Tag Archives: New Growth Press

What’s Up? by Deborah Harrell & Jack Klumpenhower

What up SGHarrell, Deborah and Jack Klumpenhower. What’s Up? Discovering the Gospel, Jesus, and Who You Really Are. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2015. 152 pp. Student Guide – $15.99. Teacher’s Guide – $19.99.

Introduction

Jack Klumpenhower is the author of Show Them Jesus – Teaching the Gospel to Kids also by New Growth Press. Deborah Harrell is the Overseas Educational Advisor for Serge. She has also written a children’s novel, Pinto’s Hope.

Summary

This is a study designed for middle school students (5th-8th grade) to encourage them to believe the good news of Jesus and to also live it out in their lives. There is an accompanying teacher’s guide.

The workbook is divided into three parts with fifteen different lessons. The curriculum guides middle-school age students in discovering Jesus through fifteen 90-minute lessons that can be expanded to cover twenty-seven weeks.

Review

This is a practical, down to earth, Bible study designed to “hit the children where they are.” Deborah and Jack masterfully teach doctrinal truths of Christian character in a way that most every child can understand. What sets this curriculum apart, however, is that it is not moralistic as most. Rather, this study on Christian character traits is gospel-centered and points to the necessity of Jesus Christ every day in the life of a child and an adult.

Perhaps the best aspect of this particular study is that it shows the middle-school child that faith in Christ is not a church only deal. It must, of necessity encompass one’s entire life. Unit one lays this foundation with an intensive look at the gospel while unit two shows how the gospel alone changes your heart. The third unit shows how the gospel changes your life.

Each week, the youth will be challenged by the gospel. They will see that there is no gray. You are either a Christian or you are not.

While there is quite a bit of prep time for the teacher as well as quite a bit of “homework” for the student, this is a comprehensive approach to student ministry that, Lord willing, will have lasting impact on the child, the teacher, and the local church.

Recommendation

I am always looking for solid study materials for children…especially as a father of 5! What’s Up?  is gospel saturated, Christocentric and will prove to be a wake-up call to both the youth and the instructor. I highly recommend this resource to anyone with children or looking to instruct children.

On Guard by Deepak Reju

On GurdReju, Deepak. On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014. 208 pp. $19.99. Purchase at Westminster in print for less or on Kindle.

Introduction

Deepak Reju serves as Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He has contributed to Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling and Scripture and Counseling.

Summary

Divided into three sections with a number of appendices, Dr. Reju tackles a timely though difficult subject. Section one lays the foundation and the necessity of getting familiar with the problem of child abuse. The second section offers eight strategies for protecting against child abuse while section three offers three strategies to properly respond to abuse if it should occur in your church (or anywhere for that matter).

The appendices offer suggestions ranging from writing policies to talking with children to training scenarios for workers and volunteers.

Review

As much as I hate to say it, this book is much needed today. Stories abound, as do court cases and arrest records, of the pervasive nature of child abuse both in the home and the church. Obviously, we cannot be everywhere at once, but we can look for signs in the lives of those children and families who are under our care as a church.

Deepak’s work is rooted firmly in Scripture. From that solid foundation, he offers much practical insight in how to deal with this often hidden problem. On Guard is not lengthy though one ought to read it slowly and thoughtfully as we are all going to give an account one way or another.

Depending on where you stand in your knowledge of the pervasiveness of this problem, this work could be extremely eye-opening. Wading through section one for the one who is ignorant of the problem may be earth-shattering. Section two will prove to be a most valuable platform from which to build one’s ministry to protect against child abuse. Section three will serve as an exhortation to respond properly both biblically and legally when it comes to reporting these crimes.

Dr. Reju’s work is extremely accessible to all in the church. His desire to offer “a more comprehensive approach” to preventing and responding to child abuse has been met. This resource is not meant to be the end of the discussion but the beginning of a lengthy discussion designed to equip the bride of Christ to minister more effectively to a hurting world.

