Tuesday, December 22, 2015

More Good Books from 2015

Yesterday, I named my top 5 books read in 2015.

Today, I list some "honorable mentions" that I also appreciated a good bit. What a privilege it is to own, read, and recommend books!

Loving My Children by Katie Faris

This year, it was a joy to see a number of new books written by my own friends. Katie Faris used to be a member of our church, and Heather and I were privileged to participate in her wedding to Scott ten years ago.

Four kids later, she has written an excellent little book on mothering.

I got to interview her about the book this Fall and have her speak to groups of ladies at our church.

I also got to formally endorse her book (my first "blurb" as a published author). Here's what I said:

"What do diapers, lullabies, laundry, and cleaning behind the baby's ears have to do with the gospel? Everything! In this gem of a book, our friend Katie Faris winsomely shares biblical wisdom on seeking the best for the children God has loaned us. Katie knows what she's talking about--we've seen her mothering in action--and she writes well. Sweet but not sentimental, direct but not demanding, Loving My Children helpfully connects the Bible's teaching on grace, sovereignty, and sanctification to the everyday hard work of being a mom. Heather and I highly recommend it."

I also encourage people to check out Faris Press' Facebook page about Loving My Children, especially for the beautiful sharable posters they've created to illustrate the lessons in the book.

Katie has also created a FREE study guide with discussion questions available for downloading on the Faris Press website.

#ReformingSocialMedia by Mandy Hoffman

My friend Mandy wrote this book to help people navigate the dangerous waters of social media. Here's my Amazon Review:

Hoffman has clearly invested time in thinking through many of the issues and brings pertinent biblical principles to bear with concise, fluffless prose. She is neither alarmist nor dismissive of the inherit digital dangers and offers very practical strategies for glorifying God while being social online. Good counsel. I've already thought of several people to whom I will recommend "the book with the hashtag in the title."

Stop Your Complaining by Ronnie Martin

My pastor friend, Ronnie, just came out with this from my favorite publisher, CLC Publications.

I got to read an advanced copy and offer this endorsement:

"I didn't want to read this book because I knew that I needed to read it, but I'm glad I did. With both keen insight and dry wit, my friend Ronnie explores our all-too-common sinful tendency to grumble and offers grace-laced answers to our problem. You may not want to read Stop Your Complaining either, but you'll be glad you did."

Seven Pressing Questions by Bill Kynes

My friend and fellow EFCA Pastor, Bill Kynes came out with this book in the Spring. I reviewed in on Amazon saying:

Bill Kynes' modest goal for this little book is not to "prove" Christianity with logical certainty. Instead, it is to show (1) that the Christian faith is a rational option to consider and (2) how it maps coherently onto both our experience of the world and the meaning of life.

I appreciated how he takes the 7 pressing questions seriously--there are no artful dodges here--and provides some solid, helpful, raw, real, and Christ-centered answers in everyday language. Kynes defends the faith without being defensive. His approach is similar to Tim Keller's and just as erudite but is more accessible for short attention spans. It would also be helpful for training Christians in how to answer the common objections to Christianity in our day and age.

Give this book to the reasonable skeptic you love and ask them to read it with an open mind.

Church Elders by Jeramie Rinne

I am not friends with Jeramie Rinne (yet?), but I am definitely friends with his book on church elders!  Here's what I said in my Goodreads review:

An excellent primer on the essence of eldership in the local church.

This is just the little book on eldership that the evangelical Church needs. For years, I have searched high and low for an accessible book that introduces biblical eldership which doesn’t devolve into either a technical treatise on ecclesiology nor a how-to manual that relies on debatable insights from the world of secular organizational theory. And here it finally is!

Rinne successfully avoids secondary polity and pragmatic questions while staying strongly theological and practical on both what an elder is and does. Need proof? Check out these chapter titles which edify all by themselves: “Smell Like Sheep,” “Serve Up the Word,” “Track Down the Strays,” “Lead Without Lording,” “Shepherd Together,” “Model Maturity.”

Church Elders does a good job of neither glorifying the position nor denigrating the work of an elder. Rinne writes as a vocational pastor but FOR avocational elders. He understands the perspective of a man for whom being an elder is lived out in addition to all of his other responsibilities including a family and a full-time job.

Rinne packs a lot into these 122 short pages, but it feels like just the right amount. His illustrations are concise but revealing and helpful. His prose is conversational and carries the reader along but isn’t trite, sentimental, or sappy. If I could write a book on church elders, I would want it to be just like this one. I’ll be asking all of our elders to read it and include it in all future elder training. Highly recommended.