Next: Pastoral Succession that Works by William Vanderbloemen and Warrren Bird – 09/02/14
I am reading this new book with rapt attention as our church just announced that our senior pastor is beginning a three year succession plan. He is the founder of our church and it is hard to imagine our church without him at the helm. This book could not be more timely for me. As many senior pastors from the baby boomer generation are now reaching retirement age, this book will be helpful to many other churches as well. The authors hint at what is to come in their very helpful preface when they state, “Every Pastor is an Interim Pastor. Few Ministers consider that truth. Few are eager to admit that their time with their present church will one day end. But ultimately all pastors are “interim” because the day when a successor takes over will come for everyone in ministry.” While there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to the puzzle of planning for a seamless pastoral succession, Next offers church leaders and pastors a guide to asking the right questions in order to plan for the future.
Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News by Philip Yancey – 10/31/14
I was fortunate enough to have been able to get an advance reader copy of this book at the International Christian Retail Show in June and could not put it down. Yancey is one of my favorite authors and he does not disappoint in this highly readable new book. Yancey aims this book at Christian readers, showing them how Christians have lost respect, influence, and reputation in a newly post-Christian culture. “Why do they hate us so much?” mystified Americans ask about the rest of the world. A similar question applies to evangelicals in America. Yancey explores what may have contributed to hostility toward Evangelicals, especially in their mixing of faith and politics instead of embracing more grace-filled ways of presenting the gospel. He offers illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics. Then he explores what is Good News and what is worth preserving in a culture that thinks it has rejected Christian faith. This is a book that every Christian who is interested in engaging the culture should read.
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon – 09/02/14
So I have never been a big reader of Christian fiction, but I loved the Mitford Series and this book is the latest installment. In this new book, after five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors. While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion. His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion—for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business. All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Café opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller – 11/04/14
With over a million copies of his books having been sold now in just the last ten years, Tim is one of the most important evangelical writers of our time and one of my favorite authors. Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. Few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Tim Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act. With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader. I have a feeling that this will be a book that will stand the test of time and will become a “go to” resource on this timeless and vital subject. Prayer has always been the basis for growth and revival in the church and I am hopeful that this book will spark a new fire in an American church that needs revival today.
David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade and the Man Who Believed by Gary Wilkerson 09/02/14
The story of the small town pastor from Pennsylvania moving to New York City to minister to gang members in the late 1950’s was first told in the best-selling book, The Cross and the Switchblade. That book, the comic book based on it and the movie that was made from it greatly impacted a generation of evangelicals including me. This new book is a definitive biography of David Wilkerson told through the eyes of his son Gary. After the initial publicity that brought him face to face with some of the most dangerous young men of the city, he largely flew under the radar of the media, using the Word of God and a bit of tough love to help men and women of the street escape the destructive spiral of drugs and violence. Wilkerson later founded the Times Square Church, now a non-denominational mega-church of 8,000 members, to this day a crossroads for those battling sin, drugs, and pornography, and a place where the message of Christ is discussed. He created the faith-based program Teen Challenge to wean addicts off drugs, and then World Challenge, dedicated since its beginning to promoting and spreading the Gospel throughout the world. David Wilkerson was the preacher of New York City.
The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity by Barnabas Piper – 07/01/14
As a missionary kid myself I was interested in this book from the moment that I heard it was coming out this year. Barnabus is the son of renowned pastor and author John Piper and grew up in the fishbowl of public scrutiny that is common for most pastor’s kids. In this book we learn that Dad may be following God’s call, but the Pastor’s kids (PKs) are just following mom and dad, often to devastating results. With empathy, humor, and personal stories, he addresses the pervasive assumptions, identity issues and accelerated scrutiny PKs face. But more than just stating the problems – he shares the one thing a PK needs above all else (as do their pastor/father and church) is to live in true freedom and wholeness. One reviewer of this book said, “The tragic celebrity culture that shrouds pastors and their families is a bit like applauding the tallest miniature horse. God is supposed to be the only one we make much of, not the pastor or his children. And yet our need for idols has placed a crushing weight on PKs so that they are, in the words of Barnabas Piper, known of and not known.”
New Morning Mercies: 365 Gospel-Centered Devotions for the Whole Year by Paul Tripp 10/31/14
I am always on the hunt for a good daily devotional. My Utmost for His Highest and Streams in the Desert have made significant impacts on my spiritual journey. In this new devotional Paul Tripp deals with the reality that mornings can be tough. Sometimes, a hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee just aren’t enough. Offering more than a rush of caffeine, best-selling author Paul David Tripp wants to energize you with the most potent encouragement imaginable: the gospel. Forget “behavior modification” or feel-good aphorisms. Tripp knows that what we really need is an encounter with the living God. Then we’ll be prepared to trust in God’s goodness, rely on his grace, and live for his glory each and every day. I need this book and can’t wait to start my day with this kind of focus.
The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible by Mark Batterson 09/02/14
As an evangelical who is more likely to side with Thomas Jefferson on the subject of miracles than Benny Hinn, I need this book. “There are miracles all around us all the time,” says Mark Batterson, “but you won’t see them if you don’t know how to look for them.” Now the bestselling author of The Circle Maker reveals the incredible power of the seven miraculous signs of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Batterson shows how they were not simply something Jesus did in the past, but something he wants to do now, in the present. He shares true stories of people today who are experiencing miracles in their lives. And he brings to light countless miracles, big and small, that we take for granted every day that point us toward the One who healed the sick, calmed the storm, and yes, even raised the dead. But this is more than a book about miracles. It’s a book about the only One who can perform them. Batterson cautions readers, “Don’t just seek miracles. Seek Jesus. And if you seek Jesus, miracles will find you.” Nothing has changed since Jesus called Lazarus out of his tomb four days after his funeral. Our impossible situations still double as God’s greatest opportunity to reveal his glory. No matter how big the problem is, God is bigger still.
Killing Lions: A Guide through the Trials Young Men Face by John Eldridge – 09/09/14
As the father of two young men who have faced and continue to deal with lots of temptations and trials, this book is a must read for me. We want to be self-sufficient, to find our own direction as we pursue our dreams, to know it all and never ask for help. Isn’t this how most guys approach manhood? On our own, pretending we are doing better than we really are? But sooner or later the thrill of independence gets lost in the fog of isolation. It’s time to take the pressure off. We were never meant to figure life out on our own. This book was born out of a series of weekly phone calls between Sam Eldredge, a young writer in his twenties, and his dad, best-selling author John Eldredge. Join the conversation as a father and son talk about pursuing beauty, dealing with money, getting married, chasing dreams, knowing something real with God, and how to find a life you can call your own. Killing Lions is more than fatherly advice. It is an invitation into a journey: either to be the son who receives fathering or the father who learns what must be spoken. Most important, these conversations speak to a searching generation: “You are not alone. Its not all up to you. You are going to find your way.”
Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels – 08/19/14
As a husband, father, writer, speaker, missionary, leader of a dynamic and growing ministry, and an elder at my local church, I need to stay focused on keeping things as simple and straight forward as I can. That is not an easy job and one that I have to pursue with all my energy. In Simplify, bestselling author Bill Hybels identifies the core issues that lure us into frenetic living—and offers searingly practical steps for sweeping the clutter from our souls. What if your life could be different? What if you could be certain you were living the life God called you to live—and building a legacy for those you love? If you crave a simpler life anchored by the priorities that matter most, roll up your sleeves: Simplified living requires more than just cleaning out your closets or reorganizing your desk drawer. It requires uncluttering your soul. By eradicating the stuff that leaves your spirit drained, you can stop doing what doesn’t matter—and start doing what does.