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Why start these reviews with a book about depression? Because single people get depressed!
Let's be adults here. You can be the most dedicated Christian in the world, but sometimes you get down. Whether it's circumstances, distorted thinking, or a chemical imbalance in your body, depression can hit you at any time and hit you hard. That's why Depression: A Stubborn Darkness receives my highest recommendation.
We don't need more collections of uplifting Scripture verses. We need explanations of why things happen and what to do about them, from a Christian perspective. That's what Edward T. Welch delivers in this book. It is, far and away, the best book I've ever read on depression, and I've read dozens of them.
Welch explores the many causes of depression, and you may be surprised by some of them. He clearly differentiates what is our responsibility and what comes from outside sources. Even so, he never beats the reader up. Who needs more pain when you're depressed?
His style is clear and easy to understand, yet never condescending. He acknowledges that the Christian life is not always happy-go-lucky. Bad things happen, and we have to deal with them without sinking into an inescapable pit of despair. While Welch recognizes the reality of mental suffering, he asserts that there is a way out, if we're willing to take it.
You'll find sections on Fear, Anger, Dashed Hopes (especially important for singles), Failure and Shame, Guilt and Legalism, and Death.
This is a realistic but hopeful book. You'll come away with a better understanding of why you feel the way you do and what positive steps you can take to respond to it. Depression: A Stubborn Darkness takes Welch's perspective as a Christian counselor and builds a biblical approach toward attacking this common problem. I benefited immensely from this book, and I believe you will too.
Benefits you'll get from reading Depression: A Stubborn Darkness:
In The Single Truth, Lori Smith, a single woman in her 30's, delivers some ideas that will make single women rethink their lives--and that's good.
I read all the books I recommend on this page. When I read The Single Truth, I thought, "Wow, she's saying some pretty important things here. This is stuff my female visitors really need to know."
Take The Single Truth's Chapter Two: You May Not Get Married. It's a disturbing but true fact that many singles never get married. But the way she talks about that possibility is surprising. I came away from that chapter feeling not despair, but rather a sense of relief that finally here's somebody who's not sugar-coating how life truly is.
She deals with the tired platitudes singles have all heard, yet she convinces the reader that lifelong singleness is not a fate worse than death, and can often be quite enjoyable (which I discovered a decade or so ago).
Too many of us have felt embarrassed, ashamed, or even angry that we're still single. Smith points out that just because churches are awkward in relating to singles is no reason for us to feel like outcasts. In fact, she makes a darn good case that being single is just as natural a state as being married and is neither better nor worse.
Personally, I've seen too many divorces and too many miserable marriages to believe that marriage can solve all our problems. It can't. Smith urges us to put marriage in the proper perspective--not as a happily-ever-after-blissful-existence-land, but as a state that's different from singleness, with a set of problems all its own. If we singles can "get" that truth, we stand a much better chance of succeeding if and when we do get married.
The Single Truth says things that have needed to be said for years. Women love romance. Men do too. We may be sad and achy without it, but the alternative isn't fatal. Life does go on, and if you adjust your attitude properly, it goes on pretty darn well. Marriage isn't necessarily the pinnacle of life that society has made it out to be, and it's unrealistic to see it that way.
Lori Smith is a strong, practicing Christian and includes scripture passages that align her views with what Jesus and Paul taught. Her take is biblical, common sense, and exceptionally observant. She calls us, as Christian singles, to set higher standards for ourselves, which will make us conspicuously absent from the bar/meat market scene. With some willpower, however, we can do this.
Throughout the book, she quotes other singles who speak with hope and wisdom. This, in the end, is a very hope-filled book.
After you read The Single Truth, you'll want to think about it for a couple weeks, then read it again. I believe you'll come to realize, as Lori Smith has, that God has not cursed us, ignored us, or forgotten us. He loves us singles every bit as much as he loves married folks, and somehow we all fit into his plan.
