Most Influential Books Part 2

I’ve begun a short series of posts about books which have greatly impacted my life. I mentioned in the first post that sometimes a book doesn’t have to be brilliant to have a major impact on your life. Sometimes it has to simply have the right message (assuming it is a truthful message, of course) at the right time. I’m a firm believer that books change lives and see us through the bright and the dull and the pain.

For the introduction to the series, and more background you can go here and read more.  In the meantime, here (in no particular order) goes installment number two in the series…

  • The Magician’s Nephew and The Horse and His Boy – These two need to go together because I heard/read them closely together and so their impact came in tandem. These are both children’s’ books and each one is part of a whole series of Narnia books written by C.S. Lewis. They were two of my favorites growing up and their value has held throughout my life. They enlivened my imagination and taught me to love literature at an early age. From a chronological standpoint the Magicians’ Nephew is first, though Lewis wrote them all out of order, and they were published out of order as well (to complicate matters!).  The whole series is worth reading to your children, if not to yourself, for their literary appeal, and their wonderful storyline.  The Horse and His Boy is such a great story that it can hardly be left off of any fiction list from the 20th century (in my opinion), and the Magician’s Nephew is highly enjoyable – though I think its better to have read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and others first.  Only then will you appreciate all the little story clues Lewis drops into the mix (I would point your attention to such things as how the lamppost got into Narnia in the first place…).
  • The Holiness of God – This is a modern classic in the field of Christian books for the layman or average joe. I can’t remember now whether I read this prior to ‘Chosen by God’ or afterward, but it was enjoyable because of the tension that Sproul showed within God’s character between mercy and justice etc. I began to see God not simply as my “celestial bellhop” who comes to me in times of trouble, but rather as the God or all the universe whose majesty is both awesome and awful. In many ways, this book helped dispense of the false god I had mentally built up over the years and replace it with a God whose holiness is beyond what I had ever contemplated. If nothing else, this book will help you worship with a more complete view of who God actually is. And if you’re a newer believer, you’ll grow immensely from this study.
  • The Valley of Vision – Before I taught my first Sunday school lesson at Dublin Baptist Church I was so nervous that I found myself almost shaking. Recently I had come into possession of this book (Christmas present in 2010 from my mom), and I had “coincidently” brought it with me in the car on the way to church.  I have no idea why I brought it – at least I didn’t at the time. Arriving too early for the lesson, I decided to get donuts for the class, and as I sat in the Tim Hortons parking lot in Dublin trying to pull myself together, it was this book that helped me pour my heart out to God and seek His help at that moment. The humility and strength of this prayer book is unparalleled.  It helps me time and again remember how to pray: with all my heart, soul and strength.
  • The Ultimate Sales Machine – I read this Chet Holmes book in 2009/2010 when my business partner and I were learning how to do business and sell etc. When we combined this book with some suggestions and help from a business coach, the book really impacted my approach to sales and ultimately led to the building of a multi-million dollar company. I don’t pretend to be an expert at judging business books, but this one was very helpful to me.
  • Knowing Scripture – This may be one of the most important little books I’ve read prior to much of my teaching. The principles here kept me from making countless errors and committing numerous textual indiscretions!  If you are going to teach a Sunday School, Bible study or just want to get more from the text of Scripture, then this is your book. I don’t think any lay teacher can afford not to read this book.

Stay tuned for my next installment of Most Influential Books…

Continual Repentance – Valley of Vision

One of my favorite devotionals is The Valley of Vision.  It is a prayer book composed by Arthur Bennett of many prayers from famous puritan preachers.  You never know which prayer belonged to which man, which is probably best, but each is a deep reflection on God’s character and our life’s circumstances.  They are fantastic.

If you don’t have a copy of this, I would advise you to go here or you can get an audio version read by Max McLean here.  You can read them for free at Banner of Truth Trust.

