For now, I will just give a brief explanation of the book and its author(s). A few of these books may get a more full review in the future, but we will see. I will also briefly mention unique stories of how I can to find these books as they apply.
10. Authentic Love by Jon Jorgenson
Written from his memories from spending eight years of summers as a camp counselor at a Christian theater camp, Jon takes the opportunity to remember the stories for all those crazy summers of working with kids and teens, but also recalls the lessons he learned about his Lord and Savior and about himself along the way. It's a short but fun book for anyone that loves or works with kids, as well as those that enjoy looking deeper into the theme of having a child-like spirit for the kingdom, which is an important topic in the Christian faith that is often missed in my opinion.
Jon Jorgenson is an artist and a creative mind who became famous for co-founding The Anima Series on YouTube (creators of the inspiring viral video Who You Are: A Message to All Women) and is also currently acting on Broadway. This is his first book, published when he was only 22 years old. This is a great book I would recommend to anyone.
9. Pulling Back the Shades by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery
This book was written as a response to the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon that took the world by storm over the last few years since E.L. James published it. Pulling Back the Shades talks about the legitimate longings for intimacy that all women have, the ways that Fifty Shades attempts to fulfill those needs in illegitimate ways, and the best way to fulfill those needs. It has a Q&A section of honest questions women have about what's OK in the bedroom, the ones that most women are too ashamed to ask aloud. It addresses these issues in ways that both practical and relevant for both married and single women. It also challenges us to take a stand on the correct view of intimacy and to do something about it if we know the truth. Dannah Gresh is an author famous for her books on sexual purity as well as founding the organization Pure Freedom. Dr. Juli Slattery has authored other books and founded the organization Authentic Intimacy. Together, these women speak truth to our culture. It’s a wonderful book for all women who desire to know the truth.
8. Walking With Frodo by Sarah Arthur
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love The Lord of the Rings books. And I love The Hobbit even more. I also love the film versions. That’s why when I found this devotional book when I was in junior high, I was beyond excited. Through this book, Sarah Arthur takes you through nine weeks of two devotions that present two choices the characters in LOTR face, gives Scriptural connections to the events in the story, tells other relevant stories, and leaves you at the end of the week to make the choice of which path you will choose for yourself. Each devotion concludes with a list of Scriptures on that theme and some reflection questions that can be used for discussion.
Sarah is a fun and clever author who also loves Middle-earth. She also wrote Walking With Bilbo as a devotional guide through The Hobbit (which is a another wonderful devotional book) and well as a devotional book for women called Dating Mr. Darcy (which I have not heard myself). Walking With Frodo is a perfect book for any Christian Middle-earth fan.
7. Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman
Written as an autobiography, Mary Beth Chapman (wife of famous Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman) tells the story of her life. She tells you some about her childhood, about meeting and marrying Steven, about her struggle with clinical depression, about having their children, about the process of choosing to adopt three times, and about the founding the adoption aid organization Show Hope. All of this was leading up to the day when their lives were forever changed when they lost their young daughter, Maria Sue. Mary Beth recounts the tragic days following the accident, as well as the struggle to understand why and find beauty from the ashes. But thanks to Maria, they came to SEE in a way they never had before.
This book touched me very much on a personal level. I was inspired by both the Chapman's desire to fulfill God's calling to adoption, and also the way they endured such great loss and grief. It’s an incredible book, especially if you have ever endured a major personal tragedy.
6. Get Lost by Dannah Gresh
I have already mentioned Dannah once on this list, because she is one of my favorite authors, but out of all the books she has written, this one is by far her best in my opinion. Get Lost is a book that explores the great quote that preceded the book: “A girl should be so lost in God, he has to seek Him to find her.” Dannah took it upon herself to find out what this really looks like by identifying why women have such strong desires to have a man and then asking the readers to put them aside for a 10-day “love feast.” During 10 days of this devotional love feast, you really learn what it means to press into God, and to be lost in His love.
It’s truly an incredible book for women, no matter what phrase you are in life. But this book is especially powerful for those that have not had a relationship or have just broken up a relationship. I read this book at a time that I really needed to hear it, just after it came out. It had a powerful impact of my life, but I will save that story for another time.
