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Cruciform Press

May 29, 2013

Christ in the ChaosAs a co-founder of Cruciform Press, I like to provide occasional updates on news and tell you about our most recent titles. We recently released Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood, by Kimm Crandall.

If you ask what makes a woman a good mother, you will get a lot of different answers. From how you feed or diaper your children or how they are schooled, everybody seems to have an opinion. All of these things are important, of course, but the deluge of information and opinions is overwhelming. When women feel they can’t live up to these standards, they often feel guilty and hopeless.

October 25, 2012

ContentContend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude really cuts to the chase in his epistle, and for good reason: the church in his day was embattled by false believers and false teachers who had crept in unnoticed, perverting the grace of God into sensuality and denying the Lord (Jude 4). That’s a pretty serious charge, but also a very familiar one. 

Pastors, authors, bloggers, you name it—there are so many who seem to start well, but somewhere along the line swerve from the truth and take a great number of people with them. Just as in Jude’s day, the 21st century church is under attack from within. And just like Jude’s audience, Christians today are called to contend; to counter false beliefs and teaching with all our might, upholding the message entrusted to us without compromise. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. How do we determine what to contend for, whom to contend against and, at the most basic level, figure out what contending really even means?

That’s where Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World comes in. Written by Aaron Armstrong, the most recent book from Cruciform Press (of which I am a co-founder) looks at what it means to fulfill Jude’s command in a day when the next generation—put off by the squishiness of the seeker churches and the cold rigidity of fundamentalism—finds it easier to ask, “Can’t we all just get along?”

While some authors approach contending with a bit more of a militaristic feel, Contend takes a different approach, focusing on Jude’s plea to show mercy. In fact, Aaron argues that this is fundamental to understanding the call to contend: “Contending must be understood and exercised as an act of mercy toward those who doubt and those who have been deceived, regardless of whether they claim faith in Christ.”

While the early reviews are only just starting to appear, the endorsements for this book from (among others) Owen Strachan, Dr. Peter Jones, and David Murray are very encouraging. David writes:

Contend is a fine combination of concise biblical exposition, down-to-earth examples, contemporary illustrations, and challenging practical application… It’s not only an ideal book for discipling a new believer, but also for shaking the more mature out of dangerous complacency and passivity.

Contend is available now from Cruciform Press (starting for as low as $3.99) and is bound to be a benefit to the believer seeking to defend the faith in a Christ-exalting manner. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of Aaron’s first book, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation and the End of Poverty, which is temporarily on sale for the Kindle for $0.99.

October 02, 2012

Last week, as this site ticked by its tenth anniversary, I reflected a little bit on unintended consequences. This has been a theme in my thinking lately: the unexpected providence of a sovereign God. Today I was looking through my little book Sexual Detox and at the end found a short essay I wrote with Kevin Meath; I wrote it but then completely forgot about it. There we explained another unintended consequence—how a series of blog posts somehow turned into a new publishing company. Here is what we wrote:

This is the book that helped launched an unusual little publishing company. In fact, the story of this book and the story of the formation of Cruciform Press are almost inseparable. Here, in brief, is how it happened.

In August of 2009, Tim Challies began a dialogue with Kevin Meath about book editing. Before long the conversation between the two freelancers began to range into the intersection of publishing and digital technology. Soon the idea of a business was beginning to form.

In recent years the music industry had been changed—rapidly, radically, and forever—as technology redefined how people obtain and enjoy music. Something similar had begun to happen in print publishing, although a little more slowly, with technology altering how and when we read, as well as our expectations about reading. So the two men decided that, if they were to start a business, it would have to be built around the answer to a single question:

What would a book publishing company targeted to gospel-centered Christians look like if it began from the realities of 21st century technology?

The idea was intriguing, but both men were too busy with other projects to pursue it further.

In November, Tim composed a series of blog posts he called “Sexual Detox.” The result of numerous long conversations with young men, this series was used by God to help many young men identify and deal with the sexual toxins in their lives due to pornography. Tim subsequently compiled the series into an ebook. He made it freely available through his blog, from where it was downloaded tens of thousands of times.

Responding to repeated requests to make the book available in a printed format, Tim turned to Kevin for help. This reignited their conversation about a company, and they soon realized they may have already begun working together on that company’s first book. But the more seriously they talked about starting a business, the clearer it became that they would need some help. In March 2010, they turned to a mutual friend, Bob Bevington, a veteran of many business startups and a Christian author in his own right. Bob loved the idea, and a few weeks later the three began the real work of establishing Cruciform Press.

Sexual Detox is our first book. Targeted squarely at men—and not just young men, but men of all ages—and dealing with an issue of extraordinary scope, it is our hope that this book will help many more men understand God’s call on their lives to flee youthful lusts and to pursue purity. We hope and trust also that by the grace of God we will be able to continue publishing books that are short, clear, creative, and biblical, books that draw your heart to the unending glories of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which has rich application to every area of life.

