New: First Steps For New Christ Followers by Andy Blanks
Honestly, I'm usually very skeptical of any kind of devotional book aimed at teenagers. Most of the ones that I've picked up over the past decade feel like they were written by someone who believes that the only way to get a teenager to read a book is to use lots of outdated slang that teenagers maybe used ten years ago and put a picture of a teenager doing something radically cool on the cover--you know, like those boards on wheels so many of them are riding these days. Many are watered down at best and very few actually make much of Jesus, other than to paint him as a cool guy with a rebellious streak.
I'm grateful to my friend Andy Blanks for putting together a devotional for new followers of Jesus that simply directs teenagers who are young in their faith to the Bible and to consider what it means to follow Jesus. My favorite part of this book is that at the start, Andy includes some basic practices new Christ followers can use to rightly dive into Scripture and allow it to breathe life into them. I'm a fan of anything that points students to Jesus and his Word. I'm not sure if or how we'll incorporate the devotional into our ministry but it's a good tool that I'm sure we'll put to use sooner rather than later.
Full disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not expected to give a favorable review--or any review, for that matter--in return for the book. So, this review's pretty unbiased, even though I'm a big fan of YM360 and their stuff.
Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll
My wife Jennifer actually got this book for me (us?) for Valentine's Day this year. We both read through it over a few weeks, and we've discussed it off and on ever since. Overall, this is an amazing tool for married couples who are committed to Jesus, especially those who are in ministry. Chapter 2 ("Friends With Benefits") is worth the price of the book alone, and has helped me (I hope) be a better friend to Jennifer.
The biggest "pro" of this book is that Mark and Grace are very, very frank about their thoughts and their own experiences, including sexuality in marriage. While I really enjoyed the book, Mark's tone (it's very obvious which pages he penned because of this) grated against Jennifer in some places. It certainly didn't make her dislike the book, but it's a good caution for those who might consider giving it as a gift to a married (or premarital) couple that it might not be for everyone. However, I found it very helpful, both as a husband and as a pastor who counsels people struggling in their marriages.