Recommendation

If you are a Christian, you need to read this book. If you are on a church staff or a member of a church, you must read this book. It is sad that it needs to be written, but the fact that it does indicates the importance of the subject at hand. We must no longer bury our heads in the sand. Rather, we must equip ourselves to bear one another’s burdens. Dr. Deepak Reju aids us in this endeavor and for that we are indebted to him.

Hide or Seek by John Freeman

Hide or SeekFreeman, John. Hide or Seek: When Men Get Real with God About Sex. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014. 144 pp. $17.99. Purchase at Westminster books for less or on Kindle.

Introduction

John Freeman is president of Harvest USA whose stated purpose is to bring the truth and mercy of Jesus Christ to help men, women and families affected by sexual struggles and sin.

Summary

Divided into ten chapters over 140+ pages, John cuts through the stained glass masquerade and gets down to business. In the first chapter he lays the foundation of how pervasive pornography and sexuality have become in our culture. The next three chapters articulate what life looks like for one who plays the game and ultimately hates God while creating idols to worship.

Chapter five begins the process of rebuilding our identity and theological foundation on the gospel. Here, he looks at the importance of living with integrity. Chapter six is the atomic bomb that the gospel will disrupt your life and give you hope that you have the power to overcome your sinful addictions. Next, he continues building and explaining that the gospel is indeed for you and how to live according to this truth.

The final three chapters offer explicit applications on living in light of the gospel and how to deal with one’s dark desires.

Review

Finally, some straight talk that is not meant to shock you! I have read a number of books about battling pornography. They have ranged from advice like “just stop it” to a new creation would never have this struggle. Their methods have been everywhere from understood coddling to shock-jock conversation meant to help you deal with it in the real world.  Hide or Seek does none of this.

Rather, John Freeman has authored a resource that is both frank and genuine while also being biblical and extremely understanding in its practical application. He does not shy away from the reality that pornography is everywhere and because it is everywhere it is pervasive in all of life.

His perspective is based on years of speaking to men (and women) about the problem of porn. He is saturated with Scripture and seeks to apply the biblical solutions to everyday life in order to offer a strategy to win the battle (because for the Christian, the war has already been won!).

In the end, there is no easy step solution to winning. This is a daily battle in which you will need to be fully engaged in at all times.

Recommendation

There are a number of books on the problem of sexuality and pornography. I have recommended many of them and highly recommend Hide or Seek as well. His perspective is fresh and genuine. His advice is sound and time-tested.

Show them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower

Show Them JesusKlumpenhower, Jack. Show them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014.  204 pp.  $17.99. Purchase print for less at Westminster Books or digitally on Amazon Kindle.

Introduction

Jack Klumpenhower has written Children’s Ministry curriculum for over 30 years. Currently, he is working in conjunction with the Serge staff to write a middle-school gospel curriculum.  He lives with his wife and two children in Durango, Colorado.

Summary

Divided into two parts, Jack begins with a look at why we ought to teach the Good News. His first chapter sets the tone for the entire book: The One-Note Teacher. In other words, all we have to offer children is Christ and that is what we should make a priority in the lives of children we know.  Ultimately, Jack makes a case that the Good News is like nothing else and is for all children…especially church kids.

The second part looks at the mechanics of how we should teach the Good News.  First, he looks at the gospel as found in the Old Testament. Next, he looks at the gospel from the New Testament.  The final four chapters offer insight into how to take the gospel to all of life whether in the home, in the school, or even in the prayer closet.

He concludes with an essay entitled Twelve Answers to the Objection that Teaching God’s Free Grace Leads to Lax Obedience.

Review

Having served as a youth pastor, a children’s pastor and having five of my own children, I found this resource to be refreshing, challenging and encouraging all at the same time.  I appreciated the gospel-centered hermeneutic employed by Jack a la Charles Spurgeon who always preached the text and then made “a beeline to the cross.”

