In recent years I’ve read a number of books documenting the lives of some of our spiritual ancestors. It’s been a welcome challenge to me. Following on from my previous post, please find below three further recommendations for reading.
David Wilkerson – The Cross and The Switchblade / The Man Who Believed
David Wilkerson is the man behind The Cross and the Switchblade, the bestselling book first written in 1962 which documented his ministry amongst the gangs of New York. He was a visionary, deeply rooted in the discipline of prayer, and had a fearless determination to serve Christ — qualities emphasised in this insightful and honest biography written by his son Gary.
The book also provides a window into Wilkerson’s flaws and personal struggles. “I stand on the gospel of grace,” he once told his son. “But I still feel like I’m under the works of the law, like I’m trying to earn God’s favour. I catch myself at it.” It’s good to be reminded that our own failures and doubts do not stop us from being a channel of God’s blessing.
The biography covers a lot of ground, including a fascinating look into the backstory of The Cross and the Switchblade and a series of visions Wilkerson had on his bathroom floor which inspired The Vision, his most controversial book.
“His eyes, his personality, his commitment, his intense love for the people he was talking to — the word that keeps coming to mind is fearless,” a lady called Elizabeth recalls. “He confronted gang members and other unsavoury types with great courage. He just read them the riot act, telling them that God loved them, and that he would love them.”
A.W. Tozer – In Pursuit of God
A.W. Tozer is a man I have often heard quoted, particularly in sermons, so it was with excitement that I picked up this book about the man himself. Born in 1987, Tozer was a gifted preacher and prolific writer who loved God deeply and cherished being in His presence. “There are occasions when for hours I lie prostrate before God without saying a word of prayer or a word of praise — I just gaze on Him and worship.”
This biography is relatively short. It includes many lovely anecdotes from those who knew him, along with a collection of his pithy and sometimes witty “Tozer-grams”. The book contains a number of typos which can be a little distracting. But on the whole this biography will stir your soul. To see someone so captivated by the glory of God is a wonderful reminder of what an awesome God we serve.
Quote (a “Tozer-gram”):
“The glory of God is the health of the universe; the essential soundness of things requires that He be honoured among created intelligence.”
Rees Howells – Intercessor
I first read this book prior to beginning my studies at the Bible College of Wales, which Rees Howells founded in 1924. It messed me up big time, in a good way. Howells was a remarkable man of intercession, showing what it means to stand in the gap between God and others to see amazing breakthroughs. It involved great sacrifice on Howells’ part but oh what a harvest…
One of my favourite stories from the book (which I always tell people about) is when Howells and his wife had to take a trip to London. Despite not having any money to buy train tickets, Howells felt God tell him to queue up for a ticket. One by one the line reduced. When there were two people left in front of them, a man came up to them and said: “I’m sorry I can’t wait any longer.” At that he put 30 shillings in Howells’ hand. On the train they went. “It was most glorious,” Howells later said.
It’s a hard book to read at times because it is so challenging — I struggled to read more than one chapter at any one time! — but that is exactly what we need. This book will shake you out of any complacency, lift your faith and remind you of just how powerful prayer can be.
“When the Holy Ghost really lives His life in a chosen vessel, there is no limit to the extremes to which He will take him, in His passion to warn and save the lost.”
Did you read part one? If not, check it out here. I would love to give away my copies of each book (featured in the other post and today), so if you would like to get your hands on one of them, tweet me @TimmyBech, or email through to us at [email protected] First come, first served!