Like getting news that was better-than-expected, all of these books surprised me in 2019 in a very good way. Maybe they’ll surprise you, too.
The books represent a variety of topics, including:
• Women leaders in Christendom
• Christian healing
• Baptism of the Holy Spirit
• God’s calling & gifts
Some brought a new freedom of one kind of another. Others cleared up questions for which I’d overtly been seeking godly answers for a long time. Some opened my eyes to hidden situations that had perplexed or limited me. And others helped me take the next step into God’s calling for my life.
Here they are, 10 books that surprised me in 2019.
Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts
by Craig S. Keener (Baker Publishing Group, 2011)
This amazing work is filled with faith-building eyewitness accounts of miracles happening all over the world in this generation, including healings and raisings. In addition to the documentation of actual miracles, the book also includes other excellent, faith-building content that illuminates why it is common for U.S. churches today to have limiting ideas about the probability and possibility of miracles.
Related article: 4 Books to Read When You’re Hungry for Miracles
Can Homosexuality Be Healed?
by Francis MacNutt (Chosen Books, 2006)
This book contains the testimony of a longtime Christian healer. He shares his true stories of the most compassionate approach I have ever heard from the church toward people who experience same-sex sexual attraction but who want to be free from it: healing.
One of questions I have prayed about and studied for a long time is how the church can most biblically demonstrate love to those believers who wrestle with same-sex sexual attraction. MacNutt recounts a proven approach that leads to wholeness for those who want it.
Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul
by Craig S. Keener (Baker Academic, 1992)
After years of reading or hearing arguments that felt incomplete, not solid enough on which to take stand, or just plain impossible to evaluate because of their claims about history or languages I know nothing about, I found Craig Keener’s argument to be from the depths of both scholarship and humility. My spirit tells me that his argument is made in the right spirit; it is also probably the most complete and solid argument I have ever heard in my life.
The stakes are so high in this matter, as Keener does an excellent job of pointing out. If you have an ear to hear on this topic, hear Keener’s words.
The Healing Reawakening: Reclaiming Our Lost Inheritance
by Francis MacNutt (Chosen Books, 2006)
This book lifted a veil from my eyes and released my faith from a particular captivity I didn’t even know it was in. Now that I know why the church at large has so long been used to praying for physical healing without really expecting people to be healed, things are very different for me, and for the people for whom I pray. This book catapulted me forward in many constructive ways.
A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness
by Gene Edwards (Tyndale House Publishers, Reprinted 1992)
The penetrating creativity of this book caught me off-guard. I found its power to illuminate and instruct the heart both exhilarating and profitable. The story helped me examine my heart, which was helpful in identifying what I need to turn away from and be forgiven for, and where I need to grow and change. It also helped me understand people who have hurt me, which was helpful in knowing how to pray for them.
(I also had a great experience with the imaginative book The Prisoner in the Third Cell, by the same author. I say more about that book in this article: 1 Book to Read When God Doesn’t Explain Himself.)
The Power to Heal
by Francis MacNutt (Ave Maria Press, 1992)
I would never have thought to pray for healing for some of the entrenched health issues that the author has seen healed. And the insight he shared from his experience with healing prayer for chronic illnesses also came as extremely good news that has changed me. This book produced a huge shift in my faith and my practice of prayer for healing.
Related post: How The Power to Heal by Francis MacNutt Changed My Faith to Pray for Healing of Chronic Illness
Note: A foundational book on the topic that MacNutt recommends reading before The Power to Heal, and which was extremely helpful to me in 2019, as well, is his classic Healing. However, I am glad I didn’t stop reading there. As helpful as Healing was, The Power to Heal and The Healing Reawakening both produced quantum leaps for me in terms of faith and understanding. (I wrote about MacNutt’s book Healing in this post: Where Has This Book on Healing Been? My Thoughts on Francis MacNutt’s “Healing.”)
Fully Alive: Learning to Flourish—Mind, Body & Spirit
by Susie Larson (Bethany House Publishers, 2018)
Susie Larson has been through hell and back and is one of the most encouraging people one could imagine. Her faith is authentic, and she has an incredible level of spiritual authority. I’m so glad I didn’t miss her or her work. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been alive on planet Earth for more than two decades.
9 O’Clock in the Morning
by Dennis Bennett (Bridge-Logos Publishers, reprint 2011)
What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? What does it look like in everyday terms to be baptized in the Holy Spirit? How is life different afterward than it was before? This book is a fascinating personal testimony on the topic.
The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick
by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark (Chosen Books, 2011)
I don’t know how I thought ordinary Christians received or exercised the spiritual gift of healing, or if I even thought about it at all—even though healing is clearly listed by Paul as a spiritual gift given to the church (1 Corinthians 12:9). But the authors’ testimonies made me realize that ordinary Christians do receive spiritual gifts of healing and that they are using those gifts today, just as Jesus said in John 14:12.
The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life
by Bruce Wilkinson (Multnomah, Reprinted 2005)
For a long time I avoided this bestselling book, because I associated it with the prosperity gospel. Once I read it, however, I found out I was wrong in thinking that’s what this book was about.
I’m glad to have the concepts that the book really is about. I better understand the importance of taking for the kingdom the ground that God decided before I was born that I would be designed to take—and I’m now better equipped to take it.
(I’m also grateful that I didn’t miss the books The Dream Giver and Secrets of the Vine, by the same author.)
God used all of these books and many others to strengthen me in various ways in 2019. I thank God for every author who has used their spiritual gifts to strengthen the church through their words and knowledge.
I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.
… Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end….– 1 Corinthians 1: 4-5, 7-8 (NLT) (Emphasis added)
What book did God use to strengthen you in 2019 that surprised you in a good way?
Related post: I Thank God for the Life and Work of Francis MacNutt