4 books that have shaped me

four books that have shaped meLooking through my library the other day, I saw these four books relatively close together.  What they have in common is that all four were given to me as gifts when I was a new Christian.  To be sure, they have helped shape the way I think about life following Jesus.

The Pursuit of God by A.W.Tozer was the first Christian book I read.  The language was a bit different, and he seemed to be somewhere I was not.  But what I caught was that we have the capacity to know Him.

God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may.

That relationship is personal, between me and Him.  I cannot know Him better by simply absorbing what others know about Him.  Tozer takes us through the challenges of what it means to know God in a personal way, to recognize the ways He communicates and reveals Himself to us. I have post-it tags still hanging from it. It is still a favorite.

The second book I read as a new believer was The Master Plan of Evangelism.  Dr. Robert Coleman’s work captured my attention in a big way.  He asks this question in his preface: “Are our efforts to keep things going fulfilling the great commission of Christ?  Do we see an ever-expanding company of dedicated men reaching the world with the Gospel as a result of our ministry?”  His study of the principles that Jesus used in making His disciples gave me an understanding of multiplication and laid the groundwork for future ministry. In particular, the fact that he emphasized principles became important later in my life when the context for ministry kept changing.

The third one was also a gift from a Bible  study leader, the Teacher’s Manual  for the Ten Basic Steps toward Christian Maturity.  She inscribed on the flyleaf…

With all my love and many prayers that this book will receive much use with much joy as your life is multiplied into thousands of others.  What a privilege for me to be a part of that.

In one book, both vision for my life and the “how to’s” came into my possession.  I could not envision being used in one person’s life at that time.  I had just led my first small group.  Her prayer was inspiring, and the simplicity of a teacher’s manual for the Bible studies made ministry practical and feasible.

The last was also a gift from the girls I was discipling at the time.  Come Away My Beloved by Frances Roberts was a meaningful gift.  Cathie Loomis, who had led the women’s ministry, had recently died in the Big Thompson Flood in 1976.  Her journals, which her parents read to us students, had portions of this book underlined.  Reading it highlighted again that knowing God personally meant peace and joy and being loved at a deep level.  Jesus wants us for His very own.  This book highlighted that truth for me.

To Chris, Kathleen, CB, Deb and Lisa, I say, “thanks!  You had no idea what you were starting!”  And to us, here and now, you never know how a book you give will influence someone’s life.  These were formative, helping to establish values and beliefs that have sustained me through many years.  Pray for the person as you give the book.  Write an inscription that will inspire the person to become all that he or she can.  You can make a lasting difference!

What books have shaped you?

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9 Responses to 4 books that have shaped me

  1. Amy says:

    Andrea, Thank you! Currently I’m discipling a new believer and we are finishing follow-up. It’s summer so there’s no activity on her campus. But what a great idea to let her read the books that first impacted my spiritual walk! Thanks for sharing yours books too. – Amy

    • You are welcome. Someone once identified authors as kind of mentors, which I think is true! People I have never met have helped to build my faith, shape my character and inspire me toward greater things. Thanks for your comment, Amy.

  2. Susan Reeves says:

    Andrea, these books are also some of the first ones I read too. I also remember reading Shadow of the Almighty in the library at Clemson my junior yr( I had only been a believer for a year)and couldn’t put it down. I knew God was stirring up something in my heart because for the first time, I realized I was here for a purpose. Thanks for “stirring” up this memory, I needed to be reminded that I’m here for a purpose, 36 yrs later!

    • Oh, Susan, that’s a good one, too! That quote from Jim Elliott “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” has had a lasting impact. God was stirring up a lot, wasn’t He?

  3. Ken says:

    Great post, Andrea. Glad to see you’re enjoying a reflective sabbatical. What books shaped me? Definitely “Ten Basic Steps” and “Master Plan of Evangelism” from your list. Other well-worn shapers on my shelf include Spiritual Leadership by Sanders and the Bible, which I read cover-to-cover every other year.

    • Love Spiritual Leadership. And of course, the Bible. My first Bible was also a gift from some friends. I can remember verses jumping off the page at me. Thanks for underscoring the importance of the Word, Ken.

  4. karintome says:

    I have such a hard time choosing one book over another! That being said, Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer and Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning both pierced me and freed me in a way few books ever have.

  5. Pingback: top 5 posts for 2013 | AB Reflections

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