Beware the Influence ~ Grace and Truth Week 40

A few years back when our twins were little, my husband worked a second-shift job. So, I was often alone in the evenings, getting supper, helping with homework, and getting everyone safely tucked into bed.

Once the hard work was finished for the evening, I often sat in front of the tv to relax for a bit.  We are careful what we watch in our home due to the influence of the world in so much of our media, or so I thought, and we usually stuck to relatively “innocent” tv programs.

But one night, as I watched Everybody Loves Raymond, I recognized a not-so-innocent subtext that I had never noticed before. The subtext portrayed men as idiots that we just put up with because we can’t help but love them, and women as the superheros of the family unit.

The problem with that subtext is that it was in some ways, relatively subtle, and without realizing it, I had begun to believe it was true!  What a destructive thought pattern for women of faith who are to respect and love their husbands.

Believe it or not, I actually had to take an extended break from the show in order to get my heart towards my husband back to the right spot.

All too often, modern media influences our thinking without us even being aware. And before we know it, our attitudes are far from Christ-like, and much more world-like.

That’s why Kristin’s post from last week is so important.  Kristin writes at Biblical Wives Book Club, and while many bloggers write about the potential downfalls of television and movies with worldly themes, we sometimes forget about the influence that our beloved books can have on us, as well.

Stop by and read Kristin’s post because the implications reach much further than just romance novels and into every area of our lives!

Let’s throw off the influences that damage, and instead

think on the things that are noble.

Jen :)


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My Favorite Life-changing Books

Obviously every good Christian girl would put the Bible at the top of a list of life-changing books. :) The Bible is first and foremost the ultimate resource for life in general, after all!

However, sometimes we read a book other than the Bible and understand spiritual truths in a whole new way. These are the type of books I’ve chosen for a list of life-changing books.

Each one has had an impact on how I understand and live out my Christian walk.  Some of them I am still learning from today!

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Life-Changing Books


Life on the Edge

I read through this material when I was still in high school, and for me it was a life-changing book because it helped me plan for the future rather than be afraid of it. During those last few years of high school, students face enormous pressure to make important life decisions.

I highly recommend this book for young adults as they begin to face life on their own rather than under the safety of their parents’ wings!

The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus

This book is another pick from my high school years, but one that I actually still use. Although I grew up in a Christian home with parents who were faithful to teach me about God’s Word, I still didn’t have a solid grasp on the overall themes of the Bible and how the Old Testament connected to the New Testament (and why that’s important!).

Reading through The Stranger, which focuses on the overarching themes of the Bible from creation to Christ,  gave me a very clear picture of God’s love for and plan for mankind from the very beginning!  I now use it whenever I disciple others.  The Stranger will speak to unbelievers as well as those who have believed for many years!

The Circle Series by Ted Dekker

Every book lover surely includes some excellent fiction writing on a list of life-changing books!  As a lifelong book-lover, I’ve read an abundance of classic, secular, and Christian fiction, and one of my favorite authors of all is Ted Dekker. Each one of his riveting tales teaches readers a lesson about faith. But this series in particular stands out above the others.

The spiritual allegory that runs throughout Black, Red, White, and Green is rich and the vivid imagery helped me understand things like baptism and dying to sin/rising in Christ in a whole new way.  Most of all, I loved how the characters pursued one another and how they were pursued by the Christ-like archetype. The Circle Series is like the Chronicles of Narnia, but for adults! :)

And for the youth in your life, The Lost Books Series is a thrilling companion to the Circle Series!

First Place (Bible Study Series)

This life-changing book and subsequent series of devotionals helped me to see how letting food control my life is really a sin issue.  I also learned how to change the way I ate by learning to read nutritional information, cooking with better ingredients, etc.

But what I like most about this particular series is the focus on putting Christ first. Being healthy physically is important, but being healthy spiritually is more important!

Although the Bible is the ultimate resource for life, sometimes other books help us understand spiritual truths in a whole new way, like these life-changing books!  Find out which ones made the list.

Believing God (the Bible Study)

Although I don’t agree with everything this author claims, I can whole-heartedly recommend this bible study.  I actually read the workbook version of this book and really enjoyed the depth of bible study and Hebrew/Greek word study.

I call this book life-changing because it helped me realize that although I claimed to believe God and believe His character is true, I often failed to live that out. I wasn’t thinking and acting on my so-called belief. Instead I worried and mistrusted and misunderstood the hard things in life.

Trust Without Borders

This lovely devotional made for easy reading yet contained surprising depth.  Author Arabah Joy utilizes modern day parables to teach valuable lessons about trusting God.

She has a way of getting to the heart of the issue that leads to lots of light-bulb moments! I often re-read each day because each one was packed with so much good information to really chew on.

The Case for a Creator

Especially now, when Creationism is under constant attack, understanding the real scientific evidence for why we believe what we believe is key.  For that reason, The Case for a Creator is life-changing because it defines our very beginnings here on this beautiful planet.

The author takes the reader through a study of creation from the perspective of physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, and so forth. One of the things I love most about this book is that when readers start to grasp the significance of why our Earth is positioned the way it is, and so forth, they can’t help but be awestruck by our Mighty God.

If you are an analytical thinker who loves facts and data, then this book is for you!

The Screwtape Letters

My second fiction pick, The Screwtape Letters, is a life-changing book because it opens our eyes to the very real spiritual warfare going on all around us.

I don’t think I ever realized before how sneaky our enemy is, especially in using good things to distract us from the best thing, our relationship with Christ.  Go read it, and anything else by C.S. Lewis, for that matter. :)

Messy Spirituality

I’m not sure I actually agree with all that this author had to say, either. Why include it on a list of life-changing books then, you ask? Because I’m not a fan of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  But more than that, this author challenged my view of what being a Christian looks like in a way my perfectionist nature didn’t like at first. :)

He also broadened my view of grace, took it out of my nice neat little box and made it, well…messy.  I never thought of myself as a self-righteous person before starting this book, but it was the catalyst for seeing my own sin in this area. I’d say that qualifies as a life-changing book!

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The Purpose Driven Life

Here’s another book whose author I don’t always agree with, especially in regards to some of his statements in more recent years. Nevertheless, The Purpose Driven Life had a profound impact on my understanding of my purpose in Christ.

You see, as a perfectionist, I was one of those good Christian girls who relied much more on performance than on grace without even realizing it.  Yet in my heart, I truly wanted to serve the Lord.

I just didn’t realize that worshiping and serving the Lord doesn’t always involve big things or ministries!

Sometimes serving the Lord is as simple as taking care of my family by washing the dishes or cooking a meal. That might sound silly, but realizing that I could do even those very small acts of obedience in service to the Lord gave me a satisfaction in life that I previously lacked.

Missionary Autobiographies

God at the Controls, God Planted Five Seeds, Peace Child, Through Gates of Splendor and others I can’t remember the titles of are also on my list of life-changing books.

As a child of overseas missionaries, these books helped me understand the great need for the Gospel to reach so many unreached nations.  They also helped me witness the power of God to use difficult life circumstances, even death, in the lives of His people to impact whole tribes and communities – talk about life-changing books!

Other Heroes of the Faith Autobiographies

The Confessions, The Hiding Place, and others.  There is nothing like hearing the story of a fellow believer’s faithfulness to challenge and boost our own faith!

I hope you find at least a few that you haven’t yet read from my favorite life-changing books.  Try out some new ones from the list and see how your faith is challenged.

And as with all things you read or hear, please check them against the truth of the Word!

Jen :)

Sharing with: A Little R and R,