Photo taken by Calvin at Trinity College Library (which houses the book of Kells)
There were many factors that helped awaken my faith in my mid-20’s, but arguably the biggest catalyst was reading books. During my journey toward God, there were books that found my hands at just the right time. I decided to list some and describe the moment I was in and why it was the perfect book for the moment.
1. The Bible (NLT)
Ok, I know! It’s an obvious pick, but I wanted to share about this particular translation. I started to read this version in the midst of my faith awakening. I wanted to read for myself what the Bible says. I ended up reading through the bible in about a 9 months–1 year. THE NLT is easier to read than KJV (because of the more modern english) or ESV (sometimes the sentences just don’t flow nicely) because it is more of a sentence-by-sentence translation. It is not meant for scholarly study of the best word choice but more focused on the spirit of passages and sentences in modern english. I found it easy to read and understand.
2. Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne (and Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals)
I had been to church my whole life, but while reading Shane Claiborne’s book, I realized I wasn’t living my faith out practically and it was under the false-pretence of “grace” or “anti-works” but it really was passivity. When I saw that Shane actually tried to be like Jesus in radical ways, I was inspired to read the gospels again for myself and see the life of Jesus as something to model. I learned that Jesus’ life just as much as his birth, death and resurrection was important to study and try to apply His ways to my life.
3. Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships by Carl Medearis
I was in my discipleship training school with YWAM and found out I would be going to Sweden and to a neighborhood called Rosengard which was mostly an immigrant and refugee neighborhood in the city of Malmo. There were going to be many muslims and I had no idea what I thought of them, how they thought of me (besides this underlying suspicion brought about by 9/11 and the news and political narratives) or what muslim even believed. This book was such an important and accessible primer by a man who has lived his life loving muslims in the middle east and sharing Jesus with them.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
4. Theology Narrative Missionary books
My time with Youth with a Mission opened me up to this genre of book. These types of books generally use story and testimony to share spiritual truths. They are easy to read yet incredibly inspiring and challenging. I read a whole swath of these books in my first years with YWAM. It helped me see God as powerful yet personal and it inspired me to step out in faith myself. Since there are so many amazing ones, I’ll just make a list below:
- Imprisoned in Iran (Cell 58) by Dan Baumann
- Is that really you God? by Loren Cunningham
- God Smuggler by Brother Andrew
- Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger
5. The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer
I picked up this book sometime after my Discipleship Training School and devoured it. It was full of meaty spiritual insights and I was hungry! It talked about the paradoxes of the Kingdom, our position in Christ, a life of faith, using our Gifts from God, and hearing God. Tozer really helped put language to things I was learning and experiencing and this helped me gain confidence in my spiritual walk with God.
6. The Upside-Down Kingdom by Donald B. Kraybill
An incredible book that unpacks the ideas around this “Upside-down” Kingdom of God that Jesus announced. Donald helped me see a greater picture of the idea of shalom, jubilee and the justice of God. I was hanging out with some Mennonite Brethren who try to live out much of what Donald talks about. I saw the earnestness to be like Christ and live out the gospel. At this moment, I was de- and re-constructing my faith. This book and my good friends at The Matthew Training Center helped me see a greater picture of the Gospel.
There have been so many more books that have helped me take the next step in my walk. I wish I could list them all. I’m always looking for more 🙂
What about you? What are 1 or 2 books that found you at the perfect time? Can you describe the season you were in?