Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. — Romans 15:4
“It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. ” — John Wesley
Have you ever seen the comic strip Peanuts where Snoopy begins typing (on top of his doghouse) with the words “It was a dark and stormy night”?
Well, it was a dark and stormy night—just days before Christmas, 2009—and my husband and I were meeting with some Guard members getting ready to deploy. The threatening weather only intensified the solemn mood there at the hotel where three hundred service members were getting organized in order to leave.
But several in the group had answered the call to be “lay leaders” in their unit, and the chaplain had invited us to share some resources for use in their ministry. One-by-one we went through devotionals, books and Bible studies together answering questions as to relevance and use. At the end of our limited time, these Individual Augmentees (IA) asked us to type up a list of what we had looked through and discussed that night. Since then we have been asked to reproduce this list, which is by no means exhaustive, to assist anyone looking for good reading material that will help them thrive during deployments:
Bennett, Arthur, editor, Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975-2005) Note: A real favorite of many—a book to be treasured for its contemplative beauty (and power!).
Chambers, Oswald, My Utmost for His Highest (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993) Note: We are hearing more and more that troops are coming back to this “classic” for their devotional study.
Cook, Jane Hampton, Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith & Courage from The Revolutionary War (Chattanooga: Living Ink Books, 2007) Note: If you like history, you will appreciate this chronological walk through the events of the Revolutionary War.
Cook, Jane Hampton, and Jocelyn Green, and John Croushorn, Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith & Courage from The War in Iraq & Afghanistan (Chattanooga: God & Country Press, 2009) Note: These stories are current—see how God is moving throughout the locations of the global war on terror.
Excellent or Praiseworthy, online devotional for couples experiencing deployment posted Monday and Thursday nights by Military Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, https://excellentorpraiseworthy.org. Note: We highly recommend this devotional website for couples, and for singles. There are four categories of devotionals: Prayer, Lessons from History, Spiritual Training, and Marriage & Family. Twice a week a couple can read and “discuss” these postings so that they stay connected spiritually during deployment.
Green, Jocelyn, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008) Note: Good small book to help provide “hope on the home front.” And as of July, 2011, there is Faith Deployed. . . .Again. Check these out–both books provide great devotional material which is relevant to the conditions in today’s military life!
Guthrie, Nancy, The One Year Book of Hope (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005) Note: This is my own personal all-time favorite devotional for all seasons of life. The author covers personal experience, doctrine, and encouragement.
Pace, Brenda, and Carol McGlothlin, The One Year Yellow Ribbon Devotional (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008) Note: The authors have much experience in writing about the military experience and can really encourage all Americans to support our troops.
Rusten, E. Michael & Sharon, The One Year Christian History (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003) Note: This is an all-time favorite of ours!
Spivey, Larkin, Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith & Courage from World War II (Chattanooga: God & Country Press, 2009) Note: These stories and their connection to a spiritual lesson are powerful!
Tuley, Terry, Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith & Courage from The Civil War (Chattanooga: Living Ink Books, 2006) Note: The author has chosen letters from the Civil War to tell the stories of faith during this national time of crisis.
Abel, Brig Gen Dick, The DNA of Leadership (Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing, 2008) Note: General Abel has much experience in leadership and conveys his experience, and love for the Lord, in this new book.
Carroll, Andrew, Grace Under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2007) Note: These entries are from Carroll’s larger collection of War Letters, and specifically concern spiritual matters and how they are addressed during wartime.
Chapman, Gary, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1992) Note: A classic! The five love languages of quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch are clearly explained so that anyone can improve their relationships with this new understanding.
Eggerichs, Dr. Emerson, Love & Respect (Nashville: Integrity Publishers, 2004) Note: This book will open your eyes to many of the situations we all experience in marriage—and will teach you what God has to say to men and women about their need for love and respect.
Farrar, Steve, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 1990) Note: This is one of those “men classics” which call men to the place of leadership in their family—even (and especially) when they’re deployed.
Horn, Sara, God Strong: The Military Wife’s Spiritual Survival Guide (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) Note: Anything Sara Horn writes is good, but this book is particularly relevant for spiritual strength in deployment. A must-read!
Juergens, Diana, Wife of a Soldier, a Journey of Faith (Baltimore: Publish America, 2009) Note: The Juergens family is thriving spiritually in the midst of much wartime deployment—and Diana tells us why in this book.
Kay, Ellie, Heroes at Home: Help & Hope for America’s Military Families (Bloomington: Bethany House Publishers, 2002) Note: This is a great book to have and a great book to give to anyone experiencing life in today’s military.
Kenworthy, George, Before the Last Resort (Little Rock: FamilyLife Publishing, 2008) Note: This is a new favorite book of ours on marriage, including dealing with crisis situations. Especially helpful is the appendix entitled “Help Me Help My Friend.”
McCasland, David, Oswald Chambers, Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of “My Utmost for His Highest” (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993) Note: If you enjoy biographies, this one will tell you about Chambers, and especially about his time during World War I when he (chaplain) and his family served the troops stationed in Egypt.
McColl, Denise, Footsteps of the Faithful (Orlando: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1994). Note: A classic—changed my thinking about life in the military and how it can impact the world for Christ.
Morley, Patrick, The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1989) Note: Another “mens classic” which became popular during the time of many PromiseKeepers events.
Neven, Tom, On the Frontline: A Personal Guidebook for the Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Challenges of Military Life (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2006) Note: A good basic book covering much about what we see and love about military life today.
Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF), Thriving Not Just Surviving: Deployment Perspectives for Today’s Military Families (Colorado Springs: OCF, 2008) Note: This is a current compilation from different writers of what it takes to thrive in today’s military environment.
Packer, J.I., Knowing God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1973) Note: A must-read for anyone desiring to grow spiritually.
Weber, Stu, Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart: Bringing Strength Into Balance (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah , 1997) Note: Stu Weber’s (Vietnam Green Beret) heart for spiritual leadership comes through with such clarity in this book.
Weber, Stu, Tender Warrior, (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 2006) Note: Weber is such a great writer to our military audience because of his background in the Army, and his heart for the Lord.
Bibles and Bible Studies:
Our group discussed different favorite translations of the Bible and the abundant value of reading through the Bible when deployed. One service member shared with us that his favorite book to read from the Bible while deployed is Philippians (which he combines with John MacArthur’s sermons on MP3). Others shared the blessing of reading from the Psalms. We also agreed that a couple can greatly benefit from reading The One Year Bible day-by-day (when possible) and discussing what God revealed to them.
Chapman, Gary, and Ramon Presson, Love Talks for Couples: 101 Questions to Stimulate Interaction with Your Spouse (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2002) Note: If you’re ever stumped for questions which can bring about deeper conversations between you and your spouse, look for this handy little flip chart.
Fishback, Beatrice, Loving Your Military Man (Little Rock: FamilyLife Publishing, 2007) Note: This is a great small-group study for ladies—guiding them through the challenges of military life from the spiritual perspective of Philippians 4:8.
Grunseth, Jim & Barbara, Home to Home: Passing on Five Cornerstones of Christian Marriage (Peachtree City: Campus Crusade for Christ New Life Resources, 1996) Note: If you have been looking for a great workbook with which to mentor another couple, this is it! Only six weeks–and the purpose is to multiply mentorship–based on hospitality in your home and study with another couple.
Heald, Jack and Cynthia, Loving Your Wife and Loving Your Husband (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1989) Notes: These two all-time great Bible studies are companion works—a great idea for a couple who wants to work on their marriage while deployed.
Horn, Sara, Tour of Duty: Preparing Our Hearts for Deployment (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2010) Note: This is a great new Bible study for military wives from a great author!
Montgomery, Mike & Linda, and Keith & Sharon Morgan, Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready (Little Rock: FamilyLife Publishing, 2008) Note: We believe this is a one-of-a-kind Bible study for deployment challenges. We would encourage every couple in the military to go through this study.
Swindoll, Charles R., Hand Me Another Brick: Timeless Lessons on Leadership (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) Note: Swindoll’s study on Nehemiah was published years ago, but is so good that it has been re-published in a more modern format. Serving in the military demands leadership skills, and this book hits on every important topic.
At the end of our evening together, in spite of the cold and “wintry mix” outside, our hearts were warmed by the enthusiasm demonstrated by these men and women of God, who are serving their units, their country, and their Lord.
Questions to Share:
1. Personal growth comes when a person is intentional about their walk with the Lord. In what area do you need to grow in your spiritual life—prayer? Bible study? memorization? worship?
2. Think back to those who have influenced you to develop your spiritual disciplines. What was it about them that you would like to see in yourself?