I interrupt your end of the year top 12 books lists to invite you to Come Read With Us! Maybe these will become your top 12 next year.
I read quite a bit. Actually, I read more books a year than I ever share about, which is likely a shame given that I’m a writer (I ought to share more about what I’m reading!). That’s why I decided that next year would be different. I hope to read the following twelve books through 2019 and you are invited to Come Read With Us.
The books listed below will not be the only books I read in 2019 and they will not be the only ones I’ll likely recommend. Our book club, “Come Read With Us,” will use this guide below and read one book a month, “discussing” what we are reading through our Facebook group (hint click on the link to join us!). I will simply add a one sentence prompt every Friday beginning in January and you will share what you wish. Everyone will read at their own pace, however we will move on to the next book at the beginning of the next month.
How did I choose these books?
It is often suggested that one should read a wide variety of topics, genres, and authors. Therefore, I decided to think of specific categories that I might miss if I weren’t being intentional about what I read in 2019. I then got to work researching authors and books and the endless possibilities. It was tough! There are a number of books that I wanted to add, but I was also trying to consider the book club “Come Read With Us” and what might be appealing to those who are already a part. If you are interested, go ahead and join us simply by requesting to join the group: come on in!
So, what are we reading and what are the categories?
Below you’ll find the list of books in the order they will be read, the title, and a brief explanation for why I chose that book and category. Click on title to be redirected to the Amazon page and find a detailed description of the book. Please note that though most are categorically “Christian” some are not.
The New Year is always a great time to evaluate our goals…frankly, I’m not great at setting goals. Last year, I concentrated on the word “focus” and at the beginning of the year read the book Deep Work. Deep Work was an incredibly helpful read and one I referred to throughout the year.
For 2019, I wanted to begin by thinking about leadership. I have two books listed. January is a long and boring month, so why not?! Also, one of the books is short, I’ve heard. (Remember to click on the title to purchase and to learn more).
I believe wholeheartedly that Black history is American history and therefore should be read beyond February. With that said, I also think that it’s good to celebrate Black History Month, which is why we will be reading an autobiography by Frederick Douglass. This will not be the last time we read a book from a Black author but it seemed an appropriate and wonderful time to start.
I chose this category because I’m terrible, absolutely terrible about reading fiction. I tend to read non-fiction, specifically theological works. So, I’m combining both worlds by reading C.S. Lewis. I chose this particular book because we don’t see it referenced as much as some of his others and I was intrigued.
I don’t tend to run towards best sellers, which is why I thought it would be good to read one. I want to read broadly so this fits into that category. With that said, however, this book was also a National Book Award finalist and it’s fiction, which intrigued me even more. July is often a time for vacation so I hope you get time to enjoy this work.
Do I even need to explain this? I’m teasing. But, really. I believe we will be educated and more informed by reading this book by Mindy Beltz. May it lead us to greater awareness and prayer for the persecuted Church.
I read this book as a new Christian and unlike many others who read it, I cannot remember what I read. This book is one I’ve seen theologians list as “life changing” or “shaping” for them. I’m confident this second reading will only help me (and you!) learn more about our God.
We are in a season of publishing where the platform of the author often determines the readership. In other words, the greater the platform the more the author is read, whether good or bad. I wanted to find an unknown author for us to read. I’m excited to have not only found someone lesser-known but also an 18th-century African American theologian and pastor.
You vote! The closer we get to November, we’ll vote to see what category we might want to repeat and then I’ll suggest a handful of books and we will vote again. But make sure that you’ve joined Come Read With Us.
December: About Jesus
Let’s wait and see! There are always wonderful options for Advent, sometimes new…
I am so thrilled to get study out into the world (and let’s be honest, I’m nervous too!). I am praying the Lord would use it and I’m grateful Moody Publishers is giving my friends and readers a way to get a jumpstart on the book.
Interested in receiving an early copy of my new study on Romans 8, If God is For Us? Join the launch team!
