By Jonathan Howe
Sunshine, free time, and a good book.
Those three ingredients make for a pretty solid summer day. Often the hardest part is deciding what to read. Fiction? Classics? Theology? Biography? There are so many choices and the decision can become overwhelming.
In an effort to make your decision easier, we asked Facts & Trends readers what they would suggest for a summer reading list. Looking at the responses, here are 11 recently-released books with a quick description and a link to easily add them your summer reading library.
The Apostles’ Creed has shaped and guided Christian faith for almost two thousand years. Few documents in the history of the church have similar influence on the life of ordinary believers. Shared by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox traditions, the Apostles’ Creed is perhaps the most compelling and formidable statement of Christian doctrine the world has ever known. But do we know what it really means—and how it applies to us today?
In The Apostles’ Creed, renowned theologian and pastor R. Albert Mohler Jr. works line-by-line and phrase-by-phrase through each section of the Creed, explaining in clear terms what it means and how it equips Christians to live faithfully in a post-Christian culture. From understanding the nature of the Trinity and the miracle of the Incarnation to the world-shaking truth of the resurrection and the hope of Christ’s return, the theological heritage contained in this ancient statement has the power to shape us for vibrant and steadfast living today. The Apostles’ Creed shows us how.
In this accessible resource, author David L. Allen carefully summarizes the doctrine of the atonement, with definitions of key terms, discussion of key Old and New Testament texts, and a survey of the historical theories of the atonement. Addressing topics like the atonement’s necessity, nature, intent, extent, and application, The Atonement answers questions such as, “is the atonement actual or potential?” and “is the blood of Christ wasted on those who are eternally lost?” This book will be a go-to resource for all those who wish to understand what Christ accomplished on the cross by his death.
Christianity is the most widespread global belief system, and promises to remain so well into the future. But for many educated westerners, biblical Christianity is a dangerous idea―challenging some of their deepest beliefs.
Channeling state-of-the-art research, personal stories, and careful biblical study, Confronting Christianity explores 12 questions that keep many of us from considering faith in Christ. Look more closely, McLaughlin argues, and the reality of suffering, the complexity of sexuality, the desire for diversity, the success of science, and other seeming roadblocks to faith become signposts. Jesus becomes not a relic from the ancient world, but our modern world’s best hope.
Many professionals work as much as 70 hours a week, leaving little time for rest, exercise, family, and friends. Work is invading their personal life.
The common understanding of productivity has failed these professionals. Most think productivity is just about getting more done at a faster speed. But it’s not.
Productivity is about getting the right things done.
New York Times Bestselling author, Michael Hyatt, has created a total productivity system that’s much more than endless box checking. Proven by over 25,000 professionals, this system helps overwhelmed leaders achieve what matters most so they can succeed at both work and life.
In Gay Girl, Good God, author Jackie Hill Perry shares her own story, offering practical tools that helped her in the process of finding wholeness. Jackie grew up fatherless and experienced gender confusion. She embraced masculinity and homosexuality with every fiber of her being. She knew Christians had a lot to say about all of the above. But was she supposed to change herself? How was she supposed to stop loving women, when homosexuality felt more natural to her than heterosexuality ever could?
At age 19, Jackie came face to face with what it meant to be made new. And not in a church, or through contact with Christians. God broke in and turned her heart toward Him right in her own bedroom in light of His gospel.
Read in order to understand. Read in order to hope. Or read in order, like Jackie, to be made new.
Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously.
The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.
Many evangelical churches face the problem of the open “back door”–even as new people arrive, older members are leaving, looking for something else. Combined with this problem is the discipleship deficit, the difficult truth that most evangelicals are not reaching the unchurched at the rates they think they are. In fact, many of the metrics that we often “count” in the church to highlight success really don’t tell us the full story of a church’s spiritual state. Things like attendance, decisions, dollars, and experiences can tell us something about a church, but not everything.
To cultivate a spiritually healthy church we need a shift in our metrics–a “grace-shift” that prioritizes the work of God in the lives of people over numbers and dollars. Are people growing in their esteem for Jesus? Is there a dogged devotion to the Bible as the ultimate authority for life? Is there a growing interest in theology and doctrine? A discernible spirit of repentance? And perhaps most importantly, is there evident love for God and for our neighbors in the congregation?
Author Jeff Medders admits that he is quick to defend Calvinism, but often slow to humbly love Christians who take a different view. His warm-hearted, challenging (and surprisingly witty) book takes readers through the the five points of Calvinism, revealing that a true understanding has a humbling effect on our hearts, fueling a love of Christ and his people that builds others up, rather than tearing them down.
This book is both a helpful summary of what Calvinism is, and a helpful challenge to those who are convinced Calvinists. It calls them to hold Calvinism in their hearts, not just in their heads, so that they are humble and gracious as well as zealous for the truth, to the praise and glory of Christ and his church.
Motivated by a deep-rooted conviction that the North American church needs to be equipped for this important task, Micah Fries and Keith Whitfield have gathered a group of experts who are deeply invested in successful outreach to their Muslim neighbors. Unlike many resources that explore the topic of Islam as a dominant religion in the Middle East, Islam and North America focuses on the presence of Islam here in North America. Answering questions about the commonalities between Christians and Muslims, freedom of worship, the Quran, and Sharia law, this book will equip North American Christians to think about Islam theologically and missionally, engage their Muslim neighbors hospitably, and encourage readers to find new opportunities for missional engagement in their own backyards.
Why do our families have so much power over us? In The Storm-Tossed Family, bestselling author Russell Moore teaches readers whether you are married or single, whether you long for a child or shepherding a full house, you are part of a family. Family is difficult because family—every family—is an echo of the gospel.
Family can be the source of some of the most transcendent human joy, and family can leave us crumpled up on the side of the road. Family can make us who we are, and family can break our hearts. Why would this social arrangement have that much power, for good or for ill, over us?
Whether it’s the Christmas and Easter Christians or the faithful church attenders whose hearts are cold toward the Lord, we’ve all encountered cultural Christians. They’d check the Christian box on a survey, they’re fine with church, but the truth is, they’re far from God. So how do we bring Jesus to this overlooked mission field?
The Unsaved Christian equips you to confront cultural Christianity with honesty, compassion, and grace, whether you’re doing it from the pulpit or the pews
Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section below.
JONATHAN HOWE (@jonathan_howe) serves as director of strategic initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources.