These are my last five best books. It’s kind of interesting that as I’ve done these blogs on my top twenty books, it has forced me to realize how many great books I’m leaving out. So many great books and great authors. But here goes, my last five most influential books.
As a junior in college, I read Miracles, by C.S. Lewis, and it was through this book that I began believing God to do the miraculous in my life. The first legitimate miracle came that same year when God supernaturally healed me of chronic acne. Lewis’s book helped me understand that Christianity should be, at its very basis, a life of miracles. Lewis writes, “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this.” As a new believer, this book opened my mind to the validity of miracles in my daily life. I’ve never been the same.
The Dark Night of the Soul
Eight years ago, I went through the darkest time of my life. These last four books had the deepest impact on my life and still remain the books I often return to during times of weakness and brokenness.
Leap Over a Wall, by Eugene Peterson, is a masterful work on the life of David. Of all the characters in the Bible, the most human, the most earthy, is David. His life is lived on the edge of saint and sinner more than anyone else in Scripture. Eight years ago, I was impacted by David’s wholehearted living and the humanness of a “man after God’s own heart.” This book deeply impacted my thinking in writing my book, Worshipper Warrior.
During my darkest time, the interval between leaving Mountain Springs Church and starting The Road, Brene Brown powerfully impacted my life. Her TED Talk on “Shame and Vulnerability” and her books shredded my heart! I found a new side of my heart as I learned to be vulnerable about my imperfections and deep shame. Her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, gave me permission to let go of my perfectionistic ways and competitive spirit, and surrender everything to God. I gained a whole new perspective on what it means to be wholehearted. Alongside God’s love and grace, it was my wife, Liz, and Brene Brown, who were the most impactful people in my life during my darkest of times.
Brene Brown wrote another impactful book, Braving the Wilderness. The thesis of this further work by Dr. Brown is that true belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are. We all try to fit in and learn from an early age to pose and pretend. The four practices that true belonging requires are becoming familiar with being vulnerable, getting used to being uncomfortable, and learning how to be with people, without sacrificing who we are. This book helped me speak truth more often, confront uncomfortable problems, and stay true to my heart.
My final book is written by Henri Nouwen, a Catholic Monk. Considered one of the great spiritual writers our day, his book, Life of the Beloved, originally written as a letter to a friend seeking God, turned into a book. Nouwen’s prose is refreshingly straightforward and jargon-free, avoiding theology and technical language; he explains to his friend in simple terms, “you are beloved to God.” This book helped me let go of worldly success and achievement and embrace how loved and cherished I am by God.
Books open up our hearts and minds to new possibilities and new faith. I do hope that some of these twenty books may find their way into your library.