#ThursdayThings — Books I’ve Read Recently

We’ve taken several trips this summer, and one of my favorite things to do on vacations is catch up on good books that have been on my “to read” list! Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve read recently.

Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler

I had the privilege of being on the launch team for Risen Motherhood, and after waiting months for my pre-ordered copy, it was everything I had hoped it would be! I’ve been following Risen Motherhood’s blog and podcast for about a year and a half, and what I appreciate about Emily and Laura is that everything is Gospel-centered, when so many other motherhood resources are either mom- or kid-centered.

Risen Motherhood brings “Gospel hope for everyday moments,” by first giving us a Gospel framework through which to process everything: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. After reminding us of these four Gospel truths, they then tackle fourteen common issues in motherhood—from postpartum body image to schooling choices—using this Gospel framework. While they give examples about how to make decisions about each of these issues from a Gospel perspective, they give each mother the freedom and training to think through these issues for themselves. Their goal was not to tell moms what to do but to remind us to filter everything, even the mundane moments, through the Gospel.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

I trust that there is no mundane moment too small for God’s glory to shine through it.

“There’s a difference between being equipped to make good decisions and needing to be in control of every moment—and then becoming devastated when you’re not.”

“We aren’t pressured to ‘get it right or else’ because we trust the one who knows it all and gets it right every time.”

Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt

My husband and I have been reading this book together at night and finished it up on the long drive to the beach last month. As a Christian who has grown up in the church, I have many “pre-packaged” Gospel presentations, but this book reminds us that the Gospel should be a part of everyday conversation. But that’s hard because so many of us never practice it. Instead, we separate our sacred from our secular conversations.

In Vanderstelt’s book, like Risen Motherhood, he starts with reminding readers of the basic components of the Gospel, then applying the Gospel to your own life, to the church, and to the lost around us. Every day we need to be reminded of the Gospel and how it is not just a part of our past salvation story, but our present and our future. This book challenged me to start rehearsing the Gospel to myself and to others in all life situations.

I love it when Vanderstelt said:

We need the gospel and we need to become gospel-fluent people. We need to know how to believe and speak the truths of the gospel—the good news of God—in and into the everyday stuff of life.

“Jesus is good news to them for their afterlife, but they wrongly believe he has little or nothing to offer them in the everyday stuff of life.”

“Gospel fluency requires immersion into a community of people so saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ that they just can’t stop speaking the truths of Jesus wherever they go and in whatever situations they find themselves.”

Give them Grace by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson

Before you read any other Christian parenting books, read this one. This was truly the best book on parenting I have ever read. The mother/daughter author team perfectly mixed biblical truth with practical application. Whenever it felt like it was getting too theological, they presented a real-life example. Whenever they gave action steps, they reminded you of the grace in Christ that covers us when we are lacking. The authors constantly point you back to the sufficiency of God’s grace in us and our children, but they don’t leave you hanging with what to do in the freedom of God’s grace.

As a perfectionist who struggles with heaping self-condemnation, this book was a refreshing reminder that God is the perfect parent I could never be. It reminded me that my role as a parent is not to be the perfect role model of a Christian, but a fellow sinner leading my children to the grace and mercy found in Christ. It challenges the moralistic tendencies of Christian parenting by reminding us that what matters is not good behavior but heart transformation.

These quotes really encouraged and challenged me:

“Although we long to be faithful parents, we also rest in the truth that our faithfulness is not what will save our children.”

Give this grace to your children: tell them who they really are [sinners], tell them what they need to do, and then tell them to taste and see that the Lord is good. Give this grace to yourself, too.

“We have to be willing to say that the chief end of our parenting is not our own glorification as great parents but rather that we glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

I’ve read this book 3-4 times in my life, most recently this summer as part of my church’s book club. It is a short read but a potent reminder of the spiritual warfare that is invisibly but powerfully raging around us. Lewis uses the fictional letters of an older demon to his nephew to show us the tactics the Enemy often uses to keep Christians from faithful obedience. If you’ve never read anything by Lewis, this is a great place to start. While this was written in the aftermath of World War II, the truths and applications are just as relevant today as it was in Lewis’ time.

Here are a few of the best quotes, but keep in mind this was written from the fictional viewpoint of a demon, so these excerpts are written from the faulty perspective of the Enemy.  

“Teach [Christians] to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment.”

“It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that [a Christian] is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best.”

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

This book is a little different from the rest, as it is the testimony of a devout Muslim who came to faith in Christ after deep, systematic study of Christianity. I have read a few books on Islam which outline the basic faith tenants, but this book was unique in its personal perspective. Through his story, a Western Christian can begin to understand the thoughts and heart of Muslims, especially Western Muslims. These cultural differences can become obstacles to the Gospel, and Nabeel helps us understand how we can navigate those with our Muslim neighbors.

While that facet of the book was informative, it was also so encouraging to hear of God’s pursuit after Nabeel. God pursued him for years, both through his heart and his head, using logical arguments and cultural visions. It reminded me that salvation belongs to the Lord, and he can change the heart of anyone, even a devout Muslim.

If you have Muslim neighbors or are traveling to a Muslim context, I highly recommend this book as a starting place for understanding their religion and worldview. Unfortunately, I borrowed this book from my sister, and I forgot to copy down my favorite quotes!

I pray that one of these books caught your eye and is something you can add to your shelf soon! What are some of your recommendations?

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