These are some of my favorite books, and each one has helped me learn a little bit more about what it means to live ON THE SIDE OF GRACE. Check out my recommendations below, and click on the book images to learn more about each title. I hope these will be helpful resources for you as well. Enjoy!
MENDING THE DIVIDES
Jon Huckins, Jer Swigart
This book talks about peacemaking as a central part of our calling as Christ followers. It's easy to look around the world and see the conflict and brokenness and feel helpless and hopeless. This book helps us to see the importance of stepping into the brokenness and provides tangible steps for how to do that. The authors, Jer and Jon, are the founding directors of Global Immersion, and they have a lot of experience with peacemaking on an international level as well as in their own neighborhoods and personal lives.
THE MINISTRY OF ORDINARY PLACES
In this book, Shannan Martin shares stories of the hope that you can find as you plant yourself in your community and open your eyes to both the beauty and the pain around you. Peacemaking can sound like such a big, unreachable task, but this book shows us that it all begins with loving our neighbors.
I love Osheta Moore's heart for peacemaking, and I love that she makes it so practical. She humbly shares from her own experiences about what it looks like to be a peacemaker in all areas of our everyday lives. She gently challenges and encourages us to cultivate peace wherever we are.
DISUNITY IN CHRIST
Social psychologist Christena Cleveland addresses the contradiction between the divided church we see and the united body of Christ that we are called to be. She discusses the very natural tendencies that lead to divisions and also provides steps for how to build a common identity while retaining our beautiful diversity. This book is greatly needed right now. Click here to read a review that I wrote about the book.
A BIGGER TABLE
This book is written for Christians who are trying to reconcile the version of the church that feels exclusive and divisive with the beloved community that Jesus created. John Pavlovitz share stories from his life and his role as a pastor and the lessons that he's learned in order to paint a picture of what a more hopeful spiritual community can look like - one that embraces radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity, and agenda-free community.
RAISE YOUR VOICE
This book is a wonderful guide to determining the barriers that keep us from using our voice and tips for how to speak up with truth and grace. I love how Kathy Khang not only shares ways to do this well, but she also humbly shares how she's made mistakes and learned along the way. Whether you are someone who is comfortable raising your voice or someone who needs help to find your voice, there are some great tips in this book for how to speak up well.
BE THE BRIDGE
This book offers a gospel-centered approach to the messy work of racial reconciliation as it walks you through lament, confession, forgiveness, and restorative reconciliation. This is a great book for a small group to go through together as it is meant to spark reflection and discussion. Check out Latasha Morrison's organization Be The Bridge to learn more about her work.
This book tells the story of a man wrongly convicted of murder and the long, arduous journey to get the conviction overturned. This truly compelling story is intertwined with the stories of many other vulnerable people who have experienced the dark side of our justice system. Along the way, Stevenson, a lawyer who has given his life to standing up against injustice through his work at Equal Justice Initiative, shares what he's learned as he's gotten close to those who have been locked away. This book will educate you on the injustice within the justice system and also challenge you to look past the labels and stigmas we place on others in order to discover our shared humanity.
I'M STILL HERE
Austin Channing Brown
In this book, Austin Channing Brown shares what it's been like for her to go through life as a black woman in a white world. This one hit close to home as she shared her experiences in the church and working in Christian non-profits. It was challenging at times to work through my defenses as I could hear myself making some of the same types of unintentionally offensive comments as some of her white co-workers. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn from Austin Channing Brown's brave and vulnerable memoir and her challenge to push through what makes us uncomfortable in an effort to bring about true reconciliation.
This book is written for white people to help us understand our white identity and the implications of that. Daniel Hill humbly shares his process as he went through this cultural awakening and the lessons he learned along the way. His journey can serve as a helpful guide for us to know where to start and what to expect as we wrestle with the truth of our cultural identity.
THE NEW JIM CROW
This book is a thorough exposition of the history of white supremacy in our country and how it has evolved through the systems of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and now mass incarceration. It's a very eye-opening look at how our criminal justice system works and how certain laws and policies (such as the War on Drugs) have been used to target people of color, even as our society claims to be colorblind. This book builds a strong case for the need to completely rethink the way we understand justice.
AMERICA'S ORIGINAL SIN
In this book, Jim Wallis addresses our nation's ugly history of racism that was present from the beginning with the genocide of native people followed by the enslavement of black people. He explains how those deep roots of white supremacy still permeate our society today and calls the church to repent of that original sin and engage in an honest conversation about how we can become a society that embraces the beautiful diversity in our midst.
THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION
As a recovering perfectionist, this book was so helpful for me in learning to have realistic expectations for myself and to show myself grace. Based on years of research, Brené Brown shares what she has learned about living wholeheartedly and how we can embrace courage, connection, and compassion. It's about learning to accept ourselves so that we can live out of who we were created to be and also so that we can love others well.
BRAVING THE WILDERNESS
This is a book about the importance of understanding the truth of who you are and learning how to experience belonging without compromising that truth. It recognizes the reality that we were created for community but that there are times when we need the courage and integrity to stand alone. It's such an important message for the polarized society we live in today.
EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
This book talks about the importance of being emotionally healthy if we want to grow in our spiritual maturity. It walks you through symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality (including using God to run from God, ignoring our emotions, and spiritualizing away conflict) and also guides you through biblical principals that will help to create lasting transformation in your life. The concepts are not just presented in ideological ways but also with practical steps that you can take in your relationship with Christ.
WHEN GOD MADE YOU
Matthew Paul Turner
My kids and I love Matthew Paul Turner's books. They are lyrically written, and each one affirms that the child is loved, beautifully made, and brings value to the world. The illustrations are vibrant and beautiful, and we love the representation of people of color. We also have Turner's books When God Made Light and When I Pray for You.
THE TINY TRUTHS ILLUSTRATED BIBLE
Joanna Rivard & Tim Penner
I love the way that the stories are told in this Bible. They all center around the idea that God is the One who made everything, we are his children whom he loves, and we are made to love God and others. The cartoon-style illustrations are adorable, and all the characters have dark skin and dark hair, which is a much more accurate representation than most children's Bibles we see.
There are so many more books that I am excited to read so check back for updates as I make my way through my reading list.
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