Happy New Year! This month we are looking to ring in the new year with hope and a new outlook. Discover the varied selection of books below, including one from Matawan UMC’s Nick Connolly, that we hope will be restorative and/or empowering for you in the new year. We invite you to read these on your own or consider using one for a book club small group.
Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope
(2020, IVP) By Esau McCaulley
Reading While Black is a personal and scholarly testament to the power and hope of Black biblical interpretation. At a time in which some within the African American community are questioning the place of the Christian faith in the struggle for justice, New Testament scholar McCaulley argues that reading Scripture from the perspective of Black church tradition is invaluable for connecting with a rich faith history and addressing the urgent issues of our times.
Esau McCaulley (Ph.D., St. Andrews) is an assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. His publications include Sharing in the Son’s Inheritance and numerous articles in outlets such as Christianity Today, Religious News Service, and The Washington Post.
Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change
(2020, IVP) By Tod Bolsinger
Tempered Resilience explores the qualities of adaptive leadership in contexts ranging from churches to nonprofit organizations. The book, which also includes a study guide, examines both the external challenges we face and the internal resistance that holds us back.
Tod Bolsinger is the vice president for vocation and formation and assistant professor of practical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Lives and Show Time: Living Down Hypocrisy by Living Out the Faith.
The Bible Through the Seasons: A Three-Year Journey with the Bible
(2007, iUniverse) By Nicholas Connolly
The Bible Through the Seasons provides an opportunity to read the Bible over the course of three years, using a structured plan. The book introduces every daily reading with a “Firestarter,” a one-minute message designed to ignite the creative imagination. Each day of the week is dedicated to a part of the Bible–the Psalms, the Gospels, etc. The program follows the ancient Jewish lectionary of dividing Genesis to Deuteronomy-known as the Torah-into fifty-four portions read yearly on the Sabbath.
Nicholas J. Connolly entered the Society of Jesus in 1960. He has ministered as a counselor, retreat director, teacher, and pastor in Puerto Rico, New York, and New Jersey. He is the pastor of Matawan UMC.
Divine Disruption: Holding on to Faith When Life Breaks Your Heart
(2021, Thomas Nelson) By Dr. Tony Evans, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Priscilla Shirer, Anthony Evans & Jonathan Evans
Divine Disruption pulls back the curtain on faith-shaking experiences during these challenging times, in order to provide biblical wisdom and practical encouragement for how to deal with the hard, unexpected things we all inevitably face.
Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder, and president of The Urban Alternative, and bestselling author of more than 100 books, booklets, and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and to publish the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible, Dr. Evans has been named by Baylor University as one of the twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-speaking world.
Chrystal Evans Hurst is the bestselling author of She’s Still There and co-author of Kingdom Woman, with her father, Dr. Tony Evans. She reaches a wide audience speaking at conferences, sharing on her blog and podcast, and teaching and leading women in her home church and around the world. She is a mother of five. You can find out more about Chrystal at chrystalevanshurst.com.
Anthony Evans has voiced the gospel with a melodic, thought-provoking style for two decades and has emerged as one of Christian music’s premier worship leaders and singer/songwriters. Along the way, he has released 10 solo projects, two of which debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Album charts, released his first book, Unexpected Places, produced numerous music videos, acted in three movies and performed as “Beast” in the Disney Hollywood Bowl production of Beauty and the Beast. Most recently Anthony received his first Grammy nomination for his executive production work on the gospel album My Tribute.
Jonathan Evans is a mentor, author, speaker, chaplain, and former NFL fullback. He serves with his pastor, friend, and father, Dr. Tony Evans, both in the local church and the national ministry. A graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary with a master’s degree in Christian Leadership, Jonathan also serves as the chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys and co-chaplain of the Dallas Mavericks. He and his wife Kanika are the proud parents of Kelsey, Jonathan II, Kamden, Kylar, and Jade Wynter and live in Dallas.
When Strivings Cease: Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace
(2021, Thomas Nelson) By Ruth Chou Simons
When Strivings Cease shows you how to confront the ways you look to superficial means of acceptance and belonging; find relief in realizing self-help isn’t the answer because you can’t be so amazing that you won’t need grace; stop seeing God as someone to perform for and start finding delight in responding to his welcome; and let go of trying to rely on your own strength, your own abilities, and your own savvy by truly understanding the freedom Jesus purchased for you.
Ruth Chou Simons is a Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning author of several books, including GraceLaced, Beholding and Becoming, and Foundations. Her first Bible study curriculum, TruthFilled, was released in 2020. She is an artist, entrepreneur and speaker who uses each of these platforms to spiritually sow the Word of God into people’s hearts. Through her online shop at GraceLaced.com and her social media community, Simons shares her journey of God’s grace intersecting daily life with word and art. She and her husband, Troy, are grateful parents to six boys.
You Can Count on God: 365 Devotions
(2021, Thomas Nelson) By Max Lucado
Each dated entry in You Can Count on God includes an engaging devotion; comforting Scripture to bring us back to God’s promises; encouragement to receive God’s peace even in challenging circumstances; reminders of how God gives us the courage to try new things and strength to make it through any trial we face.
Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, FL; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, TX. He serves as teaching minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is the recipient of the 2021 ECPA Pinnacle Award for his outstanding contribution to the publishing industry and society at large. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 145 million products in print.
Changing Lenses: Restorative Justice for Our Times
(2015, Herald Press) By Howard Zehr
Changing Lenses, a 25th-anniversary edition uncovers widespread assumptions about crime, the courts, retributive justice, and the legal process. It offers provocative new paradigms and proven alternatives for public policy and judicial reform, and in this newer edition, there are valuable author updates on the changing landscape of restorative justice and a new section of resources for practitioners and teachers.
Widely known as “the grandfather of restorative justice,” Howard Zehr began as a practitioner and theorist in restorative justice in the late 1970s at the foundational stage of the field. He has led hundreds of events in more than 25 countries and 35 states, including training and consultations on restorative justice, victim-offender conferencing, judicial reform, and other criminal justice matters. A prolific writer and editor, speaker, educator, and photojournalist, Zehr actively mentors other leaders in the field.
The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times
(2021, Celadon Books) By Jane Goodall, Douglas Abrams, Gail Hudson
The Book of Hope explores through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope. It touches on vital questions, including: How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? How do we cultivate hope in our children? What is the relationship between hope and action?
Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, is an iconic voice for holistic, compassionate, and sustainable solutions. Through her global advocacy as an ethologist and environmentalist, she is shaping attitudes and policy on issues ranging from human rights to the climate crisis, and inspiring action through the power of hope.
Douglas Abrams is a former editor at the University of California Press and Harper San Francisco. He is the co-author of several books on love, sexuality, and spirituality, including books written with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar and Taoist Master Mantak Chia. He is the co-founder of Idea Architects, a book and media development agency, which works with visionary authors to create a wiser, healthier, and more just world.
Gail Hudson is an international bestselling writer who writes about the power of human relationships to heal the world. She has written three books about saving animals and the natural world with Goodall.