Looking 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?