Individual books are great, my blog is full of reviews of them, but I do quite enjoy reading a series of books. Most series are designed with specific people groups in mind, different ages and stages, different life circumstances and so on. Here are two new series from Christian Focus that I’ve read that I’d like to share with you. The first is written for teenagers on very relevant topics (anxiety, sanctification and technology) and the second is about some of the moral and sexual issues in our world today and what the Bible has to say (lust, homosexuality and transgenderism).
Track is a series of books designed to disciple the next generation in the areas of culture, doctrine, & the Christian life. While the topics addressed aren’t always simple, they are communicated in a manner that is.
More titles will be added to series on some more relevant topics such as; prayer, music, body image, addiction, etc.
One of the many issues that teenagers are increasingly facing is anxiety, so I am very thankful that Christian Focus brought in Welch to write about it. Welch has written numerous books on very relevant topics regarding mental health and I thoroughly enjoy his writing. This book is no different!
This short book if full of helpful reminders for teens that they can take their worries to the Lord, that He is near, the character of God and the truth of the gospel. At the end of each chapter the main point of the chapter is printed and there are reflection questions for teens to really wrestle with the chapters implications for their lives.
“In sanctification, it’s neither ‘try harder’ nor ‘stop trying’ but ‘by grace, grow.’ Or, to put it another way ‘by grace, become who God crated and redeemed you to be.’ In other work, you’ve already been accepted because of the finished work of christ; now work by His grace”
This book is certainly the more ‘meatier’ of the three, but it is jam packed with rich theology put in simple terms that will impact a Christian teen and spur them on to serve Jesus diligently. This wee book combats questions that many Christian teens might have today; isn’t being a Christian about following rules? Does me being a better Christian save me? Do I really have to keep becoming more like Jesus? It addresses the joy and the sacrifice of sanctification whilst at the same time helping the reader see the reason to pursue Christlikeness.
“The aim of this book is to get at the heart of why we do the things we do with our technology. It seeks to explain why humans – both children and adults – use their technology in unhelpful ways at times. Let me go further and say that the Bible explains our unhelpful and often sinful technological practices. Hopefully, you will see how clarifying God’s Word is on this subject.”
This book is a great wee insight into the benefits and pitfalls of technology, the dangers of misusing it and Biblical truths that can help teens understand their practices. I particularly like how it addresses the ‘like’ culture that we live in and how many teens (and adults!) are living for the approval of people which is fuelled by social media. This book packs in some fundamental truths about who we are, what we were created for and how we can use technology for God’s glory, not for personal gratification.
This series is about sexuality and identity and specifically what the Bible has to say concerning lust, homosexuality and transgenderism. These books are co-authored by Owen Strachan (a theologian) and Gavin Peacock (a pastor), together their desire is to see people taught and follow Jesus.
This is a helpful little book that talks about the problems of lust, at both the outworking of it and the root cause/problem of it. This book is written for Christians and tackles a very relevant topic for a lot of people in the church today. The book speaks about the trappings of lust and the seriousness of it, but it also tells of the power of Christ and the forgiveness that is found in him. The final chapter also has practical help and aids for people who struggle with lust to arm them against their foe. A helpful feature of this whole series is that there is a section at the end of frequently asked questions. In this section Owen and Gavin address many of the practical problems that are presented with these three topics and how Christians can respond.
In this book Owen and Gavin go back to the beginning of the Bible and speak about God’s creational order and His design for the sexes and for marriage. It is a good introduction on the topic.
I would say that this book, in my opinion, doesn’t necessarily add anything to the discussion that isn’t already present in other books. That doesn’t mean that it is a bad book, I still found the FAQ’s at the back to be very helpful and thought provoking.
My main criticism of this book is that it seems to promote and alpha male type of manhood. It seems to suggest that you’re only obeying God’s design for manhood if you’re a ‘butch’ kind of guy and that you’re only obeying God’s design for womanhood if you’re a ‘girly’ kind of girl. It says don’t follow any kind of stereotypes that the world gives, but I feel that they are promoting a particular kind of stereotype that goes beyond what Scripture actually teaches.
In this very short book, Owen and Gavin tackle a very large, complicated and mostly emotionally difficult topic for some people.
“Our first goal is to give biblical clarity on this subject; our text is not primarily a call to political action of a summons to personal protest, though we believe Christians should speak truth on this issue everywhere they can. It is a work of theology aimed at everyday transformation. Christianity does not centre in pleasant feelings and good wishes; it centers first in clarity, in handling the Word of God accurately so that we can apply it rightly (2 Tim. 2:15). It is only when we now the truth that we can live rightly before the Lord.”
This book speaks about the importance of seeing the body as a gift from God, a gift with a specific design and purpose. It speaks about how a person finds their identity in the fact that each person is an image bearer of God. It tackles topics like cross-dressing, surgical intervention and the controversial question ‘do you use a person’s preferred pronouns?’.
My main criticism of this book is that it seems to promote a kind of über-complementarity. I am a complementarian, but this book seems to suggest that women should not be working outside the home and it says that women are to submit to all men. This view of the roles of men and women, in my opinion, goes beyond what the Bible teaches. I’ve picked up on this idea before in Strachan’s writing, yet I haven’t managed to find anywhere where his position is clearly summarised.
Again, the FAQ’s of the book are helpful for readers to think about how to approach this topic practically and engage children and teens with it. It also speaks about how churches can care for those who would identify themselves as transgender.