Full of Scripture and personal anecdotes from his 30+ years of teaching, Jack writes to the Sunday School teacher, the pastor, the father, the mother, and the one who was once a child.  His style is conversational and instructional at the same time and drives the reader to a deeper thinking of how he or she ought to be more intentional in regards to exhorting children with the grace of God.

I was a bit shocked by the closing essay which serves as an appendix but found it to be helpful as it unearthed certain areas in my thinking that I was unaware of.

Recommendation

When it is all said and done, we must be thinking about how we ought to be intentional about sharing the gospel with everyone, especially children.  In a day and age when the battle for the well-being of our children begins at conception, we must equip ourselves to be gospel-centered in our parenting.  To this end, I recommend Show Them Jesus to everyone.

The Gospel-Centered Life for Teens by Robert Thune and Will Walker

Gospel Centered Life for TeensThune, Robert H. and Will Walker. The Gospel-Centered Life for Teens – a 9-week Study.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014.  Leader’s Guide – . Participant’s Guide – . Purchase for less at Amazon or Westminster Books.

Introduction

This is a companion to The Gospel-Centered Life at Work also published by New Growth Press.  This is the second resource by Thune and Walker. I reviewed The Gospel-Centered Community about a year ago.

Serge means “joining together rough edges to form a smooth seam.” Serge (formerly World Harvest Mission) is a ministry that sees God weaving together the ragged parts of a fallen world with his goodness, making the tattered beautiful. This grace compels his people to go, to join their lives with the communities Serge serves around the world, as Christ makes all things new. This is God’s grace at the fray. Serge’s work consists of sending and caring for missionaries, discipling people around the world, and developing resources for spiritual growth. Learn more about our work worldwide at Serge.org.

Summary

From the back of the book:

Techie? Jock? Class Clown? You Can’t Build a Life on a Label.

Something or someone will always try to define you. Maybe others call you the “techie,” the “jock,” the “class clown,” or the “smart kid.” It’s easy to think that those labels sum up who you really are, express what really matters in your life, and define the things you should pursue.

But your identity goes far deeper than the positive or even the negative labels people use to define you. There is something at the core of a satisfying and meaningful life that can’t be summed up by any label. The Gospel-Centered Life for Teens offers you the chance to center your life on the only thing in the universe that actually has the power to define you, give your life meaning, and shape how you live each day.

This 9-lesson Bible study, adapted from The Gospel-Centered Life by Bob Thune and Will Walker, gives teens and young adults a road map for living a life centered on God and the gospel. Each lesson is self-contained, featuring clear teaching from Scripture, and requires no extra work outside the group setting. The self-explanatory Leader’s Guide helps small group leaders with discussion questions and background material that clearly explain and apply the gospel truths from each lesson.

Review

As with the previous review, this is a 9-week study that is extremely important as we continue to strive to decompartmentalize our Christianity.  Though this study is geared towards the teenager, I believe that many adults, who are “like newborn babies” in Christ will learn much from this study.  Further, I can see how this would be a great college campus ministry tool as well.

The 9 weeks are extremely practical and offer tips on how to incorporate gospel living in every day life.  Chapter 2 on pretending, is a very poignant chapter as there are a number of youth who do not believe what they claim to profess.  This is a difficult chapter to teach, but one that, if it hits the mark well, could change the hearts of many supposed Christians so that they see their need to be truly born again of God.

Recommendation

I highly recommend this resource to all parents and all youth pastors/leaders.  I am grateful for gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources like this that New Growth continually publishes.

 

Gospel Centered Life at Work by Robert Alexander

Gospel Centered Life at WorkAlexander, Robert. Gospel Centered Life at Work – 10 Week Study.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014.  Leader’s Guide – $14.99 Participant’s Guide – $9.99.  Purchase both for less from Amazon of Westminster Books.

Introduction

Robert Alexander, MBA, is the Operations Officer of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, NC and its network of sister churches. He is the author of Professionals: Men and Women Partnering with the Trinity in Everyday Life. Rob and his wife Rebecca also teach a multi-campus Graduate Student Fellowship focused on faith and life integration.

