Book Recommendations

If you love to read, publishers are putting out some great books this season, and I want to share with you some of them. So let’s get started!

Books on waiting

Two books on waiting have come out this spring from Zondervan and Crossway and I happen to know both of the authors! How cool is that? I’ve only read snippets of each book–still waiting on my copies–but I feel comfortable recommending these books.

Thornton1. I Don’t Wait Anymore: Letting Go of Expectations and Grasping God’s Adventure for You (Zondervan) by Grace Thornton. Grace and I met when I began working at The Alabama Baptist shortly after graduating from Beeson. Grace is a gifted storyteller and writer. As a single female, Grace eventually left her job at the newspaper to write and tell stories for a Christian international organization. Before and during this time, she blogged at gracefortheroad.com. Her post, “I Don’t Wait Anymore,” had more than 2 million visits. Here’s the short description of the book on Amazon:

Have you been waiting for life to turn out the way you expected?You’re not alone.There are lots of us out there who feel that way. Grace Thornton is one. She had dreams, plans, and ideas for what life should look like. For one, she thought she’d be married. She thought she’d have kids. She thought God would bring her the life she’d been waiting for because she knew He was good and she tried to be obedient.But that’s not what happened. Not at all.

So she found herself wrestling with God. Who is He if He doesn’t bring along the life, husband, and 2.5 kids she thought He was supposed to? And where should she go from there?

When she got brutally honest with herself and asked the hard question, “Why do I think the world has more to offer than God does?” the answer was stunning. Her honesty led to the path God had for her. One that would write a story for her life that was even better than the one she had dreamed for herself.

This positive and encouraging book offers inspiration to anyone who wants to live a fulfilling life right now. Grace decided to let go of her expectations of the way life “should be” and grasp God’s hand for the adventure He had for her.

Here’s a video of her talking about the book:

Howard2. Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed (Crossway) by Betsy Childs Howard. Betsy and I met at Beeson. At the time she was working on staff, and I was a student. At the time, Betsy took one class a semester at Beeson. Not long after I graduated from Beeson, Betsy became the web and publications editor. She continued to take one class a semester and a year ago graduated with a M.A.T.S. degree. In May of 2014, Betsy wrote a piece for The Gospel Coalition (TGC) called, “Should I Be Content with My Singleness?” The day after her article was published, she received an e-mail from a pastor in Manhattan. And the rest, as we say, is history. She wrote about her love story following this article here. Betsy resigned from her position at Beeson to  marry and move to Manhattan with her new husband, and she now works as an editor for TGC. Our paths crossed once more when I was hired to take over for Betsy. Betsy trained me in her position and we stay in contact throughout the year. In fact, we recently interviewed Betsy for the Beeson podcast to talk about her book. It goes live on Tuesday (May 24). Here’s the short description on Amazon about Betsy’s book:

We’re all waiting for something.

It might be a spouse or a baby. It might be a home or healing. Regardless of what we’re waiting for, it’s easy to feel discontent when things aren’t going as planned and our dreams are delayed—especially when the questions of “Why?” and “How long?” remain unanswered.

God uses seasons of waiting to teach us patience and make us more like himself. But sanctification is not the only purpose God has in mind. When we wait faithfully with unmet longings, we become a powerful picture of the bride of Christ waiting for the day when he returns and God’s kingdom reigns.

Book on love/Love story

Keeners3. Now after reading about waiting and how to wait, here’s a wonderful book of love, an impossible love in fact. Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles, and Hope against All Odds (Chosen Books/Baker) is written by a husband and wife team, Craig and Médine Keener. Craig is a well-known and well-respected New Testament scholar and professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. He just published 4 volumes on Acts, and is the author of many books. Médine holds a Ph.D. and is the pastoral care coordinator of Formation Ministries at Asbury. This book is riveting! I could not put it down. It took me only two days to read it. Their story is a testimony of the power and faithfulness of God – how he is able to take broken lives and restore them and how he is mighty to save and to heal. Their story is not just a feel-good story about love. It is a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit in the world. The Holy Spirit used their book to convict me of my lack of faith and prayer and to push me to see the world differently. What a great God we serve! I highly recommend this book to you. The Keeners also will be on the Beeson podcast next Tuesday.

