Below is a list of books that God has used to make a impact on my heart and on my life. Of course, there are thousands of fantastic Christian books out there. But these are the ones that are my all-time favorites.
(Books are listed in no particular order.)
When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James. The premise of this book is why women need to be good theologians – a word defined by James as someone who knows God. The reason for the title is that James believes that when life gets really difficult, it’s your theology that gets you through it. She studies the three portraits of Mary of Bethany in the gospels to learn more about what it means to be a woman theologian.
This book has impacted my life on so many levels. One was the encouragement in her explanation of God’s sovereignty as I wrestled with being single and 36 years old. Another is her thoughts on women in ministry. And a third and major way was in learning what “suitable helper” really means and the great purpose it gives us as women. James was single until she was 32 and has one adopted daughter because they were unable to have children – things that make her able to relate to all kinds of women in many stages of life.
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. This is the first book I read by A.W. Tozer and the one that began my quest to read anything else out there by him. Let’s just say my Tozer book collection is around 50 right now! Tozer’s writing style is succinct and powerful. When you read this book, prepare to be challenged and convicted in beautiful, wonderful ways.
Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. This is another Tozer classic that begins with the oft-quoted sentence: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” If you want to learn more about the attributes of God, I suggest you start here. The subject is so deep that it’s easy to be overwhelmed, but this small book makes it less so while still raising your eyes to how great God is. I always include the relevant chapter from this book when I lead a Bible study on the attributes of God. You can actually find the complete text of the book in a pdf here.
The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. My friends and I all read this book in college when our Bible study leaders (a married couple) were reading it in order to experience revival in their own lives. And it will definitely do that as it presses you to real brokenness and dealing with sin, both against the Lord and against others. I go back over and over to some of the things I learned in this book about keeping healthy, open friendships.
The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. Honestly, I could put every book by Jerry Bridges on this list! I love his direct, humble, honest style of writing truth that I need to hear. I chose this one because it puts together the ideas from his earlier books The Pursuit of Holiness (which talks about our part in sanctification) and Transforming Grace (which talks about God’s part). This book is where I first heard the concept of preaching the gospel to yourself every day.
Falling in Love with Jesus (Workbook) by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli. This is in book form (which I also read), but it was the workbook that the Lord used to really grab my heart. This is the best Bible study I have ever done – I just did it in my personal quiet times, but it is made to be done with a group with a DVD. I came away from it truly more in love with Jesus. Being single for so long, I found some women’s studies to be almost painful because they were so focused on marriage and motherhood. But since Dee is a grandmother and Kathy is single, every woman is included in this study. My favorite parts included looking at Ruth and Mary of Bethany.
Boundaries by Henry Cloud. I was familiar with the concept of boundaries having read and taught from Changes that Heal (also by Henry Cloud). But until the summer of 2008 I didn’t think I really had a problem with them. God used some health problems I was having that spring to show me the boundary problems that I really had. I think most women have more boundary problems than they realize, and this book can be eye-opening and life-changing. There is also a workbook to go with it. I am a big fan of Henry Cloud and would recommend his other books as well.
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. I happened to come across this book when I asked on Facebook for beach book recommendations and two people suggested it. I never guessed a book I read on the beach would make such an impact on me. This book is two unlikely friends telling the story of how God worked in their lives in amazing ways. It will inspire you to serve those less fortunate than yourself. One warning – there is a really sad part of the story that may make you cry. But it is worth it – an incredible book.
Inside Out by Larry Crabb. I read this book in the late 1980’s. I sensed the Lord telling me that I needed to be more vulnerable with people, and this book made that message from Him very clear! Two of the main things I still remember from this book were about the sin of self-protective behavior and also the problem of demandingness (our demanding things of God). It was also eye-opening when Crabb talked about how we talk about pain in our heart and sin in our behavior when we really should be talking about sin in our heart. You have to be willing to take an honest look inside of yourself if you read this book!