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Personal Goals for 2016 from CHRI Staff

January 1st, 2016 | 3 Comments | Posted in News and Updates
Writing your goals down has been proven time and time again as an effected way to help achieve them. A few of the CHRI staff put pen to paper or more literally, fingers to keyboard, since it is now 2016 and wrote down a personal goal for the new year. Do you write down your goals?

care_150Care Baldwin

In 2016 I want to put more effort in to getting ahead on things. As someone who likes working with “To Do” lists, I think I subconsciously have a habit of keeping things on my list until the time they’re actually due. Are you like that too?

Things like projects around the house, planning for upcoming Sunday worship services, meal prep, or writing ‘thank you’ and birthday cards. Rather than waiting until they need to get done, I can be doing things as time allows – Of course, the secret is not saying ‘yes’ to more than I can handle! Are the things I’m putting on my list going to get me to where I want to be? Do they fit in with my passions, purpose and goals?

I hope 2016 will be a year of “Now” and that I can clear things off my lists sooner than they need to be!

ashlyn_150Ashlyn Berkhout

There are a few things I plan to focus on in the year of 2016. One of them is broadening my choices for healthy meal options. This would include meal prepping and putting a lot of mileage on my slow cooker so I have time to focus on the other things I enjoy in life; things like spending more time outdoors, doing crafts, and in The Word. Another small thing I want to do this New Year is celebrate my graduation of post-secondary! It is my goal to finish on a high note. I also want to grow a new aloe plant because mine died (R.I.P. Cecelia).

trudy_150Trudy Connelly

In 2016 I really want to establish a more consistent prayer & Scripture reading time each morning.  Currently I am finding that I only occasionally spend the time I want in the morning and far too often rush through a short devotional and a prayer or two before tackling the other things that need to be done before heading out the door in the morning.  I want to solidify the habit of spending a minimum of 20 minutes each morning reading and meditating on Scripture and listening to God’s voice.  The goal is to start each day off on the right track by getting closer to God and listening for HIs voice speaking into my life.   I have been able to develop the habit of a regular exercise workout most mornings so why not put in the place the time for what is even more important – spending time with God!

ashley_150Ashley House

In 2016 my goal is to compliment more with a special focus on strangers. When I receive good customer service, why not find the manager and tell them so. Or eat at a nice restaurant write them a great Google review. I hope to build and encourage others more in 2016.

brock_150Brock Tozer

This year, I’d like to be more intentional about strengthening individual relationships, esp. with my co-workers, my wife, & my two sons.

dianne_150Dianne Van Der Putten

I feel God is building in me a greater desire for prayer and after seeing the movie ‘War Room’ I’ve rearranged my living room and have brought back my prayer chair.  This is where I now sit to read my bible, wait on the Lord, pray and petition His throne of grace, and yes, I’ve now started to journal.  This is one area that I’ve struggled with and I’m not sure why.  I’ve started writing my thoughts and struggles, asking God to help me process them to bring clarity and focus for what He would be calling me to pray / do.  I’ve also started writing down my dreams and visions, asking God to give me understanding into them.  I’m amazed at what God is teaching me as I intentionally give this area of my life focus believing He is willing to teach all those who seek Him.

New Music 2016

January 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Artist Spotlight
image002Jesus Culture – Let It Echo
Release Date: Friday, January 15, 2016The album title – Let It Echo – captures the heart of the community of the one-year-old church in Sacramento, CA seeking Jesus with a desire to know Him more and to see this passion spread from cities to nations. This is the first album recorded live in front of their congregation in their new city where they planted the local expression of the Jesus Culture movement. The church celebrated the first anniversary of the campus in September, and these new recordings will go from their home base in California to the nations with the release of Let It Echo. This album includes 12 new songs featuring Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala, Bryan & Katie Torwalt, and more.

image004Bethel Music – Have It All
Release Date: Friday, January 22, 2016Bethel Music’s upcoming album “Have It All” features 14 new songs centered upon God’s nature. His promises and His presence in our lives. Featuring 13 worship leaders from the Bethel Music Collective including Brian & Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, William Matthews, Jonathan Helser and more, this album is the first to be recorded live during Bethel Church weekend services since “For The Sake of the World” (2012). The album captures the refreshing essence of live worship and includes spontaneous moments as those gathered respond in his presence.

