The Innkeeper

From Westminster Bookstore:

9781433530258mOnly two weeks from his crucifixion, Jesus has stopped in Bethlehem. He has returned to visit someone important – the innkeeper who made a place for Mary and Joseph the night he was born. But His greater purpose in coming is to pay a debt. What did it cost to house the Son of God?

Through this imaginative poem, John Piper shares a tale of what might have been – the story of an innkeeper whose life was forever altered by the arrival of the Son of God.

Ponder the sacrifice that was made that night. Celebrate Christ’s birth and the power of His resurrection. Rejoice in the life and light He brings to all. And encounter the hope His life gives you for today – and for eternity.

About the Author:

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He is the best-selling author of more than 30 books including Desiring GodDon’t Waste Your Life, and Bloodlines.

About the Illustrator: 

Glenn Harrington is an internationally recognized painter whose art has been featured on the cover of over 600 books. His paintings have also been a focal point in many publications, including The New York Times,American Arts QuarterlyInternational Artists Magazine, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mistakes Leaders Make

From Westminster Bookstore:

9781433532498mYou Don’t Have to Learn This the Hard Way…

Anyone involved in leadership knows that it’s tough and mistakes are bound to happen. But some mistakes are more costly than others and can result in the end of effectiveness, the loss of important relationships, and disqualification from ministry.

Using the story of a fictitious church team to demonstrate the problems, principles, and practice of finding solutions, leadership expert Dave Kraft uncovers the top 10 critical mistakes leaders make and shows you how to avoid them so you can have ministry and relationships that last.

About the Author:

Dave Kraft served with the Navigators for thirty-eight years before becoming a pastor at Mars Hill Church in 2005. Currently Kraft is one of the pastors at Mars Hill Orange County where he coaches the next generation of leaders. He is also a life and leadership coach with Ministry Coaching International (MCI). Kraft’s first book, Leaders Who Last, was published in 2010. He and his Wife Susan have been married for 43 years and have four adult children and seven grandchildren.

The Hole in Our Holiness

From Westminster Bookstore:

Kevin DeYoung on Holiness from Crossway on Vimeo.

Publisher’s Description:

holeThe “hole in our holiness” is that evangelicals don’t look particularly holy, and, despite the flood of gospel-centered discussions, there seems to be a greater focus on personal depravity than on the pursuit of holiness. Looking to right the balances, Kevin DeYoung presents a popular-level treatment of sanctification and union with Christ, helping readers to see what matters most–being like Jesus. He shows how one can be like Christ in being joined to Christ. The market is ready for DeYoung’s timely book, ready to avoid legalism and ambivalence, and they are ready for someone to articulate the inextricable relationship between grace and holiness.

About the Author:

Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is the author of several popular books, including Just Do Something and Why We Love the Church.

Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church

WTSBooks:

The Reformers viewed the gospel as not merely one thing among many in the life of a church but rather the means by which the church exists. When the gospel is rightly declared and applied to God’s people, the church becomes “a creature of the Word.” She understands, embraces, and lives out the reality of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection in more than her doctrinal statement. The gospel impacts all the church is and does.

Creature of the Word lays out this concept in full, first examining the rich, scripture-based beauty of a Jesus-centered church, then clearly providing practical steps toward forming a Jesus-centered church. Authors Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger, and Josh Patterson write what will become a center- ing discussion piece for those whose goal is to be part of a church that has its theology, culture, and practice completely saturated in the gospel.

About the Authors

Matt Chandler serves as Lead Pastor of Teaching at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX. He has served in that role since December 2002 and describes his tenure at The Village as a re-planting effort where he was involved in changing the theological and philosophical culture of the congregation. The church has witnessed a tremendous response growing from 160 people to over 10,000 with campuses in Flower Mound, Dallas and Denton. Alongside his current role as lead pastor, Matt is involved in church planting efforts both locally and internationally through The Village and various strategic partnerships. Prior to accepting the pastorate at The Village, Matt had a vibrant itinerant ministry for over 10 years where he spoke to thousands of people in America and abroad about the glory of God and beauty of Jesus. His greatest joy outside of Jesus is being married to Lauren and being a dad to their three children, Audrey, Reid and Norah. Recently, Matt was named president of Acts 29, a worldwide church-planting organization. Over the last 10 years, Acts 29 has emerged from a small band of brothers to over 400 churches in the United States and networks of churches in multiple countries. Matt speaks at conferences throughout the world and has written The Explicit Gospel.

Josh Patterson serves as lead pastor of Ministry Leadership at The Village Church located in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas. He and his wife, Natalie, are the proud parents of Lily, Luke, and Liv.

Eric Geiger serves as the vice president of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best-selling church leadership book, Simple Church. He is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters, Eden and Evie.

Four Reasons Men Don’t Read

Great post from Desiring God blogger Tony Reinke:

Men in the church don’t read well.

I don’t have statistics or studies to prove this. My conclusion draws from my experience, and from educated intuition. I recently discussed this conclusion with Albert Mohler, and he agreed, “It’s a very correct and perceptive intuition.” So that’s something.

Of course, not all Christian men struggle with reading. Many men in the pews are very competent readers, and the church is stronger for it.

