What I Read in 2023: 3 Books You Might Also Enjoy

 Three of my favorite books from 2023, plus I'm giving one of them away!


Dan Dimitriu



WITH AN EVER-GROWING TBR list, I came to the sobering realization recently that I will never be able to read all of those books before I die, even if I never added another one to the list. At least, not at my current pace.

The past twelve months have seemed especially devoid of leisure time due to various professional and personal commitments. Nevertheless I still managed to finish eight books in 2023. Here are three I think you will enjoy.

How the Wise Respond to God's Wrath

 A preview of February's email-only article.

Ben White

DO YOU EVER think about the wrath of God?

I know our heavenly father's final judgment is everyone's favorite pastime, but those who are wise do not shy away from the subject.

In this month's email-exclusive article, we'll examine Proverbs 16:14, its spiritual applications, and why God desires repentance, not penance.

Every month I publish an exclusive article for my email subscribers, and if you'd like instant, free access, fill out the form below. (If you are already a subscriber, check your inbox!)

Here's a snippet of this month's exclusive:

I LOVE THE multidimensionality of advice offered in the book of Proverbs. On the one hand the book provides practical guidance for life with passages like, "The slacker does not plow in season; at harvest time he looks, but nothing is there" (20:4, BSB). And on the other hand Proverbs pours out spiritual salves in verses such as "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life" (4:23). 
Often, you get both levels of insight within the same verse. 
Proverbs 16:14 is a good example: "A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it." The verse may not seem too practical since we do not answer to kings. Nevertheless we all have authority figures in our lives--bosses and teachers to name a couple--who have the power to impact our lives. Their wrath may not bring about death in a literal sense, but a termination or failed course can ruin one's livelihood. As a result, we would do well to prevent, if possible, their ire and, if not possible, to appease it.

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Cancel Your Plans: God Has Something Better for You

Freedom comes with responsibility.


Parabol

 

IF YOU ASK me, one of the great mysteries of human existence is the tension between freedom and the sovereignty of God. I have strong opinions on the matter, but even the most studied scholars would be foolish to claim they've unraveled the matter in totality; the wisest among humans is still a fool compared to God.

Some sects claim free will is an illusion. God controls everything like a master puppeteer or perhaps a computer programmer. Though it seems like we can decide things for ourselves, we can't.

Others reside on the opposite end of the spectrum. They say God does not intervene or regulate anything in our reality. Everything is up to us.

Change Your Entire Outlook on Death with this Weird Historical Fact

A preview of June's email-only article.


Christina Morillo


HAVE YOU EVER pondered the afterlife?

That's the question we're asking in this month's email-only article. No doubt you've though about what lies beyond death before, but maybe you've never thought about the privilege of revelation that we all enjoy today.

Every month I publish an exclusive article for my email subscribers, and if you'd like instant, free access, fill out the form below. (If you are already a subscriber, check your inbox!)

Here's a snippet of this month's exclusive:

Job's vision of death and the beyond is something much different than what you or I imagine. He sees an existence filled with darkness where even the light is like darkness. In fact, as many commentators have pointed out, Job actually uses three different Hebrew words to signify darkness.
At this point, Job just wants to be left alone so he can enjoy a few moments before he dies because, in his mind, death results in eternal gloom.
The question, then, is how did we transition from Job's view of eternal darkness to one of everlasting light?

 
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If We Are God's Masterpiece, Why Are We So Broken?

Sin results in dust, but God has a restoration plan in place.


Thrive by Daniel Popper, photo: Marianna Smiley


 

THE BOOK OF Job is one of contrasts. You see the uprightness of Job juxtaposed with the evil of Satan. Job is wealthy and healthy one moment then brought to poverty and disease in the next. But perhaps the biggest contrasts we see are the stark differences between expectation and Job's reality.

Job's friends expect that only the wicked should suffer, so they blame him for his problems.

Job knows he's innocent, but he eventually gives up trying to convince his friends and instead starts petitioning God for answers. Job essentially holds the same expectations his friends have, which renders his downtrodden reality all the more puzzling considering his blamelessness. It's the classic, Why do bad things happen to good people? question that just about every human everywhere throughout time has asked at one point or another.

In the midst of these petitions, Job asks God the following:

Job's Response to Suffering Might Make You Rethink Your Approach

 We can't see in the dark, but God can.

Observer by Mari Lezhava


 

THE ENEMY WANTS you to embrace meaninglessness.

When unfortunate, coincidental, evil, tragic, or random events jam their way into our lives, the evil one wants us to stop asking why and instead conclude that no why exists. Because when we give a giant bear hug to the idea that life is purposeless, we lose hope and such a state opens up all kinds of possibilities for Satan and his minions.

The hopeless person really has nothing left to lose.

The Best, Worst Things about Bearing God's Image

   A preview of February's email-only article.


Jared Rice

LIFE HAS A way of beating us down at times. But no matter how bad our circumstances, often the worst part is not knowing why terrible things occur.

Every month I publish an exclusive article for my email subscribers, and this month we're looking at Job 10. Job reached some depths of despair most of us will never know, but he always held on to one truth. We discuss that truth in this month's article.

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Here's a snippet of this month's exclusive:

When we open up the tenth chapter of Job, we find our protagonist in a dark place.
Of course, Job spends most of the book in metaphorical darkness, but here in chapter ten he takes a turn for the worse, admitting, "I loathe my life" (v. 1). Life, the most precious of gifts, the most beautiful and fragile and rarest of possessions, and yet Job loathes it.
What does it mean to loathe? Merriam-Webster defines loathing as great disklike; disgust. Job is disgusted with his own life. Why? You know the reasons. His children have died. His possessions have been plundered. His health has deteriorated to an excruciating degree. His wife told him to "Curse God and die" (Job 2:9). His friends, helpful at first, descend into jerk territory—accusing him of sin, suggesting his children deserved their fate, and proclaiming he should repent—all for want of a better theology.
Penniless, abandoned, bereaved, confused, accused, and afflicted, you can see why Job's life might disgust him. Earlier in the book he even said it would have been better if his mother had miscarried! That's some pretty dark stuff right there.
Have you ever loathed your life?

 
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