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Cruciform Press

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.

June 21, 2011

Smooth StonesSo far, two reviews have come in for Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics, by Joe Coffey, this month’s book from Cruciform Press.

Both reviews affirm our purpose in publishing the book: to give Christians a simple introduction to six key issues pertaining to the plausibility of Christian faith:

  1. Is there a God?
  2. Does science disprove God’s existence?
  3. Is the Bible authentic and true?
  4. Why is there evil and suffering?
  5. Aren’t all religions the same?
  6. Is Jesus for real?

There are two basic ways to discuss your faith with non-Christians. You can testify to what Jesus has done and speak of your own life—how Christ has changed you through the gospel and what being a Christian has meant for you, your family, your church life, etc. That’s the “fruit” side.

The other way is to talk about why Christianity makes sense.

Almost any substantive conversation with unbelievers about Christianity will touch on both topics.

We might talk a lot more with unbelievers about how we have been changed if we felt we could talk more freely, confidently, and intelligently about why our faith makes sense. Smooth Stones offers us a way to do that.

Both reviews point out Joe’s acknowledgement that the most important thing is for us to be able to discuss the “fruit” part—that’s where the core of our faith lies—but the book itself majors on the “makes sense” part to try to shore us up where most of us are especially weak.

And why are we weak? Because we don’t feel equipped to say anything intelligent. Because we fear the emotions that can be brought up in conversations with unbelievers. And because we fear being ridiculed or dismissed.

In offering basic, street-level apologetics for everyday Christians, this book can unmuzzle you to speak freely about your faith with confidence and clarity.

As the book emphasizes, “the Christian faith is built on a tremendous amount of credible evidence. You don’t need to be a scientist, an historian, an archaeologist, or a philosopher to understand why belief in Jesus makes perfect sense.” Or to speak of it to others.

Buy it at Cruciform Press for as little as $3.99.

May 10, 2011

But GodCruciform Press is a different kind of publishing company in that we release one book each month, always on the first day of the month. And not only that, but we invite people to subscribe to our books so each month you can automatically receive that new book. We think it’s a great model!

Cruciform’s new book for May is titled But God: The Two Words at the Heart of the Gospel and it is written by Casey Lute. The great preacher and theologian James Montgomery Boice wrote that “If you understand those two words—’but God’—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.” And that is what Lute seeks to do in this book—to make those words central to the Christian life.

I was interested (and encouraged) to see an early review of the book by blogger Louis Tullo. He said that But God “delivers what this young yet powerful publishing company is building a reputation for – books with rock-solid theology and packaged in an engaging and accessible form. Lute’s word study sweeps over three central aspects of scripture – God’s covenant with Israel, God’s plan for salvation through Christ, and God’s act of applying the work of Christ to believers – in a way that brings the sovereignty of God into powerful focus.”

While I’m boasting about the book, let me point out something else Tullo says: “I am also an eBook subscriber of Cruciform Press. It is the most valuable $3.99 I spend monthly and would highly recommend subscribing.”

If you would like to learn more about the book or about Cruciform Press, visit CruciformPress.com where you can find it in a variety of book and e-book formats (for as low a price as $3.99).

April 01, 2011

Every month, on the first day of the month, Cruciform Press releases a new book. And this month our book is Jimmy Davis’ Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life. Employing the symbols of the cruciform cathedral and the Celtic cross, the aim of this book is to cast a vision for the Cruciform Life, living as disciples of Jesus who are being shaped by the cross (gospel) into people and churches who share and show the cross (gospel) as they live the vertical life of loving God with all their head, heart, and hands and the horizontal life of loving people as Christ has loved them.

CruciformThe book has garnered some enthusiastic endorsements and reviews. Paul Miller (author of The Praying Life) says “Jimmy Davis loves the cross. This little book will open your heart up to see how the cross is the center of all of life. Well done.”

