Summer 2018 Reads + Reviews

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The written word has always been a treasure to me. I am mentored by men and women long in Heaven and rejuvenated in my faith by living followers of Christ. I enjoy both turning tangible pages and reading multiple books at a time on my Kindle. And while it took a little adjusting, I hardly take a drive over 20 minutes or fold a basket of laundry without listening to a book.

This summer I covered a lot of ground, and for my personal enjoyment and for other bookworms out there, I share with you what I’ve read. They aren’t in any major order, some fall in the spiritual growth category, others personal interest.

Here’s my system of review:

  • 5 = I loved the book and enthusiastically recommend it.
  • 4 = I liked it, but not necessarily doing cartwheels over it.
  • 3 = Eh. It was okay.
  • 2 = I’m reluctant to pass it along.
  • 1 = Don’t bother.

The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, by Elisabeth Elliot: 4.5 stars. A glimpse into one brave and devoted missionary life, this book is a compilation of historical details and the faithfulness of God. A truth I absorbed while reading this book is that if God calls you to a particular ministry or mission or task for His name and kingdom, He goes before you, and He will provide and be everything you need.

[Amy Carmichael’s] great longing was to have a “single eye” for the glory of God. Whatever might blur the vision God had give her of His work, whatever could distract or deceive or tempt other to seek anything but the Lord Jesus Himself she tried to eliminate.

In His Image, by Jen Wilkin: 5 stars. Jen Wilkin’s desire to unearth a high and lifted up vision of God in the hearts of believers has had a deep impact of me. After having read her first book of similar title, None Like Him, twice, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. This book is her approach to answer humanity’s deeply rooted need to know God’s will with a charge to become a person who images Jesus in their daily life. She tackles big theological aspects of God in a way that quickly sticks to your soul. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Everything we say or do will either illuminate or obscure the character of God. Sanctification is the process of joyfully growing luminous.

The Mark of the King, by Jocelyn Green: 4.5 stars. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, and this story did not disappoint. It took a few chapters to engage with the story, but halfway through, with my curiosity piqued, it was difficult to stop. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, but I probably won’t read it again.

Talk to the Lord, Julianne. Even if you’re mad as hornets. If you keep it all bottled up, you’ll only end up with a belly full of bee stings.

Rejoicing in Christ, by Michael Reeves: 5 stars. Before this one, I read Michael’s book on the Trinity, and greatly enjoyed it. Personally, Michael deepened my understanding of Jesus, cultivating an even sweeter love for him. It really is as the title says, a delightful feasting on the cornerstone and center of our salvation, marveling at the person of Jesus in relation to the Father, Spirit, creation, salvation, and more.

Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son, is the Beloved of the Father, the Song of the angels, the Logic of creation, the great Mystery of godliness, the bottomless Spring of life, comfort and joy. We were made to find our satisfaction, our heart’s rest, in him.

Identity Theft, edited by Melissa Kruger: 5 stars. I picked up this book because I’m an ‘identity-in-Christ’ junkie, but I was surprised how much I gleaned. In this book, a variety of God-fearing, people-loving women each write a chapter, for the purpose of the book’s tagline “reclaiming the truth of who we are in Christ.”

Satan shows us our sin so we might despair. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy. God shows us our sin to lead us to Jesus. He wants to give us life, and life to the full. We may struggle with sin, but it’s no longer our identity if we’re in Christ. Melissa Kruger

The Gospel Comes with a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield: 4.5 stars. I wrote a post after reading this, how I enjoyed the call to hospitality as a way to create space for God to work in someone’s life. Rosaria’s personality and tone of writing calls readers to a “radically ordinary” way of hospitality. My encouragement for you and this book is this: let her passion inspire you to live generously, and to consider hindrances to hospitality in your life, but seek God’s wisdom in it. We all have unique gifts and passions, meaning the way we serve others is going to look different. Resist the urge to feel discouraged because you don’t live like Rosaria lives. Open your home and your life however God leads you to.

Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.

The Road Back to You, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile: 5 stars. When I first began to hear about the Enneagram, I let it all wash past. It wasn’t until I heard a friend’s testimony about how it’s been helpful for her marriage and spiritual growth did I become curious about my type. This book was the suggested ‘first step in,’ and it was informative and enjoyable. (More on the Enneagram and how it has been used by God in my life coming soon.)

As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.

From Weakness to Strength, by Scott Sauls: 5 stars. I really like Scott Sauls’ style of writing. He’s a great storyteller and has a distinct and clear way of explaining Biblical ideas. This book inspires leaders to stay close to the Bible, be honest about sins and shortcomings (because they are present), and live to reflect Jesus in every part of their ministry. I am not exactly a church leader, but this book informed my praying for pastors and ministry leaders.

Satan is not fond of your life’s mission. He is threatened by it, so he is going to attack you. Sometimes he will attack and accuse you through the very people God has given you to shepherd and love. When this happens, please don’t get cynical about God’s people. Stay hopeful about the church like Paul did with Corinth. Look at the cracked seed, and envision the flower or the fruit tree. Even when you are unfairly criticized, look for a nugget or two of truth in the criticism. You may find something fresh to repent of… and every opportunity to repent is also an opportunity to draw near to Jesus anew.

Hurricane Season, by Lauren Denton: 4 stars. A friend recommended this to me, and it was a nice read, but I wasn’t bowled over. It’s a unique story of family and dreams, of healing and growth. Lauren developed characters in rich ways, and her writing is creative, colorful, and fun. If you’re looking for a easy, fresh, fictional beach or travel read, it’s a good choice.

It’s what I do when these storms come in. I bake till the power goes off, then I eat. It keeps me calm. And fifteen pounds over my goal, but calories consumed during acts of God don’t count.

Becoming Dallas Willard, by Gary W. Moon: 5 stars. On the book jacket is this sentence: “The life of Dallas Willard deserves attention because he became a person who himself experienced authentic transformation of life and character. Dallas Willard not only taught about spiritual disciplines, he became a different person because of them.” This biography was a joy to read. How did he become the author and thinker many know and love? What was his childhood like? How did he come to know God so intimately? All these and more are answered in this book. We listened to it on a long car ride and laughed, reflected, and praised God.

He begins, “That’s my work as a teacher. It is a part of a general life which has to be given in loving service to others. No matter where you may be or what you may do that’s what your job is to be. And when you see it as a part of that calling and that vocation to be the loving servant of those around you, then you will begin to ‘occupy your place until I [Jesus] come.’

Daring to Hope, by Katie Davis Majors: 5 stars. I didn’t read Katie’s first book, but her testimony of sacrifice and clinging to God marked me in a sweet way. Her focus in this book is to charge faithful followers of Jesus to find hope when it seems there is none. She does a wonderful job weaving anecdotes of their life in Uganda and wisdom from the Bible. If you’re looking for something light but deeply inspiring, pick this one up.

It is a bit of a mess, this business of love. As more and more people enter our lives, we are left with not choice but to enter theirs as well. Even more so, over time their pains become our pain and their joys become our joy and this sharing of the Gospel becomes a sharing of life. This, at first glance, seems so burdensome, so overwhelming, but somehow I have found it not to be any longer. Something about shouldering the burdens of another brings a lightness to our own affliction. We are in it together, and Christ is in it with us.

What did you read this summer? I’d love to read your favorites – comment below! 

>> Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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1 Comment

  • Emily Hardaway

    Thanks for posting these reviews Chels! A few of these are on my list of “To-Reads” so I’m glad to read what you thought of them! :)

    08/13/2018 at 3:27 pm Reply
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