Planning Your Reading for 2016 (part 2)

In the first post I proposed the idea that, as we attempt to grow in Christ each year, it is a good idea to plan some of our reading ahead. One of the primary ways that we can grow as Christians is through reading. Of course, the first book we ought to read is God’s Book – let us never forsake that as the finest of all reading options. God has chosen to reveal himself to us in written word, therefore we must all be readers. Additionally, God has provided us with men and women who think deeply about the Bible and dig deeper into what it says in order to help us understand it more fully and grow our roots deeper. We ought to use these resources as well.

Each year I plan out several books that I plan to read no matter what else I happen to be studying. I try to tackle a few books written by dead guys (you can check out some potential options at the previous post) and I also look to what is coming out in the current year. Scholarship continues to grow and we have several Christian publishing houses that are doing great work – providing us with solid, evangelical thought to explore as we delve deeper into knowing and following Jesus.

So, here are a few books coming out in 2016 that should have your attention. I like to pre-order on Amazon so that I get books as soon as they release. Sometimes, however, money is tight and I can’t pr-order all the books that I might want to. In those cases, I add an alert to my calendar to let me know when the book is releasing. Hopefully, by that time I have some extra cash to purchase them. I hope one or several of these piques your interest and that you are helped in your walk with Christ in 2016.

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Coming January 5 – Baker Academic

This introduction to the origins of Christian worship illuminates the importance of ancient liturgical patterns for contemporary Christian practice. Andrew McGowan takes a fresh approach to understanding how Christians came to worship in the distinctive forms still familiar today. Deftly and expertly processing the bewildering complexity of the ancient sources into lucid, fluent exposition, he sets aside common misperceptions to explore the roots of Christian ritual practices–including the Eucharist, baptism, communal prayer, preaching, Scripture reading, and music–in their earliest recoverable settings. Now in paper.

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Coming February 1 – B&H Academic

The church is going through a time of severe fracture over the issue of homosexuality. This book addresses the arguments from the gay Christian movement and revisionist theologians and exegetes on a single point: Can they withstand the evidence of the primary sources?

In Unchanging Witness, Donald Fortson and Rollin Grams articulate the consistent orthodox view on homosexuality by presenting primary sources throughout Christian history and by interpreting the biblical texts in their cultural contexts.  The first part of the book examines church history from the patristic period to the present day, and the second part engages biblical texts in light of Ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, Greek, and Roman primary sources.

Throughout, the authors survey the conflicting and changing arguments of revisionist readings and contend that, in light of the overwhelming evidence of the relevant texts, the real issue is not one of interpretation but of biblical authority and Christian orthodoxy.

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Coming Febuary 1 – Intervarsity

We live in a culture that values activity, achievement and accomplishment. Whether in our careers, churches, schools or families, busyness is the norm in our lives, and anything less makes us feel unproductive and anxious. We have to work all the harder, then, to pursue true rest in a 24-7 world that is constantly in motion. John Koessler understands that rest is not automatic or easy to attain. He names the modern-day barriers to becoming people of rest and presents a unique perspective on how pursuing rest leads us to the heart of God. With honest, biblical reflections on trends in our culture and churches, he exposes our misconceptions regarding the concept of rest, as well as offering correction and practices to align our ideas with God’s ideal. The book includes reflection and discussion questions designed for both individual and group use. You will discover the true meaning behind Jesus’ idea of the yoke of rest and restoration for your mind, body and soul.

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Coming February 24 – Lexham Press

The story behind 2 Corinthians is one of pain and heartache. The Apostle Paul is wrestling to maintain his relationship with the young church in Corinth that he established. Paul writes this deeply personal letter to pick up the pieces of a broken relationship. We all have painful stories and relationships that are on the rocks. In Cutting Ties with Darkness, John D. Barry explores how we deal with these scars in light of Jesus’ example. How do we discern when to reconcile and when to walk away? In these relationships, our own judgment can become clouded. Paul tells us that we must cut ties with the darkness—both within ourselves and in others—before we’re able to rebuild our lives on the redemption of Jesus.

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Coming February 24 – Kirkdale Press

We live in a leader-centric culture. We’re constantly bombarded with advice on how to achieve leadership positions or how to lead well once we get there. We’ve made leadership out to be the mark of success.

But what if leadership isn’t our goal? What if we want to do well where we are? Can we use our skills to perform with excellence–as followers?

In Embracing Followership, Allen Hamlin Jr. shares from his own experience how you can succeed as a follower without anyone reporting to you. You offer unique contributions to every group you’re a part of, and you don’t need to be a leader to make a difference.

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Coming Feb 27 – Kregel Publishing

Christian parents need to be prepared to answer the myriad challenges teens might hear in today’s increasingly pro homosexual culture. “Why shouldn’t gays get married?” “Who says gay sex is wrong?” “Does the Bible actually say there’s anything wrong with homosexuality?” “Don’t you care that kids are being bullied just for being themselves?”