Summary

From the back of the book:

Tired of the Daily Grind?

If you asked a dozen Christians why their work matters, you’d probably get a dozen different answers. Whether paid or unpaid, skilled or menial—each of us longs to find meaning in what we do from day to day. Can the gospel really help us in our quest?

The Gospel-Centered Life at Work invites CEOs and homeschooling parents, doctors and plumbers, white, blue and pink collar-workers to sit down and discuss our work as a common call to follow Jesus in all of life. Whether we struggle with complaining at work, defensiveness, fearing the future, frustration, or troubling ethical decisions—work brings challenges to each of us that we cannot handle apart from Christ. The Gospel-Centered Life at Work shows us how to turn to Jesus in repentance and faith and to both work and rest in Him.

The 10 lessons in this small group study help participants to build a bridge from personal faith to the difficulties and drudgeries of the daily grind. Each lesson in The Gospel-Centered Life at Work is self-contained, featuring clear teaching from Scripture, and requires no extra work outside of the group setting. The self-explanatory Leader’s Guide helps small group leaders with discussion questions and background material that clearly explain and apply the gospel truths from each lesson.

Review

These 10 lessons offer a paradigm shift for every person who claims to be a Christian.  In our compartmentalized world, Robert offers us a biblical reason for living out our faith each and every day in the work place.  Often, we bring the work place home with us whether good or bad.  This resource will help us to bring our church service so to speak with us to work.

Through reading and studying this resource, the reader will be challenged with his or her sinfulness and consequent need for the gospel in their life every day.  The leader’s guide takes minimal preparation except reading the chapter while the participant’s guide does not demand a ton of work beforehand.  In other words, this is a ready-made study resource that will challenge the Christian to live life in light of the gospel.

While there may not be much “work” to be done as we think of Bible studies, I can honestly say that the lasting impact will be more than profound.

Recommendation

I recommend this work for all Christians in any size study group.  The impact that the Christian can have in the workplace may be more profound than the impact most have with their friends.

Picture Perfect by Amy Baker

Picture PerfectBaker, Amy. Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line Up.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014. 199 pp.  $17.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Amy Baker is the Ministry Resource Director at Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana.  She is also an instructor and counselor at Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.  As if that were not enough, she also serves on the board of directors for Vision of Hope and is a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.  In other words, she has much insight and practical experience in the area of biblical counseling. You can find a number of her other works here.

Summary

Divided into three parts with 22 chapters, Amy begins by describing various perfectionists through descriptive biographies that are both fictional and real.  In so doing, she attempts “to peel back the layers of perfectionism” so we can get to the heart of the issue and be able to more accurately see where we struggle ourselves.  The second part is a description of key concepts that must be understood if genuine gospel change is to take place.  Part three is the nuts and bolts of the book.  After having laid a foundation of what perfectionism looks like in every day life (part 1) and what are some of the means by which we can overcome it (part 2), she looks at specific trouble areas and offers advice and counsel on how to deal with them.

The book concludes with a list of discussion questions that can be utilized in private and group settings.

Review

On one hand, we are tempted to say that if one is genuinely born again, they do not need a resource like Picture Perfect to overcome sin.  On the other hand, this is completely false.  Amy enters into this discussion as a friend and counselor. She does not sound as though she is a professor who has licked this subject and is now wanting to teach those lesser mortals how to deal with it.  Instead, she writes as one who, though she struggles sometimes with perfectionism, she indeed knows a better way.  She writes in order to “fellowship” with her brothers and sisters in Christ.

Her solutions are saturated in Scripture and sound in orthodox theology.  She does not offer any self-help drivel.  Rather, she gives the gospel.  She argues that it is only the gospel that will overcome the theology of perfectionism.  She argues that perfectionism can be, and often is, the root of bitterness in the life of the Christian.  Instead of leaning on our own abilities, we must continually seek the perfection of Christ and plead His atoning blood on our behalf.

