11 Books That Changed Me

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Everyone who reads intersects with books at just the right time that speak just the right words in just the right ways to leave an indelible imprint. Sometimes they shape, sometimes they direct, sometimes they lift up, sometimes they inspire, and sometimes they just fill you up. These eleven books, in no particular order, have been such for me.

1) Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey

71zRcrgQ-pLI stumbled in to this book at a time when I wasn’t sure what was next or how to get there. Harvey’s combination of practical wisdom and pastoral counsel was just what I needed. He helped me feel free to pursue great things without the burden of pseudo-humble guilt I had born, that lie that pursuing excellence was a pathway to pride. It was encouraging and freeing.

 

 

 

 

2) The Myth of Certainty by Daniel Taylor

51xFPI8hxbLI could have listed any of several books by Taylor, but this one stands out for the impact it had in helping me learn how to process questions, doubts, and uncertainty. So much of traditional American evangelicalism has little room for these things, but Taylor artfully upholds a high view of God while honestly encouraging exploration and questions.

 

 

 

 

3) Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

51-G8y8Qx+LI don’t necessarily think this is the best of Keller’s books (though I’d be loathe to choose which is), but it’s the one that pierced most deeply when I read it. In his reasonable, methodical way Keller puts his fingers on the idols of the heart and presses. It hurts. But it identifies areas that need addressing so clearly.

 

 

 

 

4) When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett

514-E1YYUoL“Paradigm forming” is not a phrase to be used lightly (or almost ever), but this book deserves it. Fikkert and Corbett entirely dismantle the standard American mindsets toward poor people and charity. In its place they offer a paradigm of need and wealth which shapes missions efforts, outreach efforts, personal relationships, and even one’s relationship with God.

 

 

 

 

5) Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

518ucoc-TPLLove him or hate him, Donald Miller offered a book that broke the thinking mold for many young Christians in the early 2000s. I was one of them, and it was a good thing for me. Miller’s book reframed how a Christian can talk about faith, ask questions, and encounter God. It was a nudge toward a direction of faith I needed.

 

 

 

 

6) Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

41RxoKV8HrLOrthodoxy is sort of like a much smarter and more grown up Blue Like Jazz, at least in its effect on me. Chesterton’s writing and exploration of truth are brilliant. He manages to be both incredibly worshipful and properly irreverent at the same time. It game me something to aspire to.

 

 

 

 

7) Whiter Than Snow by Paul Tripp

31U0ibPO8ULNobody likes to look into their own heart and deal with their sin, but this little book by Tripp is a marvelous and devastating resource for doing so. It helped me at a time I had fallen and didn’t know if God wanted me to get up. Tripp’s reflections on Psalm 51 were just the words I needed to read.

 

 

 

 

8) Letters to Children by C.S. Lewis

51TwTj7CUkLI’ve read almost all of C.S. Lewis works, and this one stands out to me for its sheer sweetness. He was brilliant, had a devastating wit, wrote millions of words, and his sweet letters to children with questions are among the best he ever wrote. The fact that Lewis stayed connected to the realities of real, normal children is what made his brilliance so brilliant instead of being esoteric and useless to the masses.

 

 

 

 

9) A Praying Life by Paul Miller

517ykQMZ10LI’ve known how to pray since I could talk, but this book taught me what it means to really pray. It is such a normal, practical book but so rich and deep too. It helped me actually love to pray instead of just knowing how.

 

 

 

 

 

10) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

715VLP6M-OLI never read this in high school, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve always loved a great story, but Lee’s classic showed me in a brand new way the power of story. I was moved by it. I wanted to be half the man Atticus Finch was. This goes down as my favorite novel.

 

 

 

 

 

11) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

51oSZOESQ6LThe Potter books were my reintroduction as a grown up to the wonder of children’s stories. They were everything a children’s story should be – noble, beautiful, fun, funny, gripping. They reminded me that many (most?) of the best stories are not written for grown ups but for those readers who are unimpressed by anything less than the best.

