When I turned 30, I actually liked it. It meant I was no longer a 20-something, young adult trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. On my 31st birthday, I freaked out because I knew I was heading towards 40. I didn’t feel ready for that milestone in life!
Recently, I turned 40… and surprisingly, I liked it! I’ve come to realize that I like these significant milestones or markers in the journey of life. I like being self-reflective and contemplative on who I am and where I am going. It’s good to lean into those big moments. Maybe in a year from now, I’ll be freaking out at 41, heading towards 50!
While in my fourth decade, I decided to gather some friends from different seasons of my life— high school/college friends along with present day/recent friends. While on a short trip with these men, I gave them each a personal copy of a book that I identified as having a significant impact on shaping my life. I then bought new copies of each of these books to reread with friends throughout this year.
Let me share this list for your own journey.
The Silence of Adam: Becoming Men of Courage in a World of Chaos | Larry Crabb
This is one of the best books on biblical manhood I’ve read. Dr. Larry Crabb looks at glimpses of God’s original design for men, going back to the first moment of man, the Garden of Eden. The author looks at what went wrong from that moment. To understand our brokenness, we need to see God’s original design, and then with God’s help, move into the relationships in our lives with courage.
Seven Desires: Looking Past What Separates Us to Learn What Connects Us | Mark Laaser
This book looks at the core seven desires that God has placed inside each and every one of us. This isn’t a male or female thing; it’s a human thing! We then realize how each of those desires are never fully met because of the brokenness in this world and in our lives. The chapter on coping mechanisms gives me not only a filter for seeing the emotional needs of my wife, my kids and my friends, but also gives me a filter for understanding my own emotions and the real longings of my heart.
The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb | Jamin Goggin & Kyle Strobel
The authors interviewed several ‘pillars’ of the Christian faith to see through the Western, Americanized version of Christianity found in so many churches. They call us back to the humility of dependency on Jesus and what life with Him really looks like.
With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God | Skye Jethani
Speaking of life with God, this book offers that very premise! Jethani outlines, in simplicity, the different postures we tend to gravitate towards in trying to relate to God: Life Over God, Life Under God, Life From God, and even Life For God. No posture actually relieves the common human problem of fear we all experience. Only through Life With God do we experience the Gospel, the good news of Jesus!
Transforming Grace | Jerry Bridges
I read this book while I was in college. Jerry Bridges helped me in my early, maturing years to trust and follow Jesus. Through reading this book, I learned to truly lean into God’s grace. Even though I verbally confessed I was saved by grace alone, my life often reflected my own version of works-based righteousness. I found the balance of resting in being completely saved by grace while allowing the transforming power of God’s grace to keep working in my life.
The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus | Bill Allison
Of all the books listed, this book impacts my life the most, because it was written by authors that have become personal, dear friends. The title speaks for itself. Let me encourage you to buy several copies and invite friends to read it with you. You will always experience more of God together than by yourself!
I’m eager to reread each of these books; this time with friends as we share our journey of faith. These books have significantly shaped my life, and I know I will gain a new perspective in this new season.
But wait, there’s more!...
I wanted to not only look back on where I’ve been, but to begin looking forward. What kind of man will I be when I turn 80? When I look back on the next 40 years… what will I see? Who and what will shape me into who I become? It’s been refreshing and rejuvenating to lean into spiritual formation again, knowing the work I do now will yield a harvest of maturing later.
One year at a time…
One book at a time…
With family and friends…
The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose For An Age of Distraction | Justin Whitmel Earley
This was a gift from my father-in-law for Christmas. He, too, is reading through it and invited his family to join him on the journey. Revisiting simple, spiritual formation practices help us to love God and love others in normal, everyday life!
Pick one of these and read it with me this year. When something stands out to you, EMAIL ME! I love following Jesus with you.