The launch team will receive an advanced copy of the book. I’ll be doing a few Facebook live chats in the group. The Moody Publishers team will be sharing ways that you can help spread the word about the book and start your own study, etc. It should be a great time! THANK YOU for considering.
If the Bible were a mountain range, it is said, Romans 8 would be its highest peak. I can say after reading this study that Trillia Newbell is a sure-footed mountain guide that will help you climb this great passage and get some of its best breathtaking views of God and our salvation in Christ. I highly recommend this volume! –Tim Keller, cofounder, Redeemer City to City
So often we encounter the message of Romans 8 in fragments, its best-known verses lifted from their context and lightly quoted to suit the need of the moment. With a careful hand, Trillia Newbell mends our fragmented reading by guiding us into the text, orienting this crucial chapter within the book of Romans as a whole, and tracing its cohesive message from start to finish. If God Is For Us is six weeks well spent for any earnest student of the Bible. –Jen Wilkin, author and Bible teacher
Trillia Newbell is a gift to the church. I can think of few people whose lives more authentically display the work of God and the fruit of His Spirit. is study on the eighth chapter of Romans will bless, encourage, and challenge you to grow further into Christ. Within these pages, Trillia serves as a faithful guide to help you better understand and apply God’s Word to your life. –Russell Moore, President, e Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
Like a delicious meal, Romans 8 is packed with truths to be savored as they are slowly enjoyed. If God Is For Us helps us to slow down and ponder the riches in this beloved chapter line by line, one verse at a time. Trillia Newbell’s warmth and wisdom will guide and encourage you with truths that will refresh and revive your soul. –Melissa Kruger, director of women’s content for e Gospel Coalition and author of In All Things
Some in the church eschew discipleship and study because they “don’t have time” or “don’t know how.” Written like a letter from a good friend, If God Is For Us offers a deep and digestible look into Paul’s intimate writings in Romans 8. Trillia explores in detail the radical, existential transformation made possible through Christ. If you’ve hesitated on Romans because it seems overwhelming, If God Is For Us is an excellent doorway to understanding, living, and sharing the “exchanged life.” – K.A. Ellis, Cannada Fellow for World Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary
I’m so thankful for Trillia and this thorough study on Romans 8. Trillia does a beautiful job encouraging us to be in God’s Word without leaving us to do it alone. Her insights and personal illustrations make studying this foundational chapter of Scripture accessible and inviting. I encourage you to get a group of friends together and pick up a copy of If God Is For Us. –Kelly Minter, Bible teacher and author of No Other Gods
Others who have commended the book:
Jeannie Cunnion, Liz Curtis Higgs, Missie Branch,Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler, cofounders of Risen Motherhood, Christina H. Edmondson, Sarah Mae
Look for much more about this study in the coming days! Until then, don’t miss out on grabbing it today!
Because of Genesis 3, we aren’t surprised by the brokenness, depravity, pain, and sorrow around us. Even creation is groaning, awaiting the day when it will be freed and all things will be made new. And perhaps one of the greatest effects of the fall is the hostility present in so many of our relationships and institutions. We need not look much further than our social media feeds to see this divide. And it could be easy to say it’s out there and not in here—in the church. Our division is pervasive. But Genesis 3 didn’t have the last word; Jesus defeated sin and death through the cross and resurrection. And although we wait for his return in a world filled with hate and despair, there are many glimpses of beauty, joy, reconciliation, and love all around.
This week in the U.S.—election week—has the potential to widen the divide we already see and feel, but we don’t have to let it. Not only can we resist the temptation to engage in the foray, we can actively show a better way. That’s why I’m excited to invite you to enter to win a few prizes while also highlighting the beauty and stories of reconciliation.
What would happen if we filled our social media feeds with stories and pictures of hope and reconciliation? That’s what I’d like to see. This won’t end all the divide in the world but perhaps it will bring a little joy.
What are the prizes?
