Ya’ll — it’s been forever since I did a book review post. Of course, I’m reading a little less these days but I have managed to get a few in. I’ve gotten nearly every book on my list lately from those suggested on The Happy Hour podcast. Those ladies love to read and always always have to best ones to suggest — the awesome Christian reads I’m always look for but that aren’t just sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.
As I made this list of books, I realized there are two sections — spiritual and non-spiritual. So I’m going to separate them so if you don’t want to read one or the other, you don’t have to. Stay tuned for the “non-spiritual” book reviews coming next week.
I’m sure you will be able to tell some of the issues that have been on my mind lately. I don’t know about you but as a Christian, I struggle deeply with cultural issues today. I often feel uncertain and maybe misunderstood. I pretty much never speak about the most divisive issues (outside of abortion) and definitely don’t ever here on this blog. But this is my blog and I’m gonna review these books without worrying about it! Enjoy 🙂
The Irresistable Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shaine Claiborne
Soooo I am getting a lot out of this book but have to say it got on my nerves a bit too. Shaine Claiborne spends time making fun of “fakey” Christian culture, like the evangelical youth group he grew up in. But I think he really discredits what youth groups and Christian culture are trying to do for kids — and even adults. Are there cheesy games & conferences? Yes, but they come with good messages, are entertaining and ultimately glorify God. I grew up in such a culture and overall think it affected me positively. Additionally, he talks about he never meets any “real” Christians…well he didn’t until he met a formerly rich guy who chose to “sell all his possessions” and live with the poor & needy. To Claiborne, it seems everyone is doing it wrong unless they live like him. I think he’s doing a wonderful thing with his life but you can’t help but feel judged & shamed reading this book. It does inspire me to be more actionable, intentional, tangible with my faith & works but I came away with a bad taste in my mouth. That being said, he does have a great message and I actually have another one of his books on deck to read (they are pretty well written.)
Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
I’ve gotten to know Jen a lot better through her appearances on the Happy Hour this year and though I’d known her as a blogger, I didn’t realize she’d written so many books. This was my first one of hers, though she has written at least 5 or 6 more. While I sometimes disagree with Jen’s approach to dicey political issues, I was truly inspired how her life was “interrupted” by Jesus giving her the ability to see how small her Christian life had become. She tells the story of how God opened her eyes to the big world around her and how she and her husband followed His guidance to start a new kind of church and do it without having money, direction or clarity. It’s a wonderful story of following God through a darkness and having faith he will get you where you are going.
Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach
Must-read for Christians today. With so much contention around LGBT issues and the church these days, confusion abounds. I know many Christians aren’t sure what to think, as they are being called “bigots” and hateful for believing in a Biblical view of men and women’s sexuality, despite genuinely loving the gay people in their lives. And some have decided the Bible doesn’t actually condemn homosexual lifestyles as sinful. There are opinions flying everywhere. I chose to read this book because I want to get every perspective I can. The author grew up with two gay parents and was raised to hate Christians. This is the story of his conversion to Christian, pastor and to what happened when he told his parents what he was doing with his life. There is plenty of perspective, love, empathy, understanding and wisdom here. For those who wrestle with what to think, how to respond, what to do…it’s a good read.
Space at the Table by Brad & Drew Harper
Another book on the LGBT issues. This book is written by a Christian father and his gay son. What’s great about this book is that the father and son never come to an agreement in the end but their journey to understanding one another is so beautiful. There is some heartbreaking stuff in here, regarding what the son went through as a very young, gay teen. However, I was glad to see him distinguish between people who are loving Christians with a Biblical viewpoint and those who are actually homophobic (yes, there are plenty of people who are.) For those who feel like there is an impossible divide to cross regarding Christianity and the LGBT community, this book may restore your hope, answer your questions and open your mind. I enjoyed it.
Jesus Outside the Lines by Scott Sauls
This is yet another book that tackles some of today’s divisive issues. Here, Sauls delves into Republican v. Democrat, abortion, homosexuality, capitalism. chastity and more. I have been thirsting to find common ground or some kind of peace on the issues that divide us in this country. This book was a reminder that Jesus belongs to no political party and his words in the Bible ring true no matter what side of an issue you are on. Jesus is not about taking sides or living inside a certain ideology. It helped me to open my mind, see people as He does and even begin to grasp and understanding of those who are on different sides of an issue than me. Worth a read.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzaro
Okay so this is NOT about politics or divisive issues but it’s a fairly heavy read. When Jess Connolly said there are two books every Christian should read — “This and the Bible” — I grabbed my phone and purchased in like 30 seconds later. Every person can benefit from reading this — emotional maturity is tough but you need to fulfill the God-give spirituality you have as a Christian. It’s what allows you to really employ the fruits of the spirit and live the life God intends for you. This book was so popular it has been made into study guides, bible studies, workshops & more.
Take This Bread by Sara Miles
Sara Miles is a liberal lesbian and a Christian. Some people think those things don’t go together well but after reading this book, you may change your mind. She was raised an atheist and then had an encounter with God and never looked back. I’m not condoning her reading of the Bible on every issue but she certainly lives out her faith in a beautiful way. It’s a thoughtful, powerful memoir that shows that Jesus can meet you WHEREVER you are. And all you have to do is say yes.
So there you have it. I’d encourage you to go out of your comfort zone and read books by people you might not totally get. Remember that we’re all just doing our best trying to figure it out. I learned a lot from these books and came away feeling enlightened, more open minded and understanding on many issues.