Mid-January 2020 Selection

Mid-January 2020 Selection

Here are books on preaching and sermons, the Holy Spirit and faith formation, the Bible and walking the way of the cross.

Highlights include volume 3 of Walter Brueggemann’s collected sermons, an updated and expanded explanation of Praying in Colour by Sybil MacBeth, and a new compilation of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love.

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[Prices, stock levels and estimated delivery time for titles on this page were last updated on 22 January 2020]

The Heart of It All:
The Bible’s Big Picture.
Samuel Wells.
Pbk 144pp. ISBN 9781786222251.
Canterbury Press (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

As a collection of 66 books spanning thousands of years, the Bible can be daunting in size and scope. In this Canterbury Press Lent book for 2020, Samuel Wells simplifies the Bible’s complexity and presents the entire sweep of its narrative in 18 key themes.

Although its contents range from history to poetry, law, narrative, letters and even apocalyptic literature, at the Bible’s heart are relationships between God, creation, Jesus, the Church, the Spirit and the Kingdom. Samuel Wells argues that this provides a lens through which the whole Bible can be understood.

Rooted in the best of contemporary biblical theology and scholarship, The Heart of It All will deepen understanding of the Bible and increase confidence in reading it. It includes questions for reflection, making this an ideal resource for Lent groups as well as for individual reading.

A Little Book for New Preachers:
Why and How to Study Homiletics.
Matthew Kim.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9780830853472.

IVP Academic (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

In this brief introduction to preaching, Matthew Kim helps to prepare those called to preach the Word. A seasoned preacher himself, Kim provides proven insight and guidance about the importance and history of preaching, the characteristics of faithful preaching, and the personal habits of a faithful preacher.

With his help, both those training for ministry and those new to the pastoral task will be encouraged as they undertake their calling.

Walking the Way of the Cross:
Prayers and reflections on the biblical stations of the cross.
Stephen Cottrell, Paula Gooder, Philip North.
Pbk 128pp. ISBN 9780715123447.

Church House (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

A series of scripture-based devotions for personal or group use in Lent and Holy Week. Similar in intent to the traditional Stations of the Cross, it focuses wholly on the biblical narrative of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

  • Paula Gooder offers reflections on the scriptural narratives
  • Stephen Cottrell considers the story from the perspective of personal discipleship
  • Philip North explores the story’s challenge to mission and witness.

The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann, Volume 3.
Walter Brueggemann;
Foreword by Barbara Brown Taylor.
Hbk 320pp. ISBN 9780664265816.

Westminster John Knox (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

60 sermons by Walter Brueggemann, preached mostly in the last five years and based on lectionary texts, with numerous sermons on Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter texts.

Preachers will also find inspiration in the handful of sermons covering special occasions or themes, including confirmation, evangelism, and funerals.

Preaching to Head and Heart.
Thomas R. Swears.
Pbk 158pp. ISBN 9781532690105.

Wipf & Stock (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Preachers have long been faced with two options. On the one hand they can appeal to their congregations’ intellects, teaching them the substance of the faith from the pulpit. On the other they can seek to stir their hearers’ emotions, wooing or warning them with the gospel.

While most preachers know that the choice between the head and the heart is a false one, they often don’t know how to bring the two together effectively.

Without abandoning the conventional wisdom on evangelistic vs. teaching sermons, Thomas Swears nonetheless insists that preaching with integrity – in which the Word is truly embodied – will always involve the whole person and personality of both the preacher and the congregation.

Women Within Religions.
Loreen Maseno; Elia Shabani Mligo.
Pbk 154pp. ISBN.9781532697579.

Wipf & Stock (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Women are the majority in almost every cultural or social group. In some cultures and religions, they are highly honoured, while in others they are neglected, oppressed, and segregated. This book examines women’s role in selected world religions: Christianity, Islam, African Traditional Religion, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

It surveys the concept of patriarchy and the various theoretical perspectives surrounding it, and also discusses the concept of ecofeminism and how feminists perceive of the relationship between nature and the oppression of women.

This book is important for students and teachers of gender studies, African theology, and Christian theology as a whole.

Savoring God.
Kathleen Finley.
Pbk 158pp. ISBN 9781610977111.

Wipf & Stock (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

When we pray, we often try to shut out the outside world and focus on the interior, the spiritual, to be with God. Instead, this book invites us to be with God through the very tangible, specific objects of our everyday life.

We’re invited to take another look – as well as another listen, taste, touch, and smell – at what is right before us and see God there. A rock, a shoe, a pen – all offer an opportunity for entering into prayer and experiencing God’s presence.

Revelations of Divine Love.
Julian of Norwich.
Pbk 256pp. ISBN 9780486836089.

