Arts & Culture

Vacations & Vocations: IFWE’s Summer Reading List for 2024

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Summer can be a busy season filled with barbeques and baseball games, camps and cookouts and cross-country trips. But it also offers opportunities to relax, with vacations offering a chance to rest from and reflect on our vocations.

We hope these summer reading recommendations will renew your spirits this summer and fill you with inspiration as you return to your work after your break at the beach.

How Then Should We Work?

By Hugh Whelchel

In light of Hugh Whelchel’s passing earlier this year, we thought it appropriate to feature his most distinguished work. “How Then Should We Work?” laid the foundation for IFWE and the theology of work it seeks to inspire Christians with as they discover and live out their callings.

For years, this book has encouraged believers struggling to find purpose in their lives that yes, their work does matter to God. Walking readers through the entire biblical narrative of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration, Hugh explains the biblical meaning of work, what true success looks like to God, and how, through our vocations, God invites us to co-labor with him in cultivating his creation.

Cultural Sanctification: Engaging the World Like the Early Church

By Dr. Stephen O. Presley

Today’s Church finds itself existing in tumultuous times. Many Christians feel they’re living within a culture that’s either indifferent or outright hostile toward their faith. How do we maintain our beliefs and live them faithfully in such an age?

Dr. Presley’s book offers hope and encouragement by reminding believers that the early church thrived through similar circumstances. He explains how the ancient attitudes confronting the church mirror those in our own cultural context—and how the church’s response can serve as a model for our own.

Zwingli the Pastor: A Life in Conflict

By Stephen Brett Echer

Huldrych Zwingli is a “complex and controversial figure” of the Reformation, one often in the shadows of more famous reformers like Martin Luther or John Calvin. In this new biography, Stephen Brett Echer brings Zwingli out of those shadows, separating fact from fiction regarding the reformer’s life and, without downplaying either his success or failures, outlines the lessons Christians can learn from his teachings regarding worship, interpreting the Gospel, and the role pastors play in times of crisis.

An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life

By Jeff Haanen

If you’ve ever asked, “What am I going to do with my retirement?” this book is for you.

Today’s culture treats retirement like an endless summer vacation. But in this insightful guide, Jeff Haanen, founder and former CEO of the Denver Institute for Faith and Work, encourages Christians to view retirement through the lens of vocation instead of vacation.

Whether you’re just entering retirement or already in the throes of it, there’s plenty of practical wisdom here to help you discover God’s purpose for your golden years and leave a legacy that has a lasting impact on your family, your church, and your community.

The Soul of Work

By Jordan Ballor

In this essay, Jordan Ballor reveals how faithfulness to our work also contributes to the formation of our souls. Much of the existing literature on faith and work rightly focuses on the meaning and value of our external work. But here, Ballor, research director at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, discusses an often overlooked aspect of that labor: the opportunity it provides to not only cultivate the earth, but ourselves as well. Work, he argues, is an arena in which to shape our character as well as our communities. His analysis adds a deeper spiritual dimension for those wondering if there is a more personal aspect to their purpose.

Recovering the Transcendent Values of the Church During Tumultuous Times

By Jennifer Boehmer

In 1976, President Gerald Ford delivered the commencement address at Warner Pacific University, encouraging graduates to “recover transcendent qualities of spirituality and morality” as the national responded to the turmoil wrought by Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War.

There is still wisdom in his words for us today, as this interview between Jennifer Boehmer, senior vice president and chief of staff at WPU, and three prominent scholars illustrates. In their turn, Drs. Trisha Posey, Keith Beutler, and Ph. D candidate Tyler Castle explore the significance of President Ford’s speech and the insight it offers Christians today who are seeking guidance on how to live faithfully through our own turbulent times.

Dickens, Diabetes, and Positive-Sum Games

By Dr. Anne Bradley

This article will leave you tearing up. Dr. Anne Bradley—formerly IFWE’s vice president of economic initiatives, now vice president of academic affairs at The Fund for American Studies—shares how her family came to terms with her son’s Type 1 diabetes diagnosis and how it’s changed their lives.

She also shares how Parker’s diagnosis gives her reasons for hope and gratitude. Offering a history lesson on technological and medical innovation from the age of Charles Dickens until now, she illustrates how human ingenuity and free markets have made these developments possible, extending and improving the lives of those for whom a similar diagnosis would otherwise be a death sentence.

These continued improvements in public health made possible by markets that are powered by people faithfully following their vocations give us all hope that one day a cure for this and other life-threatening diseases will be found.

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