Hi All, My basic question is whether I can get some suggestions for books to help a friend get his relationship with God back on track. I suspect he needs solid books on suffering, but I'm open to other suggestions. There are a LOT of specifics I'll go through below that affect which books might be most helpful to him. I have a friend who has been serving an extended sentence for a serious crime of which he is guilty. I was close friends with him between about twelve through fifteen years ago and am very grateful for his friendship and significant help when I knew him. He and his family were exemplary members of my church, we memorized scripture and prayed together, and I spent a great deal of time with him. I was stunned to learn he did what he did. I've felt a burden to correspond with him and do what I can to support him. Virtually all of his Christian friends abandoned him. He is imprisoned more than 1000 miles away, and quite far from even small airports, so visits aren't an option. But, I have written him monthly for the past two years. He is struggling with severe spiritual depression. He is realizing that he will likely spend the rest of his life, or, at best, the vast majority of his remaining life is a rather small, depressing, isolated prison. His family has a 25 year no-contact order in place, so he’s essentially lost everything. Yes, he admits guilt for the crime he is serving time for, although he believes the punishment was overly harsh in his case. (By the standards of Levitical law, he got off easy.) He is now about two years into his sentence. His depression really kicked in about 9 months ago. He has basically tried to cut ties with all Christian friends and is no longer attending prison chapel services. I don’t know as much as I’d like, but the reason he briefly gave is that he has such serious doubts and questions he doesn’t want to hurt the faith of other believers. My instinct is he probably believes this, but it may be an excuse in his mind. His doubts are about God’s goodness. He has decided all the Bible’s promises of blessing must ONLY apply to the next life, and not to this one. He (perhaps realistically) sees no hope for reconciliation with his family or for release. He seems to be sincerely worried that bringing his questions to other Christians will cause them to stumble in their faith. One thing he said is “What good is it to do anything spiritually if I’m already saved and if it will make no difference in the next fifty years of my life?” It’s easy for me, with a great job, wonderful family, and decent-sized book collection to relax in a comfortable chair with a nice red wine and write to him about how God’s goodness includes this life as well, and that knowing God more richly, loving Christ more dearly, and becoming more Christ-like in spite of difficult external circumstances is goodness and mercy from God. I would like to think I could still believe that were our circumstances reversed, but I’ve never faced anything like what my friend is facing. A bit more information. Is my friend a Christian? I honestly don’t know. He believes himself to be a Christian. He takes his faith quite seriously – he’s read through the bible many times since his incarceration. His sin isn’t (quite) as bad as David’s, and genuine Christians aren’t immune from falling into grievous sin. But it is hardly a good sign either. His response to his situation has been more consistent with someone who is intellectually Christian in what he believes to be true, but lacks the New Birth and an authentic relationship with Christ. Of course, genuine Christians aren’t immune from depression and extended periods of doubt. He comes from a pretty typical Baptist tradition that considers itself moderately Calvinistic, which means quite Arminian except for eternal security. I came from a very similar overall background, and now see it as a theology designed to convince unbelievers they are saved since they said a prayer, walked an aisle, intellectually accept a set of beliefs, and no longer need the gospel (since that got them in the door) but get to move on to bigger and better things. He’s extremely Bible literate although he understands relatively little of reformed theology. There are certainly some major theological issues he would benefit from understanding better. However, I do not believe that is the right place to start. My instinct is to get him a solid book or two on suffering. I just bought him Martin Lloyd-Jones book “Spiritual Depression” for Christmas (I knew much less of his specific struggles when I ordered it in Nov.). I have not yet read it myself, but will when I get a chance. I don’t want to just spout theology at him. I could easily correct him from scripture, and have some with an attempt to be gentle and do more listening. At the end of the day, he needs to see Christ as a treasure that, were he to see, he would gladly exchange all he had to obtain. Theology won’t do that for him unless he sees what the theology is describing. I also don’t want to push reformed theology specifically at this point. (While, technically, I do want to, but I don’t think it would be wise.) He’d probably read a reformed author, but I don’t think he would read or at least take seriously a book specifically on reformed theology. The tradition he comes from is highly suspicious of it. (Amillennialism is about as liberal as theology can get, unless one starts talking about sprinkling babies.) Anyway, I do apologize for making this post so long. However, I really want to help my friend, and his situation seems precarious. I still can’t see how to shorten it without removing information you would need to understand it. I have seen so much wisdom and insight here that hopefully you can help me with identifying better books than I could on my own. Other advice and (more importantly) prayer would also be appreciated.