Staff Picks + Reviews: Book Recommendations

February 4, 2021  |  Redemption AZ

Find your new favorite reads for this next year from this collection curated by our Redemption Gilbert Staff

Recommendations from Beth Border, Director of Early Childhood

Worthy” by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher

“Eric begins Worthy by explaining that God, the artist, created humanity in stereo and humans have wrestled with the balance knob ever since. For the purpose of the book, he and Elyse turned down the “male” knob to showcase the story and value women throughout scripture. In trusting their process, I found great value in being able to look at scripture in a fresh way and see how God used women from the beginning to the end.  The book concludes by Eric and Elyse doing a beautiful job of balancing the stereo, speaking to practical questions of women’s roles in the 21st century.  Above all, God is honored and glorified.”

The Sunflower” by Simon Wiesenthal

“This book is unique, like none other I’ve read (or listened to in this case). Simon Wiesenthal shares his story of being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. One day he was taken to the bedside of a dying SS member who wanted absolution for the crimes he committed. Faced with issues of forgiveness and justice, he later contemplates his response and poses the question of what you would have done in his place. The rest of the book contains responses from 53 men and women who represent every walk of life and religious persuasion. As I listened to Simon’s story and the myriad of responses, some which sounded like mine and many, if not most, that were a from a different perspective; it was a great opportunity for self examination and spiritual reflection- not only on what God calls us to, but in understanding how those around us can see things from a very different vantage point.”

Accidental Pharisees” by Larry Osbourne

“‘Passionate faith can have a dark side- a really dark side. Just ask Jesus’. Larry takes this premise and in very convicting and practical ways shows the reader how a well meaning pursuit of honoring and obeying God can lead us to accidentally cross the line into making our obedience and pursuit of faith more about us and less about Jesus. The book is broken into 7 sections with discussion questions which lends itself to both personal reflection as well as an opportunity for small groups to engage in this important discussion.”

Recommendations from Sean Warren, Pastor of Communities + Guest Services

Christians in the Age of Outrage: How To Bring Our Best When The World Is At Its Worst” by Ed Stetzer

“This is just a great book to help wrap our minds around being a Christian in this broken world. It addresses 1. Why we have all the Outrage, 2. Outrageous Lies and Enduring Truths, and 3. The Outrageous Alternatives to Outrage. I like how Ed incorporates stories and data into his presentations and storytelling while simultaneously holding up the Gospel.”

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us” by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

“I always had a fairly fixed idea of what I thought spiritual disciplines to be. Adele does an incredible job expanding the idea of what it looks like to be devoted to and in pursuit of God. Also, as far as format goes, each discipline is about 3 pages with reflection questions. And the book is over 300 pages…so, plenty of good reading ahead.”

Recommendations from Elisheba Carter, 7:Ten Ministry Leader

The Greatest Thing in the World” by Henry Drummond

“Such a beautiful exposition on 1 Corinthians 13. I don’t know how he managed to fit so much rich wisdom in such few pages but this book is so encouraging while also challenging and confronting the many excuses or reasons we make, to not love.”

Streams in the Desert” Devotional by Lettie Cowman

“This devotional ministered to me so much in the midst of 2020. Full of biblical truths about how God uses the desert seasons and moments in our lives to drive us to Him, shape us and prune us and encourage others around us.”

Recommendations by Cory Kasperson, 7:Ten Pastoral Resident

Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World” by Kyle David Bennet

“I love this book on spiritual disciplines! Most books on spiritual practices focus primarily on how each practice grows your relationship with God. However, we often forget that God has given us spiritual practices as a way to grow in our love for our neighbors as well. This book takes various disciplines and shows how they teach us to love our neighbor!”

Gentle and Lowly” by Dane C. Ortlund

“This book refreshed me in my walk with Christ in such a deep way this year. There are so many things we doubt about the heart of Jesus at times. We struggle to believe he gives grace when we are still struggling with that some old sin. We struggle to believe he enjoys giving mercy rather than giving it begrudgingly. Dane Ortlund seems to get inside your thoughts and shows how the gracious heart of Christ meets your doubts and struggles in a fresh way.”

Recommendations from Jen Driesbach, Graphic Designer + Social Media Manager

Nothing to Prove” by Jennie Allen

“‘Feeling seen. Feeling connected. Feeling known. Feeling less alone. I think that sometimes we are so lonely and we do not feel known, we do not feel understood. We are not feeling connected to people in a really deep way because we are expecting them to feel something that only God can fill. So, in our pursuit of deep connection, we have to recognize that we can often look to good things like community, authenticity, and confession to take the place of connecting with Jesus. Loneliness is meant to be an invitation to draw closer to God.

