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20 Most Important Biblical Counseling Books of 2013, Part One

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In January of each new year, I craft my list of the most important biblical counseling books published the previous year. They may be books about biblical counseling, or by biblical counselors, or they may be books that serve as important resources for biblical counselors.

I list them in alphabetical order…the first ten today, and the second ten in my next post.

Brass Heaven: Reason for Unanswered Prayer by Paul Tautges, Cruciform Press  

  • Pastor, author, and biblical counselor, Dr. Paul Tautges, raises the honest question, “Does it ever seem like God is not listening?” Or, put another way, “Why do the heavens sometimes seem as hard and reflective as brass? In Brass Heaven, Pastor Tautges grounds prayer in the character of God. Upon this foundation he explores six reasons why prayers may go unanswered. A very helpful book for biblical counseling and for daily Christian living. You can read David Murray’s thoughtful review of Brass Heavens here.

Building a Church Counseling Ministry without Killing the Pastor by Sue Nicewander, Day One 

  • If you’re a pastor, elder, church leader, or a biblical counselor who wants to develop a biblical counseling ministry that will serve your church, likeminded churches in your area, and people in your community, then this book is a great choice. It presents a wonderful vision for cooperation by local churches committed to biblical counseling. I’m biased, but I think Sue Nicewander’s book and my work,Equipping Counselors for Your Church, form a user-friendly two-book series for anyone looking to establish a church-based biblical counseling ministry. You can read the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s author interview with Sue Nicewanderhere.

Building a Pure Life by Dave Coats, Day One

  • Building a Pure Life is a unique resource in workbook format for discipleship in personal purity Paul Tautges interviewed author Dave Coats at the Biblical Counseling Coalition about Building a Pure Life, asking Dave what motivated the writing of the book/workbook. Dave responded, “I wrote this workbook out of my own personal journey to build a pure heart in the midst of the cesspool of this world. As I worked through the battle personally, I also found that there were many around me that needed help in this area. My observation was that the books available to me as a pastor, teacher, and counselor were good but lacked in some key areas. What I wanted to do was to provide a resource for the local church and its counselors. I also wanted something that would immediately be useful to those who direct folks to the Bible as their main anchor point and don’t simply address certain limited aspects of purity struggles. My goal was to have a study and a resource that walked people through the theology that would be foundational to biblical life change as applied to this area of purity.” You can learn more about the book by reading the entire interview here.

Burnout: Resting in God’s Fairness by Brad Hambrick, P&R 

  • Burnout, by Pastor and biblical counselor, Brad Hambrick, is part of P&R’s The Gospel for Real Life series. “Burnout” is a term that we can either address from the world’s perspective, or from a gospel-centered perspective. Brad, of course, addresses it through the grid of the gospel and biblical counseling. In this brief but jammed-packed booklet, Brad explores definitions, causes, and cures for burnout. You can view a video of Brad discussing Burnout here.

Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling: Changing Lives with God’s Changeless Truth by James MacDonald, Bob Kellemen, and Steve Viars, editors, Harvest House

  • I readily admit my bias: I am one of the editors of Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling. This comprehensive resource is the result of the collaborative work offorty pastors, professors, and biblical counselors. The first half of the book presents a foundational biblical theology of counseling. The second half of the book provides the fundamentals of the methodology of biblical counseling. To me, this book will, for years to come, be a “go to” book for those who want a robust introduction to biblical counseling. You can read an interview I did at the Biblical Counseling Coalition about Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling here.

Comfort from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Crossway

  • Elyse Fitzpatrick introduces Comfort from Romans like this: “Although we may go to bed at night believing the gospel, we wake up every morning needing to hear it again. Yet most of us don’t have time to dive into a lengthy commentary on the book of Romans—the book Paul wrote in order to showcase the glorious riches of the gospel.” Then seasoned counselor and author, Elyse Fitzpatrick, makes the message of Romans readily accessible in thirty-one devotional-like chapters on what Martin Luther called “the very purest Gospel.” Elyse helps us grasp the practicality of the gospel message and experience the deep comforts articulated in the book of Romans. You can read a Biblical Counseling Coalition introduction toComfort from Romans here.

Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Create Space 

  • Of course we know that Christmas is about Jesus…So why is it that we miss seeing Him in the midst of all the hustle and bustle? Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson, have teamed up again in Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles, a 25-day advent devotional with readings for parents and kids along with four suggested activities meant to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles is a wonderful Christmas Advent Devotional to help you and your family rejoice and rest in the holiday season. You can learn more about Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles at the Biblical Counseling Coalition here.

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert, Zondervan 

  • I’ve already noted that I think Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling is a foundational introduction to robust, relational biblical counseling. I would add that Finally Free is a foundational work on applying the gospel to the issue of purity. While author Heath Lambert certainly addresses sexual purity/freedom from the grip and grasp of pornography, even more he addresses heart purity. If I had only one book to recommend to someone fighting for purity, it would beFinally Free. Learn more about Finally Free by reading the Biblical Counseling Coalition interview with Heath Lambert here.

Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Crossway

  • Everyone, Christians included, knows what it’s like to feel isolated and alone. We’ve all wondered if anyone really understands us or truly cares about our lives. The good news is that we aren’t alone, and the gospel tells us why: Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to be forever united with his people—to be one of us. In fact, he has so united Himself with us that the Bible says we are literally “in” Him. Far from being alone and lost, the Incarnation changes everything for the Christian. InFound in Him, Elyse Fitzpatrick fleshes out the practical implications of our union with Christ and gives us confidence that we are not alone in this life. You can read Matthew Sims’ review of Found in Him here.

God Redeeming His Bride: A Handbook for Church Discipline by Robert Cheong, Christian Focus

  • If, Finally Free is the best book you can find on personal purity, then I believe God Redeeming His Bride by Pastor Robert Cheong is the best book you can find on church purity. You will never define “church discipline” the same after readingGod Redeeming His Bride. The Biblical Counseling Coalition thought so much of the book that they asked for two reviews. You can read them here by Bob Kellemen and here by Judy Dabler.

The Rest of the Story 

Return for my next post to read about the next ten (in alphabetical order) most important books for biblical counselors published in 2013. 

Join the Conversation 

Which of these books would you most highly recommend? Why?

So many great books, what additional books published in 2013, important for the biblical counselor, would you add to this list?


Posted on June 20, 2014