Books That Have Made a Difference

Books. Fifty thousand new ones are published every year, but few sell more than a couple hundred copies and fewer yet impact the life of the reader in any meaningful way. But, once in a while a book comes along that God uses in a profound way to mold us and change us.

I’ve often thought it would be interesting to start of list of those books which have made that type of difference in my spiritual pilgrimage. Not just any book mind you, but the few that dramatically changed my understanding and direction in life. Those that God used to make me who I am today. A start on that list is below.

What this list is not is a recommendation that you read them so you to can have a deep transforming experience with God. Its not likely to happen because my context is different than yours. You will note also that many of the titles are old. That’s because I’m old and my spiritual formational time was during the 70s and 80s. Still, there are some real classics in the list. Here goes.

  • Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (Zondervan, 1970). This might seem like an odd book to lead off the list, but you have to know the context of the late 60s and early 70s. It was a pessimistic time when most of us thought we’d be lucky to live to see our 30th birthday. Not because of Christ’s second coming (although we did expect it soon), but because if we didn’t died in Vietnam, then surely a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR would end life pretty much as we knew it. It was also a time of a great movement the Spirit through my generation that we now call the Jesus Movement. Personally, God used this book to stir-up and rekindle in me a desire for him which had been dormant for many years. It started the journey and just goes to show you that God can use bad theology and strange ideas.
  • Anything by Andrew Murray, particularly “The Spirit of Christ” (Bethany House, 1979) and “With Christ in the School of Prayer” (Revell, 1953). “The Spirit of Christ” is one of his classic works on the relationship between the believer and the Holy Spirit. The dust cover of “With Christ in the School of Prayer” says, “Here are Christ’s teachings on the secret of believing in prayer, the certainty of answered prayer, the power of prevailing prayer, and the chief end of prayer.” It truly does. My copy is dated 1953 and cost $1.50 at the used book store.
  • Anything by A.W. Tozer. Leonard Ravenhill said of Tozer, “I fear that we shall never see another Tozer. Men like him are not college-bred but Spirit-taught.” “The Pursuit of God” and “The Knowledge of the Holy” are great works.
  • One of the first book studies I ever did was on Job and J. Allen Blair’s “Living Patiently” (Loizeaux Brothers, 1966) was my guide. It is not a theological book, but a devotional study and helped me learn a lot about the importance of a patient, trusting relationship with a God who cares.
  • Man do I love D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount” (Eerdmans, 1977). What he unfolded for me in those pages was both deeply stirring and enriching and strongly taught that life is a journey and a pilgrimage of dependence on God. My copy of his “Joy Unspeakable” (Shaw, 1984) about the power and renewal in the Holy Spirit is also well worn.
  • Ron Sider’s “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” (Word, 1977) and Tom Sine’s “The Mustard Seed Conspiracy” (Word, 1981) greatly influence my perspective on a Christian life that is not a life of greed and acquisitiveness.
  • Howard Snyder’s “The Problem of Wine Skins: Church Structure in a Technological Age” (Inter-Varsity, 1975) is a noteworthy 1975 book that deals with how evangelical churches have drifted away from the biblical pattern and the drift has been towards lifelessness and ineffectiveness. Ray Stedman said of this book, “[It] exposes the dimensions of this drift and calls the churches back to love, power and simplicity.” And you thought all that stuff the emerging church talks about was new.
  • “The Independent Scholar’s Handbook” (Addison-Wesley, 1983) by Ronald Gross was the required text for a college marketing class I took in the early 80s. It taught me a very powerful lesson on how to turn an interest in any subject into expertise and how to make that expertise available to others. Life changing and taught me a lot about intentionality.
  • Back in the early or mid 80s when Henry Blackaby was still a pastor and missionary in British Columbia, our church invited him to conduct a weekend long teaching time for the leadership. What a profound, I’ll never to be the same again, weekend that was. Henry taught what would be refined and published later as “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” (Lifeway Press, 1990) which has sold over 3,000,000 copies. When I read his “Hearing God’s Voice” (Broadman & Holman, 2002) a couple of years back, it was like I was transported back to that weekend. Good, good stuff.
  • My spirit just burned within me as I read Jim Cymbala’s “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” (Zondervan, 1997) a few years back. It was subtitled, what happens when God’s spirit invades the hearts of his people. It really brought me back to the necessity for a complete and absolute dependence on God in all we do.

