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New and Notable Books for June 2021

June was perhaps not the biggest month in all of church history when it comes to new book releases. Still, I did receive quite a few, then sorted through them to narrow down a list of the ones I consider most notable.

Stuck in the Present: How History Frees and Forms Christians by David Moore. “While the Bible is enough to take us to heaven, knowing history helps us live more wisely on our way. George Orwell observed in Nineteen Eighty-Four that those who pay attention to history have the potential to influence the future. Stuck in the Present offers a grounding in historical consciousness that allows us to better navigate the daily bombardment of information. Amnesia about the past makes us vulnerable to the shackles of modern-day hucksters who try to convince us that the present is all that matters. With wit and grace, Moore encourages readers to avoid common historical fallacies and better understand the significance of the past. Through interviews conducted with leading historians, Moore invites readers to better understand relevant topics like the living legacy of the Puritans, slavery and the Civil War, and the current struggles for Civil Rights. Stuck in the Present motivates readers to be lifelong learners of history. By doing so, we are enriched and better equipped to engage the complexities of our world.” (Buy it at Amazon)

Everyday Prayer with the Puritans by Donald McKim. “Through short meditative readings and reflection questions, Donald McKim explores Puritan teaching on prayer to inspire and inform your own devotions. You will discover how to bring God into all aspects of your life through prayer.” Since the description is so short, I’ll provide a couple of the endorsements. Chad Van Dixhoorn says, “Praying readers will find meditations on God’s Word, pithy quotations from Puritans, and encouragements in the form of reflection questions and prayer points. Read this book on your knees and you will draw closer to the God of the patriarchs, the prophets, and other parents in the faith.” Joel Beeke says, “This book presents Puritan insights into God-centered, biblical spirituality in order to enrich our prayers. Donald McKim’s … profound meditations are very helpful.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Love Your Church: 8 Great Things About Being a Church Member by Tony Merida. “God calls us to be “devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:10). What does this look like for us today? How can we be the kind of church member who makes a real difference? This timely and engaging book by Tony Merida explores what church is, why being part of it is exciting, and why it’s worthy of our love and commitment. He sets out eight privileges and responsibilities of a church member: to belong, to welcome, to gather, to care, to serve, to honor, to witness and to send. This is a great book for every churchgoer to read, especially as churches start to meet in person after many months of disruption from Covid-19. Whether you’re new to your local church or have been attending for some time, this book will re-energize you with God’s vision for the local church.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Pastor as Counselor: The Call for Soul Care by David Powlison. “David Powlison examines the unique role of the pastor as counselor. A pastor inhabits multiple roles—teacher, preacher, youth leader, and counselor. Yet many church leaders feel unprepared to counsel church members who are struggling with difficult, multifaceted problems. David Powlison reminds pastors of their unique role as the shepherds of God’s people, equipping them to apply biblical wisdom to the thoughts, values, moods, expectations, and decisions of those under their care.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Lament for a Father: The Journey to Understanding and Forgiveness by Marvin Olasky. “Marvin played catch with his father, Eli, only once—it didn’t end well. Eli never laughed, rarely spoke with his son, and was periodically lambasted by his wife for his lack of ambition. How had a Harvard graduate failed to achieve all that he had once hoped for? Now an experienced investigative journalist, Marvin Olasky uncovers the true story of his father’s past in his most personal work to date—facing Eli’s pain and his own in order to understand and forgive. He follows Eli from his Orthodox Jewish childhood in Boston to his days as a commuter student at Harvard to his traumatic experiences in Germany following World War II to his embrace of Reconstructionist Judaism, describing a “spiritual and psychological death by one thousand cuts”—and discovering what he owes to his parents.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Man of Sorrows, King of Glory: What the Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus Mean for Us by Jonty Rhodes. “Christians, rightly called ‘people of the cross,’ look to Jesus’s death and resurrection as the central points of his earthly mission. But in order to understand more fully the person and work of Christ, it’s important for believers to fix their minds on his entire ministry—his life, death, resurrection, and ongoing ministry today—and not solely on his work on the cross. In Man of Sorrows, King of Glory, Jonty Rhodes uses the traditional roles of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king (often referred to as his “threefold office”) to show how his whole life—in humiliation on earth and now exaltation in glory—is lived for us. As believers explore Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension, they will develop a holistic portrait of the Messiah and a deeper appreciation for God’s plan to reclaim sinners.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Faith for Life: Inspiration From The Ordinary Heroes Of Hebrews 11 by Richard Coekin. “As Christians, we experience great joy in knowing God through Jesus and great hope in the promise of an eternity spent with God. Yet we still get weary in this life and can feel discouraged. Whether it’s personal disappointment, opposition, or just the costly grind of church life that gets us down, we all need help to keep going. This wonderfully encouraging book by Bible expositor Richard Coekin will spur you on to live by faith in Jesus as you examine the witnesses of Hebrews 11. The refreshing honesty of their stories will help you manage your expectations in a world of lies and spin. They will remind you of the glory and blessing that await you at the finishing line. And they will encourage you to see that Jesus is the real Hero of the faith and that his Spirit will enable you to endure through exhaustion, opposition, and discouragement. Ideal for private devotional reading for those in need of refreshment, a timely gift for a discouraged Christian friend, and useful background reading to a small-group study of Hebrews 11.” (Buy it at Amazon)

The Making of C. S. Lewis: From Atheist to Apologist by Harry Lee Poe. “Experience C. S. Lewis’s Captivating Transformation from Atheist to Christian. At the end of World War I, young C. S. Lewis was a devout atheist about to begin his studies at Oxford. In the three decades that followed, he would establish himself as one of the most influential writers and scholars of modern times, undergoing a radical conversion to Christianity that would transform his life and his work. Scholar Harry Lee Poe unfolds these watershed years in Lewis’s life, offering readers a unique perspective on his conversion, his friendships with well-known Christians such as J. R. R. Tolkien and Dorothy L. Sayers, and his development from an opponent of Christianity to one of its most ardent defenders.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Changed Into His Likeness: A Biblical Theology of Personal Transformation, Vol. 55 (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by J. Gary Millar. “When it comes to the Christian life, what exactly can we expect with regard to personal transformation? Gary Millar addresses this most basic question in this NSBT volume. After surveying some contemporary psychological approaches to the issue of change and discussions of biblical anthropology, he explores the nature of gospel-shaped change, exposing the dangers of both promising too much and expecting too little. The central part of his study focuses on life in the middle–between the change that is brought about when we become Christians and the final change in which we will be raised with Christ. Millar presents a case for reading the character studies of major Old Testament figures from Noah to Solomon as depicting a declension throughout their lives and their innate sinfulness and lack of change. This problem is resolved in the establishment of a new covenant, which promises both individual and corporate transformation in the power of the Spirit. This transformation is presented in the New Testament as a rich and complex process, which cannot be contained or adequately described by one set of images.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Letters to My Students, Volume 2: On Pastoring by Jason Allen. “Few books have more influenced those called to gospel ministry than Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students. This influence of this book, like the Prince of Preachers himself, reverberates to our present age. Carrying forward this tradition is Jason Allen’s Letters to My Students. Dr. Allen serves as president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College, the former ranking as one of the largest and fastest growing seminaries in North American. Dr. Allen has also served in multiple pastorates. His passion to serve the church by equipping a generation of pastors, missionaries, and ministers for faithful service is reflected in Letters to My Students. Letters to My Students is a biblical, accessible guide for ministers and ministers-in-training. It brings both biblical and practical wisdom to bear on the minister’s three main responsibilities: preaching, leading, and shepherding the flock of God.” (Buy it at Amazon)


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