloud swirl and morph and with the rising sun, I thought I was watching some cosmic sign. Things have been tough the past couple of weeks. Could this be a message to my heart? And if so, what kind of message? I drew a picture of the cloud in my journal when I returned, in case I see that particular shape in the future and need a reminder.

Then I heard the news and looked it up online. From the Associated Press (which also published the photo above):

The contrail was from a Juno ballistic missile that was fired at 6:30 a.m. MDT Thursday from Fort Wingate near Gallup, N.M., a spokesman for the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range said. The Juno missile was then targeted by an advanced version of the Patriot missile fired from White Sands.
The rising sun backlit the Juno missile’s contrail and provided a spectacular morning sight for early risers across the region.
Message received. Keep working on what you're working on and others will do the same.
Friday, September 7, 2012
I was getting beat at chess by my 11 year old. My nightly humiliation. I always lose my rook in the right corner. And then he says, "You didn't see that?"

Two guys outside with the telltale binder and a flyer. Will you give? Will you support? I don't like to encourage this kind of thing, but when they said they were with Teen Challenge, I took the flyer. It's a good ministry.

Sigh. I didn't have much cash. I have less now because I told them to wait, went inside and came back out and filled out the little card and wished them well.

The younger one said, "Pardon me for asking, but your neighbor over on the other street said a famous Christian author lived here."

I laughed. Crazy neighbors. I told them to wait. A couple of days ago I received a few boxes of copies of my new novel, Borders of the Heart, set in Tucson. I handed them the copies and they thanked me. I shook their hands and bid them a good night.

I sat down on the couch. A handful of pawns left. My King and a horsie and a bishop.

The doorbell rang again.

"Sorry to bother you, but we wanted to see if you would autograph it."

Steve and Morgan were their names. I hope they like the story. I hope my small investment will pay dividends down the road.
Monday, August 6, 2012
1. Christians don’t have to be a wimps.
2.  Being well-versed in the Scriptures and being a know-it-all are very different things.
3.   Kindness and compassion are more attractive than a bombastic, showy faith.
4.    Humility and a broken heart for sinners is a Christlike response to those who disagree with you.
5.   Hard times prove who you are behind the curtain.
6.   You can be the same person with the on-air light on or off.
7.   You can spend a lifetime following God closely and still never figure him out.
8.   The struggle proves you’re alive, and that God is working.
9.   You are judged by the way you treat the person who can do nothing for you.
10.   The Bible is relevant to every issue. We need to learn how to study it, interpret it, and most of all, live it.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
We knew this day was coming. Years ago when we began to lose some great Christian leaders my wife said, “What will we do when we lose Don Cole?”

I guess we find out now. What will we do in a world without C. Donald Cole?

First, we give thanks.

Thanks be to God for his gift. Thank you for giving us a man so completely devoted to following Jesus. For his kind, generous heart and his wisdom and that calming, soothing voice.

Second, we ask God to comfort those who loved him and hold them close and give them peace in this storm.

Third, we ask God to make us men and women worthy of knowing him. We ask him not just to comfort, but also to conform us more and more to the image of Christ that we saw in Don Cole.

That was something Don would have said in devotions. He would have said it slowly, deliberately, and by taking off his glasses and putting them into his shirt pocket. He would open the Bible and pull out his glasses again and read a few verses and speak truth. Simple. Clear. To the heart.

Don Cole was not just a voice on the radio to me. He was a real human being with opinions, struggles, and a huge heart for those on the outside of the fold. He also cared about the forgotten inside the fold. What you heard on the radio was what you got in his office or at a Cubs game or over coffee.

Don Cole was a real man. And he showed us that real men could love God and the Bible. He wasn’t a wimp. And he showed us how real men loved their wives, not lording over them, but sacrificing for them. And he laughed. Oh, how he loved to laugh.

Don Cole was the real deal. He knew when to speak his mind, when to gently correct, when to stand up to a bully, and when to listen. His mouth was filled with choice words he used not to win arguments or stump people with his encyclopedic knowledge, but to lead each person closer to the truth, closer to the heart of God.

I’ve met many great Christians over the years. Famous authors, politicians, preachers, power brokers, thinkers, theologians, sports figures, crusaders, and experts. None of them compares with Don Cole. They don’t even come close.

Why? Partly because he was one of a kind. Partly because of the varied experiences he’d had and his ability to use his intellect and spiritual acumen to create a perspective on the news few could render. Partly because of his amazing ability to meld knowledge with passion for people.

But mostly this: the other thinkers and theologians and preachers didn’t walk with us. They came and went. He was there, committed, no matter what. I’m sure he could have moved to a much higher position, could have been president of some Bible college, or something else. He stayed with us. And he considered what he had been called to do the most important thing. For him to do anything else than teaching God’s Word, anything, would have been a step down.

He came to the table with a Bible in one hand and the other outstretched to you. He got down in the trenches, in the muck and mire of life, and walked side by side. The only agenda Don Cole ever had was love.

I grieve for the loss of Don Cole. I grieve for Naomi and the family. I grieve for those too young to hear him and benefit from his wisdom. But mostly I grieve for myself and what I know I have lost and for what I know I’ve gained from having known Don Cole. And for having called him a friend.

I can hear his voice, and I will hear it again one day. He would laugh at the tributes, chuckle and shake his head. And put his glasses away.

Thanks be to God for Don Cole. Comfort those who loved him and make us worthy of knowing him. In the name of Christ, Amen.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
I woke up yesterday morning thinking of Mike Sullivan. I wondered why, then looked at the calendar. It was in July of last year that we lost him. On the 26th, I believe.

Maybe we didn’t so much lose him as we realized what an impact his life made on so many people. I still haven’t been able to watch all of the memorial service my friends recorded. I think he would understand.

I didn’t know Mike all grown up and educated and with a beautiful family. I remember him as #10 to the right, next to his friends Kelly and Bill. I’ve seen the pictures of his other life and can imagine them together, the hole in their hearts now, but the celebration this day brings as well. Remembering is a holy act that honors a father or husband or friend.

I didn’t know Mike with closely cropped hair and a degree and medical success. He is stuck in my mind with a Buster Brown haircut, bell-bottomed pants, frozen in time with red hair and smacking gum and fingernails clipped to the quick and the crossover dribble that came so naturally. And that laugh. It’s hard to describe if you didn’t hear it. Sort of a cackling, chuckling, sniggering guffaw of a laugh. One that came from the belly he couldn't suppress.

And that little spot on his bottom lip. It showed most when he smiled, stretched out and tight. We saw the spot a lot.

I learned to covet because of Mike Sullivan. I knew it was wrong. I knew you weren’t supposed to want what other people had, but with Mike, you couldn’t help it. You wanted what he had, though you couldn’t quite put your finger on it. It wasn’t the floppy hair and freckles and the spot on the lip, it wasn’t just the swagger—that self-confidence nobody else seemed to possess. Or the fashion sense. Or the brains. Mike had smart written all over him pre-kindergarten. No, it was the whole kit and caboodle, as my father would say.

Here’s the weird thing. It never seemed to possess him. Others had swagger, wore nice clothes, had adept mental acuity, and freckles, but it always seemed to catch up with them. They knew they had “it,” whatever “it” was. But with Mike, his self-confidence and intelligence and good-looks was like a shadow that trailed him, that never quite caught up. He knew it was there, he had to have known, but he always acted as if he was no big deal. Some call it humility and I suppose they’re right.

The picture here has Mike on the left and Bill from above to the right and Libby in the middle. Old friends who gathered to remember a special coach. 

If I close my eyes long enough, I can conjure Mike up. Tying his shoes, cross-legged before gym class, head down, hair in his face. Speaking at graduation, a little nervous, but still in control. Walking to school with his books under his arm. All the girls talking to him. I don't just mean some, ALL. That's another blog.

Don’t get me wrong, he made mistakes. Mike wasn’t a saint. But he knew that, too. The trick is never letting either truth catch up to you or possess you.

I don’t know what age people are in heaven. Whether babies who die stay that age or progress. Whether old people revert to a more youthful visage. I’ve studied it and admit I don’t know. But I don’t have to know. All I’ll have to do to find Mike is to listen for the laugh.
Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where was Batman when we needed him?

Theater 9 was the real world early Friday morning. And we wanted someone to combat evil. But when the shooter opened fire, there was no caped crusader willing to step off the screen and come to our aid. We wanted Batman or Spiderman or Captain America. We wanted the Hulk to spot James Holmes getting dressed in his outfit of death and to hop over and smash him.

Batman was on the screen. He wasn’t with us. That’s because Batman is made-up. Imaginary. He has no power over reality, just the fictional world of Gotham. He’s quite entertaining, but in the real world he’s not effective.

Imaginary heroes always let us down in the real world.

When something evil like this happens, our tendency is to ask, “Where was God?” Those who are antagonistic to the Almighty will say this proves he doesn’t exist. How could a good God allow the likes of James Holmes. They believe Batman and God are made in our own image. That both are imaginary.

I don’t know why God allowed that event any more than I understand why he allowed 9/11 or the Holocaust or the genocide in Rawanda or the shooting in Tucson last year. Or how Jerry Sandusky was allowed to abuse so many for so long. And anyone who has it all figured out is selling something you shouldn’t buy.

But here’s my theology of Theater 9.

We want a Superhero to make us feel safe and solve our problems. We want Superman, the man of steel, to swoop in and right the wrongs of the world. We want Spiderman to catch us just before we hit the pavement.

But we’ve settled for less than we need. We’re aiming too low. Superman is an aspirin. And we’re all dying. What we need is something more. Someone more. We need someone who can vanquish evil for good and not just put out fires. We need someone who will be with us at all times, not just when bad things happen.

Human inventions, whether it’s a superhero or religion, will always fall short because what we want is not what we need.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Thirty years ago today I took a walk. A long walk. I was living in Mainz, Germany, home of Herr Gutenberg. I was on a summer missions trip, living with a Canadian family with four children. It seemed like a huge family. And I had made up my mind to walk. I think better when my legs are moving.

On the walk I made up my mind to ask a girl I knew to marry me. She was four years older than me, but I decided that really didn't matter.

I went to a little German jewelry shop and bought a gold heart and had him inscribe, "Ich Liebe Dich" on it. Maybe that was not on this walk, it was probably a later one, because it would have taken a lot of faith to believe she would say "yes" to me.

It was clear to me that day that I was to do this thing. I heard God telling me, "This is the one." The Proverb that morning, chapter 18, had a telling verse. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing..." I was sure. There was no doubt. The walk confirmed it. So I went back to the family's home, calculated the time difference, and called her at her parent's house in Columbus, Ohio. I knew she was visiting there because she had written a letter saying such. (For those who don't know, letters are things you write and send in the mail that take a long time to get to the other person.)

No one told me it's bad form to propose over the phone from Germany. I'm not proud of that decision, but I was 21. I knew very little about life. I did know I should talk with her father and ask his permission, which I eventually did. But why go through that talk with George if she said no, right? Looking back, it feels a little selfish, a little self-protected to propose over the phone. It's something a boy does, not a man. But admitting that shows I've grown a little. It is what it is.

The phone had a counter with numbers on it. I am not making this up. On local calls it moved at a snail's pace. On long distance it moved faster. An overseas call was like watching fruit on a slot machine. So I got up the nerve and dialed and watched the numbers click click click as I talked.

Even while proposing I was counting the cost. I just realized that. This money thing, spending anything, has haunted me my whole life. If funeral homes ever have casket sales, I will probably time my death to coincide. But I digress.

I can't remember what I said or how I said it. I think I wrote it down and told her I took a walk that day and made a decision. I also remember the butterflies and fear, but also the resolve. And I remember her laugh and surprise and, dare I say, joy when she heard the question. I like to think I got down on one knee, but I don't think I could see the counter on the phone from down there. In my heart I was kneeling.

And then I remember hearing her tell me she would think about it and call me back.

I am not making this up.

Seriously, she said she'd call me back. Which, now that I think about it, was a considerate thing since the numbers were churning so quickly.

I thought it was over. I figured I'd hear her say, "Well, this is very nice of you. I'm honored. Why don't we talk about it when you get back? When you're a little older?" I wondered what my mother would look like with an "I Love You" gold heart around her neck.

Then the phone rang.

She said yes. I'll be your wife.

July 18, 1982.

Thirty years ago today.
Saturday, July 7, 2012

So THAT's the reason the world is in such bad shape. Morgan Freeman is God. He confessed this in an interview with Fox News. Of all places. You can read it here.

This takes a lot of the guesswork out of my life. No longer do I have to worry how to address God. I can pray to Morgan. If my kids ask what God looks like, which they don’t anymore, I can tell them. “That guy next to Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption. That’s what he looks like.”

We don’t have to wonder who God supports in sporting events or politics. Morgan Freeman is not a Republican.

Sure, there will probably be those who will argue whether Morgan exists, but my guess is that agnostics will be less inclined to say we can’t know.

Life is so much easier knowing Morgan Freeman is God. I don’t have to wonder which church to go to anymore, it’ll be the one with “Morgan” in the name. Assemblies of Morgan. United Church of Morgan.

It also makes the exclamation that grates against me a little more palatable. I can’t see correcting someone who says, “Oh my Morgan.”

Perhaps he didn’t really mean what he said, though. Should we take Morgan at his word? Or did he mean each one of us is God? Each one of us has a tiny, itsy bitsy piece of God and if we’ll water that piece and tend it, it will grow until we each become people with bigger pieces of God. Is that what he meant? And if your God particle grows, you’ll be more successful and the box office will reward you.

How did this happen? Perhaps becoming God was on Morgan’s bucket list. Who can know the mind of Morgan? After reading the article, I’d say he sure moves in mysterious ways. And it’s clear from his political views that Morgan does not help those who help themselves.

Well, even though it makes life easier, I don’t think I can worship Morgan in spirit and truth. I’m taking the more traditional route. The old, outdated mode of thinking that says you and I are not God, we were created by him but we are fallen and desperately flawed. Sinners, every one of us, without hope of knowing God or having a relationship with him, unless God intervenes. Which he did, thank God. The hymn writer said it well:

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

I put my faith and trust in that truth. My sin, oh the bliss, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. God already became one of us and sacrificed himself, interposed his precious blood. Instead of becoming God, I can know him and serve him.

This I believe, for the love of Morgan.

In the car, driving from point A to point B, I hit the radio scan button. It wound up on an oldies station. FM dial. Full bandwidth but crackling music. A flash from the past. Late 1960s? Early 1970s? I was 9 or 10 and not a hipster, but I still liked the song. I remembered this one but couldn't place the voice--was it Mama Cass?

But you've gotta make your own music
Sing your own special song,
Make your own kind of music even if nobody else sings along.

For some reason the lyrics hit me deeper than what may have been intended by the author. You can read those words and interpret them as, "Be yourself, man. Do your own thing. Whatever makes you feel groovy, do it and don't care about the people who drag you down. Man."

That kind of sentiment was prominent in the 1960s. The individual became king. This led to a lot of personal disasters that leaked onto others who were also enthroning themselves. Every man a king and no one a servant.