Ixia Press (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

The 14th-century anchorite Julian of Norwich offered fervent prayers for a deeper understanding of Christ’s passion. The holy woman’s petitions were answered with a series of divine revelations that she called “shewings.” Her mystic visions revealed Christ’s sufferings with extreme intensity, but they also confirmed God’s constant love for humanity and infinite capacity for forgiveness.

Written in immediate, compelling terms, her experiences remain among the most original and accessible expressions of medieval mysticism.

This edition contains both the short text, which is mainly an account of the shewings and Julian’s initial analysis of their meaning, and the long text, completed some 20 years later and offering daringly speculative interpretations.

The Green Good News.
T. Wilson Dickinson.
Pbk 222pp. ISBN.9781532681837.

Cascade Books (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Dickinson finds a fresh take on the Gospels, painting a picture of Jesus as a humorous and subversive teacher, an organizer of alternative communities and food economies, as a healer of bodies and relationships, and as a prophet who sought to overturn an empire and restore a more just and joyful way of life. Christ teaches and incarnates a vision for sustainable life and provides practices that mark the path toward it.

By exploring this always-inspiring sustainable gospel, we can find ways to transform our lives, communities, and even creation.

Urban Church Planting.
Stephen M. Davis.
Pbk 80pp. ISBN 9781532696169.

Resource Publications (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Urban church planting is not for everyone. It is not more important than church planting elsewhere. But if you believe God has called you to urban ministry, read this book before you go.

It is written by a city guy, freed from the romanticism often associated with planting churches in the city. If after reading this you still believe God is calling you to the city, then by all means go. If not, know that God can use you elsewhere.

Tech-Pecked or Tuned In:
Finding God in a Digital World.
Beverly Rodgers.
Pbk 172pp. ISBN 9781589303140.

Selah Publishing Group (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Are digital distractions constantly interrupting your concentration? Despite the number of online “friends” you have, do you still feel like no one really knows you?

If you need to balance your i-Life and your real life, or if you are craving deeper relationships with other people and with God, this book has the tools you need.

This useful guide provides practical insights to motivate you to move from tech-pecked to tech-checked as you seek to take the best of what the digital world has to offer without becoming enslaved to it. You will read success stories of real people with real struggles who have learned how to manage alert overload and tune in to a daily connection with God that offers satisfaction and peace.

How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time.
Gaia Vince.
Hbk 352pp. ISBN 9780465094905.

Basic Books (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

What enabled humans to go from simple stone tools to smartphones?

Vince argues that modern humans are the product of a nuanced coevolution of our genes, environment, and culture that goes back into deep time. She explains how, through four key elements – fire, language, beauty, and time – our species diverged from the evolutionary path of all other animals, unleashing a compounding process that launched us into the Space Age and beyond.

Provocative and poetic, Transcendence shows how a primate took dominion over nature and turned itself into something marvellous.

Here and Now.
Julia Denos; E. B. Goodale Illustr.
Hbk. 40pp. ISBN 9781328465641.

Houghton Mifflin (2018).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

A stunning celebration of mindfulness and a meditation on slowing down and enjoying each moment. Ideal to read with your 4-7 year old.

Illustrations and easy-to-read text celebrate mindfulness and the connectedness of everything on Earth.

“A unique glimpse of what can be appreciated separate from what we see in front of us, and a topic worthy of a follow-up lesson.” School Library Journal

The Holy Spirit as Person and Power: Charismatic Renewal and Its Implications for Theology.
Rob Yule .
Pbk 268pp. ISBN 9781725251588.

Wipf & Stock (2020).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

The Pentecostal-charismatic movement has been more noted for its activism than for theological reflection. But this may be changing. NZ’s Rob Yule challenges traditional theology to take account of what has been disclosed in the dynamism and variety of charismatic experience.

The author is a theologically trained practitioner, impacted in midlife by a transforming experience of the Holy Spirit. He has been a hands-on leader in the renewal movement. Now, in his later years, he reflects on the meaning of the grace imparted to the church by the renewing activity of God’s Spirit.

This is not the work of an enthusiast claiming a new revelation. Rather, the author draws attention to many nuances in the Bible’s description of the Spirit that have been overlooked in traditional pneumatology. By relating these insights to Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and evangelical theology, he has produced a book with ecumenical implications for all branches of world Christianity.

Really Useful Guides: John.
Robert Willoughby.
Pbk 112pp. ISBN 9780857467515.

Bible Reading Fellowship (2019).
[Allow 3-4 weeks].

“John is my favourite book,” says Willoughby. “Not just in the New Testament, nor even in the Bible. But my favourite book. Full stop. Over all the years of my conscious Christian life it has delighted me, puzzled me, comforted me and astonished me.”