Jennie writes like she’s talking to a friend…and a friend who points you to Jesus alone. I can struggle with overemphasizing the feeling of like I’m living permanently in a fishbowl which puts way too much pressure on feeling like you need to be perfect. Those thoughts then lead to feeling alone and then moves on to feeling like I need to be doing more – all in my own strength.  And not just to people around me – but to God.  Almost like I have something to prove.  The title made me pick up this book but then Jennie’s insight reminded me of the freedom that comes to putting the blinders on and focusing solely on Jesus and drawing closer to Him.”

Called to Create” by Jordan Raynor

“If you’re a creative this is a great book to read in tandem with Tim Keller’s ‘Every Good Endeavor‘.  Jordan encourages and emphasizes purpose + drive to living out how God has designed you to be with everything you’ve got and then combines his heart and words with motivating stories of men and women who are doing just that in the vocations God has called them to. It’s a fast read which is why I say to combine it with Tim Keller’s book that dives a little deeper into a similar thought process seasoned with even more rich biblical truth.”

Recommendations from Jeremy Olimb, Pastor of Adult Discipleship

The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives” by Dallas Willard

“I’ve read this book at least 6 times cover to cover and rediscover incredible insight each and every time. With bold and clear thought, it addresses the question of why Christians so often struggle to see change come to bear in their lives. Willard challenges with a deep, philosophically rich, theologically grounded vision of a way of living that invites the average person to experience the joy and fruit of the Christian life. This book holds some incredible insight into the keys to sanctification and transformation in the life of the kingdom of God. Practices, rhythms, and habits that connect us to the Spirit of God and encourage the kind of full life that Jesus promised to those that follow him.”

Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World” by Larry W Hurtado

“I find historical context to be incredibly helpful in understanding the text of the Bible. Digging deep into the place, societies, people and culture of which our sacred scriptures were written never fails to help me better grasp what is being transmitted across the millennia from when the words were first penned to reach us today. Destroyer of the gods does an incredible job of helping frame the question of what made early Christianity distinct from the wider Roman world that it encroached upon. This book offers a view of early Christians who were literate, bookish and deeply committed to behavioral change and ethics. These distinctives impacted the way they interacted in their communities and the way they were perceived by their neighbors. This book is a fascinating look at the earliest days of the Christian movement in the pagan world and challenged me to consider our distinctiveness in our day.”

Recommendations from Susan Timpani, Director of Elementary

The Life & Faith Field Guide for Parents” by Joe Carter

“Overwhelmed with the dearth of mediocre parenting books with “tips” that just don’t work? Carter’s handbook is a fresh take, written primarily for Christian parents (or significant adults in a kid’s life) who want to shape the worldview and character of children. This practical guide is in a scouting handbook-type format, which makes it easy to navigate and use. The author identifies 50 core skills and habits grouped into broader categories necessary for developing a Christian worldview and promoting strong character. Topics like habits for Bible engagement, interacting with God and other people, decision making, managing conflict, handling criticism, etc., are approached in a learn-to-teach manner. I appreciated the functional aspect of that. As a helpful guide, it addresses many of the challenges and life lessons in a child’s journey to adulthood. Carter does much to emphasize that the priority is God and our relationship with Him.  This was a great refresher for me, now blessed to be a grandmother to three precious children, and in a form of parenting-mode all over again. If God has put you in the place to be an influence in a child’s life, this book is worth the read.”

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds” by Jen Wilkin

“A simple truth: If we want to know the God of the Bible, we have to read the Bible. As a young woman I tried various methods and approaches and was frustrated with real, consistent study of scripture. Wilkin’s approach to Bible reading is accessible for new and mature believers alike. Her book is an excellent equipping resource for women discipling women, but I find it helpful for anyone who wants to trace the unfolding story and drama found in God’s Word. She shares a learning method that encourages systematic review with an eye on the Five P’s of sound study: purpose, perspective, patience, process and prayer. These five tools build Bible literacy, pressing us to grow in love for the God the Bible proclaims! How sweet it is to find Truth and encouragement for living, increasing our knowledge of the Word, rather than an occasional dive-in for an inspirational verse. We are disciples of Christ – that means “learner.” To be a learner requires effort and a willingness to jump in and just do it. This guide is helpful in focusing those efforts in a fruitful way.”

“Come, follow Me.” This is the call of Christ. We pray these recommendations will challenge, encourage, and draw you nearer to Jesus as we pursue His call for our lives.