Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
I love to read. A couple years ago I read over three hundred books, last year I read maybe a couple hundred, and this year it has been much less. A big reason for the decline is that while I still love to read, my perspective has shifted quite a bit. I used to read voraciously to get as much information as I could so I could learn more to be better and do better – basically to fix my life. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to grow, I look back now and see it was partly a love of learning but mostly a strong sense of lack that propelled me. I was always waiting to come across that one big thing that would change everything for me and lead to breakthrough. But what I have found instead is that it was not what I didn’t have that held me back but what I already had but didn’t understand.
I’m going to insert here that this post has been a long time coming and is pretty lengthy so if you want to skip ahead to just the list of books and the giveaway details scroll to the end! If you want details on the books, they are in the post. Thanks for reading!
I have read a lot of good books, beautifully written books, inspiring books, and books that have made me laugh and cry. I’ve read books about biology, detoxing, nutrition, emotions, energy – but for all the books I’ve read, there are few that I can say have actually changed me. I’ve read a lot of books that gave me lots of new things to do but few that spoke to who I am. I spent a very long time fighting a spiritual battle with physical weapons. I had no idea that something I could not see, check off, or swallow could play such a pivotal part in my recovery as some of what I’m about to share has.
I share these books with people regularly as we talk about our stories so I thought I’d write a blog post with some of the most influential books in my life in one place. I had originally titled this post, “My Favorite Wellness Books,” and while that is definitely true, I thought it might be confusing for the majority of people. I have come to realize that wellness is not so much the rules we follow about what we do but more how we think and what we come into agreement with.
We are spirit, soul, and body, and up until a few years ago, I had NO idea how connected all three are and how they influence each other. This has been one of the most profound things I have ever learned and I have a feeling I’ve only just touched the tip of it.
One more quick note before the list: A lot of the content in these books can be found in the Bible (which will always be my main book I compare all others to). It took books outside the Bible for me to start to see the Truth in the Bible, though, because I learned at an early age to read the it through the lens of religion and that stripped it of a lot of its power in my life. I thought I knew passages, I’d read them my whole life, I’d been taught what they meant, but I missed so much. My knowledge of God came from what I observed in church, the way people I admired talked about Him, and life experiences – it turns out those are not a very solid foundation to live life on! These books were like putting on a different pair of glasses or stepping outside of a box I’d been living in so I could determine what I, Kristin, believed and why.
When the stuff hits the fan, you need to know what YOU believe and why. What you believe will determine what you experience, or as a friend says, “You are the product of the Gospel you believe.” In many ways I feel like an old church lady in terms of knowing the Bible but like a young child in terms of knowing God’s heart. His heart is what I’m after now.
One last thing before the list: I read at least one of these seven years ago and it did not have a profound effect on me. It intrigued me, but did was not life-altering like it was years later when I picked it up again, so I think the openness of one’s heart has a lot to do with how deeply something can penetrate. I had to come to a place where I was more interested in learning THE Truth that defending what I’d always believed was true. That turned out to be a very good place to be.
Unmerited Favor was the very first book I read that opened my eyes and made me think, “oh my gosh, have I been wrong?” It was so different than what I was used to reading so as I read, I looked for anything that contradicted what I knew about the Bible (couldn’t find anything). I am sorry to say that previously I had read one excerpt from one of Joseph Prince’s books that a friend showed me and I judged him and picked apart what he said. I either read it out of context or was so sure of what I knew that anything that looked different was wrong. But a while later someone I respect mentioned how much one of his books had changed their life and this time, I was ready to take a good look at it. I desperately needed answers and if a book could help with any of the puzzle pieces, I was open to it.
This book opened me up to the true meaning of Grace (the person!), the difference in how God relates to us pre- and post-cross, the difference between the Law and covenant of Grace, and made me see that the church today is confused about Bible covenants. Few people differentiate between old and new covenant and use any verse any way they want which led to a lot of confusion for me and a belief that God was very inconsistent (and therefore, not totally trustworthy). I especially love how Joseph uses old testament shadows to point to Jesus! Unmerited Favor and Destined to Reign were two books that portrayed such an overwhelmingly good picture of God that they made me want to find out more.
Dare to Believe was the next book I read that introduced something completely new to me. Here is this woman who believes God always heals and has built her life around believing God is good and has defeated the devil and healing is simple. Oh how it stretched my young belief system and at the same time, excited me. I did not know people lived like this! Like, God is really, really good and they really believe His Word and really do have authority and live out the Gospel of Jesus. There is one story in particular that Becky Dvorak recalls that I will never forget because it shows SO clearly how the enemy works (if you read it, it is the incident where her son is hospitalized and given an awful report by the doctor that she responds to with, “My son will not… my son will live and fulfill the plans God has for his life”). This book planted a seed in my heart that God wanted to heal me – and since no one else could that was good news!
