Rev. Michael Wittmer, newly named as pastor of Cedar Springs Baptist Church, has recently released "The Bible Explainer: Questions and Answers on Origins, The Old Testament, Jesus, the End Time, and More," published by Barbour.
The full-color volume is packed with 250 questions that answer just about every question possible about the Bible, from "When did God create the world?" to "What is the Abrahamic Covenant?" from "What do we know about Jesus' early years?" to "What is faith?"
"The audience is wide ranging. I want to reach those who aren't not yet following Christ and are looking for answers," said Wittmer, who is also professor of systematic theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. "I've also heard of parents using it with children to teach the basics of the faith, and a men's group is using it for study."
Answers range from several paragraphs to several pages, with the shortest answer just one word in answer to the question "Was Jesus married? No." Wittmer got help choosing questions from those he asked in person and online, as well as from Barbour editor and friend Paul Muckley. Questions are divided into six sections: Bible Basics, Origins, Israel, Jesus, The Church, and The End.
"There is a lot of scholarship, but the book is also fun and enjoyable," said Wittmer. "Theology shouldn't be boring; it should be interesting and fun."
A second new book on the market takes a close look at three biblical principles. "Wilderness Survival: Sustained for 40 Days in Faith, Hope, and Love" (Credo House) is a devotional written by James Molenbeek, a Grand Rapids-based ordained minister and endorsed chaplain, now retired.
"I've been working on the book for the last couple of years, more on the back burner though," said Molenbeek. "I wanted to share what I discovered for myself and deduced through observation in pastoral care. So many were sustained by faith, hope, and love as they gave it, received it, and grew in it."
Each devotion in "Wilderness Survival" includes Scripture, Molenbeek's comments, a prayer of blessing, list of Psalms, Hymns, and Songs, Meditation and Prayer questions, and full-color art. The book is divided into Faith, Hope, and Love sections, with introductory and concluding materials as well. An appendix includes the King James Version of Scripture used in each devotion.
"This is a good guide to use for spiritual refreshment in these troubling times, not only in the pandemic but in any difficult wilderness season of life," said Molenbeek. "Faith, hope and love warrant a deep second look because they are far more important to our spiritual health than many people realize. Sometimes words are so familiar that we miss their real significance."
Molenbeek points to the book's appropriateness for the Lenten season, with its 40-day structure, as well as each devotion's list of music options. "I added the music and prayer exercises for spiritual formation. Readers are likely to know at least one of the hymns; they can hum one, look it up in a hymnal, or listen to on their devices," he said.