Books that Changed My Life

All good books, including the “Good” book, can change your life in ways big and small.

Here is a short list of some books that came along at just the right time when I was young to move me in a new direction.  You might might to also read my posts about Frederick Buechner’s Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale, Wishingful Thinking, and Peculiar Treasures.

Yyou’ll also see links on this page to the books at They have great prices.

Your God is Too Small

by J.B. Phillips

For some reason when I was 16 I snuck this book off my mom’s bookshelf and never gave it back.  I still have it because it literally changed my life and relationship with God.

This is a small but powerful book that challenges your conceptions and images of God.  J.B. Phillips describes who God ISN’T, as well as who God is. This book helped me mature beyond my child-like image of God (which many adult Christians still cling to, especially in the Fundamentalist tradition). It’s great for personal reading, giving to a young adult, and is the perfect length for group study.

Phillips was a “canon” in the Anglican Church and is most famous for producing one of the first vibrant English translations of the New Testament. Your God is Too Small has been around for decades and is considered a true classic. But unlike many “classics” this one still feels fresh and refreshing.

255097: Your God is Too Small: A Guide for Believers and Skeptics Alike Your God is Too Small: A Guide for Believers and Skeptics Alike
By J.B. Phillips / TouchstoneIn Your God Is Too Small, J. B. Phillips explains that the trouble facing many of us today is that we have not found a God big enough for our modern needs. In a world where our experience of life has grown in myriad directions, and our mental horizons have been expanded to the point of bewilderment by world events and scientific discoveries, our ideas of God have remained largely static. It is nearly impossible, Phillips argues, for an adult to worship the conception of God that exists in the mind of a child of Sunday-school age, the “God-in-a-box” notion, limiting God to such inadequate conceptions as “Resident Policeman,” “Grand Old Man,” “Meek-and-Mild,” and “Managing Director.” As a result of these insufficient ideas of God, many people live with an inner dissatisfaction, without any faith at all.


The Message

A modern retelling & translation of the Bible by Eugene H Petersen. This vibrant “translation” or paraphrase of the Bible made scripture come alive to me at a time when I needed to hear it fresh. Petersen’s paraphrase is an attempt to get at the dynamic moving originally MOVING intent of scripture in words and phrasing that sounds natural AND inspiring to today’s listener. This is not the awful “Living Bible” paraphrase. Petersen’s translation SINGS. Petersen strips away the formality of the language and tries to capture its emotional, inspirational quality once again.

The Message is one of those you can select at to translate any passage. Love that website, btw.  Nice tool for quick study and selecting from various translations on the fly.

The Message is favorite Bible to just sit down and READ.

[Aside: WHY O WHY do we give stiff translations like the NRSV and NIV to our High Schoolers? We should be giving them The Message.]

32899: The Message Bible - Hardcover The Message Bible – Hardcover
By Eugene Peterson / Sas & Associates
Although translated by only one man and not by committee, this “translational-paraphrase” was reviewed by theologians to validate the accuracy of Peterson’s translation from the ancient Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible.


Chronicles of Narnia

My parents bought me the paperback set when I was a young teen and I gobbled them up. When my own daughters were young teens ENTHRALLED with Lord of the Ring movies, The Hobbit, Harry Potter and some sci-fi, I also had them read Narnia as well. And I was NOT disappointed with their reaction or the discussion which they engendered.


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