In the meantime, I am posting a few of my favorites here for your edification in the coming days until you can go purchase the book yourself.  (:

Here is a devotion that has greatly impacted me…

Continual Repentance 

O GOD OF GRACE,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness
to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many
aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with
selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of
raiment,
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth
the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

Assurance – Valley of Vision

Recently, I’ve been posting several of my favorite devotionals from The Valley of Vision.  It is a prayer book composed by Arthur Bennett of many prayers from famous puritan preachers.  You never know which prayer belonged to which man, which is probably best, but each is a deep reflection on God’s character and our life’s circumstances.  They are fantastic.

If you don’t have a copy of this, I would advise you to go here or you can get an audio version read by Max McLean here.  You can read them for free at Banner of Truth Trust.

Here is a devotion that has greatly impacted me…

Assurance

ALMIGHTY GOD,

I am loved with everlasting love,
clothed in eternal righteousness,
my peace flowing like a river,
my comforts many and large,
my joy and triumph unutterable,
my soul lively with a knowledge of salvation,
my sense of justification unclouded.
I have scarce anything to pray for;
Jesus smiles upon my soul as a ray of heaven
and my supplications are swallowed up in praise.
How sweet is the glorious doctrine of election
when based upon thy Word
and wrought inwardly within the soul!
I bless thee that thou wilt keep the sinner
thou hast loved,
and hast engaged that he will not forsake thee,
else I would never get to heaven.
I wrong the work of grace in my heart
if I deny my new nature and my eternal life.
If Jesus were not my righteousness and redemption,
I would sink into nethermost hell
by my misdoings, shortcomings, unbelief, unlove;
If Jesus were not by the power of his Spirit
my sanctification,
there is no sin I should not commit.
O when shall I have his mind!
when shall I be conformed to his image?
All the good things of life are less than nothing
when compared with his love,
and with one glimpse of thy electing favour.
All the treasures of a million worlds could not
make me richer, happier, more contented,
for his unsearchable riches are mine.
One moment of communion with him, one view
of his grace,
is ineffable, inestimable.
But O God, I could not long after thy presence
if I did not know the sweetness of it;
And such I could not know except by thy Spirit
in my heart, nor love thee at all unless thou didst
elect me,
call me,
adopt me,
save me.
I bless thee for the covenant of grace.

The All Good – Valley of Vision

One of my favorite devotionals is The Valley of Vision.  It is a prayer book composed by Arthur Bennett of many prayers from famous puritan preachers.  You never know which prayer belonged to which man, which is probably best, but each is a deep reflection on God’s character and our life’s circumstances.  They are fantastic.

If you don’t have a copy of this, I would advise you to go here or you can get an audio version read by Max McLean here.  You can read them for free at Banner of Truth Trust.

In the meantime, I wanted to post a few of my favorites here for your edification in the coming days.  The first one is called ‘The All Good’…

MY GOD,

Thou hast helped me to see,
that whatever good be in honour and
rejoicing, how good is he who gives them,
and can withdraw them;
that blessedness does not lie so much
in receiving good from and in thee,
but in holding forth thy glory and virtue;
that it is an amazing thing to see Deity
in a creature, speaking, acting,
filling, shining through it;
that nothing is good but thee,
that I am near good when I am near thee,
that to be like thee is a glorious thing:
This is my magnet, my attraction.

Thou art all my good in times of peace,
my only support in days of trouble,
my one sufficiency when life shall end.
Help me to see how good thy will is in all,
and even when it crosses mine
teach me to be pleased with it.
Grant me to feel thee in fire, and food and
every providence,
and to see that thy many gifts and creatures
are but thy hands and fingers taking hold of me.
Thou bottomless fountain of all good,
I give myself to thee out of love,
for all I have or own is thine,
my goods, family, church, self,
to do with as thou wilt,
to honour thyself by me, and by all mine.
If it be consistent with thy eternal counsels,
the purpose of thy grace,
and the great ends of thy glory,
then bestow upon me the blessings of
thy comforts;
If not, let me resign myself to
thy wiser determinations.