Bob is truly one of those people that I feel like I have already met, but actually haven’t. He brings you into his own beautiful stories in Everybody Always and Love Does. He has helped me realize that being open to what God has for me is as simple as saying yes to a few things that might sound crazy. Truth be told, he is one of the few authors who has brought me to tears with how he exemplifies the love of Christ to others. God does not intend to stifle our lives with rules and restrictions, but rather free us by allowing us to live with extravagant love. God is the source of love and through Him we can share this endless supply of love with others. The most beautiful part about how Bob has influenced my life is he has helped me think not in terms of, “How can I teach this person something about Jesus?”, but rather, “How is Jesus using this person to teach me something about Himself?”. When we realize that every one of us was made in the image of God and beautifully and wonderfully made, then loving each other should become that much easier.
Prayer, intensity, passion and Biblical understanding are some of the first things I saw when I heard Francis speak for the first time. His style of preaching has influenced the way I speak of the Bible. In one of his sermons, Francis uses an analogy where he has his own daughter come on stage. He speaks about how much he loves his daughter and brags on her for a little bit. Then he drove a convicting nail into my heart. Francis starts to speak about how much he loves his daughter, but God loved Jesus even more and still sent Him to the cross to die. Ouch! I am not a parent at this point in my life, but when he compared God sending Jesus to the cross to a parent willingly crushing their child for the sins of everyone else, it broke me. I had never envisioned Jesus’ love for us in this way before.
A little bonus fact here as well, while I was reading his book Letters to the Church, it made me realize the importance that community plays in the spreading of the gospel. Jesus did not sit back and wait for people to come to Him to talk to them about the gospel, but rather he created this small group of men that he poured into so that they may go pour into the lives of others and those people could pour into more people. Disciples making disciples, making more disciples.
I value logical reasoning so highly. Apologetics is the way in which Christians defend their beliefs through logical and Biblical reasoning. Ravi has challenged me to not only know the words in the gospel, but understand their purpose as well. Understanding the gospel in this way has allowed me to better explain the gospel in simple terms to those who are new in their faith. Being able to biblically back why we believe what we believe gives me more peace because I know the rock upon which I stand cannot be shaken.
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15
A few years ago I lead a small group of college students and one of the resources I was given as a leader was Indescribable. The book is filled with images taken years ago by the Hubble Space telescope of galaxies that are millions upon trillions of miles from our planet. Louie spoke at the Passion conference back in 2006 (I believe this is the correct year of what I am about to reference) about the ENORMITY of God since He could just speak all of this into existence. When I listened to this sermon for the first time, I felt so small. This was one of those defining moments in my faith that made me realize how BIG of a God I serve. My enjoyment for what God has created has only grown since then. How is it possible to look at any of this incredible, intricate and beautiful place we inhabit and say it all came about by chance? I pray to never lose the childlike wonder that strikes me every time I look up at the night sky.
Last but certainly not least, Tim Keller. This man goes deep. Like REALLY deep. Sometimes reading one sentence in his books can take a few minutes to wrap your head around. He challenged me to think like a theologian, but brought it back down to earth for me. Mind you I have only had the opportunity to read his book The Reason for God one time through, but I could go back through it many more times and catch things I didn’t understand previously. Being aware of how little you understand about the Gospel and how much you still have to learn should make you naturally curious. Tim helps sharpen your curiosity by introducing you to the building blocks of our faith and why they matter so much to a steadfast faith.
There are many more names that could go on this list, but here are some of the other great authors who have inspired me with their words along with the books that I have read by them in no particular order.
- Kevin DeYoung – Taking God at His Word
- Chip Ingram – Spiritual Simplicity
- John Eldredge – Fathered by God
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