Friday, December 4, 2015

Spiritual Gift-giving Guide: 2015 Edition

It’s that time again! Time to bust your brains thinking of gifts to buy for everyone on your list.  If you are like me, you like to give meaningful gifts without breaking the bank.  Last year, we made a gift giving guide for spiritually uplifting gifts” for adults and kids that fit the bill perfectly, and we’d like to do the same this year.  We have reviewed most of these books over the last twelve months and found them to be of benefit to us in our spiritual journeys.  We’d buy them for our loved ones, and we’d like to recommend them for yours

Bible Study Tools: Over the past year, we’ve been looking at Bible study methods, and while a lot of the tools we’ve used are available online, maybe the person on your list would like to have a real book to hold.  Wrap one or more of these study guides with a pack of highlighters and I guarantee you’ll make your Bible nerd friend happy!

Topical Bible – A topical Bible groups verses by ideas or topics, and the most relevant passages are included in their entirety, instead of just the references.  Nave’s is the best known, and has been around for over 75 years.

Exhaustive Concordance – No Bible library is complete without a concordance. This tool has an alphabetic listing of all the words in the Bible along with the references where they can be found. An exhaustive concordance will also link each word to its definition in a Greek or Hebrew lexicon. Strong’s is the Gold Standard here, but there are others.

Greek-English Lexicon – For the student who wants grammatical details and language notes in their word studies, a lexicon goes into much greater depth than Strong’s concordance with the meaning and use of Greek words.  The Bible students I know say Thayer’s is the best.

Expository Dictionary – For a student who wants to understand the original/Biblical use of a word without having to have a background in either Greek or lexicography.  I have heard both Vine's and Mounce's recommended.

Bible with cross references – I have a lot of Bibles, but only one of them has cross references.  These are notes that point you from one verse in the Bible to another that speaks about similar things.  It is a wonderful way to use the Bible to study the Bible!

Fiction: We are unapologetic book nerds, and no gift giving guide would be complete without a few fiction selections. 

AD 30 by Tedd Dekker - a Bedouin princess, doubly shamed, herself illegitimate and the mother of an illegitimate son, goes to Herod's court on a mission from her father and encounters Jesus. Helene enjoyed this book thoroughly earlier this year and is looking forward to reading the recently released sequel AD 33.

Anything by Brandon Sanderson – If your book nerd friend also happens to be a geek who enjoys sci-fi, fantasy, or YA literature, we wholeheartedly recommend this author.  His works aren’t overtly Christian, but they are clean and deal with religious themes in a fair and thought provoking way. 

For Young Ladies: As a blog for women and parents of girls, we have often reviewed books and curriculum for young ladies.  Here are a few gift ideas for the young women in your life.

To Be a Handmaid of the Lord, by Angela LeggThis is a book aimed at girls 11-16.  It's set up to be equally useful as a Bible homeschool curriculum or as a full term of a middle/high school Bible class.  Although the book covers topics that are particularly applicable to girls like self-image and modesty, it also covers faith/discipline building topics like courage, forgiveness and prayer.

Purer in Heart, by Heather PryorThis book is designed to be as useful for a girl of 13 as it is a woman of 63, and it covers a wide variety of Biblical topics. Don't let the title of the book mislead you; it is not primarily a book about sexual purity, modesty or taking care to avoid filthy language.  In 13 lessons (in other words a typical "quarter" of the year), a class based on the book would cover topics as diverse as gluttony, pure religion (sincerity and good works), and the pure image God has of his daughters. 

Self Help: Be careful when giving these as gifts; you don’t want to give the wrong idea.  However, we found these books to be immensely helpful to ourselves, and if you can find a way to give them in a kind and tactful way, your loved ones may benefit from them as well.

Mastering Life Before It’s Too Late,by Robert J. Morgan - Mr. Morgan builds his book around ten "patterns" for mastering life. This is not "Ten lifestyle choices to make you feel great!"  No, the author's stated goal for following these patterns is to be "pleasantly productive" in the kingdom of God.  Our days are limited, he says, and the only way we can make a difference is by managing our own lives. I’m still incorporating habits I picked up from this book almost a year later.

You and Me Forever, by Francis and Lisa ChanThis is not so much a marriage self-help book as a book to encourage couples to stop focusing so much on their marriage and start focusing on serving God. It will do nothing for a non-Christian couple, but it will be challenging to married Christians of all ages.

Top 10 Most Outrageous Couples of the Bible, by David Clarke – Instead of giving marriage advice, Dr. Clarke takes a look at married couples in the Bible and discusses what we can learn from them – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Inspirational: Some books are just inspiring to read. They either help us look at the Bible or ourselves a little bit differently, and they stick with us. Some of these books were gifts to us, so we know they will make great gifts to others.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W.Phillip Keller – Written by a shepherd turned minister, this short, simple book explains the metaphor of Psalm 23 in beautiful language.  This would be a great gift for anyone going through the valley of the shadow of death.”

After Acts, by Bryan Litfin – Mr. Litfin did a great amount of research to examine the lives of the apostles and a few other prominent Biblical figures after the recorded events of the Bible. Besides being interesting to Bible nerds, the book is a challenging reminder that the apostles both lived and died for their faith in Christ.

Hello, my name is Jonah, by Lynette Gray – Anyone who can do a study on Jonah and include poetry and hymnology along with complex theology definitely deserves to go in the inspirational” category.  Anyone who wants to dig deeper into the Bible or who loves poetry would enjoy this book.

There you have it!  We hope this guide has been helpful to you.  If you have anything you’d like to add, please let us know in the comments! And if you didn’t find something perfect in this years, check out the books from last year’s list.

Helene & Melissa

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great recommendations! Have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas!
    Blessings and smiles,