4 books that have changed my life (besides the Bible)…

It’s been about a year since I’ve last blogged, and I’ve decided to revamp my blog and kick it off with a few of my favorite book recommendations on topics pertaining to living the Christian life. Over the last couple years, I’ve found a few books that have become my “GoTo” guides for various topics that I find myself constantly repeating to people when asking for book recommendations. So here goes some of my top “GoTo” guides for hot topics in the Christian life…

1. The Will of GodJust Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung

By far the best book (or possibly the only theologically correct book) out there on discerning the will of God. I love almost anything DeYoung writes, as he skillfully combines wit and humor with biblically rich content. DeYoung always has a way of writing in a way that is relevant and applicable to today’s culture.

What’s his basic premise? (warning, SPOILER!)…The will of God isn’t something we mysteriously “pray about” or wait for God to “reveal” to us; rather, the will of God is something that is not always specifically revealed to us, liberating us to act not out of fear, but out of love for God and to stop sitting around waiting to figure out “God’s will,” and to start getting up from our couches and “just do something.”

You should read it if you’re… 

  • a college student trying to figure out what to study
  • a young adult out of college picking a career path
  • a single or dating guy/girl trying to figure out how to choose who do date/marry
  • or just a confused Christian trying to figure out what to do with your life and how to live for the Gospel.

2. Christian Dating: Holding Hands, Holding Hearts, by Richard and Sharon Phillips

Speaking of dating, there’s no better book than the Phillips’ on dating from a Christ-centered worldview. As this book weds (no pun-intended) theology with practical wisdom, you’ll put this book down knowing not only why you should date, but also how you should best go about it. From everything from the roles of guys/girls, to what to look for in the opposite sex, to dealing with singleness, this book is worth reading for both dating couples (and married couples I’d argue) and singles alike. 

What’s their basic premise? …Dating is not a means of fulfillment; Christ is. If dating is no longer meant to fulfill us, then we’ll stop manipulating one another to get what we want or fulfill our needs, start serving one another to build each other up in Christ, and experience the sanctifying fruit of a Christ-centered relationship. 

You should read it if you’re… 

  • a single guy or girl not knowing why or when you should start dating
  • a single Christian who’s never dated and kind of confused as to how to go about it
  • a hopeless Christian who has dated all the wrong ways and trying to find a better way (where I was while reading this book
  • a dating couple seeking not just to say you want to “make Christ the center of our relationship,” but really make it happen
  • or even a godly couple (dating or married) wondering how to better fix your gaze on Christ rather than one another. 

3. Missions: Salvation to the Ends of the Earth, by Andreas Kostenberger and Peter O’Brien

If there’s any mission book you should read – this is the one. If you want a solid Biblical Theology on missions and you’re willing to dig deep in theological truths and Scripture, this is well worth it. This book largely shaped my view on missions and gave me a solid foundation with Biblical backing to support church planting and unreached people groups missions.
The basic premise… Israel is fulfilled in the person of Christ who came on a mission to the Jews, now spreading to the Gentiles. As the Apostles (namely Paul) spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean to those who had never heard it, so Acts 28 ends with an open ended invitation for all believers to fulfill the work begun in the apostles, and thus bring salvation in Jesus to the ends of the earth, where the Gospel has not yet been preached. As Paul didn’t just evangelize, but planted churches to not just make disciples but bring them to full maturity and create self-sustaining organizations to further proclaim the Gospel, so our mission continues primarily through church planting.
You should read if…
  • you’re a student preparing for a short-term mission trip
  • you just got back from a short-term trip and you want to learn more
  • you’re seeking to pursue mid-term or life-time missions
  • you’re just a pastor/faithful believer wanting to catch a passion and fire for worldwide missions.
NOTE: This book is quite dense, and for those wanting a lighter read (though also packed fairly densely) I highly suggest John Piper’s Let The Nations Be Glad, as he is similar to Kostenberger/O’Brien in many ways, and combines it with his contagious passion for missions.
4. Worship and Worship Leading: Worship Matters, by Bob Kauflin
No book better discusses the topic of worship with both theological and practical groundings. I respect Kauflin greatly for his work with Sovereign Grace and the many Gospel-saturated songs he’s written with them. This is THE BEST handbook for worship leaders, hands down. If you’re a worship leader, you have no excuse – this is a MUST read.
The basic premise… Worship must be rooted in the Gospel and constantly reminding your team and congregation of Christ and the Cross. This is the only thing that time after time awakens a believer’s heart and stirs up his passions for the Christian life once again; hence, nothing should be proclaimed more in our songs and worship sets than Jesus and what He accomplished at Calvary. Kauflin also gives many practical tips for worship leaders, such as being mindful of tempo, key, song selection, and leading a music team.
You should read this if… 
  • you’re a worship leader. Period.
  • Anyone involved in worship leading or music ministry will benefit greatly from reading this book. I lament the fact that too many worship leaders think they’re “trained” so long as they’re musically gifted and vocally competent. Sorry, worship just doesn’t work that way. Get over yourself and go buy this book. Your church will thank you, your pastor will thank you, and Jesus will honor you when you return home to heaven.
  • Pastors will also greatly benefit from this book to guide your worship leaders and suppor them in their ministry – too many pastors also neglect this ministry of corporate worship as a whole, thus doing a disservice to their congregations.

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