Books worth reading (Summer 2019)
It's been a while since I updated this blog with an edition of Pastor's Picks, because frankly--I've been pretty busy. But nonetheless there have been some great books that I've had the pleasure of reading since my last posting that I thought I should draw your attention to as you make some choices for your summer reading lists.
A.B. - David Jones (228 pages)
I mentioned this book during my sermon this past Sunday as an engaging alternative to some of the more academic biographies of Alliance founder A.B. Simpson. This new work by David Jones is written not for a college or seminary student but for the average woman or man in the pew. His style is engaging, the story is riveting, and by the end of this rather short volume you will have a greater appreciation for the man (in both his triumphs and his flaws) and the movement that he started. If anything that I've been talking about this year with regard to the Christian and Missionary Alliance has piqued your interest. I'd recommend checking this out. We currently have one copy for loan in the church library, and it is also available from the Christian and Missionary Alliance (USA) online store here.
I'm Still Here - Austin Channing Brown (185 pages)
The subtitle of this book gives you a good summary of its content: "Black dignity in a world made for whiteness." As an evangelical Christian author, Brown will challenge the often unperceived bias toward "whiteness" within the well-meaning Christian world. If you are white, this book will make you uncomfortable, it might make you angry, and it will surely make you defensive. This is not a book that will make you feel good about your presumed position of racial neutrality, but will unmask all the ways in which "whiteness" is the presumed normative cultural expression of the church. This is not a book aimed at converting overt racists, Neo-nazis, or other types of bigots, it's a work aimed at generous, loving, and well-intentioned white Christians who are utterly ignorant of their own biases and structural preferences for white culture and white authority. My guess is that you will not like this book. But in light of our overwhelming racial homogeny at The Bridge, it might be one of the more important books you can read this summer. We currently have one copy for loan in the church library, and it is also available on major online book retailers.
The Bold Christian - Chuck Davis (138 pages + appendices)
If you were challenged by River Dwellers or had a powerful encounter through Soul Care, then this is one of the next logical books that I would encourage you to read. Too often we come to a point where we understand what Jesus might call us to do, and we understand the sort of freedom that Jesus might want us to enjoy, but we lack the courage of conviction to stand up and claim it in Jesus name. Whether that freedom is in the area of spiritual warfare and demonization, or in the area of physical healing and vitality, or even in the area of prophetic understanding and hearing from God - Davis demonstrates in a really pastoral tone how we have authority in the name of Jesus Christ to boldly claim these things. One of the central theses of the book is that "authority trumps power," and he manages to work that out in. multitude of practical ways that each of us can follow and apply in our own lives. Of special practical note in this book are the three appendices that give some real, on the ground tools and practices for Christians to start walking out this authority with boldness. We currently have two copies for loan in the church library, and it is also available on major online book retailers.
Learning to Speak God From Scratch - Jonathan Merritt (207 pages)
This book's subtitle is "Why sacred words are vanishing and how we can revive them," and the premise of the argument fascinated me from the time I first heard an interview with the author about the book last year. After reading it, I can say that I am less excited about recommending it and more challenged by it than I expected. After that caveat, allow me to explain why it still makes this list. The hesitancy to recommend it comes down to the fact that the book has a bit of a split personality. The first 80 pages (or so) are very intellectual. He talks about the theory of language, why words matter, and the statistics that undergird his research and impetus for writing. If you are the type of person who is into understanding how things work behind the curtain you will love the first 3rd of this book - if you find that sort of writing tedious, then you may struggle to get to what the first section is setting up (which is really good). What comes starting on page 83 though is a series of very short essays (ranging from 3-10 pages) on a list of sacred words that Merritt thinks that it is important for us to rediscover and breathe life back into. The selection of words that he has chosen belies a very personal experience with God that certainly didn't go the way I was expecting. I was expecting a list of very theological words that need to be re-entered into the lexicon of Christian speech, but what Merritt writes about is a collection of very ordinary words that have tremendous weight when used in spiritual conversations. The effect of this was more profound than I expected with the essays on words like pain, brokenness, and confession being among the most challenging to read and process. If you were interested in hearing Merritt's thoughts on the more popular words of the faith lexicon, he outlines some of them in a podcast that he started to promote this book, which is also an excellent listen (link here). Overall, I would say that if you can push through the first 80 pages of theory and explanation than the reward is worth it. If that's not your thing, then check out the podcast where a lot of the theory is explained in a more accessible setting and then jump in on page 83 and see how God might challenge you. We currently have one copy of Learning to Speak God from Scratch for loan in the church library, and it is also available on major online book retailers.
Hopefully these recommendations will get you started on some great summer reading. If you have a recommendation that you'd like to share, why not put it in the comments and we will take a look at perhaps adding it to our collection in the future.