Where can one find a good read, to inspire, encourage or to revive oneself if circumstances are tough and you are feeling low? Mark Weeden shares some of his bookshelf favourites
King Solomon wrote that the writing of books was endless (and the reading of many wearying to the soul) and this can even be so in Christendom! So here are some books that I have found especially helpful, and also worth rereading.
John Bunyan’s great classic, “Pilgrim’s Progress” has encouraged generations of Christians in the highs and lows of their walk of faith, as they encounter the same problems as Christian on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. So helpful, that the famous preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon reputedly read it every six months!
“The Hiding Place” (why read novels when gripping accounts of real life are available?) tells of Corrie ten Boom’s brave and risky protection of Jews in her home in Holland, from the murderous intention of the Nazis, and the reality of seeing God even in concentration camps. A thought-provoking read as we see anti-Semitism rising in our own day.
Injustice and evil are very difficult issues to deal with, but RT Kendall’s “God meant it for Good” tell of the opposition, maligning and false accusations which the patriarch Joseph in the Bible endured. And yet God was with him and used all the experiences for the good of not only Joseph, but many others too. An encouraging read for any going through tough times, showing that, for the believer, God is still in control.
For me personally, probably the most powerful book I have read (apart from the Bible) is “Rees Howells: Intercessor” by Norman Grubb. As a young Christian, it was like spiritual heart surgery, and took me two years to finish, but what great truths of the faith, as Howells shows the reality of God in his life in so many ways, including prayers for the nation during World war Two. And God has not changed!
Whilst not well known, Darlene Deibler Rose’s “Evidence Not Seen” is an extraordinary account of this young missionary’s marriage, life and widowhood in the Far East, seeking to make the love of Christ known to peoples caught up in superstition, with the most amazing accounts of God’s encouragement, protection and provision. Truly, her story could have come out of the Book of Acts.
If you struggle with prayer, “The Diary of George Muller” by A Rendle Short (others have written accounts, too), is a wonderful testimony showing the reality of a prayer-answering God.
Muller, a loose-living German wasting his life, is converted to Christ, and ends up caring for orphans in Victorian England. First in his own home, then buying the house next door, he feeds, clothes and schools an increasing number (2,000 by the end of his life) without ever once asking for money. He shares account after account of laying the needs before God in prayer, and then testifies how very specific answers came to meet all those practical needs.
And EM Bounds’ very simple classic, “Power Through Prayer”, teaches us the principles about prayers which God is willing to answer.
A powerful autobiography shows a teenage Doreen Irvine on the streets of London, falling into drugs, prostitution and stealing, and becoming a witch. Through the power of her dark arts, she rises to become queen witch in England. Going in to disrupt a Christian meeting in Bristol, she is profoundly touched by the singing of a missionary, sensing the purity of the power in the lady’s voice, and contrasting it with her own real, but putrid powers. And so begins a journey that leads to Doreen finding salvation in Jesus, showing his power to be greater than that of her master’s.
Some of these books are wonderfully inspiring, but can the ordinary Christian really know something of God in the ways of those people? Roy Hession shows us in “My Calvary Road”, that a seemingly mundane Christian life can be revived, transformed, taken to new levels, in knowing the reality of God and his work in our lives. There is no partiality with God, and those who walk with Christ on his terms can know him in a much more intimate way.