October 11, 2021, 10:00 AM

Someone recently asked me to name my top ten books (not including the Bible) that I’d pack if I knew I’d be stranded on a island for the next several years. Assuming the Bible is a given, and assuming there might be someone else on that island who might not know Jesus as Lord, here’s my list:

  • Why You Think The Way You Do, Glenn S. Sunshine

Unless we understand the why, we’ll never grasp the how and what we think.

  • My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

There are lots of great devotionals out there, but how many by people who never sought to be published -and- who died for the Gospel?

  • The Lost World of Genesis One, John H. Walton

Piggybacking on #1 from above, Genesis was written in cultural and historical contexts. Missing that means missing its meaning, and the whole trajectory of Scripture is blown.

  • The Epic of Eden, Sandra Richter

The author likens her task to an organizational expert. If your theological history and categories are a jumbled mess, then so is your view of God. The book is a personal trainer for praise, adoration, and worship of God Almighty!

  • How to Read The Bible for All Its Worth, Gordon D. Fee

If we approach biblical poetry the same as apocalyptic literature, or apocalyptic the same as theological history, etc., etc., we’re in trouble. Assumptions are the termites of relationships. The one relationship we don’t have the luxury of blowing is with our Creator, Who has revealed Himself through Scripture.

  • Mere Christianity, Clive Staples Lewis 

C.S. Lewis was a staunch atheist who was blessed with the gift of faith in Christ later in life. He spent the rest of his life using his gifts to point others to Christ. Mere Christianity exposes Lewis’ desire to make much of Jesus’ Name without all the denominational pitfalls.

  • Mission Creep, Larry Osborne

Critical Race Theory, the Wokeness movement, and Black Liberation Theology are nothing new. They’re merely lipstick on Satan’s old pig. What’s at the root of these false doctrines, false gospels, and subversive movements? Mission Creep. When we take our focus off Christ, no matter how “good” or “noble” our intentions, we’re doomed to idolatry. Rather than trying to stay up with the latest heresies and movements, learn to recognize the root problem.

  • The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

April 9, 1945 is a date every Christian should know. It’s the day Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged for his refusal to acquiesce to Hitler. Bonhoeffer died a death of obedience to Christ’s command, “you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth.” It’s not a “feel-good” warm-fuzzy book in the traditional sense. It’s a book of God’s faithfulness, even in the darkest hours, to strengthen and use us to advance the grace, hope, and life of the Good News to the ends of the earth.

  • The King Jesus Gospel, Scot McKnight

Ask most Christians what the Gospel is and they can’t tell you. They can recite spiritual laws, plans for salvation, and life verses, but they can’t tell you the Good News from Scripture. The Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for It is the power of God unto salvation for everyone trusting.” If our Gospel isn’t THAT Gospel, then it is a false gospel. McKnight clears it all up.

  • That The World May Know DVD Series, Ray Vander Laan

Yeah, I know, it’s not a book. I’m bringing the whole DVD series with me anyway. Maybe I’ll end up on an island with someone like The Professor from Gilligan’s Island, and he’ll make a DVD player out of coconuts and a TV out of banana leaves… Anyway, Vander Laan is an incredibly gifted teacher who leads students on guided tours to Israel for lessons from Scripture in their geographic context. Whether you’re looking for a homeschooling curriculum for teaching Scripture or just want to grow in your relationship with Christ… this gets ðŸ‘ðŸ‘ðŸ‘

  • How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler

Yes. I’d absolutely cheat and slip an extra book in my bag, boot, jacket, or carry-on. Judge me. The truth is most people don’t know how to read a book and they’re too proud to admit it. Dr. Howard Hendricks recommended this book to all his grad students. He prefaced it with, “I know most of you won’t buy it. Fewer will actually read it. Fewer still will actually learn from it. I’m speaking to you. This book will revolutionize your thought-life.” I did. It did.

Yep, there are tons of incredible books left off this list. There are Hebrew and Greek lexicons, concordances, books on prayer, systematic theologies, biblical theologies…

Maybe someday I’ll make a top 100. But for now, buy these. Read these. Highlight. Underline. Use sticky tabs. Start a book club. Talk about them with friends. Keep a spiral notebook close by and write extensive notes about what questions you have, what words you don’t recognize or understand. Tackle one book a month and this time next year let me know how it went! 

When asked what the greatest, highest, most outstanding, glorious, and important commandment was, King Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…’”

When’s the last time you did that, loved God with all your heart, soul, and mind?

His mercies are new every day. How about starting today?