Eugene Cho

the book that influenced you?

It’s been a busy week on this blog with two fairly intense posts dealing with abortion and the election.  I want to thank folks for engaging in such a thoughtful and respectful dialogue.  One of my hopes in blogging is to create a level of Community – even via the internet.

So, I want to take a minute to thank you folks for a] reading the blog, b] engaging in dialogue, and c] growing in a level of ‘community.’  Since it’s been an intense week, I thought it would be good to ask a simple question.  In addition to “regulars” sharing their answers, I am inviting the lurkers and quiet blog readers to chime in.  No one will bite your head off

Here’s the question: 

What is the book that has influenced you the most and why?

My answer:

I’m going to cheat and give you two answers.

First, it is the book of Genesis in the Bible.  I’m not trying to sound overly spiritual here but reading, studying, meditating, and teaching through Genesis transformed my heart, renewed my mind, and compelled me to a deeper commitment into the story and work of God.   

Second.  High school years were turbulent and in their own ways, transformative years.  I came to the revelation of the truth and Lordship of Christ the summer after high school but much of the angst, existential wrestling, anger and pain led me to Christ.  You could say that my desperation led me to my acknowledge of depravity AND redemptive beauty.  Having said that, the book that spoke to be most during those turbulent years was J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.  Why did it change me?  I’m not sure if it necessarily changed me but rather, it spoke to me.  It understood what I can only refer now to my duplicitous existential angst and pain.  I  resonated with the principal character Holden Caulfield…both his pain and cynicism and his desire to “change the world.”

Most influential Christian book?  Not sure.

Filed under: religion

64 Responses

  1. DK says:

    One of the more influential books for me is Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.

    “Superficiality is the curse of our age…. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people”

    It taught and continues to teach me about spiritual depth.

  2. Tyler M says:

    Most influential novel
    The Perks of Being A Wallflower (read it in highschool, loved it)

    Most influential theologically
    The Powers That Be By Walter Wink
    The New Testament- Introducing the Way of Discipleship By Wes Howard-Brook and Sharon Ringe (Biblical Studies of the future)

  3. Davo says:

    Oddly enough, for me it was…

    More With Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre

    In my journey of living simply, this book has revolutionized my eating habits. It completely transformed the choices I make about what I eat. I never imagined that how I eat could contribute to solving world hunger. This book opened my eyes to a whole new world of voluntary simplicity.

  4. Tracy says:

    Personal Seasonal Books:
    Why Christian Men Hate Women, Maraget Rinck
    (I know this book sounds harsh but it was an eye opener for me in relation to a personal struggle of a difficult marriage to a pastor). But it is a Christian author and christian read.

    The Spiritual Man, Watchman Nee
    Reading this book made me a tranny in my college days, I would debate anyone anytime anywhere concerning scriptures…o boy I was so prideful back in that day. I had a great course in humbleness since then, trust me, big smiles. But this book is a deep spiritual expression of God made design of us! A strong and in depth read.

    ALL TIME FAVORITE AND PLEAD WITH ALL WHO READ THIS THREAD OF A BLOG TO PLEASE PURCHASE THIS BOOK AND BE BLESSED – PRETTY PLEASE:

    One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism, Ken Ham.
    I have a BS in both Biology and Chemistry and this book balanced the right amount of science justification with the right and proper use of scriptures to example why ALL human beings are no different just different on the outside: black, asian, white, mexican etc. THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ.

    Excuse my passion but I just loved that book! hip hip hurray, yippee, *doing the moon walk dance* excellent read.

  5. Hi — one of those lurkers here. I’ve been reading you for a while, but have been quiet. But the topic books is near and dear to my heart, so here goes.

    Two books that influenced me — To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (first read in high school) and The Left Hand of Darkness (by Ursula LeGuin). The first was such a wonderful story and I fell in love with it. But I think also the idea of caring for the outsiders in a community resonated with me. The Left Hand of Darkness is science fiction and Ursula LeGuin is a master. It’s such a powerful story — one of those books I read in a weekend during college and was completely lost in the story. On one level, it’s a rousing adventure; on another level it’s about sacrificial love and belief and doing what’s right even when it makes no sense. LeGuin is not a Christian, but there’s a lot of God’s truth in that story and I’ve returned to it over and over again.

    There are many, many more books I could talk about, but those are two.

  6. Kevin Davis says:

    Other than the bible (I love the epistles of Paul) I would have to say the ‘Case for Christ.’ Sounds weird if you know me ’cause I dislike apologetics, in that it is a defense based (often times argumentative) way of engaging our faith with others. But it was the first really book I read cover to cover, I was in high school and it lite a fire in me to pursue God. I also really loved ‘Velvet Elvis’ by Rob Bell and ‘Out of the Question and into the Mystery’ by Lennard Sweet.

  7. Hi,

    I am also a lurker here. Other than the bible, the book is Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges. Taught me what God’s grace is all about when I was a younger christian. About how deep is God’s love.

  8. graceloveandpolitics says:

    Hello, I just finished When Prayers Aren’t Answered by John E. Welshons. Growing up, I was taught that death, illness, misfortune or hard times were some sort of punishment. That’s a tough way for a kid to grow up. It’s taken many years for me to “unlearn” this idea. John Whelshon’s book has helped this new learning. All of the tough stuff comes with life. But if we embracing ourselves, and the people in our lives through love and our connection to the universe we can make it day to day. It’s so easy to just be overwhelmed by life, and it is sometimes a challenge to be prepared, to forgive, and to count all of the blessings. To just love, regardless of the tough stuff. I know all of this. But it’s good to be reminded.

  9. SNC says:

    Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas – A great reminder on the nature and purpose of the church.

  10. jason says:

    Bible wise it would be the Gospel of John….just seem to have gotten more from it then the rest of the Bible…

    Novel wise it would be a few…”The Grapes of Wrath” by Steinbeck is pretty much the best novel ever written, and Farewell to Arms was my introduction to Hemingway, whom is my favorite writer and inspiration for my own writing.

  11. Daniel Azuma says:

    Reading some of these responses, it is humbling to realize that I’ve read hardly any of them–indeed haven’t even heard of most of them. There’s so much good reflection out there that most of us never take advantage of.

    There are several I could add to the list, but I think the one I’d point out is Theology, Music, and Time by Jeremy Begbie. It’s a fascinating book showing how reflecting on the nature of music gives us resources for thinking about theology. It’s not a case for natural theology, but centrally argues that theology itself, and therefore God’s nature and character, is to a large extent aesthetic. We should look at God’s truth as principally beautiful rather than principally rational. Reading it (in the context of a systematic theology class no less) blew my mind, and made me look at the discipline completely differently.

  12. Sue says:

    Brian McLaren’s book “New Kind of Christian” was very influential becuase he put into words all the stuff I was feeling inside several years ago. It was good to know I wasn’t a heretic.

  13. Ted says:

    Hi Eugene,

    As one of your quiet fans, I want to make my first entry here by saying that I really appreciate your thoughtful and inspiring work on this blog. You are my favourite and most influential blogger.

    As far as influential books, for me it’s any book written by Frederick Buechner. I find him to be a master story teller, helping me to see old stories and truths in refreshingly new ways. Here’s an example:

    “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way. If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.”

    Some of his books: “Sacred Journey”; “Now and Then”; “Telling Secrets”; “The Longing for Home”; “A Room Called Remember”; “Godric”

  14. Jennifer says:

    It’s so hard to choose…

    I have to echo Sue’s choice of “A New Kind of Christian” I read it right after it came out, and it was a bright light for me. I felt like there might be hope for my faith and maybe I wasnt crazy!

    Also, I love the series of novels by Susan Howatch called the Church of England series. Its about a very flawed group of people in ministry who love God, but whose struggles are really allowed to play out over a long period of time. “Glittering Images” is the first book (and the best, in my opinion). They are a brillinat mixture of theology, psychology, and history.

  15. Randall says:

    In my mid twenties I had a lot of questions about what it was that Christianity was all about and as a writer (still unpublished apart from one little short story in a literary journal that isn’t around anymore…not my fault, I swear), I had questions about how one could express one’s self as a Christian. At the time just about all the popular Christian writing I could find was really bad writing. Especially Christian fiction.

