The Reckless Love of God by Alex Early

The Reckless Love of God

Does God Really Love Me?

Sometimes the bigger something is, the easier it is to forget. You may have heard all your life that God is love, but has the truth of that statement really sunk in?

In The Reckless Love of God, pastor and church planter Alex Early pulls you in close to ask if you’ve ever really considered what it means to say “Jesus loves me.” God’s love for us is real–he feels, knows, and even suffers on our behalf. Nothing will change your life, your goals, and your relationships faster than being captivated by this reality.

Whether you grew up as a Christian and have forgotten this essential truth, or if you’re hearing it for the first time, you need to be reminded–and assured–of the simple, amazing, mind-blowing fact that God loves us. – Baker Publishing Group

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read about God’s love. A lot I’ve read are written like they’re trying to evoke a warm, fuzzy feeling, and completely ignore the holiness of God. This book was the perfect balance between God’s love and His holiness. It didn’t force our view of love on God. One of the first things in this book that I really liked was how in the Introduction he used the Old Testament to show God’s love. I know a lot of people who believe the Old Testament is all about God’s wrath and the New Testament is about God’s love. They believe God changed but God’s love also shows through in the Old Testament – people just often don’t realize it.

I liked how Alex Early focused his book on the Bible instead of stories. He used a few stories and was very honest, but the Bible was the focus. I also liked how, towards the end of the book, Early compared Jesus to the people we read about in the Bible, how Jesus is a better version of them. “Likewise, Jesus is greater than Abraham, who by faith offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice. Jesus is greater than Isaac, who was asked to carry wood to the place of sacrifice. Jesus carried his wooden cross to Calvary.”

This book is for those who want to know God’s love and not just a warm, fuzzy feeling.


Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by Reba Riley

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome

Reba Riley’s twenty-ninth birthday was not a good time to undertake a spiritual quest, but when chronic illness prompted her to focus on one thing she could fix – her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome – she undertook a challenge: Visit thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. This was transformation by spiritual shock therapy. Reba would find peace and healing … if the search didn’t kill her first.

During her spiritual sojourn without leaving home, Reba: Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple; Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement; Was interrogated about her sex life by Amish grandmothers; Got audited by Scientologists, mobbed by NPR junkies, and killed (almost); Fasted for thirty days without food – or wine, dammit!; Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom; Learned to meditate with an Urban Monk, sucked mud in a sweat lodge with a Suburban Shaman, and snuck into Yom Kippur with a fake grandpa; Discovered she didn’t have to choose religion to choose God … or good. For everyone who has ever needed healing of body or soul, this poignant, funny memoir reminds us all that transformation is possible, brokenness can be beautiful, and sometimes we have to get lost to get found.

This book was a fascinating read. Before I read this book, I thought it might say more about the beliefs of the various groups, but it focuses on Reba Riley’s journey of spiritual healing instead. It doesn’t mention a whole lot about the beliefs of the groups themselves, but rather Riley’s thoughts and feelings, and what happened to her. I enjoyed her writing style and that she wrote this book as more of a story than just facts. I also liked that she included humor, which made this book that much more enjoyable. I didn’t necessarily agree with some of what Riley did or said, but I was able to glean things from her journey that could help me in my own spiritual journey.

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

Hope HarborTracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life—and love—altered her plans. Now she’s home again—with a floundering farm to run…a tragic secret…and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives—including their own.

Hope Harbor is one of Irene Hannon’s contemporary romance novels, so it focuses on relationships between characters instead of the plot. Hannon writes in such a way that I get invested in the characters almost right away. Their lives and what happened mattered to me. I was almost more invested in Anna’s story with her estranged son than in Michael and Tracy’s love story, which was the focus of the book. Anna’s story moved me and I teared up a little at the end of her story. Between the two clergymen from different churches, Charley’s taco stand, and other characters, I fell in love with the community of Hope Harbor and look forward to the next book located in Hope Harbor.