Because everybody loves book lists, I thought I would share mine as well (in the vein of Trevin Wax or Al Mohler). Yes, I’m a little late to the summer reading game, but, heck, life as a married man is a little busier than it used to be! (That and I’ve had some teaching/preaching opportunities that have taken away from blogging time.)
Here are a few books that are on my stack for this summer. I’ve already finished one (#2 and loved it), and started five (“Hi, I’m Kevin, and I’m a serial book starter.”). Hopefully you can find a book or two to add to your list!
1. How (Not) to be Secular by James K.A. Smith
I have heard this book quoted and referenced so many times, I figured I just need to break down and read it. I want to understand secularism’s underlying values that permeate in our culture (and at times in my heart) so I can better communicate gospel truth to a secular audience. This book is an analysis of Charles Taylor’s monumental work, A Secular Age that is long and hard to read.
2. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
Nabeel Qureshi, former muslim turned believer and Christian apologist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, shares his journey from Islam to Christianity in this gripping book. Qureshi grew up in a strong muslim household and only began to question his faith after a Christian in friend in college challenged him to look into the evidence behind his beliefs.
This video provides a summary of Qureshi’s story.
3. A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry (Keller’s #1 culture book)
When Tim Keller recommends books on culture, I listen. This is his #1 recommendation (with a caveat):
This book right now is a terrific, fast way to get a handle on western culture because:
It’s a great survey of western thought—very few are available, especially from a non-Christian who is sympathetic to Christianity. All other books you buy will be less comprehensive. Though his expression of Christian doctrine is often garbled, Ferry has deep appreciation for Christianity, and when he describes how Christianity swept Greco-Roman paganism away as a cultural force, it is a remarkable, eye-opening account. It shows a) how complex and difficult it is to change culture, but b) how indeed culture does get changed. The shifts away from Christianity are also extremely interesting.
4. Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People by John Stonestreet and Warren Cole Smith
Our culture is depressing. It seems like the tide of culture is moving farther and farther away from biblical truth with no end in sight. Even in a fallen world, God’s Kingdom is prevailing and He is at work all over the world—even if the news depresses us.
John Stonestreet and Warren Cole Smith team up and share stories (previously covered in BreakPoint Commentaries and WORLD Magazine) documenting God’s audacious plan to change the world through everyday people. I’ll be reviewing this once I get some time to finish it!
5. Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture by Larry Osborne
In Thriving in Babylon, Larry Osborne explores the “adult” story of Daniel to help us not only survive – but actually thrive in an increasingly godless culture. Here Pastor Osborne looks at:
- Why panic and despair are never from God
- What true optimism looks like
- How humility disarms even our greatest of enemies
- Why respect causes even those who will have nothing to do with God to listen
- How wisdom can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat
For those who know Jesus and understand the full implications of the cross, the resurrection, and the promises of Jesus, everything changes – not only in us, but also in our world.
6. Reconciliation, Fellowship & the Grace of God: A Servant’s Journal (Various Authors)
This book is a compilation of great articles by men like Packer, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Don Whitney, Bill Mills. It’s also nice that I don’t feel pressured to read the whole thing because it’s separate articles. Here is one money quote from J.I. Packer:
“A body in which the blood does not circulate well is always below par, and fellowship corresponds to the circulation of the blood in the body of Christ. The church gains strength through fellowship, and loses strength without it.”
7. The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason
This book isn’t a marriage “how-to”, but a “how-come”, and explores deep truths of marriage. I’m about halfway through, and so far it’s deep, insightful, and filled with rich images describing the mystery of marriage.
In the 20th Anniversary Edition of this Gold Medallion Award winner, Mike Mason goes on a poetic search to understand the wondrous dynamics of committed love. In highly readable, first-person style, Mason’s writing stimulates readers’ thoughts and prayers and propels couples to deeper intimacy. “A marriage is not a joining of two worlds,” says the author, “but an abandoning of two worlds in order that one new one might be formed.” Rich chapters on “Otherness,” “Vows,” “Intimacy,” “Sex,” “Submission,” and an all-new chapter on “Oneness” lift readers to view the eternal, spiritual nature of this faith-filled, “impossible,” wild—yet wonderful—frontier.
8. Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer by C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis on prayer. ‘Nuff said.
What are we doing when we pray? What is at the heart of this most intimate conversation, the dialogue between a person and God? How does prayer—its form, its regularity, its content, its insistence—shape who we are and how we believe? In this collection of letters from C. S. Lewis to a close friend, Malcolm, we see an intimate side of Lewis as he considers all aspects of prayer and how this singular ritual impacts the lives and souls of the faithful. With depth, wit, and intelligence, as well as his sincere sense of a continued spiritual journey, Lewis brings us closer to understanding the role of prayer in our lives and the ways in which we might better imagine our relationship with God.
9. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
(Pro-reader tip: this book is free for Kindle.) I desire to read more of the classics, especially the classics that overlap with the Christian faith. I’ll be reading this with Leland Ryken’s guide.
When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in Puritan community centuries ago, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility, and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless.
10. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word Series) by Christopher Ash
I love expository preaching and I love the book of Job—I just want to understand it more. Enter Christopher Ash, Bible teacher with the Proclamation Trust.
Life can be hard, and sometimes it seems like God doesn’t even care. When faced with difficult trials, many people have resonated with the book of Job—the story of a man who lost nearly everything, seemingly abandoned by God.
In this thorough and accessible commentary, Christopher Ash helps us glean encouragement from God’s Word by directing our attention to the final explanation and ultimate resolution of Job’s story: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Intended to equip pastors to preach Job’s important message, this commentary highlights God’s grace and wisdom in the midst of redemptive suffering.
Taking a staggeringly honest look at our broken world and the trials that we often face, Ash helps us see God’s sovereign purposes for adversity and the wonderful hope that Christians have in Christ.
What do you plan to read this summer?