The Beginnings of Adventure
I can still remember the childhood feelings of wonder and anticipation while my father read the Chronicles of Narnia and other books to my brothers and I before going to bed each night. Our minds would race around drawing up colorful pictures in our minds of the far off lands, unique characters, and exciting adventures described in those stories.
My dad would often read up to an exciting part of the story, only to fold the book together just before the tension was resolved. “We’ll keep reading tomorrow, boys,” is what he’d say. The collective groanings and shouts of “No! Dad! Come on! Just finish this part,” along with the begging smiles and pleading would be met with his smile of satisfaction, and a promise to continue the following evening.
Kindling a Fire
My dad new exactly what he was doing. Through this nightly ritual of reading and discussion he was kindling a fire in the minds of his 7 sons, sparking our imagination, and giving us bits of truth which helped us to make sense of the world and eternity. It also made us hungry to learn.
The Torch was Passed
Eventually we grew up and went to school, where they taught us to read. What a powerful thing that is, to be able to learn and explore the world of the written word on your very own.
Each trip to the library had us bringing back a stacks of Tintin and HardyBoys books- just the kind of thing needed to satisfy a young boy’s craving for adventure, all the while building a young reader’s confidence. But sadly, everything changed.
My Torch was Stolen
The ironic thing is that the very system that gave me the tools to read, stripped away any desire to use those tools. My love of books and learning slowly died.
I can remember dull and agonizing years trapped within square classroom walls; sitting for hours-on-end, trying to understand the abstract, and seemingly irrelevant lessons coming from the mouth of my teachers, or reading through thick sterile textbooks, and doing pointless exercises in class. Then, upon returning home, I would squirm my way through 15-30 minutes of dreadful homework.
Reading books had became a chore.
I grew to despise reading and learning. Instead, I turned my attention to TV and video games, drawing, riding my bike, basketball, playing outside, and making movies with my parent’s camcorder. Anything to keep my mind distracted from the dull and painful world of books.
A Brother’s Gift
It wasn’t until after I finished college in 2004, and through the encouragement of my older brother, Sam, that I was re-exposed to how powerful books can be. He gave me all kinds of books (and big thick ones at that) on topics like the Christian worldview, Christian economics, theology, and apologetics.
They blew my mind, waking up something inside of me that had died long ago.
“They blew my mind, waking up something inside of me that had died long ago.”My mind began to crave the mental exercise it got while flipping through those pages and wrestling over the ideas presented. My world was being turned upside down.
From Sparks to a Roaring Blaze
I started to read the Bible from beginning to end, and to search for the answers to the many questions I had about life and eternity. The books I began to read were practical, powerful, and relevant to my life.
Reading had become a joy.
I began to realize that books CAN be interesting, but even more important, they can enlighten the mind, and empower me to live a God-glorifying life- to live a life of meaning and purpose.
It was ok to have strong opinions, to live by conviction, and to understand what we Christians say we believe. The fire that was extinguished so long ago had been rekindled.
It is my hope to encourage other Christian men who may have a similar dislike for reading, as I once did, to learn to love it once again. Or if you currently like to read, to introduce you to some of the most profound and intellectually-stimulating books available.
In addition to regular Bible reading, I believe it behooves the Christian man to develop a healthy and consistent reading habit. We must keep our minds fresh and active by reading, thinking about, and applying the information that we glean from solid and worthwhile books.
Here’s the List
I have created a list of my 15 favorite books of all time. They come from a variety of different genres, and consist of the books that I have read during the past 10 years, or am currently using as my go-to reference materials.
I truly believe they will be well worth the effort you put into reading them, and will serve to equip and inspire you in your journey of Christian manhood, especially in the areas of spiritual and personal growth, family, productivity, health, business, education, and more.
Always Ready- By Dr. Greg Bahnsen
Directions for Defending the Faith
A classic work on Biblical apologetics. This intellectually-masterful, and spiritual-chest-hair growing book will give you the tools you need to defend your faith with confidence. Bahnsen does an amazing job of clearly expounding on the myth of intellectual neutrality, and how we can faithfully uphold the beliefs we have while tactfully tearing down opposing worldviews. This is one of my favorite books of all time. I highly recommend it.
The Exemplary Husband- by Stuart Scott
A Biblical Perspective
An in-depth, and Biblical look at what it means to be a godly man and a godly husband. Stuart Scott has written a much-needed book that clarifies how a man should think about his relationships, his roles and responsibilities in marriage; the challenges they must overcome; and how to grow in Christ-likeness toward our wives. This is one of the best tools I know of to help Christian men excel at their most important calling, that of being a husband. Go get this book!
A Theology of the Family
Edited by Jeff Pollard & Scott T. Brown
This gigantic volume is an anthology of timeless gems, from past and present theologians, pastors, and giants of the faith, covering numerous aspects of the Biblical family. Topics include everything from family worship, the Biblical roles of men and women in the family, modesty & purity, abortion, parenting, and how to raise godly children in an ungodly world. Don’t be put off by it’s size, it’s an engaging, and life-changing book that should be on every man’s shelf.
Finally Free- by Heath Lambert
Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
This book is a must read for any man who struggles with purity, wants to help others conquer their addiction to pornography, or simply wants to bolster his current resistance against the attacks of this sexually perverse culture we live in. It is a powerful and life-changing book that gives practical steps you can take today, to move from shame and sorrow, to forgiveness and freedom. It should be in every man’s arsenal, and read often. It’s also great for men’s-group reading.
