Below is the list of books we will be reading each month in 2012. Below each title I have included the publisher’s description. I have chosen each book based on several criteria, and have either already read or been wanting to read them myself. I read a lot of books each year, so I’m excited to read a few of them in community in 2012! I have tried to pick books from a wide spectrum of focus that are not too lengthy, almost all coming in under 200 pages. I have also provided links where books can be purchased on Amazon.com, and when available, a link to the Amazon Kindle edition for those Kindle owners out there. If you are a member at Ephesus Church, I may be able to purchase the books for you at a discounted price, or already have them available on our book table. If you’d like for me to handle your order, please let me know, I’m happy to do so.
January: Lit! by Tony Reinke ($9.46, Kindle Edition $8.79)
A Christian Guide to Reading Books
I love to read. I hate to read. I don’t have time to read. I only read Christian books. I’m not good at reading. There’s too much to read.
Chances are, you’ve thought or said one of these exact phrases before because reading is important and in many ways unavoidable. Learn how to better read, what to read, when to read, and why you should read with this helpful guide from accomplished reader Tony Reinke. Offered here is a theology for reading and practical suggestions for reading widely.
February: The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips ($12.23, Kindle Edition $9.99)
Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight
The first generation of Christians were not popular. They were ridiculed, persecuted, yet according to Acts 17:6-7, they “turned the world upside down.” As a result, their message was communicated louder and clearer than any message before or since. Even with today’s social medias, big-name celebrities, and shiny evangelism techniques that add glitz and glamour to the gospel, today’s Christians fail to communicate as effectively as the first followers of Christ. Simply put, the early church turned the world upside down, but today’s church has been turned upside down by the world.
March: Children of the Living God by Sinclair Ferguson ($8)
Jesus Christ taught his disciples to call God ‘Our Father’, and to live as members of his family. Although simple enough for every Christian to understand this is also so profound that its implications take a lifetime and more to explore fully. Children of the Living God shows how the Spirit of sonship, Christian freedom, divine discipline, prayer, and the sacraments all contribute to our experience of the love the Father has for his children.
April: The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard ($8)
Striaght Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin
Drawing from Indwelling Sin and The Mortification of Sin by Puritan John Owen, Lundgaard aims for the heart with a battle plan for radical spiritual transformation! He offers insight, encouragement and hope for overcoming the enemy within.
May: The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge ($9.85, Kindle Edition $7.99)
Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
With humor and honesty, Stephen Altrogge helps us do battle with discontentment by steering us back to the central truths of the gospel. He addresses issues such as complaining and idolatry, reminding us of all that we have, and will have, in Christ.
June: Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree ($9.71, Kindle Edition $7.69)
God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are not God
It happens in marriages, parent-child relationships, friendships, workplaces, and churches: Communication falters, friendships wane, teenagers withdraw, marriages fail, and bitter rifts sever once-strong ties. Christian communities are no exception. Why do so many of our relationships suffer from alienation, indifference, and even hostility? Author Sam Crabtree believes that often at the heart of these breakdowns is a lack of affirmation. He observes in Scripture that God grants mercy to those who refresh others, and in life that people tend to be influenced by those who praise them. Crabtree shows how a robust “God-centered affirmation ratio” refreshes others and honors God.
Practicing Affirmation sounds a call to recognize and affirm the character of Christ in others. When done well, affirmation does not fuel pride in the person, but refreshes them and honors God. All who are discouraged in relationships will find wisdom and practical insight in this book.
July: The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges ($10.08, Kindle Edition $7.99)
Turn to the Liberating Power of the Cross…Every Day
The gospel provides for our eternal salvation, but how does it benefit us day to day?
August: Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh ($11.28, Kindle Edition $9.99)
Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
Introverts are called and gifted by God. But many churches tend to be extroverted places where introverts are marginalized. Some Christians end up feeling like it’s not as faithful to be an introvert. Adam McHugh shows how introverts can live and minister in ways consistent with their personalities. He explains how introverts and extroverts process information and approach relationships differently and how introverts can practice Christian spirituality in ways that fit who they are. With practical illustrations from church and para-church contexts, McHugh offers ways for introverts to serve, lead, worship and even evangelize effectively.
September: The Consequences of Ideas by RC Sproul ($10.63, Kindle Edition $9.59)
Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World
The greatest thinkers of all time are impacting us still. From public-policy decisions and current laws to world events, theology, the arts, education, and even conversations between friends, history’s most influential philosophies have wrought massive consequences on nearly everything we see, think, and do. It is critical for Christians to understand the ideas that are shaping them. The greater their familiarity with the streams of thought that have saturated Western culture through the ages, the greater their ability to influence this culture for Christ.
October: Broken-Down House by Paul Tripp ($11.16, Kindle Edition $7.99)
Living Productively in a World Gone Bad
Sin has ravaged the house that God created. This world sits slumped, disheveled, and in pain, groaning for the restoration that can only be accomplished by the hands of him who built it in the first place. The bad news is that you and I are living right in the middle of the restoration process. The good news is that the divine Builder will not relent until everything about his house is made totally new again. Emmanuel lives here with us, and he is at work returning his house to its former beauty.
Someday you will live forever in a fully restored house, but right now you are called to live with peace, joy, and productivity in a place damaged by sin. How can you be an active part of the restoration at the heart of God s plan? The book will teach you to live productively in the here and now.
November: Developing a Healthy Prayer Life by James and Joel Beeke ($10, Kindle Edition $4.99)
Is your prayer life characterized by such things as sincerity, urgency, and delight? Engagement in prayer is a vital part of our communion with God, making a profound impact on our growth in grace. In this book, you will find thoughtful meditations on prayer in the life of the believer, as well as ample encouragement to cultivate this spiritual discipline in your own life. If you want to be more devoted to prayer, or simply want to assess the health of your prayer life, read this book. It provides both a helpful examination and a needed tonic for those concerned about growing in godliness.
December: Getting Back in the Race by Joel Beeke ($9.99, Kindle Edition $5.99)
The Cure for Backsliding
Drawing from the wisdom of the Scriptures and aided by the insights of godly Bible teachers through the centuries, Getting Back in the Race addresses the age-old problem of backsliding. Backsliding is a season in the life of a professing Christian when his sin grows stronger and his obedience to God declines. Even though our backsliding insults Him, dishonors Him, grieves Him, and pushes away His love, still He calls us to return to Him. When you grasp hold of God’s methods by faith, you discover that Christ has grasped hold of you. Our spiritual Physician has potent medicines to heal His people from their injuries and get them back on track to finish the race. This book is a wake-up call to careless Christians and an encouragement to all believers to keep running to the Lord.