One of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Bessey, did a series a few weeks ago called 10 Book Week, in which she spent a whole week sharing her favorite books. She wrote one post about the 10 books that changed her faith and I thought, “what a fun idea!” So today, I’m stealing her brilliant idea and sharing not necessarily my most favorite faith books, but rather, the ones that have challenged, shaped, and inspired my faith.
(In alphabetical order by Author’s last name)
1. Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
I love Rob Bell’s writing style; understandable, creative, and deep all at the same time. Velvet Elvis came into my life at a time when I had just left the safe haven of my Christian College after the safe haven of my Christian upbringing. This book came when I was evaluating rules vs. theology. The chapter about being covered in the dust of my Rabbi still echoes in my soul. That chapter sparked my favorite youth group lesson series that Adam taught, so it has sentimental value, as well (Koinonia, you remember that, right?).
Read all of Movement 5: Dust, that whole chapter is my favorite.
2. If – Amy Carmichael
This tiny little book will kick your spiritual behind. If you don’t know Amy Carmichael, you should read her biography written by none other than Elisabeth Elliot (See #4). She was a missionary in India whose life was a journey of dying to self. ‘If’ is a little book that questions our understanding of Christ’s love.
“If monotony tires me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
3. A Tale of 3 Kings – Gene Edwards
My youth pastor had me read this book in high school. At the time, I thought it an odd choice for high schoolers. It’s an allegory about Saul, David, and Absalom. It’s a story about brokenness, submission, and leadership. It has come back to me in floods when I am in a leadership role and when I am in a subordinate role.
Just go ahead and read the whole book. It’s a quick read.
4. Shadow of the Almighty – Elisabeth Elliott
My parents have always had a heart for international missions, so I grew up on stories of missionaries. I had been told the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliott many times as a child, but I didn’t read Shadow of the Almighty, Jim’s biography, until last spring, when Adam and I took 40 days to pray and seek God about a big risky career change. This story of devotion and ultimate sacrifice was the nudge I needed to say yes to Adam coming on staff as a full time missionary with Global Support Mission.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
5. In His Presence – EW Kenyon
My copy of this book is well-read and well-underlined. It’s an urge to pray, to read, and to believe. It’s a faith-stirrer.
“Prayers should be as natural as breathing and as enjoyable as eating. Prayer should be as unconscious as our communication with each other.”
6. Theirs is the Kingdom – Robert Lupton
This book was one of the first books I read on God’s call to His people to care for the poor. I read this book during the internship that changed my life in 2002, and it sits as an Ebenezer on my bookshelf; a reminder of my calling as a Christ-follower and as a Social Worker to care intentionally for the poor – particularly the urban poor. All of his books are stellar, but this one was monumental.
“I cannot fully care for one who is suffering without entering into his pain. The sick must be touched if they are to be healed. The weak must be nourished, the wounded embraced. Care is the bigger part of the cure. Yet I fear contagion. I fear my life will get out of control, and I will be overwhelmed by the urgent need of others. I fear for my family. I resist the Christ who beckons His followers to lay down their lives for each other… The implications of entering this world of suffering as a “Christ-one” as yeast absorbed into the loaf of human need, are as terrifying as death itself. Yet this is the only way to life. The question is, will I choose life?”
7. Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
We have loaned out this book more than any other book on our shelf. In fact, it’s not pictured above because we loaned it to someone and it never came back. This book came into my life at the cusp of adulthood, around the time when I read Velvet Elvis. It came into my life when I moved from the East Coast/South to the West
Coast. I needed this book to understand my new culture and to understand how to engage in faith discussions with people who had been raised with a different worldview. I also needed this book to remind me that things are more often gray than black and white.
I can’t pick a quote, just read it, and then reread it, and then loan it out to everyone.
8. Radical – David Platt
This book has sparked some of my favorite conversations with my friends. It has inspired friends to adopt, to travel, to give sacrificially. It has provided a common language for me to express some of my deepest passions, and I’m thankful for that.
“In our quest for the extraordinary, we often overlook the importance of the ordinary and I’m proposing that a radical lifestyle actually begins with an extraordinary commitment to ordinary practices that have marked Christians who have affected the world throughout history.”
9. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger – Ron Sider
This book has been my textbook for learning about God’s heart for the poor, and His clear call for His followers to care for them; sacrificially, radically, and intentionally. Care for the marginalized isn’t a common sermon topic, but it’s a consistent message throughout Scripture. This book gives incredible Biblical foundation for this, as well as gives practical solutions for how to do this.
“In an age of hunger, Christians of necessity must be radical nonconformists. But nonconformity is painful. Only if we are thoroughly grounded in the scriptural view of possessions, wealth, and poverty, will we be capable of living an obedient lifestyle.”
10. Serve God Save the Planet – David Sleeth
This book is a beautiful read on consumerism, gratitude, mindfulness, and simplicity. It’s a practical and biblical view of stewardship, not just of the earth, but of resources. It rocked my world and shaped my everyday behavior.
“Comparing myself to my neighbor is useful, but to which neighbor?”
Your turn! What are the 10 books that have most influenced or changed your faith?