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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!
- 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,