by Mike Santoro
As a follow-up to last week’s post How to Read Slow and Grow, here are seven Summer Book recommendations. These are by no means a “Top List” or “Exhaustive List,” they are simply some curated recommendations from my favorite small but powerful books in 2020. I hope God uses one of them to grow your faith and encourage you.
Recommendation: Pastor John Mark Comer has a unique writing style that includes communicating through spacing of words. It’s quite different and refreshing to read and adds to the reading experience. This convicting and entertaining read challenges you to consider emulating “The Lifestyle of Jesus” who was never in a hurry. Amazing truths found here. We all need to slow down like Jesus demonstrated – he probably figured out how to live this “life on earth thing” in the best way! Slow yourself down with this book and improve your emotional and spiritual health.
One Impactful Quote: “Jesus was constantly interrupted-Read the Gospels; half the stories are interruptions! Yet he never came off as agitated or annoyed…Jesus’s schedule was full. To the brim at times. In a good way. Yet he never came off hurried.” pg. 91
2) The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction
By Justin Whitmel Earley
Recommendation: Christianity Today’s 2020 Book of the Year Award, tied for top honor Christian Living/Discipleship. Lawyer Justin Earley promotes eight spiritual “keystone” habits. He insists implementing these habits in your life will cause an exponentially positive impact on your soul. Similar theme here as John Mark Comer’s book above and with a bit more of a systematic and habit-driven approach with a lot of personal testimony. He even created an entire movement and community you can join for accountability (www.thecommonrule.org.) Note: Pastor Tim preached on this book and wrote a blog on it back in January 2020. You can read his blog here or listen to his sermon here.
One Impactful Idea: Earley’s fourth daily habit is “Scripture before phone,” or a commitment to read and meditate on God’s Word before looking at your phone in the morning. All I can say is…wow, this one really changed my life. A small habit with resounding impact!
3) Coronavirus and Christ | Download at DesiringGod.org
by John Piper
Recommendation: Classic John Piper book (Praise God for his ministry at DesiringGod.org)…Sovereignty of God + how Christians should interpret the Coronavirus through a Christian Worldview. I recommend you listen to this book rather than reading. If you still need help making sense of these times, then give this book a listen. I know the church is providing free physical copies of this 100-page book, but you can also download the audio MP3 for free via the link above. Listening to John Piper read his own book is like listening to Vince Scully Broadcast a Dodgers baseball game. It’s nostalgic and an experience in and of itself. The audiobook is 2 hours long. You can listen anywhere: mowing grass, commuting, or while washing dishes.
One Impactful Quote: “The same sovereignty that can stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.” pg. 38
4) Praying the Bible
by Donald S. Whitney
Recommendation: This book will change your prayer life. Simple, practical, doable. Albert Mohler endorses this book by saying, “This little book is explosive and powerful.” If you feel your prayer life is weak or you are tired of praying the same old things about the same old things, then read this short book and learn the simple, practical, and doable method for praying through the Bible (particularly the Psalms), and never run out of words or ideas to pray to God. The Holy Spirit will lead you to pray deeper through his word. This book is so so good.
One Impactful Quote: “God has children all over the world, as diverse as people can be – from age nine to ninety-nine, some with low IQ’s and some with high IQ’s, some with no formal education and some with the highest levels of formal education…Therefore, it must be possible for every Christian…to have a meaningful and satisfying prayer life.” pp. 23-24
5) Family Worship – In the Bible, In History, and In Your Home
by Donald S. Whitney
Recommendation: This book is a call for every father (or mother, if there is no father) to lead Family Worship in their homes everyday. What is family worship? Read, Pray, Sing…10 minutes, no prep necessary. So simple and doable. Rooted in the Bible and church history. Whether you have many children or no children, young children or grown children. God has called us all to honor him everyday together in our homes with our families. What a profound admonition that will have an incredible lasting impact on helping your family grow in their faith. Read, Pray, Sing…10 minutes, no prep necessary. So simple, we can do that! Lean on the encouragement and examples in this small book to either start or help maintain the habit of faithfully leading daily family worship in your homes.
As an additional resource, if you desire a little more structure to your family Bible reading time, you will find great questions and answers in this book suitable for preschool through high school: “Old Story New – 10 Minute Devotions to Draw your Family to God” by Marty Machowski.
One Impactful Quote: “Strive for faithfulness in family worship, not immediate results. I fully understand that what you may see night-after-night, week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year in family worship may be uneventful. Just realize that the effects are rarely immediate. Usually they’re cumulative.” pg. 70
6) *Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms
by Tim Challies
*My Wife Rachel’s Recommendation: This book features unique stories of the Mothers of Christian men like Hudson Taylor, John Newton, J. Gresham Machen, John Piper, Charles Suprgeon, Augustine, D.L. Moody, Timothy and more who shaped the world. This book inspires, convicts, and encourages you in the faith along the journey of motherhood as you learn from the examples of those who have gone before.
One Impactful Quote: “Love God, live the faith, believe the word, share all with your kids. It seems like a pretty do-able formula.” pg. 123
Recommendation: Fiction lovers, this one is for you. One of the most famous books ever published, this is one book every Christian should read in their lifetime (perhaps multiple times). If you only read the children’s abbreviated version before, then you missed out on so much of the doctrine included in the original version. This Christian fictional allegory has been translated into 200 languages and represents the journey of the Christian life. Join the protagonist “Christian” as he meets people like Faithful, Hopeful, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Evangelist, Giant Despair, and Lord Hate-Good. Christian visits towns called Doubting Castle and Vanity Fair, on his way to the Celestial City. Most notably, the version recommended here is translated into modern English and also uniquely includes full scriptures expanded within the text of the book. John Bunyon famously included hundreds of scripture references throughout the story, but this version enhances the reading experience and Bible study experience by having the full texts embedded in the text of the story itself. Charles Spurgeon read it more than 100 times and so have many other Christians in history. One can easily make reading Pilgrim’s Progress an annual summer pilgrimage and see new truth on each journey.
One Impactful Quote: (Chrisian said) “That’s exactly what I want to do… be rid of this heavy burden. But I can’t get rid of it on my own, and I don’t know of any man in our country who can take it off my shoulders, so I’m headed in this direction as I told you for that very purpose: to get rid of my burden.”
Mike Santoro is a 7-year member and youth leader at Living Hope Church. He and his wife, Rachel, have three children.