Here’s a video about Craig and Médine Keener’s story that is told in the book.

Medine from Jorge Castorena on Vimeo.

Theology/Biblical Studies Books

Padilla4. If I were to rank the books in importance this book would be #1. And of course it has nothing to do with who wrote it! The Acts of the Apostles: Interpretation, History and Theology (IVP Academic) is written by my beloved and adored husband, Osvaldo Padilla. This book is an advanced introduction to the study of Acts and makes for a good companion to commentaries on Acts. This book is for the advanced theological student as Osvaldo explores deeply issues of genre, authorship, and interpretation. Because of the advanced content, I recommend this book for seminary students or those, such as pastors, who already have a seminary degree, who want to go deeper in the study of Acts.

Hays5. This is my last recommendation for this post. Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (Baylor University Press) by Richard B. Hays is one of those books that every theology student must read. I’m only into the first part of the book, but it has me captivated. It’s content is rich, which is to be expected given the quality of works that Hays has produced. What makes this book even more special is how this book came to be published. In his moving preface, Hays explains that he had written the majority of this content by 2010 when he was asked to become the dean of Duke Divinity School. From 2010-2015, his work on the book was at an almost standstill with the exception of giving lectures on the topic in Cambridge during 2013-14. He announced his intention to step down as dean in 2016 so he could finish writing the book, but a few months later after this announcement he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Friends, colleagues, and his publisher pulled together to help Hays finish what very well may be his last book.

What books are you reading now or plan to read this summer? What books would you recommend?

Happy reading!

Kristen

ISIS and Boko Haram

Every day it seems as if I hear more bad news coming from Iraq and Syria regarding the terror of ISIS. Today I am hearing reports of ISIS burning 8,000 rare books and manuscripts. A few days prior it was reported that they burned 45 people alive. Before that, they executed 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya simply because they were Christian. I reflected on persecution, specifically those at the hands of ISIS, in August here.

The following are some recent, relevant and resourceful articles and ideas regarding the pressing issues of ISIS and Boko Haram.

  • As I was getting ready to post last week about how should Christians pray in these times for situations like these, I came across a post written that day by Russell Moore, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on this very topic called, Should We Pray for the Defeat of ISIS, Or Their Conversion. He said everything that I was going to say and said it better, so instead of posting what I had written I want to direct you to his post here. I highly recommend it to you. In short, his answer (and mine!) to this question is to pray for both and leave it up to God to decide.
  • In this season of Lent, fast and pray specifically for those in harms way, both Christians and non-Christians.

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  • Last week on Ash Wednesday I drew a red cross on my hand with the number 21 (see above picture). This served as a visual reminder to pray for the family members of those martyred as well as for those who are at risk of death and persecution. It also served as a reminder to pray for justice and salvation in regards to ISIS members as well as for the Church in that area. Perhaps you can too find a visual way to remind you to pray for what’s going on in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Nigeria and to encourage others to pray as well.
  • I also want to direct your attention to another excellent article. With all the attention on ISIS, we forget about the terror of a group called Boko Haram in Nigeria. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, in his piece called, When Africa Bleeds, reminds us not to forget what is happening in Nigeria, which has the most Christians out of all the countries on the continent! This is a very important read and you can find it here.

This morning in my Scripture reading I reflected on Isaiah 25:8-9 and 26:19.

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. … Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

The good news is that in Christ the reality of these verses has begun to be realized, but until the second coming of Jesus we will have to wait for it to be fully and completely realized. So we wait in eager expectation and hope of that day and together along with the rest of the saints will pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”