The 10-books week: 10 books that changed my faith

Monday, July 2, 2012

This week, as I recover from the illness to end all illnesses (pray that it’s over for us, will you?), I thought I’d take a break from regularly scheduled programming and do a fun series along with Sarah Bessey.


As you may know, I am an avid reader, and be forewarned, one of the first things I will look for at your house is your books. (I promise I don’t judge. Much.) Read along, expand your Amazon wish list, and share your own favorites in the comments or on your own blog (place the link in the comments). PLUS…visit Sarah’s site and check out her lists as well!

With no further adieu: today’s list of 10 books that changed my faith. They may not all be my favorites, I’ve certainly read more ‘intellectual’ books about faith, and I probably don’t agree with everything in them, but they all significantly impacted my faith to this point.

1) Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller: This book obviously places me within a certain age bracket. Sigh. With this beautiful writing, Don Miller gave voice to a certain generation of Christianity.

2) The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning: Still, and always, my go-to book. A defining message in my life, and one I continually share with others. Life is messy, we are broken: we are unconditionally loved.

3) Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliott: My mom gave me this book to read when I was pretty young, and it opened my eyes to what following Jesus into the hard places looks like for some people. A lifetime committed to Jesus like that was a revelation to me, and that quote that everybody knows still rings in my heart.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose."

Plus, it introduced me to Elisabeth Elliott, and I will never regret that. I could’ve placed any number of her books on my list. I can still hear her voice telling me daily from our kitchen radio, “You are loved with an everlasting love…and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

4) Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective: This might seem a bit strange, but it was revolutionary for me to read the entire statement of faith and realize how strongly I identified with the denomination in which I grew up. This confession, even though I disagreed with a bit of it and even though it doesn’t make my final choice on where to attend church, was the closest representation of what I believe and how I live out my faith in this world.

5) What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey: Although I grew up in a grace-filled home, I don’t particularly remember it being taught at church. Philip Yancey really helped shaped my theology of grace and put me on a very specific path in my Christian walk.

6) The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge: John and Brent were the first to teach me about the meta-narrative part of the Gospel. The part where we’re all just a part of this Great Big Story, this beautiful love story that is God’s and God’s alone. It’s not about us, yet it is so personally intimate for each of us.

7) Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli: The first time I saw Mike Yaconelli speak was where most people met him first - at a Youth Specialties convention. He was went to be with Jesus a year or two later, but his words have always shaped my faith in a very real way. This was the first book where I read about faith being messy. I know most people start with Brennan Manning, but Mike was first for me, and it’s no accident that they share the same message. If you know much about either of them, you’ll know they were friends, along with several other men that they dubbed the “Notorious Sinners”. This message has been absolutely liberating for me – freeing me to live for Jesus even with a life that doesn’t look perfect. And being gloriously loved and transformed in the midst of the mess.

8) One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: I probably don’t need to write a ton about this, as you can search the archives for all of my spiritual awakenings surrounding this book. I think it’s just pretty darn cool to read a book and know instantly that this particular book is going to become a Christian classic. It’s that good.

9) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers: I know it’s fiction, but I can read this retelling of the book of Hosea again and again. God loves us in an unbelievable, unconditional, unassailable way. Redemption became real for me with this book.

10) Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell: Another Youth Specialties introduction for me. Rob Bell spoke at the first convention we ever attended, and I still remember it like yesterday. This book, while I don’t believe is necessarily his best (see Sex God for that honor), is a broader treatment of that first sermon I heard. Is God true? Is God enough? Is He still God if something I believe about Him changes? All truth is God’s truth. God is big enough for all of our doubts and questions. These are questions and truths that my parents had been teaching me all my life, and I absolutely loved seeing some of that in print.


Your turn! What are some of the books that have shaped your faith?

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