Friday, December 28, 2012

12 Christian Books from 2012 Worth Your Time and Money

2012 has proven to be another year full of new book releases from Christian publishers. I always remember hearing in seminary that for every new book you read you should read three to four old books, primarily by dead guys, because many of them were saying these same things along time ago. Although I generally agree with that statement, it is also enjoyable to pick up a brand new book that may have a more modern and fresh perspective on the topic. In an age with so many new book releases to choose from it can be hard to know which ones are really worth the investment of money because even the average kindle book release is going to set you back $10. So here is my list of 12 Christian books that were released in 2012 that are worth your time and money.

1. Center-Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller (Zondervan 2012). In Center Church, Timothy Keller offers challenging insights and provocative questions based on over twenty years of ministry in New York City. This book outlines a theological vision for ministry - applying classic doctrines to our time and place - organized around three core commitments: * Gospel-centered: The gospel of grace in Jesus Christ changes everything, from our hearts to our community to the world. It completely reshapes the content, tone and strategy of all that we do. * City-centered: With a positive approach toward our culture, we learn to affirm that cities are wonderful, strategic and underserved places for gospel ministry. * Movement-centered: Instead of building our own tribe, we seek the prosperity and peace of our community as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

2. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp (Crossway 2012). Dangerous Calling reveals the truth that the culture surrounding our pastors is spiritually unhealthy—an environment that actively undermines the wellbeing and efficacy of our church leaders and thus the entire church body. Here is a book that both diagnoses and offers cures for issues that impact every member and church leader, and gives solid strategies for fighting the all-important war that rages in our churches today.

3. Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim (Jossey-Bass 2012). The Permanent Revolution is an original work of theological re-imagination and re-construction that draws from biblical studies, theology, organizational theory, leadership studies, and key social sciences. The book elaborates on the apostolic role rooted in the five-fold ministry from Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers), and its significance for the missional movement.

4. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared C. Wilson (Crossway 2012). Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, popular pastor Matt Chandler writes this punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel. Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!

5. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by Tullian Tchividjian (David Cook 2012). In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, best-selling author Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort of the gospel for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others. 

6. Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? by David A. Black (Energion Publications 2012). The church in America has come to depend on professionals to "do ministry." In many churches, the pastor, paid to do the job, is the one who is expected to carry out all functions of the church. But it was not always this way. Jesus came as God-in-the-flesh. The pattern portrayed in the New Testament is that every Christian is part of the body of Christ, and the function of Christ's body is to be incarnational, to be Jesus Christ for the world (John 20:21).

7. Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood (Zondervan 2012). Many ministry leaders serving in churches find themselves overwhelmed, disillusioned, and depressed by the enormous and challenging task of leading and serving others. When leaders aren't healthy, the result is often an unhealthy church. Leaders need someone to shepherd their soul so that they can then lead others to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Every church leader---from fulltime ministers to volunteer leaders---needs a Gospel Coach who will come alongside them with words drawn from Scripture and godly wisdom, grounded in the gracious saving work of Jesus Christ, and presented in the context of a trusting relationship. Gospel coaching is an intentional relationship of skillful caring for others based on four ancient shepherding principles: 1) Know the sheep 2) Feed the sheep 3) Lead the sheep 4) Protect the sheep Gospel coaches inquire about the personal, spiritual, and missional aspects of a leader's life in a loving yet focused manner, probing the heart for compulsive unbelief or selfish motivation, disobedience, and sin, leading them back to the Gospel through belief, repentance, and obedience.

8. The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken (B&H Publishing 2012/13). The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, "Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn't work in Somalia.

9. Gospel Deeps by Jared C. Wilson (Crossway 2012). While pastoring for the past fifteen years, Jared Wilson has become known in contemporary evangelicalism for his passionate, gospel-centered writing and teaching. Following Wilson’s well-received publication of Gospel Wakefulness, he writes Gospel Deeps as a “next step” to establishing the need for astonishment, which begins by looking at the astonishing things God has done in and through Christ. Wilson holds up the gospel like a diamond and examines it facet by facet, demonstrating the riches of its implications. This book serves as a valuable contribution to the emerging canon of gospel-centered literature, in the spirit of John Piper’s Pleasures of God and Tim Keller’s emphasis on a “robust gospel,” and continues in the glory-reveling legacy left by Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, and the like. The distinctiveness of Gospel Deeps is found in Wilson’s winsome and frequently ecstatic writing voice, as well as his unique approach to showcasing the gospel’s beauty.

10. Every Day Church: Gospel Communities on Mission by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis (Crossway 2012). We live in an increasingly post-Christian culture. More and more we find ourselves on the margins as less and less people have any intention of ever attending church. What used to work doesn’t work anymore and we need to adapt.
Helping us to see the way forward, this book offers practical ideas and personal stories for engaging with Western society. Find out how to effectively reach people in the context of everyday life and take hold of the opportunity to develop missional communities focused on Jesus.

11. Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark Driscoll and Grace Driscoll (Thomas Nelson 2012). In Real Marriage, Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace, share how they have struggled and how they have found healing through the power of the only reliable source: the Bible. They believe friendship is fundamental to marriage but not easy to maintain. So they offer practical advice on how to make your spouse your best friend - and keep it that way. And they know from experience that sex-related issues need to be addressed directly.

12. Unleash: Breaking Free from Normalcy by Perry Noble (Tyndale House Publishers 2012). Why is it that we trust Jesus with our salvation but never fully trust him with our lives? God longs to unleash his full measure of power in our lives to fill us with passion and purpose. But too often the things of our past—fear, anger, bitterness, worry and doubt—hold us back. Rather than focusing on the reality of who Christ is and what he has done for us, we allow ourselves to be identified by all the things we aren’t. But we are not who our past says we are, and we are not who the enemy says we are. We are who God and his Word say that we are.

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