Benefits you'll get from reading The Single Truth:
In Sex and the Single Guy: Winning Your Battle for Purity, Joseph Knable calls for something so out of the ordinary that today's society would think it impossible.
"It's a radical thing to walk with Christ, and it's a radical thing to be a pure single man," Knable says.
When I was going to high school and college in the 1960s and 70s, being sexually promiscuous was countercultural. It was a way to rebel. Today, ironically, being a pure single man or woman is countercultural.
Sex and the Single Guy is an excellent book for single men in their 20s and 30s. It's blunt, explicit, and sometimes even embarrassing, but Knable has the problem nailed. Thanks to the immorality of our entertainment media, we've gotten into the dangerous habit of not seeing premarital sex as sin.
Three things stand out in Sex and the Single Guy:
First, Knable addresses the prevalent problem with Internet pornography. It's like the crystal meth of the soul--ferociously addictive and inevitably deadly. He tells how he struggled with it and how he overcame it.
Second, he gives practical strategies for fighting and defeating several types of sexual sin. Knable's solutions sometimes seem unconventional, but this is a book for serious Christian men, not guys who are only going through the motions of being a believer.
Third, and what I found most moving, were the letters he included from single Christian women about how sexual advances make them feel, and the hurt they go through with men who don't respect them. In the end, sexual sin is about lack of respect, both for God, and for women. It tells God we don't think his law is important, and it tricks us into using women for our own satisfaction.
Knable shines the light of God's truth, the Bible, on the lies that movies, television and magazines have been telling us for years. Modern society may be circling the drain, but we don't have to be a part of it. This book shows you how to break free.
So let's be honest guys. Either we're serious about following Jesus Christ or we're not. If you do believe that Christ deserves your best, this book is for you.
If you're a woman reading this review, maybe you'll want to get a gift copy for a Christian man you know.
Benefits you'll receive from reading Sex and the Single Guy:
Being single can be downright frustrating. Trying to figure out how to apply the Bible to make your life better can be even more exasperating.
Unless you read The Life Application Study Bible.
The Life Application Bible changes the Bible from a puzzling, complicated old text into an exciting, clear guidebook to a happy life.
The feature I like most about it is the footnotes. They take verses of scripture, explain them in understandable, everyday language, then show you how to apply those principles to problems and situations in your everyday life. This is one of the most practical, useful Bibles you'll ever find.
Your Bible reading will be enjoyable and exciting, thanks to the common sense approach in the LASB. None of the guidance is far out or bizarre. It's just good, honest advice on how to live faithful to God's Word.
This is today's #1 selling study Bible for a good reason: It works!
Benefits to you in reading the Life Application Study Bible:
Even though the Charles Stanley Life Principles Study Bible wasn't written specifically for single people, it will save you, as a single, a lot of heartache, fear, worry and anxiety.
If you're not familiar with Dr. Charles F. Stanley, he's senior pastor of the 14,000-member First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and the featured speaker on the "In Touch" television and radio broadcasts.
Dr. Stanley's commentary in this Bible focuses on 30 Life Principles he has discovered in his 50 years of public ministry. These principles for successful Christian living are solid. As you study them and see how they fit in with Scripture, you'll be amazed at the wisdom revealed in this Bible. You know you're reading something profound when it's simple yet unswervingly true.
A few examples of these Life Principles include: "Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him;" "You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow;" and "God blesses us so that we might bless others."
No matter how long you've been a Christian, if you live by these 30 Life Principles, you'll not only save yourself a world of pain and grief, but you'll also have a happy and rewarding relationship with Jesus Christ.
Each of the principles is explained in depth, applied to various verses of scripture, then guidance is given for your behavior.
This was my first experience with the New King James Version of the Bible, and I find it wonderfully readable. The "thee's, thines, thou's" and "eth" endings have been replaced with modern language, but the accuracy of the text has been retained.