 

 

 

40 Books Every Christian Should Read (Revised and Updated)

I believe that reading books written by other, wiser Christians is one of the most effective ways to grow as a Christian. But with millions of books available and thousands more being written every year, how can you know which ones to read? In order to help you, I compiled a list of thirty books I think that every Christian should read. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, and there are many others that should be on the list, but this should get you started.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn – Given the fact that we will spend eternity in heaven, we should know at least something of what it will be like. Randy Alcorn answers many common questions about heaven and paints a biblical picture of what eternity will be like.

Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett – These Puritan prayers will fuel your personal prayer life with their rich view of God.

The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges – What is the connection between God’s grace and our personal pursuit of holiness? Jerry Bidges answers that question.

Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges – All of us will go through trials of some sort, and this book will equip you to trust God in even the most difficult circumstances.

Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs – If you find yourself struggling with contentment in your job, marriage, or any other situation, this book is for you.

Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore – Charles Spurgeon was a giant of the Christian faith, and this biography will stir you to love God, pursue God, and trust in God like Spurgeon.

The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made by Mark Dever – The Old Testament can be a very confusing place. In this book, Mark Dever provides a short, yet very helpful overview of every book in the Old Testament, making this a key tool for your personal Bible study.

The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept by Mark Dever – This is another helpful Bible study tool in which Mark Dever provides a short overview of every book in the New Testament.

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever – Who should evangelize? What should we say when we evangelize? Mark Dever answers these questions and more in this short book.

Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. by Kevin DeYoung – How can you know God’s will for your life? Find out by reading this book.

What Is the Gospel? (9Marks) by Greg Gilbert – We absolutely cannot afford to get the gospel wrong, and this book will help you have clarity on the various facets of the gospel.

According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy – The Bible is more than just a series of books, it’s the story of what God is doing in history. Get an overview of that story in this book.

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem – This is the most helpful theological reference I own. If you have questions about demons, the Bible, church government, the Holy Spirit, or just about anything else, you can find the answer here.

God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Andreas Kostenberger – The institutions of marriage and family are under attack in our culture. This book will help you have a biblical understanding of many different issues, such as divorce, homosexuality, birth control, and the role of men and women.

Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney – There are few things more important to God than humility. If you want to grow in humility, read this book.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer – If you want to know what God is like, this is your book. J.I. Packer examines the various attributes of God, such as his holiness, his love, his justice, and his eternity.

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper – There are few books that have my understanding of what it means to love God than this one. Loving God is more than just duty, it is delight.

What’s the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible by John Piper – Men and women are given specific roles by God. In this very short book, John Piper explains those roles from a biblical perspective.

Finally Alive by John Piper – The phrase “born again” has been blurred and even distorted in our culture. In this book John Piper explains the real meaning of what it means to be born again.

Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace by Gary and Betsy Ricucci – Every married couple should read this book multiple times. In it you will find biblical principles and practices for establishing a healthy, romantic, God-honoring marriage.

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul – This is not a safe book. If you read it you will find yourself trembling before the holiness of God.

Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul – Have you ever struggled with the doctrine of election? In this book, R.C. Sproul dispels common myths about election and shows how it is actually a very glorious doctrine.

The Cross of Christ by John Stott – The cross is the centerpiece of Christianity, and as you read this book you will find yourself amazed at what God has done through the cross and incredibly grateful for the cross.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – As parents it’s easy to simply want our children to behave. However, if we’re going to honor God we must also get to the heart of obedience.

A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love by Milton Vincent – This little book is a wonderful devotional tool, providing short meditations on the gospel in both prose and poetry. It’s a book that can be read many times.