September 28, 2012

Modesty is a legitimate virtue whether you are a Christian or not, but for modesty to be distinctly Christian, it must be rooted in the gospel of grace. Whenever I was asked about this topic and whenever I read about it, I found plenty of law but very little gospel. R.W. Glenn found the same thing, so we set out to write a short book that would grow out from the gospel and that would address both men and women and that would look beyond modest dress to modest behavior. That book is titled Modest. Here, from the book’s opening chapter, is how we explained what we wanted to accomplish and what we wanted to guard against:

When it comes to modesty we define the term too narrowly (our first mistake) and then surround ourselves with rules like “only this low,” “at least this long,” “never in this combination,” and “never so tight that _______ shows.” In fairly short order, the gospel is replaced with regulations. Indeed, in this particular area, the regulations become our gospel—a gospel of bondage rather than freedom.

The truth we are missing in all this mess is that the gospel of grace informs and gives shape to what it means to be modest.

Modesty without the gospel is prudishness. Modesty divorced from the gospel becomes the supposed benchmark of Christian maturity—perhaps especially for women—and a perch of self-righteous superiority from which to look down on others who “just don’t get it.” You may find yourself exclaiming disbelief about someone else’s wardrobe: “Can’t she see what she is (not) wearing?”

Modesty, apart from the gospel, becomes a self-made religion that can give some appearance of being the genuine article but that is in the end of no value (none!) in our battle with the sinful and inordinate desires of our hearts. If we reduce modesty to certain rules of dress, we are completely separating the concept of modesty from the person and work of Jesus Christ. As a result, we may have the appearance of godliness, but not a whole lot more.

July 10, 2012

Who Am IYou don’t have to be a philosopher to find yourself occasionally asking the kinds of existentialist questions that can make your head spin — Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the purpose of my existence? You pretty much just need to be human. As Christians, the Bible gives us a leg up on the process of figuring out who we are, but even then it’s not like you can simply flip to the Table of Contents and get a comprehensive answer.

That’s where Jerry Bridges’ new book comes in. After several decades of a teaching and writing ministry that has transformed countless lives around the world, his most recent book distills to fewer than 100 pages the essential teachings of the Bible on the question: Who am I? In a masterfully concise endorsement (fitting for a concise book), J.I. Packer writes: “Jerry Bridges’ gift for simple but deep spiritual communication is fully displayed in this warm-hearted, Biblical spelling out of the Christian’s true identity in Christ.”

Sometimes you can tell just from the chapter titles that a book is going to be helpful. This is one of those books.

  1. I Am a Creature
  2. I Am in Christ
  3. I Am Justified
  4. I Am an Adopted Son of God
  5. I Am a New Creation
  6. I Am a Saint
  7. I Am a Servant of Jesus Christ
  8. I Am Not Yet Perfect

Depending on the teaching you receive and the books you read, these are things Christians can take years or even decades to grasp clearly, and I’m sure many never completely get it at all. But really “getting” who you are in Christ—how your identity as a child of God is integrated with the gospel of grace—has a way of transforming your walk with the Lord and equipping you for added fruitfulness and effectiveness. Jerry Bridges has done a great service to the Church by making these essential truths so clear and accessible. So it’s no surprise that the youth group at Covenant Life Church (pastored by Joshua Harris) is studying the book, or that The Gospel Coalition wants to distribute 3000 copies to Christian leaders overseas as part of their newly unveiled program of Theological Famine Relief.

In fact, I encourage you to see what TGC is doing now under the leadership of Bill Walsh with this Theological Famine Relief effort. You can pick from a wealth of great resources (Piper, Dever, Carson, Bridges, Tchividjian, and more) and contribute any amount toward their delivery to targeted Christian leaders in needy nations. It’s a fantastic idea and a great example of taking the crowd-funding idea popularized by Kickstarter and adapting it in service of the gospel.

And if you’d like, you can find out more about Jerry Bridges’ new book Who Am I? (from Cruciform Press, the publishing company I co-founded) at Amazon or the Cruciform site , where you can pick up the ebook for as little as $3.99.

August 26, 2011

Cruciform Press is looking for a bit of tech help. On September 1 we plan to release a book by John Ensor, a pastor who has published a couple of fine books with Crossway and who has been active in the trenches of the pro-life movement for many years. As his pro-life ministry expands into China and Africa, he’s releasing an important little book called Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Gospel of Life.

The book addresses issues that are as serious as they come, not to mention highly sensitive and emotionally charged. John is gentle and compassionate, but clear in his biblical convictions on the issues of life, and he wants to be able to take questions and interact with readers of Innocent Blood on a blog.

We just need someone to set up the blog for us, so that it’s live right around September 1. We can’t pay you, but we will gladly acknowledge you in the blog credits and in our social media channels.