If you've found Bible reading tedious, frustrating or difficult, you'll be thrilled with the common sense approach of this study Bible. Just like Dr. Stanley's radio and TV messages, this is Christianity you can use to help you with the challenges and problems in the single life. Practical, insightful, and profound.
I received this Bible as a birthday gift from my mother. But if you can only afford one study Bible, you can't go wrong with The Charles Stanley Life Principles Study Bible. It's just that good.
Benefits to you in reading the Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Study Bible:
The Search for Significance, by Robert S. McGee is, in my opinion, one of the most important books a single person can ever read.
I first read this classic when I was in my late thirties. How I wish I had discovered it earlier. It would have eliminated many self-esteem battles I had fought up to that time.
My 1990 edition of The Search for Significance occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf. When I first read it, I highlighted key passages in yellow, and every few years, I read this book again.
Robert McGee has revised and updated TSFS since then. More than 2 million readers all over the world have been transformed through this book, which Billy Graham said "should be read by every Christian."
All of us struggle with our self-worth. We make bad choices in trying to earn respect, love, and acceptance. Robert McGee cuts directly to the heart of the matter by teaching that our significance comes from Jesus Christ, and no place else.
While this might seem obvious to Christians, it's a truth we seldom live out. McGee's arguments are so convincing, his evidence so overwhelming that you simply can't argue any other conclusion. He's never preachy or condemning, yet he demolishes every false belief we have about how we can feel good about ourselves.
McGee also includes a workbook, which will help you in making these truths part of your own life. This powerful book has had an immeasurable impact on my life as a Christian single.
If you have any doubts about your worth (and we all do), The Search for Significance will erase them, once and for all.
Benefits you will get from The Search for Significance:
If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, by John Ortberg, surprised me.
The title sounds funny, almost flippant, but what's inside is a startling challenge to turn your life into an adventure by trusting Jesus Christ. We singles have the dangerous habit of getting into a rut, becoming too comfortable and missing out on the big life God wants us to live.
Ortberg uses the account of Jesus--and Peter--walking on water to show that Christianity was never meant to be a drowsy, prayer-mumbling, doily-knitting life, but rather a thrilling journey that we all should take.
At some point in your life you'll need to make a major change, just as I did. You'll be scared, just as I was. You'll have doubts about whether God is going to protect you. You'll know, deep in your heart, that God is calling you to do more, be better, and become the person you've always wanted to be.
If You Want to Walk on Water... will help you step out of the comfort of your "boat", whatever your boat may be. In 2002, I trusted God, stepped out of a bad situation, and received such an impossible miracle that I felt as if I'd walked on water!
This is a simple book--or that's how it seems--but it bears reading more than once. Just for fun, I stuck a little card in the book and marked the card every time I read If You Want to Walk on Water.... To date, I've read it 17 times.
Ortberg, who now serves as a teaching pastor at the Menlo Park, California Presbyterian Church, shares some of his own bumbling and stalling in the book, which will assure you that you're not alone in feeling nervous or hesitant. If you have fears you need to conquer, this book is for you. "I strongly believe that the way we live is a consequence of the size of our God," Ortberg says.
You want a bigger life. When you realize how big our God is, your bigger life will follow.
Benefits you'll get from reading If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat:
A missionary friend recommended Knowing God, by J.I. Packer, to me many years ago. I'm grateful that he did.
You might think that Packer, a professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada, might be stuffy or pedantic, but that isn't the case at all. Knowing God will challenge your intellect, but you'll come away with a more accurate appreciation of the God we are privileged to call Father. We singles need a loving Father like Him.
Packer's book is rock-solidly scriptural, but as you read, you'll marvel at a first-class mind at work. This ordered, comprehensive work will raise your own thinking to a higher level. Packer's language and explanations are understandable by all, yet he takes subjects like God's attributes--majesty, unchangingness, wisdom, truth, grace, wrath, judgment, and goodness--and breathes new life into them.
