Here are a few suggestions to help you cut through the clutter to great books that will help you or others grow:
While every book of the Bible is always relevant, some speak more into certain situations than others. The book of Daniel is a book that speaks powerfully to us today by sharing major events in the life of a man who lived faithfully in a culture hostile to his faith. Western society seems to be more hostile toward Christianity each day. Pastor Larry Osborne’s recent book Thriving in Babylon draws rich wisdom from Daniel to strengthen readers as they prepare to live in situations similar to Daniel’s.
Osborne is a gifted communicator who draws riches from the Scripture and compellingly drives them home to our lives. A major idea in Osborne’s writing is that Christians in cultures hostile to their faith often feel defeated—like the other team has won. But in Christ, we know the real outcome—Christ has won, and one day every knee will bow and tongue confess He is Lord. Jesus wins.
We know that’s true, but don’t always live that way. We often live defeated, and defeated people don’t win others to their team. This book will not only keep you from despair, but will remind you of the amazing hope we have in Christ and the glorious opportunity we have to shine His light to a needy world.
For a preview of Osborne’s teaching style, you can watch Thriving in Babylon.
In partnership with publisher David C. Cook, I am giving away a copy of Thriving in Babylon to one of my email subscribers. To enter, reply to one of the emails this blog sends out and say hi. That’s it.
If you’re not a subscriber yet, just enter your name in the top right email subscribe box, and after you confirm your subscription, reply to one of the emails you received.
I will choose a winner on August 14, 2015.
*(Sorry, entries with US addresses only.)
40 Questions about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper by John S. Hammett
Two of the most widely practiced ordinances/sacraments throughout church history have been baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They have also been two of the most debated items in terms of working out their theology and how to do them.
As part of Kregel’s helpful and accessible 40 Questions series, John Hammett seeks to tackle forty of today’s practical and theological questions about these important practices of the church. Hammett addresses six general questions about both baptism and the Lord’s supper and reserves seventeen questions for each specifically. Each set of seventeen questions are separated into four sections: introductory questions, denominational views, theological issues, and practical aspects. The denominational views section includes the following views: Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, and a separate chapter describing other traditions. Hammett, himself a Baptist, is even-handed and fair in describing other traditions.
I found 40 Questions about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper both interesting and very practical. As a theology geek, this book excites me and is a book I wish had a few years ago as I have asked many of these questions. As a shepherd of God’s people, I see the practical value this volume offers for pastors. Seminary students will also find this helpful due to the clarity of Hammett’s thought, how much information he packs into chapters all shorter than ten pages, and the amount of sources and extra resources mentioned.
Two other helpful books in the 40 Questions series are 40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible by Robert Plummer and 40 Questions about the End Times by Eckhard Schnabel.
How to Walk into Church by Tony Payne
If you’ve been a churchgoer for more than just a few Sundays, walking into church probably doesn’t seem like it deserves its own ‘how to’ manual. Right? In fact, it most likely seems like a pretty straightforward and trivial weekly activity.
But things are rarely as simple as they seem, and how you walk into church reveals a great deal about what you think church is, what it’s for, and what you think you’re doing there.
In How to Walk into Church, Tony Payne helps us think biblically about church. Along with giving plenty of other practical advice, he suggests a way to walk into church that beautifully expresses what church is and why you’re there – a way that every Christian can master.
Faker: How to Live for Real When You’re Tempted to Fake It by Nicholas McDonald
This book geared for teens is a short read, but a good one. McDonald, a blogger at Scribble Preach, writes on the temptation to be a “faker” at Christianity. The book is based on the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector of Luke 18:9-14 and contrasts faker Christianity with what true Christianity looks like.
The well-written book reads like a conversation and will make you laugh out loud while sharing rich gospel implications for our lives (bonus points for using the word propitiation so much and richly). McDonald intertwines personal anecdotes, helpful illustrations, and biblical truth to cast a vision of a gospel-shaped, authentic Christian life. I wish I had this book when I was fourteen—It would have saved me four years of being a faker!