Over the last month, I’ve read three books back-to-back that challenged my thinking and convicted my spirit. They gripped my heart and left a profound impact on my soul. Each book dealt with a different topic, but each one left its mark in a similar fashion by pushing me beyond my comfort zone. And page by page, I am a better person for having read them.
These are the books I read that stirred me to greater love for others and a greater understanding of God’s purpose for my life. I hope you will consider reading them for yourself and allowing them to do their work in your own life.
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3 Books That Changed Me This Month
The first in this trifecta of transformation was a brand-new book from Erin Odom (The Humbled Homemaker). Part memoir, part practical help guide, More Than Just Making It is Erin’s story of falling from middle class to working poor and later coming back from the financially near-dead. While her personal story was woven through the book from beginning to end, it also included quite a few practical tips for frugal living and income generation, as well.
You can read my full reflection and review of the book here, but what gripped me the most about the book was both her story of struggle and her perception of provision. Her story of job loss, financial destitution, and meager living was heart-wrenching. My husband and I have at times been frustrated by our finances, but this book opened my eyes to the reality of our abundance. We may not be able to buy whatever we want, and we keep a careful budget, but I have never once worried about how I’m going to feed my family. And that realization was the first way this book challenged my previous thinking.
The second way was in her recognition of the many, oftentimes creative, ways that God provided for her family. I realized as I read her stories that God had met my needs countless times in countless ways that I had not even recognized or thanked Him for. Now I no longer go about my day blind to His blessings and provision the way I once did. And I don’t know how anyone could after reading this book.
(Note: I was on the book launch team for this book. I received a free pre-release copy of the book in exchange for my honest review and thoughts. In no way was I compelled or pressured to say anything other than my true opinion, which I shared in my review.)
Get your copy of More Than Just Making It here!
After More Than Just Making It, I read another fantastic book called Sacred Mundane: How to Find Freedom, Purpose, and Joy. It was written by blogger, speaker, and Bible teacher Kari Patterson, and it is all about inviting Jesus to use every little mundane moment in our lives to transform our lives. As she says in the book, “In all our efforts to break free from the mundane, we’ve missed the very means God provides for our transformation.”
There were a lot of thought-provoking, inspiring, and illuminating points in the book, but there were also many deeply convicting and challenging moments as well. For example, at one point she said, “if we were completely honest, the trajectory of our lives was very much the trajectory of the world. In the midst of our church work, we wanted comfort, control, approval, and success. Same goals as the world’s, just dressed up in churchy clothes.” Later, she stated that her life “was mostly just a churchy version of the American dream,” and that she “put Jesus masks on all my idols.”
Those lines caught my mind’s attention and made themselves comfortable there for several days. I couldn’t stop thinking about the trajectory of my life and my goals. Was I living any different than the world? Were my goals any different? My motives? My idols? Had my life (and my faith) become more about achieving the American dream than about achieving the Kingdom dream? As painful as they were to think about and answer, I knew they were questions I needed to ask.
That was just one example of the many ways this book challenged me. Here are a few other thought-provoking quotes that left their mark in my heart:
“If our sole vocation is to please one Master, whom else are we seeking to impress?”
“Whenever we struggle to love the one, we are wise to ask ourselves, ‘What idol is sabotaging my love?’”
“I realized that not much in my life actually required faith.”
And my favorite:
“Anything that becomes a requirement for our happiness weasels its way into the holy throne room of our heart where God alone should reign.”
Get your copy of Sacred Mundane here!
As if those two books weren’t enough to leave a lasting impression, I followed that line-up with Kingdom Disciples, by Tony Evans. I have long been a fan of Dr. Evans and his books (his Kingdom Woman book made my list of top 5 books favorite books for women, and his Raising Kingdom Kids is a must-read for all Christian parents!). So when an opportunity arose to receive a free copy of his newest book, Kingdom Disciples, in exchange for a review, I jumped at the chance!
It was everything I’ve come to expect from Dr. Evans and more. All the books in his Kingdom series (and I’ve read all but one) are fantastic, and inspire readers to view all of life through a Kingdom lens. This latest book is a practical overview of discipleship, and it teaches what a disciple is, what a disciple should do, and how to make disciples of others. It is highly informative, but also deeply inspiring and even challenging at times.
In Dr. Evans’ typical straight-forward-yet-loving fatherly way, he spoke straight to my heart, his words piercing right through all the selfish, fearful, complacent muck that had built up around it. And it was the perfect next brick on the foundation laid by the other two books.
I will warn you – if you’re looking for a feel-good book that you can passively consume and walk away from filled with warm tinglies, then this is not the book for you. If, however, you are desiring to deepen your faith and get serious about living out the call of God in your life, then this is an absolute must-read. You will not read this book and want to live life the same self-seeking, self-interested way you’ve been living it, I can assure you. Rather, you will see that our lives are to be lived for more than just ourselves, and that discipleship is a life that God has called all of his children to embrace.
Get your copy of Kingdom Disciples here!
I’ve read a lot of books over the years – a LOT of books – and many of them have inspired me in various ways. But I don’t know that I’ve ever read such deeply moving and challenging books back-to-back as I did over the last month. On the surface their topics and themes were completely different. But they came together as perfectly-fitting pieces of a puzzle to to challenge my preconceived notions about what life is all about and open my eyes and my heart to the true meaning of abundant life in Christ.
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