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New and Notable Books for November

November has only just begun, but books have been pouring in at a ridiculous pace over the past few weeks. I thought there would be value in turning the giant pile that’s been accumulating in my office into a much smaller pile of the few that look most notable.

ESV Expository Commentary. The ESV Expository Commentary has added two new volumes. Volume III covers 1 Samuel through 2 Chronicles while Volume IX covers John and Acts. “Designed to strengthen the global church with a widely accessible, theologically sound, and pastorally wise resource for understanding and applying the overarching storyline of the Bible, this commentary series features the full text of the ESV Bible passage by passage, with crisp and theologically rich exposition and application. Editors Iain M. Duguid, James M. Hamilton, and Jay A. Sklar have gathered a team of experienced pastor-theologians to provide a new generation of pastors and other teachers of the Bible around the world with a globally minded commentary series rich in biblical theology and broadly Reformed doctrine, making the message of redemption found in all of Scripture clear and available to all.” (Buy 1 Samuel-2 Chronicles; John-Acts)

My Heart Cries Out: Gospel Meditations for Everyday Life by Paul David Tripp. Here’s what Tripp says about his new book: “My hope is that this volume will help you to see the Savior more clearly, to understand his grace more deeply, to confess your struggle more honestly, to worship him more fully, and to find in these meditations the motivation to continue to follow the Savior even when he’s leading you into unexpected and hard places.” The publisher says this: “Best-selling author Paul David Tripp invites you into his personal reflections on his experience of God’s ever-present grace through the ups and downs of his life. He shares his celebrations, disappointments, cries for help, confessions, and confusions in the form of 120 meditations that were written over many years through various joys and struggles. Vulnerable yet pastoral and wise, these meditations in the form of verse showcase how God’s amazing grace intersects with the mundane, unexpected, messy, and beautiful moments of everyday life.” (Buy it from Amazon)

The Creaking on the Stairs: Finding Faith in God Through Childhood Abuse by Mez McConnell. This one releases on November 8 and comes with endorsements by a veritable who’s who. Mez says this about his book: “I think there is real hope to be found, in the middle of our deepest traumas, in the good news about Jesus Christ. I also think that there is a place for us to find hope and community within the church. Because of these two beliefs, I truly think, distant though it may be, that we may even get to a place of peace within our souls and a place of forgiveness for those who hurt us so much.” The publisher describes it like this: “This is a book that has no easy answers and will offer none. This is a book that tries to get behind the tough questions of why God permits such abuses to occur in this world. Using his own story of childhood abuse, Mez McConnell tells us about a God who is just, sovereign and loving. A good father who knows the pain of rejection and abuse, who hates evil, who can bring hope even in the darkest place.” (Buy it from Amazon)

Truths We Confess: A Systematic Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by R.C. Sproul. This is a beautiful repackaging and reprinting of Sproul’s exposition of the Westminster Faith (which was previously printed as a multi-volume set). “The Westminster Confession of Faith is one of the most precise and comprehensive statements of biblical Christianity, and it is treasured by believers around the world. Dr. R.C. Sproul has called it one of the most important confessions of faith ever penned, and it has helped generations of Christians understand and defend what they believe. In Truths We Confess, Dr. Sproul introduces readers to this remarkable confession, explaining its insights and applying them to modern life. In his signature easy-to-understand style and with his conviction that everyone’s a theologian, he provides valuable commentary that will serve churches and individual Christians as they strive to better understand the eternal truths of Scripture. As he walks through the confession line by line, Dr. Sproul shows how the doctrines of the Bible—from creation to covenant, sin to salvation—fit together to the glory of God. This accessible volume is designed to help you deepen your knowledge of God’s Word and answer the question, What do you believe?” (Buy it from Amazon)

Why I Still Believe: A Former Atheist’s Reckoning with the Bad Reputation Christians Give a Good God by Mary Jo Sharp. “At a time when de-conversion stories have become all too common, this is an earnest response – the compelling conversion of an unlikely believer whose questions ultimately led her to irresistible hope. Sharp addresses her own struggle with the reality that God’s people repeatedly give God’s story a bad name and takes a careful look at how the current church often inadvertently produces atheists despite its life-giving message. For those who feel the ever-present tension between the beauty of salvation and the dark side of human nature, Why I Still Believe is a candid and approachable case for believing in God when you really want to walk away. With fresh and thoughtful insights, this spiritual narrative presents relevant answers to haunting questions like: Isn’t there too much pain and suffering to believe? Is it okay to have doubt? What if Jesus’ story is a copy of another story? Is there any evidence for Jesus’ resurrection? Does atheism explain the human experience better than Christianity can? How can the truth of Christianity matter when the behaviors of Christians are reprehensible? At once logical and loving, Sharp reframes the gospel as it truly is: the good news of redemption. With firmly grounded truths, Why I Still Believe is an affirming reminder that the hypocrisy of Christians can never negate the transforming grace and truth of Christ.” (Buy it from Amazon)