Tullian Tchividjian writes “In Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life, my friend Jimmy Davis compellingly demonstrates that the gospel is just as necessary and relevant after you become a Christian as it is before. Jimmy shows from personal experience how a lack of passion and purpose, focus and fervor, compassion and conviction, is always due to distance from the now-power of the gospel. I pray that through this book you will rediscover the beauty and brilliance of the gospel in brand new ways.”

Let me give you one more. Pastor Scotty Smith says “Cruciform is a theologically grounded and redemptively freeing picture of a life spent boasting in the cross of Jesus. Avoiding the distortions of both repressive legalism and irresponsible antinomianism, Jimmy Davis helps us understand how the indicatives of God’s grace lead to the imperatives of obedient love. This book will help many people understand what the gospel-driven life is all about.”

If you would like to learn more or if you’d like to buy Cruciform, visit CruciformPress.com where you can find it in a variety of book and e-book formats (for as low a price as $3.99).

March 03, 2011

Every month, on the first day of the month, Cruciform Press, the publishing company I co-founded, releases one new book (yes, just one). This month’s book is an interesting and unique one. It’s titled The Organized Heart and is written by Staci Eastin.

Before I get to Staci’s book, here is something that may interest you: a Cruciform Press Sampler. It includes chapters from each of the six books we’ve published to date, which makes it a great way of getting an overview of our titles. It’s available as a free download.

The Organized HeartBack to The Organized Heart. Here’s our description of this book:

The fight against chaos is universal, whether it be the outward chaos of disorder and frenzy or the inward chaos of fear and self-criticism. Even if we already know how to do better, something falls apart between our good intentions and getting it done.

Most books on organization just add more rules to your life, whether it be another plan, another calendar, or another method. This book will show you a different, better way that is grounded in the grace of God.

Jesus taught that true change doesn’t come by the addition of more rules, but from the inside out, with a change of the heart that only the gospel can bring. When you identify the heart problems behind the chaos in your life, lasting change can happen. This will not only reduce the stress in your life, but help you be more effective in your service to God.

And here is what a few people (including my bride) are saying about it:

“Staci Eastin packs a punch with this short book. But it’s a gracious punch, full of insights about our disorganized hearts and lives, which is immediately followed by the balm of gospel-shaped hopes. It is ideally crafted for use with accountability partners and small groups. In fact, because of our common tendencies to either dismiss the obvious or obsess over failure, I’d definitely recommend reading it in tandem with a faithful friend. Because of the Holy Spirit’s active presence, there is always hope for change. Open this book with that great truth in mind and you’ll find much to ponder!”

Carolyn McCulley, fellow procrastinator and author of Radical Womanhood and Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

“In The Organized Heart, Staci Eastin gives us a refreshing look at organization from an uncommon but incredibly important perspective: the spiritual. This is critical because without understanding the spiritual dimension, all of our productivity techniques ultimately backfire. So instead of focusing on adding new rules, she focuses on the heart. Specifically, she helps show how to avoid letting leisure, busyness, perfectionism, and possessions from becoming idols—and does so in a way that is encouraging and uplifting rather than guilt-driven. This inside-out approach should be helpful to women who are looking to be more organized but know that simply adding on another method is not enough.”

Matt Perman, Director of Strategy at Desiring God, blogger at whatsbestnext.com, and author of the forthcoming book, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done.

“Organizing a home can be an insurmountable challenge for a woman. The Organized Heart makes a unique connection between idols of the heart and the ability to run a well-managed home. This is not a step-by-step how-to; instead, Eastin looks at sin as the root problem of disorganization, and strives to help the reader understand biblically how to overcome this problem. She offers a fresh new approach and one I recommend, especially to those of us who have tried all the other self-help models and failed.”

Aileen Challies, Mom of three, and wife of blogger, author, and pastor Tim Challies

If you would like to learn more or if you’d like to buy The Organized Heart, visit CruciformPress.com where you can find it in a variety of book and e-book formats (for as low a price as $3.99).