When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Resources for Changing Lives) by Ed Welch – Every Christian struggles with the fear of man, and many times it is a massive struggle. This book is a helpful tool for overcoming the sin of the fear of man.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney – A rich Christian life doesn’t come without discipline, and in this book Donald Whitney examines many different disciplines for the Christian life, such as Bible reading, prayer, journaling, fasting, and solitude.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller – In an age of doubt and skepticism, Tim Keller offers wise, winsome answers to those who are asking questions. Great to give out to unbelievers.

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim and Kathy Keller – This is the BEST book on marriage I have ever read. Tim and Kathy Keller are brilliant on this subject, and I recommend that every married and single read this book.

Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God by Tim Keller – This is one of those rare books that is not only incredibly edifying to the believer, but also an excellent book to give out to unbelievers. Keller has a way of mixing pop culture, philosophers, and the Word of God to create a compelling picture of Jesus Christ.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – I could recommend a lot of different books by C.S. Lewis, but this one is probably my favorite. Written as a conversation between a senior demon and a younger demon, it provides fascinating insights into the ways of Satan.

What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul Tripp – Generally speaking, I don’t love Paul Tripp’s books, but this one is a dandy. It helpfully explores the reality that marriage is both glorious and difficult. It also explores how the gospel touches on all aspects of marriage.

One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World by Tullian Tchividjian – There are times when I need to to be blasted with a fire hose of the gospel. This book is one of the most encouraging books I’ve read in terms of the limitless love of God.

A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller – Probably the best book I’ve read on prayer. Encouraging, grace-filled, faith-filled, and not condemning! I pretty much stink at prayer. This book always gets me fired up for prayer.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones – The best children’s Bible out there. Hands down. Get it. Now. Today.

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert – I’ve actually never read this book, but I have heard so many great things about it that I had to include it. Lust is such a massive struggle for so many people that I felt like I needed to include it.

The Complete Collection of E. M. Bounds on Prayer by E.M. Bounds – Every time I read E.M. Bounds, my faith for meeting God in prayer is exponentially increased. If you struggle with prayer (and everyone does), this is the book for you.

Christian Classics: Six books by Charles Spurgeon in a single collection by Charles Spurgeon – You can’t go wrong with Charles Spurgeon. Every book he writes points back to the cross. He bleeds the Bible. You just gotta read Spurgeon.

The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life by A.W. Tozer – This little book packs a serious punch. A.W. Tozer explores the different attributes of God and consistently invites the reader to bow down before the greatness of God. Read this book to grow in your awe of the living God.

The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence by Stephen Altrogge – Okay, I had to include at least one of my books, right? Plus, a lot of people seem to like this book.

 

+photo by ~Brenda-Starr~

Why Would I Review This Product And Not Others? (Hint: Because It’s Awesome)

I don’t normally do product reviews. Honestly, I would rather spend time actually enjoying a product rather than telling others how much I enjoy a product. Yeah, I know, that’s not very community-minded of me. It’s also pretty hypocritical, given that I’m always asking people to review my books (now is a great time, by the way!).

But, when the good folks at LOGOS asked me if I would be willing to review LOGOS 6 in exchange for a free copy, I jumped at the chance. Why? Because…it…is…absolutely…awesome.

LOGOS has pretty much become my go to Bible software over the last several years. Why? Because it can do everything.

I have a large library of books in my LOGOS library. Let’s say that I’m writing a blog post on the love of God, and I want to see what Charles Spurgeon had to say on the love of God. Easy peasy, mac ‘n cheesy (Can you tell that I have little kids? It’s not that obvious, right?).

I open up the book2,200 Quotations From the Writings of Charles Spurgeon and I do a search on the word “love”.

love

Boom. I click on the appropriate quote, which then opens up the book to that section. I then select the best quote and insert it into my blog post.

Or, let’s say I’m looking for a particular biblical image or map. The “media” search allows me to search all the media in my personal library and online. This is a wonderful tool for someone who is trying to put together a multimedia presentation on a particular topic. Check it out below.

