Summertime is here! Time to sit back a bit, relax on the porch, grab a cold beverage, and dive into a good book. This is the perfect time to stretch your imagination, be inspired, deepen your faith, and refocus your heart and mind on your true passions.

This year, I decided to take on the #52BookChallenge—to read a book every week throughout the whole year. It has been an incredible journey so far! I’m halfway through this exciting odyssey and I can honestly say that my mind, imagination, and perspective have elevated to new heights.

Here are a few books that I have recently read and highly recommend adding to your summer reading list:

1) Quantum Glory by Phil Mason. This unique and remarkable book couples scientific research with Christian values in a way that we are typically unaccustomed to, then boldly seeks to reclaim facets of spirituality that have been hijacked by Eastern mysticism and the new age movement.

Without a doubt, I would have to say that this is one of the best books I have read in nearly a decade. After completing this book I see nearly every aspect of the world in a new light. From the elongated shadows of dusk to the infinitesimal veins on the surface of a leaf, a world of wonder has opened to me. I find it remarkable how the subatomic world affects the macro universe at every interval. I revel at the hand of God displayed through His creation and the purpose for which He made all things.

Not a day has passed without causing me to consider the deeper intrinsic meaning of everything that my eyes fall upon. This book has radically shifted my perception of life and I believe it will continue to do so for many years.

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2) Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Carolin Leaf. I am intrigued by the human brain with all its intricacies. I am inspired by the reality that we as thinking beings can direct our thinking, wire out toxic patterns, replace them with healthy thoughts, increase our intelligence and live healthy lives thanks to the neuroplasticity of our brain.

The author of this book says, “You have an extraordinary ability to determine, achieve, and maintain optimal levels of intelligence, mental health, peace, and happiness, as well as the prevention of disease in your body and mind. You can, through conscious effort, gain control of your thoughts and feelings, and in doing so, you can change the programming and chemistry of your brain.” In her words, “science is finally catching up with the age-old principles of the Bible.”

This extraordinary book illustrates the incredible capabilities of the human brain and reveals the glory of God’s creative design.

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3) The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. The title itself is provocative enough to elicit a curious response from the potential reader. This book (and subsequently, the movie) has seen great success among Christians who are interested in learning about religious persecution around the world.

The initial draw—much like that of the author’s—may be for the noble purposes of prayer, understanding how to help persecuted Christians, or to understand what can be done to stop persecution around the world. The reader will, however, be surprised to understand the deeper biblical truths that the author reveals with statements like this: “So if our goal is reducing persecution, that task is easily achieved. First, just leave Jesus alone. Second, if you do happen to find Him, just keep Him to yourself. Persecution stops immediately where there is no faith and where there is no witness.” Powerful words for the Western Christian who understands little about firsthand persecution.

This book promises to challenge and inspire believers to perceive the comprehensive pretext of Christian suffering around the world. The book is not at all theoretical. It is actual—an apt portrait of powerful encounters that reveal God ever in the midst of His suffering Church. Do you desire to understand the heart of God in a deeper way? This book is for you!

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4) There’s a Sheep in My Bathtub by Brian Hogan. Well-written missions books can be extremely difficult to find. If you have a passion for missions and love to learn what God has done and is doing in the nations, this book should be at the top of your list.

One acknowledgment at the beginning of the book describes this story well: “At points, the story is heart-wrenching and poignant; at other times it is uplifting and motivating. From the despair of having to bury his only son on the steppes of Mongolia to the birth of a church-planting movement, Hogan offers a deeply spiritual memoir, peppered with humor and inspirational insight, and informed by solid biblical missiology.”

For readers who want to learn the practical essentials for biblical-based missiology in a real-world scenario, There’s a Sheep in My Bathtub will not disappoint.

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5) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Everyone wants to create healthy habits, better their lives, and live with purpose. This book appeals to men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Quoting William James, the author states that “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.”

The author’s voice is uplifting and encouraging, laying out scientific facts and research data that proves how everyone can change their habits and experience a more meaningful life. After reading this book, I walked away inspired, believing that it is actually possible to shift negative habits into positive routines.

“Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom—and the responsibility—to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”

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6) Mission Smart by David Frazier. The author explores a long list of issues that every overseas missionary will encounter at some point in his or her ministry service. The message is crystal clear: those who put in the preparation time before launching into overseas missionary work will not only survive, but thrive in their calling.

This book is made up of three sections: The Person, The Partners, and The Place. The author reveals his expertise by exploring heart motivations, personal giftings, family needs, and learning the language and culture, to name a few themes. This book is an essential read for every potential cross-cultural missionary. It is superior to nearly every other pre-field missions book I have read. In fact, it will now become required reading for potential missionaries who desire to serve at Within Reach Global.

I wish that this book existed 20 years ago when I first set out to serve as an overseas missionary to China. Many of the struggles I have encountered over the years might have been quelled had I better prepared for cross-cultural ministry. After reading this book, my prayer is that today’s potential missionary force might take ample time to better prepare themselves for the long haul of missionary work.

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One last shameless plug: Make sure you check out my book, The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary! I’m sure you will be inspired and challenged to see how God is at work among unreached people groups in Southeast Asia!

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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