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Christmas Presents 2023

Recommendations from Jody Neufeld

Pre-Black Friday! Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Pre-Christmas! I’m sure there are more days that were or will be turned into an advertising jingle to get our attention and check the wondrous sales! Even my own publishing company of Energion Publications has some good prices on books! Which brings me to the thoughts that have been running in my mind and heart: How do I pick the gift for the people I love?

  • Something that they love: video games are really great! And family can play it together! (How long does that excitement last?)
  • Something that they need: I’m not brave enough to pick out shoes. Maybe a sweater. (like last year?)
  • Something that will last longer than the day after Christmas…or even until next year?: Well, that crosses out a gift card!

Do the people I love have a strong faith that helps them through the rough times? Do they share things with me and ask me to pray? Then thinking about what they need and what they can use frequently pops right into my head!

They need something that will gently, lovingly, and even daily build up their faith!

A Bible.  If they don’t have one, choose one that fits their reading style. My first Bible was The Living Bible, a paraphrase. It reads like a novel. A more recent version like that is The Message. Or for a younger reader, International Children’s Bible or Contemporary English Version are options. You want something more knowledge-driven, the New International Version or the New Revised Standard Version.

For some ideas on Bible translations, see MyBibleVersion.com.

A daily short read. Many people call these “devotionals.” For me, I’m looking for something about one page that will give me something to think about. There are many out there! I can’t miss an opportunity to share some that I’ve actually read/used and, yes, we publish them – many more than I will share here!

Good Morning, Lord! Linda Estes has written six devotionals and they are all great with the one page read, good thought, prayer, and sticks with you throughout the day.

Kids’ Devotionals – Reading with Parents  from grandmother and great-grandmother Nancy Petrey. It is a wonderful book to use for that nighttime, quiet time with young children, giving them a good thought for dreams.

Keeping Up With Jesus – A Narrative Devotional Commentary on Mark by Dr. Allan Bevere.  If Mark wrote the first and shortest Gospel & used the word “immediately” many, many times, I think Dr. Bevere may be on to something here as a devotional! They are longer than one page but certainly can be read with our coffee/tea and bagel. Really good!

They Will Run and Not Grow Weary: 52 Devotions to Lighten Your Running Load. Dr. David Alan Black will connect with athletes of various ages.

Dave Black signing Why Four Gospels at Shepherds Seminary

A longer read. Whether it is a scholarly read or a novel, we can learn and fill our minds with uplifting, encouraging words that improve our days. Instead of taking in the news of this world and wondering how I can possibly make any difference, and then read the same line in a book, how about I consider the content of something that will build up my faith and encourage my prayer life?

By longer read I mean books that are 40 pages that we call TLD’s or Topical Line Drives (straight to the point, like a baseball line drive?!) or books that are 100 or even 300 pages long.

Forgiveness: Finding Freedom from Your Past. Dr. Harvey Brown may have wrote this just for me – but I don’t think so. This is a TLD.

Daniel and God’s Sovereignty: What It Means to Say God is in Control. Dr. Terrell Carter brings Daniel and his friends right into our own society and looks at how we live with our faith. It’s real and encouraging!

Tamika Champion-Hampton is a teacher, like many, who does her work with her mind and heart. And she has written 7 books for children that are treasures. Salvation, Friendship, The Birth, Kindness, The Garden, The Gathering, What is Love?

Just Released! Long Shot by Leah Church. Former UNC Basketball player and current three-point world-record holder, Leah dedicates her story “To all those who have been told that your dreams are a long shot…”

Healing Marks by Dr. Bruce Epperly. This book follows Jesus’ healing activity in the book of Mark, looking for lessons for ministry today.

So consider what you want to give your loved ones this year. Encouragement, love and an extra portion of faith seems good to me!

Featured Image Credit: bernardbodo

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