You can read the Bible day in and day out and never reach some of the insights that Packer has about God. Expanding your knowledge in this way is a natural springboard for seeing how God has worked and is working still in your own life.
It will soon be 35 years since Packer wrote Knowing God, and it is still as fresh and as readable today. This is a classic that has stood the test of time. I know it will find a permanent place in your personal library too.
Benefits you'll get from reading Knowing God:
Did you ever wish you could sit down with a veteran Christian and have an inspiring, revealing conversation about what God is like?
That's exactly how Experiencing God, by Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King feels. None of us comes by our knowledge of God in a few weeks or even a few months. It takes a lifetime of searching, thinking and study to even scratch the surface of how wonderful and loving God is.
In Experiencing God, you'll learn The Seven Realities of Experiencing God. These truths will increase your understanding of how God works, how you can serve him in his work, and what you can expect when you do that.
The value of a book like this is that it makes Dr. Blackaby's lifelong wisdom and insights yours, in the time it takes to read this book and reflect on it. There are no shortcuts in Christianity, but Experiencing God is as close as you can get.
As a sometimes discouraged Christian single, you may have trouble recognizing and appreciating God's immense love for you. Dr. Blackaby points out signs to watch for, simple ways to trust and obey, and steps to let God grow your life in him.
Experiencing God has sold 4 million copies since its release in 1994. Surely many of those purchases were from word-of-mouth recommendations like this one.
Benefits you'll receive from Experiencing God:
Very rarely do you come across a book like Disappointment with God. And we singles know about disappointment with God, don't we?
Sure, many books ridicule Jesus, some say he never existed, and others insist that he was only a good man who was divinized by later writers or church councils. None of those ideas are new.
But for a commited Christian like Philip Yancey to honestly grapple with this issue takes raw courage. Yancey contends that it all boils down to three questions: 1) Is God unfair? 2) Is God silent? 3) Is God hidden?
Yancey doesn't dodge the truth. In fact, he uses two modern examples of acquaintances of his to illustrate lives of confusion and undeserved suffering to get to the bottom of things.
I got my copy of Disappointment with God several years after I had recovered from cancer. But I still wondered why it had happened to me. I found answers in Disappointment with God.
The pages of my copy are now yellowed with age. The dustjacket is torn and bent. This is a book I've pulled from the shelf several times in the last 18 years to remind myself that things aren't always what they seem, that God's love for me is indestructible, and that even though I may not understand what's happening in my life, God is always good and always wants what's best for me.
Christianbook.com is offering Disappointment with God at a very affordable price. If you're looking for comfort in the midst of a baffling situation, Disappointment with God is a good place to start.
Benefits you'll get from reading Disappointment with God:
Both single men and single women will take something positive away from Success God's Way, by Charles F. Stanley.
Our world is obsessed with success. Most often, the world judges success on how much money you make, how big a house you own, what kind of car you drive, the clothes you wear, and whatever other status symbols you show off.
But God sees success differently, says Dr. Stanley. God judges success in terms of relationship, character, and obedience. It's been my personal observation that there are a lot of "successful" people out there who are completely miserable inside. And then there are the "overlooked"--folks without a lot of money, status, or worldly "toys" who are filled to overflowing with joy and happiness.
Years of watching people clawing their way up the "success ladder" led me to Success God's Way, and it realigned my own priorities. Certainly Dr. Stanley covers the subjects of money, time management and goals, but he approaches them from the biblical perspective--something you don't often see in "success" books.
Whether you're a young single just starting your career, or a middle-aged person suffering from disillusionment and burnout, Success God's Way is the book for you. When you come to the end of your life, what will really matter? You can't take your money, your car, or your house with you, but you will take your character, your work for the Kingdom, and your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Success God's Way will put you on the right path. If you follow this guide, you won't have to stop and rethink your motives every few years. You won't come to the end of your life with a mountain of regrets because you chose the wrong road. And you won't have to worry whether you're a success in God's eyes.
