“Ten Books for Summer” has become an annual tradition. I read a lot and love to recommend books to others. So, why not share? Here are the second five of my ten favorite books for summer of 2015. They are not always religious but they are interesting. The list is in no particular order. With each book there is information provided by Amazon.com followed by, “Why I like this book.”
Ignite: 50 Days Of Prayer That Will CHANGE Your Life by Matthew Watley. “My good friend Matthew Watley provides for us in this book more than inspirational thoughts. He imparts to us the deep spiritual wisdom which causes our hearts to soar in prayer. As you read and pray daily, you will become aware that you are growing stronger spiritually. Perhaps you will notice how your prayers are becoming more focused or how the word of God is becoming more integrated within your prayer life. What I know is that your life will not be the same because your prayer life will be transformed over the next 50 days.” – Bishop Walter Scott Thomas
Why I like this book: “One of the most endearing traits about our dog Huck is his protective nature. Huck is a watch dog who takes his responsibilities seriously. One of the signs of your maturity as a believer is when you become watchful. You discover within yourself an intense protective sensitivity to the needs of others. One of the key ways that this trait presents itself is through intercessory prayer.” I have been through the first 50 day cycle of “Ignite” and I find myself becoming more focused in my prayer life. I can’t wait to start the next cycle and see what I learn next?
The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul by Adam Hamilton. With Adam Hamilton, we have traced the life of Jesus from his birth The Journey, through his ministry The Way, to his death and resurrection 24 Hours That Changed the World. What happened next? Follow the journeys of Paul, beginning with his dramatic conversion, as he spread the Gospel through modern-day Greece and Turkey. Travel to the early church sites and explore Paul’s conversations with the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.
Why I like this book: Other than Jesus, I can think of no one who had more impact on our Christian faith than Paul. His letters have inspired countless millions. His testimony is a tribute to the grace of God. “I have a deep appreciation for Paul. His story inspires me. I believe his life, when viewed as a whole, reveals a heroic figure who sought to exemplify what it means to faithfully follow Jesus Christ. I believe God still speaks through his words, nearly two thousand years after they were written, in order to help us know Christ and live as his followers.” – Adam Hamilton
The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience by Kevin Watson. Dr. Kevin Watson has written a fresh new guide to the theory and practice of the Wesley class meeting, an essential element of truly Wesleyan spirituality. This book is for clergy and congregations who are looking for ways to develop deeper discipleship. The class meeting is made workable without losing its essential dynamic as a gospel-based accountable community. Watson has resurrected the class meeting and given it new meaning, showing its relevance for the church today and how it may be a perfect means for church renewal.
Why I like this book: Christians in my part of the country seem to value individuality rather than community. At times, that may be a strength but churches were formed to provide encouragement and strength in the midst of persecution and oppression. Lions hunt by seeking to separate their prey from the herd. One string provides limited strength but several strings wrapped together create a nearly unbreakable rope. It’s nearly impossible to make a chair with one leg or even two but three or four legs provide stability and strength. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, heavily relied upon small groups called class meetings to provide teaching, encouragement and guidance toward strengthening our faith. Kevin Watson wrote: “I wrote this book because I believe the Holy Spirit wants to use this particular approach to small groups to bring renewal to the lives of women and men created in the image of God. My prayer is that you will find participating in a class meeting to be a means of God’s transforming grace in your life.”
The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World by Gabe Lyons. Turn on a cable news show or pick up any news magazine, and you get the impression that Christian America is on its last leg. More than 76% of Americans self-identify as Christians, but many today are ashamed to carry the label. While many Christians are bemoaning their faith’s decline, Gabe Lyons is optimistic that Christianity’s best days are yet to come. In the wake of the stunning research from his bestselling book, unChristian, which revealed the growing disenchantment among young generations for Christians, Lyons has witnessed the beginnings of a new iteration of the faith. Marked by Lyons’ brutal honesty and unvarying generosity, Lyons exposes a whole movement of Christians—Evangelicals, Mainline, Protestants, Orthodox, Pentecostals, and others—who desire to be a force for restoration even as they proclaim the Christian Gospel. They want the label Christian to mean something good, intelligent, authentic, and beautiful.
Why I like this book: “Seven years ago, I was twenty-seven years old and embarrassed to call myself Christian. This was especially odd because I was raised in a Christian home, graduated from a Christian college and then served as vice president of a prominent Christian organization. By all accounts I should have been one of Christianity’s biggest fans.” After admitting his struggle, the author, Gabe Lyons takes us on a journey to help us restore our faith. “The restorers I’ll introduce you to in the coming pages don’t simply act differently; their actions are driven by an entirely different set of ideas about why they restore, They aren’t only concerned with helping broken people – they see an all-encompassing vision in which restoration fuels everything they do. It permeates every part of their being.”
The Power of a Story: It Inspires, Surprises and Lifts Your Faith by James W. Moore. In this book, popular author James W. Moore talks about the power of a story, such as those told by Jesus in the Bible. The author recalls, “I would be sitting there in the sanctuary of our church, doing what young boys do in church, drawing pictures on the back of the bulletin, working puzzles, looking constantly at Granny’s watch, wishing the seconds hand would move faster, daydreaming about sports, kicking my feet in the air impatiently, counting the organ pipes . . . And then, the preacher would start telling a story, and I was hooked. He had my full attention. I couldn’t wait to hear the story!” Jesus knew the importance of telling stories to convey a message or a Biblical truth and used this technique often when speaking or ministering to others throughout the Bible in the form of parables. Stories are a natural way to give detail and perspective while teaching an important point.
Why I like this book: “The question is: How do we believe the best things in the worst times? How can we hold on to the miracle of hope? How can we keep on trusting and hoping and believing the best in such strange, violent, desperate times?” – James W. Moore. No one tells stories better than James W. Moore and in this book more than any other, he lays out his vision through powerful, easily understood stories that will strengthen your faith and restore your hope.