GENTLE AND LOWLYDane Ortlund

If someone asked you to describe your parent, spouse, or best friend; where would you begin? You might initially begin with physical features like hair, and height, then move to personality, but what matters most is a person’s heart. If you were to describe Jesus, we would need to begin by describing His heart.

There is only one place in all of the Bible where Jesus gives this description. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28–30

Jesus uses two words to describe His heart; “Gentle and lowly.” He could have chosen other words like powerful, just, or wise, but these are the words that best describe His heart and who He really is. This is such good news for you and me. Jesus is not harsh, but understands us. He knows we are not perfect, but that we need Him.

As Dane Ortlund communicates, this is a book for “the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. Those running on fumes. Those whose Christian lives feel like constantly running up a descending escalator. Those of us who find ourselves thinking: ‘How could I mess up that bad—again?’ It is for that increasing suspicion that God’s patience with us is wearing thin. For those of us who know God loves us but suspect we have deeply disappointed him. We have told others of the love of Christ yet wonder if—as for us—he harbors mild resentment. Who wonder if we have shipwrecked our lives beyond what can be repaired. Who are convinced we’ve permanently diminished our usefulness to the Lord. Who have been swept off our feet by perplexing pain and are wondering how we can keep living under such numbing darkness.”

When we read that description, we realize this is really a book for all of us.

HOW TO EAT YOUR BIBLE Nate Pickowicz

Christians are confused about what the Bible is. Yes, you read that correctly. I am convinced that most Christians do not know what the Bible is. I am convinced of this because most do not read, study, or spend any discernible time with their Bibles.

          • Over 82% of Christian Americans only read their Bibles on Sundays while in church. (Ponce Foundation)
          • Only 32% of church attenders say they read the Bible personally every day. (Facts and Trends)
          • Only 27% say they read it a few times a week. (Facts and Trends)

There are lots of reasons why Christians would say they don’t study the Bible …it’s hard to understand, its boring, the presence of sin, or they are simply too busy. Truth is if we truly understood what the Bible is, you couldn’t keep us out of it. We would be enamored and drawn to it with excitement.

Simply put, the Bible is the Word of God.

  • All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, – 2 Timothy 3:16
  • For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Peter 1:21

There is no other book that can compare to the Bible. It is not man-made. It is inspired by God, without flaw or error in its original form. It is truth. It has the power to change us from the inside out. (Hebrews 4:12-13). If we truly believed that, we would live in it. The Word of God is our food; we should nourish ourselves with it, yet we see so many starving Christians.

I love this book from Nate Pickowicz for reminding the reader of what the Bible truly is, but also offering simple, practical, and helpful instruction on how to read, study, and obey God’s Word in daily life complete with reading plans.

Get this resource, get into the Word, and eat up!

ENJOY YOUR PRAYER LIFEMichael Reeves

There is an epidemic in the church of prayerlessness. Lots of Christians are confused about prayer. That confusion leads to frustration and inactivity. We just aren’t that good at prayer and need a kick-start! John Calvin described prayer as the “chief exercise of faith”,  therefore a lack of prayer indicates a lack of faith.

I love this little book! It is short, sweet, and to the point, yet it is jam-packed on every page with biblical and practical wisdom. You can read the entire thing on an airplane trip or while you sit on the beach, but you will continually be convicted and encouraged to not only pray but truly enjoy your prayer life. Let’s exercise our faith and pray!

 

THE 10 DUMBEST THINGS CHRISTIANS DOMark Atteberry

I remember walking through the Christian book store years ago and seeing this book on the shelf. When I saw the title, my honest first reaction was conflicted. I didn’t know whether to be offended or to be honest and ask… “Only 10?” Mark identifies 10 things Christians do to frustrate the work of God, hinder Kingdom work in the church, and damage our witness to the world around us. If we have been in church any length of time, we will easily recognize these dumb moves.

          • Dumb Move: Slinging Mud on the Bride of Christ
          • Dumb Move: Living Below the Level of Our Beliefs
          • Dumb Move: Hopping from Church to Church
          • Dumb Move: Allowing Wolves to Live Among the Sheep
          • Dumb Move: Settling for Mediocrity
          • Dumb Move: Accepting the Unacceptable

Mark writes this book not to hurt feelings, but to encourage the church to “take off its clown shoes and slip into a pair of Nikes.” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:3, “We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.” The first step in running the gospel race ahead of us is to lose the sin and remove the obstacles in our way. It is time to be the church that Jesus has called us to be.

JESUS’ TERRIBLE FINANCIAL ADVICE John Thornton

John Thornton is a CPA with a Ph.D. in Accounting as well as director of the School of Accounting at Azusa Pacific University. (Christian University). This book was Amazon’s #1 release on Christian Stewardship in January 2017.

John says, “But nearly half of all Americans can’t handle a $400 unexpected bill or miss even one paycheck without selling something or borrowing money. How, then, can we use our money to help others if we can’t even help ourselves? And what happens when we do gain wealth? Will we lord it over others, or humbly serve as Jesus did?

God’s Word speaks to money and how we should handle it time and time again. John explains that what we believe about money matters, but that what we believe about God matters even more. Because of that, he made a rule for this book “If my theology disagrees with God, one of us is wrong, and it’s not Him.

John wants to take what may seem like terrible advice from Jesus about money and show you how it is terrific by following truths found in the Bible. Truths that remind us that …

  • Our purpose is to glorify the Father with all that we have and are.
  • When we make money an idol, we steal God’s glory.
  • We are deceived when we think we have a better plan for our lives than God does.
  • Following Jesus costs everything. But not nearly what He is worth.
  • God is the real giver.

This book offers real practical wisdom on how to handle money as opposed to us being handled by our money. For anyone who struggles to understand finances, this book is a challenging, thought-provoking, yet an encouraging look at leveraging our finances for the glory of God.

Summer Reading Recommendations From Pastor Brad Kirby