But many Christian men do struggle with reading. Here are four reasons why:

Men don’t read books because they don’t know where to begin. We live in a golden age of book publishing, which is great for the avid reader — but is overwhelming for many men.  Men don’t read books because visual allurements are more appealing. Many men don’t read books for the simple fact that books cannot compete with visual and passive entertainment the world offers.  Men don’t read books because they think it’s a waste of time. Many men don’t read books because they are unconvinced that the time spent in a book is going to “do anything” to enhance their lives.
Men don’t read because they lack literary discipline. Reading may be a hobby, but it’s never less than a discipline. Reading well requires both focused attention and a time commitment.  These reasons overlap to some degree. So what can be done to combat these four hurdles in the lives of guys?

One Solution
In any given local church, a wise pastor possesses the single most valuable commodity that will influence men who don’t read books, and that commodity is reading experience. A wise pastor is a man who has learned by experience to discern valuable books from the less-helpful (reason #1, above). A wise pastor is a man who has learned to fix his attention on the written word for lengthy periods of undistracted time (reasons #2 and #4). And a wise pastor is a man who has been personally altered by his discoveries in the written word (reason #3).

Even without thinking about it, most faithful pastors are already pushing against each of these four cultural factors for why men don’t read books. In a visually-driven culture, the effective power of the written word shines in a pastor who has carefully meditated and read over his sermon text in Scripture.

But there’s more that can be done.

Practical Helps
One of the best hands-on ways pastors can encourage men to read is by organizing a reading group. But not a typical reading group. The typical reading group, at least the ones that come to my mind most immediately, are relatively subjective. These are groups that ask questions like: Did you like the book? Was it meaningful to you? What part of the book was most profound for you?

Subjective reading groups like this are rarely effective at encouraging men to initially take up and read great books.

Why’s that? Well, quite simply, it’s a guy thing. Effective reading groups for men need at the center of their gathering a purpose for reading. There needs to be a problem to solve.

Any wise pastor will already be aware of theological weaknesses in himself, in his preaching, or in his church. He is also aware of pressing practical problems that need to be considered. A pastor can go and find a book that addresses these needs in his church, and then gather and meet and talk with men in the church about possible solutions. It’s a creative way to get men reading, and it was an idea suggested by Dr. Mohler in my recent interview with him.

“Men first read books seriously to solve a problem, to find the answer to a need,” he said. “Something has to be a catalyst. What I seek to do is take young guys and say, ‘Read this because we are going to talk about it.’ Saying, ‘Read this book and see if you like it,’ is not enough.”

Then he offered an example. In one church, a pastor picked 12 guys (who did not typically read books) to read through Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology (one chapter per week). It’s a long book, but it was doable because he suggested concrete areas in the church that needed clarity on a variety of topics. And it worked. Not only did it work, the influence of the reading group cascaded. The next year those 12 guys started their own reading groups, and tackled new problems and questions. The same happened the next year. Now after three years, 600 men have read through Grudem’s large theology work because one wise pastor invested in 12 men for a year.

That is the powerful influence pastors have in the lives of men.

Conclusion
There are several other ways a pastor can encourage men to read books. If you are a pastor I would love to hear examples of how you’ve done this (email me at blog AT desiringgod DOT org). Together we will consider several other practical suggestions for encouraging literacy in the local church in my seminar at the 2013 conference for pastors in Minneapolis — “The Pastor and His Reading: Why You Are the Key to Building a Church That Loves Books.”

See you there.

Every Good Endeavor

WTSBooks:

New York Timesbestselling author Timothy Keller shows how God calls each of us to express meaning and purpose through our work and careers.

In a work world that is increasingly competitive and insecure, people often have nagging questions: Why am I doing this work? Why is it so hard? And is there anything I can do about it?

Timothy Keller, pastor of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God, has taught and counseled students, young professionals, and senior leaders on the subject of work and calling for more than twenty years. Now he puts his insights into a book for readers everywhere, giving biblical perspectives on such pressing questions as:

  • What is the purpose of work?
  • How can I find meaning and serve customers in a cutthroat, bottom-line-oriented workplace?
  • How can I use my skills in a vocation that has meaning and purpose?
  • Can I stay true to my values and still advance in my field?
  • How do I make the difficult choices that must be made in the course of a successful career?

With deep insight and often surprising advice, Keller shows readers that biblical wisdom is immensely relevant to our questions about our work. In fact, the Christian view of work – that we work to serve others, not ourselves – can provide the foundation of a thriving professional and balanced personal life. Keller shows how excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace can help others and even be considered acts of worship – not just self-interest.

About the Authors

Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. He was first a pastor in Hopewell, Virginian. In 1989, he started Redeemer Presbyterian church in New York City with is wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has more than five thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start nearly two hundred new churches around the world. Also the author of The Meaning of Marriage, King’s Cross, Generous Justice, Counterfeit God’s, The Prodigal God, and The Reason for God,Timothy Keller lives in New York City with his family. Connect online at timothykeller.com

Katherine Leary Alsdorf worked twenty-five years in the high-tech industry as an economic analyst and in various executive leadership positions. After her CEO roles at One Touch Systems and Pensare, Redeemer Presbyterian Church recruited Katherine to lead the church’s efforts in marketplace ministry, now called the Center for Faith & Work, which has grown to serve more than two thousand people a year. Katherine has served on the boards of the International Arts Movement, the Fellowship for the Performing Arts, and the Theology of Work Project. Connect online at faithandwork.org