I’ve read a lot of books through the years. Outside of the Bible these 3 have impacted my life the most:
Is Jesus part of your daily life—here and now? Or, by failing to take him seriously, have you relegated him to the realm of the “hereafter”? In The Divine Conspiracy, biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice are weaved together to capture the central insights of Christ’s teachings in a fresh way and show the necessity of profound changes in how we view our lives and faith.
Christians for the most part consider the primary function of Christianity to be admittance to heaven. But a faith that guarantees a satisfactory afterlife, yet has absolutely no impact on life in the here and now, is nothing more than “consumer Christianity” and “bumper-sticker faith.” In an era when so many consider Jesus a beloved but remote savior, readers of The Divine Conspiracy will explore a revolutionary way to experience God—by knowing Him as an essential part of the here and now, an integral part of every aspect of our existence.
Erich’s note: This book came out in 1998 and has been considered a masterpiece by many ever since and it’s impact will continue to grow even after the recent “passing” of Dallas Willard on May 8, 2013 (you can view his memorial celebration here). This book focuses on the true meaning of Christian Discipleship and Spiritual Formation. The thing that first resonated with me when I read it several years ago was the discovery that the eternal kind of life begins now (the gospel is about living now, not just for dying / for “someday”). These 3 chapters are priceless: Chapter 2) Gospels of Sin Management; Chapter 8) On Being a Disciple, or Student, of Jesus; and Chapter 9) A Curriculum for Christlikeness. The middle section of this book explores the Sermon on the Mount in great depth. As Richard Foster says in the foreword, “It helps me see that the teachings of Jesus are intelligent and vital and intently practical.” Disclaimer: it is not an easy, quick read but it is well worth the time and effort. I’m sure you’ll find yourself going back to it as frequently as I do.
You can live a deeper, more Spiritual life right where you are. The heart of Christianity is transformation—a relationship with God that impacts not just our “spiritual lives,” but every aspect of living. John Ortberg calls readers back to the dynamic heartbeat of Christianity—God’s power to bring change and growth—and reveals both the how and why of transformation. As with a marathon runner, the secret to winning the race lies not in trying harder, but in training consistently—training with the spiritual disciplines. The disciplines are neither taskmasters nor an end in themselves. Rather they are exercises that build strength and endurance for the road of growth. The fruit of the Spirit—joy, peace, kindness, etc.—are the signposts along the way.
Erich’s note: This book actually introduced me to Dallas Willard as Ortberg even notes in his preface that a private working title for this book was Dallas for Dummies. Willard had an enormous impact on Ortberg’s life (read what Ortberg wrote after Willard’s death). I love how it focuses on spiritual disciplines in a fresh, ordinary way. You’ll discover this helpful and significant principle for transformation: “There is an immense difference between training to do something and trying to do something.” You will find this to be an easy, practical and life-changing book to read.
Max Lucado takes you through the drama of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—bringing to life Peter’s denial, Pilate’s hesitancy, and John’s loyalty. Relive the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, from the foggy garden of Gethsemane to the incandescent room of the resurrection. No Wonder They Call Him the Savior leads you up the hill of mankind’s highest hope and reminds you why he deserves to be called our Savior.
Erich’s note: I grew up in a very conservative church in Ashland, MS. I had a great experience there and it was there where by spiritual life began to form. But it wasn’t until I was a freshmen in college that I began to first learn about grace and it was this book by Max Lucado that begin to revolutionize how I saw Jesus and experienced God’s grace. Max has written many great books since this one back in 1986 but this one will always have a special place in my heart. If you haven’t ever read yet it check it out. If you have, it might be time to read it again.
Your turn… What 3 books have had the most impact on your life so far? Also, if you’ve read any of these take a moment and share some thoughts about them.