Benefits you'll receive from reading Success God's Way:
Sometimes you get so fed up with life you wonder if there's any meaning to it all and if there is, what you have to do to find it. And if you're single, sometimes it can be so aggravating that it makes you cry.
That admission by Charles F. Stanley in the preface of Living the Extraordinary Life gives you a hint that this is one of those extremely rare finds: a book that actually will change your life.
Dr. Stanley is well past 70 years old, and this book, along with his Life Principles Bible (also offered on this page) may well be the crowning achievements in his lifelong ministry. He has distilled the most important truths he has learned from more than 60 years of walking with God, and presented them in clear, exciting ways so you can make them your own.
Let's face it. You don't want to be just another number, somebody who is born, grows up, but affects nobody or nothing, then is gone. You want more than that. You want to make the very most of the time the Lord gives you, and Living the Extraordinary Life shows you how.
The extraordinary life is, first of all, a Christ-centered life. God's goal for you is to conform you to the image of his son, Jesus Christ. Dr. Stanley explains how that happens and how you can cooperate with God in that process instead of resisting him.
If you've been adrift, this book will set you back on course. This is practical stuff, time-tested principles that will bring you through failure, disappointment, anxiety, worry, and fear. We Christians stumble and fall just like nonbelievers do. But Dr. Stanley shows how to draw on the power of God to get up again, and keep getting up no matter how many times life knocks you down.
Living the Extraordinary Life is not a flash-in-the-pan self-help success book. Its message and principles will be as useful 100 years from now as they are today.
Benefits you'll receive from reading Living the Extraordinary Life:
It almost seems too much to hope for that God would speak personally to you and me.
Yet that is one of God's strongest desires, says Dallas Willard in Hearing God. Once you accept the truth that God wants to speak to you, you can learn how to hear him. That's exactly what Willard proceeds to show.
I have long believed that God still speaks to his people today, and Willard confirms that. While we shouldn't necessarily expect deep, booming commands from the clouds, Willard says we can train ourselves to recognize God's voice and understand what he's saying.
The very best Christian writers all have one thing in common: life is about an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Willard says if you crave that conversational relationship first and foremost, if you make that your life's top priority and pursue it relentlessly, then God will enter into that kind of deep communion with you. I don't know about you, but that possibility thrills me from my head to my toes!
You'll probably be surprised how down-to-earth and practical Hearing God is. Singles can sometimes make the mistake of thinking God is talking to us when it's only our own rambling thoughts. Willard carefully shows how to distinguish between God's promptings in your life and random notions of your conscience.
You'll also be encouraged by the truth that hearing from God is for you, not just clergy or religious "superstars."
Could a book be more life-changing than showing you how to speak to and hear back from the Almighty Creator of the Universe? God loves you, he is working in your life, and he wants to tell you how to do his will for you. Are you ready to listen to him?
Benefits you'll receive from reading Hearing God:
Small books can sometimes pack a big punch. That's the case with Your God is Too Small, by J.B. Phillips.
That this book first came out nearly 45 years ago and is still relevant today proves that Your God is Too Small is truly timeless.
Believing in a God who's too small is a trap that's especially dangerous for singles. When things go wrong, we pessimistically hope that God will be at least adequate enough to help us. What a sorry level of faith for Christians!
Phillips begins his study by telling us who God is not: a resident policeman, a weak parent, a grand old man, a meek-and-mild being, a heavenly bosom to hide in, a compliant God-in-a-box, a disappointment, among others. No doubt you'll find some of your own misbeliefs here; I know I did.
In the second half of the book, Phillips lays out constructive ways to view God.
You probably won't expect what Phillips delivers in Your God is Too Small. He answers some of the most perplexing questions of human existence, with answers so logical and profound that you'll be in awe.
If we Christians are going to have any power at all in our lives, we need to form an accurate, truthful picture of God. This book will help you do just that.
Benefits you'll receive by reading Your God is Too Small: