books for life

We’ve seen a number of ‘summer reading lists’ pop up on blogs in the last couple of weeks. And many of them are great reading in themselves – it always gives a small sense of the person making the list themselves to see the scope of material they are reading.

So what we’re giving you here is a similar  glimpse into the Sanctuary and what makes us tick – these are our baker’s dozen of seminal ‘books for life’ rather than books for your summer though. Together, they give a sense of the outlook and journey behind all we do here… one little warning before you carry on – reading these books might just change your life too!

1. The Unquenchable Worshipper and Facedown by Matt Redman

  unquenchable worshipper


Seminal books that have been around for years now but remain amongst the most helpful because of the humility and devotion of the man who wrote them. Short, sweet, simple and packed with truth about pursuing God’s presence and nurturing a heart and lifestyle of worship.

2. The Worship God is seeking and The Justice God is seeking by David Ruis

The worship God is seeking

The justice God is seekingThis pair of little books by David Ruis are absolute treasures. Worship and Justice. You can’t have one without the other – and this man’s songs, teaching and life example have been so powerful in demonstrating the beauty of what happens when both come together.

3. The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis

The Sacred Romance

This book invites us to realise we are part of ‘a story big enough to live in’ – God’s story – and encourages us to live larger and more fully, being aware both of what we are called to, and the opposition that faces.

4. Consumer Detox: Less Stuff, More Life by Mark Powley

consumer detox

There aren’t many books about justice, poverty or ethical living on our list. This isn’t because there aren’t plenty of life-challenging and life-changing ones out there – it’s actually just because we haven’t read many of them!

Most of us have got our heart for the nations and the oppressed through worshipping a God of justice and then being led into being involved with brilliant individuals and organisations responding to these issues.

And our hearts continue to be broken and challenged every day by living the Sanctuary’s rhythm and encountering these people and their situations every time we pray in response to the headlines.

The best way to learn about this stuff is to live it, to love and  walk with people in desperate situations and to sit at the feet of people and nations the rest of the world overlooks or dismisses.

But this book – a recent read – is a brilliant place to be introduced to some of what it means to live in a global context – and why our souls need a change of outlook too – and we’re recommending it to everyone.

5. Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge

Beautiful Outlaw

Justice, mission, intercession… to have a wider outlook, we need a big God – certainly one larger than the convenient one we are all tempted to make in our own image or to limit because of the circumstances we see around us.

At the Sanctuary we consider a different element of God’s character every day… and that’s why we love this book. It sets Jesus free from the two dimensional and religious restrictions we all often put around him and invites us to get to know someone large and vibrant enough to be the world’s saviour instead.

6. Red moon rising by Pete Greig

red moon rising

Again there aren’t many books on this list about prayer. The best way to learn about it is just to do it… and the more you do it, in many ways the more of a mystery it becomes!

But the story of 24-7 prayer is a wonderful book because it issues the call to prayer and gives plenty of testimonies that illustrate the transformation that comes from following that call and obeying God wherever and however he leads.

7. The Grace Outpouring by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts

the grace outpouring

This is another story about a prayer movement – the one in Ffald-y-Brenin. When the Sanctuary was still in the process of being set up and established, many people locally had been reading this. Because of it, they were excited about what could happen at a house of prayer, and indeed quite a number of them went to visit it.

But what excites us about this book isn’t really any of the things other people seemed to take from it. For us it testifies to the power of obedience. That’s what we read on every page. Simple as that.

What this story illustrates again and again is that when you listen to God, and do or pray what he says in all its specifics – even when it makes you feel a bit crazy – amazing things happen. Reading it seemed to underline our own story here, where we have experienced that same pattern again and again.

8. The cry of the deer and quite a number of other titles by David Adam

The cry of the deer

This list isn’t really about devotionals or anthologies of prayer – more about the ideas and outlook behind what we do – so this book and the others David Adam has written like it are in a way slight trespassers here!

But they have been so influential  in demonstrating – through their devotional content – the rich lessons available from the Celtic church, which are constantly inspiring, challenging and calling us to enter a modern version of this profoundly counter-cultural spirituality.

Prayer is woven into everything and everything is woven into prayer. There are rhythms and rest but no sacred and secular divide here.

9. Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright

surprised by hope

This would be on lots of people’s lists! It’s not an easy read but it is good for the soul, realigning our hearts and minds to the vital importance of what God is doing today as well as tomorrow. It makes a compelling theological case for God’s redemptive and resurrecting plans for this earth and challenges us all to care more for it and its people as a result.

10. One thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp

one thousand gifts

Some people find this book difficult too. It’s very poetic and doesn’t shy away from being honest about raw pain. But we rate this as a real treasure in modelling a straightforward to understand – but challenging to live – outlook of thanksgiving and gratitude.

By seeing and celebrating God’s beauty in tiny details, and by counting and recounting these in praise and thanksgiving, we start to change the way we see the world…. it becomes easier to see not just the good God has made, but all he is still making and doing right now – even in the darkest of places.

Ann Voskamp talks a lot about the domestic sphere and this attitude is transformative there… but we’ve also seen the transformational impact of taking this approach to what’s happening in the world.

11. Eat this book by Eugene Peterson

Eat this book

The Message version of the Bible is a precious gift and it turns out Eugene Peterson’s other writing is too. This book is simply fantastic. It’s meaty but worth the chew and puts the case for getting scripture inside us – speaking it and living it rather than seeing the Bible as an external entity to study – beautifully and compellingly.

12. The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

weight of glory

This is just an essay not a whole book – though it’s usually published alongside other writings and they are ALL brilliant and life-giving to read, so don’t feel you have to stop at the end of this one. BUT… do read this one.

It’s a recent discovery for us but puts into words so much of what we have been starting to explore and express here about the relationship between beauty/creativity and truth/mission. Really powerful and inspiring stuff.

13. Christ plays in ten thousand places: A conversation in spiritual theology

Christ plays

This book is the most recent read on this list and discovering it has been like coming home. We have found through it that the life we are living, exploring and growing into at the Sanctuary has a defined theology! And it’s in this book. The reaction to every page has been yes, yes, yes. A fantastic and reassuring read.

We hope you enjoyed taking a look at what books inspire, shape or express the Sanctuary and its outlook… we also hope you’ll pick up one or more of the ones on this list that you haven’t already read, and be as changed by them as we have. Let us know what you think!

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