Honestly, I’m barely scratching the surface of what LOGOS can do.

In addition the absolute buffet of fantastic features, LOGOS has an app that allows me to take my full library around with me on my iPhone and iPad. I like using the app in conjunction with my devotional times. Do I need to access to a John Calvin commentary? On my iPad. Do I need access to all of Spurgeon’s sermons? Got it. Do I want to read a particular back issue of Christian History magazine? Got those too. It’s pretty amazing.

So what are you waiting for? Go get your LOGOS on!

Get “The Inmates Are Running The Asylum” For Free!

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What’s better than cheap? I’ll tell you what: FREE.

This week I’m giving away my book,The Inmates Are Running the Asylum,for absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero.

Why am I giving it away for free? Because I love you. And you need some more joy in your life. You need to think about:

  • The mathematical odds of finding your soulmate.
  • Why everybody loves Tim Tebow.
  • Why everyone is so obssessed with Amish romance novels.
  • And a whole lot more.

Download it here.

And please, spread the word by sharing this post.

Win A Boatload of Books From Logos Bible!

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I’m psyched today to give away a bunch of books from Logos! Here’s the details!

The Prize

NavPress Spiritual Formation Collection.

The winner will be chosen at random on September 19th and the collection will be sent to the winners Logos account. Dont have an account? No problem! You can sign up for free here and download free apps to read your books on any device here.

How to Enter

Login below with your email address or Facebook account and follow the steps in the widget. Thats it! Each prompted action you follow will earn you additional entries. You can always come back and share a link to the giveaway with your friends for additional entries.

*Disclaimer

By entering this giveaway you consent to being signed up to Logos Product Reviews email list. Youll receive emails featuring content written by me and other Christian bloggers!

Why You Should Take a Biography to the Beach

Theodore-Rex-Morris-Edmund-9780812966008Its summer and that means its time for summer reading. Eventually the water will get too cold, youll get sand in your bathing suit one too many times, the comfort of a beach chair or ocean-view porch will begin to call to you, and itll be time to crack open that book youve been saving for just this moment. Could there be a better way to spend your summer vacation?

Far be it from me to tell you to leave behind that spy novel or legal thriller thats been unopened on your night stand ever since Christmas. But let me make an appeal that you add something else to your summer reading list: a good biography.

Notice I said a good biography. A biography, since its the story of a human life, ought to have a little life of its own. A bad biography kills its subject well before the last page. Dont waste your time on one of those. If you pick up a biography thats all dead, follow Miracle Maxs advice: go through its pockets for loose change, then sell it on Amazon. (If you dont know who Miracle Max is, your summer movie list needs to include The Princess Bride. You can thank me later.)

But a good biography brings with it its own miracle: you get to live someone elses life. You can experience things you would never otherwise experience, get tastes of both the richness and poverty of human existence that would otherwise never be yours. Im convinced biographies can make us more faithful Christian disciples. The right kind of biography (or novel or history book, for that matter) will help you develop a kind of robust maturity that is vital for the Christian life. Here are three things youll develop from reading a good biography.

You will develop perspective. We make poor decisions when we evaluate life only through the lens of our own experience. Biographies help you see the consequences of a life lived with, or without, God. You learn that sometimes God calls his people to what give their lives to apparently hopeless causes (like eliminating the slave trade see Amazing Grace below), only to let them glimpse the fruit of their labor in the last days of their life. You learn that perhaps God has a different, longer perspective on your current trials than you do. You see people who appear outwardly successful beyond belief lying on their death beds, alone and without God. These things help you see life from Gods standpoint. Thats perspective, and a good biography will help you develop it.

