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. (I have provided some links, but feel free to search online for the best price or style)
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 (large print, a smaller ‘personal’ size, cheaper hardcover, genuine leather, etc). (Another good study Bible is the Reformation Study Bible, or, if you simply must use the NIV, this one edited by D.A. Carson has amazing study notes).
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.
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!
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)
Devotional: 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.
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.
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.