To start the discussion, Gilson provides a brief history of the issues beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explains how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short timespan, leaving Christians scrambling for answers.

This is perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue Christians face in today’s culture. Most churches are poorly equipped to handle it; parents are even less prepared. The good news is that parents need not have pat answers ready before they dive into conversations with their teens and preteens on this difficult topic. Learning together―parents struggling through these issues alongside their kids and leading them to biblical answers― has relational benefits.

Answers are important, though, so manageable, nontechnical answers to common questions surrounding this issue are provided, as well as a guide to further resources.

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Coming March 1 – Baker Books

Many Christians today feel overwhelmed as they try to live faithfully in a culture that seems increasingly hostile to their beliefs. Politics, marriage, sexuality, religious freedom–with an ever-growing list of contentious issues, believers find it harder than ever to hold on to their convictions while treating their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family members who disagree with respect and compassion. This isn’t just a problem that affects individual Christians; if left unaddressed, the growing gap between the faithful and society’s tolerance for public faith will have lasting consequences for the church in America.

Now the bestselling authors of unChristian turn their data-driven insights toward the thorny question of how Christians talk with people they know and love about the most toxic issues of our day. They help today’s disciples understand what they believe and why, and how to keep believing it without being judgmental and defensive. Readers will discover the most significant trends that offer both obstacles and opportunities to God’s people, and how not only to challenge culture but to create and renew it for the common good. Perhaps most importantly, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons invite fellow Christians to understand the heart behind opposing views and show them how to be loving, life-giving friends despite profound differences. This will be the go-to book for young adult and older believers who don’t want to hide from culture but to engage and restore it.

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Coming March 1 – Baker Books

When it comes to money management, most of us take a hands-off approach because we’re just not confident that we have the know-how needed. But personal finance is actually more personal than it is finance. Tim Maurer has made a career out of distilling complex financial concepts into understandable, doable actions. In this eminently practical book, he shows readers how to

– better understand their values and goals in order to simplify their money decisions
– budget major expenses intelligently
– reduce and eliminate debt
– make vital decisions on home, auto, and life insurance
– establish a world-class investment portfolio
– craft a workable retirement plan
– and more

Readers will be relieved to see that managing their money is actually not as complicated as they thought–and that they can take control of their financial future starting today

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Coming March 31 – Crossway

With contributions from popular Bible teachers, including Tim Keller, John Piper, Nancy Guthrie, D. A. Carson, and more, this collection of nine biblical expositions walks readers through Nehemiah—a biblical book that powerfully illustrates God’s faithfulness. Each chapter recounts part of Israel’s return from exile chronicled in the book of Nehemiah, showing how this Old Testament narrative connects to the Bible’s overarching story of redemption. What’s more, this practical volume applies the message of Nehemiah to our lives today, emphasizing the many ways God uses imperfect people to accomplish his plans. Readers will feel encouraged to turn to God in prayer, repent of their sin, and trust in his grace—confident in his gracious plan for the world revealed in Scripture.

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Coming May 1 – Intervarsity

Many Christians are held captive by a picture of the imagination as a purveyor of false images, prone to idolatry. We live in a society fixated on images that have little or no significance. We are surrounded by models of the world that are not in touch with any truth outside of themselves. But we lack the resources to see and imagine things differently. Kevin Vanhoozer calls the church to a more biblical and premodern picture, one that sees every particular person, thing and event in the light of God’s act of reconciling the world to himself in Christ. Through essays on the church’s worship, witness and wisdom, Vanhoozer shows us how a poetic imagination can answer the questions of life’s meaning by drawing our attention to what really matters: the God of the gospel.

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Coming May 3 – B&H

If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.

Two-time Grammy winning rap artist, Lecrae, learned this lesson through more than his share of adversity—childhood abuse, drugs and alcoholism, a stint in rehab, an abortion, and an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Along the way, Lecrae attained an unwavering faith in Jesus and began looking to God for affirmation. Now as a chart-topping industry anomaly, he has learned to ignore the haters and make peace with his craft. The rap artist holds nothing back as he divulges the most sensitive details of his life, answers his critics, shares intimate handwritten journal entries, and powerfully models how to be Christian in a secular age.

This is the story of one man’s journey to faith and freedom.

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Okay – so there you go. We’ll find out what is happening for the rest of the year sometime this Spring. Until then – happy reading.

Lord, help us to know you more deeply in 2016. Thank you for the men and women who have worked to write, edit, and publish the books above. Thank you for gracing them with the ability to look at your word and assist us all in know you more. Help us to be discerning readers – comparing everything that we read in 2016 to your word. Let us now forsake the reading of your Word as we read other books. Our desire is that your word be sweet as the honeycomb to us. I pray that your Holy Spirit would work through the words of the books that we read in 2016 and that the world around us would be different because of the growth that happens in us as a result. Amen.

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