You will develop wisdom. Ultimately, of course, wisdom has to be anchored in Scripture and Gods perspective on life. But a biography, even one written by a non-Christian about non-Christians, will help you flesh out that wisdom. For instance, James tells us that jealousy and selfish ambition lead to vile and disorderly conduct (James 3:16). But what might that look like in real life? Open warfare or back room betrayals? Character assassination or quiet slander? And what kinds of things provoke men to jealousy? What inflames selfish ambition? Read Into Africa or Team of Rivals and youll get at glimpses of how human sins play out. Of course, biographies show you more than the dark stuff you see humans, both believers and unbelievers, reflecting the character of God in a thousand ways: patience, generosity, courage, sacrifice, love. Seeing these kinds of things in another humans life will make you wise.

You will develop empathy. If a biography is well written, youll find yourself caught up in the subjects life. You feel pain at their sorrows. You feel joy when they succeed. Why? Because a biography helps you walk in someone elses shoes and as you learn to do that with an historical person, youll also grow in your ability to empathize with the person sitting across from you at the dinner table or talking to you over the checkout line at the grocery store. Empathy is rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep and a good biography will help you develop empathy.

So now youre convinced. What should you read? Here are a handful of my favorites. Theyre all well-written, about fascinating subjects, and will keep your attention while helping you develop perspective, wisdom, and empathy. Dig in, and let me know what you think!

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas the life of William Wilberforce, a British statesman God used to help abolish the slave trade.

Into Africa by Martin Dugard – a dual biography of Henry Stanley and David Livingstone, African explorers.

Hunting Eichmann by Neil Bascomb. After WWII, Adolf Eichmann, one of the men guilty of masterminding the Jewish Holocaust, escaped capture – until a young Israeli agency named Mossad took up the trail…

Churchill by Paul Johnson or Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham. Churchill is…well, Churchill. You can’t go wrong reading about him, and these two biographers do an excellent job.

Team of Rivalsby Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin’s insight into the all-too-human relationships between Lincoln and his cabinet is fascinating. Here James’ rivalries and selfish ambitions played out on a national scale!

Seven Rules For When You Meet A Pastor’s Kid

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Seven Rules for When You Meet a PK

I am a PK (pastors kid). With that comes a certain set of expectations, especially from people in the church or who know my parents. Since my dad is fairly well-known, the awareness and expectations are heightened, but really theyre the same for every PK in their individual context. Expectations make for awkward interactions and introductions. Any PK will know what Im referring to. For the rest of you, here are seven simple rules to follow when you meet a PK.

1. Do not ask us What is it like to be the son or daughter of ?

How are we supposed to answer that question? Could you easily describe being the child of your parents? Unless youve had multiple sets of parents you dont really have a point of comparison which makes this a tricky one. Remember, PKs are normal people with a different upbringing than you. Please treat us that way. We think of our parents as parents, nothing more.

2. Do not quote our dads to us.

This is really and truly annoying because it comes across as one of two things. Either you are proving your piousness by being so aware of the utterances of the beloved pastor, or you are being condescending and holding our parents words over our heads. Three points for you for remembering the sermon! It is neither impressive nor appreciated.

3. Do not ask us anything personal you would not ask of anyone else.

If, perchance, you have gained some knowledge of a PK through a sermon illustration or book or hearsay, it is best to keep it to yourself. We dont want to talk to you about prom dates, football games, fishing trips, car wrecks, or anything else if we dont know you. To ask a question based on knowledge that you gained in an impersonal manner makes you look like either a stalker or a reporter. Both are creepy.

4. Do not ask us anything about our dads positions on anything.

What does your dad think about ? is a question no PK wants to answernot about politics, the roles of women in the church, predestination, the use of drums in the worship service, spiritual gifts, race, the latest Justin Bieber incident, or anything else. We have opinions and beliefs, though. And we like to converse. So you could ask us what we think, like a normal person.

5. Do not assume you can gain audience with the pastor through us.

Thats what the church secretary or the pastors assistant is for. Please let us be his children. We usually dont have the ability to make a meeting happen, and we almost never want to. We dont get paid enough.

