What I Read in 2018

I dreaded writing this report.

When I thought back to the past year, I remembered having read only one or two books worth sharing with you all in my annual What I Read post. I was embarrassed because as an author, I feel like it's my obligation to be reading deep and wide in order to hone my craft, become more knowledgeable in my subject matter, and to support the concept of reading as a whole. How could I, someone who aims to write books for a living, expect people to read what I write when I didn't read anything all last year!

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But when I reviewed my list of finished books on Goodreads, I discovered all my fears were for naught because I actually read a healthy slate of books in 2018, saving my authorial face for another year. (Excepting, of course, that I just shared with you my insecurity and fear of hypocrisy.)

I've got four books to share, which, while not the largest number a person could muster, is a good clip for me. Nevertheless, just the past few weeks, I've felt a growing urge pressed into my subconscious to read even more than those I finished this year. I know of course that quality is more important than quantity, but I have many books I want to read. Books about martians, books about marketing, and books about Christ. Books by Carrie Fisher and Ray Bradbury. Books that will increase my understanding and appreciation of Jesus Christ and the world in which he operates.

If you only read one book this year, it should be my forthcoming book The Last Lessons of Christ. (Seriously, this one will knock your socks off.) But if you read two books in 2019, might I suggest one of these?

Martin Luther: Anti-Hero?

Did you know I write exclusive content for my email subscribers?

I just sent this month's article, and it's all about Martin Luther and Christian "heroes."


Thierry Ehrmann (CC)


Here's how the email begins:

Tomorrow is an important day. 
Millions of youngsters will commemorate the occasion by dressing up and knocking on neighbors’ doors in search of confections by which they might sate their brains’ never-ending quests for endorphins. 
I am writing, of course, about Reformation Day, the day five centuries ago when Martin Luther started a movement that would result in a new branch of Christianity. 
Oh, you thought I was talking about Halloween? 
Tomorrow is the 501st anniversary of the day Martin Luther, a Catholic priest and professor, sent a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz in protest of some practices and doctrines within the Catholic church that he saw as contradictory to Scripture. This document is known as the 95 Theses. The most notable of Luther’s complaints was against the selling of indulgences, by which a purchaser could shave off some time spent in purgatory. 
No doubt the following email will be a full-blown blog post some day because of the volume of words I could write on the subject. In brainstorming for this email, I wrote over one thousand words, while only barely scratching the surface! 
I’ll spare you the specifics for want of cutting to the proverbial chase: for all of the good Martin Luther accomplished, he had some serious defects too. 
Before I proceed though, I want to say that as a protestant, I am grateful for what Luther accomplished. I know it must have required courage and conviction to square off against the Catholic Church—the most powerful entity in the world at that time. 
So Luther's plaudits are well-deserved, and yet we should not be so quick to overlook his warts. 
Since I promised to be brief, here are two you should know about:

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Five Counterintuitive Lessons Jesus Taught about Entering the Kingdom of God

When I read through the gospels, I can't help but notice how often Jesus shatters the expectations of those around him. On page after page, he upends the disciples' notions of living for God. He crushes first century assumptions about the Jewish Messiah. He defies common knowledge regarding healing.


Ben White


Of all these mind-bending episodes, Jesus's most common lessons centered on the Kingdom of God. First century folk erroneously assumed God's kingdom would be just like earthly kingdoms: focused on power, might, force, wealth, and vengeance.

Kevin Halloran was gracious enough to host me on his blog this week, and that's exactly what I wrote about. Jesus taught many lessons about his Father's kingdom that went against the common beliefs of the day. (And may I dare say that even with the Scriptures in front of us, we still sometimes suppose the kingdom of Heaven to be just like those on earth?)

Here's how the post begins. I hope you'll click over and read the rest:

We don’t use the word kingdom much these days. Over the past three hundred years kings have faded out of style via revolutions, wars, and constitutions. Sure, kings and emperors still exist, but these are rare birds in the flock of governments around the globe. 
As a result, the force of the terms kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven that we see in scripture might lose some of its steam before they reach the ears of Westerners. 
But why should we care about kings and kingdoms?

I Should Probably Be a Pillar of Salt by Now

Author Jessie Clemence hosted me on her blog last week, and I wanted to share the article with you here.

I love Jessie's writing because she has a distinct and entertaining voice. Which is just an academic way of saying she's genuine, funny, and you feel like you know her by reading her words. Her newest book is geared toward mothers, and it is called I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars: Biblical Alternatives to Stressed-Out Living.

You should check it out!


Photo by Rich Brown


Anyway here's a snippet of the post I wrote. It's about Lot's wife and our tendency to look back to the things of the world rather than looking forward to our salvation in Christ:

What Happens When You Invite Jesus into Your Home

Today I have a new book out called Walking with Christ: 30 Days with Jesus on the Road to Jerusalem. Exciting, right?

Click here to see the book on Amazon:

Walking with Christ: 30 Days with Jesus on the Road to Jerusalem

The book is a month-long devotional covering Luke 17-19 with scripture reading, commentary, and guided prayer for each day. These chapters in Luke span Jesus's last trip to Jerusalem, encompassing his final days before Passion Week began.





Throughout these days Jesus wasted no time fretting about the cross, but instead dispensed crucial lessons about the kingdom of God to his disciples. In a matter of days it would be their turn to pick up the mantle and carry out Christ's mission.

So what did Jesus teach them? To state it succinctly: God's kingdom is nothing at all like earthly kingdoms. Where kingdoms on earth value strength, money and power, God's kingdom celebrates children, widows and beggars.

But rather than simply tell you about the book, I thought I'd share some of it with you. What follows is an excerpt from Walking with Christ, day twenty-three.

Audio Excerpt: Step into the Shoes of the Disciples and Discover God's Kingdom

I'm excited to announce I have a new book coming out in one week.

On September 6 my new devotional, Walking with Christ: 30 Days with Jesus on the Road to Jerusalem will be released.


For those following along at home, it's been over three years since the release of my last book, Under the Sun. That may have felt like a long time for you, but believe me, it felt like a decade for me.

If you'd have told me it would be almost forty months until the next book, I would have laughed and silently dismissed you as one given to exaggeration. But alas life, with its constant demands on time and resources, wedged its way between the keyboard and me--sometimes for the better, but also to the detriment of my passion for writing books.

And yet, forty months seems like a good parallel to the forty years God's people spent in the wilderness. God used the time to sharpen my skills, shore up my dedication to craft, and enhance my farsightedness in regard to authorial pursuits. Above all, He is teaching me to rely on Him rather than on my own strength.

All that to say: I think this book is my best to date, and I think you'll enjoy it.

Dear Christian: No Matter How You Live Your Life, You'll Always Be Wrong

Did you know I write exclusive content for my email subscribers?

I just sent the latest article out.


Photo by Brendan Church


I've called the essay, Dear Christian: No Matter How You Live Your Life, You'll Always Be Wrong. Here's how it begins:

No matter how you live your life, you’re wrong. 
At least, that’s true if you listen to what others have to say. The ultra religious will say you’re not pious enough. The world will say you’re not liberal enough. 
Have a beer? 
The Pharisees will condemn you for partaking of alcohol, you drunkard. The world will condemn you for drinking just one, you pansy. 
Watching a movie? 
Make sure your elders don’t know about it. But do make sure you tell your secular friends because they can’t believe you haven’t seen it yet, and they’re dying to talk to you about it.

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