Tis the season for finding great inspirational gifts. Whether your gift is for a family member, friend, in-law or outlaw, a wide variety of titles is available to encourage readers in their faith.
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of famed evangelist Billy Graham, challenges readers in their personal beliefs with My Heart's Cry: Longing For More of Jesus. Author of the best-selling Just Give Me Jesus and founder of the Just Give Me Jesus weekend events for women, Lotz takes readers on a journey of desiring God. In 12 well-written chapters, she explores the various attributes of Christ. Chapter five, "More of His Dirt on My Hands," explores the importance of service, while chapter 10, "More of His Nearness in My Loneliness," explores God's omnipresence.
Throughout the book, Lotz draws on her own personal experiences and challenges. She describes speaking to large gatherings of pastors and having some turn their chairs around to face away from her because they disapproved of her speaking and teaching as a woman. She explains how the rejection strengthened her faith and pushed her toward God, rather than away.
Like her father, Anne Graham Lotz has a way of making the Bible, God and the road to life-changing faith interesting, exciting and heart-gripping. This bold woman not only lives but also exudes a contagious faith in her writing.
Another member of the Graham family, Ruth Bell Graham, wife of the well-known evangelist, offers a seasonal title on the special blessings of Christmas. Like any mother, grandmother or great-grandmother, Graham knows the significance and joy the holiday brings to anyone who has watched their child on Christmas morning or has been a child nestled in the warmth of family.
In A Quiet Knowing Christmas: A Joyful Celebration of the Season (W Publishing, $19.99, 176 pages, ISBN 084991762X) Graham presents a new collection of stories, recipes and poems, interspersed with family photos and holiday craft ideas.
As simple as the Christmas story itself, as elegant as such a celebration should be, A Quiet Knowing Christmas culminates in an intimate portrait of how the Graham family honors the name of Christ.
Lotz and Graham aren't the only women sharing their beliefs these days. Best-selling author and Bible teacher Beth Moore introduces readers to Christ in Jesus, The One and Only (Broadman &and Holman, $19.99, 340 pages, ISBN 080542489X). Moore, who has written a number of studies including Breaking Free, takes readers to the dusty roads of Palestine to study the life of Christ. The book is an adaptation of her popular video-based interactive study of the same name.
Moore explores the life of Christ as he lived it long days as a carpenter and tough days traveling and teaching. She records the details, history and culture that are so often missed in a quick reading of the Gospels.
Rather than fall into the trap of giving all the answers, Moore spends time asking some questions of her own. What did Mary experience during her pregnancy? How long was the labor? How much pressure did she feel to be the perfect mother? In the process, the life and example lived by Christ become more personal and human.
For readers who don't have time for an in-depth study, Charles Stanley offers an easy-to-read devotional, Seeking His Face: A Daily Devotional (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 384 pages, ISBN 0785272992). The pastor of the 15,000-member First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and president of In Touch Ministries offers daily reading selections that challenge, encourage and inspire.
Each devotion includes a Scripture reading, key verse, prayer and a simple story or message. Reading Stanley's book is like listening to a sermon in 45-second snippets. Readers are challenged to resist negative thoughts and embrace others with love and offer forgiveness. The writing is simple, direct and enjoyable.
The Best Christian Writing 2002 (HarperSanFrancisco, $15.95, 352 pages, ISBN 0060094834) offers a varied collection of articles on Christian belief today. The series editor, John Wilson, works as an editor at both Christianity Today and Books &and Culture. From a myriad of journals and magazines, he has compiled nearly two dozen pieces. One writer wrestles with the negative byproducts of feminism in "Three Bad Ideas for Women and What to Do About Them," while another examines the tense but treasured relationship between Judaism and Christianity in "Salvation Is from the Jews." Other highlights include Walter Wangerin Jr.'s "One Man on a Tractor Far Away" and Philip Yancey's "The Ample Man Who Saved My Faith."If you're shopping for a young preteen boy (ages 8-12) you'll want to consider Zonderkidz' new 2:52 Soul Gear line of products, which includes The 2:52 Boys Bible (Zonderkidz, $26.99, ISBN 0310703204). The 2:52 designation is based on a Scripture found in the Gospel of Luke: "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."Edited by best-selling author and speaker Rick Osborne, The 2:52 Boys Bible features a study system that takes boys through the Bible, highlighting people, stories and verses that show them how to grow.
Using the NIV translation, the Bible includes numerous side notes and boxes of extra information designed to engage young male readers. Cleverly titled, "Make It Stick" is a boy's version of a journal written on sticky notes; "Get a Load of This" provides interesting and humorous facts about the Bible; and "Grossology" offers some gory facts from the Bible. The cover design (which is reminiscent of the reality television series Survivor logo) is rugged enough to convince boys it's cool.
And finally, a beautiful new gift book reveals The Peace &and Power of Knowing God's Name by Kay Arthur (WaterBrook, $17.99, 144 pages, ISBN 1578565502). The author explores the ancient meanings of the names of God found in Scripture passages and shows how they expand our understanding and knowledge of God. Co-founder of Precept Ministries International and the author of leading inductive Bible studies, Arthur writes with insight about 15 of the names given to God, including El Elyon meaning The God Most High; El Roi meaning The God Who Sees; and Jehovah-raah meaning The Lord My Shepherd. With a gorgeous cover and crisp photographs throughout, The Peace &and Power of Knowing God's Name offers beautiful visual images along with its inspiring text. Margaret Feinberg is a writer based in Sitka, Alaska. She is author of God Whispers: Learning To Hear His Voice (Relevant Books).