The good books continue to roll in! As September turns to October I thought it would be good to provide a roundup of some of the best books to cross my desk over the past month (acknowledging that, in reality, I’m posting this a day late). As usual, I need to add the disclaimer that I haven’t yet thoroughly read them. With that in mind, here are my picks for September’s new and notable books for Christians.
Devoted to God’s Church: Core Values for Christian Fellowship by Sinclair Ferguson. “Being a Christian is not an individualistic or isolated activity. Believing also involves belonging. Being a Christian, by definition, involves belonging to the church. This is not a book full of ideas about how your church ought to change or what it needs to do in order to grow or to be successful. Rather it is about how we fit into our own church. There are hallmarks of church life that should be stamped on all our churches because they are applicable everywhere and anywhere — New Testament values for any size of church, in any part of the world, at any time. Devoted to God’s Church will serve to help new Christians understand what it is to be part of a church, and will also be a refreshing reminder to every Christian of what it should look like to belong to the family of God.” (Buy it at Westminster Books)
Pastors and Their Critics: A Guide to Coping with Criticism in the Ministry by Joel Beeke and Nicholas Thompson. “Every pastor knows what it’s like to be criticized. But how does he respond? And how does he offer constructive criticism of his own? With wisdom, charity, and a wealth of personal illustrations, Joel Beeke and Nick Thompson answer these questions and more. The Bible is full of critics, and it gives us practical principles for responding to criticism, offering criticism, and creating a healthy church culture. As Beeke and Thompson unfold a theological vision for coping with criticism in the gospel ministry, you will be strengthened, encouraged, and equipped.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Caring for the Souls of Children by Amy Baker. “Coming alongside struggling children can feel like an uphill battle. Yet children struggle with the same desires adults struggle with, are lured by the same lies adults fall prey to, and can find hope in the same source adults can find hope—in Jesus. This manual helps counselors share Christ—the way, the truth, and the life—while tailoring interactions and teachings to the understanding of children. Caring for the Souls of Children equips counselors, parents, pastors, and other helpers who love children, to boldly trust in the sufficiency of Scripture for counseling. Edited by counselor and author Amy Baker, this in-depth resource begins with an overview of foundational principles for counseling children and addresses a different counseling topic in each subsequent chapter. Topics addressed include a wide variety of general and specific issues that children face including anxiety, anger, abuse, suicidal thoughts and actions, self-harm, shame, grief, disability, disease, sexual identity, and many others.” (Buy it at Amazon)
Bavinck: A Critical Biography by James Eglinton. “Dutch Calvinist theologian Herman Bavinck, a significant voice in the development of Protestant theology, remains relevant many years after his death. His four-volume Reformed Dogmatics is one of the most important theological works of the twentieth century. James Eglinton is widely considered to be at the forefront of contemporary interest in Bavinck’s life and thought. After spending considerable time in the Netherlands researching Bavinck, Eglinton brings to light a wealth of new insights and previously unpublished documents to offer a definitive biography of this renowned Reformed thinker. The book follows the course of Bavinck’s life in a period of dramatic social change, identifying him as an orthodox Calvinist challenged with finding his feet in late modern culture. Based on extensive archival research, this critical biography presents numerous significant and previously ignored or unknown aspects of Bavinck’s person and life story. A black-and-white photo insert is included.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church by Paul David Tripp. “The church is experiencing a leadership crisis. What can we do to prevent pastors from leaving the ministry? For every celebrity pastor exiting the ministry in the spotlight, there are many more lesser-known pastors leaving in the shadows. Pastor and best-selling author Paul David Tripp argues that lurking behind every pastoral failure is the lack of a strong leadership community. Tripp draws on his decades of ministry experience to give churches twelve gospel principles necessary to combat this leadership crisis. Each of these principles, built upon characteristics such as humility, dependency, and accountability, will enable new and experienced leaders alike to focus their attention on the ultimate leadership model: the gospel.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Is It Abuse?: A Biblical Guide to Identifying Domestic Abuse and Helping Victims by Darby Strickland. “God does not intend for marriage to be a place of oppression. Providing practical tools and exercises, biblical counselor Darby Strickland prepares potential helpers to pick up on cues that could point to abuse and investigate them wisely. You will learn how to identify a range of abusive behavior and better understand the impact of abuse on victims–particularly wives. Ultimately, you will become equipped to provide wise and Christ-centered counsel while navigating a difficult and complex situation.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Loving Your Community: Proven Practices for Community-Based Outreach Ministry by Stephen Viars. “Are you and your church making a difference in your community? Are you meeting needs in a positive, proactive, and loving way? Too often when churches are presented with a need outside their walls, they operate on the principle of “Say no unless you have to say yes.” Don’t want that to be your church’s legacy in your community? Drawing on more than 30 years of service to the community surrounding Faith Church in Indiana, pastor Stephen Viars shows you how to develop a dynamic, giving relationship with your community, one in which your natural response to needs is “Yes! How can we help?” No matter the size, location, demographics, or issues in your community, the approach found in this practical book will help you improve people’s lives, draw them into productive conversation about the hope you have in Christ, and glorify God.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling by Bob Kellemen. “Pastors and counselors regularly minister to people whose marriages or families are in crisis. Tempers run high and feelings are brought low when a marriage is hurting or a family is in disarray. Pastors and counselors need practical, biblical help in order to connect their theological training to the reality of modern messy relationships. These how-to training manuals provide relevant, user-friendly equipping for pastors, counselors, lay leaders, educators, and students, enabling them to competently and compassionately relate God’s Word to marriage and family life.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books) Note that it pairs with Gospel-Centered Family Counseling (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books).
Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by Andreas Köstenberger & T. Desmond Alexander. “Few biblical topics are as important as mission. Mission is linked inextricably to humanity’s sinfulness and need for redemption and to God’s provision of salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This good news of salvation must be made known. The saving mission of Jesus constitutes the foundation for Christian mission, and the Christian gospel is its message. This second edition of New Studies in Biblical Theology volume Salvation to the Ends of the Earth emphasizes the way in which the Bible presents a continuing narrative of God’s mission–ranging from the story of Israel to the story of Jesus and that of the early Christians. At the same time, it provides a robust historical and chronological backbone to the unfolding of the early Christian mission. The apostle Paul’s writings and the General Epistles are incorporated with the Gospel with which they have the closest and most natural canonical and historical affinity. Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)