“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” — Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
This month team leaders Elizabeth Fox, Tim Forman, Amy Cook, Richard Shoemaker, Ashlyn Ours, and Daniel Cavanaugh share their favorite page turners. The air is getting crisper and we’re all spending a bit more time indoors, so make up some hot chocolate, start a fire in the fireplace, and inspire yourself with one of these good reads! It’s 15 books guaranteed to change your life!
Desiring God – John Piper
This is not the sort of book you can read in a hurry, so I would take it to Starbucks and digest it a couple chapters at a time on Saturdays, taking time to journal my thoughts as I went. I read it during a time when life was difficult and I didn’t understand what God was doing. God used it to transform my view of Him, deepen my relationship with Him, and draw me to trust rather than respond with bitterness when life didn’t go the way I expected.
The Sacred Romance – John Eldredge
A great follow-up to Desiring God, this book helped make God’s love for me and my relationship with Him more real. It clarified that life is an epic adventure (I’ve always liked adventure!) and my life is a part of God’s story with a point and purpose (painful and mundane moments included) that is exciting and fulfilling.
Radical – David Platt
What stood out to me in reading Radical was that it validated some choices I’ve made to live a very different sort of life in some ways. It’s OK to choose a life that may not include everything the American dream calls desirable, even necessary, if God has called you to a different path out of obedience to Him. This book will challenge your thinking about what is truly important.
Getting Things Done – David Allen
This one is totally practical, but I’m usually trying to accomplish more than is reasonable, so it fits. I’ve read lots of different systems and ideas for increasing productivity. What I like about this one is that it’s super simple, not time-consuming, and very workable, no matter what system you like to use. You can run it through a high tech app on your iPhone or a simple spreadsheet and it’s just as effective either way. Everyone once in a while I have a “getting things done” date with myself at Starbucks and use the concepts in this book to map out my work for the next couple of months.
Gospel – J.D. Greear
I picked this book up because a very godly believer and friend, who has read more books on the Christian life than anyone I know, recommended it to me and said that it ranked in his top five best books he’s ever read. After I read Gospel by J. D. Greear, it became one of my top five best books too.
God used this book to revive my heart in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I came to understand the significance of the gospel being the motivation and reason behind living for Christ. Paul didn’t just say that he was saved by the gospel but that he lived his life “by faith in the Son of God” who loved us and gave Himself for us. Greear is really good: he’s at times quite comical and I can totally identify with his struggles as a believer. The Lord also used this book to help me catch a vision for what He is doing in my life and in His Church. I have a fresh and genuine love for the Lord and for His people. God can use this book to work in your life too—I highly recommend it.
Evidence Not Seen – Darlene Deibler Rose
I recently picked up this book based on a friend’s suggestion and ended up staying up way too late for a couple of nights reading it! Captivating from the beginning, this is the miracle-packed biography of Darlene Deibler Rose and her husband while they served as missionaries in the jungles of New Guinea, followed by Darlene’s four years in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. Never to see her husband again, Darlene endured unspeakable suffering and yet retained a patient faith in the goodness of the Lord despite her circumstances. More than once I’ve found myself inspired to keep going against the odds when I remember Darlene’s example of courage and determination. God worked miracle after miracle throughout her life, even at one point sentenced to execution, and displayed His power through her as His willing vessel. This is a must-read for any missions-minded Christian!
The In-Between – Jeff Goins
“Many of us fail to recognize that the best moments are the ones happening right now.” This book is all about embracing the waiting process between “now and the next big thing.” Ironically, I read the majority of this book while waiting on flight delays during a recent trip. Think God was trying to teach me something?! Most of us sum up life by outlining the “big” things – what we want to be when we grow up (whatever that is!), graduation plans & college majors, that next exotic mission trip, careers (because we need to make money for some reason), marriage, kids, home ownership, retirement. But what happens in between all of that? Can it be that we miss some of life’s sweetest moments simply because we’re too focused on the next big thing? I love Goins’ quote “I want to live a life that takes time to notice the things that other people are overlooking.” Slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy this moment of the journey that God has given you right now.
Into the Glory – Jamie Buckingham
Think you’ve had some international flight adventures? Add a mid-flight escaped ocelot traveling with a handful of chickens, frequent mechanical problems, multiple languages, and rough grass airstrips, and maybe you can start competative story-swapping with these guys. This book is a compilation of several short miracle-packed stories of JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Service) pilots and their adventures flying the remote mission fields. These stories will make you laugh, cry, and hang on to the edge of your seat with anticipation of what might happen. While reading this as a kid, I promised myself that someday I, too, would get to ride in a tiny mission plane to some remote field… something I was actually able to do this past winter in Cameroon, Africa. These pilots lay it all on the line for Jesus and have the stories to share in return! This book is an “oldie but goodie.”
Passion For The Heart Of God – John Willis Zumwalt
I was first introduced to Passion for the Heart of God following my 2nd overseas mission trip. God used that trip coupled with this book to awaken my heart to the importance of having a missional gospel focused outlook on life. Mr. Zumwalt does a wonderful job of presenting life lessons through practical mission field experiences. Every lesson is closely tied to scripture and is sure to make an impact on your life no matter the plan God has for you. My heart and passion for the Lord were radically awakened through this book.
