Good Books on our Nightstands

BeFriend (from our current sermon series) – We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, we retreat into the safety of our small, self-made worlds. Now more than ever, it’s easy to avoid people with whom we disagree or whose life experiences don’t mirror our own. Safe among like-minded peers and digital “friends,” we really don’t have to engage with those who can challenge and enhance our limited perspectives. Tragically, even the church can become a place that minimizes diversity and reinforces isolation.
Jesus models a much richer vision for friendship. In BeFriend, popular teacher, Scott Sauls, invites us to see and savor the broad and deep love of God. In twenty-one eloquent meditations on what God’s love can look like in our everyday lives, Scott invites us to expand our circle of friends.  (from Amazon)

Talking Across the Divide (from our current class choices)A guide to learning how to communicate with people who have diametrically opposed opinions from you, how to empathize with them, and how to (possibly) change their minds.

America is more polarized than ever. Whether the issue is Donald Trump, healthcare, abortion, gun control, breastfeeding, or even DC vs Marvel, it feels like you can’t voice an opinion without ruffling someone’s feathers. In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to build walls around yourself. You fill up your Twitter feed with voices that are angry about the same issues and believe as you believe. Before long, you’re isolated in your own personalized echo chamber. And if you ever encounter someone outside of your bubble, you don’t understand how the arguments that resonate so well with your peers can’t get through to anyone else. In a time when every conversation quickly becomes a battlefield, it’s up to us to learn how to talk to each other again. (from Amazon)

Just Mercy (Susan Haugenes) – I just finished, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson. Bryan, a lawyer and Harvard grad, goes about defending wrongly condemned, and people not afforded proper representation, in Alabama. The story is about one man, Walter Mc Millan, who was sentence to death row for a crime he did not commit. There are many other heart wrenching stories woven throughout the book. I found it to be very eye-opening and terribly sad. Stevenson is so passionate and hard working it makes it difficult to look the other way. I read the book with a group of people and we all really enjoyed the book and felt committed to learning more when we finished it.

The Way of Abundance (Janet Kluin) – A really wonderful read is Ann Voscamp’s, “The Way of Abundance, a 60-day Journey into a Deeply Meaningful Life.”  Ann writes that “our deepest security is found in deep cruciformity.” A sobering question Ann poses in the last pages of this book: “Are we formed by the world or the Word, by the news or the Good News, by the culture or the Cross?”  Love that challenge!!

Good White Racist (Bonnie Deroski) – With a straightforward tone, Kelly Connolly presents the ways in which as white people, we find ourselves trying to be good while still being racist. In “Good White Racist,” she details the ways in which we can be “good” and still be unaware of the fact that we are participating in racist systems that have been handed down over the ages. My take-aways is that it’s not enough to be ‘good,’ we must also be anti-racist.

Changing Our Minds (Lorraine Carroll) – I am currently reading, “Changing Our Minds” by David Gushee. Gushee is an evangelic scholar and ethicist and he takes theology and the Bible very seriously. This book details the process of how he changed his mind on LGBTQ inclusion by laying out the moral, ethical and biblical questions surrounding the LGBTQ controversy. Gushee presents clear and compelling arguments for understand marriage as a faithful, lifelong covenant that includes not only heterosexual couples but also gay and lesbian couples. This book is a great read for anyone who is struggling with how sexual orientation fits together with a life a faith.

Do It Afraid (Annette LaBarbera) – I just finished “Do It Afraid,” by Joyce Meyer and watched a live session she did based on the book. I loved the book. It was an eye opener on the fears we live with and how God can deliver us from the fears when we listen and are receptive to him .  She provided practical applications to conquer our fears.  And the fears were not only “scary” things. Many of us live with fears that deal with how we do life.