You’ve Already Got It by Andrew Wommack changed my life. It was so simple, and yet so profound, and as I followed along in my Bible, I saw it all right there in front of me and wondered how I’d missed it before (the whole New Testament is written from this perspective!). Have you ever begged and pleaded with God and felt He was silent? Or felt like you had to muster up enough faith to move His hand? This book helped me see the finished work of Christ – not the half-finished, but the fully finished work of a loving God on my behalf. I do have a part to play, but it is not about trying to be something I’m not yet – it is learning to simply agree with what God has already done. Because I liked Andrew’s simple, bold style of writing with all the Scripture references that made checking everything out easy, and because what I’d read in You’ve Already Got It blew the lid off what I thought I knew, I read Spirit, Soul, and Body, The Believer’s Authority,and God Wants You Well. How on earth could I have been a Christian most of my life, been in church all my life, loved God and desired to know Him and missed so much? These books helped me hugely with identity and knowing the heart of God. If you have something long-term you’re dealing with, I can almost guarantee that identity – how you see yourself, how you see God, what you believe about Him and His purpose for your life – is a critical part of it.
After one of these books, I fell to my knees for the first time in true repentance. I had just come back from a conference that emphasized repentance for healing and I was in a cycle of repent, fail, repent, fail, repent, fail, going through the motions, striving to get better, and starting to get more than a little discouraged. I was exhausted and had hit a plateau, which is what happens when you focus on you and what you are doing all the time. This time, I knew what true repentance was. It was a result of coming face to face with the goodness of God and realizing, He’s way better than I ever thought (Romans 2:4)! I grieved that I had ever attributed things to His character that were not true, but I felt no shame, just Love. Just Grace.
The truths in these books continue to benefit me and I revisit them regularly.
The Gospel in Ten Words by Paul Ellis had me laughing and crying and shouting, “YES!” out loud. The first chapter is about love and it touched me to the core. “Love” is a word we hear a lot. We love pizza, we love sunsets, we love our kids. This chapter on God’s love for us captured my attention and it was almost like someone grabbed my face and said, “No, I said love. THIS is love.” I wish I had read this book right after I committed my life to Christ. I wish I’d read it and meditated on it and owned the Truth in it before I got sick. It covers such basic principles but they are covered in such a profound way. I love the way Paul shares the good news of Jesus Christ.
Good God by Lucas Miles is my very favorite book from last year, so much so, that I bought them in bulk to give as Christmas presents. Lucas shares answers to some questions I know every one of us have had at one time or another, such as: “If God is really good then why…?”(insert bad things that happen). He goes through a lot of “sacred cows” and discusses them in light of Biblical truth. There are chapters about the sovereignty of God, Job, the purpose of the Old Testament Law, and what God really allows. I finished the last page and just sat in awe – God is better than I thought (and always will be!). When you really believe God is only ever good and see how consistent He is in the Bible, it is easier to trust Him and expect good things from Him. Suddenly believing that He has good plans for your life, that He can heal you, that He wants to deliver you, or whatever else you need, starts to look less like a small possibility and more like an “of course!” To me, this is a foundational book because lies about God’s nature are what keep so many people from approaching Him with confidence “to help in their time of need: (Hebrews 4:16).
Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard is one of my favorite books of all time. This one is different from the others listed here in that it is an allegor. It is an older book, written with beautiful imagery and a more antiquated writing style, but I don’t feel it is difficult to follow at all (as some much older books can be). If you have ever struggled with fear (WHO hasn’t?!), this is an amazing story of the transformation that can take place when you face your fears, take the hand of the Good Shepherd, and let Him lead you places you never could have gotten to on your own. It’s a journey through and over the confines of a fear-filled existence. It’s a journey of simple trust and redeeming, transforming Love.
Exposing The Rejection Mindset by Mark DeJesus is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read in terms of exposing limiting beliefs in my life. I have always felt I needed to bring enough to the table to be worth sitting at it. I have always felt like the outcome depended on me, like nobody had my back, like it was just me against life and I couldn’t ever quite get my head above the waves. I didn’t feel safe, thought it was hard for me to hear from or receive from God, and thought that there was something wrong with me. A rejection mindset is one that self-sabbotages and enslaves and I thought this book did such a good job exposing what it looks like, how it operates, and where it came from. Once you recognize something, you get to choose what to do about it and to me, that is great news.
