Here are some books that have influenced me, one way or another:

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When I first read “the Gardens,” I was in first or second grade. I can still remember the vivid pictures of a boy walking through a garden of hedges that looked a little too real. This book was written by the same author as Polar Express, and the Wreck of the Zephyr…two of my other favorite childhood books.

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The Eleventh Hour was the most engaging mystery story I ever read… each page was filled with secrets to keep me engaged for hours. There are certain books you read that pique your interest and imagination and contribute to making you a reader for life…this was one of those books for me.

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Hatchet…I couldn’t put it down, and read it like six times.

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Resourcefulness and courage.

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I picked up my first Brian Jacques book when I was in like fifth grade, and blazed through all of them that year. The Redwall series are amazing, often overlooked adventure stories. Jacques is a master storyteller.

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The true story of a man who, with all the odds against him and at the risk of his life, left home to travel to South America to reach the Motilone indians, a murderous and hostile people group, with the gospel. This was the first time I’d ever been introduced to the idea of the “contextualization of the gospel.” The author of this book tells of his moment of breakthru: the Motilone indians believed that every person’s life was a “trail” to be walked; he tells the amazing story of Jesus walking their trail. Sixth grade.

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The Giver was a profound philosophical allegory that made the rounds in schools all over the country. Free thought was the major idea it encouraged. Incredible science fiction story.

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This is one of my favorite books, and yes, I read it before the first movie ever came out. Crichton is such a chilling writer…he’s one that leaves you hanging at the end of each section. I’ve always liked dinosaurs, and this novel is one of the most heart pounding books I’ve ever read.

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First book that ever challenged the way I look at Jesus, and the questions I deal with in moving from boy to man.

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Reawekened a vibrant theology of grace in my life. A great reminder that God comes not for the healthy, but for the sick, and that the church needs to repent of being a wounder of the healers and become a healer of the wounded.

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Another Brennan Manning book that talks about the kind of life that Christ would approve of, thus the title. He urges readers to live a signed lifestyle, one that Jesus would sign off on at the end of time. Powerful stuff.

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Mark Buchanan is definitely one of my favorite authors. His other book on heaven, “Things Unseen,” is a powerful and unique portrayal of heaven and living in light of eternity. The Holy Wild is a book that is all about the character of God. Each chapter represents a different aspect of God’s character, and Buchanan’s vivid metaphors and rich vocabulary prove that he is a master at imagining scripture in a way that challenges your thinking.

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Ortberg is a phenomenal teacher. This book is all about the spiritaul disciplines, and helped me to discover the way that I connect with God the best. He is also a great storyteller and illustrator, and I use a lot of his stuff in sermons. 🙂

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The Cross of Christ was required reading in one of my theology classes in college, and while most other people in my class were complaining about reading this beast of a book, I was eating me up. It helped me think through the theology of the cross, the centerpiece to the Christian faith, and challenged my ideas about salvation.

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Brian Maclaren is the postmodern guru…this book challenged all my conventional ideas about approaching the concept of belief in general. Its narrative style was new and a fresh way to communicate old truths. While I don’t agree with a whole lot of what McLaren says, his message challenged my thought.

More to come later…

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