Imperfect Reflections: The Art of Christian Journaling

Kirsten Birkett (Christian Focus)

Before there were blogs, Substacks, or social media pages, people recorded their thoughts by hand, in journals. Lots still do, of course, and Kirsten Birkett, a writer and former lecturer at Oak Hill College in London, is among their number. In Imperfect Reflections, Birkett draws on the Puritan tradition to recommend journaling as a tool of spiritual growth. “I had … always been a little ashamed of my compulsive journaling,” she writes. “Having been awakened to the Puritan practice, however, I started to take [it] more seriously” and think “about the way in which it contributes to my growth in the Lord.”

The Gates of Hell: An Untold Story of Faith and Perseverance in the Early Soviet Union

Matthew Heise (Lexham Press)

The cover of Matthew Heise’s book features a grainy black-and-white photo commemorating the ordination of a Lutheran pastor in the summer after the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. Heise, director of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation, notes that “within twelve years of this gathering,” both this pastor and his father, also a pastor, “would die in Soviet labor camps,” while “three of the other pastors in the photo … would walk the path to Golgotha that so many believers in Russia would travel.” The Gates of Hell recounts the faithfulness and fortitude of embattled Lutheran communities amid the terrors of Soviet persecution.

Necessary Christianity: What Jesus Shows We Must Be and Do

Claude R. Alexander Jr. (InterVarsity Press)

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us who, and what, he is: the Bread of Life, for instance, or the Light of the World. Statements like these capture the essence of the Good News. As Claude Alexander argues in Necessary Christianity, however, we’re apt to neglect the must statements that Scripture applies to Jesus or that Jesus applies to himself and, by extension, to his disciples. “The life to which the Christian is called is a life of necessity,” writes Alexander, senior pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina (and CT board member), whose chapters cover themes like focus, progress, direction, and diligence. “God calls the Christian to live with a sense of the necessary, the obliged, and the required.”

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