You are what you read.
In other words, you are what you decide to put in your system. And this is especially the case in my life in regards to what I choose to read.
Let me share with you four books (outside the awesome, forever-lasting Word of God, that is) that completely changed my life. These are books that, if you get a chance to read them, will help you understand why I am the way I am in regards to living out my faith. These are also books that I have a distinct spiritual connection with, in that I felt that God sovereignly put the wisdom and fire of these authors in my life very purposefully.
So without adieu…
4 BOOKS THAT COMPLETELY CHANGED MY LIFE
1. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.”
What does it mean to follow Christ? What does it mean to take up our crosses? Why are there so few “disciples” of Jesus today? What does a Christian look like according to Jesus?
These are the hard and convicting questions that Dietrich Bonhoeffer outlines in his book The Cost of Discipleship. This thoughtful and scripture-heavy book transformed my life when I pulled it from the shelf of Borders (yeah, they sell great Christian classics there). As I turned page after paged, the Holy Spirit, through the book, kept probing me, “Does your following Me look like the way I prescribed it in my scriptures?”
In addition to the many things that this book has taught me, this is a book that also caused me to help me make sense of my place in the diversity of the Body of Christ. In the midst of over 42,000 Christian denominations worldwide, how would I categorize myself? After reading this book, I am, quite simply, a follower of Jesus Christ!
2. The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun
“We are absolutely nothing. We have nothing to be proud about. We have no abilities and nothing to offer God. The fact that he chooses to use us is only due to his grace. It is has nothing to do with us. If God should choose to raise up others for his purpose and never to use us again we would have nothing to complain about.”
BROTHER YUN OF CHINA’S PERSECUTED CHURCH
Wow, what can I say about this book? Only that, apart from Jesus, Brother Yun’s life is one I most desire to model.
Completely surrendered, submitted, obedient, humble, raw, and authentic are some words I would describe this man. This book is about Brother Yun’s biography as a major pioneer for the house churches in China right now. His life will completely blow you away by showing you what God can do through weak and broken men who lean on Him.
When I tell people what this book is like, I tell them it’s like reading the Book of Acts in the year 2000 in China. It’s full of miracles, healings, and raw moments of faith as Brother Yun records the thoughts of a suffering, yet joyful, servant of Jesus Christ.
His thoughts on the Western church (Ch 25) was extremely convicting as well. Overall, this is a life changing book for anyone willing to pick it up!
3. Desiring God by John Piper
“The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever”
John Piper was probably one of the most influential theologians in my early years as a Christian. He’s not just any theologian, mind you- he’s a theologian who’s flat out in love with Jesus!
His book, Desiring God, set the strongest foundations in my Christian life as it highlighted scripture’s call for us, as Christians, to spend our entire lives knowing Jesus and to enjoy His presence.
More than ministry, more than our life’s goals, more than a great career, more than anything the world can offer us, John Piper joyfully exhorts us to press into knowing God as our highest pursuit in life. Nothing else in life will satisfy!
I remember reading this and learning to just being in my room alone, cultivating a heart that longed for and pressed into the presence of God. It taught me how to have a heart of David, and to sing songs to Jesus in the secret place and to grow in love with the presence of Jesus.
To this day, one of the highlighted verses in the book has become my life verse to this very day. Psalm 73:25-26 reads, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh may fail but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Ah, yes, Lord, nothing else will satisfy but You!
If you want a primer in how to spend your life living for the presence of God, pick this book up and get blessed!
4. Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.”
Leonard Ravenhill has the heart of a true revivalist. In the midst of the (still) complacent Evangelicalism that plagues America, Ravenhill is not shy about preaching a message of repentance. Chapter after chapter, he spits out the fire that God laid on his heart as he addresses the all-important question for the church in America: Why are we not experiencing revival?
I remember reading this book on my knees. After seeing the great complacency in my own life, I came to tears after every few chapters. Out of the message of this book, my prayer life went ablaze, my passion for Jesus ignited, and I wrote songs of repentance that I still sing to this day whenever I am dry in my faith.
This is a must-read for anyone seriously thinking about serving God. Because without a heart that’s on fire, you’ll never bring the fire you long to see ablaze in others around you ignite.
There are books, and then there are books. These are four books that have changed my life. I hope after sharing these to you, you’ll pick up one of these and be blessed yourselves.
If you got any more crazy recommendations, throw them my way!