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.