The way John G Lake lived his life and what he and others around him experienced as a result has really stretched me by showing me what is possible when someone understands that our life in Christ is on this side of the cross, that all that Christ provided, He did purely out of Grace, and that faith is simply agreeing with what Grace has already provided (You’ve Already Got It really helped me understand this more, too). We hear a lot about “faith teachers” or “grace teachers.” There have been and probably always will be two extremes, but God’s Word has always been a balance and I see that in John G. Lake’s life. By Grace through faith is what Jesus taught. It’s what Paul taught. Through the years since then there has been a remnant of people who have partnered with Christ to uphold this message of salvation (forgiveness, healing, deliverance, wholeness according to the original Greek) by Grace, through faith. This book has many miraculous accounts that many people would be skeptical of nowdays. But if you can’t believe that God still heals and grows out limbs, it would be pretty hard to believe that He raised Jesus from the dead.
I Tried Until I Almost Died by Sandra McCollom is one I read recently. As a Christian, I am very familiar with the word, Grace. But like the word “love” I mentioned in Paul Ellis’s book above, sometimes I can become so acquainted with a word that I miss the richness of what it really means. I’m a little bummed that Sandra used this title for her book because if I ever write a book, this would have been the perfect title. Sandra shares about her encounter with Grace and how it radically changed her life. I can relate to so much of it – the looking for something wrong, weak, or faulty and then setting out to fix it. The rules to live by, the high expectations, the lists, the striving, the heartbreak and frustration of failure. And then she shares what freedom from all this looks like. The beauty of surrender. The simple joys in life that can be found on the other side of the “shoulds.” This book was like a breath of fresh air to me and I think so many people will be able to relate to the real-life testimonies in it.
Hold On To Hope by Nichole Marbach. I read this book on Kindle and loved it so much that I asked for the hard copy for Christmas! This is my Amazon review for it:
I have seen a brief video of Nichole’s testimony before, watched from afar as she opened The Hope Center, and have tuned in to a couple events she has spoken at. It is a little hard to reconcile the confident, powerful, beaming woman I’ve seen on stage with someone who struggled so deeply with such darkness but at the same time, she seems to have the compassion of someone who has been there. Ever since I heard about it, I’ve been waiting for this book to come out so I could read more about how this transformation took place.
Had I not known where Nichole is now, there were so many times in her story that I would have thought, “This must be the end. How could anyone come back from that?” As I read I felt the weight of a situation that felt utterly hopeless. I cried as I read about her mindset of rejection and feeling unsafe and the mental and emotional turmoil it caused because I could relate. There were many things I could relate to but have hardly ever heard anyone share freely about. Then I cried as I started to see healing unfold because if her story can be redeemed and her life restored, truly anyone’s can!
I love hearing stories of healing but sometimes I wish more of the journey was shared. It is encouraging to see someone healed but sometimes it seems so fast and so easy and leaves me wondering, “but what did that process look like?” I really appreciate how Nichole shared more of her story in this book – what she realized, what the process of renewing her mind and letting God heal her heart looked like for her, things she learned. In addition to being a powerful story of redemption and restoration, there is a lot of sound practical wisdom, too.
There is no situation or person too far gone, too broken, too sick, too anything for the love of God to reach and make whole. There is no such thing as impossible or incurable with Jesus. This book is a beacon of light and shares Truth that I believe will help set many people free from mistaken identity.
Here’s a quick recap before the Giveaway details!
Books That Changed My Life
- Unmerited Favor by Joseph Prince
- Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince
- Dare to Believe by Becky Dvorak
- You’ve Already Got It by Andrew Wommack
- Spirit, Soul, & Body by Andrew Wommack
- The Believer’s Authority by Andrew Wommack
- God Wants You Well by Andrew Wommack
- The Gospel in Ten Words by Paul Ellis
- Good God by Lucas Miles
- Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
- Exposing the Rejection Mindset by Mark DeJesus
- John G. Lake
- I Tried Until I Almost Died by Sandra McCollum
- Hold On To Hope by Nichole Marbach
I’m giving away three of these books because more than anything, I want to share the GOOD news of the finished work of Jesus Christ: One copy each of Good God, The Gospel in 10 Words, and You’ve Already Got It. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here on this blog post or on my giveaway post on Instagram or Facebook (you can comment on each platform for multiple entries). I will choose 3 winners on December 29, 2018 and message or email recipients. This Giveaway is only available to U.S. residents who are at least 18 years of age.
FTC Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links to products I use and love.