I’d sure be interested in hearing about a book that impacted your life and how.

P.S. Yes, the bible is THE BOOK, but that is not what were talking about here, so please don’t chase that rabbit.

13 Responses to “Books That Have Made a Difference”

  1. Adam G. says:

    Thanks for sharing your list. I need to revise mine, but I made one back in July:

    Here is the link to the list.

    Also, I keep a list at the bottom of my blog (scroll all the way down). It’s subject to revision. And yes, the Bible is the first on the list. Version matters to me somewhat.

    The book that most impacted my life in 2006 was Mere Christianity. It’s the major reason I still consider myself a Christian today.

  2. Rick Meigs says:

    Great list Adam. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Erika Haub says:

    My list would have to include: Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and “The Great Divorce”; Nouwen’s “The Return of the Prodigal” and “Gracias”; Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship”; Brueggemann’s “The Prophetic Imagination”; all of Eugene Peterson’s books; “Beyond Charity” by John Perkins; “Why We Can’t Wait” by MLK Jr.; “If” by Amy Carmichael; “How to Believe Again” by Helmut Thielicke…okay, I could go on but I will stop :)

  4. Rick Meigs says:

    Erika: I know what you mean about going on and on. I could have added more titles, but you have to stop someplace. I reading Eugene Peterson’s “Eat This Book” which I think is my first for him. A very good read.

  5. Books that have completely changed my perspectives –
    Committed Communities – Charles Mellis
    A New Kind of Christian – Brian McLaren
    Colossians Remixed – Walsh and Keesmaat

  6. Rick Meigs says:

    “Committed Communities” sure sounds appealing. I’ll have to look into it.

  7. John Lunt says:

    I don’t guess I have a top ten list but ones that have had a major impact on me would be

    Communities of Kindness by Steve Sjogren
    The Final Quest by Rick Joyner
    Organic Church Neil Cole
    Irresistable Revolution Shane Claiborne

  8. Rick Meigs says:

    I’ve not read any Joyner in a while. Organic Church was good and, at least from the title, “Communities of Kindness” sounds appealing.

    We will be out on the streets tomorrow with lots of stuff. Its clear, but cold here. We have a bunch of thermal underwear, socks, gloves, and blankets to give away — plus a hot meal. The thermal underwear was given to us by the local Air National Guard unit.

  9. Jennifer says:

    The New English Bible (not that the version matters to the ultimate meaning, but this one gave me the sense of reading something everyday, in the best possible way.)
    Shadow of the Almighty – Elisabeth Elliot
    The Pursuit of God – A W Tozer
    The Shadow of an Agony – Oswald Chambers
    The Highest Godd – Oswald Chambers
    Second Mile People – Isobel Kuhn
    Daring to Draw Near – John White
    Bone of His Bone – F J Huegel
    God Holds the Key – Geoffrey Bull
    Chronicles of Narnia – C S Lewis

  10. Colin says:

    A few books that have impacted my life:

    An Arrow Pointing to Heaven — James Bryan Smith (Biographical Devotional on the life of Rich Mullins)
    Why Revival Tarries — Leonard Ravenhill
    Studies in the Sermon on the Mount — D. Martin Lloyd Jones
    Here I Stand — Roland Bainton (Biography on Life of Martin Luther)
    Loving God — Charles Colson
    The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience — Ronald Sider
    Don’t Waste Your Life — John Piper
    The Confessions of St. Augustine — Augustine
    Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free — F.F. Bruce
    A Theology of the New Testament — George Eldon Ladd

  11. Rick Meigs says:

    Thanks Jennifer and Colin. Some great reading here!

  12. John Lunt says:

    Hey Rick

    Give us a report what happens on the streets will you?



  13. Rick Meigs says:

    Can do John. I’ll try to have it up on Tuesday.