image006Passion – Salvation’s Tide Is Rising
Release Date: Friday, February 29, 2016Since the first release in 1998, Passion albums have sold over 1.4 million copies while introducing the church to worship songs like “Our God,”’ “Holy Is The Lord,”’ “How Great Is Our God,” and “God Of This City.” The new album will be recorded live and feature Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels and Kristian Stanfill.

image008Hillsong Young & Free – Youth Revival
Release Date: Friday, February 26Hillsong Young & Free, the electronic-pop-worship group of youth leaders from Hillsong Church, is releasing a new live album to follow-up their live full-length debut, “We Are Young and Free”. On Friday, Nov. 13, the group was live at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, recording new songs that will be part of an as of yet untitled 2016 sophomore project.

image010Steven Curtis Chapman – Worship and Believe
Release Date: Friday, March 4, 2016Worship and Believe, is Chapman’s 23rd album in a three decade-long career and is his first worship record. “Worship and Believe”, is a new season for Chapman – creating more vertically-focused worship songs spurred on by a soul awakening to worship music he experienced as he held fast to songs of the church through a season of loss. Chapman co-wrote the album with Matt Maher, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin and members of Rend Collective.

image012The Afters – Live On Forever
Release Date: Friday, February 12, 2015Dove Award-winning band, The Afters, released a new single, “Live On Forever”, written about Heaven, is the first from their forthcoming fifth studio album, set to release February 12, 2015.

All dates subject to change without notice.

What Matters: Getting In The Word.

January 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
When I sit down to really think about what matters in the next year, and how to make those things happen, my first thought is always “quiet times”.I have a pretty set morning routine, which includes reading my Bible, but there are definitely seasons of my life when I’ve strayed from the routine. I’ve been in one of those seasons lately – the press-snooze-a-dozen-times-a-morning kind of season.But the truth is that if I don’t start my day in Scripture, I’m just not a nice person. I’m frazzled, pulled a million different ways, and trying to do everything in my own power. I snap at my kids, watch too much TV, or just stay miffed all day that things aren’t going as planned.

It’s not like there’s anything magical about reading the Bible, but there is definitely a difference on the days I do spend my first few minutes there. When I start my days in the Word, it’s not my day that changes – it’s my heart. I am better able to understand that I can’t do everything on my own, that life is bigger than just me and my issues, and that I’ve been so very loved and forgiven – which helps me to extend that grace to my family (and strangers, if need be.). God’s Word is powerful, and good for teaching, for reproof, and for training in righteousness. Why wouldn’t I start my day there?


So, as I look toward the new year, sticking with this habit of quiet times is at the top of my list. Before I start goal setting and making plans for what I hope the next year will look like, I absolutely positively must make sure that my relationship with the Lord is my foundation.

Can I encourage you to do the same?

There’s no one right way to be in the word each day, and really there’s no one right time. I have lots of friends who do their reading in the afternoon or the evening. It doesn’t matter when! What matters is that you are learning more and more of what God’s Word says, and treasuring it in your mind and heart. Scripture gives us a filter that brings clarity and peace to the way we approach our days. And the more we know of what the Bible says, the more confident we can be in talking about the Gospel with those who need to hear it. (Which is everyone, really.)

We’re all about practical resources here, though, so if you’re stuck trying to figure out exactly HOW you can get into the Word each day, I thought I’d give you a few ideas!

She Reads Truth

It is no secret that SRT is my absolute favorite reading plan. It gets you into Scripture and adds a devotion. Everything is well written and focused on Christ. Plus, it’s FREE! You can read more about SRT and a few other online Bible studies that I love here!

