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 winner’s Logos account. Don’t 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. That’s 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. You’ll receive emails featuring content written by me and other Christian bloggers!

Why You Should Take a Biography to the Beach

Theodore-Rex-Morris-Edmund-9780812966008It’s summer – and that means it’s time for summer reading. Eventually the water will get too cold, you’ll 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 it’ll be time to crack open that book you’ve 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 that’s 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 it’s 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. Don’t waste your time on one of those. If you pick up a biography that’s all dead, follow Miracle Max’s advice: go through its pockets for loose change, then sell it on Amazon. (If you don’t 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 else’s 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. I’m 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 you’ll 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 God’s standpoint. That’s 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 God’s 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 you’ll 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 human’s life will make you wise.

You will develop empathy. If a biography is well written, you’ll find yourself caught up in the subject’s life. You feel pain at their sorrows. You feel joy when they succeed. Why? Because a biography helps you walk in someone else’s shoes – and as you learn to do that with an historical person, you’ll 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 you’re convinced. What should you read? Here are a handful of my favorites. They’re 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 Rivals by 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 (pastor’s 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 they’re the same for every PK in their individual context. Expectations make for awkward interactions and introductions. Any PK will know what I’m 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 you’ve had multiple sets of parents you don’t 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 don’t want to talk to you about prom dates, football games, fishing trips, car wrecks, or anything else if we don’t 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 answer—not 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.

That’s what the church secretary or the pastor’s assistant is for. Please let us be his children. We usually don’t have the ability to make a meeting happen, and we almost never want to. We don’t get paid enough.

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

I know it’s 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 don’t agree, please refrain from being shocked or offended. We’ll 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. You’ll 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 Pastor’s 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 Situations officially 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: