In the same vein as previous “Five Books” posts we’ve done, I want to give you another list of five books that’ll change your life. These aren’t necessarily my “Five Top Books” or anything like that, just five books that, if you read them and let God speak to you in them, you’ll walk away different.
1. Jesus the Messiah (Robert H. Stein)
I loved this book, a solidly evangelical, yet authoritatively historical, look at the life of Jesus from birth to resurrection, with plenty of opposing views so you can think for yourself. Read it and you’ll walk away with a bigger view of Jesus.
“In the ministry of Jesus, a unique understanding of God’s grace and love is given. Now it is seen as never before what it means to love outcasts, sinners, and enemies.”
“One cannot read the Gospel accounts without the question arising, ‘Who is this man who is master of nature, disease, and even death?’ In Jesus’ actions, people saw a bold claim to a unique authority.”
2. Erasing Hell (Francis Chan)
At one point in this book, Chan writes, “It has taken me forty-three years to finally confess that I have been embarrassed by some of God’s actions. In my arrogance, I believed I could make Him more attractive or palatable if I covered up some of His actions… I am just now seeing the ugliness of my actions.”
To say I loved this book would sound odd given the subject matter, but I really needed it when I read it. Rather than trying to scare readers with fanciful images of Hell, Chan simply assumes that if God put it in the Bible, we need to believe it, regardless of our feelings. So he looks at the Biblical truth in its context, one Scripture at a time, and that, I think, is scarier than any turn-or-burn sensationalism.
3. Living By The Book (Howard Hendricks)
I read this book when I had been a Christian for maybe 6 months. I didn’t know anything about God, so I decided to take some classes at my church’s Bible college. One of the classes used this book to teach how to read and study the Bible, and, man, it changed my life!
Oh, I love this book! Read it, use it, do the exercises, learn the concepts, and you’ll get way more out of your Bible than you have in the past. You’ll fall in love with the Bible as you notice new things, you’ll uncover the God who wants to speak to you through His word, you’ll find yourself spending hours reading and studying and poring through the Scriptures. Don’t be content with just reading the Bible on a surface level. Get in deep and let it change you.
Thirteen years later, I still remember the first time I heard God speak to my heart, while reading this book, and it completely changed how I approached Him. God is speaking all the time, He’s always ready to talk to His children. If we can’t hear Him, usually it’s because we’re not listening or we’re listening distractedly, not because He’s not speaking.
Unlike some books on hearing God’s voice, this one doesn’t get too flaky but consistently comes back to the Scriptures on everything. It’s not perfect, but I don’t know of a better book on hearing God speak.
5. To Train Up A Child (Michael and Debi Pearl)
We don’t have perfect kids (just spend more time at our house to see the evidence), but a lot of people have commented on our kids being well-behaved, and I want everyone to know they can have good kids too. Our kids aren’t magical little unicorns stuffed with jelly beans, flowers, and rainbows. They’re real kids just like yours, and, just like yours, they need constant training and encouragement to not resort to a brutal Reign of Terror. Seriously, let me be blunt – there’s a lot of crap parenting books out there that do more harm than good, filled with pseudo-Biblical philosophies and psycho-analyses written by terrible parents with bratty kids. This book is short, easy to read, full of Scriptures, stories, and practical advice on raising kids that bring peace and joy into your home, like God intended.
So that’s five more for you. Read a few and let Jesus change your life.
To continue the “Five Books That’ll Change Your Life” series I started back here, and that Jessie continued here, this is part 2 of my list of books that you really need to read because, like the title of the post says, they’ll change your life.
1. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (Timothy Keller)
Aaah, I love this short, simple book so much. Whether you’re religious, irreligious, sacrilegious, or some combination of all those, this book has a message for you. I borrowed this from Adiel, pastor of Missio Dei Church, and I read it so much, spent so much time in it, and took it so many places, that when I returned it to him, it looked like it’d gone through a war. I destroyed his copy through love.
Keller takes a look at the familiar parable of the prodigal son, but the book is more a message about the reckless, free, and overwhelming love of the father, in contrast to the harsh criticism of the older brother and the careless selfishness of the younger.
2. Like a Mighty Wind (Mel Tari)
Michael Fisher, my pastor at Cornerstone Church, has recommended a lot of good books to me over the years, but this is one of my all-time favorites. It’s the story of revival coming to the small Indonesian island of Timor. It’s pretty poorly written (I gotta be honest about it), but this book will change your life as you read about what God will do with a group of people who, as Mel Tari puts it, were “stupid enough to believe the Bible and do what it says.” The dead are dramatically raised to life, whole cities come to Jesus, people walk on water, God multiplies food – yeah, it’s a good read. Mel Tari writes, “When we believe the Bible as it is, we will see the power of God move in our lives and in our community as it did centuries ago in Bible times.” Read this book. It’ll change your life.
3. God’s Smuggler (Brother Andrew)
Written by Brother Andrew but co-authored by John and Elizabeth Sherrill, this is one of most well-written and captivating Christian biographies I’ve ever read. John and Elizabeth Sherrill are exceptional writers, so anything they help with is usually worth reading. This book is the true life story of Brother Andrew, a young Dutch man who used to sneak behind the Iron Curtain to smuggle Bibles into the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Risking his life time and again, the book reads like a Christian spy novel. Only instead of beating up the bad guys, God blinds their eyes, causes them to look the other way, or turns them into good guys. I still remember reading this book for the first time 12 years ago – it was so good I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a couple days of edge-of-your-seat reading.
4. Jesus Culture (Banning Liebscher)
Like their music? Read the book. The subtitle for this book is “Living a Life That Transforms the World.” Banning Liebscher, leader of the Jesus Culture ministry, isn’t just trying to build a nice worship team – he wants to see a generation of young people transforming the world with the love and power of Jesus Christ, not just one or two exceptional men or women of God, but a generation of people who live, talk, and act just like Jesus. And I like that idea a lot.
What the book says about itself: “A new breed of revivalist is arising to answer the cry of God’s heart. These blazing hearts are calling cities and nations back to the Lord, and challenging societies to be transformed by the power and love of God.”
5. Revolution in World Missions (K. P. Yohannan)
The basic premise of this book is one that’s really close to home for me. Yohannan writes as a native Indian Christian who boldly confronts the failures and sins of modern Western (mostly American) missionaries in his nation. Some of the stories of how missionaries came to his culture only to make more problems than they solved will make you sick, especially compared to the way he describes self-sacrificing native Indian missionaries who have been reaching their own countrymen by the thousands. Yohannan comes down a little hard on anybody ever moving to a foreign country as a missionary when there’s already an established church, but it’s a good, challenging read, especially if you have any thoughts about ever becoming a missionary in a different culture. This book will check your heart so you can do it right.
Now get outta here and read a book already!
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