The following selections are recommended by Pastor Dave.
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
Excellent book that asks (and answers) the question – what if marriage is not about happiness, but about holiness? What if God’s purpose in my marriage relationship is less for making me feel fulfilled and more about building Christlikeness? Thomas shows how the Bible urges that every relationship we have is intended by God to draw us closer to Him – and marriage is no exception. He shows how godly qualities, like forgiveness, prayer, love, perseverance, servanthood and respect for others are not only fostered by the marriage relationship – but actually lead to great happiness when we see them in this light. This will show you how to be closer to God and as a bonus, closer to each other in your God-given mission in marriage. Available at the public library or through Amazon.com.
Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
I am not normally a huge fan of Christian fiction, however this book is an exception. It tells the story of Ben Fielding and Li Quan -- roommates at Harvard who went their separate ways after college. Fielding becomes a major company executive in the United States, and under his direction the company expands rapidly into China. Li Quan returns to his native China with ambitions to become a college professor.
During their time at Harvard, Fielding has introduced his Chinese roommate to Christ through on-campus ministries. However in the 20 years since, he has gone through divorce, has lost all interest in religious activities and is focused on becoming the next CEO of his company. Through a series of circumstances he meets up with his old college roommate in China.
There is a plot to the story after that point, but the main emphasis of the story is to demonstrate the new kind of persecution which goes on in China and other places like it around the world. It is a powerful story of God's true expectations for Christian living and the value and expectation of persecution. This book will open your eyes to the realities of the world in which we live – and to what genuine Christian faith entails.
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim & Kathy Keller
Tim Keller, against all odds, planted a conservative Presbyterian Church in the heart of Manhattan in New York City 25 years ago that has thrived and now has planted dozens of other churches as well. Tim is considered one of the foremost spokesmen for evangelical Christianity in the world today.
This is the best book on the theology of marriage that I've seen -- although that is not specifically its intent. In addition to setting out how God views marriage, why it is important to Him and what the implications are for us, the book has excellent application. Keller's wife, Kathy, writes chapter 6 "Embracing Each Other" -- dealing with the roles of marriage. Obviously a good choice as it gives the feminine voice to the subject of headship and submission. Excellent job of dealing with why the complementary role of the wife is elevating rather than debasing. But the best section is probably "The Dance of the Trinity" which effectively demonstrates that the roles in marriage find their ultimate fulfillment in the roles within the Trinity -- and thus demonstrate one more means by which a Christian marriage can reflect the glory of God to the world.
The book takes on the hard subjects as well -- always providing a solid theological framework. What about single people? Homosexuality? Sex in marriage? Perhaps the best thing of all was the openness with which this couple shared their own lives. Excellent book for setting the whole framework for a truly Christian marriage.
Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony
Michelle Anthony, Ed.D. has a wide range of experience having taught at Biola University and Talbot School of Theology, serving as pastor of family ministries at ROCKHARBOR Church in Costa Mesa, CA and as a designer of curriculum for David C. Cook. In addition, she and her husband have raised two children.
She has put that experience to great use in this book. Spiritual Parenting rocks as a biblically based guide on how to appeal to the hearts of children. The instruction is solid and the examples are relevant and practical. Anthony urges 10 home "environments" to build children who are responsive to God. Get the book to see what they are. A great companion to Tedd Tripp's Shepherding A Child's Heart. Where books like Parenting with Love and Logic and How to Have a New Kid by Friday are more behavior modification -- this one and Tripp's are very helpful at understanding the need to get beyond the "what" of behavior to the "why". It also includes a strong emphasis on the need to model the spiritual values we wish to instill.
Has Christiaity Failed You? by Ravi Zacharias
Ravi Zacharias is a senior reserach fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University as well as a radio broadcaster, speaker and author. He is a Christian who has earned respect in academia and a foremost apologist in our generation. In this book, Dr. Zacharias explores some of the reasons that people leave the faith and argues that Christianity can stand up to the skepticism that is sometimes the cause of such departures. He examines who Jesus is, what Christianity is really all about, answers one skeptic who has left the faith and demonstrates that Christianity not only passes the "reason" test, but that it works in real life. This book will strengthen the faith of believers and is an excellent gift to those who are questioning.
