Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Recommendations for Christian Women

I recently read Aimee Byrd's excellent No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God and it is one of the best books I have read on women and women's ministry in the local church. In one of the book's footnotes, she links to an article she wrote for the OPC with book recommendations for women. I share the relevant portion of that article here with titles for Christian women that will be especially helpful and trustworthy:
If you have women in your church who are interested in studying the books in the Old Testament, Nancy Guthrie’s five part series, Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, is outstanding. The Old Testament can be intimidating to teach, especially if you do not have any formal education. But Guthrie has provided a great resource for teachers, or even for private study, with tables and maps to help the reader gain an understanding of the historical context from which the book is written. Guthrie is faithful to the meaning of the text, highlighting the main themes while helpfully breaking down the important details. What I like best about this series is the author’s zeal to show how the Old Testament Scriptures point to Christ. Readers will finish the study enriched by Guthrie’s teaching. She also provides discussion questions for the ten-week studies and accompanying videos for the group studies. 
Nancy Guthrie has written many good books. She is also a great resource for bereaving families. Her work here comes from her own painful experience that drove her to find comfort in God’s Word. Her book Holding on to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God has been a help to many grieving families. And while on the topic of bereavement, Jessalyn Hutto has written a helpful, small book, Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb, for women who have suffered a miscarriage. These are great resources to offer to women in your church.
Kathleen Nielson’s Living Word Bible study series is worth noting. I love how these books are spiral bound and have the feel of a notebook that the reader can write in. Along with great teaching, the benefit of using Nielson’s studies is that she constantly forces the reader to go digging in the biblical text herself to find the meaning of the text. She doesn’t prepackage her teaching into easily digestible bites, but rather teaches the reader to be a student of the Word. Nielson is not aiming to be an “answer person,” but a teacher, and she does that well. She also has a section at the end called “Notes for Leaders” that will help your teachers do the same.
The issue of biblical distinctions between manhood and womanhood has been more pressing in the church lately. One book that I have found refreshing to read in this area is Hannah Anderson’s Made for More. What I appreciate about this book is how, as a conservative, Anderson does not write in an over-correcting way against feminism by focusing more on men’s and women’s roles as the subject matter rather than Christ. She begins with our identity as beings made in the image of God, and how that is true for both men and women. She then moves to our differences, and how we depend on one another to fully reflect God’s image. This isn’t a book that cherry picks all the “pink” verses to teach biblical womanhood, but one that covers the big picture of the fall, redemption, and restoration as it teaches about our blessing and distinctiveness as women. Hannah Anderson is an engaging writer who is a joy to read.
Another favorite of mine is Melissa Kruger’s book on contentment, The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World. When I first picked this book up, I thought that it was only written for a certain type of woman. I quickly realized how beneficial it is for every woman in the church to read. Kruger writes like a friend who wants to help you find your satisfaction in Christ. While it is convicting, her book encourages weary women with the richness of the gospel.
Both Melissa Kruger and Gloria Furman have written gospel-centered books for new mothers. Kruger’s Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood is an eleven-week devotional Bible study for busy moms, who of course still need to be nurtured in the Word throughout the week. What I like about this book is Kruger’s reminder that we aren’t to be more concerned with what we are doingas busy moms, than with what we are becoming in Christ. The study isn’t about how to be a better mom, but on being a disciple of Christ as a mom. Gloria Furman’s Glimpses of Grace helps moms find those glimpses of God’s kindness to us in our everyday living. She offers a short, easy read that focuses on living our lives to the glory and praise of God. This is a needed encouragement for every mom. These are good books to give new moms, or mothers who are beginning to learn more about the faith. Also, Jen Wilkin has written a helpful book for beginners in Bible study called Women of the Word.
This, of course, isn’t an exhaustive list. It’s just a few suggestions. And I am encouraged to know that there are more great books for women in the making. But women shouldn’t just read books written by women, specifically for women. And this is an issue that I think is worth discussing. While I do think that it is valuable for women to have resources like this, I am afraid that women’s groups are getting pigeonholed into a target market that is quite limited. Wouldn’t it be great to have a women’s group reading through some of the Puritans, or the theologically robust books that have stood the test of time?