Last month I reviewed Richard Stearns’ excellent book The Hole In Our Gospel. In that post I mentioned it was one of a handful of books that had so radically re-shaped my worldview that it actually changed the trajectory of my life.
As I sat down to write a post about that “handful”, I realized my list of significant books more closely resembled a couple of handfuls! As a matter of fact, if you include Stearns’ book the list would be a Top Ten.
So I’ve created a list, sorted chronologically: not necessarily by when the books were published, but in the order I read them. I’ll start in this post with the first three of my Top Ten Most Influential Books:
1. Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell
I grew up in a largely secular environment. When I started investigating the claims of Jesus Christ my senior year in high school, I wasn’t interested in becoming part of some pie-in-the-sky religion; I needed to know my beliefs lined up with logic and reason. Although a number of more current “defense of the faiths” have been written since 1986 (when I first read Evidence), this set of books became indispensible to me as I sorted out my new faith and answered the questions of my still-skeptical friends and family.
Takeaway: Everything always comes back to the cross: The tomb is still empty.
2. Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot
If I had known Jim Elliot in real life, I don’t know that I would have liked him all that much. But when I read his biography my senior year in college, his uncompromising focus and clear perspective inspired me. And since I had decided to become a missionary upon graduation from college—to the great disappointment and frustration of many who loved me—I needed inspiration.
Takeaway: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
3. Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
So simple, yet so profound: Theology Proper you can take with you.* The subtitle of Bridges’ book is “Even When Life Hurts”. He warns this book is best read when not in the middle of a crisis. I agree. But I am so grateful I tucked away the lessons learned here during a calm season, so I could pull them out when the storms hit.
Takeaway: God is trustworthy because He is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving. He orders everything for His glory AND our good—never one at the exclusion of the other.
Coming up next in Vol.2…Allegory, ministry philosophy, and a bit of wacky theology!
*You will note that all the books on my list are easily accessible to laymen. Although I can appreciate Lewis and Packer, or even Edwards and Chesterton if I really strain my brain, the books that have impacted me the most are all relatively entry-level.