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Several years ago I walked into a Christian bookstore in my neighborhood to browse. I was looking for a good book–one that would inspire, encourage, and teach me new things to enrich my relationship with God, with my family, and with other people. The aisles bulged with shelves and the shelves bulged with titles! I wasn’t sure what to buy.

As I sauntered from one end of the store to the other, one section captured my attention. There on a shelf were newly-bound copies of famous classics by some of the great Christian authors of all-time such as Hannah Whitall Smith, Augustine, Teresa of Avila and many others. And the prices were right! Most were under $10 for a hard-bound copy.

I scooped up several. I knew in that moment of discovery it was time for me to return to the classics, to review the truths of Jesus’ teachings, and the experiences and insights of some of the great thinkers across the generations.

If you’re hungry for some ‘meaty’ reading that will inspire, encourage, and motivate you in your daily life, I suggest the following titles.

The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith. (Unabridged, Barbour Publishing). This volume has remained one of the Christian world’s favorite books since its first publication in 1870. Smith truly believed that God intended His people to enjoy a happy blessed life, and she took it upon herself to show readers God’s path to that happiness. The book overflows with substance for thought and with insight from the author’s own life. It thrilled me to learn that although she was born almost 100 years before me, we had so much in common: our womanhood, marriage, motherhood, writing, devotion to Jesus Christ, and a desire to grow and know more and more of what God has for his people. This is a book you will want to return to again and again.

Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians compiled by James Gilchrist Lawson (Barbour Publishing). The object of this book is to bring to readers the deepest spiritual experiences of the most famous Christians of all ages–in their own words. From men and women of the Bible, to the great modern-day preachers and thinkers such as D. L. Moody, Charles Finney, Madam Guyon, and George Fox, each expresses himself or herself in unique terms, and yet the deeper experience they share have a common foundation–the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit and the experience that resulted from it. The book is a testimony of how God has done for them exceeding abundantly above all that they asked or thought (Eph. 3:20) and He can and will do the same for us.

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, (Thomas Nelson Publishers). Is it possible to have complete union with God and if so, what does that mean? To 17th Century Christian, Brother Lawrence, the anwer is ‘yes’ if one becomes aware of God’s nearness in the act of daily, active living. His simple message brings a welcome sigh from those who strive and struggle to find God in a life that is a blur of busyness. Brother Lawrence himself had to learn the very thing he writes about, and that is practicing the presence of God by concentrating on Him moment-by-moment, to the point where he experienced joy and deep satisfaction regardless of the circumstances. This book will compel you to commit yourself to such a practice.

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor (Moody Press). This remarkable classic by the son and daughter-in-law of J. Hudson Taylor, born in 1832, and founder of the China Inland Mission, demonstrates the power of one man when he openly partners with God to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a hurting world. “Hudson Taylor was no recluse,” as the opening paragraph of the book clearly states. “He was a man of affairs, the father of a family, and one who bore large responsibilities. Intensely practical, he lived a life of constant change among all sorts and conditions of men…no giant in strength…he had always to bear physical limitations.” But he was faithful to test all of God’s promises and proved with his own life that “it is possible to live a consistent spiritual life on the highest plane.” His personal journey written about with honesty and warmth will inspire and encourage even the mature Christian reader.

The Pursuit of God and The Pursuit of Man by A.W. Tozer (Christian Publications). These spiritual classics are among my all-time favorites. I agree with Dr. Warren Wiersbe when he says, “Happy is the Christian who reads a Tozer book when his soul is parched and God seems far away.” At just such a time in my life, I was introduced to Tozer, writer, preacher, and pastor for 31 years of Southside Alliance Church in Chicago, Illinois where he was proclaimed even in his lifetime a “20th century prophet.” The book is “strong medicine, bitter to the taste but potent if taken in contrition and in belief,” says William Culbertson, Past President of Moody Bible Institute in the foreword to the book. To the smug, he says Tozer’s words may be too bitter. Only those who are without hope will benefit. With the force and potency of an electrical storm he delivers his message to a church that has become spiritually flabby and complacent. There is no mistaking Tozer’s message. The answer to our ills, whether personal or societal, is God Himself.

Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray (Moody Press). Do you, as I do, make and break promises over and over to live a surrendered life? Do you find yourself committed to prayer and personal time with God one day, and off on your own the day after that? What is required to live a life of total surrender? Andrew Murray, late 19th century church leader, evangelist, and missionary statesman, explains, inspire,s and motivates readers in plain language what it means to surrender to God and what blessings we can anticipate when we do. Here is a slim volume that could change your life, as it did mine.

Let me know some of your favorite titles and how they made a difference in your life.