    Anyway, in the course of a couple years I found these books and they blew everything wide open for me because they were writing the way I was wanting to write – with blunt, brutal honesty, with doubts, and (sometimes) with bad words (because sometimes the f-bomb IS called for).

    Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
    Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
    Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
    The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris

    All of them excellent books, all of them highly recommended.

    And if there are other writers/artists out there I’d also recommend:
    Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle
    Roaring Lambs by Robert Briner

  16. rexhamilton says:

    McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian”. This book gave me permission to feel what I was feeling and question what I was questioning as a pastor. It forced me to take a hard look at where I was in ministry, both physically (numbers driven mega-church) and theologically. That was about 6 years ago and while I still have lots of questions, I’m a much healthier and happy pastor now.

    Also…Henri Nouwen’s “In the Name of Jesus” is one of the most honest books dealing with very real pastoral temtations.

  17. Kacie says:

    As a young teen growing in my faith, Watchman Nee and AW Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God” left a lasting impact.

    Though I now struggle with many of the concepts presented by these guys, my changing worldview in college was influenced by “The Sacred Romance” by Curtis and Eldredge.

    In more recent years my worldview has been changed by Mark Noll’s book “The Search for Christian America” , and my politics have been changed by the book “Power, Faith, and Fantasy; a History of America in the Middle East” by Michael Oren.

  18. Emily says:

    I would say one of the most transformative books for me has been The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I read it in college during a time when I was trying to figure-out what grace really was, and for the first time, I GOT it. Everything has been different since then. Also, another Manning book, The Signature of Jesus.

    In the past few years, Sacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas.

    Lately, I would say the best and most changing books I’ve read are Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings her Home by Jonalyn Fincher, and Jesus for President by Chris Haw and Shane Claiborne.

  19. Olivia says:

    I’ve been asked the question several times this semester and every time I come back to these two books that God changed my perspective of him and of grace; ‘abba’s child’ and the ‘ragamuffin gospel’ by brennan manning.

    I read a lot so its hard to pick just one book that has influenced me because so many have but within the last 2 years I would say those two books have been transformational for me and continue to be so as I recommend them to friends.

  20. Steve says:

    Darrell L. Guder’s “Missional Church” and Lesslie Newbign’s “The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society”

  21. Book of the Bible: James.

    Other books: Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, for “getting” the nature of evil and the subtle and unlikely ways we can be captured by it. Trusting God by Earl Palmer, which for me brought to life a God that is thick-skinned, patient and accepting. It broke me of my fundementalist upbringing by simply and profoundly teaching about the flawed nature and human struggle of the Bible’s “heroes.” It refocused my understanding of a Christian’s role from being dutiful to being brave but also human.

  22. J. P. says:

    Richest books from The Book: Deuteronomy and Isaiah

    Most influential book personally, though I don’t fully understand it: On the Trial of Jesus, by Paul Winter.

  23. eugenecho says:

    Great lists of books here, folks.

    @Ted: thanks for the kind words.

    @sue: depending on who you speak to, you might still be a heretic for liking McLaren. 🙂

    To list a few more books that have influenced me”
    the gospel in a pluralistic society [newbiggin]
    life together + the cost of discipleship[bonhoeffer]
    a testament of hope: essential writings of mlk [mlk jr.]
    faith seeking understanding [my first systematic theology book by d.l. migliore]
    life of the beloved [nouwen]
    god of the oppressed [good book for folks that want to understand black liberation theology by james h. cone]
    imitation of christ [kempis]
    knowing god [j.i.packer]
    stuff from frederick buechner

    a few folks have asked for my “must read” list so i’m putting a list together but it sure is hard.

  24. Leah says:

    i love, love, LOVE deuteronomy, (to get the pre-requisite Christian Biblical reference in here), but the two pivotal books in my life thus far were Beverly Daniel Tatum’s “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria”, published while I was an undergrad, and C. S. Lewis’, “Till We Have Faces”.