One Minute After You Die by Erwin W. Lutzer
Dr. Erwin Lutzer has been pastor of Moody Church in Chicago for more than 25 years and is an internationally known conference speaker and radio broadcaster.
In this book, Dr. Lutzer addesses from a biblical perspective many issues regarding our eternal destiny. He talks about reincarnation, channeling and near-death experiences. And what happens to a child who dies? What does the Bible have to say about heaven and hell and the justice of eternal punishment? The main thrust of his message, however, is a personal one. As the title suggests, he is anxious to emphasize that decisions we make now have a profound effect on where we will be then. Great book to learn more about eternity and to share with friends who may not know the Lord.
Meet the Real Jesus by John Blanchard
In this book, John Blanchard, an internationally known Christian writer, teacher and apologist, gives a clear and compelling overview of the person and work of Christ. Do you want to know Jesus better and to understand His mission more fully? This is the book for you. It explains both the deity and humanity of Christ and why both are important. It faithfully explains the purpose for the death of Christ, but also shows the importance of His life. This book is theological in nature, but written in such a way as to be understandable to the average person who does not have a theological education.
God Built: Forged by God . . . in the Bad and Good of Life by Steve Farrar
Steve Farrar is a former pastor and founder and chairman of Men’s Leadership Ministries. A graduate of Western Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary, Farrar is a popular speaker who has authored 16 books making practical application of Scriptural principles to real life.
This book, based on a study of the life of Joseph, is exceptional. It demonstrates that God is in control of everything, from the most mundane to the most devastating events in life – assignments at work, devastating loss, grievous setbacks, broken hopes, prolonged waiting, natural disasters, promotions. God is in control. Farrar’s exposition is clear, intensely biblical, extremely well-illustrated from real-life examples, and a wonderful encouragement. A great book for anyone going through tough times – or anyone who wants to be prepared in advance for those times that inevitably come to all of us.
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
In 1994, Francis Chan was the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. God blessed the ministry of His Word and Cornerstone is a mega church today although Chan resigned last year and has been writing and seeking God’s leading for a new ministry. He is a no-holds-barred believer in God’s providential working in our lives – committed to a fault to His Lord.
Crazy Love has been a best-seller since its first appearance in 2008. Chan’s burden is to demonstrate how great is God’s love for us and what a life lived in true dependence on God can be. He mixes wonderful expositions of Scripture with compelling illustrations from real life to demonstrate that the God of the 21st century is the same as the God of the 1st century. His own absolute dedication to fulfilling God’s will in his life is breathtaking. It will both humble and challenge you. His goal is to move us from lukewarm to hot in our commitment to Christ.
The Invisible War by Donald Grey Barnhouse
Dr. Barnhouse was pastor of the famous Tenth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for many years and one of the finest expositors of the 20th century.
The Invisible War is his most enduring book. If you are interested in getting a biblical perspective on the spiritual warfare that rages all around us, this is the book for you. Barnhouse expertly interprets passage after passage of Scripture to reveal fascinating detail about Satan’s origin and strategies, how we have come to be where we are today and what the ultimate outcome will be. Passages you have read before come alive in a new and inspiring manner under the compelling teaching of Dr. Barnhouse. This is an intriguing book which will challenge your thinking and take you behind the scenes of our physical limitation in a way you never thought possible.
The Politically Correct Wife by Nancy Cobb & Connie Grigsby
I want to express my thanks to Tara Steinke who put me onto this excellent book which looks at the subject of marriage and family relationships from a woman's perspective. The authors were both several years into self-described "stuck-position" marriages when they came face-to-face with biblical principles that we have been studying. Through different circumstances, both were challenged by Bible studies that took the Word of God seriously, even when it clashes with popular culture, and it changed their lives and their marriages. Filled with practical advice and real-life examples -- all tied directly to Scripture.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Dr. Tedd Tripp has more than 30 years experience as a pastor, school administrator counselor and seminar leader. His seminars and counseling experience has related to family and child issues.
This is an outstanding parenting book. Two previously reviewed books, Parenting With Love and Logic and Have a New Kid by Friday, are based on biblical principles, are eminently practical. They primarily emphasize behavior modification techniques. Tripp takes the whole issue of parenting to another level, emphasizing that our goal in parenting must ultimately appeal to the heart. Whereas the other books deal with “How”, Tripp deals with “Why”. Yes, we want to see our children exhibit appropriate behavior. But even more, we want to bring them to the cross – to see them understand the gospel – to have right behavior for the right reasons, because they love and revere God. In a carefully written, articulate and well-illustrated book, Tripp will help you do just that.