1) My kids’ book God’s Very Good Idea: I’m grateful for how the Lord is using this little book. God has been faithful to answer my prayer that it would not only help children understand the gospel and the command to love others different from them but that parents, students, and teachers would be inspired and challenged too! I hope it might be shared with as many people as possible so I can’t wait to give it away! Five people will have a chance to win one copy of God’s Very Good Idea.
2) Two tickets to the Just Gospel conference: My friends over at The Front Porch are hosting their incredible conference called Just Gospel and this year’s theme is all about reconciliation. They have graciously offered two tickets to the conference! One personwill wintwo tickets. You won’t want to miss this. Hope to see you there!
How to enter:
Post a picture or story that highlights hope or reconciliation to Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter using both of these hashtags: #GodsVeryGoodIdeagiveaway AND #ReconcileusOLord
Giveaway begins today (11/5) and ends Saturday, November 10 at midnight.
Please don’t forget the hashtags as it is the only way I’ll be able to enter you into the giveaway. Copy and paste them to make it easier: #GodsVeryGoodIdeagiveaway #ReconcileusOLord
Six people will win: 1 person will win two tickets to the Just Gospel ’19 and 5 people will win one copy of God’s Very Good Idea. You can post as many times as you’d like, as long as you use the hashtag, you will be entered.
Examples of pictures and stories:
I imagine some of you may have trouble envisioning what I mean and so I wanted to provide a few examples. These are pictures that have brought me a particular joy in the midst of what seems like hopelessness in the world. These are only examples. Please own it and share whatever you think represents hope and reconciliation.
Story example (best for Instagram or Facebook):
My husband and I are an interracial couple. We have the opportunity to display what the gospel achieved every single day (Eph 2). But we also experienced two broken engagements before we married. Our story is one of true redemption and grace. We were not Christians when we met. The Lord saved us after our broken engagements and then a few years later, we got back together. God reconciled us first to himself and then to one another. We have now been married for 15 years! #ReconcileUsOLord #GodsVeryGoodIdeagiveaway
A few picture examples:
Remember to make it your own! Share whatever you think is an example of hope and reconciliation. Looking forward to reading your stories and viewing your pictures. #ReconcileUsOLord #GodsVeryGoodIdeaGiveaway
Special thank you to Thabiti Anyabwile and the Front Porch:
Pictures in gallery from left to right: Row 1) President Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama; A picture from God’s Very Good Idea; and Me and my two dear friends. Row 2) A story of how a Black pastor shared the gospel with and befriended an old KKK member; a picture by Anthony Cheatham; a picture from God’s Very Good Idea
As I’ve highlighted on the blog, I’m currently teaching a Bible study on Ephesians at my local church. It has been such a joy but last week might have been one of the sweetest. Instead of doing a devotional, I wanted to share with you one thing one woman shared with all of us during that time.
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize how much I don’t know. Perhaps that seems backwards, but the more I study, the more I realize that the depths of God’s Word and his character are inexhaustible. In many ways, I join Paul in proclaiming, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom 11:33). We will be searching the depths for eternity! This had been on my mind and heart for the past few weeks, and then Ms. Anna confirmed what I felt the Lord had been stirring in my own heart.
She told us that when she was young, she prayed to the Lord: “Keep me teachable.” What is wonderful about Anna is she is living out that prayer and the Lord is answering it. She is nearly twice my age and yet is learning from this youngster. She was also teaching us through the discussion. Women hear Titus 2 preached at them quite a bit, that older women should teach younger women. I learned more from Anna’s example of humility, grace, and wisdom last Tuesday night that no amount of advice about being a good wife could replace. Advice is good, but the example of a life well-lived plus hearing biblical teaching is irreplaceable.
It could be tempting to think that one day we might “arrive,” and if we think we have, we will miss out on the wonderful joys of learning and being taught. May we never be puffed up because of our knowledge (1 Cor 8:1). My prayer for you and me is that the Lord would keep us teachable all the days of our lives.
