Thursday, March 08, 2018

Eighteen Books That Have Influenced Me

I came across an Anglican website that listed "The 100 Best Christian Books." It's a great, comprehensive list. It got me thinking about Christian books that have influenced me. Here's eighteen of them, not in any special order.

Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster. In 1981 this book kick-started a prayer revolution in me.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard. I became an Annie Dillard fan after reading this. Can anyone write better than her? My eyes were opened wider to God's presence found in my backyard.

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. This book introduced me to Christian apologetics, and I've never looked back.

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor. Maybe Flannery O'Connor can write better than Annie Dillard. I've read everything I can by her, including a few books interpreting her vision of the presence of Christ in the lives of ordinary, flawed humanity.

New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton. This book solidified the great truth that, in one's spiritual life, being precedes doing. Through this book Merton became one of my spiritual directors.

The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, by Henri Nouwen. Through Nouwen's deep, transparent writings I experience the love of God and find healing for my troubled heart. Nouwen is an invaluable guide in my spiritual life.

A Testament of Devotion, by Thomas Kelly. I underlined so much in this book that a friend suggested I use spray paint. Kelly helped me see earth, through heaven.

Caring Enough to Confront: How to Understand and Express Your Deepest Feelings Towards Others, by David Augsburger. I have used this little book countless times in helping to heal broken relationships.

Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve, by Lewis Smedes. Smedes helped me understand the grace of God and experience healing from self-hatred and shame. 

Silence, by Shusaku Endo. This story of early missionaries to Japan broke my heart, and helped me understand the cost of following Jesus.

The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James Cone. It was good and hard to read a book that exposed areas of spiritual blindness in me.

Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis. This book affected me deeply. I can't find words to describe what it's like when a book interprets your heart's deepest longings. I must take a deep breath and go away to a quiet place and read it again.

Thinking in Tongues, by James K. A. Smith. I am Pentecostal, and Smith's book has gifted me with an epistemology to go with it.

The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, by Eugene Peterson. I have read this book three times, thoroughly. 

Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teaching on Faith and Formation, by Dallas Willard and Gary Moon. I spoke at an Evangelical Friends' pastor's conference in 2017. Two pastors recommended this book to me. Here is a model of everything I desire to be, in Christ.

Pursuing God's Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups, by Ruth Haley Barton. This might be the best book on presence-driven leadership I have ever read.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Gordon Fee. This is the greatest biblical commentary I have ever read. It is a rare combination of brilliant scholarship and anointed inspiration.

Knowledge and Christian Belief, by Alvin Plantinga. Contains the best chapter on "faith" I have ever read.