What’s Best Next- by Matt Perman
How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
Have you ever felt overwhelmed, disorganized, and stretched thin by all of your responsibilities, a busy schedule, and constant distractions? In What’s Best Next, Matt Perman, the former director of Desiring God ministries, gives you extremely practical and solid advice on how to cut through the chaos and set up an effective productivity system where each area of your life can be stewarded with excellence. If you want peace of mind knowing you’re doing your best, buy this book!
The Book on Leadership- by John MacArthur
How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
The Bible is clear on the role of men as leaders, providers, and protectors. In this book Pastor John MacArthur defines and illustrates 26 essential characteristics of a godly leader, using instances from the life of the Apostle Paul as his case study. It is so inspiring that’ll you’ll want to go and grab someone at home, in your workplace, at church, or in your community and immediately apply what you learn in this amazing book. This should be required reading for all Christian men. Take the lead by reading and applying this book to your own life!
Morning & Evening- by Charles Spurgeon
A Devotional Classic for Daily Encouragement
I actually went through this as an audio cd set while commuting to work a few years back. Spurgeon’s divine gift of illustration shines through in spades as he paints the most beautiful pictures of God’s goodness toward man, along with vivid descriptions of what a holy life should look like. Reading this will be like drinking sweet spiritual drafts for your soul. You will be inspired to love God more, and live a meaningful life that brings Him much glory. Best devotional I know.
Cancer: Step Outside the Box- by By Bollinger
This is by far the most profound and eye-opening book on health I know. As the title suggests, it is primarily a book about Cancer- the science behind cancer, the cancer industry, as well as the traditional treatments; but it also goes into great detail about the history and development of our current medical system, non-toxic and cheap cancer treatments, detox, diet, nutrition, supplements & super foods, and foods & toxic materials to avoid in order to live a healthier life. Be warned, reading this book is like stepping out of the Matrix.
House Church- Edited by Steve Atkerson
Simple – Strategic – Scriptural
In this eye-opening book Steve Atkerson and others in the house church movement argue that much of what we consider Biblical church practice is rather a construct of Constantine-era church tradition and modern day cultural fads. In this book we are exhorted to approach Sunday fellowship in light of the scripture; specifically in terms of where we meet, why we meet, member and child participation, the role of elders, Christian giving, and more. Read it!
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs- by John Foxe
This is the classic book on Christian martyrdom throughout the ages. The detailed accounts of Christians of the past who have lived by conviction and died for their faith will strengthen your own resolve to follow Christ no matter the cost. May we all gain an eternal perspective and learn what truly matters in life by reading the horrific yet inspiring accounts of men and women, young and old, rich and poor, who have laid it all down in the name of Christ. May we be able to join Paul in saying “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Why Johnny Can’t Preach- by T. David Gordon
The Media Have Shaped the Messengers
T. David Gordon has written a mind-blowing exposé on how our modern society’s love of picture and “moving pictures” has drastically, yet unknowingly influenced the way that pastors, and ordinary folks learn, think, and communicate. He wrote this while battling cancer, with the hopes of waking us up to how profoundly our choices of media consumption shape us as humans (Media Ecology), and how it affects our ability to communicate with others. A fascinating read!
American Dictionary of the English Language
By Noah Webster 1828
Though void of much modern vernacular, this is by far the best dictionary of traditional English in the world. Noah Webster painstakingly scoured through libraries of resource materials on both sides of the Atlantic in order to bring us the most thorough, God-centered, and powerful reference material relating to the use of the English language that has ever been compiled. This gem should be used by all who wish to excel at communication in the English tongue.
Teaching the Trivium- by Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn
Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style
Teaching the Trivium has played an integral part in our family’s home-education vision and execution. It has equipped us with the tools we needed to get started. It begins with “the why” of Christ-centered home education, and moves on to the 3 practical levels of the trivium- or the (1) Knowledge, (2) Understanding, and (3) Wisdom Stages. We are using it as a template from which to create our own homeschool curriculum. If you’re considering homeschooling, check this book out!
The Lean Startup- by Eric Ries
If you’re a business manager or owner, looking to start a new company, or just don’t want to waste tons of time and resources on a new project or idea, then you will benefit greatly from reading “The Lean Startup.” This Amazon #1 best seller will teach you how to define what’s the most important thing in your particular endeavor, how to measure progress, and the dire importance of getting early feedback coupled with constant innovation. It all comes down to being faithful in the little things. This business book is relevant to many areas of life.
Rora- A Novel- by James Byron Huggins
One Man, One Faith, One Stand Against Impossible Odds
For most of my adult life I have thought of novels as a complete waste of time. That is, until my good friend demanded that I read “Rora.” I’m glad he did. This is based on the true and inspiring story of the historic stand of Joshua Gianavel and the protestant mountain-dwelling Waldanese against the superior and relentless attacks of the Army of the Inquisition. It’s an epic and gruesome battle of guerrilla warfare, espionage, and a fight for family and faith. This is a must read!
These books have proven to be very influential in my life, and the main thrust of each book has helped challenge and shape me into the man I am today. I hope they are helpful to you as well.
Your Brother in the Journey,