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.
Iâ€™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. Thatâ€™s because Iâ€™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 Lindseyâ€™s â€œThe Late Great Planet Earthâ€ (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 weâ€™d be lucky to live to see our 30th birthday. Not because of Christâ€™s second coming (although we did expect it soon), but because if we didnâ€™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 â€œThe Spirit of Christâ€ (Bethany House, 1979) and â€œWith Christ in the School of Prayerâ€ (Revell, 1953). â€œThe Spirit of Christâ€ is one of his classic works on the relationship between the believer and the Holy Spirit. The dust cover of â€œWith Christ in the School of Prayerâ€ says, â€œHere are Christâ€™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.â€ 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, â€œI fear that we shall never see another Tozer. Men like him are not college-bred but Spirit-taught.â€ â€œThe Pursuit of Godâ€ and â€œThe Knowledge of the Holyâ€ are great works.
- One of the first book studies I ever did was on Job and J. Allen Blairâ€™s â€œLiving Patientlyâ€ (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 â€œStudies in the Sermon on the Mountâ€ (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 â€œJoy Unspeakableâ€ (Shaw, 1984) about the power and renewal in the Holy Spirit is also well worn.
- Ron Sider’s â€œRich Christians in an Age of Hungerâ€ (Word, 1977) and Tom Sineâ€™s â€œThe Mustard Seed Conspiracyâ€ (Word, 1981) greatly influence my perspective on a Christian life that is not a life of greed and acquisitiveness.
- Howard Snyderâ€™s â€œThe Problem of Wine Skins: Church Structure in a Technological Ageâ€ (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, â€œ[It] exposes the dimensions of this drift and calls the churches back to love, power and simplicity.â€ And you thought all that stuff the emerging church talks about was new.
- â€œThe Independent Scholarâ€™s Handbookâ€ (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, Iâ€™ll never to be the same again, weekend that was. Henry taught what would be refined and published later as â€œExperiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of Godâ€ (Lifeway Press, 1990) which has sold over 3,000,000 copies. When I read his â€œHearing Godâ€™s Voiceâ€ (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 Cymbalaâ€™s â€œFresh Wind, Fresh Fireâ€ (Zondervan, 1997) a few years back. It was subtitled, what happens when Godâ€™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 donâ€™t chase that rabbit.