She further argues that the concept of being perfect in this life is nothing less than legalism and works-based salvation which does nothing but drown the person in an endless ability to be what they want to be.  Further, she balances all of this with the call to be holy because our God is holy.  In doing so, she argues, quite rightly, that our entire life is one of the necessity of receiving grace from God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Only when we grasp this will we be able to offer the grace necessary to others.

Recommendation

This is one of those resources that you do not realize you could benefit from until you actually start reading it.  No one really wants to admit that they struggle with perfectionism…until they discover themselves on the pages of part one of Picture Perfect.  It is to that end that I recommend this book to be read by all Christians.  Understand the principles and the necessity of grace and be ready to give your copy away.  I highly recommend this resource.

Get Real by John S. Leonard

Get RealLeonard, John S.  Get Real – Sharing Your Everyday Faith Every Day.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2013.  184 pp. $17.99.  Purchase at Westminster and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Dr. John Leonard is a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, the Director of the Harvie Conn Center for Global Urban Mission, and the founding pastor of Creshiem Valley Church (PCA). He also served as a missionary with Arab World Ministries in France. John and his wife Christy have three children.

Summary

Divided into two sections, 17 chapters over 184 pages, this work is direct and to the point.  The first section, three chapters in length, looks at the gospel we share.  Leonard offers two ways to witness: grace vs. guilt and sets the foundation that he is not going to guilt you into your need to evangelize but, instead, show you all the reasons of grace why you should.  He concludes the first section with a look at Luke 7 and how Christ’s method ought to be our method.

The second section is the meat and potatoes of the book.  In these 14 chapters, the reader will begin to understand what the author calls “a real approach” to evangelism.  In these chapters, he offers many different situations in which the Christian can, and should, share his or her faith.  The idea is to first be normal then be prepared through prayer and familiarity with Scripture.

Review

Books detailing methods and strategies for evangelism abound today.  John’s work is excellent in that he removes evangelism from being merely a program of the church and instead shows how it ought to be a lifestyle for the Christian.  He aptly shows how to turn just about any conversation into a gospel conversation and even encourages the believer to “sow widely” so that you can share the faith with as many people as possible.

The reader will be challenged from Scripture to develop a grace-filled approach to sharing the same faith that saved you from God’s wrath.  In essence, the idea of getting real in evangelism is that you are honest and truthful.  You are not a Christianized Amway salesman with a gospel tract in your hand trying to make your quota.  Rather, you are a dying man, saved by grace, seeking to share the hope that you have found in the person of Christ.  In the end, the reader will understand that there is no excuse for not sharing the gospel.  This is both intimidating and freeing.

Recommendation

If you are wanting to understand how to share your faith and don’t have time for a class on evangelism, Get Real is one of the top three books on evangelism I have read.  I recommend it to every Christian, new and old.  I recommend it to those who lead an evangelism ministry.  Read this work and be challenged…not by the author of the book, but by the Author of Life.

Reformed Means Missional Edited by Samuel T. Logan, Jr.

Reformed Means MissionalsReformed Means Missional: Following Jesus into the World.  Edited by Samuel T. Logan, Jr.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2013.  288 pp.  $19.99.  Purchase at Westminster for less.

Introduction

Samuel T. Logan Jr., Editor, MDiv, PhD has been International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship since 2005. He served at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1979–2007, and is now President Emeritus. He was also Visiting Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1988–89, and special counsel to the president at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, from 2007–2013. He is a minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Contributors to this work include Martin Allen, P. J. (Flip) Buys, Robert Calvert, John Freeman, Frank A. James III, Timothy Keller, Diane Langberg, John Leonard, A. T. B. McGowan, Elias Medeiros, John Nicholls, Susan M. Post, Thomas Schirrmacher, and Basyle (Boz) Tchividjian.

