Five books promoted in “Byron’s Summer Reading Club” video for CCO students and friends

Okay, friends, this is a bit unusual for our weekly BookNotes newsletter. I’ve got a video about to be posted but wanted to write about the books I describe in the video.

I’m on the road again, heading to a discipleship house in New Jersey where I’ll get to speak about reading as a Christian practice with a group of college students. Beth and I just returned from a full week at the fabulous New Wilmington Missions Conference that has been held annually for well over 100 years; there were almost 700 people, including children and teens and speakers from all over the world. Before that we were serving friends who are on staff at the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach), a wonderful inter-denominational campus ministry with which we are affiliated. One of their slogans is that every college student “needs the gospel, needs the church, and needs a vision for their lives.”

We think reading is a big part of that since we all need a coherent vision of a purposeful life lived missionally for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Understanding a bit about God’s redemptive plan for healing the cosmos, making all things new, surprising us with hope, as N.T. Wright puts it, helps us all clarify our own callings, discerning how our own story fits into God’s bigger story. CCO teaches students about Christ and his Kingdom, about the local church, and about living out faith in every area of life, even in their majors and future careers. Not a bad, eh?

Well, during their training time earlier this summer we cooked up this little plan to offer some titles on a video posted to social media. I don’t have the link here, yet, but for those that want to watch me in hyper mode, telling about five books for “summer reads” for college students you can check our Hearts & Minds facebook page or my own facebook or twitter feed soon.  We’ll put up a link to my 7-minute infomercial, highlighting these five books. We’ll be doing another one in a couple of weeks, too, so stay tuned.

Here are the five books I selected for the video for CCO students or other young adults (or others!) who want to join us in this little reading plan for the next month.

These are all 20% off and you can enter your credit card digits at our website order form page; the link to it is shown below.  Click on the ORDER link below which will take you to the secure order form at our Hearts & Minds website. Just type in the book you want, your digits and address. We’ll confirm everything, send it right out via US mail, and enclose your receipt in the package.

Here ya go, a little description of the titles I describe in the Byron’s Book Club video.

Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People Bob Goff (Thomas Nelson Publishing) regularly $16.99;      BOOK CLUB PRICE $13.59

As I say on the little video, this is nearly a money-back deal — it is guaranteed to bring delight and inspiration as Bob is one of the most fascinating, whimsical, fun and funny and beautify people we know. You will love his moving stores of capers where he learns to love everybody, no matter what. A great read for anyone, even those who don’t read heavy theology or long, literary novels. This is a blast, great to give out to young or old.  As I say on the video promotion it is certainly one of our favorite books of the year.


Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems J.D. Greear (Zondervan) regularly $16.99;  BOOK CLUB PRICE $13.59

I know it isn’t the most important thing, but there is a die cut hole in the middle of this, and a bit of yellow showing through that just is so captivating. And somehow makes the point: our God is too small.  And that’s not good. Greear is a youngish pastor of a growing contemporary church and his earlier books were insightful about church planting, missional living, and moving into service to advance God’s work in the world.  This really is a good, basic Christian living book, grounded in this assumption that the heart of our faith is knowing God and the character and power of God is essential to grasp. God is worthy and he wants to take us “from boring to bold” in our faith.  Good stuff.

To Be Told: God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future Dan Allender (Waterbrook) regularly $15.99; BOOK CLUB PRICE $12.79

If there is any one book this last year or two that has touched CCO staff and students it is this beautiful, intense guide to naming one’s own story (including hard stuff in one’s past) and learning how to move forward without shame into God’s vision. It is so true that our lives are lived as a story and that God’s redemptive work is storied. CCO staff and students heard Dan Allender at Jubilee 2018 and were blown away by his story of God’s healing path out of brokenness and hardship. This is a great book to make sense of your life and times and important for us all.

Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in an Age of Distraction Alan Noble (IVP) regular price $16.00; BOOK CLUB PRICE $12.80

I hope you saw my description of this on the video as it really is an important book, an incisive critique of our secular age and how we can disrupt the distractions that erode our abilities to focus on things that matter most. Only then can we live well and serve God meaningfully in the real world of fast-paced pressures. What should we think of philosophers like Charles Taylor (or James K.A. Smith) who teach us about “our secular age”? How can daily rituals and liturgies and concentrated efforts to be attentive make a different in how we even think about truth? How can we share our faith and convictions when few people even believe much matters any more? This book is thoughtful, brilliant at times, and deserves a careful study for those who want to understand the times and be formed in a spirituality that allows us to embody the gospel in our times. I reviewed this at length a few weeks ago at BookNotes if you want a more careful survey. Why not disrupt your own tendencies and make a commitment to read this book this summer?

Homeland Insecurity: A Hip Hope Missiology for the Post-Civil Rights Context Daniel White Hodge (IVP Academic) regularly $27.00; BOOK CLUB PRICE $21.60

Not even a short list of recommended titles this summer would be complete without something on race and racism, and, since we sent out my little promo video mostly to young adults, it really should have something about hip hop culture. What interesting times we live in with masterful rap artists like Kendrick Lamar (just for instance) and the huge popularity of Jay Z and Beyonce, say. Daniel White Hodge is a powerful cultural critic —  I’d say a prophet — who has studied this aspect of pop culture for years. In the video I mention one of his other books, The Soul of Hip Hop: Rims, Timbs and a Cultural Theology (IVP; $22.00) that is an excellent introduction to thinking Christianly about hip hop culture. Anyway, Homeland Insecurity is a profound and heady study of how we can develop a missiology (that is, a philosophy of contextualized mission) in our post-soul music, post-civil rights political era. This is important, serious, and highly recommended although it is, necessarily, looking at some hard stuff with course language.


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