The pool is open, and summer is almost upon us! Whatever stage of life you may find yourself in, I hope the next few months for you will give you the opportunity to rest, take a break, and enjoy some good weather and even better company. But I also want to encourage you to use some time this summer to grow and challenge yourself in new ways. One of the best ways to do that is through reading. Not only do you expose yourself to new people and ideas, but you also become a better reader of Scripture, which in turn can help you become like Jesus.
If you’re looking for good books to read this summer, allow me to recommend to you 10 books that I think would be of great value to you. While anyone could benefit from these books, I have the church members in mind who I have the privilege of pastoring at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. Each of these books can be loosely categorized under a broad heading of community. For those of you who call Shady Grove your home, I want us to grow together in becoming a family that can only be explained by the gospel of God’s grace to us in Christ. I believe these books can help us do that.
I do have your summer vacations in mind with these books! I’ve tried to choose books that won’t take you too terribly long to read, that are engaging and well-written, and will leave a lasting impact on you. So whether you’re having a staycation or heading to the beach, take one or two of these books along. Continue Reading
Nietzsche once famously said that someone who knows their ‘why’ in life can endure any ‘how.’
For thousands of years, mankind’s answer to ‘why’ was a given. There were immanent and physical meanings for our lives: the survival of my family, the flourishing of my tribe, etc. But there were also transcendent ones: we understood in one way or another that life was structured in some way by a powerful Spiritual Being(s) who gave purpose and meaning to life under the Sun.
In most cases, the immanent meanings of life were directly tied to transcendent meaning. For many pagan religions, the prosperity of one’s family or tribe was intimately bound with one’s service to the tribal gods. In the case of Judeo-Christian monotheism, our morals, values, ethics and flow out of an understanding of the imago Dei: the image of God. Mankind’s purpose in this view is understood to come from a direct reflection of who God is. Who He is, we ought to be.
For most of human history, it was this combination of transcendent and immanent meanings which provided the ‘why’ for all of human life. Yet within the last few hundred years, our understanding of meaning, value and purpose has changed drastically. With the changes that followed in the Scientific Revolution, mankind began to acquire unprecedented power. It wasn’t before too long that a new idea popped into our heads. What if we aren’t made in the image of God, but we actually have the power to remake nature in our image instead? The imago Dei was replaced by imago Homo, and nothing has ever been the same since. Continue Reading
Have you ever thought about how exciting it must’ve been to be an explorer at sea back before the world was fully known to us? Sure, there was danger involved and you never knew if a storm (or the mythical kraken) was going to show up and devour your crew. But on the flip side, you had the excitement of discovering new lands, new peoples, and new resources to advance the flourishing of humankind. If you were to ever lose your way, you could always drop anchor to get your bearings before moving on to the next uncharted territory.
This is often how I feel today in the sea of ideas, opinions, and new perspectives about the world. I love to explore new insights, to try and see the world through other people’s eyes, and attempt to understand how other people think – even if I completely disagree with them. But just like the explorers of the old world, I know that it is possible to lose my way amongst the surge of new thoughts and ideas. There’s even the danger of being swallowed up by a way of thinking that would lead me away from my Christian faith.
It is for this reason that I am so grateful for the great creeds, confessions and catechisms of the church (especially those of my denomination, the Westminster Confession/Catechisms). Continue Reading
The resources listed below are by no means exhaustive. However, I do believe that these are some of the best resources you will be able to get your hands on. The list is broken up by subject. There are both Christian and non-Christian resources listed together. I trust the reader to use their own wisdom and best judgment over what will be helpful for them during this season of life.
If you are going through a season of depression or anxiety, please remember that while books will be helpful your greatest relief will come from a trusted friend, a wise counselor and a competent doctor. Don’t suffer in silence.