We’re at the end of Week Three in a five-week summer Bible study we call Virtual VBS for GrownUp Girls. If we were really at Vacation Bible School together (wouldn’t that be fun!), we would definitely have some time set aside for sharing songs and stories and doing some fun crafts. And snacks… don’t forget about the snacks!
Today I want to recommend some summer reading, especially to do with our theme — Holding on to Hope When Life Is Hard. These aren’t new releases (I have a ton in my “to read” stack), but books you may have missed or been meaning to read — or might find that you get a lot more out of, now that you’re a little further along in your journey.
Miracle on Hope Hill: And Other True Stories of God’s Love by Carol Kent and Jennie Afman Dimkoff
Need to hear something good for a change? Nourish your faith with this inspiring collection of true stories of God’s love and comfort, wisdom and guidance, healing, and intervention in the lives of ordinary people like you and me.
Prayer Fatigue: 10 Ways to Revive Your Prayer Life by Jennifer Kennedy Dean
Dean takes on the top ten challenges to prayer that many of us wrestle with, from “thinking of prayer as one more thing on your already crowded to-do list” to “struggling not to let your mind wander” to “feeling that prayer is having no effect and is wasted time.” Here you’ll find encouragement and inspiration, along with a lot of very practical advice.
Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman, Updated by Jim Reimann
A beloved Christian classic, this daily devotional is full of inspiration, comfort, courage, and strength for those walking through dark times.
The Hiding Place, 35th Anniversary Edition by Corrie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill
The autobiography of the wonderful little Dutch woman, a Christian who helped save Jews from the Nazis, survived the horrors of the concentration camps, and spent years afterwards proclaiming from experience that “there is no pit so deep, the love of Jesus is not deeper still.”
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
Another great biography! I won’t lie — this is a HEFTY book. It took me a long time to read, especially in the beginning, as Metaxas goes into great detail about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s family tree, education and upbringing — not to mention all the historical, geographical, and political context. But it’s all part of the story, and it’s worth it when you get about half way through and start to see all the parallels between the Church in Germany before WWII and the Church in America today, how society was so easily manipulated by Hitler and the Nazis, how it could all take place then — and how it could again. Bonhoeffer was an amazing man and there are some powerful truths here, profound insights to be gained.
Heaven by Randy Alcorn
As much as the Bible talks about Heaven, as much as Jesus taught about Heaven, the Church seems to teach very little about it… most of us have only the vaguest idea of what it will be like. And most of what we think we know probably isn’t right! Maybe it’s a reaction against “being so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly good” — but the reality is that the more we know about our true Home, the more effective we’ll be in this one! Note: In the first hundred pages or so, Alcorn explains his theological views about Heaven and then defends them against objections others have raised. If you don’t need to be convinced, go ahead and skip to the part of the book where he really gets into what the Bible teaches about Heaven and how incredible it will be…
Okay — If I had to pick two, and only two, it would be these two. I know fiction — and fantasy in particular — isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. (Which is why I’ve included all the other suggestions.) But these last two books in The Chronicles of Narnia have themes that are so profoundly relevant to what we are experiencing today — holding on to hope when the days look dark, holding on to Truth — and learning how to recognize it! — standing fast, being found faithful. The Last Battle actually has an anti-Christ character and end-of-the-world /Day of Judgment / Heaven theme. If you never got this far in the series, or if it’s been a few years, do yourself a favor and give these two a read. Share them with your kids or grandkids. It’s a great way to introduce the subjects and talk about these things. (For help making the Scriptural connections, may I humbly recommend my own chapter-by-chapter guide — A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia)
Fahrenheit 451 — You were probably supposed to read this in high school. I did, and although it’s not a Christian novel, it has some profound themes that I recognized and associated with the end times even as a tenth grader. Sixty years ago, the author imagined that one day it would be illegal to read (or think for yourself) and that people would be totally disconnected from each other and constantly connected to their electronics, more attached to the reality TV characters on their wall-sized TVs than their own families. (!) But there’s hope…
Hind’s Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard
One of the best-known, most beloved Christian classics on facing fear and finding victory, this beautiful allegory has comforted and strengthened millions of believers for generations.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Any others that you’d recommend?
PS: Click here to download a special oversized “Hope” bookmark printable for free. You can use it just as it is, color it or journal on it… you can also hole-punch it and add a ribbon, if you like!