  25. Jennifer says:

    Leah,

    Ohhh….Till We Have Faces would have to be in my top 5 for sure. I’ve read it 3 times and am still trying to work out all the things I’ve learned from that book.

  26. Michael W says:

    Hey man, I read your blog regularly, but comment very irregularly. But I did go to your church a handful of times when I lived in Seattle, and LOVED it! I took a class with Eric Long (or Longe?) at SPU, which was awesome..

    Anyway, it is sorta a cliche book, but

    Velvet Elvis really inspired me. I was way late on the bandwagon of reading it (finished it about a year ago), but I was a new Christian, and had never really known there were Theological reasons for believing in the things that book talks about.

    Blue Like Jazz also. I know neither of them are really dense, but at the time, when I read them, they were hugely inspirational to me.

    Also, A Moveable Feast by Hemmingway. It is inspirational in a different way. You see, I actually got to live that dream of many for a little while: being broke, hungry, and in love in Paris. When I read it now, it reminds me of how beautiful things can be. Even the ugly parts of Paris are beautiful when you are hungry and in love.

  27. Janet says:

    Long time listener. First time caller.

    I love Dallas Willard’s two prominent books: The Great Omission and The Divine Conspiracy.

    Phillip Yancey’s What So Amazing about Grace and Jesus I Never Knew.

  28. Rachael says:

    Ahh, I love talking about books.

    Most influential book: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Annie Dillard). This marvelous book taught me how important and necessary it is to be an active part of Creation, of how to understand the senses and the art of living in grace and revelation.

    Others that significantly made an impact on how I view the world and myself as a part of Creation and as Christian:

    – The Inferno (Dante) — Favorite book (well, poem) of all time. The entire Divine Comedy is excellent, but The Inferno is notably the best of the three. The Hollander and Hollander version is the best translation I’ve come across.
    – Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
    – The Four Quartets (T.S. Eliot)
    – The Screwtape Letters & Mere Christianity

  29. Eugene- I have bonhoeffer’s “discipleship” work and am really looking forward to getting into it after I finish up the 5-6 books I’m currently in. Knowing God by Packer- another masterpiece, good choice. Some great insight in that book although I disagree with his full-on/5 pointed calvinistic take.

    To read Karl Barth makes me feel like a terrible Christian by comparison. Anyone else have that experience? It’s nutty, I know…but some times the insight and heart of these writers are so strong that it’s difficult not to think “am I living any of this life like I should be?”

  30. Steve Han says:

    Hi Eugene,

    “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg is one of the most inspiring, relevant, and transforming books I’ve read in years. I am reading this book (almost finished) because it is one of the required texts for a seminary course I am taking this semester.

    Certainly not at the level you felt, but I too remember empathizing and struggling with the emotions and the mindset of the character, Holden Caulfield, in the story of the “Catcher in the Rye” when I read it long time ago. Anyway, for some reason I thought young Edward Norton would make the perfect role for the Holden if they ever decided to make a film of it…but I doubt it would be possilbe to convey the full meaning of this classic story.

    Pastor Eugene, I am so happy to be able to see you again through this blog site.
    How long has it been?…about 8 years? missed you.

  31. Christine says:

    Pride and Prejudice, NOT for the romance, but for the depiction of female sexuality. I love how Jane Austen overturns social norms so subtly that those in power can’t see it.

    Thanks for the question, Eugene. I wrote and erased a comment on the abortion post 3 times, so it’s nice to be able to say something for sure🙂

  32. Rusty says:

    I tend to think the best book I read was the last book I read. That said, a couple stick out above the rest.
    Novel: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
    Christian Living: The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard; Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll
    History: Simple Justice, Richard Kluger; Southern Churches in Crisis, Samuel Hill
    Sociology: Divided by Faith, Michael Emerson

  33. Tyler says:

    The Ragamuffin Gospel. What Manning presented was a grace worth fighting for.

  34. Pandu says:

    Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

  35. Jason says:

    The book that has most influenced my life is Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian”. That book radically shaped the way I see myself, my ministry, and my world. I wouldn’t be in Seattle attending Mars Hill Graduate School if it weren’t for that book, I know that.

