Summer Reading Recommendations (Part 4)

Jonathan Ingraham  •  July 06, 2021

Summer Reading Recommendations (Part 4)

Over the summer the team at Chattanooga Faith + Work + Culture would love to provide some helpful resources to your summer reading list. These books are essential reading on how to let the Gospel of Jesus inform how you live right now in your everyday life. Have a wonderful summer and happy reading!

(1) Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much; Ashley Hales

In the Christian life we tend to focus on how the relationships we pursue and the actions we choose form us as people. If we put ourselves around the right people and avoid certain things we will grow in our faith. In Ashley Hales latest book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs, she asks the reader to also take notice of how the places we inhabit shape us as people. 

Hales shares about her reluctant move to the suburbs of southern California from an urban context in the heart of Salt Lake City. She gives examples from her own life of how God can move in places that we least expect. At CFWC we emphasize that God is calling us to join him in seeking the shalom of the city. Hales’ book gives a vision for how shalom is also the goal of the suburbs. Sin and brokenness are ever present in all of life and we need to have eyes to see where renewal is needed: even in gated communities, cul de sacs, and the shops we frequent. 

(2) The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction; Justin Whitmel Earley

 The Common Rule is a beautiful little book born, not from a theological exercise, but out of the desperate need of a lawyer to build healthy habits into his life. Justin Whitmel Early penned this after realizing in his mid 30’s that the fast paced life he used to define success was actually causing him to break down. With the help of godly friends he decided to build into his life these intentional regular practices. 

Earley argues that the regular habits we foster are directly tied to our mental and spiritual health. The practices in The Common Rule are not drastic steps, but rather small re-orientations of our days. Things like turning off phones an hour a day, eating a meal with a friend, or changing our physical posture during prayer shape and form us to be attentive to how God is working and ways we can faithfully serve others. This book is not arguing that salvation comes through the practices we build into our life, rather it highlights the need to be intentional about a relationship with the Lord in our overly busy and buffered world. 

(3) The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us In the Way of Jesus; Rich Villodas

The Deeply Formed Life is a wonderful resource to read after diving into The Common Rule. Rich Villodas argues that instead of “being deeply formed, we settle for being shallowly shaped.” Our practices and faith often lack deep roots needed to sustain us through the complexities and brokenness of life. He invites us not to just nominally follow the Lord, but to let all of our essence be shaped and rooted in Jesus. 

Villodas explores five areas where we can let Christ become the center of our life. He examines the needed rhythms for an exhausted life, racial reconciliation, audits of our mental and spiritual health, the pursuit of sexual wholeness, and what it means to live a life of “missional presence.” These values and practices are presented in a way that invites the reader to imagine what it means to pursue these things in their specific context. Villodas vulnerably shares examples from his own life of how the Lord has brought him closer through these areas of his life. This book is recommended for those desiring to follow Jesus in a way where He becomes the cornerstone for all of life.