I’ve always had a sensitive conscience: even before I became a Christian, I would confess wrongdoing to my parents. Vulnerability was never difficult for me when I was younger.
Oddly, once I became a Christian, I started to become more aware of how I would be viewed by others, and that vulnerability all of a sudden felt much more risky. I was 22 and wanted to be accepted. But God was gracious to me and gave me two friends, two accountability partners, two people serious about God and eager for true and honest fellowship.
My two close friends and I did accountability consistently for several years (and even to this day, one of them and I will catch up as if those college and single years aren’t long gone). We would meet every other Friday afternoon. Our times together would consist of eating spaghetti, confession, encouragement, and prayers. We cried and laughed and shared the most intimate parts of ourselves. We were honest and open, often sharing things that might even make one blush with embarrassment.
Those formative years in my Christian walk were priceless. I learned the gift that is repentance and that I could bring anything before my heavenly Father. God was and remains incredibly approachable to me, because I know that if I confess my sin, he is faithful and just to forgive me and purify me (1 John 1 v 9). I know that I can come before his throne of grace and receive mercy and help in my time of need (Hebrews 4 v 16).
God also used those relationships to solidify my view of the church as a family. I knew that my friends and I weren’t simply three girls pouring out our hearts to one another. We were, and still are, sisters—co-heirs with Christ! Relationships in the church are essential for our walk with him. I know this because there were times when I wasn’t sure if I could walk the walk of faith. God used those relationships to keep me from wandering off course. Those sisters were in the race, in the fight, or—as my friend Catherine Parks has written here—on my team.
Those college friendships expanded beyond college into our single years and then through the beginning of our marriages. But as many of our stories go, two of us ended up moving away, beginning a search for new, deep relationships in our new homes.
In walks Catherine.
When I moved to the Nashville area, I knew that the only way for me to truly settle in and make our new location feel like home was to (1) find a church and commit to it and (2) find some friends and begin to build deep and true relationships. The Lord was faithful in both cases. I had known of Catherine Parks via her online articles and book. I reached out to her to see if we could meet up, and it was one of the best decisions I could have made.
Catherine and I hit it off quickly and easily. I don’t remember all that we talked about, but I do remember going from “Nice to meet you” to “Let’s confess our sins” within a matter of a few hangouts (it may have even been our first!). I’m not good with surface-level conversations, so I dove right in. It was something I was used to; but it wasn’t necessarily Catherine’s default. Yet she made sure to let me know that for her, it was good and challenging to think beyond the surface and resist the urge to give coined answers of “I’m fine.”
I share this with you because I am both a reader and an author. As a reader, I want to know that the author is authentic and can write with at least a measure of authority on the topic; and as I’m a Christian reader, it’s even more assuring when I know that the author has integrity. Catherine has walked out and wrestled with the truth that she writes about in Real. She isn’t writing from a place of superiority or as someone who has arrived. Rather, Catherine is a fellow sojourner in the faith, on a mission to finish the race well. Confession, repentance, and being real are essential in that goal.
In Real you will find wise counsel, biblical exposition, and personal stories that will inspire, encourage, and challenge you as you seek to be honest with yourself and with those around you. We will learn the futility of chasing after what we think we want versus the value of chasing after what is right. We will learn to face our sin for what it is. No excuses. No defending.
But Catherine doesn’t leave us to wallow in condemnation and self-pity. That isn’t the point of confession, nor is it the goal of repentance. It is indeed God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2 v 4). God’s word tells us that if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1 v 9). We can trust that God will do as he says—he meets our sin with forgiveness and grace. As Catherine has written, “When we’re assured of our Father’s forgiveness, instead of covering up in front of others, we can confess—be honest about our sin” (p 31).
We will never outgrow this message of grace and repentance. And we will never outgrow our need for one another. Whether you have a core group of friends who are thriving and already committed to seeking Jesus together, or the concept of confession is absolutely new to you, this book is for you. Anyone at any stage will benefit from the pages ahead.