Summer creates a little more space for relaxing and slowing down the normal pace of busy life. This reality can provide a great opportunity for reading. Here are eight books I plan to read this summer.
1. Select Sermons of George Whitefield (With an Account of His Life by J.C. Ryle)
It’s been said that George Whitefield could make a grown man cry just by saying the word, “Mesopotamia.” A fascinating man whose preaching has become legendary, Whitefield helped shape the face of a nation as he inspired the first Great Awakening. I’m hopeful to be inspired myself as I read Whitefield’s own words from some of his most famous sermons.
2. Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church (Keith and Kristyn Getty)
I have an unquenchable passion to do something that I’m terrible at: singing. I love to sing because I love music. I often tell people that I wouldn’t sound too bad if I could ever just get on key. For the Christian however, singing is essential no matter the talent. It’s not only a response to the beauty and worth of God, but singing is a responsibility that every Christian must steward for the edification of the church. As the Getty’s say in the book, “We all share in the unique privilege and responsibility of singing. Singing together as the Church transforms our lives, our families, our churches, and our witness.” The Getty’s are a gift to the church. Their hymn writing has helped shape a new generation of worship leaders and congregations that sacrifice neither theological integrity nor emotional richness. I expect to be challenged to think, challenged to pray, and challenged to well, sing.
3. The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down (Al Mohler)
I’m excited about this book because Mohler never ceases to couple his readable writing with depth and insight. The Lord’s Prayer is the most well-known prayer in the world, and yet Christians often handle it with mindless recitation rather than a model prayer that drives us into deeper communion with God. I have no doubt this will be a wonderful exposition that will provoke me to get on my knees.
4. The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together (Jared Wilson)
Too many discipleship books are written for perfect people who know the right Sunday school answers. Personally, I’m an imperfect pastor because I’m an imperfect follower of Jesus. I struggle with pride and lust and bitterness and fear and envy and whole host of other sins. Therefore, the title and subtitle alone are enough to draw me to this book. Moreover, Jared Wilson is one of my favorite writers alive today. He’s simple, serious, and very funny.
5. Thinking Through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique (Christopher Watkin)
Engaging people about culture and ideas is part of being a good neighbor. But to do this we must have a strong understanding of culture. Culture has to do with the assumed ideas and values of a given community or society in any given time. Culture doesn’t come out of a vacuum. There are fundamental factors the contribute to ideas and assumptions. Genesis 1 and 2 give us great insight to these fundamental factors. This book is written to not only help us explain the Bible to the culture in which we live, but also to explain the culture in which we live in terms of the Bible. I’m excited to explore how Watkin reclaims the Trinity and creation from their cultural naysayers and shows how they speak into, question, and reorient some of today’s most important debates.
6. Newton on The Christian Life (Tony Reinke)
My friend Dustin Bruce put me on to this one. I have always loved and admired John Newton (author of Amazing Grace). His dramatic conversion from a life in the slave trade to his eventual work to end it is fascinating. But there’s more to the story of John Newton than these popular contours of his life. He served quietly as a pastor for forty years and is said to be the greatest pastoral letter writer in the history of the church. This book takes the reader through a careful study of many of Newton’s letters. I’m excited about gaining pastoral insight for helping people who are unsettled by the trials, doubts, and fears of life.
7. No Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What It Is, and Why It’s Harmful (Andrew David Naselli)
The maturing process as a Christian is one that is wrought with ups and downs, highs and lows. So how is the Christian to understand the process of becoming more like Jesus? Some turn to what is called higher life theology—also known as Keswick theology. Personally, I have been influenced by this kind of teaching on sanctification, but have come to disagree with it. I’m anxious to see how Naselli diagnosis the problem and explains a way forward in simple language.
8. A Pirate Looks at Fifty (Jimmy Buffett)
Jimmy Buffett sings, “I’ve read dozens of books about heroes and crooks and I’ve learned much from both of their styles.” I don’t recommend Jimmy Buffett as a role model for your children, but I do believe that we can learn valuable insights from all people, including the king of parrotheads. Moreover, I’ve always loved the music of Jimmy Buffett. In fact, as each summer begins, I get into a Jimmy Buffett mood where I listen to his music constantly. I’m excited about hearing tales of how Buffett got started, his time at Auburn, and his hammock-inspired poetry in Key West.