The missionary adventures of the Stimpson family

Five Books That’ll Change Your Life

The other day I was thinking about books that really changed my life, ones that I’d be quick to recommend to others.  I started jotting down a quick list, thinking I could come up with the top four or five or six.  Well, I got twenty so far, and it’s growing.

So I’m going to start a semi-regular post here where I list a new group of “Five Books That’ll Change Your Life” every few weeks or so.  As I post, please comment with your thoughts and your own top recommended books.

1. The Pursuit of God (AW Tozer)
Written in 1948, this is one of those classics that will never get old.  If you want more passion for God, you can’t go wrong with Tozer.  It’s a small book, but read it slow, letting each line sink in.

Go get the book.  It’ll change your life.  But in case you’re still not convinced, here’s some quotes to whet your appetite:
– “The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.”
– “We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”
-“Always, everywhere God is present, and always He seeks to discover Himself to each one”

Buy the book – Buy the audiobook – Print the PDF

2. The Rise of Christianity (Rodney Stark)
Adiel, pastor of Missio Dei Church, loaned this book to me, and I loved it so much I had to include it in the first of these lists.  The book’s subtitle is “How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries,” and that pretty much sums it up.  This is a very readable  but scholarly secular sociological look at how Christianity came to dominate the Roman Empire while similar movements died out in a few years.  Stark includes lots of historical writings and first-hand accounts to back up the theory, and his descriptions of life in the 1st century are phenomenal.  This book is interesting from a historical perspective, but it’s also really encouraging in the fact that if Christianity could “beat the odds” back then, it ought to be able to do the same today.

Buy the book

3. The Cross and the Switchblade (David Wilkerson)
I love biographies, but sometimes you can get overwhelmed by the larger-than-life characters and events they portray, to the point where you walk away thinking, “I’m not that amazing.  I could never do that for God.”  This book is different.  You’ll leave feeling like if God could use David Wilkerson to reach gangs in New York City and found Teen Challenge, He could use you to do anything.  This book is the story of how God took a simple country pastor into the most dangerous area of 1950s New York City and then began changing hearts and healing lives, one after another, all through simple acts of love and obedience to Jesus.  It’s co-written by journalists John and Elizabeth Sherrill, so in addition to being a really good story it’s very well-written and you’ll have a hard time putting it down once you pick it up.

Buy the book – Buy the audiobook – Buy it for Kindle

4. No Compromise (Melody Green)
Not everyone reading this has heard of Keith Green, but this biography written by his wife is well worth reading whether you know about “flaming manna souffle” or not.  Keith Green was one of the most influential Christian musicians of all time, but this book is really very little about that.  If you read this book, you’ll be challenged to live your life radically for God, following Him with everything you have.  From opening his home to hippie dropouts and single moms, to standing up at a concert and scolding everyone for worshiping him more than Jesus, to helping launch a missions movement, Keith’s story will inspire you to use what God’s given you to change the world.  And like the above book, it’s extremely well-written, so get ready for lots of late nights in bed reading until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore.

Buy the book – Buy it for Kindle

5. When Heaven Invades Earth (Bill Johnson)
This is the Charismatic, Holy Spirit power, change the world, Kingdom of God book in the list.  The subtitle is “A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles,” and while there are other books about the topic out there, Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, does a great job of demystifying everything and making it all really practical and down-to-earth.  Well, at least for you right-brainers out there.  It can feel a little scattered at points.  The concept is that miracles should be the norm for Christians, because we serve a miraculous God, and the book is filled with testimonies of what God has been doing in their ministry through regular people like you and me.  This book challenged my thinking and built up my faith to expect miracles every day, because we serve a God who makes it his business to defy our puny brains.

Buy the book – Buy the audiobook

Alright, boys and girls, that’s it for this first installment of books that’ll change your life.  More to come soon.

Now get reading!  🙂

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4 responses

  1. HUGE Keith Green fan. Read No Compromise in Jr. High and it still sits on my shelf. Very challenging and convicting, particularly when you are familiar with his music and passion. Glad to see that on your list!

    November 24, 2012 at 12:04 am

  2. Pingback: “Five Books” by Jessie « It Doesn't Matter Where

  3. Deb

    Rodney Stark has also written The Triumph of Christianity. It was named Book of the Year by World magazine. It’s on my wish list. Great list, Jake!

    December 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm

  4. Pingback: Five Books That’ll Change Your Life, Pt. 2 « It Doesn't Matter Where

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