There's another interpretation that strikes me more than 40 years later. There's music inside each of us. Art and creativity waiting to emerge. Most of the time we're too afraid of what others will think. We play our songs to an unseen audience of critics and decide to play it safe and give them what they want--or perhaps we give them what we think they want so we'll get the desired response. In other words, we play to the applause or play to avoid the catcalls. We don't play authentically from the heart because we're afraid.

Living is risky. Loving is, too. The struggle is finding the unique song God gave you and singing it loud, confidently, no matter what the response. Maybe you'll have others singing along today. Or it might feel a little lonely. Everyone else has drums, a big band, and you're sitting alone with a kazoo.

Ultimately, the "make your own kind of music" mantra feels hollow to me. Maybe the reason I identified with it is the truth that left to our own devices, we're always going to make music that doesn't satisfy our souls. We can only take the tunes so far and wind up like Jackson Browne's Everyman, always searching, always feeling "a day away from where I want to be." There's a deeper, more meaningful kind of music/art we were created to make that can only come when I slip my trembling hand into the one who made me and put the music inside.

When you get to that point, not enthroning yourself but stepping off the throne in humility, the music you were created to make will bubble to the surface. And you'll be content with its reach no matter what the fans or critics say. You'll be content with God and a kazoo.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
It's almost like your own father dying, seeing the news that Andy Griffith died today. I suppose that's because I confused Mayberry with my home town and thought my father was Andy Griffith when I was a child. See the comparison at the left and below.

The Andy Griffith Show began in 1960, the year before I was born. It ran until 1968 and I recall mixing up the man on the screen and the man who walked in the front door each day. They both were handsome, lanky, had striking voices, and walked with a confidence that came from some other place. As if the road had brought them and taught them something they wanted to pass along if you'd take the time to listen.

Andy settled most problems by being kind, generous, and thinking of others. At least on the TV show. This was another reason I confused him with my father. He seemed to be able to solve just about any problem with kindness and thoughtfulness.

My dad and Andy were only 6 years apart in age, wore their hair short, and had gentle hands.

When Barney wanted to sing in the choir, Andy helped the performance. When Aunt Bee was almost taken in by a suitor, Andy was there.

But the real draw of the show was Opie's relationship with Andy. When Opie killed the mama bird and his father sat on his bed and talked him through the guilt and shame, it was as if my own father were sitting there. At the end, when Opie had to release the birds, his father is the one who opened the window to wake him to the truth. At the end, when they're on the front porch, Andy and Opie are together in a scene that reverberates in my mind and heart.

Opie: Cage sure looks awful empty don't it, Paw?

Andy: Yes, son, it sure does. But don't the trees seem nice and full.

I'm guessing there were others like me who confused their dads with Andy Griffith. Or didn't have a loving father and found one in the TV version. Andy Griffith made me want to be a better man, a better dad. Not a bad career synopsis.

The world is a sadder place because of his passing. But somewhere the birds are singing. And the trees are nice and full. Probably right outside the window.
Monday, July 2, 2012
My mother phoned before 6 a.m. and said she wanted to wake me the way I woke her 51 years ago. A little after 2 a.m., in a backwater hospital in a backwater town, I came into the world. I have been apologizing ever since. I apologize for this blog, in fact. It seems a bit presumptive, but here goes.

Ernest Hemingway committed suicide on the same morning. Morbid, I know. I like to think it was the same hour, that in some intuitive way Papa rose from his bed and made his way downstairs in that Ketchum, Idaho home, knowing there was someone to take his place. He could end his own life now, with assurance some other storyteller would pick up the mantle.

It was probably more of a drunken stupor or perhaps just the depression that propelled him. The illness his father died from. Maybe the fact that he couldn’t write anymore. He was only 61, about to turn 62. I’m only ten years from that age.

I’m going to ramble today without the constraints of a theme or topic. My apologies.

I got my haircut yesterday and had two thoughts: 1. I wish I could go back to that red, metal chair of my youth and experience another haircut from my father, something I hated as a kid. 2. I wish I could have a do-over with the hair stylist who worked in Barboursville, WV that I always went to after my father was summarily left behind.

Maybe the theme is what you would change in your life after 51 years. Or whom you would find and apologize to.

Back to the young lady in WV. I did not know how to get a haircut outside of sitting down and having my father scalp me, but I knew I needed to learn, so off to the beauty shop I went, meandering toward Barboursville for some reason. I walked into the shop and sat down in front of a strikingly beautiful young woman. She had long, flowing blond hair, kind of like Farrah Fawcett in the poster. Curls here and there. A pretty face. I told her how I wanted it cut and tried to relax as she went to work, her delicate fingers roaming, clipping.

After that, I went back to her each time, requesting her by name, though I can’t recall it now, or the specifics of her face, I remember she had two eyes and a forehead that creased every time I walked in. She began to passively aggressively cut my hair as her anger and frustration leaked. It was as if my very presence angered her and I couldn’t understand it. Perhaps I reminded her of someone in her past. Perhaps she’d had a troubled childhood.

My father never got angry at me, except when I’d hide when haircut time came. He let me go last in the haircut line, my older brothers going first, and by then the clippers were white-hot and ready for branding. I had sensitive ears. No, seriously, I could hear so well because they were big—like those radar things—the big dishes that scan back and forth for life on other planets. But noises next to my ear were painful, especially when Lou Anne Hayes screamed piercingly next to my head just for fun in the second grade. I was gunshy with girls after that day. It’s probably why I married an alto. Well, one reason.

By the time my hair was ready for shearing, the clippers my dad had, that weighed probably 40 pounds, would start to cack and buzz and fritz with a noise that stung like a hornet. I would jerk back and he’d tell me to sit still and I would try, I really would, counting the seconds there in the basement until this indignity was over and I could go outside and play.

My hair is gray now. Seriously gray. I watched it fall yesterday as the young woman with the pierced nose and the tattoos she delicately covered with a shawl leaked through. She was talking with her friends about the take-out they ordered and how much it would cost and if they should get the jalapeno poppers and who was going to pick it up. She didn’t ask me how I was doing or if I had anything planned for the 4th or how many children I had or if I’d been born on the day Ernest Hemingway grabbed a shotgun and I was glad. And I knew if she’d have started the conversation I would have spilled my whole life to her and then apologized.

Sandy. I think her name was Sandy. Or maybe Sandee. Or Saundeae and she pronounced it Sandy. If I had the chance, I would go back to her, find her. She’s probably in her 50s now with children and colitis. I don’t think she smoked, so probably not lung cancer. Probably married to a nice guy who made her happy who is not a writer but a doer, a work-at-life-with-your-hands kind of guy. Drives big machines or cuts lumber and likes to hunt on the weekends or fish while she gets her nails done and thinks of the dorky guy with the glasses as thick as coke bottles who never gave her a tip because he’d never been to the beauty shop before and his dad had always cut his hair. How could she know something like that? I would have been mad too. But I guess if I could tell her I’m sorry, I would. I’d apologize and tell her I simply didn’t know you were supposed to tip and that because of her I probably tip too much now because I think of her every time I get my haircut.

And I think of him, too, and that I never tipped him either. My dad. But he never got mad about it.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Fear. Gut-wrenching pain. Excitement. Freedom.

These are some of the feelings my friend is probably going through today on this first day of unemployment. We worked together for many years and then I was let go. Now, 13 years later, he faces the same fate.

Since I have walked this road before, though the circumstances were certainly different, I thought I would write a few thoughts that might be helpful to him and others who are going through some upheaval in life.

On this, the first Saturday of life without a job, it’s easy to despair. You have been untethered from something that gave you security and worth for a lot of years. But your worth doesn’t come from the place that employed you, it’s much deeper than that, and you have to mine for that as if for gold.

You were placed on this planet for a purpose. There are things God had for you to accomplish that you couldn’t have if you hadn’t been employed by your former employer. But the converse is also true. There are things God has for you to accomplish you couldn’t accomplish there. That’s why you’re here, in this barren place.

You will be hit in the face each day with the feeling that you have been cut off. Put out to pasture. Rejected. You have to fight this and overcome it with the truth.

You have been given freedom.

If you’ve ever seen The Shawshank Redemption, you know how hard it is for those who have been institutionalized to go back into the regular world. I know you won’t write, “Brooks was here,” on the walls of your house, but you’ll be tempted to think, “What would it be like to be back at the old routine?”

This is why you must begin a new routine. Go for a walk early in the morning. Keep a journal. Read the Bible. Do something at the start of your day that you didn’t have time for when you had to hop in the car. You have two hours a day that you don’t have to commute. That’s freedom. That’s wonderful!

Don’t forget the coffee. I know this is something you enjoy and I don’t have to mention, really. But now you can drink it with your wife at the shop around the corner, instead of alone in the car listening to NPR or whatever you listened to while driving. And forget the White Hen Pantry. Nothing against them, but branch out to a different brand. Do something java wild.

I think your wife is going to help you see this if you don’t already, and that is, she didn’t love you because you were employed. We don’t think you’re valuable because of what you can do. (Pardon me while I don the sweater and deck shoes.) You are special. There’s no one in the world like you. And while you have a great contribution to make as you move ahead, God didn’t just make you to do stuff or accomplish things. There’s much more to it than that.

Resist the urge to think you have to “settle” for something. Some job. Some new way of life. You’re not “settling” for something, you’re searching. And each day I pray you will find something you didn’t know was out there. Some factoid. Some new snapshot of grace.

When freedom comes, it has responsibility attached to it, as well as a healthy dose of fear. It’s as old as the children of Israel wandering in the desert, thinking how great it was back in Egypt. Look at American history and you’ll find those who were resistant to leave the cozy confines of British rule and taxes.

Freedom isn’t easy. It forces you to think harder about life and the future and where you’re headed. But for some reason, God has chosen not to let someone else tell you what to do with your life.

Good. There is life here, and health, and excitement. You’re going to find something here you didn’t want to look for. Abundant life. But abundant life is messy and hard and uncertain. Unpredictable. And there are questions that will pop into your head you never wanted to ask again.

Good. Great! You’re alive. You feel something inside.

You don’t need me to tell you this, of course. You’re a lot smarter than I will ever be. But truth is truth.

This new path of life will lead you to places of the heart you may never have been. (I know you’ve been without a job before, but not at this stage of life.) Places where you thought you trusted God. Places where you thought you knew the answers. And you probably do, at least on paper, but as you enter these dark woods and you’re tempted to give in to the fear, you’ll see the truth more fully because it’s not something you just know in your head.

This is your time to explore and rejoice and lament and trust and do all the things of living you may not have done while everything was neat and tidy and ordered. And here’s the really weird thing, if you stop fighting against that feeling, the gut-busting, whirling, churning feeling you get when you wake up and realize you don’t have anywhere you have to go, when you embrace that freedom and the possibilities, even for five minutes, you’ll be on your way.

I can’t wait to see what God will grow in your heart through this time of tilling and fertilizing. The best crops grow in the burned out places of life. Or where the manure is spread the thickest. I know it’s not where you want to be. But trust me, for some reason, it’s the place you need to be.

Why? I have no earthly idea. In my own version of the world, this never would have happened. But here’s the bottom line. God is sovereign and this wasn’t an afterthought. Perhaps you’ve just been thrown into a pit by your brothers. What they meant for evil, God meant for good.

And no matter what happens from here on out, you win. The end of this exploration can only be good since he’s in charge. (I’m sounding more Reformed every day. Go figure.)

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Get the coffee. Hug your wife. Take a walk. Clear your throat. Trust Him. And repeat as often as is necessary.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
He paid $25 for it in January, this leather holder for his Kindle. My son, the voracious reader. It broke because the holder was plastic and he kept taking it out and then putting it back. To his defense, the thing wasn't designed well and I figured the plastic thing would snap a long time ago.

“You shouldn’t have taken it out so much,” I scolded.

“I know,” he said, his eyes downcast.

“We can tape it,” I said. "That'll hold it."

He looked at me like I had five heads. “Put tape on my Kindle?”

“I’ll see if I can return it.”

I went to the store where he bought it, a big box store. They get returns every day. There was a young girl working there, younger than most of my daughters. I had witnessed a scene at the counter the week before with people returning something. The process didn’t go well. There was yelling and accusations and hands thrown in the air. I decided I would not act that way.

“My son bought this here a while ago and I don’t have the receipt.”

“How long ago?” she said.

“Like, January.” I was trying to speak her language, with the “like” at the front of the sentence. She looked 12. Seriously. I was returning a broken Kindle holder to a 12 year old.

“Well, our return policy is usually 90 days, but if you can find the same thing over there we could switch it out by using your driver’s license.”

“Okay, I’ll go look for it.”

“The only problem is, we clearanced those holders. You have to find the exact same one.”

The most knowledgeable 12 year old I have ever met.

I went to the Kindle holder department and found them. She was right. They now made them without the plastic thing at the top and with a sleeve you slide your reader into because, I deduced, a lot of people broke that plastic thing at the top. It was flimsy.

I returned with the sleeve kind and showed it to her. She opened it, compared the two, and said, “Yeah, this is different.”

Then she looked up at me, looked me in the eye with something akin to the little Who girl who got out of bed and asked the Grinch for a drink of water. I think it was Cindy Lou.

“I’m sorry. I can’t switch these out.” She frowned, as if I had a disease she couldn't cure.

I could have stomped and fumed and fussed, and if I had, and offered to pay the difference, I probably could have gotten my way. The customer is always right and all that. But there was something pure and innocent and righteous about those eyes and her honest attempt to help me. And it's not fair that a store should replace something after 90 days that broke because it was used too much.

“I understand. I thought I’d give it a try. Thank you for helping me.”

She smiled and looked as if I’d just offered her tickets to see (insert whatever pop star Cindy Lou likes). Taylor Swift? Coldplay?

I went home, got out the Super Glue, and went to work. I had saved the plastic thing just in case. I glued it, then popped my Kindle out of its cover, which is exactly like the one my son bought but is in better shape, and clicked his device into my holder.

“There, good as new,” I said, handing it to him.

“I won’t take it out so much, Dad,” he said.

After the glue dried, I took my e-reader, gingerly pushed it into my son's holder, expecting it to crack...expecting the glue to give, but instead I head "SNAP." 

Good as new.

Friday, June 15, 2012
As heard on Chris Fabry Live! on Friday, 6/15--here is a good list of films for dads and families. Viewer discretion advised. Thanks to Bob Waliszewski of for many on the list, as well as listeners!

Ben Hur
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Father-ish movies:

Courageous (fatherhood is a calling)
The Rookie (Morris as good dad, tensions with own father)
Finding Nemo (overprotectiveness, passionate pursuit of a prodigal)
Searching for Bobby Fischer (support vs. competitive pressure)
Fiddler on the Roof (traditional dad and three dating daughters)
Mr. Holland’s Opus (musical dad trying to connect with deaf son)
October Sky (not a model dad, but father-son issues are core)
Fiddler on the Roof
The Lion King
To Kill a Mockingbird
Life is Beautiful
Field of Dreams
Father Goose
The Sound of Music
Superman 1978
Swiss Family Robinson
Father of the Bride
Faith Like Potatoes

Summer Movies for the Family (check age-appropriate ratings):

Akeelah and the Bee
Because of Wynn-Dixie
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Charlotte’s Web
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Dolphin Tale
How to Train Your Dragon
March of the Penguins
The Mighty Macs
Miss Potter
Nancy Drew
Nim’s Island
One Night with the King
Prince of Egypt
Sarah’s Choice
Soul Surfer
That Thing You Do
To Save a Life
The Ultimate Gift
War Horse
What If…
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Steve Saint was on the radio program two weeks ago. On Tuesday, 6/12, he was in an accident that left him paralyzed. For the Christianity Today article click here.

I’ve been praying for him and wondering what God is doing in his life. Hasn’t he suffered enough? He lost his father, he lost a daughter, he’s gone through health challenges, and now this?

Then I looked at Romans 5 today and envied Steve Saint. Not envying what he is going through, no one begs for this kind of suffering. But envying what God is still doing. That God counts Steve worthy to go through yet another trial.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

Steve can’t stand, though I’m praying he will soon. But he is standing in the grace that God has poured out through his Son. He was justified and given peace with God. This puts Steve in a place of perfect contentment because of what God has done and is still doing.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 

Really? Rejoice? When you’re paralyzed? When you don’t know if you will be able to regain movement in your arms and legs? Yes, because the rejoicing doesn’t come in circumstances, it's revealed by the hope given by God.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

The hope God gives comes to life when we embrace the suffering we go through. The suffering can turn us away from God, but it can also turn us toward him. And this difficulty can be used to produce perseverance and a deep character that trusts even when it can’t see. And that character leads us to real hope. That hope is available to everyone, no matter our difficulty or struggle. That hope is available for Steve Saint, and I’m praying—no, I know he embraces it today, even with arms that can’t move.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
I can't help but think of my grandfather on Sunday mornings like this. He died when I was a boy, but I still remember him staying with us at our home, in one of the back bedrooms. He had pared his life down to only a few possessions, clothes, his tobacco pipe, and a black and white TV.

He watched Walter Cronkite on that TV and while my brothers watched "The Invaders" and other spooky shows, I would go into his room and watch Red Skelton.

My grandfather had a farm with chickens and apple trees and pigs and rows of sweet corn and other vegetables. What I remember most about that house is two rooms: the kitchen and the sun room at the front. The sun room had a checker board and other games and I spent time there playing with things and taking in the aged smells of old trunks. I imagined they were filled with letters from famous dead people or maybe gold. There were pictures of my grandmother, long gone, and other relatives who were distant memories.

In the kitchen was his iron skillet. It seemed to fill the room. He would cook on a gas stove and get the skillet scalding hot, then cook eggs and onions. Though I can't remember much interaction with him, I imagine him telling me to sit down and eat. He had a heavy German accent. My brother was skinny and had to jump around in the shower to get wet. My grandfather would say, "Eat! Eat! You vill dry up and blow avay!"

He cooked a lot of eggs in that skillet. And this morning, when I put the butter in the pan and smelled the onions, I thought of him again.
Friday, June 8, 2012
As heard on the program 6/8/2012, here is a list of books recommended by guests, callers, emailers, and some on Facebook. Also, at the bottom, is a list of classic non-fiction books provided by Dr. Rosalie DeRosset of the faculty at Moody Bible Institute. Happy Reading!!!

Mark Buchanan, Your God is Too Safe, Your Church is Too Safe
Thomas Watson, All Things Work Together for Good
Martin Lloyd Jones, The Sermon on the Mount
Richard Sibbs, The Bruised Reed
Surprised by Oxford, Carolyn Weber
Prayers for Today, Kurt Bjorklund
Mark, The Gospel of Passion, Michael Card
Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer, Amazing Grace
Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Richard Lovelace
All Is Grace, Brennan Manning
Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge
Kendra Smiley, Do Your Kids A Favor, Love Your Spouse, The Journey of a Strong-Willed Child (Live FREE coming this summer!)
Dwelling with Philippians: A Conversation with Scripture through Image and Word
by Elizabeth Steele Halstead, Paul Detterman, Joyce Borger and John D. Witvliet

Philip Yancey, Finding God in Unexpected Places
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Foolproofing Your Life – Jan Silvious
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young
Radical and Radical Together by David Platt
I Never Thought I'd See the Day by David Jeremiah
The Meaning of Marriage - Tim and Kathy Keller

Mercy Rising, Amber Robinson
The Truth About the Lordship of Christ by John MacArthur
Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer
Forgotten God by Francis Chan
Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman
I Really Want to Change...So Help Me God by James MacDonald
Life without Limits by Nick Vujicic
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur G. Bennett
Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us from Evil
Alistair Begg, Pathway to Freedom
Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom
Resolution for Women - Priscilla Shirer
Indivisible - James Robison and J.W. Richards
Driven by Eternity - John Bevere
The 5th Diamond - Irene Weisberg Zisblatt and Gail Ann Webb
Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick
Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
The Emancipation of Robert Sadler by Robert Sadler with Marie Chapian

Bold Spirit: Helga Estby by Linda L. Hunt
House Calls and Hitching Posts by Dorcas Hoover
The Pink Pagoda by Dr. James Garrow
Jack Burbridge, From Crime to Christ
Unplugging from Religion: Connection with God by Greg Albrecht
Being God's Friend by Oswald Chambers
Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk and Melanie D. Lewis
Jen Hatmaker, "7"
Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper.
Slave - John MacArthur
The Lord Our Righteousness by Obadiah Grew
The Everlasting Righteousness by Horatius Bonar
Like a Mighty Wind by Mel Tari
66 Love Letters, Larry Crabb
A Path Through Suffering, Elisabeth Elliot
Choosing Gratitude, Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Heaven Proclaims His Glory: A Spectacular View of Creation Through the Lens of the NASA Hubble
Bringing Up Girls, James Dobson
Called To Controversy, Ruth Rosen
Secondhand Jesus, Glen Packiam
Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, Charles Swindoll

Augustine.  The Confessions
Anselm.  Cur Deus Homo  (Why the God Man)
Athanasius.  De Incarnacione (The Incarnation: note forward by C.S. Lewis
Barnes, Craig.  Yearning (wonderful book on longing)
Baxter, Sidlow J.  Awake My Heart
Blamires, Harry.  The Christian Mind
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich.  The Cost of Discipleship; Life Together
Bunyan, John.  Grace Abounding (spiritual biography)
Carmichael, Amy.  Edges of His Ways; Rose from Brier; etc. (India)
Calvin, John.  The Institutes (Ford Lewis Battles edition)
Campbell, Will.  Brother to a Dragonfly
Chambers, Oswald.  My Utmost for His Highest
Charnock, Steven.  The Existence and Attributes of Man
Chesterton, G.K.  Orthodoxy; The Everlasting Man
Colson, Chuck.  Loving God; How Now Shall We Live
Curtis, Brent and John Eldredge.  The Sacred Romance (a must read on longing)
Dark, David.  Everyday Apocalypse:The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, the Simpsons, and other Pop Culture Icons
Dawn, Marva.  Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down (anything she has written)
Demarest, Bruce.  Satisfy Your Soul
Dobson, James.  Love Must Be Tough
Downs, Tim. Finding Common Ground  (on art and preaching in evangelism)
Dunlop, Cheryl.  Follow Me As I Follow Christ. wonderful guide to teaching  children in the church)
Eliot, Elizabeth.  These Strange Ashes; Passion and Purity; A Slow and Certain Light
Ellul, Jacques.  Propaganda; Money; etc.
Fee,Gordon and Douglas Stuart.  How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth.
Forsythe, P.T.  The Soul of Prayer

Foxes Book of Martyrs

Frankl, Victor.  Man’s Search for Meaning
Gire, Ken.  Windows to the Soul (very inspiring about the personal effects of literature in life)
Guiness, Oz.  Doubt; The Dust of Death
Gundry, Stanley.  Love Them In  (the theology of Dwight Lyman Moody)
Guroian, Vigen. Tending the Heart of Virtue (a wonderful treatment of capturing a child’s imagination)
Holmes, Arthur.  All Truth is God’s Truth*
Hovestal, Tom. Extreme Righteousness: Seeing Ourselves in the Pharisees
Hunt, Gladys.  Honey from a Child’s Heart
James, Carolyn Custis.  When Life and Beliefs Collide
Koessler, John.  Stranger in the House of God  (very poignant well-written contemporary memoir)
Larsen, Scott and Philip Yancey.  Indelible Ink (well-known people give their favorite books)
Laurence, Brother.  The Practice of the Presence of God
Lewis, C.S.  The Problem of Pain; The Four Loves; Mere Christianity; A Grief Observed
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn.  Of Preaching and Preachers; Spiritual DepressionSermon on the Mount; etc.
McCullough Donald.  The Trivialization of God
Muggeridge, Malcolm.  Christ and the Media; Jesus Rediscovered; Trumpeter for God; Something Beautiful for God (on Mother Theresa)
Nouwen, Henri.  Genesse Diary; etc.
O’Connor, Flannery.  The Habit of Being (her collected letters); Mystery and Manners   (lectures on writing and Christianity)
Packer, J.I.  Fundamentalislm and the Word of God; Knowing God
Pike, KennethWith The Heart and Mind
Plantinga, Cornelius.  Not the Way It’s Supposed To Be
Roseveare, Helen.  Living Sacrifice
Ryken, Leland.  Windows to the World*; Triumphs of the Imagination*; Realms of Gold*
Ryle, J.C.  Holiness
Sayers, Dorothy.  The Mind of the Maker; Are Women Human?
Sire, James.  How to Read Slowly*
Stott, John R.  Your Mind Matters; etc.
Schaeffer, Francis.  The Christian Manifesto; etc.
Sibbs, Richard.  Works of Richard Sibbs
Tozer, A.W.  The Pursuit of God; The Knowledge of the Holy
Veith, Gene Edward Jr.  Reading Between the Lines*; State of the Arts*
Weil, Simone.  Waiting on God
Wiersbe, Warren, ed.  Treasury of the World’s Greatest SermonsPreaching With Imagination
Woolman, John.  Journal
Zylstra, Henry.  Testament of Vision

* = books on how to interpret what you're reading