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Culture Children's Books

Growing Godward

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Tim Challies

Children’s Books

Growing Godward

Recent popular theology for teens

None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing)

Jen Wilkin

Wilkin’s new book keeps readers’ eyes on God while acknowledging human faults and limitations. Addressing 10 character traits of God, including self-existence, self-sufficiency, and omnipresence, Wilkin says that when we accept our limitations and depend on Him, we can “rest in letting God be God.” The book occasionally presents God’s attributes too abstractly, but Wilkin generally makes big theological concepts easy to understand. Even young teens can grasp that although we’re not Energizer Bunnies, God is omnipotent and never runs out of power.

Young and Beardless: The Search for God, Purpose, and a Meaningful Life 

John Luke Robertson

John Luke Robertson grew up in the public eye on the TV show Duck Dynasty. Here he shares his more thoughtful side, drawing from life and books to encourage teens to “work hard, play hard, and expect the unexpected.” Readers shouldn’t expect to find any family skeletons, confessions, or deep wrestling with sin. Instead, Robertson, 20, offers encouragement from his heroes (including Steve Martin and Francis Chan) and morals drawn from his mistakes (like crashing his dad’s favorite truck). He points readers to God for true success, but some book recommendations are theologically questionable.

This Is Awkward: How Life’s Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection 

Sammy Rhodes

Reformed University Fellowship campus minister Sammy Rhodes writes with raw humor, vulnerability, and plenty of drip coffee. More importantly, Rhodes touches sore spots like porn, divorce, depression, and eating disorders with Seinfeld-like honesty and reminders of God’s unconditional love. Those reminders will be helpful for struggling teens immersed in a worldly culture. That said, discussions of sexual dysfunction may be too much information for younger teens. Quotes from movies like Brokeback Mountain might also be construed as recommendations.

Street God 

Dimas Salaberrios with Angela Hunt

When he was 15, Salaberrios dreamed of becoming a “street god”—a powerful drug dealer on the streets of New York. He honed his skills during numerous stints in jail. Finally, a run-in with the occult led to his conversion. After becoming a Christian, he encountered new challenges—including predatory church leaders and liberal professors—but he eventually planted a fruitful church in the Bronx with the support of Tim Keller and other New York pastors. The details—drug culture, occult elements, and Salaberrios’ early lack of spiritual discernment—make the inspiring and powerful book best suited to older teens and adults.

Afterword

David R. Helm’s Big Beliefs! Small Devotionals Introducing Your Family to Big Truths (P&R, 2016) provides short family devotionals based on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Like the confession, the book divides into seven sections: God’s Word; God; The Fall, Sin, and Mankind; Salvation; The Christian Life; The Church; and The Last Things. Each lesson has a short Bible reading, a devotional paragraph designed for middle grades, and discussion questions. Hearty readers can follow notes to the proper section of the confession, included at the back of the book. —Susan Olasky

In Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God (Zondervan, 2016) Tim Challies and artist Josh Byers present “truth about God” in a uniquely visual way. The straightforward text and computer style should interest teen boys. —E.W.