In my travels, talks with people, networking through things like social media sites and being a guy in ministry, and specifically ministry that lends itself to travel and itinerant preaching, I am often asked lots of different things. It is really tough to try and truly answer all the questions that people have because to truly answer their questions in a way that they will not only understand and receive but also in a way that is applicable to people’s lives personally. Difficult because all of those things involve real and true relationship. Which is one of the reasons why the day to day focus of our ministry and what we do is on in-depth discipleship with smaller groups of people that provide and foster relationship where more quantifiable ministry can happen and its fruit potentially seen in a more real and tangible way.
That doesn’t mean however that we or I do not have a heart to try and reach the multitudes and speak into their lives. And one of the questions I am often asked by people is what I would recommend to them to read (other than the Bible) and while I am always delighted to share books that I think are great helps for the Christian trying to live the Christian life, I often forget about a book that I should have recommended until after I am gone. So that fact, along with the fact that I get asked this question enough, I thought it’d be good to share some books that I think would be great for any Christian to read. As I thought about sitting down and writing this blog and sharing what I believe are some essential reads with people I realized that there are too many to put into one blog.
With that being said, I want to preface this blog with the simple fact that this list will in no way be comprehensive or a list of the “the best books” just SOME of the books I believe to be essential reading. Nor will it necessarily be the only time or blog where I share such information. (I am a reader and am always reading something) But I think it is a good place to start and while these ten books are going to be recommendations regarding the Christian life, I will try and list books of different varieties within that genre. So enough prefacing information, let’s get to the books…
The Pursuit of Holiness & The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges.
Technically these are two books but really they are meant to be read one after another and I agree that they should. These are not exactly what one would call new books, but can be such essential tools for learning how to live the Christian life. Bridges is not only solid theologically and stays true to the Scripture but is a master at keeping the pendulum from swinging too much to one side. If you want some good teaching that is very applicable to real life on pursuing holiness and practicing godliness I highly recommend reading these books and believe that they could be just as helpful for you as they were for me in living a godly life.
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
Ok I have to admit that I am reading this one right now and have not finished it yet. So I know you may be surprised that I would add it to such a list, but I think it’s truths are that essential. And not only that but it is also a book that is currently circulating around Christian circles (Which is by no means always a good thing…there is LOTS of garbage out there!) The premise of this book is really about making Jesus and the Gospel the explicit center of every aspect of our lives; our jobs, our families, our ministry and its methodology, and everything else in between. Really enjoying the read right now and would recommend picking it up and taking the time to read it!
Radical by David Platt
There are usually two reactions to reading Radical. One is to say that Platt is too extreme, does not understand God’s blessing and because of it lays a guilt trip on people about being Westerners or two, it is, for many people who read this book, especially American Christians, a true paradigm shifter. It can really cause your world to be “radically” rocked and provoke you stop trying to explain away the black and white passages of Scripture so one can continue living a half-hearted (at best) Christianity so many live and begin taking the implications of the Gospel seriously…if you have indeed truly believed it. Hopefully your response is the latter not the former…as the former is absolute crap, in my personal opinion and understanding of the Scriptures.
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
When I was first told to read Tozer I was given this book. I read it, but really didn’t get why people thought he was so great, and wasn’t that moved by his writing or this book. I picked it back up about a year and a half ago, and it was a total different experience for me. It was profoundly deep and I realized just how deep Tozer was and is…and well…now I get it…I get why so many like and recommend Tozer. The first time I read him, I just wasn’t ready for how deep and profound his writing is, so if you find yourself having the same experience with this book, come back to it a few years later and after some running after the Lord and I think that you too, when ready, will be challenged by reading this book, and Tozer in general.
Forgotten God by Francis Chan
This is a book on the Holy Spirit… And it is a good book on the Holy Spirit. I say good, because while there are some circles where the Holy Spirit is indeed forgotten and not tapped into so we can live in the FULLNESS that we are called to do, there is another group that has turned to Holy Spirit into a side freak show that has people looking like they are indeed filled with a spirit….but it is anything but holy. Chan’s teaching and approach deals with both sides and is a healthy Biblical based teaching, not just on the Holy Spirit, but also how to live in and full of His power. Grab it and read it if you haven’t done so already.
Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill
This is a simple read, but simply a must read. It is about living a life of prayer and walking in holiness, and because that is something that isn’t done as it should or as it was in the past, is exactly why revival tarries. I don’t care what your opinion of Leonard Ravenhill is, or your opinion is on revival, give this book a chance. I do recommend this one to almost every and all Christian’s who ask me what I would recommend reading. You can find this one for under $5.00 now…buy it and read it. You’d finish it much quicker than you think…and it would provoke you… I promise.
God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew & John & Elizabeth Sherrill
This is the story of Brother Andrew. His story is an awesome testimony of how God not only use the average person but also how He provides for those who trust Him and live by faith. I always try and include a biography into my reading regiment as I think we need to hear about and learn from those in the past who have lived worthy enough lives for God that they were worth writing about. It may even inspire us to live similar lives. Brother Andrew was a man who smuggled thousands of Bible’s across the Iron Curtain during Soviet times. While there are many great biographies to read, Andrew’s story is genuine, one any human can relate to, and someone you will truly identify with and a great one to start with.
Tortured for Christ by Richard Wrumbrand
If you don’t know who Richard Wrumbrand is you should. He not only founded Voice of the Martyrs but lived through some of the most difficult persecution Christian’s have gone through in recent history. This story is about him living in communist Romania and standing absolutely firm for Christ regardless of what happened to him and those whom he loved. At the least this is a great read for people who live in the bubble of western isolationism who have no idea what the rest of the world goes through to live for the faith so many here take for granted. You can even get a free copy of this on Voice of the Martyr’s website (http://www.persecution.com/) so no excuse on this one!
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Dr. Robert E. Coleman
A nice little simple book but with profound truths. It is great for the Christian who doesn’t think they have “a ministry” or view those who are called to do ministry on a more public platform to be people who have more to do for the Kingdom and Jesus than they do. We are all called to make disciples and all have a part to play. A great read, and something that will help you eliminate the excuses you may make for not being a part of God’s work to reach and redeem the world!
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey
This is probably the most theological type of read out of all the books listed, but don’t let that intimidate you. It is very readable and easy to understand. And it will at the least totally change your perspective on things like the actual Biblical account of the Christmas story, the Sermon on the Mount, and just how much Jesus did for women. And one of the greatest things about this book is that it can be read in sections too, so you don’t have to read it all at once. If you want to read about the Christmas story you can read that and then come back to other stories at another time, which is great if you have limited time to read as so many usually do. I highly recommend reading this book and think it doesn’t sway too much toward any one theological camp yet stays true to the Scripture. Pick it up!
“Listen closely, pay attention to the words of the wise and pay attention to what I have learned.” ~ Proverbs 22:17