“Unless we are doing all that we can to get the Gospel to the unreached people’s of our world, we are in essence content to let their deaths go unhindered. Missions is not about rolling bandages and sending care packages in out free time, thought that is of great encouragement. It is about a no-holds-barred struggle over these still trapped in dungeons of darkness with the executioner at the door. We have no more excuses. The pardon is in your hand, and the command of Christ still stands to take it to the end of the earth. Will you obey with abandon or will you toy with their eternal destinies. What is the verdict.” — Passion for the Heart of God (pg 154)
Bruchko – Bruce Olson
I was introduced to Bruchko just after I returned from leading the Global Encounters team to Colombia this summer. Through that trip I came to know and love the people of Colombia that Mr. Olson went to minister to as a young man. Bruchko tells in his own words the story of Mr. Olson’s ministry to the people of Colombia. In his riveting account of his first hand work with the Colombian Indians you will be challenged in your faith in the Lord. Mr. Olson knew the passion God had given him and stepped out in faith to follow even when the way seemed impossible or unclear. From arriving in country with barely pennies in his pocket, to surviving capture for nine months, to injury, sickness, death attempts, and wild animals, God’s hand of provision and protection was evident. Bruchko became a trusted friend of the Indians and was able to have a powerful and far reaching impact for Christ. Through this he has found favor with several Colombian presidents, appeared before the UN and other world organizations, and is now a Colombian citizen. This is a must read for anyone interested in or headed out on missions of any kind. Even if God has called you to GO through being a prayer warrior it is a must read.
Ordering Your Private World – Gordon McDonald
Day timers, Outlook appointments, Google calendars, iPhone reminders set by Siri, sticky notes, and string tied around our fingers keep our physical lives organized. But what keeps our spiritual lives in order? In all of life there must be margin and balance. Mr. McDonald explores the importance of having a strong and organized spiritual life that will in turn spill into our physical life and leadership rolls we have been given. He explores 5 different sectors of our spiritual life/relationship with God that must be in balance to our calling. Dive into scripture with Mr. McDonald as you explore these five sectors of ordering your private world: motivation, use of time, wisdom and knowledge, spiritual strength, and restoration. Apart from the Bible this has been one of the most influential books in my life this year.
“If my private world is in order it will be because I am convinced that the inner world of the spiritual must govern the outer world.” — Ordering Your Private World (pg 10)
Wrestling Prayer – Eric and Leslie Ludy
Eric and Leslie explore the importance of having a strong and passionate, moment-by-moment communion with the Lord through prayer. As you explore the pages you will be challenged by the many accounts from Scripture of the “mighties of the Lord’s army” What was it that drove these men and woman to seek the Lord with such passion and fire? You will also look into the lives of many heroes of the faith whom God used in mighty ways. All because they had a close relationship with the Lord through prayer. What does it mean to pray through? To pray with tenacity? To approach the throne of Grace continuously? Wrestling Prayer will change the way you approach prayer for the rest of your life! Spiritually, apart from God’s Holy Word, this book has shaped my spiritual growth the most this past year.
Not A Fan – Kyle Idleman
Not A Fan dives into our personal relationship with the Lord and the depth of our devotion to follow Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As you read and evaluate your own life you will answer the question, “am I a fan or follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Through a three-part journey you will reflect on an honest diagnosis of your own life, explore the invitation we have been given, and seek to apply it daily in your walk with the Lord. Each chapter is filled with gut-wrenching questions for evaluation and application in your own life, as well as as stories of common men and women who were some fans and others followers of Jesus. This is a great book to follow up after David Platt’s Radical and is perfect for group discussions or small discipleship groups.
“The problem that Jesus had with these teachers is that what they were teaching wasn’t a reflection of who they really were.” Not A Fan (pg 73)
“Followers live with a continual awareness of the Spirit’s presence and a constant prayer to be filled with that power.” Not A Fan (pg 96)
Living the Cross Centered Life – C.J. Mahaney
“So I urge you every day to preach the Gospel to yourself.” C.J. Mahaney addresses in real and practical words what it means to live in a way that is centered on the Gospel. This book has been one of the single most life-changing books that I have ever read and I am so thankful for the kind friend who brought it to me and told me to read it. Throughout the book, Mahaney hits hard on three core issues that draw us away from the Gospel: Subjectivism, Legalism, and Condemnation. Like me, most of you probably also struggle with falling prey to one or all of these conditions.
Perhaps the most life changing one for me was “subjectivism”: basing our view of God and life on our changing feelings and emotions. “Talking to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves” is one of his main points, and has been so helpful for me in my fight to find and believe truth in every area of my life. I cannot allow my emotions and feelings, the things that I think about a situation, to dictate what I believe. Instead I must become an expert in preaching the Gospel to myself, allowing what I believe and know to be true about God to shape and transform what I feel. This may sound lofty or complex; but its not. It is incredibly simple. Intentionally seeking truth and biblical perspective in every area of my life is bringing freedom from bondage and brokenness, evening out my emotional pendulum, and causing me to fall more in love with Jesus.
“And the inevitable result of preaching the Gospel to yourself will be a pronounced joy, an infectious joy, a consistent joy. Like nothing else, the Gospel creates joy; its both the source and object of our joy.” Mahaney says it well. And as I have implemented these truths in the daily moments of life, I am finding a purer more constant joy than I have ever known before.
What is the Mission of the Church – Kevin DeYoung
If you are looking for a book that gives a good theological groundwork for missions, then this is the book for you. It masterfully blends biblical framework with practical examples that make it come alive. It brings the center of missions back to the gospel while building your understanding of how social justice and good works are the spokes of the wheel, not the end. I encourage you to grab a copy of this book and expand not just your opinion of missions but your biblical understanding of missions. It will radically change your viewpoint.