The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Man Who Believed

Gary Wilkerson, with R. S. B. Sawyer (Zondervan)

Wilkerson, the great 20th-century evangelist, made a habit of ministering to society’s outcasts: drug addicts, gang members, and other down-and-outers populating New York City’s meanest streets. As his son Gary explains in this biography-cum-memoir, he followed “lines of human desperation leading him to the world’s most needy areas.” Wilkerson, who founded Times Square Church and drug recovery ministry Teen Challenge, died three years ago in an auto accident. Gary, who inherited his father’s missions organization, World Challenge, recounts episodes from the evangelist’s life as well as the doubts that plagued him.

The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity

Barnabas Piper (David C. Cook)

Being a pastor’s kid (PK) can be tricky. You face a scrutiny unknown to many of your peers, complete with heightened expectations of devout faithfulness and holy living. Sometimes there’s subtle pressure to follow in your father’s footsteps. And that’s the case even when the pastor isn’t a household name. Piper (his famous father, John, writes the foreword) grapples with both the challenges and rewards, drawing on his own experience. “The life of a PK,” he writes, “is complex, occasionally messy, often frustrating, and sometimes downright maddening. It can be a curse and a bane. But being a PK can also be a profound blessing and provide wonderful grounding for a godly life.”

The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection

Richard Plass and James Cofield (InterVarsity Press)

We all experience loneliness. Some of us spend entire lifetimes craving companionship. Plass (founder of CrossPoint Ministry) and Cofield (a spiritual director) argue that our loneliness testifies to something fundamental about human nature. “We were born,” they write, “with a relentless longing to participate in the lives of others. Fundamentally, we are relational souls. We cannot not be relational.” Blending biblical and psychological insight, Plass and Cofield offer guidance on building (or rebuilding) our relational capacities, while sharing the good news that we worship an inherently relational God.

The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose

Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson (Oxford University Press)

“’Tis better to give then to receive.” The old proverb has an empirical foundation, as Smith (a Notre Dame sociologist) and Davidson (a doctoral candidate there) demonstrate in The Paradox of Generosity. That giving freely of one’s time and treasure redounds to giver’s benefit is “not only a philosophical or religious teaching,” they claim, but also “a sociological fact.” The book, based on Smith’s five-year Science of Generosity Initiative, marshals evidence that “the more generous Americans are, the more happiness, health, and purpose in life they enjoy.”

A Brief Theology of Sport

Lincoln Harvey (Cascade Books)

Many Christians have a complicated relationship with sports. Like so many Americans, we root for our favorite teams and enjoy playing the games themselves. But many critics worry that sports can glorify brutality and ultra-competitiveness while fostering idolatrous attachments to celebrity superstars. Harvey, a theologian teaching in London, takes the middle road, arguing that “neither blind celebration nor debilitating suspicion is the right approach.” A Brief Theology of Sport explores how the church has understood sports throughout history and ruminates on their role in God’s creative purposes.

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