The Best Online Bible Studies For Women -

Write The Word Journals

I’ve been using Lara Casey’s Write The Word Journals in my quiet time each morning, and I love them so much. Lara sent these to me a few weeks ago and I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this all along.! Every morning I read the (short) passage, then write it all out. There’s something in writing out His Word that roots it deep into my heart and soul. As I write, I have time to meditate on His Words, to pray through what Scripture says, and then I journal out those prayers. (You can find the journals here.)

Developing the Habit Of A Daily Quiet Time -

Devotional Books

I compiled a list of my favorite devotions for moms (plus the one I wrote for you guys!) a while back, and it’s definitely one of my most-viewed posts. Devotionals are no substitute for God’s Word, but they can often be a nice accompaniment. Make sure whatever devotional you choose is grounded in Scripture and is focused on Jesus (not on us!).

The Mommy List - My Favorite Devotionals for Moms -

Tomorrow we’ll dive into how to set realistic goals & tend to them throughout the year (instead of forgetting all about them by February 1st!), but we had to start here, in God’s Word. It’s just so important to always always always keep Scripture as our foundation. Without it, there’s no point in any of the rest of this! “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

A Word From LaraLara Casey - Making What Matters Happen

What do your quiet times look like? How do you keep them a priority when you’ve got two little kids? 

I am learning to worship in the chaos. When I’m nursing and Grace needs my attention at the same time, and I haven’t eaten lunch, and I just need a breath, I can either choose stress, or do what my friend Lysa says and “manage blessings.” I choose the latter. So, I stop and praise Him for my children. We sing together. I read to my daughter from the Bible while I nurse. I tell them about what God is teaching me. We pray out loud. We color our blessings. And I let Grace color in my Write the Word journal as I write in it too. Worship can happen anywhere and sometimes quiet times are actually quite loud, but still so rooted and grounded in Him when I surrender to the mess and let it be.

 A little about Lara… 

Lara is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Southern Weddings magazine, where they encourage couples to plan a meaningful beginning to married life. Lara is also the founder of the Making Things Happen movement, a nationally-acclaimed workshop that has been sold out for the last seven years and has toured over 40 cities. She frequently speaks on goal-setting, faith, mission-centered business, and how to make what matters happen. Her first book, Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose, recently released nationwide through Thomas Nelson publishers. Lara loves to garden, explore local farms, and she wishes her neighborhood would let her have chickens. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Ari, and their bubbly daughter, Grace, and new little redhead, Joshua. They are also in the process of adopting!


Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in A Charlie Brown Christmas

January 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement

Christmas may be over but I had to share this great article with you. It’s so fitting as we start a new year, a year filled with unknowns and perhaps fears. I also love how it ties in to this year’s CHRI Christmas letter (read the letter here). I have never made the connection the author makes in all my years of watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. – Ashley

This week A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on national prime time television for the 50th time. In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything becomes quite meaningful.

I am a fan of all things nostalgic and all things Christmas, and so when the two are combined I am hooked, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special falls squarely into that category.

I was in the first grade back when they still performed Christmas pageants in schools (less than 50 years, but still a very long time ago), and our class performed a version of the Charlie Brown Christmas. Since I was kind of a bookworm and already had a blue blanket, I was chosen to play the part of Linus. As Linus, I memorized Luke 2:8-14, and that Scripture has been hidden in my heart ever since.

But while working so diligently to learn those lines, there is one important thing I didn’t notice then, and didn’t notice until now.

Right in the middle of speaking, Linus drops the blanket.


Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt, and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.

Until this moment.  When he simply drops it.

In that climactic scene when Linus shares “what Christmas is all about,” he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words, “fear not” (at :38 seconds).

Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.

The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.

The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.

The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.


The world of 2015 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, 2015 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not.”

But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.

As a writer and musician, Jason Soroski strives to communicate in a way that is insightful, meaningful, relevant, and mindful of the small things that we may otherwise overlook in our everyday lives. He effectively taps into his experiences as a worship pastor, classroom teacher, husband, and homeschooling father of five to relate poignant stories from real-life experiences. Jason holds an M.Ed. from Missouri Baptist University, has been featured in various print and web publications, and currently resides in Houston, TX. Read more from Jason at his blog The Way I See It.


