Books That Shaped My Life
by Major Stacy Birks
Five books - how and why they helped
The Purpose Driven Church,
by Rick Warren
As a young Lieutenant in the second
appointment as a Salvation Army Officer, as you can imagine, I
still had a lot to learn about leading and growing a
Divisional Commander at the time most likely knew my husband,
Rob, and I could use as much help as we could get, so she
bought and gave to us Rick Warren’s, The Purpose Driven
is important in leadership, but what also comes in handy is
experience and this book was written on just that.
One phrase that was influential goes something to the
effect of, “if you don’t have a plan to bring your community
to Jesus, then you really are telling them they can go to
The book shares 5 areas to focus on in order to have a growing
congregation, “warmer through fellowship; deeper through
discipleship; stronger through worship; broader through
ministry; larger through evangelism”.
This book isn’t theory.
It is practical help that already had been worked out
and experienced by the congregation of the author.
The Practice of the Presence of God,
by Brother Lawrence
The Practice of the Presence of God, by
Brother Lawrence, was a force for transformation in my prayer
reading this book, I discovered what the Bible means in 1
Thes. 5:17, where we are told to “pray continually.”
Brother Lawrence shared intimate details of his
The most influential is, “That we should establish
ourselves in a sense of GOD’s Presence, by continually
conversing with Him.”
Prayer isn’t only for morning devotions, grace at
meals, Sunday morning Holiness Meetings, at the bedside of a
Prayer can and should be constant, all through the day, even
in the most undistinguished tasks in my daily routine, like
washing pots and pans.
Celebration of Discipline & Prayer,
by Richard Foster
Celebration of Discipline and Prayer, both
by Richard Foster, are two books on my shelf that get read
over and over.
The first one was my introduction to spiritual disciplines.
It gently guided me through meditation, prayer,
fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service,
confession, worship, guidance, celebration.
At the same time challenging me to grow deeper
Similarly, Prayer taught me more about this discipline.
While reading it, for the first time I experienced God
communicating to me in a vision.
He brought my attention to Psalm 31:3, “Since you are
my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and
guide me.” That
marked the first of many times God has spoken to me through
How Should We Then Live?, by Francis Schaeffer & How
Now Shall We Live?, by
Francis Schaeffer’s writing is brilliant and
influential in his book How Should We Then Live? (as well as
the film series by the same name, that showed off his
After reading it, I understood what is meant by “worldview”
and I was convinced that the Gospel should inform my whole
life, not just bits and pieces, or when I felt like it.
The book points out that western culture is in moral
decline and “To make no decision in regard to the growth of
authoritarian government is already a decision for it.” That
is what finally convinced me I can and will live out my faith
by being socially active in my city, state and country on
issues that are important to me, such as objectivity of women
and gun violence.
In a similar way, How Now Shall We Live?
helped shape my life.
The “worldview” thought continues as Chuck Colson
writes, “Christians who understand biblical truth and have the
courage to live it out can indeed redeem a culture, or even
create one. This
is the challenge facing all of us in the new millennium.”
Through telling true stories, and teaching, this book
“demonstrates how to expose the false views and values of
modern culture, live a more fulfilling life the way God
created us to live.
Contend for the faith by understanding how nonbelievers
think. Build a
society that reflects biblical principals.” (back cover of the
A New Kind of Christian,
by Brian McClaren
When I first read A New Kind of Christian, I
It was thought-provoking and challenging to what I had known a
Christian to be and what my idea of church was.
Brian McClaren was the first author that exposed me to
the idea that the Kingdom of God is bigger than the church,
denominations, and Christianity as I understood it.
“What if the Christian faith is to exist in
a variety of forms rather than just one imperial one?
What if it is both more stable and more agile
responsive to the Holy Spirit- when it exists in these many
forms? And what
if, instead of arguing about which form is correct and
legitimate, we were to honor, appreciate, and validate one
another and see ourselves as servants of one grander mission,
apostles of one greater message, seekers on one ultimate