Recommended Summer Reading

Earlier in the week I recommended two books about the tragic loss of a child and how God works triumph out of great tragedy. Today I want to recommend four other books for other books that deserve some consideration for your summer reading list:

Judge Z – Irretrievably Brokendrz by Tim Philpot
(Paperback, 260 pages, self-published)

Who would have imagined that one of the best marriage books would be a humorous and poignant novel about a judge in family court wondering what marriage means in the 21st century?  As it turns out there may not be a better backdrop for this tale than the issues and struggles of those dealing with failed families.  Tim Philpot does a masterful job of combining a fascinating story with some deep thinking about what marriage means under today’s law and in God’s eyes.  He dares to ask what”irretrievably broken” means and whether we take divorce taken too casually when people fight over child custody rather than fight to save their marriage?

There is lots of food for thought here, as well as a delightful peek into the twists and turns of family court from the judge’s perspective. Seeing the devastation of broken marriages in his courtroom every day, Judge Z begins to wonder if there isn’t a better way to help families stay intact and get them on a more healthy footing. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of society to see if a failed marriage can be rebuilt before we terminate it and ask the kids to pay the price? I enjoyed every page of this book, even when it lapsed into preachers and lawyers discussing various facets of marriage.  You can’t come away from this book not valuing marriage more highly and wanting to find ways to love your spouse more deeply.

And Tim should know.  He’s not only a good friend of mine, but a family court judge himself in Lexington, Ky. I’ve sat in his courtroom watching him sort out what is best for broken marriages, at-risk kids and I’ve been with him in local restaurants as he takes extra time to invest in the broken lives of some of the people who frequent his courtroom.

 

poetThe Poet’s Treasure by Stephanie Bennett
(Paperback, 258 pages, Wild Flower Press)

This the final installment in Stephanie Bennett’s Within the Walls Triology. I’ve blogged about the previous two installments as Emilya struggles to find true community in a future technological world.  As a tech genius and the key developer of virtual vacations she is part of a mass government conspiracy to keep people content in a virtual world and rob them of the wonder and risk of community. Having tasted of real community in the second novel, Emilya tries to re-engage the virtual one and finds it incredibly complicated and even dangerous for her and her family. The lessons in this book about technology and the power of the state and how they can undermine the community most people desire are fascinating and thought-provoking.

I’ve been intrigued by this tale from the beginning and watched it unfold through Stephanie’s hand. Stephanie and her husband, Earl are good friends of mine and I not only admire her writing, but appreciate their spiritual journeys as well. They walk with honesty, passion and integrity. If you haven’t read the first two installments, you will want to catch up with the story there before reading this one.  You can read my review of the first book in the series here, and the second one here.  You can also find out more about Stephanie on her publisher’s author’s page.

Here’s what I wrote for the jacket of her book:

The Poet’s Treasure is a compelling read about the inner turmoil we all face between the community our hearts crave and the technology that too often undermines it, especially when it seeks to control us rather than serve us. Stephanie Bennett offers up a satisfying end to her Within the Walls trilogy, an incisive story sorts through the most difficult issues of our age.”

 

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The Atonement of God
 by JD Myers
(Paperback, 204 pages, Redeeming Press)

What really happened on the cross? Much of Christianity has postured God as an angry, bloodthirsty deity needing to satisfy his justice by crushing the most innocent human who had ever lived.  But what if it wasn’t that? What if Father and Son were working together to destroy sin in the human race, so that we could make peace with God and each other in this broken world?

Understanding the cross as a cure for sin, rather than a punishment of it lies at the core of everything I believe and have experienced about God’s love.  I cover it in He Loves Me and in greater detail in Transitions, free recordings available here.  For those who want to take a deeper and more theological look at a nonviolent view of the atonement, J. D. Myers has written an interesting book to unpack various views of atonement and discuss what a curative view of the cross might look like.

While I wouldn’t support all of the theological interpretations outlined this book, I am in broad agreement with its overarching theme and appreciate the scholarship J.D., has brought to the subject at hand. This is a book worthy of your time, your thought, and your prayers as you seek to understand he atonement in a way that puts God’s love front and center and invites us into a reconciled relationship with him.

Excerpt:

Yes there were disastrous consequences of sin, but those consequences were not a punishment, nor did they come form the supposed anger of God, for God was not angry. This is why nearly every time the angel of the Lord appears to humans in Scripture, the first words out of his mouth are, “Do not be afraid.”  Because of sin, we believe God is angry at us for our sin, but Scripture consistently reveals that God is not angry. The great lie of sin is that God is angry at us because of our sin and that when we sin, we cannot be with God, but must hide from Him.”

Visit Jeremy’s website, RedeemingGod.com

 

p2pPanic to Peace:  Living Free from the Grip of Fear by Dr. Neil McLamb
(Paperback, 158 pages, self-published)

Only those who struggle with fear and anxiety know the anguish.  McLamb draws form his own battle wth fear and anxiety beginning with his first episode in an eighth grade speaking event to the ensuing panic attacks, which began taking over his life.  Only when he began to view himself through the eyes of his Heavenly Father, did he find a path to recovery.

By telling his story, he hopes to encourage others to find their freedom from the grip of fear and anxiety. Instead of blaming God or feeling guilt he helps people find freedom by knowing how deeply loved they are by God and finding their joy in his unfolding purpose in their lives even in the midst of whatever challenges they face.

I love books that ring with authenticity. This one does.  Here’s my recommendation from the back cover of his book:

Even in the face of your darkest fears, love is greater still. That’s Neil McLamb’s story as he shares in brutally honest terms his long slide into paralyzing fear and how he is finding his way out in the affectionate embrace of a Father who loves us all. Panic to Peace will be of great encouragement and help to those who also battle the lies that drive fear and grasp for the truths that can lead them to freedom.

Visit Neil’s website here.

 You can find out more about these books by clicking on the book title links.

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