Summary

Divided into two section, Logan spends three chapters laying the foundation for what missional living looks like.  The first chapter looks at a missional church setting while chapter two asks “What is the point in believing and doing the right things?”  The third chapter springs from Romans and the missional mandate must go together.  After laying this foundation he moves into the second section on how the church reaches the world.  This section is comprised of 10 chapters.

In this practical section, the reader is equipped to understand, biblically, the importance of how to reach the world where it is.  Chapter topics include responses to poverty and social injustice, violence against women, child sexual abuse, the LGBT community, and reaching the urban communities.

Review

The contributors, and consequently, the editor, do a fine job of walking the narrow path between the current liberal trend of focusing on the social gospel and biblical concern of meeting the needs of the people because we are commanded by Jesus to do so.  I welcome their willingness to right this unfortunate misunderstanding of the gospel.  They rightly put the impetus on the church to help those who need help, but they do so because of the first great commandment of loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul.  The error that occurs in the liberal church setting is typically putting the second commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself before loving God or, as in many cases, independent of loving God.

Full of biblical support and rightly understood applications of texts, the reader will be challenged to live a more missional life.  That is to say, we will learn to meet the needs of those around us in a proper manner and do so in a way that is truly honoring to God.

Recommendation

I am grateful that there is an emphasis on what it means to live out your faith.  Reformed Means Missional meets a critical need in the church today.  How you do that in a manner worthy of praise to the Lord is critical.  New Growth Press has offered a wonderful resource to the church to enable and equip her to live out her faith in a very tangible way.  Furthermore, it helps the reader to understand the biblical reasoning and command for doing so and to do it rightly.  I recommend this work to anyone looking to live out their faith.

The Gospel-Centered Community by Thune and Walker

GC Comm LGThune, Robert H., Will Walker.  The Gospel-Centered Community.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2013.  128 pp.  $12.99.  Purchase at WTS books for less.

Introduction

There are a number of resources available for living a missional lifestyle, the idea of the missional community is catching up.  Robert Thune, lead pastor of Coram Deo, a 2005 church plant in Omaha, NE.  Will Walker is lead pastor of Providence Church in Austin, TX, a church plant started from Coram Deo in 2010.  They have also authored The Gospel-Centered Life.

Summary

I am reviewing the Leader’s Guide as opposed to the participant’s guide.  Though I presume that a review of the leader’s guide will suffice for the participant’s guide as well.

Divided into two sections, the authors begin with a foundation of a Gospel-Centered Community.  With four lessons detailing how we are shaped by the Gospel and how are communities ought to be intentional to that end, the small group will quickly understand the importance of building ministry and community upon the gospel.  The second section looks at five fruit of a gospel-centered community.  These are joy, humility, honesty, grace-filled, and, of course, missional.

Each lesson begins with a big idea that offers the overarching concern of the lesson and then moves into a 10 minute Bible conversation.  After the foundation of Scripture has been laid, there is an article to be read aloud which should take roughly 10 minutes to read it.  The discussion on the article lasts roughly 20 minutes.  Now that the discussion is going well, the leader moves the group into the exercises where the thoughts and intellectual knowledge is unpacked into real action plans to be implemented in one’s life.  The session concludes with a short Q&A, some time for comments, and prayer.

Review

I appreciate most that this study is saturated in Scripture.  I was wary at first when I saw the conversation articles section.  Unlike many studies I have read or been a part of, these articles supplement the passage of Scripture whereas most supplement articles with Scripture.

The leader’s guide will enable anyone to lead a group study and, in the end, leave both the leader and the participant with a better understanding of what it means to live in a gospel-centered community.  The questions are geared to peel away the layers of the mind and get to the heart of the issues being discussed.  Be careful as you participate in this group study as you will be confronted with many hidden sins of your own.

Recommendation

I highly recommend this group study, but I would say to go through the Gospel-Centered Life materials first before you seek to lead study.  Yes, they will dove-tail quite a bit, but you must be willing to live what you are teaching.  That being said, this would make a great resource for a church plant just beginning or even an existing church to revitalize the necessity of the gospel in life.