For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Books Are Your Friends. A List of Books and Authors.

I've been thinking recently about the books that have influenced my relationship with Christ. Many have influenced me in small ways, much like every little wave influences the shoreline. Other books have had a dramatic impact, much like the lava flowing into the ocean in Hawaii. They were particularly powerful because they drove me deeper in to my relationship with God.

Here's a brief list of authors who have had a impact on my life.

You will notice that many of the authors are long dead. There are two reasons for that. First, I think it is a good principle that you should read an old book for every new book that you read. It keeps you from thinking that your era has all the answers. Old books have generally stood the test of time. Second, these are authors that I have turned to repeatedly over the years. Current titles can't make the cut for this list simply because they haven't been around that long!

In general, anything written by these authors will be challenging and edifying. Most of these authors have written many books, so I've given you some recommendations to get you started in the hopes that you will pick up a book and be drawn closer to Jesus just like I was.

Leonard Ravenhill. Why Revival Tarries, Revival Praying, Sodom Had No Bible
I first encountered Ravenhill in university. His passion for revival burns white-hot. While his writing is a little dated, it still challenges and calls for radical commitment to Christ.
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.” 

A.W. Tozer. The Pursuit of God, The Knowledge of the Holy
Tozer writes from a place of real intimacy with the Lord. His ability to communicate deeply about our relationship with God both encourages and convicts. I have devoured his books and turn to them frequently, particularly when my spiritual flame is ebbing low. 
"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long."

Andrew Murray. With Christ in the School of Prayer, The Ministry of Intercession
When I first began to develop a life of prayer, these two books were significant guides. They still form a great foundation for those who want to grow in prayer. 
Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray. He did not speak much of what was needed to preach well, but much of praying well. To know how to speak to God is more than knowing how to speak to man. Not power with men, but power with God is the first thing. 

Charles Finney. Autobiography, Lectures on Revivals of Religion.
Finney was the catalyst behind what historians call "the Second Great Awakening". He ministered at a time when people went to church for social reasons, and many believed that salvation was so completely a work of God that they should not concern themselves with it. If God wanted to save them, he would; if not, then no amount of seeking salvation would change his mind. As a result, people thought that they might as well live sinfully! Finney emphasised our responsibility in repenting and believing. His preaching pricked the consciences of his listeners and he would spend hours after his services meeting with individuals about the state of their souls. His "after-meetings" with him in a separate room or in the front of the church became the forerunner of the modern altar call, but he would be aghast at the "decision evangelists" of today. Note: I have come to disagree with some of his theology, but still admire the way he was used by God in his day.
"If Election and Sovereignty are too much preached, there will be Antinomianism in the Church, and sinners will hide themselves behind the delusion that they can do nothing. If, on the other hand, doctrines of ability and obligation be too prominent, they will produce Arminianism, and sinners will be blustering and self-confident."

Loren Cunningham. Is That Really You God?
Loren Cunningham is the founder of Youth With a Mission (YWAM). This book tells the story of its inception and give practical principles in following God. Read it, and you will be forever ruined for an "ordinary" life.
"Hearing God is not all that difficult. If we know the Lord, we have already heard His voice - after all it was the inner leading that brought us to Him in the first place. But we can hear His voice and still miss His best if we don't keep on listening. After the what of guidance comes the when and how."
There is always time
to read a good book.

Jonathan Edwards. Religious Affections
Edwards was the greatest theologian ever produced in America. His ministry was at the center of the First Great Awakening and changed the course of history. His writings are deep and difficult but well worth the effort. While not typical of his writing, his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is one of the most well-known sermons in the English language.
"God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion." 

John Piper. Desiring God, Don't Waste Your Life
Minneapolis pastor John Piper is a modern day Puritan in the best sense of the word. His teaching is steeped in the writings of the Puritans and he expresses the gospel in a powerful way reminiscent of them.
"Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It's a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don't want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel."

Henry Blackaby. Experiencing God, Spiritual Leadership
Blackaby wrote an excellent study that drives us to radically seek to follow God. His principles are foundational to keeping in step with what God is doing in the world. 
"If Christians around the world were to suddenly renounce their personal agendas, their life goals and their aspirations, and begin responding in radical obedience to everything God showed them, the world would be turned upside down. How do we know? Because that's what first century Christians did, and the world is still talking about it." 

Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, The Practice of Godliness.
Bridges writes with with clarity and energy about the nitty-gritty of the Christian life. His books are thoroughly soaked in the Scriptures and are worth reading and re-reading to stimulate a grace-filled God-glorifying life.
“So we see that God has made provision for our holiness. Through Christ He has delivered us from sin's reign so that we now can resist sin. But the responsibility for resisting is ours. God does not do that for us. To confuse the potential for resisting (which God provided) with the responsibility for resisting (which is ours) is to court disaster in our pursuit of holiness.”

C.S. Lewis, Miracles, Mere Christianity
Lewis was a tremendous influence on my committing my life to Christ. That's why his book Miracles is listed. I could list the Screwtape Letters or The Problem of Pain as well. Of course many love his Chronicles of Narnia series. Let's face it: anything by Lewis is good stuff!
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

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