Many people are shopping for gifts this season. Why not give something of substance? Something eternally significant and potentially life-changing? Here are some pastoral gift recommendations. These items have either been helpful to me personally, or come recommended from sources I trust. I have provided some links, but feel free to search online for the best price or style.
Here we go!
A good study Bible is an amazing investment in Christian growth, that will serve you for years to come!
The ESV Study Bible. This is a truly amazing resource! Each book of the Bible has an introduction to let you know the author, the cultural context, how it fits into the larger storyline of the Bible, etc. And thousands of study notes help explain what is going on in the text. At the back, there are helpful articles about the Christian life and theology. There are many styles for this Bible, so search for the one you need (normal size print, large print, a smaller ‘personal’ size, cheaper hardcover, genuine leather, etc).
Other recommended study Bibles: The Reformation Study Bible is also excellent, from the ministry of R.C. Sproul (hardcover edition here). The NET Study Bible is truly unique and helpful, with thousands of notes about why specific words and phrases were translated the way they were. I do not generally recommend the NIV translation for deep study, but D.A. Carson has put together an NIV Bible that is really good. Notes, articles, and more – The NIV Biblical Theology Bible.
Christians should study theology! Here are some helpful gifts for growing in the truths of Scripture.
Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Grudem has done a great job teaching the Christian faith topic by topic. On each subject he presents the various views held by believers, shows the relevant biblical teaching, and explains the doctrine in understandable language. He is fair towards the views with which he disagrees. I highly recommend believers working through this book! This past year, his 20th anniversary 2nd edition was released, with expanded teaching and features. Or, you can find the old classic here (or even buy one used at a cheaper price!).
J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology. Strong theology in short clips. You can read these short chapters almost like a daily devotional.
Books Helpful for your Walk with Christ
The Glory of Christ, by John Owen. This is one of the most helpful and edifying books I’ve ever read. Puritan John Owen accomplishes two things: teaching deep theology about Jesus Christ, and drawing the reader into worship!
Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper. This affordable book could change your life.
God is the Gospel, by John Piper. God himself is the goal, not what he can give. Highly recommend!
The Holiness of God, by R.C. Sproul. This book is a classic. It interrupts our fast-paced life and low view of God, slapping us in the face with a reminder of God’s holiness. Sproul is fun to read, even as he dives deep into truth. He also walks through difficult passages of the Bible in a memorable way, honoring God and calling us to respond.
Worth Any Price, by Cary Cox. Here is my short book on the value of the local church.
For the Love of God, by D.A. Carson. There are two volumes to this book. Carson is a brilliant, trusted scholar, who honors the Bible and points us to the Lord. These devotionals are part of Bible reading plan.
Truth for Life, by Alistair Begg. This one is new this year, and looks great. If you’re shopping for me, this could be the one! 🙂
Valley of Vision. This is a collection of prayers from the Puritans, good for devotional reading. Deep truths and warm hearts towards the Lord! (there is a cheaper paperback version available for this one, or a more expensive leather bound version)
Smaller kids: The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
A bit older: Gospel Story Bible, by Marty Machowski. This one is even better! Everyone in the family will learn something, and every story points to the larger story of the Bible in Christ.