A Different Kind of Happiness

A Different Kind of Happiness: Discovering the Joy That Comes from Sacrificial Love (Baker, 2016)

Larry Crabb has written one of the best books I’ve read all year. He describes the narrow way of Jesus’ teaching to include the hard work that true love requires –with a reward that is unmeasurable. In his own words:

I’ve written this book to think through what it means to really love and to explore the truth that sets us free to relate closer to the way we wish we could, to love like Jesus. As you journey with me in the following pages, and as I share something of my path to loving more like Jesus, think about your relationships and the circumstances in which you find yourself. What would it mean for you to battle for a better love?

The ReWired Brain

The ReWired Brain: Free Yourself of Negative Behaviors and Release Your Best Self (Baker, 2016)

I enjoyed The ReWired Brain because it helps in understanding how the brain works and why we make the decisions we do. With this knowledge, the book offers the insight that although we have “System 1” part of our brains that is more automatic, we also have a “System 2” mind that can override it. This second part offers the hope we have for change and healing through a “rewiring” our thinking. The book is full of stories—including the author’s own mini-autobiography—which illustrate how we can rewire our brains to live in balance with both systems.

The Daniel Prayer

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations (Zondervan, 2016)

I really enjoyed The Daniel Prayer. Anne Graham Lotz uses principles from the prophet Daniel’s prayer in the book that bears his name. Daniel confesses his sins and the sins of his nation—and asked God to have mercy.

All of the sections of Anne’s book are peppered with personal stories that both inspire and urge us to pray. I especially appreciate her vulnerability and admission that it isn’t easy to pray—regardless of where you are in your walk with God.

I like Anne’s reminder that to pray is to enter spiritual warfare. The prophet Daniel prayed, and the angel who came in answer to Daniel’s prayer indicated that his delay was because of a battle with a demon.

The final section of the book offers what Anne calls “patterns for prayer.” At first I thought this might be examples of prayer from the Scriptures, like what Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer or in John 17. Instead, to my surprise, Anne has penned her own prayers to God — for various topics. Very nice.

The Daniel Prayer offers no magic pill on making God answer your prayers, but it does what all good books on prayer must do. It inspires us to actually do the job of praying, and praying is what God responds to.

Spiritual Warfare

The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

In The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, Dr. David Jeremiah reminds us that the Christian life is a battlefield. Our battle is not with the culture or with those who do not believe in God but with an enemy unseen and powerful.

Using a question-and-answer format, Dr. Jeremiah answers 75 questions pertinent to spiritual warfare. Each question forms a short chapter with answers rooted in scripture and practical application. Particularly relevant is the introductory section that answers the question, How can I be certain I’ve been called to battle? His answer is succinct and sobering: if you are a Christian, you are in battle—and you don’t have to lose.

NKJV Study Bible

The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback: Full-Color Edition (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

I love reading the New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV), but not until getting this study Bible did I realize why. The scholarship behind this Bible is simply phenomenal. As I read the names of the contributors, it made me want to study the notes again. An outstanding group of scholars whose words and theology can be trusted.

This edition of the NKJV Study Bible is a “Personal Size, Paperback.” It will be convenient for those who want to read more than write in the Bible. The full-color introductions, maps, and special features keep the reader’s eye glued to the pages. It’s an attractive Bible, although the print is fairly small.

The combination of an excellent translation, outstanding scholarship in the study notes, and this compact and colorful format make this edition a welcome addition to any library, travel bag, or bedside.

Resolved: 10 Ways to Stand Strong and Live What You Believe (Baker Books, 2016)

Resolutions are easy to make. But the Christian life challenges our resolve to stay committed to God by testing our commitments against fear, rejection, and expectations.

Dr. Lina Abujamra has given us the blessing of another book, Resolved, written in her inimitable style and with her characteristic passion. Lina has seen life in all its raw reality—where it’s from the perspective of an ER doc, a missionary, or a single who wrestles with the church’s expectations of singles.

Lina tackles ten issues that demand our absolute resolve and offers “resolutions,” much as Jonathan Edwards did centuries ago. These chapters urge us to adopt personal resolutions about our lives and believe, love, obey, yield, speak up, have joy, be in community, give, hope, and rest—all with Jesus Christ as a center.

Rescuing the Gospel- The Story and Significance of the Reformation

Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation (Baker Books, 2016)

The issues of the past will always be the issues of today, because they are the issues of life. History is doomed to repeat itself when we fail to learn from it.

In Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation, Erwin Lutzer offers an excellent introduction to the Reformation by asking and answering questions essential to every generation of believers.

Worth Living

Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Makes You Worthy (Baker Publishing Group, 2016)

We were designed by God with a worth that reflects the dignity He designed us to have. Sin has marred that original design, but it has not removed our longing for God’s original intention. We yearn to know we’re worthy—but our fallen nature seeks sources for that affirmation other than the One who gave us our worth.

Mary DeMuth’s pen has once again dipped in the inkwell of her own painful experience and written what we all feel with questions we all ask: Am I worthy? Am I loved? Am I defined by my past . . . or by what I accomplish?

Better still, Mary has pointed us back to God with answers we all need to hear. She records lies we listen to and truths we need to cling to. She writes:

May you look at yourself in the mirror and genuinely smile at who you see—a woman dearly loved by Jesus, one worth sacrificing for, being gentle with. . . . You are his lovely dwelling place, infused with worth.

I was well into Worth Living before I realized Mary wrote it for women! It ministered to me as well.

Entitlement Cure

The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way (Zondervan, 2015)

Reading The Entitlement Cure was like sitting in a counseling office with a wise mentor who offered the odd combination of rebukes that encourage. So much of what Dr. Townsend writes connects to our everyday lives and struggles, since he identifies those problem-proned, entitled people we know (including the one in the mirror), as well as identifying the solutions deeply rooted in Scripture.

Whether the issue is a person who fears conflict, or refuses to admit “I was wrong,” or simply is lazy—The Entitlement Cure helps us take the next hard step toward true success, joy, and growth instead of continuing to chase easy choices that dump consequences that are anything but easy.

The book is worth every penny. And then some. I’ll read it again.

NKJV, Apply the Word Study Bible

Apply the Word Study Bible, NKJV (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

Most “Study Bibles” contain an introduction to each book of the Bible, as well as a concordance, maps, indexes, etc. But what makes the Apply the Word Study Bible unique are the features that offer devotional insights on most every page. These features offer substantial and interesting background information on biblical characters, places, and history, as well as some practical application. If “study” truly is the goal, the lack of white space and margins in the Apply the Word Study Bible offer significant limitations if one wants to add personal notes or insights beyond underlining. However, if Bible reading is all a person desires, this Bible will be ideal.