Free Printable Calendars

January 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle






Dark Chocolate Popcorn With Sea Salt

January 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
I like my desserts to be salty & sweet. I will take chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered almonds or peanut M&M’s every time, hands down over plain chocolate or candy. So when I saw this recipe for Dark Chocolate Popcorn With Sea Salt, I said, yes please! Enjoy on your next movie night. – Ashleydark-chocolate-popcornYou’ll need:

1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 large sprig of rosemary (plus a little more for sprinkling over the top)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
5 oz of dark chocolate (2 regular sized chocolate bars), broken up into small squares

To make the rosemary salt, use a mortar and pestle and grind the salt and rosemary. Transfer the salt mixture to a cutting board and mince the rosemary into the salt. Set aside while you make the popcorn.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add a couple kernels and cover. When the kernels pop, add the remaining kernels to the pot, cover and give it a good shake to distribute.

Once the kernels start to pop, wait until the popping slows down to 2-3 second between each pop. That’s when you know it’s done. Remove it from the heat immediately and transfer the popped popcorn to a large mixing bowl.

While the popcorn is popping, toast the nuts and seeds in a dry skillet for a couple minutes. Transfer them to the same large mixing bowl as the popcorn.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a double broiler, melt the chocolate while stirring constantly. When the chocolate has completely melted, pour it over the popcorn mixture and stir it to coat evenly.

Pour the mixture out onto the parchment lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly. Place it in the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.


Christianity Today’s 2016 Book Awards

January 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Christianity Today’s picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.

Friends who know my book-besotted line of work sometimes ask whether I actually read, cover-to-cover, all the volumes that come streaming into my office. I have to suppress a snicker, because that’s a bit like asking whether Alex Trebek knows all the answers onJeopardy!

Still, I devoured every word of the four finalists for CT’s first-ever Beautiful Orthodoxy book award. (See the results here.) What, you might wonder, is that high-sounding coinage supposed to mean? Think of everything that makes public discourse today a nails-on-chalkboard nightmare: the screaming matches, the hair-trigger outrage, the glib snarking and self-righteous peacocking. You might call “Beautiful Orthodoxy” our shorthand for the opposite of that—for theological, political, and cultural expression that unites truthfulness and loveliness. The way the gospel does.

Plenty of people speak the truth about God and his world, but their manner is abrasive. Others use warm, artful language in the service of half-truths and falsehoods. At CT, we believe in the possibility of truth without ugliness, of beauty without moral and theological squishiness. (Don’t take it from me, though. Let editor in chief Mark Galli flesh out our commitment to Beautiful Orthodoxy in this essay and this interview.)

As always, we’re pumped about these yearly book awards, when we recognize Christian writers for painstaking research and trenchant analysis, for dazzling prose and arresting imagery. What a testimony to the power of beauty and orthodoxy uniting in a delicious feast. Bon appétit. —Matt Reynolds, associate editor, books at Christianity Today


Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion
Os Guinness (InterVarsity Press)

“Unlike many apologetics books, Fool’s Talk is not a series of quick-fix answers to questions most folks are no longer asking or one-size-fits-all ‘McTheories’ (Guinness’s term) to be applied to any situation. Rather, Guinness draws upon a lifetime of diverse experience to explore and invite us into the art of ‘creative persuasion.’ ” —Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor, author of The Skeletons in God’s Closet

(See CT’s interview with Os Guinness here.)

Award of Merit

The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus
Dallas Willard (HarperOne)

“Of all the apologetics books published in the past year, I would choose The Allure of Gentleness as the one I would most want my graduate students to read, digest, and deeply assimilate. It wonderfully distills the thinking of the late Christian philosopher and has the texture of Pascal’s Pensées in its wisdom and presentation. As you would expect from Willard, it’s a spiritual and apologetic feast all at once.” —Craig Hazen, professor of apologetics, Biola University

Biblical Studies

Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Vol. 1–4
Craig S. Keener (Baker Academic)

