My shelves are bursting with Christian books. Most of them have something interesting to say, but a few of them really stay with you and inspire change. Here are my top 10 books that will inspire you to really stand up and follow Jesus.
- The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom
This book is essential reading. The story of Corrie's fight to rescue Jews in Nazi Holland and her imprisonment in Ravensbruck concentration camp is beyond words. Favourite quote: "There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still."
The Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical, by Shane Claiborne
Are you really living out your faith? This book challenges us to go beyond church and Christian culture, into the heart of the gospel, and really live this out in community. Favourite quote: "I must say that I am still passionately pro-life... if I am going to discourage abortion, I had better be ready to adopt some babies and care for some mothers."
- Abba's Child: the cry of the heart for intimate belonging, by Brennan Manning Christians sometimes feel as if we have to hide our feelings during the darker times of our life. Manning says we can be ourselves, and Jesus still loves us. Favourite quote: "Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion."
- Now I walk on Death Row, by Dale S Recinella
Once he was a rich Wall St Lawyer. He's now a death row chaplain. What happened? Jesus. In particular, Recinella had one of the most challenging and urgent visions of Jesus a person can get. Favourite quote: "Jesus meant what he said. It is time to let go of the need for anyone else to agree. It is time to just do it."
- The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, by Francis Collins
One of the world's most eminent geneticists, currently running America's foremost biomedical research facility, is an evangelical Christian. He doesn't have a problem with evolution. If you have any doubts that science disproves your faith, try this out. Even if you're a Young Earth Creationist, it's helpful to know all scientists are not tub-thumping atheists. Favourite quote: "The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory."
- Letters by a Modern Mystic, by Frank Laubach
Can we really 'pray without ceasing'? What if all our time was spent focused on Jesus? Laubach's account of his journey in doing this is inspiring and educational. Favourite quote: "After an hour of close friendship with God my soul feels as clean as new-fallen snow."
Chasing the Dragon, by Jackie Pullinger
Jackie inspired a generation of Christians to care for the poor and to rely on God's supernatural power to do so. Her story of following Jesus to Hong Kong is hard to put down. Favourite quote: "We need people who will go, and stay until the end."
- Run Baby Run, by Nicky Cruz It's the story of a vicious, drug-addled New York gang leader who met Jesus and went on to become an inspiring evangelist. Favourite quote: "Marijuana! Sex! Blood! All the sadistic, immoral thrills of a million lifetimes put together could not begin to equal what I felt. I was literally baptized with love."
- Rich Christians in an age of hunger, by Ronald J Sider
You know those bits of the Bible that talk about money? Erm... this book challenges us to take the Bible seriously when it talks about charity and generosity. Be prepared to give up your materialism. Favourite quote: "It is a sinful abomination for one part of the world's Christians to grow richer year by year while our brothers and sisters ache and suffer for lack of minimal health care, minimal education, and even - in some cases - enough food to escape starvation."
The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
It sparked a surge in militant atheism. Some Christians are frightened of it. When you read it, you realise that it's a load of old nonsense. Don't be afraid - reading the book can actually take away any niggling anxiety that Dawkins might really threaten your faith. As atheist Terry Eagleton said, "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology." Favourite quote: "A god who is capable of sending intelligible signals to millions of people simultaneously, and of receiving messages from all of them simultaneously, cannot be, whatever else he might be, simple. Such Bandwidth!"
(Okay, I know this isn't a 'Christian book', but so many people have become Christians after their spiritual search was sparked by reading the GD, it deserves its place. Dawkins calls himself a cultural Christian. Maybe one day, he'll become a real Christian.)