This is a great companion book to those previously reviewed, aimed past our children’s behavior to their spirit.
Radical by David Platt
David Platt is the young pastor of a mega-church in Birmingham, AL. But prior to becoming a pastor, he traveled extensively and has seen the world with compassionate eyes.
His book is a reaction to the prosperity gospel and the ease and comfort fostered by typical American Christianity. The subtitle of his book – Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream – is telling. The book is an inspiring exposition of biblical commands to global responsibility for the poor and the lost. He challenges us in compelling and positive ways to evaluate values which are more a result of the culture we live in than the Christ we claim to serve. If you don’t believe that the God of the Bible and the Christ of the church in Acts is still at work in today’s world, read this book.
This book is practical but visionary. If there were one book that I would want our entire congregation to read this year, this is the one. Be prepared to be challenged, inspired and changed in a positive way.
Heaven by Randy Alcorn
This is the most life-changing book I have read in years! Want to know where you are going as a Christian? Read this book. Want to encourage an eternal perspective in your life? Read this book. Got questions about heaven? This book has answers. Alcorn speculates in some areas and gives his imagination credible rein. But this book is soundly biblical. You will find yourself checking out cross references constantly. You will also find yourself amazed at what you have read before and overlooked. Where is heaven located? Won't heaven be a little boring? Will heaven be familiar? Will we know each other in heaven? Where will we live in heaven? Will there be music and art and culture in heaven? Will we eat and drink in heaven? What will our bodies be like in heaven? Are there animals in heaven? What does restoration really mean? These are just a few of the questions that the book addresses. Some of the answers will surprise you. Check it out.
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
Looking for a nice, short, articulate book to help you focus on God's perspective of life, time, possessions and enrichment at all levels? This is your book. This book will help you see well known Bible teaching from a completely fresh perspective. It is both theological and imminently practical -- written by someone who has been through the wringer. Great illustrations not only make it interesting but illuminate various principles and bring them to life. Highly recommended. Be careful -- this book could change your life.
Parenting With Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
I was introduced to this book by Julie Kennedy who in turn got it from Adrienne Haythorn who was reared on it by Carolyn Prior! You may judge the results for yourself! Dr. Cline is a psychiatrist who has worked extensively with children. Jim Fay worked for 31 years in education and has since worked with families and children at the Love and Logic Institute, co-founded by himself and Dr. Cline. The Institute specializes in parenting and child management, classroom behavior and communication.
The first half of this book introduces parents to a method of child rearing that emphasizes the loving directed use of natural consequences as a means of training and disciplining children. It teaches parents how to maintain control while minimizing confrontation by giving children choices from the earliest age. The nature and potential impact of those choices is gradually increased as children mature so that by the time they are ready to leave home they are responsible, experienced decision-makers. The second half of the book deals with specific questions of child-rearing. Loaded with examples. An excellent companion book to Have a New Kid By Friday. Great biblical principles in both. “Must reads” for parents.
Each for the Other: Marriage As It's Meant To Be by Bryan Chapell
Dr. Bryan Chapell is president and professor of practical theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also a renowned preacher, teacher and conference speaker. His wife, Kathy, is an accomplished musician. They have four children. Chapell has written several books including this one, first published in 1998. In this version, he has included interesting side notes created by Kathy -- thus adding an insightful woman's perspective to the presentation.
The word "sacrifice" is at the heart of this book as Dr. Chapell explains the teaching on family relationships taught in Ephesians 5:22-6:4. He gives a fine exposition of the text supplemented by numerous illustrations and stories -- many from his own life and experience. He demonstrates how denying oneself can create the most rewarding relationship ever. He tackles the question of what biblical headship and submission really mean, and offer six key building blocks to help solidify marriage and family relationships. It is relatively short (200 pages), is easy to read, and will strengthen any marriage.
Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was educated as doctor and practiced medicine for some time before responding to the call of God on his life to enter the ministry. He eventually became pastor of the famous Westminster Chapel in London for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1968. He was a gifted expositor who left behind a number of commentaries as well as a major book on expository preaching -- a major influence on my own life.