“Keener is a scholar with gifts that come along once every century, and here we see them employed in full force. Words like encyclopedic, magisterial, and epic come to mind when you examine 4,000 carefully argued pages on every aspect of the Book of Acts. Nothing like this has ever been done—and it’s doubtful that anything like it will be done for a long time. Keener has a grasp of the ancient world like few scholars anywhere, but he also has a heart for the church and its mission.” —Gary Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

Award of Merit

The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate
John H. Walton (IVP Academic)

Questions of human origins and the historical Adam are of intense interest to the church and the academy, especially in light of the Human Genome Project. Here, Walton follows up on his previous work (which reads the Genesis Creation account through the lens of Ancient Near Eastern cosmology) with a focus on Adam and Eve. Reading the Creation account through ancient Israelite eyes, he provides an intriguing alternative for those who see contemporary science as moving in a direction antithetical to traditional understandings of Genesis.” —Mark Strauss, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary

(CT interviewed John Walton in the March 2015 issue.)

Christian Living/Discipleship (tie)

The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts
Joe Rigney (Crossway)

“Too often, we treat delight in the beauties of nature and culture as distractions from the divine, or else consider our spiritual lives cordoned off from the rest of life—our leisure, food, clothes, relationships. Rigney invites us to enter into a more spiritually mature understanding of God’s good gifts, in order to bless God for all he gives, to mirror his generosity, and to model grace and gratitude, whether we have little or much.” —Rachel Marie Stone, blogger, author of Eat with Joy

Award of Merit

Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age
Jonathan Grant (Brazos)

“We have needed this book for a long time. The church’s response to the seemingly limitless trajectory of hypersexualization has been puny, negative, and ineffective. Even the books written to ‘celebrate sex,’ seeking to shed the image of Christians as puritanical, often reduce sex to the same terms as our culture does. Divine Sex properly widens the frame, delivering an incisive and nearly comprehensive analysis of our present state, and providing a theological map toward living fully redeemed lives, in fully redeemed bodies.” —Leslie Leyland Fields, writer, author of Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers

(Our review of Divine Sex appeared in the September 2015 issue.)

The Church/Pastoral Leadership

The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus
Zack Eswine (Crossway)

“Here is a book so gritty, liberating, godly, and honest that it was hard to put down. Drawing from Scripture, theology, and close observation of life, Eswine describes the life of ministry in a way that unshackles the minister from impossible demands—and all the dread, depression, and burnout that accompanies them. For the minister, this book is full of mercy and encouragement. For everyone else, it reminds us of a glad irony: God chooses to do imperfect ministry through imperfect persons rather than personally doing it perfectly.” —Cornelius Plantinga Jr., senior research fellow at Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Award of Merit

The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision
Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson (Zondervan)

“In our age, pastoral ministry is haunted by the specter of technique—the pressure to get things done. Hiestand and Wilson offer a different vision, one that attends not only to what is done, but also to the particular theology that drives our actions. Drawing upon a rich body of historical research, the authors suggest that pastoral ministry and the work of theology should not be mutually exclusive.” —C. Christopher Smith, co-author of Slow Church, editor of The Englewood Review of Books

(Our review of The Pastor Theologian appeared in the July/August 2015 issue.)

Culture and the Arts

Science Fiction Theology: Beauty and the Transformation of the Sublime
Alan P. R. Gregory (Baylor University Press)

“Our culture is awash in science fiction. From post-apocalyptic young-adult blockbusters to hard sci-fi novels, the genre’s star has never burned more brightly. Science Fiction Theology demonstrates a masterful understanding of what makes it all tick. While the casual fan may find the book’s density off-putting, others will find themselves deeply edified by Gregory’s rigorous tracing of the dialogue between science fiction and Christianity. The dialogue, it turns out, is very lively, even when trafficking in distortions. The chapter on Philip K. Dick, an author criminally ignored by religious readers, is itself worth the price of admission.” —David Zahl, director of Mockingbird Ministries

Award of Merit

Yet One More Spring: A Critical Study of Joy Davidman
Don W. King (Eerdmans)

