Do you remember the moment when a written phrase or word caught your attention?
The words leaped off the page and dropped into your soul, creating a life-changing response. Something you read made a profound effect on your life forever.
Christian books have had a powerful effect on me.
Transforming my relationship with God to an intimate relationship with Him came in many forms. After seeing this need in my own life, I wrote Your True Story to help others learn a lifetime of faith essentials to fulfill their purpose and deepen their relationship with Jesus. God’s Word, the Bible, and hundreds of other Christian books by great believers shaped my perspective.
Yet there was a time in my life when I was not much of a reader, nor did I pursue God in any meaningful way.
All that radically changed by God’s grace. But before I share what books impacted my life, let me explain the story behind the stories.
The Jesus Movement
My parents grew up in Roman Catholic families, but they lost interest in faith during their teens and 20s. Through a bizarre set of circumstances using an interview on a Christian TV network and a conversation with a Christian bookstore clerk, God drew my mom and dad into a personal relationship with Him.
It was the 1970s, and God was doing a reviving work in churches across the country, later referred to as “The Jesus Movement.” As my family and I made our way to church for the first time, there was no room to sit. People from every economic and ethnic group in South Florida filled the room.
I was a little girl, 5 years old at the time when we arrived at this little church. Rev. Bud Unger preached the Bible powerfully for every person and age to understand. When he explained God’s love story, I could not help but go forward in response to his gospel invitation.
We returned the following Sunday. Another invitation, and another time I would go forward. I’d do this repeatedly each Sunday until someone must have noticed and explained to my parents the gospel more fully. My parents’ faith grew rapidly, which changed their lives in powerful, beautiful, and healthy ways. They later answered the call for my father to attend seminary.
In the years to follow, I wish I could say I saw changes in my life, as I saw in my parents. The church was faithful to teach me Bible stories and answer age-appropriate life questions. When my parents started a church, my faith fizzled. It’s not that I didn’t believe, but discipleship was limited with all the demands bi-vocation ministry placed on our family.
It wasn’t until a season of suffering later in life that I started asking hard questions, and God graciously provided the answers. Although the Bible is life-giving and sufficient for training in righteousness, I didn’t know how to study it. Spiritual disciplines were not something I was familiar with. It wasn’t until God divinely placed a few key Christian books into my life at certain times that I experienced radical changes.
Now more than 20 years and hundreds of Christian books later, I can look back and remember the circumstances of those life-shaping books. On some occasions, I recall the chair I was in, the time of day I read it, the people I was with when words were no longer ink on a page, but medicine to my weary soul.
Hundreds of Books in One
We released Your True Story, a new Christian book featuring a 50-day faith journey that compiles everything into one book that I wish I had known starting out as a new believer.
(All book proceeds go toward the translation and free distribution of the book in developing countries.)
This book-writing journey has been more than ten years in the making, but worth the journey. After formal seminary training, life experiences, full-time ministry, field testing, and godly mentorship, this book is near completion.
Rest assured, this book is NOT a personal reflection with my stories. Outside of the opening welcome letter, my faith journey is deliberately not woven into the chapters. This tool is for the reader’s faith journey to focus on their real relationship with God as they learn the essentials of the faith.
But to create the content, as you may have guessed it, I’ve drawn from my stacks of spiritual journals. I worked with incredible believers from different Christian traditions in this book’s development.
What I noticed in the process was that a handful of Christian books came to mind as I would write. I would recall the place or time when I learned a specific concept and would be overwhelmed by God’s goodness.
Now I want to share a handful of those life-changing Christian books with you. Apart from the living word of Scripture, the following 15 books* made a lasting impression in those early years of growing in my faith.
Naturally, many of the books are more than 20 years old but are still relevant. You could easily pick up a used copy for a few dollars—well worth it!
3. God changed my perspective as to what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus with Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
5. My relationship grew with the Holy Spirit and changed my day-to-day life, learning from examples in V. Raymond Edman’s They Found the Secret: 20 Transformed Lives that Reveal a Touch of Eternity.
6. Outside of the Bible, no book has challenged me more in spiritual formation than Ozwald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest.
7. God patiently endured my poor exegesis, and I started to learn how to study the Bible properly with Howard and William Hendricks’ Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible.
8. I learned to worship God with reverence, understanding more of His attributes, in A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy.
10. Through various seasons of suffering and trials, I’ve drawn strength and embraced the surrendered life in L.B. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (I’ll never forget coming across her words, “Choosing not to choose.”)
12. Shocked to learn about the Bema seat of Christ, I realized there is no room for complacency or laziness as a Christ-follower with Woodrow Kroll’s Facing Your Final Job Review: The Judgment Seat of Christ, Salvation, and Eternal Rewards.
13. God helped me change my priorities and release my grip on things in Francis Chan’s Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.
14. Prayer became the top priority on my to-do list with Jim Cymbala and Dean Merrill’s Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People.
15. God changed my spiritual disciplines with John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People.
Bonus book: My call to invest in women and re-start the women’s ministry at my church came in part by reading John and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Women’s Soul.
Perhaps, at another time, I’ll share biographies of great missionaries, pastors, and world-changers that have changed my biography. For now, I highly recommend the above Christian books to get you started to grow your faith.
Your turn. What Christian books have had the most significant impact in your faith journey with Jesus? I love reading and always have room in my library (and in my life) to grow with books.
P.S. If you would like to deep your faith in Jesus and learn a lifetime of faith essentials, you can find our 50-day faith journey Your True Story here. All the proceeds go towards translating and providing copies to people in under-developed nations. God can use 50 days to do incredible things in your life.
*Views and opinions expressed in these books do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of All In Ministries International or Susan Freese.
**All In Ministries is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for site to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We were required to enroll in this program in order to feature the book cover photos and links for your convenience included in the article.