Turning 30: The Most Impactful Books I've Read

Simple letters on a page. Shades of black against a crisp white background. All lined up neatly in rows and flowing smoothly from left to right. Forming words, sentences and paragraphs that take you anywhere you have a mind to go. Whether its love, adventure or bold ideas, those simple little letters contain far more power than a quick glance reveals. Such is the power of books. 

Stretched out on the couch, propped up in bed or sitting in a leather chair reading is one of my favorite pastimes. Reading has been a passion since I was a little tike. When I was in elementary school, the book fair was my favorite time of year. Row upon row of books to read. Some about a teacher who was really a vampire, and others detailing the adventures of some crime solving youth. Whatever the book, I most likely wanted to read it. 

Fast forward a few years and getting lost in a well told story or wringing all I can from a helpful resource, books remain one of the primary ways I relax, unwind and learn. They are life giving, challenge the way I think and cause me to pause and take stock of my life. 

Over the years I've consumed hundred of books, yet there have been but a few that have marked me in a real and positive sense. Today, I want to share them with you. These are not my favorite books but simply those that have had a true and lasting impact on the way I think and who I am. 

Desiring God is the most impactful book I have ever read. It changed the course and pattern of my walk with Christ in a powerful way. It helped me see that God in Christ is after my joy. He isn't some cosmic killjoy but rather a loving father who is intensely concerned with my joy.

Too often the picture we form of God casts Him as disconnected, cold, unconcerned or the enemy of fun. In short, we far too often have a view of God and who He is that is starkly and surprisingly unbiblical. This remarkable book found its way into my hands at just the right time, took me on a journey through God's word and brought me to the glorious discovery that delighting in Him is the great and wonderful duty He has give us.   

Law & Grace
By Alva J. McClain

The relationship between the law and grace. How do they interact? Are the two mutually exclusive? Are Christians still under the law? Are there additional works that must be performed of me now that I've placed my trust in Christ? All these questions and a dozen others find their answer in this small but powerful book.

Reconciling the grace of God in Christ with the call to personal holiness can be hard. We so much desire a set of rules and regulations to live by. We clamor for a list that says, "Do this and don't do that, and you will go to Heaven." Our sinful hearts are obsessed with doing. Law And Grace helped me understand more fully the power of the gospel and the truth that it really is finished. There is no need for us to add our works to the finished work of Christ. He really did pay it all. Our attempts to do so only serve to cheapen the gospel and reveal just how desperately we need to be reminded of it each and every day. 

Knowing God
By J. I. Packer

Every now and then you catch a glimpse of someone who has lived life so incredibly well. You stop and pause to breath it in. You study it and look at the way they carry themselves, the weight of their words, and their impact on others and long for the same qualities to found within yourself.

J.I. Packer leads such a life. It draws its power and flows from the deepest of wells, a deep abiding relationship with Christ. It is the most important and defining characteristic of his life. I hope and pray the same will be said of me when my days are complete. Knowing God, there is nothing so sweet, so wonderful. This modern classic helps us move beyond simply knowing about God but endeavors to guide us to meeting Him, loving Him and embracing Him for all He is for us in Christ. 

Each of these books has had a profound impact on my life, but why? Why these relatively few books compared to the vast others I've consumed?  

1. They found me at the right time. Timing matters when it comes to reading. A book you completely hate at one time might be one you absolutely love at another. When a book hits your desk is just as important as anything else. Reading the right book at the wrong time, won't help you any more than the wrong book at the right time. 

2. They addressed a question or issue I was already wrestling with at the time. There are plenty of books that I have loved reading. In fact, there is a small list of books that I've actually put down and stopped reading because I just couldn't take it anymore. However, just because I enjoy a book, doesn't mean it is one that's impacting me deeply. Some of my favorite books have been those I've read for no other purpose than pure enjoyment. 

