Friday, October 06, 2006

Top 5 Books that Shaped My Life

Christianity today came out with their Top 50 Books that Shaped Evangelicals (regards Tim Ellsworth). I went through the list and had heard of almost half of them, and had read six. I reflected on this...and wondered whether I was a bad Christian and a slacker or if the list was flawed. I think it is somewhere in the middle. I read a ton, but it is more current stuff rather than the "classics," which are mostly on this list.

This list got me thinking, though, what are the most influential books in my life? I thought I would share with you a top 5 and explain a little about each. I did not count the Bible, because that would be a bit unfair. Here we go:

5. Searching for God Knows What Donald Miller
I read this book over the summer, and it was amazing. I didn't end up having time to blog about it on here because I was super busy, but this book was so great. He talks about God in story, and how we must always resist boiling God down to a step by step formula. He spends a great deal of time talking about "lifeboat theory," which I had decided before I was dedicating my life to stopping in my own life and in any other way I could. This book gave me the words and focus to do that. This is a must read.

4. Courageous Leadership Bill Hybels
I read this book when I was in Thailand doing missions work for a summer. What is unique about that is that the entire summer turned into a leadership development summer for me, and this book was a big part of it, in addition to the great people with whom I worked. This book taught me some important lessons in leadership and got me thinking and praying intentionally about the leadership in my own life. The timing was great, because a year later I would be up here in Minnesota serving in a full time leadership role at a church. This book was exactly what I needed and I am thankful God used it the way he did.

3. The Life Giving Church Ted Haggard
I read this book my senior year in high school when I was doing an internship at my home church, and then again right before my 2nd year in college. This book, as did Courageous Leadership, gave me a great love for the church, that has a lot to do with what I am doing today. Haggard separates out Religion and a Relationship with Christ and talks about how churches can foster those cultures. His thoughts on legalism versus life (he uses different words, but that is how I interpret them)early in the book remain with me, and I think on them regularly.

2. Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller
I read this book early this year, and if you read this blog much, you know that I have written about it a ton (here, here, and
). I have thought about it a lot recently as I met Donald last month and talked with him about this book. It really has been very influential in my life. I think before I read this book I was a "blind conservative." After reading it, I would still call myself a conservative, but I feel I am much more God centered in my thinking than before. Donald points out a lot of the problems that are giving Christians a bad name. Many of these have to do with religion. It was very refreshing for me, and has shaped my thinking in a huge way.

1. Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
Finally, a classic made the list. I have read this many times. I put this number one because I give this book credit for me changing my thinking to more like a philosopher, to thinking things through and exploring them for myself. I think every person goes through that at some point in their life, and this book at a lot to do with that phase in mine. That may be one of the most important changes a person will go through. God wants us to be thinkers, and Lewis provides a great example of this.

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