Summer Reading List

by Aaron Renenger


The joys of summertime: swimming pools, backyard barbecues, beaches, ice cream, and… books. That’s right, as you choose which swim suits to pack for your summer vacation, you also may need to choose what to read during leisure or travel time. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Discovering God's Will by Sinclair Ferguson. In this year at APC of “Discerning God’s Will,” this classic has much to say on the subject. If you are like me, understanding God’s will for your life is sometimes an exercise in frustration. I yearn to seek His guidance for life decisions, but my impatience, uncertainty or pride often seem to get in the way of hearing Him.  Ferguson opens by reminding us of the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first two tenets: that man’s chief end is to glorify God and that His Word is the only rule to direct us in that endeavor. Through an exploration of Paul’s letters, the author then poses a series of questions Christians should consider in unfolding God’s guidance. Ferguson also tackles specific subjects such as career and marriage, before exhorting the reader to be patient and trust in God’s perfect timing—a lesson I found particularly helpful in dealing with my own challenges in discerning his will.
2. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller. Centered around Ephesians 5 and based on his sermon series, Keller explores with characteristic depth and insight core concepts of Christian marriage: submission, commitment, fellowship, love, forgiveness and sex.  In the process, he demonstrates that the biblical notion of marriage is profoundly at odds with cultural views and norms: “In sharp contrast with our culture,” Keller writes, “the Bible teaches that the essence of marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other.” While I found this book to have tremendous insight and application to my own marriage, it should be noted that this book is not just for those who are married. It contains wonderful insights for those who are dating and specifically addresses those God has called to singleness.
3. Crime and Punishment (Penguin Classics) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. No summer reading list could be complete without a great novel. J.I. Packer has described Dostoyevsky as “both the greatest novelist, as such, and the greatest Christian storyteller, in particular, of all time.” Crime and Punishment is the story of Raskolnikov, an intellectual who has decided to reject God, and who carries out a calculated murder as an expression of his freedom. The story follows him through mental anguish and his attempt to escape his conscience and eventual acceptance of the Gospel. It is a story of rebellion and of grace. If you have read this book in your youth, consider revisiting it with fresh eyes. It is a moving, deeply insightful, exploration of the human condition and our need for Christ!
4. Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions from Banner of Truth Publishing. This collection of Puritan Prayers is an excellent source of inspiration for your devotional time. Though written hundreds of years ago, the sentiment in the poems is as fresh today as the day they were written. These poems have both enhanced my understanding of the Gospel and softened my heart.