From Curious George to Richard Rohr

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Ever since I was a little kid I loved to read. I would fall asleep on the floor with a book laid open on my chest. One of my favorite books was Curious George. Books have always triggered my imagination. To this day I still have a passion for reading.

I try to read a book a week. That doesn’t always happen, but often times it does. My reading has progressed from Curious George to John Grisham and now Richard Rohr with many different authors and types of books in between.

It’s pretty amazing to see as my life has transformed how my reading interests have completely evolved. The first John Grisham book I read had me completely enthralled. It has probably been well over a decade since I have picked up a fiction book. Not that there is anything wrong with reading fiction, but with my limited time I would rather read something that inspires and challenges me to be a better person.

Currently, the vast majority of the reading I do is from spiritual books. The reading I have done over the last ten years has shaped a great deal of who I am today. I have read the Bible cover to cover once and the New Testament from beginning to end three times.

What I have found really helpful on my spiritual journey is to supplement my Bible reading with spiritual mentors.

Spiritual mentorship is vitally important if we want to be transformed. Of course, face to face mentoring is very helpful and necessary, but we often forget we have access to mentors through books that can bring enlightenment into our lives.

Pastor Rick Warren

When I was first learning about what it means to be a Christian I read The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. This book was exactly what I needed at the beginning of my spiritual walk. It made sense to me much more than the Bible did. 

The first sentence of the Purpose Driven Life is, “It’s not about you.” I have tried to live my life as best I can remembering that we are here on earth to love God and love others.

John Eldredge

The next transformative author and book I read was “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge. When I was considering leaving the pharmaceutical industry I recall a particular section of the book where John Eldredge was considering going back to school. He had a secure job with a salary and a 401k. He posed the question, “Are we going to live a life of comfort and security for a salary and 401k or are we going to live a life of adventure that God calls us to?” That paragraph and book has had a profound impact on my life. I don’t think I would be where I am at today without hearing those words from John.

Here are some other books I have read of John Eldredge:

· Fathered by God

· The Journey of Desire

· You Have What it Takes

· Waking the Dead

· Dare and Desire

· Knowing the Heart of God

· Free to Live

· Walking with God

· Beautiful Outlaw

Pastor Erwin McManus

One of the most recent authors, pastors and mentors I have come across is Pastor Erwin McManus. His writing style and words have resonated with my soul. I have read his latest book, “The Way of the Warrior” a couple of times now. Erwin talks about how our only hope for peace is to win the battle within. So many men aren’t willing to look inside ourselves for peace, joy and happiness. We look for it in success, power, performance, status and materialism. We will only know peace when we find it within ourselves through our personal relationship with God. That is our only hope.

Erwin has mentored me through his many books which include the following:

· Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul

· An Unstoppable Force: Daring to be the Church God had in Mind

· The Artisan Soul

· The Barbarian Way

· Wide Awake

· The Last Arrow

· Seizing the Divine

· Soul Cravings

Father Richard Rohr

The latest author and mentor I am learning from is Richard Rohr. I am not exactly sure how I stumbled across his work, but his theology on male spirituality has been transformative. Since I specialize in working in men’s ministry his books are helping me on my own personal journey and the men I am ministering to.

A quote from one of his books I just finished reading called “From Wild Man to Wise Man…Reflections on Male Spirituality.”

“A masculine spirituality would be one that encourages men to take the radical gospel journey from their own unique beginning point, in their own unique style, with their own unique goals.”

Thank you Richard Rohr for being a mentor to me and having such a profound influence in my life. I will take what I learn and do my best to pass it on to other men.

Here are some other books I have read from Richard Rohr:

· The Universal Christ

· Immortal Diamond

· Falling Upward

· Adams Return

· Naked Now

I would encourage each and every one of you to find a spiritual author that resonates with your heart and soul. Keep in mind the purpose of reading isn’t for mere knowledge, it’s for heart transformation. It’s so our lives are changed for the better. Reading books without life change is just entertainment and it makes us feel good temporarily.

I am grateful to the above mentioned authors for their profound work and willingness to bare their souls in their writing. I hope and pray that my writing has an impact on people’s lives like Rick, John, Erwin and Richard have had on mine.

To God be the glory.

Troy Ismir, MS

Fitness Minister

Founder and Creator of Barbells & Brothers

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