3. It had a unique contribution to make. It wasn't a rehash of dozens of other books on the subject, each made their own contribution to the topic. It can be frustrating to pick up a book, begin to read it and then realize that the author has nothing new or unique to add to the discussion. While this doesn't happen all the time, it happens far more often than it should.  

Want To Be A Godly Man / Women? Here's A Little Help

I sit down with guys on a regular basis who ask some variant of the same question, "I want to walk faithfully with Christ, but I am not sure where to start. Can you help me?"

While it always takes me back and I am honored to have the opportunity to help point them in the right direction, the truth is none of us are finished products. I remain very much in the trenches, fighting for faith each and every day.

Therefore the best way I know to help and serve others, is to pull back the curtain and share with them how I am seeking to grow and mature in Christ.

Today I would like to do just that with you and share the daily practices and resources that touch and inspire me in this pursuit.

So you want to be a godly man / woman?

Read God's word every day

You can't grow and mature in Christ without being connected to His word. Everything else flows from this daily devotion. The Word is central to your becoming God's man / woman. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in godliness so that the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work.   

Not sure where to begin? Here is a post to help you read your bible and get more out of it.   

Memorize God's word

Hiding God's word in your heart is huge and I know of no other way to transform your mind than Bible memorization. One constant you will find among the men and women you seek to emulate most, is that they know God's word. It flows from their lips with ease. That doesn't just happen, you have to work at it.

The Scripture Typer app is one handy little way to memorizing God's word on the go. Whether you're in the line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, or anywhere else this app can help you.


This is perhaps the simplest aspect of our walk with the Lord, but the one we tend to emphasize the least. This is one we tend to overcomplicate when in reality prayer is just a conversation with God. Not sure where to begin? Share your hurts, fears, anxieties, worries and cares. Ask Him for wisdom and that He develop Christ like character within you. Pray His word.

Here is are some extremely helpful prayer tips from Ben Stuart. 

Lock arms with others who are running in the same direction

No soldier wanders off and goes into battle alone, and you shouldn't either. The Christian life isn't meant to be lived in isolation. In fact, isolation kills. Grab people who are after the same things and run together. There will come a day when things don’t go your way and you'll need encouragement, when hard times come and you'll need support, when you'll stray from the path and you'll need correction. These things come for everyone, and you weren't meant to face them alone.

Here are some best practices for community shared by Jonathan Pokluda. 

Avail yourself to the vast array of resources at your finger tips

We live in a crazy awesome time! It is mind blowing all the resources you have access to. How crazy is it that you can learn, and be encouraged by folks all over the world. Here are a few resources to help you get started:

5 Characteristics Of A Godly Man, and 44 Verses To Help You Become One via Todd Wagner

5 Characteristics Of A Godly Women, and 43 Verses To Help You Become One via Todd Wagner

The Key to Christian Obedience via Ask Pastor John

One of the greatest resources available to is the opportunity to fill your ears with truth through the vast amount of teaching available digitally. Here are a few sermon series and podcasts I encourage you to invest some time in:

A Few Good Men via Todd Wagner

The Carey Neiuwhof Leadership Podcast

Ask Pastor John Podcast

The Role of Men via Matt Chandler  

Stand to Reason podcast

While blog posts and teaching are fantastic and will help you grow tremendously, not much can replace the value of a book in your hand. Here are a few books that have been helpful to me, and would be worth your time: 

Don't be legalistic about it

This sounds incredibly simple and it is, but boy can it be hard to execute on them with regularity. When you miss a day, don't beat yourself up, climb back on the horse and keep riding. None of us will get there overnight, we are playing the long game. Consistency over years is what it takes.

Faithful men and women are not over night successes, they come about over a long period of time. They devote themselves daily to the word of God and prayer, and they run with other others headed in the same direction. Do they still fail? You bet! But one thing they do consistently is forgetting what lies behind and straining towards what is ahead. That is they, ask forgiveness when they fall short, confess it to others and then get right back on the horse running after Jesus. There are no perfect men, but there are plenty of broken men pursuing a perfect Savior.