My Life In Books, Vol. 3

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Welcome to the third and final installment of “Top Ten Most Influential Books” in my life. If you’re just joining me, you can catch up by reading Volume 1 and Volume 2 first. The list continues with…

book - name of jesus7. In The Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen Highly-educated Catholic priest Nouwen shares “Reflections on Christian Leadership”: Lessons learned as he left his Ivy League post to live and serve among a community for mentally handicapped people. Based on the three-part temptation of Jesus, he cautions us to guard against the temptation to be relevant, spectacular, and powerful. His blueprint for “success”, featuring humility and authenticity, completely shaped my own definition of true spiritual leadership. Also the first time I read it I remember thinking, “This would be a great book for mothers to read.”

Takeaway: As a leader I must constantly fight the desire to base my self-worth on how many people like me, what title I hold, or the apparent breadth of my influence. The real, the only, relevant question is: “Do I love Jesus?”

book - intimacy8. Intimacy With The Almighty by Charles Swindoll Workaholism in a missionary can look really spiritual: “Oh, they’re so devoted to the Lord!” But as I learned, when I am too busy serving God to spend time with Him, something is horribly wrong. After a decade in full-time ministry, this tiny book brought me back to Square One: Be still and know that I am God. My favorite quote in the book, from 20th century Quaker Thomas Kelly, which is plastered in front of my desk: “[God] never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness.”

Takeaway: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

book - heaven9. Heaven by Randy Alcorn I love thinking about heaven. And I thought I knew a good bit about what the Bible says about it. But Alcorn’s systematic theology of heaven, based on over 20 years of research, totally blew me away. His writing style is very basic. But the concepts he writes about really hurt my brain, in a good way. One of my favorite precepts: the continuity between earth and heaven being much stronger than I previously thought. I also love that a good portion of the book simply answers common questions like, “Will our pets be in heaven?”

(I must add here that Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle was also very influential in my life. I highly recommend it…consider it #9.5 on my list!)

Takeaway: I never thought a book about the next life could make me even more passionate about this one. But it did. This whole list began with a recent discovery of Richard Stearn’s wonderful book The Hole In Our Gospel, which takes its place at #10 on my list. Click here to read my thoughts on it. Which books most influenced your life?

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