Books that have Powerfully Influenced My Thinking

I was quite young when I discovered a love for reading.  It probably had something to do with the fact that we did not have a TV (thanks to an evangelist who had preached against them the night my dad was born again lol).  It also likely had something to do with the fact that early on I was introduced to books that were enjoyable to read.  As a lad, I would read every book in the Hardy Boys and Danny Orlis Series. For a while I even tried to read the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  I didn’t make it very far though before I decided that I would just wait for the Internet to be invented! I remember when I read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  I learned a lot from that one.  I also remember when a family friend bought me a beautiful set of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. I cannot tell you how many times I read those.  I loved Chaim Potok and somewhere along the way discovered Louis L’Amour.  I loved poetry and especially the ones by Robert Frost and Edgar Allen Poe. I even read most of the works of Shakespeare!  After becoming a believer, I discovered the Bible and have read it from cover to cover many times by simply reading it daily.  Needless to say I love books and writing and reading.

There are some books that have had an especially profound impact on how I think and who I am . I mean, besides the Bible, of course.  Here are several that impacted my thinking in a great way:

  1. Portrait of Obedience, the Biography of Robert T. Ketcham, by J. Murray Murdoch.  This book was my first venture into the battles that occurred in the first half of the last century.  It helped me to understand why men handled things as they did and why different groups did what they did as well.  Ketcham is credited with the beginning of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (now simply referred to as the GARBC).
  2. Standing on the Promises, The Autobiography of W. A. Criswell.  This book was one that was recommended to me by my Father-in-Law. It gave my wife and me a glimpse into the battles that occurred in the SBC and how some men stayed in and fought for the faith from within instead of withdrawing (or being removed) and fighting from without.  Criswell also introduced me to expositional preaching that was both practical and evangelistic.  
  3. In the Name of God: The Colliding Lives, Legends, and Legacies of J Frank Norris and George W. Truett by O. S. Hawkins.  This book was a recent read and again reminded me of what happened in the SBC that lead to the beginning of the IFB.  It again reminded me that good men can be very fundamental and yet take very different views that have very different outcomes.  I can tell you that this one surprised me by providing a very balanced and fair evaluation of the life and times of J. Frank Norris.  It is worth the read and has an extensive biography at the end!  
  4. John R. Rice, Captain of Our Team by Viola Walden.  This book is not as well written as the others, but is a very up-close and personal view of the life and ministry of one of my favorite evangelists of the last century.  Dr. Rice was an avid fundamentalist but was also an avid soul-winner and a powerful preacher for the gospel and revival. He was firm and forceful in his convictions and positions but was also kind and gracious. I appreciated that even as he challenged Dr. Billy Graham for some of his practices, he continued to love him, pray for him, and show him kindness. I respect him for staying true to the fundamentals (those were never optional for any reason).  I also respect him for allowing room for a variety of  positions that were different from his.  I enjoyed this book and have also read almost everything that he wrote himself.  I have profited greatly from his writings!

I know I could list many, many more. I am always reading and it has been one of the great blessings of my life. 

What books have had the greatest impact on how you think and who you are?  I would love to hear your story in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

Your sincere friend,

Dave Young

6 thoughts on “Books that have Powerfully Influenced My Thinking

  1. I enjoyed this post. I am not an avid reader but wish I were. I am starting to read more as I’m growing older. Thankfully, my wife is instilling the joy of reading to our children. I have been reading through the Bible in a year for a number of years now and that has benefitted me greatly.

    Reading about your admiration of John R. Rice reminded me of a story. When I was a young man my church went to the summer camp at the Bill Rice Ranch in Murfreesboro, TN. I helped out our group as a chaperone which gave me another perspective of the operation of this ministry. I remember one year a big group came from an inner-city area and let’s just say this group stuck out a little. Every morning the ranch would have a meeting with the church group’s leaders and chaperones for devotionals, prayer, and focuses of the day. In reference to this inner-city group, I believe it was Bill that spoke on the matter at hand. He mentioned how it has come to his attention how there were complaints and grumbling about this group. I remember how Bill very tactfully reminded us that this is what ministry is all about in that the love of Christ is to everyone! By the end of the week, many from this group were saved. Praise the Lord for His regenerating power and for the wisdom of Bill Rice. This was an influential event in my life.

    Thank you for the post,
    Matt Kline

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For me it was “Jesus Among Other Gods” by Ravi Zacharias. (I realize the sensitivities these days to even mentioning any book by Zacharias). I was given this book when, as a Hindu, I attended a church mens retreat in 2005. This book challenged my views about other religions and gave me the basics of who Jesus is and what Christianity was all about. Besides the Bible and hearing Gods Word Sunday after Sunday, this book was pivotal in my conversion from Hinduism to getting saved by Jesus Christ on March 4, 2006.


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