Puritan (DVD). “Joyless. Severe. Fanatical. ‘Haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.’ That’s the Puritan reputation. But to what extent is that reputation deserved? Drawing on the latest research, and featuring interviews with some of the most celebrated scholars in the field, this beautiful and atmospheric new documentary takes us from the birth of Puritanism all the way through to its influence in the present day. This box includes: DISC 1 Feature length documentary. Runtime: 127 minutes. DISCS 2-6 16: teaching sessions on different Puritans and 19 teaching sessions on different Puritan themes. Workbook Built around the teaching sessions for Disc 2 and 3. Introduction to the Puritans book: A special, decorative, exclusive hardback book by Dr. Joel Beeke and Dr. Michael Reeves. The people featured in this video include: Al Mohler, Conrad Mbewe, Geoff Thomas, Gloria Furman, Ian Hamilton, Jeremy Walker, J.I. Packer, Joel Beeke, John MacArthur, John Piper, John Snyder, Kevin DeYoung, Leland Ryken, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Michael Reeves, Rosaria Butterfield, Sinclair Ferguson, Stephen Nichols, and Steven Lawson.” (Buy it from Amazon)

A Big Gospel in Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters by Stephen Witmer. “Jesus loves small, insignificant places. In recent years, Christian ministries have increasingly prioritized urban areas. Big cities and suburbs are considered more strategic, more influential, and more desirable places to live and work. After all, they’re the centers for culture, arts, and education. More and more people are leaving small places and moving to big ones. As a ministry strategy, focusing on big places makes sense. But the gospel of Jesus is often unstrategic. In this book, pastor Stephen Witmer lays out an integrated theological vision for small-place ministry. Filled with helpful information about small places and with stories and practical advice from his own ministry, Witmer’s book offers a compelling, comprehensive vision for small-place ministry today. Jesus loves small places, and when we care deeply about them and invest in them over time, our ministry becomes a unique picture of the gospel―one that the world badly needs to see.” (Buy it from Amazon)

Together for the City: Together for the City: How Collaborative Church Planting Leads to Citywide Movements by Neil Powell and John James. It struck me as a bit humorous that this book arrived on the same day as the one above—one focused on churches in cities, the other focusing on churches outside cities. “We need a bigger vision for the city. It’s not enough to plant individual churches in isolation from each other. The spiritual need and opportunity of our cities is too big for any one church to meet alone. Pastors Neil Powell and John James contend that to truly transform a city, the gospel compels us to create localized, collaborative church planting movements. They share lessons learned and principles discovered from their experiences leading a successful citywide movement. The more willing we are to collaborate across denominations and networks, the more effectively we will reach our communities―whatever their size―for Jesus. Come discover what God can do in our cities when we work together.” (Buy it from Amazon)

Repeat the Sounding Joy: A daily Advent devotional on Luke 1-2 by Christopher Ash. “In this Advent journey through Luke 1–2, Christopher Ash brings these familiar passages to life with fresh insight, colour and depth. As you soak up the Scriptures, you’ll experience the joy of Christmas through the eyes of those who witnessed it first hand, from Mary and Elizabeth to the Shepherds and Simeon. Celebrate afresh the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah in history, and learn what it means to wait for him with joyful expectation today. Each day’s reading includes a short reflection, a prayer, a carol, and space to journal, helping you to treasure the Lord Jesus in your heart in the hectic run-up to Christmas.” (Buy it from Amazon)

How Christmas Can Change Your Life: Answers to the Ten Most Common Questions about Christmas by Josh Moody. “Christmas – it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Films, TV shows and commercials tell us that everything is great, everyone is happy, even the weather is obliging. But sometimes underneath all the sparkle our hearts have questions, like: Can Christmas Help Me With My Problems? Is Christmas Merely ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’? How Can Christmas Make Me Happy Forever? Is Christmas Just Getting ‘Cool Stuff’? Why Should I Care About Baby Jesus? What Is the Magic of Christmas? Can I Have Christmas All Year Round? Is Christmas Any Different From Other Holiday Programs? Did It Really Happen? Should I Go To Church At Christmas? Josh Moody takes the ten most commonly asked questions about Christmas, and shows that better than all the happiness is the true joy of Christmas.” (Buy it from Amazon)

The Christmas Promise (Tales That Tell the Truth) by Alison Mitchell (Author) and Catalina Echeverri (Illustrator). This book is for little ones, obviously! “A captivating retelling of the Christmas story showing how God kept His promise to send a new King. Superb illustrations by Catalina Echeverri and faithful, Bible-centered story-telling by Alison Mitchell combine to make this a book that both parents and children will love. A long, long time ago so long that it’s hard to imagine God promised a new King. He wasn’t any ordinary king, like the ones we see on TV or in books. He would be different. He would be a new King; a rescuing King; a forever King! This book helps pre-school children discover exactly how God kept His Christmas Promise.” (Buy it from Amazon)

God Is Always Better Than We Can Imagine by Iain Wright. “How much can we know about God? By definition, the finite mind cannot comprehend the infinite. As soon as we begin to think we have understood something of the love and grace of God we soon learn from Scripture that his love and grace are even greater. The meditations in God is Always Better Than We Can Imagine are intended to help us come to Scripture with the mindset that, no matter how much we have learned in our private studies, or heard in sermons and lectures, God is always immeasurably greater than our imagination has allowed.” (Buy it from Amazon)


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