As I shared last week, I grew up around books. Our home was full of them. My parents were readers, and I breathed the air of great authors, heroic exploits, and deep conversations about the latest bestsellers. As a Christian in college, I began to discover the works of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, A.W. Tozer, Elisabeth Elliot, and E.M. Bounds. On this blog, I want to share the most influential books on spirituality.
Desiring God, by John Piper, rocked my world! His thesis was that every believer should be delighting in God. It is a book on living in joy. One of the phrases in the book that I have continued to come back to is, “God is most glorified in us when we are the most satisfied in Him.” This book challenged me to enjoy and delight in God through worship, prayer, and obedience.
The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, by E. Stanley Jones, is the one book I read every year. Jones, a Methodist missionary in India, was convinced that our main mission on this earth was to be and bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. His masterful work, written in his 80’s, was his magnum opus on the Christian life. My copy is falling apart and taped together from constant use. The quote I use often from this book is “The Kingdom of God is the total answer to man’s total need.”
While in Japan, I read Richard Foster’s masterful work, Celebration of Discipline. Foster introduced to me to a life of spirituality that my evangelical roots lacked. It included meditation, fasting, solitude, confession, and submission and planted in my heart an introduction to intimacy with God that revolutionized my inner life. Foster shared from the saints of old, from traditions often overlooked by mainline Protestantism, and the price they paid to have intimacy with God. I have tried to live such a life of discipline ever since.
I have read over ten books by Eugene Peterson, but the most influential has been A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. The thesis of the book is that in our instant society of quick fixes and simple motivational sermons, much more is needed to follow Christ. True discipleship involves reading Scripture, simple obedience, and a life of integrity every day, every year, in the same direction, for the glory of God. It’s not easy; it’s hard. But it’s worth the constant effort. Dr. Peterson provides a road map to being an authentic, devoted disciple of Jesus. Rooted in the Psalms of Ascent (120-134), you will be challenged to stay the course in an ever-changing world.
I have read most of John Eldredge’s books, but by far the book I have gone back to the most is Waking the Dead. When I went through the darkest time of my life seven years ago, feeling rejected and betrayed, I reread this book; and it put new vigor and faith into my heart. The central truth of this book is that the creative fire power of our lives is the heart. It is in connecting our heart to God’s heart that we come alive. I never tire of rereading this masterful work.
More to come next week,