If you think you may be interested, please check out this link for more info. Thanks so much!

August 23, 2011

Grieving Hope and SolaceThe death of a loved one is something we usually prefer not to think about…until we have to. If a Christian close to you were to die, would you know how to grieve biblically? That is, would you have a clear understanding of all that the Bible teaches on the subject of Christians in the afterlife, so that your grief could bring glory to God, as well as hope and comfort to your soul?

I doubt that many of us are really prepared to grieve to God’s glory or—just as important for the sake of the church—to help others do so. When death strikes close by, we need something more solid to hold onto than a vague sense that our loved one is now “with Jesus.” We need the comfort, hope, and solace of Scripture. We need wisdom.

Grieving, Hope and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ, is probably not quite like any book you have ever read, and this is largely due to the deep wisdom and intense God-centeredness of the man who wrote it.

Many of you will be familiar with John Murray, the late professor from Westminster Theological Seminary who wrote the classic, Redemption Accomplished and Applied. In regard to an upcoming conference at which he was scheduled to preach, Murray once said of this book’s author, “If Al Martin is to be there I really think he should be asked to take the three evening services proposed for me. He is one of the ablest and most moving preachers I have ever heard…I have not heard his equal.”

Pastor Albert N. Martin shepherded the people of Trinity Baptist Church in Montville, New Jersey for 46 years. He was a Reformed Baptist at least a quarter-century before anyone considered it to be cool. Now retired from ministry, he has written this book to recount what he learned from the death of his wife, Marilyn, at age 73.

His book has been endorsed by Joel Beeke (“Al Martin weaves together personal tenderness and biblical teaching in this sweet book of comfort…), Steve Lawson (“Albert N. Martin is a seasoned pastor, skilled teacher, and gifted writer who has given us a priceless treasure in Grieving, Hope, and Solace.), and many others. Joseph Pipa, President of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, wrote,

Occasionally, serendipitously, we stumble upon a rare finding: turning the corner and being met by a glorious moonrise, discovering a painter or musician who touches us in the deepest recesses of our being, or reading a special book. This little book by Pastor Al Martin has been such an experience for me; written from profound biblical insight, tested by experience, Grieving, Hope and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ is a delightful, edifying book, which you will want to read and re-read. Whether you are a pastor or counselor, one who is experiencing the pangs of grief, or a member of the church who wants to be useful to others, you need to read this book. Of particular use to me, is how the book helps one to train his mind and emotions for the ‘rough door of death.’

When a book about death is being called delightful, something very interesting must be happening.

The early reviews confirm the promise this book holds out. Kevin Fiske wrote , “I had no idea that I’d be so immensely impacted in such a short amount of time.” And Terry Delaney at Christian Book Notes brought a unique perspective to his review: “I have worked in a funeral home the past couple of years… I have seen plenty of death and preached numerous funerals…It is a rare occasion when there is true faith in Christ present before, during, and after the time of death….Sadly, most members of local congregations are not prepared to die nor have they been taught to biblically grieve the death of a loved one or friend. Albert Martin, through his own struggle to correctly grieve and give God glory at the same time has penned a resource that is clear, concise, and necessary for the church today.”

Grieving, Hope and Solace is the August release from Cruciform Press, the publishing company I co-founded. Learn more about the book and read excerpts here. We put out a new, short book the first day of each month, and if you sign up for a subscription you can get them for as little as $3.99.

July 26, 2011

Licensed to KillThis may be the season for breezy beach reading (I’ve done a little bit of that myself), but that hasn’t stopped people from saying very nice things about a hard-hitting new book by Brian Hedges—a book that deals with sanctification.

The July book from Cruciform Press (a company I’ve co-founded), Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin, has been endorsed by Tullian Tchividjian, Joe Thorn, Bob Lepine at FamilyLife Today, and Wes Ward at Revive our Hearts. In his review, Terry Delaney at Christian Book Notes called it “an excellent and much needed resource today in the church” and added “I recommend it to every believer.”

So far, though, I’m most excited about the review at the blog, Before Dawn with the Son. Here are some of my favorite parts.

There have not been many modern books that have kept me riveted as PM rolled into AM, but this little book by Hedges definitely did the trick….as you fly through this book you will be consistently struck with Gospel-drenched, sin-hating truth that confronts, convicts, and encourages you to make a more concerted and genuine effort to fill your life with the “holy violence” of slaughtering your indwelling, God-hating sin.

A highlight of this text is the immensely practical nature of the whole book…I do not know if it is Hedges’ writing style or the subject manner or a combination of both, but this text spent a good amount of time in practical issues and I enjoyed it immensely.

I do not believe it would be an overstatement (or a slight) to call this John Owen-light….For 117 pages you cannot really ask for more!

The best place to learn more, read samples, or pick up a copy is at the Cruciform Press site, where you can get Licensed to Kill for as little as $3.99.