In Spiritual Depression, which was first published in 1965, Lloyd-Jones combines the skills of both his medical and theological training. He recognizes that it is possible for a true Christian to experience the demons of depression for a variety of reasons. But this is not a modern pop psychology self-help book. Instead, in a series of 21 chapters, Lloyd Jones addresses various potential causes of emotional trauma and brings the Word of God to bear on each in a unique, clear and powerful exposition. Any given chapter can stand on its own, but the book has added value when it is digested in its entirety. The combination of psychological and biblical insights make this one of the finest books I have seen dealing with emotional problems. Maximum benefit comes from absorbing it slowly and thoroughly.
Choosing Your Faith by Mark Mittelberg
I am indebted to Dick Mulhern for putting me onto this book and this writer. The premise of Mark Mittelberg’s book is that everyone places their faith in something. We are all betting our eternal destiny on some belief, some philosophy of life, that we cannot ultimately “prove.” With that in mind, Mittelberg examines various scientific and religious approaches to life with an eye toward evaluating how each stacks up against the realities encountered in daily living.
In the end, he is, of course, recommending Christianity, but his approach will challenge your thinking. Though he is dealing with theological and philosophical issues, Mittelberg does so in an accessible manner. He is understandable. And his premise, that we should recognize that one way or another we are choosing our faith, leads to his challenge that we choose purposefully. A good book for anyone searching for answers -- excellent for young people of college age.
A Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur and The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
These two recent books deal with the so-called parable of the prodigal son. Each is an excellent treatment and what I especially like is that both clarify that while the second son is most prominent in the parable, it is actually aimed at an audience of Pharisees and legalistic, self-righteous “elder brothers.” The major theme of grace is wonderfully presented by both authors.
A Tale of Two Sons is more thorough in presenting historical background and in setting the story in its cultural context. It almost reads like a novel, but is packed with insight and application. As might be expected, Keller’s book is more philosophical, and aptly titled to show that the prodigal (excessive, boundless) nature of God is more to the point than the excesses of the younger son. Both books effectively capture and explain the unexpectedly sudden end to the story. Revel in the grace of God by spending some time with one of these outstanding books.
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes
It is a documented fact that men do not read much these days. However, it is also true that it is impossible to grow in the Christian life without reading the Bible and nearly as difficult to grow spiritually without reading good books. The book recommended here will help fill the void. It is eminently readable, containing many illustrations and quotations to hold attention, but it is also filled with Scripture and biblical principles that render it valuable and inspiring.
Kent Hughes was for many years senior pastor of college church in Wheaton, Illinois -- the home church of Wheaton College. He has written extensively and is series editor for the popular Preaching the Word commentaries. This particular book challenges men to exert some "holy sweat” to apply various disciplines to their Christian experience. You will find chapters on disciplines such as purity, marriage, fatherhood, friendship, prayer, integrity, leadership, ministry and several others. Kent Hughes and I were colleagues many years ago at Talbot Seminary. He is a man's man who has become one of the leading Bible teachers of our day. I can guarantee that you will enjoy reading this book, but more importantly, your life will change as you put into practice the biblical principles and therein. Take a dare, guys! Read a book!
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is a former pastor with an M.Div. from Dubuque Seminary and a Ph.D. in child and family ecology from Michigan State University. He is currently president of Love and Respect Ministries. He and his wife, Sarah, have three grown children and now keep busy conducting marriage seminars across the United States in addition to an active counseling ministry.
Love and Respect is the result of thirty years of active ministry among married couples. Based on sound biblical principles and thoroughly tested in the “real world”, the ideas and concepts in this book can help improve any marriage, whether happy or in need of help. I can almost guarantee that you will find some new insights here which are revolutionary and whose application has the potential to change long-standing habits and patterns of behavior. Eggerichs uses rich imagery to illustrate concepts which are reinforced by dozens of real-life illustrations. You will learn about the “Crazy Cycle” and how to get off of it; you will learn about the “Energizing Cycle” and how to get on it; and you will learn about the “Rewarded Cycle” and why it represents God’s will for every married life. I highly recommend this book for its potential to improve any well-intentioned marriage.
Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known psychologist, writer and speaker known for his wit, and common sense approach to family life. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs including Good Morning America, The Early Show, Today, Oprah and Focus on the Family. He has a Ph.D from the University of Arizona where he has also taught and served as an administrator. The author of more than 30 books, he is the founder and president of Couples of Promise, an organization he created to help couples remain happily married. A dedicated Christian, he and his wife, Sande have five children and two grandchildren.
Have a New Kid by Friday gives excellent principles for changing and molding a child’s attitude, behavior and character – in five days! Results are guaranteed if the principles are followed and consistently implemented! Good for children of any age. Sound too good to be true? I urge you to give it a read if you are a parent or grandparent. While Dr. Leman does not attempt to tie principles specifically to Scripture, they are soundly biblical and eminently practical. He will teach you how to “say it once” and make it stick without rancor. He will teach you how to use consequences in an even handed manner to instill personal responsibility. His concept of “reality discipline” will be an eye-opener for many. The book also helps identify some of the destructive messages that parents inadvertently send to children in a permissive, tolerant, self-esteem (vs. self-worth) oriented society. The book gives parents “permission” to be parents and helps them keep an eye on the end goal, rather than just the momentary happiness that sometimes drives parental decisions. This is one of the best books on child-rearing that I have seen and I suspect that once you have read it you may want to check some of Dr. Leman’s other books as well. This one is on the “A” list.
Death by Love: Letter from the Cross by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Mark Driscoll is the relatively young and somewhat controversial pastor of Mars Hill Church is Seattle, Washington – one of the fastest growing churches in America. Gerry Breshears is professor of theology and chairman of the division of biblical and theological studies at Western Seminary. Together they have written a unique book that shows how the cross of Christ addresses even the worst situations that life can offer.
This book is not for everyone. It is brutally honest about sin and suffering, and wonderfully hopeful as it points us to our true Savior. Each chapter addresses a real-life person in the form of a letter that Mark Driscoll has encountered in his ministry at Mars Hill and shows how the death and resurrection of Christ applies to people who have been horribly hurt, or in some cases have done the hurting. You will meet victims of abuse of the worst kind as well as upstanding Christians who are cheating on their families. The stories are all too real, but more importantly, the pastoral responses offer riveting applications of the cross for true and lasting transformation. Theology is explained in human terms and each chapter includes a question-and-answer forum that is helpful. Difficult to read in places, it nevertheless shows with clarity and precision the sufficiency of Christ for every human need and the wonderful hope that resides in Him.
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
Tim Keller is pastor of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the heart of New York City, a church that he founded in 1989 despite almost unanimous predictions that a church adhering to and teaching the historic Christian faith could never survive in such a setting. Starting with about 50 people, the church has grown to over 5,000 members and has been instrumental in starting more than 100 other churches in the City and around the world. Keller combines a pastor’s heart with keen insight into how to communicate the gospel and defend it both intellectually and spiritually to a bright, skeptical audience.
The Reason for God is one of the finest books on apologetics (defending the Christian faith) that I have come across. Keller makes his case graciously and clearly, but with devastating effectiveness. He is primarily focused on demonstrating that belief in God is the most logical explanation for the world we inhabit and the way we live. His contention is that if we cannot finally and definitively “prove” God, we can certainly show that He is the most logical explanation for the way our universe and mankind function. He shows that the resurrection of Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God in a verifiable sense and effectively reasons for its reality. Keller’s writing, while intellectually astute, is easy to follow and clearly reasoned. It will strengthen your own faith as a believer and is the number one book I would recommend to give to someone who is questioning.
City on a Hill by Philip Graham Ryken
Philip Ryken is pastor of a great historic church, the Tenth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Though located in the inner city, it is a thriving church with special emphasis on small home Bible study groups located throughout the metropolitan area. Ryken is widely known as an evangelical leader and speaker.
City on a Hill is currently being read by our church leaders. It is a book on “how to do church” and basically argues for a return to biblical principles (reference the subtitle, Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century) as opposed to the adoption of worldly methods that has been so popular in recent years. Virtually all aspects of church activity are covered including worship, discipleship, missions and many others. Ryken’s work is very biblically based, but it also reflects a wealth of real-world experience. The book has great depth, but is very easy to read and follow. If church government and ministry interest you, this would be an excellent resource.
Copyright 2009 First Congregation Church of Eaton/Ault. All rights reserved.