Summertime Reading

Posted on June 5, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

When the suitcases are unpacked between trips and the temperature is soaring, it is a delightful time to settle into a cool, comfortable corner with a glass of iced tea and get lost in a book. One of Bobbye’s favorite places is a rocker on the back porch sit-out, while I prefer the big-windowed garden room, feeling gratification looking out on the results of my sweltering early-morning toil in the yard.

We read books–not as many as we would like, but the stack of preferential selections seems never to diminish. In recent years I had a goal to read 12 books a year–three on management and leadership, three on missions, three on devotional and spiritual topics and three for entertainment. Fortunately, due to airplanes and airport time I usually exceeded that. My goal in retirement was to catch up on the multitude of yet-to-be-read volumes, and I envisioned a book-a-week.

However, I have yet to find sufficient margin in my lifestyle to approach that goal. Teaching two college courses and directing the Zwemer Center has necessitated re-reading and reviewing many of the standard texts on missions and Muslim studies. Also, I have found my reading time consumed with requests to read and endorse many unpublished manuscripts, a dozen in the last year including the following.

In the realm of missions, Tennessee pastor Reggie Weems has written a great book on mobilizing the local church, The World is My Parish. Mark Edworthy, IMB leader for the European Peoples has written a comprehensive overview of Baptist work in Eastern Europe, dating back to the 19th century and through tensions and intrigue of the era of communist domination. Entitled, The Wall That Remains, the book relates the thrilling expansion of Christian witness after the Berlin wall fell but highlights the remaining wall of lostness in the region.

Henry Wolfe, has written an excellent, objective analysis of contextualization in missions witness. His book, Insider Movements, is based on extensive personal experience and research in the Muslim world. Mission leader Ron Boehme has compiled an awe-inspiring report on the accelerating harvest around the world in The Fourth Wave: the New Face of Missions. Having written two books on spiritual warfare myself, I enjoyed reading The Three Princes by Tom Julien and the memoirs of Neil Anderson, A Rough Road to Freedom.

Several friends have written manuscripts on spiritual development that were a blessing to read. For My Good by missionary Brad Hatchel presents a great exhortation for living according to the teachings of God’s word. Spiritual Problems of Committed Christians by Steve Wilkes at Mid-America Seminary tackles the issues that keep Christians from living a victorious life. Matthew Nance, pastor and former MK and missionary wrote an earlier commentary on Proverbs, and has now published Breaking Free of Me based on the book of Jonah.

Among other books bringing new insights to the surface are Serve Strong! by CIU professor Terry Powell and The Giving Church by John Richardson. The former is a strong biblical encouragement to Christian workers, while Richardson’s is a radical testimony of his new church plant devoted to giving all their offerings away to meet needs in the community, relying on special gifts to fund the church program. The most recent read is the latest book by my good friend and president of World Venture, Hans Finzel, Top Ten Leadership Commandments based on a study of Moses.

With these manuscripts behind me and the sizzling days of summer approaching we are hoping to get to the books we have aspired to read. And yes, I still prefer to turn pages!

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