Faith Shaping Books

Below are some of my recommended reads, books that have shaped my life and faith and allowed me to see God at work in ways I hadn’t before. Most recent are at the top as these are my new favorites 🙂

Abuelita Faith : What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength by Kat Armas
As a Cuban American, Kat does an amazing job bringing a new voice to the women of the bible, paralleling their faith with stories of her childhood having grown up in Miami. It has gotten me to think much more deeply about how God interacts with and defends the powerless

God Gets Everything God Wants by Katie Hays
If you are offended by someone who talks about Jesus and what he calls us to in unusual ways (and isn’t afraid to call the church on its crap) – you might not like this one too much. But she does SUCH a good job at tracing the story of God getting what He wants, his purposes – in spite of us – and shares how it works itself out in the context of her church in Texas

Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell
This was one of his first books, but it is such a great place to remind us what faith is about. The shift for me? When he said he and his wife made a decision to give their kids a “faith they wouldn’t have to recover from”. It allowed me, as a parent, to walk away from legalism years ago and parent better. Not that my kids still don’t have things to recover from… But the story of faith their dad and I gave them shifted greatly as a result

Pretty much ANYTHING by the late Rachel Held Evans. Some of my favorites include her book on struggling with questions of faith while living in the “bible belt” (Evolving in Monkeytown), her journey to rediscover faith through liturgy and classic practices (Searching for Sunday), how to view the bible (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible again), and what if we did exactly what was prescribed in the Hebrew Scripture – deeply researched and thoughtful reflection – as well as some hilarious stories! – on the 12 practices she chose (A year of Biblical Womanhood)

God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines
A personal story of how Matthew and his family navigated his coming out, this is a thought-provoking book that will help anyone who has kids or family in the queer community understand where they are coming from on why they are not “choosing a gay lifestyle”

Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin
Called by God to live in a section in Chicago that is largely populated by the LGBTQ+ community, Andrew shares how he and his wife heard the stories over and over of the cry of the community to know God and just be invited in. He also provides helpful insight for churches on how Jesus calls us to the greater ethics of love and mercy in the church

Torn by Justin Lee
A personal story of what it is like to love Jesus and realize you are gay at a young age… and that is not something God changes no matter how much you pray and fast. If you struggle to understand how someone can be gay and Christian – this is a must read.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Living in the bible belt, this was the first book that helped me understand that others didn’t see the bible the EXACT same way that I did… and they still loved Jesus

Can You Drink the Cup? by Henry Nouwen
Using the analogy of a cup of wine and his life working in a community for the learning disabled in Canada, Henry asks the question we all must ask: what does it mean to drink the cup that we have been given in life, and taste its richness, even when it may be hard?

How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin
I have bought so many copies of this for others. It is my go-to for anyone who has lost something that has left them reeling. It’s how you grieve, how you move forward, pick up the pieces, and move forward. I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate Jonathan’s faithful and thoughtful reminders of how God is present in these events.

The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right by Lisa Sharon Harper
An explanation of the type of shalom that God intended, a critical look at how our pursuit of it in the faith community has often missed the mark (in nations, families, relationships, across genders), and thoughtful, actionable challenges as to how to pursue this shalom going forward

In the Beginning We Misunderstood by Johnny V. Miller and John M. Soden
This book is a great starter to understanding Genesis in its original context, bringing life to why it was written and just what it intended to communicate to its ancient audience the God that had called them

The Epic of Eden by Sandra. L. Richter
An entry into the Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament). I read this one a while ago, but its a great overview and not too heady if you feel intimidated about reading the Old Testament.

Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson
Tying the work we do every day to part of our original purpose, Tom takes you so much deeper than just trying to honor God in what you do. This book will help you see God’s design in your passions (whether they are artistic, practical, scientific, mechanical, leadership, service related – everything!)

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