  36. jHong says:

    confessions of an heiress – paris hilton. no question.

    i kid i kid… i don’t know about my all-time most influential books but the novels that shaped my heart and thinking in 2008 include:
    – a prayer for owen meany [john irving]
    – what is the what [dave eggers]
    – white noise [don delillo]

    there are also three books of poetry that i’ve read recently that have been stirring, inspiring and a bit offensive at times but are nonetheless brilliant reads:
    – mockingbird wish me luck [charles bukowski]
    – the lichtenberg figures [ben lerner]
    – cognitive behavioral therapy [tao lin]

  37. Jenny says:

    Lurker here.

    Most influential book for me: “Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places” by Eugene Peterson

    Most influential story: “Till We Have Faces” C.S. Lewis

  38. heidi says:

    Lurker as well. Lilith by George McDonald.

  39. Rebecca says:

    Lots and lots, but the major ones are: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, and Madame Bovary by Flaubert.

  40. I’m with the “till we have faces” folks all the way. Another is Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard. It’s a short book in which she ‘accidentally’ takes on the problem of unexplained evil.

    I also loved Yancey’s ‘Disappointment with God’ and ‘Soul Survivor: How my faith survived the church’ during some particularly parched spiritual years.

  41. janowen says:

    Oh my, how difficult! Loved reading the answers. Forgive me for sharing a few:

    1) The Bible – the book of Psalms no doubt and Philippians as well

    2) Beyond Sex Roles by Bilezekian really helped me deal with the issues I’ve encountered in others and struggled with internally as a woman in ministry. God used this in my life in a big way.

    3) Two spiritual landmark books for me:
    A) Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
    B) Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton
    Both must reads if youre serving in ministry……

    Thanks for asking.🙂

  42. cschaffner says:

    Alcoholics Anonymous
    Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers
    Jesus for President
    Rich Christians in a Hungry World
    Messy Spirituality
    Abba’s Child

  43. Liz says:

    Yet another lurker : )

    I love The Chosen by Chaim Potok, and its sequel, The Promise. They have this beautiful candor that just pulled me into empathy with the ordeals that Reuven and Danny (the narrator and his best friend) faced. I read them for my freshman English class and then just had to read them again.

    As for Christian books, I must third Velvet Elvis. There was some much-needed straight talk in there, and it made me realize how much faith should be affecting every aspect of life, which was so exciting. The vision of the church in there was radical and wonderful and I was sitting there going, “This is how life could look like in Christ? Sign me up.”

  44. eugenecho says:

    Welcome to all your lurkers. I knew you were out here. Hope you folks can chime in more regularly.

    And I love many of these book suggestions. Makes me want to read right now.

  45. randplaty says:

    John Piper is a very poor writer. Excellent speaker and profound ideas, but poor writer. I dislike almost everything he writes.

    That said, Let the Nations be Glad was one of the most influential books on my life. Changed the way I viewed the world and missions. I was very narrowminded before that book.

  46. Allie says:

    Geez, Eugene, you know how to ask the great questions! I’m a complete bookworm, so this one is fantastic. I’ll be writing about it later.

    As for my most influential books, I’ll name just a few:

    Spirituality
    The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard
    What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey
    The Pursuit of the Holy, A.W. Tozer

    Leadership Issues
    Holy Discontent, Bill Hybels
    Integrity, Henry Cloud
    Visioneering, Andy Stanley

    Women’s Issues
    The Feminine Soul, Janet Davis
    Nice Girls Don’t Change the World, Lynne Hybels
    Gifted To Lead, Nancy Beach

    I will write a blog entry when I’m more awake, and include in that what’s most influenced me from the Bible.

  47. Steve says:

    Velvet Elvis really blew me away. It shook me up for about 3 years and it is still working on me. After that I have read so many books. Knowledge of the Holy, Screwtape Letters, Just recently I read Surrender to Love, Desiring God’s Will. I’ve been really getting to the letter to the Romans lately.