“Who was Joy Davidman, and what made her the perfect match for C. S. Lewis? King’s literary biography is a fascinating portrait of a woman who deserves to be seen as more than a famous man’s wife. King traces Davidman’s emotional, political, and spiritual evolution by closely examining and evaluating her uneven but always interesting literary output. Though Lewis (naturally) has cameos, Davidman is the star: a strong woman and passionate writer whose love sonnets, especially, warrant closer examination.” —Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity and Gray Matters


Death Comes for the Deconstructionist
Daniel Taylor (Slant)

” ‘Something is wrong. I’m not well. The voices are back.’ The first lines of this novel demanded my attention. I love how it doesn’t fit into a single genre—it’s one part mystery, one part religious and academic commentary. I was constantly guessing where the plot was headed, and I appreciated the experimental way the story unfolded. As I read, I found myself comparing the main character, Jon Mote, to Hazel Motes of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. Like Hazel, Jon is both haunted and intrigued by his Christian upbringing. Both are seeking redemption, but on very different paths. Taylor took risks in telling this story, and I applaud his boldness.” —Michael Morris, author of Man in the Blue Moon

Award of Merit

Still Life
Christa Parrish (Thomas Nelson)

“Parrish explores the complicated world of Ada, a young woman recently rescued from a fundamentalist cult. Ada is trying to build a life in the outside world when her world is rocked a second time by the sudden death of her new husband in a plane crash. She eventually meets Katherine, the woman who gave up her seat to Ada’s husband. Katherine is trying to piece together her own broken marriage. The characters are complex and well-drawn, and their search for community and connection in the midst of mourning keeps the plot unfolding at a brisk yet natural pace.” —Hannah Notess, poet and author, managing editor of Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine


George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father
Thomas S. Kidd (Yale University Press)

“Despite its somewhat grandiose subtitle, this book offers a judicious assessment of a man who was at once a great evangelist, a tireless self-promoter, a deeply pious believer, and an advocate of slavery. The text is so clear and lively that the reader hardly notices the scholarly labor beneath the surface.” —Elesha Coffman, professor of church history, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

See CT’s interview with Thomas Kidd here.)

Award of Merit

Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis
Abigail Santamaria (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“The narrative is crisp, and the subject matter is original and captivating. Santamaria examines Joy Davidman through a lens simultaneously critical and tender. Rather than presenting Lewis and his wife as saints, she depicts them as God’s sinful patients. Out of the many books published on Lewis, his contemporaries, and his writings in recent years, this one most thoroughly grabbed my attention.” —John G. Turner, professor of religious studies, George Mason University

Missions/The Global Church

Christian. Muslim. Friend: Twelve Paths to Real Relationship
David W. Shenk (Herald Press)

“At a time when relations between Christians and Muslims are more complex than ever, Shenk has given us a wonderfully thoughtful account of how to build real relationships. Without giving formulas or reducing Muslims to a single type, Shenk draws on his vast experience in many parts of the world to provide an encouraging way forward for anyone seeking to share the hope of the gospel with their Muslim neighbors.” —Brian Howell, professor of anthropology, Wheaton College

Award of Merit

From Dependence to Dignity: How to Alleviate Poverty through Church-Centered Microfinance
Brian Fikkert and Russell Mask (Zondervan)

“Confronted with global poverty and the corresponding suffering, the North American church can fall prey to a pair of mistaken approaches: retreating from a seemingly impossible task, or responding with impulsive but misapplied generosity. This book offers a way forward that can serve to build long-term solutions.” —Paul Borthwick, professor of missions at Gordon College

Politics and Public Life

Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel
Russell Moore (B&H)

“Conservative Christianity is at a pivotal moment. After decades of tremendous political power buttressed in a society that agreed with most of its convictions, that power is slipping, or at least shifting. And a younger generation of evangelicals is skeptical of the church’s involvement in politics. Moore’s hopeful response is not bitter or frantic, but measured and confident. He explores how we can be a ‘prophetic minority,’ calling for human dignity, religious liberty, and stable families with ‘convictional kindness.’ We need this book. I only wish we had had it 20 years ago.” —O. Alan Noble, editor in chief of Christ and Pop Culture

(Sarah Pulliam Bailey profiled Russell Moore in the September 2015 issue of CT.)