Willoughby offers clear explanations of John’s signs, ‘I am’ sayings and recurring images, alongside unpacking its themes and significance. He shows how to read John with confidence, placing it in the context of the whole Bible and suggesting how it might be used practically for life today.

Full of digestible wisdom and overflowing with enthusiasm, this book will ultimately draw you closer to Jesus.

Praying in Color:
Drawing a New Path to God:
Expanded and Enhanced Edition.
Sybil MacBeth.
Pbk 176pp. ISBN 9781640601642.

Paraclete Press (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Maybe you love colour. Maybe you are a visual or kinaesthetic learner, a distractible or impatient soul, or a word-weary pray-er. Perhaps you struggle with a short attention span, a restless body, or a tendency to live in your head. Maybe you hunger to know God better.

The prayer practice Praying in Colour was born when Sybil’s desperation to pray for family and friends intersected with her love of colour and doodling. Praying in Color invites the whole body into prayer and gives you a new way to be with God.

This is a revised, expanded edition of the best-selling, revolutionary guide to prayer.

It includes double the wisdom and insight from Sybil MacBeth, from 15 years of experience praying, teaching, and leading workshops.

Reimagining Spirit:
Wind, Breath and Vibration.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim.
Pbk 152pp. ISBN 9781532689246.

Cascade Books (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

This book examines the Spirit as experienced in light, wind, breath, and vibration to help us uncover some of its aspects that invite us to work for climate justice, racial justice, and gender justice. The Holy Spirit has always been a mover and shaker of ideas and action. The Spirit’s presence moves, stirs, and changes us to become aware of the social ills in our world.

The different ways in which we reimagine the Holy Spirit can challenge some traditional assumptions in Christianity and provide a liberating vision that allows us to work for social justice. The work of the Holy Spirit stirs us to work toward new kinships with God that are sustainable, just, and whole.

The Grace of Enough:
Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture.
Haley Stewart.
Pbk 192pp. ISBN 9781594718175.

Ave Maria (2018).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Popular Catholic blogger and podcaster Stewart explains how a yearlong internship on a sustainable farm changed her family’s life for the better, allowing them to live gospel values more intentionally. Drawing from Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, she identifies elements of Catholic social teaching that will enhance readers’ lives.

She shares essential elements of intentional Christian living that her family discovered during that extraordinary year on the farm and that they continue to practice today. You, too, will be inspired to:

  • live simply
  • offer hospitality
  • revive food culture and the family table
  • reconnect with the land
  • nurture community
  • prioritize beauty
  • develop a sense of wonder
  • be intentional about technology
  • seek authentic intimacy
  • center life around home, family, and relationships

Rooted and Grounded:
Faith Formation and the Christian Tradition.
Stephen Croft ed.
Pbk 144pp. ISBN 9781786221681.

Canterbury Press (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Beginning in New Testament times, there is a time-honoured tradition of forming new Christians in the essentials of faith: catechesis. This book uncovers the riches of this tradition for all who teach and preach the faith today,

Six outstanding theologians and historians open up the tradition of catechesis for today’s church:

  • Alister McGrath explores the role of the creeds in catechesis;
  • Susan Gillingham, Professor of the Hebrew Bible, looks at the Psalms in Christian formation;
  • Jennifer Strawbridge, Associate Professor of New Testament, reflects on catechesis in the early church;
  • Carole Harrison, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, offers lessons from the patristic period;
  • Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, draws lessons from the Anglo Saxon missions to Europe;
  • Simon Jones, Chaplain of Merton College and member of the Liturgical Commission, links formation and liturgy;
  • Steven Croft shows how this great tradition can be revitalised today.

Questions from the Pews.
Sue King.
Pbk 170pp. ISBN 9781532675454.

Wipf & Stock (2019).
[Allow 2-3 weeks].

Questions often arise from people who engage in critical thinking, value intellectual integrity, and want an authentic conversation regarding their inquiries. King skilfully engages historical, biblical, and spiritual elements to squarely tackle some of the paramount issues of the Christian faith.

Each chapter provides the theological background necessary for a thorough response. The answers are not presented in a manner to sway one’s faith in a particular direction, but rather serve as a framework in which beliefs can be objectively examined. With each chapter capable of being a stand-alone resource, the book delivers in-depth but concise narratives on each topic.

There are no efforts to indoctrinate, making the book a resounding invitation to explore Christianity in an impartial environment.


Each month we choose a selection of titles that we think you will find stimulating and satisfying to read. So come back to the Monthly Selections section of our website regularly.

Are you looking for a specific book?

Please also ask us to find any other books you are interested in. We will give you a price and time to deliver. Emailing us at books@pgpl.co.nz works best.