  48. Beth says:

    Peter Kreeft, “Back to Virtue,” tied with Jonathan Wilson, “Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World” and everything by Josef Pieper. These books challenge the modern/ postmodern ideas of individualism, relativism, materialism, consumerism, and pragmatism. I find myself coming back to Kreeft’s discussion of the seven deadly sins and the beatitudes almost daily.

  49. Samuel says:

    Here is my list. Yes, a list instead of a book. Sorry for not answering the question directly or correctly.

    The Gospels, Acts, The Pauline epistles and Revelation (I guess it covers most of NT).
    The Shorter Catechism by G.I. Williamson
    Knowing God by J.I. Packer
    The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame
    Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos
    The Kingdom Prologue by Meredith Kline
    Ecce Home by Friedrich Nietzsche
    The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzales
    Against Christianity by Peter Leithart
    The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson
    The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
    Simply Christian by N.T. Wright
    Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
    The Mission of God by Christopher Wright
    Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar
    The Church by Edmund Clowney
    The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll
    The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson
    Is There a Meaning in This Text? by Kevin Vanhoozer

    Answering why would require a longer list of things that I should not disclose for the sake of being considerate of readers of the blog.

    Thank you for the topic, Eugene.

  50. Tyler M says:

    I’ve seen a lot of Christian books on this list. War and Peace moved and effected me more then any Christian book ever has. Do Christians have narrow reading habits? I’m an academic so I read 90 percent theology, but I love throwing in at least one novel and a business book once in awhile.

  51. Teresa says:

    Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace….One School at a Time,” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin talking about building schools and communities in Pakistan. Cross-cultural learning at its finest. Full of hope.

    2nd favorite, The Call to Conversion by Jim Wallis…..first clue that nationalism could be an idol and that those in other cultures we consider our enemies love their children just as much as we do….

  52. Deb says:

    “Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed” This book made me believe that a non-violent response was reasonable. And more than being reasonable, it is a gentle case for resisting at every turn so that you will be ready to resist when it is genuinely dangerous.

    It is about a small French Huguenot village that unabashedly smuggled Jewish children to Switzerland during the Holocaust. Philip P. Hallie, the author, was a Jewish ethicist who studied grinding human evil and fell across this account and woke up weeping in the night. He decided, if he was to study evil, why not also study good. Oh my!

  53. Tyler Savage says:

    @Tyler M – I know what you’re saying man. I think we usually do have a difficult time breaking out.

    This is a tough question, like picking your favorite movie of all time. My list includes 2:

    Men at Work by George F. Will – This was my gateway drug to reading. In fifth grade I devoured this 300+ page book on baseball b/c I loved baseball so much, but it’s greatest influence on my life was that it proved to me that I was a reader. I could read, enjoy it, and learn from it. School hadn’t convinced me of this yet.

    The Shaping of Things to Come by Hirsch & Frost – This book influenced the trajectory of my life significantly, convincing me that I do “fit” in the church and ultimately leading me to exploring fresh expressions of the church for the communities I’m a part of. This book was a large influence that God used to point me in my current direction.

    Eugene, another quiet reader here, I appreciate the blog.

  54. Joel says:

    I hate these and love these all at the same time because i love talking about books, reflecting on what i’ve read previously and how it impacted me, but it’s so hard to pick just one; so i’ll pick two or three. First, Agamben’s _Coming Community_ forced me to look at how today’s individual/collective has become so fettered to the economic/political spectacle and how our intention to transcend it requires us to decouple from it’s culture.

    Second, Lewis’ _Great Divorce_ tied with _A New Kind of Christian_ as stated earlier affirmed where i was, where i was heading all the while creating a ‘reimagining’ of what i thought i knew of Christ and his kingdom here on Earth. They were truly life altering for me and the friends who i read them with…quite the journey.

  55. Learning says:

    I would love that to say it’s the bible but a lot of times and especially these days it is not. Sometimes things get a bit dry for me and it feels like Im just reading things I’ve read before.
    Apart from the bible I would have to say The Heavenly Man has to be one of my favorites that has influenced me. It really puts the christian life in perspective for me. Yeah sure we in america aren’t locked up or tortured for being christians but the book brings me back to what I would like to call ‘ the christian life 101’. God, evangelism, sacrifice, devotion, weakness, joy, passion, power, miracles, grace ,the Holy Spirit.