 

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Enrich Your Spiritual Life With a Good Book — 14 Comments

  1. You hit several of my favorites! There is such meat in those books, and Hannah Smith’s book is so very practical for today, despite how old it is. And in times of stress or major challenges, the old classics are great comfort. I loved Hannah’s GOD OF ALL COMFORT too. Very good.

    Praying for you and Charles during this Christmas season, which must be such a bittersweet mixture for you. Hugs to you both, Karen.
    Kristi

    • Kristi, thanks so much for your continued prayers and for loving Hannah’s writing as much as I do. I’m going to buy her GOD OF ALL COMFORT. I hadn’t heard of that title before. Sounds like a good fit for me right now. Have a most blessed Christmas with your dear family.

  2. Karen, these were some of the classics I stumbled onto–a few over 30 years ago! Love Smith, Tozer, Bro. Lawrence,and Murray. They made such an impact in my Christian life. Great books!

    • I agree. These are the great authors that impacted my early Christian experience and I find I’m going back to them in my older years. Such solid wisdom and comfort.

  3. I love Tozer’s writings.I’m going to add some of these titles to my “to read” list for 2015. Thank you for taking the time to compile this list and your comments for each one. One of my favorite devotional books is “Joy and Strength,” compiled my Mary Tileston Wilder. She includes excerpts from many of the spiritual greats, many of the names you mentioned here. What graat post! Thank you!

    • Thanks, Michele. It seems the wisdom of the ages is contained in many of these books. Thanks for adding the title you suggested.

  4. What a joy to read how these books have impacted your life, Karen, as they have mine. So many dear friends recommended them to me early on. I found one I had not read, and several I want to reread. Hudson Taylor’s “spiritual secret” is simple and true: God will never ask me to do anything that He will not also give me the grace to do. As we face trials of many kinds, even today, that is the Truth I need. Love you, friend.

    • Yes, I need that reminder that God will always give us the grace to get through whatever challenge we face. I’m finding that to be true during this current trial. Thanks for your enduring friendship and care.

  5. Karen, this is more than serendipitous that I should read this today! Last night in my Bach rehearsal, when the conductor was rehearsing other voice parts, I pulled out my Nook and began to read Smith’s The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. It was probably the second book that I read as a new Christian, oh so many years ago, and it profoundly influenced me. I had such a yearning to read it again, and I had also pulled out Tozer’s Pursuit of God. It’s setting on my kitchen table right now! Funny you should mention him, too, because Ravi Zacharias introduces a new Tozer devotional of some of his until-now unpublished writing. I think I’m going to go back to the bookstore tomorrow, and get it. I had purchased FIVE books, and needed to stop. See how you are inspiring me?! Mike will kill you! He says our basement is sinking because of all my books. Interesting, too, that you should mention Brother Lawrence. I alluded to him in a recent guest blog. If you go to my Facebook page, I linked that post to it today. After numerous years of walking with the Lord, I am finding that I want to go back to the basics. I’m not sure what that says about my maturity level….or maybe just a longing to focus on Him, alone, as these beloved authors did.I’m really sleepy, so I won’t suggest other books right now….other than to say I love Streams in the Desert, in its original somewhat archaic language. I know you are enduring a very difficult trial, and this book would minister to you. There is a journal version so you can respond to each day’s reading. Please know that you are in my prayers, Karen, and I think the Lord is blessing you with a return to these books which will comfort and strengthen you.
    All my love,
    Your heartner, Lynni

    • Lynni, thanks for posting and letting me know that you, just as I am, are returning to the writing of some of the classic authors. I’m happy to know we are ‘on the same page,’so to speak, although I don’t want my suggestions to cause havoc with Mike!! Charles and I just unloaded two boxes of books but always keep the titles that we know we will return to.

  6. Dear Karen,

    Thank you so very much for the timely list. I need to read great inspiring Christian books.

    I’m glad to see Brother Lawrence on the list.

    How I love reading Brother Lawrence’s Practice of Presence of God. It’s simple but with profound meaning and goes straight to my mind, soul and heart. – I have you to thank to because you once mentioned it in one of your writings before and I took the hint and found it on Amazon.

    Karen, you’re a greatest guiding light angel.

    May God bless you.

    Jing

    • Thank you, Jing. You are such a faithful follower. I’m happy to hear you also love the writing of Brother Lawrence.

  7. Hi Karen, some good sounding titles here. I like C. S. Lewis and his stories. I like his biblically sound story telling. He tells stories that have a biblical truth and theme. Of course he’s not from the same era as your titles listed but still good. Your titles should give you many hours of reading enjoyment. GBY as you read.

    • I agree about C.S. Lewis. Charles and I toured his home in Oxford when we were there last fall. Such a privilege. I have loved his writing.

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