5. Created to Create by Jon Jorgenson
Another book by Jon Jorgenson that just came out at the beginning of this year, Jon compiled this book for his blog posts from 2014. Over the course of that year he made a commitment to his fans that he would blog three days a week, and he kept faithful to that commitment. Being an artist and creative mind, he explores the thoughts about the call to create, the craft of creativity, the audience of our creative projects, and the One that gives us our creative abilities. It not divided into traditional chapters since it was derived from his blog posts, but it is still a powerful tool for those that want inspiration, guidance, or courage in pursuing the creative process.
As a loyal follower of Jon’s blog, I have been both challenged and inspired by this book to pursue creative projects I hadn’t pursued before, like starting a blog of my own. This book is currently only available publicly as an e-book on Amazon (although I have one of the few printed copies that actually exist, signed by the author!), but is totally worth the read.
4. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
Written as an autobiography, Katie Davis tells the story of following the Lord's call on her life to go to Uganda just after high school. She struggled with her desire to please her parents, who wanted her to pursue a regular education and find a regular job in the States, or honoring the calling the Lord had laid on her heart to help the people, especially the orphans, of Uganda. After founding Amazima Ministries, coming to love and begin the adoption process for 14 Ugandan orphan girls, and honoring her commitment to her parents to try college, she began to realize that her call to Uganda was a permanent one. This book was written when she was only 22 years old and speaks with a love and wisdom beyond its years.
If you have not read this book before, you will be inspired but the story of this young woman with a heart for orphans and a reckless faith. Her story especially resonated with me because I have a heart for orphans as well. This is a must read for every Christian!
3. Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings by Richard Abanes
This one is probably the most obscure book on this list, but just bear with me here. I think the subtitle of the book is more descriptive of the useful content: What You Need To Know About Fantasy Books and Movies. Because of the three stories listed in the title are among the most popular in that category, they are the ones that author Richard Abanes uses to illustrates his conclusions, and to great effect. The thing that makes this book stand out among others is its material on discerning what is right or wrong about the magic portrayed in fantasy stories. It has been a debate even since the fantasy genre of literature began, and I have not found anyone that explains it from a biblical perspective better than Abanes.
I have loved this book for a long time, even when I read it in high school. To hear the author’s opinion on the title stories, you will have to read for yourself, which I recommend you do if you desire to wisely discern the greater truth about the magic in fantasy fiction.
2. Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
A true classic of the faith, C.S. Lewis takes a look at the other side of temptation. Lewis wrote a series of letters from the perspective of a demon to an inexperienced demon (his "nephew" according to the storyline) about how humans are tempted. It's incredible to think that Lewis was able to get into the mind of a demon and protray the story in such a way that its both entertaining and challenging. It's true that Lewis has always been one of my favorite authors of all time, but this book stands out from the rest as one that illustrates his creative genius as well as challenges you to stand your ground against the devil’s schemes. All of this is done in a fictional setting that still feels believable.
I remember reading this book at the end of my senior year of high school as my last assigned book of that year, and being compelled by its powerful truth ever since. If you have never read this book or any other C.S. Lewis book, you need to do it!
1. Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke
One of the best books I have read to date, Jeff helps us understand that there is a big different between the rule-keeping of religion and the freedom in obedience we should have in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This book takes much of what we thought we knew about Christianity and turns it on its head. The reason Jeff wrote on this subject is because of the popularity for his spoken word poem on YouTube that when viral, titled Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus. Although this is his first book, published when he was just 23, his theology is strong and accurate, but his writing is understandable to everyone and relevant to all of us.
I honestly think that every Christian needs to read this book, but especially my generation. I loved this book so much that when it came out, I read it while I was in college with other class books to read! As a follower of Jeff's YouTube channel, I believe this to be his best work. It’s for those that want a relationship over religion. That’s what I want. How about you?
Well there you have it. I hope this list of my favorite Christian books will inspire you to add a few of these books to your summer reading list. All of these books have impacted and challenged me in different ways and I hope they will do the same for you, if you choose to pick them up and read them for yourselves. If any of you have other questions about these books, feel free to ask. Stay tuned for another post at the end of the week!