6. Do not assume that we agree with all the utterances of our fathers.

I know its hard to believe that any child could grow up to disagree with her parents, shocking even, but it does happen. It is not kind or safe to assume that our parents positions are ours. And when you find out we dont agree, please refrain from being shocked or offended. Well let you disagree with your parents if you let us do the same.

7. Get to know us.

This is a good rule for anyone, but it especially pertains to PKs. Just as you want people to value your opinions, personality, and character quirks, so do we. More often than not you will get a surprise. Wow, that PK actually has a sense of humor! Who knew PKs could be so fun? Wait, he said what? Leave your assumptions at the door and let us be us. Youll probably like what you find.

For more on the uniqueness of growing up as a PK and working through its challenges, check out my book, The Pastors Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity. (David C. Cook, July 2014)

It’s Time To Get My New Book, “Twists and Turns”!

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Today is the day! My latest book,Twists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situationsofficially releases today!

This book is a little different from my other books. This is not a Christian book, per se. The short stories don’t deal with Christian themes. Rather, in this book I let my imagination wander into all sort of strange situations. I write about:

  • The Stormtrooper school of marksmanship.
  • The real story of Edmund Pevensie.
  • What really happened to Major Tom (from “Space Oddity”).
  • The “ordinary” poker game which ended up being anything but ordinary.
  • The woman who hired a hitman, only to discover that he was non-refundable.
  • And many others.

Here is what some kind reviewers have said about the book:

Strangely hilarious. Or hilariously strange. I can imagine Jack Handy enjoying this book.

I read this in bed after my wife feel asleep. I had very little expectations. I woke my wife a couple of time when I laughed out loud. Some of the stories are just bizarre without much of a punch, but most left me either scratching my head or laughing. Both reactions are fun!

While I was given the expectation that this wasn’t going to be about happy endings, I am glad to say that after every short story, I laughed. Some endings were most unexpected which was a very good thing. I won’t go into particulars since that wouldn’t be fair to future readers. All in all, its a great read when you want to be able to stop and start your read along the way. I’ve not had a book like this before.

My other books are also on sale today, for only 99 cents. Get them while they’re hot. You can get them at the links below:

Edmund Pevensie: Raw and Uncensored

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How would you feel if, for your entire life, people judged you based upon a single event which took place in your childhood? How would you feel if a well-known author wrote ridiculous, sensationalized books, in which you were portrayed as a buffoon of epic proportions? How would you feel if your siblings consistently took the credit for your accomplishments? My guess is that you would feel like me. You would feel cheated. You would feel a little bit angry. You would feel like you had gotten the short end of the stick. They say that time heals all wounds, but it certainly hasnt healed all of mine. However, for the first time in my life, I actually feel the liberty to speak freely about what actually did and did not happen to me and my siblings. Given the fact that all my siblings have now gone to the great wardrobe in the sky, I now feel the freedom to set the record straight, and I intend to do just that. My hope is that setting the record straight will also give me closure on some of these events.

It all started during that infernal summer when we stayed in that infernal house which contained that infernal wardrobe. Contrary to the romantic pictures painted by the delusional, money-grubbing, Mr. Lewis, the house was a disaster zone. Honestly, I would have rather stayed in war-torn London than spend the summer in that house of horrors. The professor, who owned the house, was most certainly insane. He would often stroll about the house wearing nothing but a pair of briefs, and as he strolled about the house, he would have deep philosophical conversations with invisible people. If any of us tried to interrupt the professors philosophical conversations, he would scream, Dont interrupt the Dufflepuds! I can only assume that my parents didnt do any sort of background check on the professor. If they had, Im quite certain they never would have sent us to live with him in the first place. Mrs. McCreedy, the housekeeper, was quite fond of cats, and had managed to collect twenty or thirty by the summer of our arrival. The moment you stepped into the house, you were assaulted by the overwhelming aroma of cat pee and musty books. She was much more concerned with the well-being of her cats than with our well-being. If we so much as shooed one of her cats away, she would fly off the handle, screaming at us and calling us names.