Award of Merit

Free to Serve: Protecting the Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations
Stephen V. Monsma and Stanley W. Carlson-Thies (Brazos)

“Monsma and Carlson-Thies speak to the most pressing crisis in US politics. With regard to same-sex marriage and many other contested issues, religious liberty is on a collision course with prevailing moral and legal sensibilities, posing immediate dangers to Christian institutions. The authors address the problem with well-calibrated expertise. Religious liberty desperately needs defending as a matter of public policy, and Free to Serve shows how it’s done.” —Hunter Baker, university fellow at Union University, author of The End of Secularism

(CT interviewed Stephen Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies in the October 2015 issue.)

Spiritual Formation

Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God
Lauren Winner (HarperOne)

Wearing God is a provocative, smart, and well-written book, drawn from a deep well of astute biblical reflection and a host of ancillary sources. It enriches our theological imagination by calling our attention to neglected images of God in the Scripture: God as clothing and fire, God as the woman who labors and the one who laughs. Winner concedes the limits of human language, which can only ‘gesture’ at the reality of God, who is not always as we expect to find him. Most important, she challenges the cowardly dodge of abstracting God. As proposition, he is tame. But as the grunting, panting woman of Isaiah’s prophecy and intoxicating libation, he is terribly, beautifully, wonderfully wild.” —Jen Pollock Michel, author of Teach Us to Want (CT’s 2015 Book of the Year)

(Our review of Wearing God appeared in the July/August 2015 issue.)

Award of Merit

Coming Clean: A Story of Faith
Seth Haines (Zondervan)

Coming Clean is a powerful story of a man whose son was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Instead of turning to God for solace, Haines turned to alcohol to numb the pain—and turned his anger at God. Yet, in coming clean from alcohol abuse, Haines also comes clean about doubts and fears—and their roots in some malformed spiritual experiences among well-meaning believers. Haines’s humility and honesty are disarming. And the fact that alcohol became his idol is a timely warning about abusing God’s good gifts through an inordinate love of them.” —Nathan Finn, dean of the School of Theology and Missions, Union University


Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God
John F. Kilner (Eerdmans)

“Carefully holding the doctrine of imago Dei to its foundations in Scripture, Kilner painstakingly documents a host of unwarranted extrapolations that theologians and preachers have let themselves construct. What’s left after his thorough work of demolition? Plenty. The way has been cleared for the doctrine of the image of God to help guide our thinking about human nature.” —Fred Sanders, professor, Torrey Honors Institute of Biola University

Award of Merit

Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock: A Theology of Religions
Daniel Strange (Zondervan)

“Strange has produced a courageous and robust treatment on how evangelicals should relate to other religions. He stirs readers to think theologically about world faiths, with a view toward reclaiming the field of ‘religious studies’ and finding ways to wisely and lovingly share the Good News with those who live in darkness.” —Michael Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College (Australia)


Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World
Carolyn Custis James (Zondervan)

“For all the progress we’ve made in valuing women, in our society and our churches, a portion of the population still suffers silently: men. Whether they are falling victim to unrealistic stereotypes of masculinity, suffering from a ‘father wound,’ or feeling marginalized by the riptides of culture, men need the loving guidance and support of God’s people. Without a doubt, Malestrom will encourage men and women alike to value and promote a healthy, biblical view of manhood.” —Jamie A. Hughes, managing editor of In Touch Magazine

(Carolyn Custis James wrote about “The Rise of Women and the Manhood Crisis” for Her.meneutics.)

Award of Merit

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson)

Searching for Sunday is both an ode to the broken church and an invitation to all who are broken (that is, everyone) to come on in. Evans manages a graceful balance, noting the way churches can hurt, while speaking hope about the way churches can heal. She walks readers through stories centered on the sacraments while weaving in her own story of big spiritual questions, confusion, loss, and great hopes for Christian community.” —Rachel Pieh Jones, blogger, development worker in Northeast Africa

(CT managing editor Katelyn Beaty wrote about Rachel Held Evans’s return to church here.)