7 Books That Changed My Life
There are some books that just leave their mark on your life. Today, I want to talk about seven books that have changed my life in some way. Each of these books has had a profound influence on the way I think and on the way that I live my life. These are seven books (other than the Bible) that have changed my life:
1. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
This is a book that I read years ago, and have reread and taught from. To be completely honest, prior to picking this book up, I had not reflected much on God's love for us or how I could best love Him back. At the heart of this book is avoiding "Lukewarm Christianity," which is Christianity that serves God the leftovers and simply goes through a routine. When I read it, I realized that I had been doing this off and on for some time. This book was a challenge for me, and I believe it will challenge anyone who loves God to examine themselves and examine Who He is, and to respond appropriately.
2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Anyone who knows me knows that this is the one book (besides the Bible) that I think that every Christian should read. In it, C.S. Lewis lays out a case for what he calls "mere Christianity." It combines both apologetic and spiritual formation aspects into a single volume. Based on a series of radio talks that Lewis gave, this book has become a timeless classic that has impacted millions of readers around the world.
3. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities by Roger Olson
This book has helped me reflect more deeply on my own theological tradition. I am Wesleyan-Arminian, and Olson is classical Arminian, but there is but a hairsbreadth difference between the two. In this book, Olson tackles the 10 biggest myths surrounding Arminian theology, whether these views are held by other Arminians or by Calvinists. Olson has a tendency to make theological concepts easy to understand. I highly recommend this book for all Arminians who seek to understand their own theological tradition or for Calvinists who want to understand the Arminian viewpoint in a greater light.
4. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
Okay, this one may come as a shock to some of you who know me. John Piper is a Calvinist. I am Wesleyan-Arminian. John Piper understands some passages of Scripture in a different way than I do. He has a different view of the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom than I do. In short, Piper and I disagree on many things. The message of this book is not one of them. In this book, John Piper argues that "It is better to lose your life than to waste it." What does it look like to waste your life? You have wasted your life if you do not give 100% to Jesus. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to be challenged in their faith and wants encouragement to continue to pursue Christ, whatever the cost.
5. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
This book is a must-read. In it, N.T. Wright tackles many of the commonly held myths concerning the end of the world, eternity, and the church's mission. As an example, one such myth that pervades the human mind is that Heaven is the final destination and goal. That is, we live, we die, we go to Heaven, and we sit on clouds strumming harps for the rest of eternity. This is actually not the image that the Bible presents, and Wright points this out. Jesus conquered death, and because of this, there will be a bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, and both will stand before God to be judged. This is tied to the mission of the Church and our eschatology (doctrine of last things). This is an excellent book for anyone interested in theology or just wanting to understand this topic better.
6. Rediscovering Discipleship by Robby Gallaty
This is a book that was required in Bible College. However, it is one that has changed the way that I look at discipleship. Robby Gallaty spells out the importance of discipleship and helps the reader understand how to properly utilize what he calls D-Groups (discipleship groups). There is a great benefit to the use of this type of group, and I highly recommend this book to any church leader who wants to help other Christians grow in their faith.
7. Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology by Mildred Bangs Wynkoop
Like "Arminian Theology" by Roger Olson, this is a book that has helped me understand my own theological tradition in a greater light. Mildred Bangs Wynkoop was a theologian in the Church of the Nazarene. In this short book, Wynkoop gives a brief overview of Wesleyan-Arminian theology and how it contrasts with other theological traditions, such as Calvinism. I highly recommend this book for those who seek to understand Wesleyan-Arminian theology and its distinctions.