  56. Eugene,
    Thanks for this post. It is fascinating to see what books most shape people’s lives, also a little scary when I look at what some of those books are and think about which books have had the most profound influence on my own life. There are so many that it is hard to narrow it to a short list let alone a single book. Ten Fingers for God – the story of Paul Brand who pioneered the art of tendon transplants while working with lepers in India was one that impacted me when I was a young doctor and had a huge influence on leading me into a life as a missionary doctor myself. One of my delights shortly after moving to Seattle was getting to meet Paul and his wife Margaret.
    More recently Tom Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus and his latest book Surprised by Hope have been both challenging and impacting books for me that have helped me live a life more fully focused on the kingdom of God.
    Also I think that Christine Pohl’s Makeing Room: The Christian Art of Hospitality has challenged me to view the art of hospitality not just as a way to entertain friends but as a biblical call to reach out to the stranger and the marginalized.
    Many blessings on all you do

  57. John J says:

    Another lurker here, and it looks like I’m a couple of days late to the party, as it were, but I figured I’d chime in anyways.

    I’d have to agree with lots of the popular choices here such as The Divine Conspiracy, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Donald Miller (Searching for God more so then Blue Like, actually) and Rob Bell. But if I had to pick the one that really got the ball rolling for me, I’d have to pick “A Scandalous Freedom” by Steve Brown. It really helped shatter lots of old ideas I was carrying around about Christianity and opened me up more to God’s grace. I’ve read it through several times now, and actually pulled it off of my bookshelf a couple of days ago to give it another go. Highly recommended.

  58. Pam Christensen says:

    Really tough call, but here goes:
    Faith walk:
    Cry for Mercy-Nouwen (the gift of calling out to Jesus in our pain and struggles, even during the driest, darkest moments)

    Authentic Faith-G. thomas (a straight forward reminder that I DO NOT have it as all together as I think I do)

    Fiction:
    The Autobiography of Henry the VIII-Margaret George (started my fascination with Enlgish hisotry through the Elizibeathan Era. Amazing Politician, scary guy)

    Much Ado About Nothing-Shakespeare (yes, I like reading it as well as watching the play. The power of miscommunication)

    And I may be boo-ed by some of my Christian brothers and sisters, but I love the Harry Potter books (the movies are only so-so. I am constantly in awe of how God has creted the human mind to have such VAST imagination!).

    Currently reading:
    How People Change-Lane & Tripp (OY VEY! Very challenging!)

    Wisdom of Our Fathers-Russert (I have just always enjoyed him and was so sad when he passed away)

  59. Shawn says:

    I’m a new lurker and way behind on this topic, but the title caught my eye. I’m always looking for new reads (though I shouldnt because I currently have about 50 books I’ve bought that I havent read plus an additional 100 or so on my “to-buy” list.

    Recent books that have “messed me up”/challenged me:
    Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne
    Three Cups of Tea – an amazing book that I would recommend everyone to read.

    Some books that helped shaped where I am:
    “A new Kind of Christian” – Brian McLaren
    “Searching for God Knows What” – Don Miller
    “Velvet Elvis” -Rob Bell

  60. Ronnie says:

    haha, I know people have stopped posting, but “Sex God” by Rob Bell. It’s really changed completely how I treat and even look at the opposite sex.

  61. Dadofiandi says:

    @ronnie “Sex God” is my fav by Rob Bell, the books mentioned I have found influential are Jesus for President, the Divine Conspiracy.
    Not Mentioned Soul Cravings by Rafael McManmus and The Importance of Being Foolish by Brennan Manning.

    Fiction Cather in the Rye – JD Salinger, The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon

    Bible 1st John

  62. Tracy says:

    ^^^ o my goodness, I just purchased Sex God last Saturday. And its a nice read.

  63. […] And if you’re interested, you may also want to check a post from last year about people’s personal  influential book. […]

  64. Perfect insight concerning this subject.
    Thanks so much for sharing with us.

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One Day’s Wages

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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