I have been a reader all of my life. In elementary school I walked from our home to the public library in downtown Millersburg all the time. By the fifth grade I had read nearly all of the books in the biography section and my brother Mark suggested that I begin reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Mark showed me where they were in the library stacks, right under a sign that said “College Reading” and I asked him about it. Mark knew me well enough to tell me to just ignore the sign. Those books quickly became some of my favorites and I have reread them at least two or three times (and I’m way overdue to do it again).
In any case, despite the fact that I was scraping ice off of my windshield on Sunday morning, summer is just around the corner. I know some of you love a good book as much as I do so I thought I would mention a few of the books that I have enjoyed and often recommend to others.
A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – Lee Strobel used to be a newspaper reporter for the Chicago Tribune covering the action at the Chicago court house. As an avowed atheist, he was angry when his wife placed her faith in Jesus Christ and as a skeptic he set out to prove that Christianity was a fraud. His journey took more than a year and, in the end, convinced him that the evidence was sufficient to believe that the whole story of the Gospel message was true. Strobel has also written A Case for Faith, and, A Case for a Creator, which are also very good, but for me, this is the best of them. I recommended this to every thinking Christian and anyone who is asking how we can believe that Jesus was real and was who the Bible says that he was.
How Good is Good Enough? by Andy Stanley – In this little book (6.5” x 4.75”, and less than a hundred pages) Andy Stanley (the son of Dr. Charles Stanley) dismantles the argument that a good God would allow good people into heaven. My favorite quote from this book: “But if being good- the way I measure good – will get me into heaven, the terrorists won’t be there. At least, not in my neighborhood.” This book is small, short and easy to read and completely overturns many popular mistaken beliefs about God and the Bible using logic and common sense. (If you live anywhere close to me, I can loan you one of these, I have eight or nine of them, seriously).
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman – In this book, Gary Chapman explains how each of us speak and understand a language of love, but not all of us speak the same language. I like this book so much that I usually buy them five at a time and give them to young couples whenever I do premarital counseling. When men and women (as well as parents and children, and others) build relationships we often feel unloved even though the other person believes that they are showering us with love. Why? Because the “love language” that is being used by one partner is not a language that is understood, or received, by the other. As the title might suggest, Chapman identifies five love languages that are common and how we can identify each of them in one another. When we understand what love language our partners, friends and children speak, we can do a better job of not only loving them, but helping them to feel loved.
For Men: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge – This is a guy’s book. I’m not saying that women can’t read it; certainly any woman reading this is likely to understand men better than she did before. But men, this is an awesome book and if you are anything at all like me, and even if you are not, there is a good chance that this book will simply resonate within you. As I read this book I kept on having “Aha” moments where I suddenly felt that Eldredge had managed to put into words, thoughts and feeling that had rattled around inside of me for years. Here, John Eldredge points out that Eve was created inside the Garden of Eden but Adam was created outside. Is this the reason that men love the outdoors and thrive on the wildness of God’s creation while women (generally) favor order? Eldredge believes that the heart of a man is born wild and suffers whenever society tries to tame it. As you read this book, you may just discover that God feels differently about men than what you heard in church and that your own inner wildness is no accident, but a deliberate design that God intended to be a part of his kingdom.
I could write a lot more (you’ve seen the books in my office, right?), but this is probably enough for you pick something for your summer beach (or patio) reading. As always, if you have a specific subject that you are interested in, or if you need more, or need to borrow a book, please feel free to stop by my office and ask.