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October’s New & Notable Books

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I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books. It has been too long since I’ve sorted through the piles and to tell you which of them have risen to the top. Here are some of the new and notable books I’ve received in the past month or so.

OrdinaryOrdinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical World by Michael Horton. This was the book I wanted to write; Horton beat me to the punch. “Radical. Crazy. Transformative and restless. Every word we read these days seems to suggest there’s a ‘next-best-thing,’ if only we would change our comfortable, compromising lives. In fact, the greatest fear most Christians have is boredom—the sense that they are missing out on the radical life Jesus promised. One thing is certain. No one wants to be ‘ordinary.’ Yet pastor and author Michael Horton believes that our attempts to measure our spiritual growth by our experiences, constantly seeking after the next big breakthrough, have left many Christians disillusioned and disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with an energetic faith; the danger is that we can burn ourselves out on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations. What’s needed is not another program or a fresh approach to spiritual growth; it’s a renewed appreciation for the commonplace.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

New Morning MerciesNew Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp. I can’t think of too many things by Paul Tripp that haven’t benefitted me, and my guess is that this new devotional wouldn’t prove the exception. “Mornings can be tough. Sometimes, a hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee just aren’t enough. Offering more than a rush of caffeine, best-selling author Paul David Tripp wants to energize you with the most potent encouragement imaginable: the gospel. Forget ‘behavior modification’ or feel-good aphorisms. Tripp knows that what we really need is an encounter with the living God. Then we’ll be prepared to trust in God’s goodness, rely on his grace, and live for his glory each and every day.” (Amazon)

Visitors Guide to HellA Visitor’s Guide to Hell: A Manual for Temporary Entrants and Those Who Would Prefer to Avoid Eternal Damnation by Clint Archer. This book makes me wonder: Would you want someone to dedicate a book to you when the book’s topic is hell? (As it happens, the book is dedicated to John MacArthur and the faculty of The Master’s Seminary). Here’s the description: “Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Hell … but were too afraid to ask! In the realm of eternal damnation, what tortures will we find? How hot is it, really? And most important of all, how can we make sure that it’s not our final destination? Drawing on the Bible, as well as a host of other literary and religious sources, an expert on Scripture provides an illuminating look at Hell—from its occupants to its don’t-miss sites. Dr. Clint Archer offers a thought-provoking, learned, at-times-hilarious guide to a place that might be interesting to visit … but you wouldn’t want to live there!” Unfortunately there isn’t (yet?) a Kindle version of this one. (Amazon)

Compassion Without CompromiseCompassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth by Adam Barr & Ron Citlau. Could there be a more urgent book with all that is going on in the society around us? “In the next year at least one of these things will happen in your life: A family member will come out of the closet and expect you to be okay with it; Your elementary–age child’s curriculum will discuss LGBT families; Your company will talk about building a tolerant workplace for LGBT co–workers; Your college–age child will tell you your view on homosexuality is bigoted. Are you ready? In their role as pastors, Adam Barr and Ron Citlau have seen how this issue can tear apart families, friendships, and even churches. In this book they combine biblical answers with practical, real–world advice on how to think about and discuss this issue with those you care about.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Prone to WanderProne to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration by Barbara Duguid & Wayne Houk. This one just showed up at my door yesterday and I am really excited to get into it. “Confessing our sins might seem like a gloomy business—God already knows about them, so what’s the point of dwelling on failure? But confession is more celebratory than we think. It does not simply remind us of our guilt, but points us to our great Savior, who has atoned for us and lovingly pursues us despite our wandering. These prayers open with a scriptural call of confession, confess specific sins, thank the Father for Jesus’ perfect life and death in our place, ask for the help of the Spirit in pursuing holiness, and close with an assurance of pardon. Inspired by the Puritan classic The Valley of Vision, these prayers were developed for both personal devotions and church use.” (Amazon, Westminster Books)

MarkMark: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament by Mark Strauss. A good commentary series gets better with this new volume. “The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament has quickly become a new standard for exegetically rigorous, theologically informed, and applicationally robust commentaries. Mark Strauss’s Mark offering continues this trajectory by providing pastors and Bible teachers a sturdy, sure commentary on this cornerstone of the Gospels. As with other ZECNT contributors, Strauss interprets each passage in the light of its biblical setting, with a view to grammatical detail, literary context, flow of biblical argument, and historical setting. While Strauss’s focus isn’t on application per se, but the exegetical and theological implications of pericopes, he does suggest directions in which application can flow from Mark’s gospel to your people.” (Amazon)

Same-Sex MarriageSame-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage by Sean McDowell & John Stonestreet. This book also speaks to an urgent subject; the endorsements are strong and I expect it is a helpful guide to the issue. “Same-sex marriage is here, presenting unique challenges and opportunities. How do those who follow Christ faithfully answer the standard talking points for same-sex marriage? And how can they best articulate the case for one-man, one-woman marriage in everyday conversation? Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet believe a thoughtful approach to God’s design for marriage is the answer to both questions. The key is not a contentious attitude towards those who believe in same-sex marriage, but a winsome perspective that is faithful to Christ, committed to truth, and shaped by a love for God and others. Christians need to know that because Christ has risen, there is no such thing as ‘all hope is lost.’ They are still called to engage culture even if they are viewed as wrong, illegal and intolerant.” (Amazon)


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    A La Carte (February 21)

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