In an effort to distract ourselves from the half-naked professor and the crazy cat lady, we constantly played games. We played card games, trivia games, dictionary games, tag, cricket, kick-the-can, and hide n seek. It was during a game of hide n seek that I discovered the world within the wardrobe.

I know, you always thought Lucy discovered the world of Narnia. Unfortunately, that was a clever little lie invented by Mr. Lewis in order to boost book sales. Mr. Lewis, ever the marketer, was well aware of the selling power of an adorable little girl. Shirley Temple was taking the box office by storm, a fact that most certainly was not lost on Mr. Lewis. The simple fact is, most people would rather read a book, or watch a movie, or listen to a radio drama, in which a cute little girl is the hero. Its hard for people to get excited about a surly pre-teen.

But I most certainly was the one who discovered Narnia. And yes, it is true that the first person I met in Narnia was the witch, but, honestly, I had no idea she was a witch. I mean, its not like she was wearing a name tag! She seemed like a very nice person who just happened to have unusually pale skin and be obsessed with the color white.

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YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THE STORY IN MY BOOKTWISTS & TURNS: SHORT STORIES ABOUT STRANGE SITUATIONS,WHICH RELEASES TOMORROW!

The Joy of Self-Publishing!

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If you have been paying attention to me over the past several months (in a normal, non-creepy, non-stalker way), you know that I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing and publishing. In January I publishedUntamable God: Encountering the One Who Is Bigger, Better, and More Dangerous Than You Could Possibly Imagine.In early March I publishedThe Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Thoughts on Following Jesus, Amish Romance, the Daniel Plan, the Tebow Effect, and the Odds of Finding Your Soul Mate.Both books have been really well received, garnering over 125 four and five star reviews on Amazon.

Now I’m getting ready to publish a collection of short stories entitledTwists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situations.

The only way I’ve been able to publish so much in such a short time is through the joy of self-publishing.

In order to get a book published the traditional way, I would have to go through numerous “gatekeepers”. Those gatekeepers would normally include both an agent and a publishing house. The only way an agent and a publishing house would agree to publish a book is if they were certain they could make enough money on sales in order to pay everyone involved in the publishing process. That includes the agent, the editor, the graphic designer, the marketing team, the sales team, the distribution team, and numerous other individuals.

My recent books probably wouldn’t have been picked up by traditional publishers. As most of you know, I tend to see the world through a rather strange lens. My collection of essay inThe Inmates Are Running the Asylumare in the vein of David Sedaris and Dave Barry. It definitely is not Tim Keller, John Piper, or David Platt.

Twists and Turns is another book that falls outside the norm for Christian publishing. In fact, the stories aren’t Christian stories at all. Rather, each story is the result of me asking a rather strange “what if?” question.

    • What if an interrogator suddenly lost his nerve in the midst of a crucial interrogation?
    • What if everything we’ve been told about Edmund Pevensie and the world of Narnia is a total lie?
    • What is the real story behind Major Tom (from the song “Space Oddity”)?
    • What if someone wrote into an advice columnist, asking for advice on whether or not he should murder a person?
    • What if a hard core rap artist was someone totally different off stage?

In the past, the only way I could have published this collection is if I was a big-name writer. But now, thanks to the wonder of self-publishing, I can make these stories available on Amazon, and anyone with a computer, Kindle, tablet, or smartphone can read them.

The primary reason I’ve done well in self-publishing is because I have a lot of wonderful friends. These friends have proofread my books, reviewed them, recommended them to others, and provided feedback for how to improve. You don’t need a million fans in order to succeed. You just need friends who enjoy the things you create. Thankfully, I’ve got lots of friends.

I hope you’ll consider buying my latest book when it releases on May 9th. I hope you’ll also consider publishing your own work. It’s a ton of fun.