Written by Stephen Cox
Summer often affords us some time to read books that we might not normally be free to read. You can reach for the novel that’s been on your night stand for months, that biography you’ve waiting to get lost in or that thick theological tome that you can now browse slowly through. In the extra time we can also explore genres a bit outside our typical fare. It’s a time to stick that additional book in our bag before a trip. Here are a few titles that I am attempting to read this summer:
Serving without Sinking
The Good Book Company
by John Hindley
“Serving without Sinking” is a book by church-planter and first-time author John Hindley. Sometimes I can think about serving God as a chore or even feel guilty when I’m not serving and I’m interested to read what he diagnoses as those rotten motivations that so commonly fuel Christian life and service. I am especially keen to see how he sees Christians can serve Christ with joy instead of resentment, reluctance or burn-out. Also it’s only 128 pages long!
Is God anti-gay?
The Good Book Company
by Sam Allberry
I already own a couple of books by Sam Allberry (“Lifted” on the resurrection and “Connected” on the Holy Spirit) and have found them both excellent – clear, biblical, challenging, engaging. In this short (do you notice a theme to the books I chose?) and simple book, Sam Allberry wants to help Christians understand what God has said about homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attraction. It’s clearly a topic that is on the social agenda and so I’m hoping his insights and experience will be helpful to me as I engage the world on this subject.
Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation
This is my ‘Mount Everest’ for the summer! 300 pages from a Croatian theologian all written in size 10 font! (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can). It was a book recommended by Martin Shadwick at our church weekend away last year.
At a community and personal level, we often don’t get on with others simply because they are different. We can react out of fear and anger to others who are not within our narrow circle of relationships. Volf wants us to see that as Christians we are not only reconciled to God, we are not only ‘learning to live with one another’, but we are encouraged to take the dangerous and costly step of opening ourselves to others, enfolding them in the same embrace with which we have been enfolded by God.
Of course, the best book to read is the Bible. This summer I will be reading through the book of Leviticus in preparation for our upcoming sermon series. Leviticus is one of the least read and least understood parts of Scripture. How many Christians have resolved to read through the entire Bible and made good progress through Genesis and Exodus only to hit a wall and give up when they reach Leviticus? With all those different laws regarding the Old Covenant priesthood and various sacrifices, it can be quite difficult to understand. I’m looking forward to grappling with it.
I have also been reading through the book of Exodus with my kids which has been great. They are enjoying the narrative and I’m marvelling at the amazing works of God through his servant Moses and the miraculous acts he performed to rescue his people (It’s hard not to be drawn to our Saviour in Jesus!).
That’s what I’m reading over the summer. Maybe I’ve encouraged you to add one or two to your own list? Happy reading!