First Look: An Interview with Elliot Clark, Author of Evangelism as Exiles

Thanks for reading my blog series First Look, where I interview authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Elliot Clark (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) lived in Central Asia, where he served as a cross-cultural church planter along with his wife and children. He currently works to train local church leaders overseas with Training Leaders International. He is author of Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Own Land (The Gospel Coalition, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

Many of us in North America have been privileged with a history of relative ease. In many cases, evangelicals have been (and still may be) the social and cultural majority. As such, we’re accustomed to doing evangelism from a position of power and influence. And we might even be tempted to think that success, cultural status, and having a “voice” are what make our gospel believable.   

But that’s not the way it’s been throughout church history, and it’s certainly not the norm in much of the world today. The Christian experience is typically one of exile. The Apostle Peter emphasized this as he wrote to first-century Christians facing trials of shame and social exclusion. What’s surprising is not that Christians suffer in this way—even Jesus was a chosen exile—but that our increasing experience of weakness and marginalization actually presents an incredible opportunity for the gospel.

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First Look: An Interview with Matt Smethurst, Author of Before You Open Your Bible

Thanks for reading my blog series First Look, where I interview authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Matt Smethurst is the managing editor of The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife, Maghan, have three children and live in Louisville, KY. They belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church, where Matt serves as an elder. He is author of Before You Open Your Bible: Nine Heart Postures For Approaching God’s Word (10Publishing, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

Before You Open Your Bible is about nine heart postures that will spark a richer experience with the Book—and the God—we claim to love. So many great resources exist on how to read and study the Bible, but I’m actually not aware of any that focus exclusively on how to approach it in the first place. That’s what I’ve aimed to provide in this brief “prelude” or “prequel” of sorts. Because without the right heart postures, we’re not yet ready to start reading.

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First Look: An Interview with Jeff Medders, Author of Humble Calvinism

Thanks for reading my blog series First Look, where I interview authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Jeff Medders is the Pastor of Preaching and Theology at Redeemer Church in Tomball, TX, right outside of Houston. He’s married and has two kids. Jeff writes books and articles, and talks about writing on his podcast Home Row. He is author of Humble Calvinism: And If I Know the Five Points, But Have Not Love… (The Good Book Company, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

Humble Calvinism explores the five points of Calvinism—TULIP—showing how the doctrines of grace should humble us before the Lord and before one another. This book isn’t a defense of Cavlinism—it’s an exhortation to real Calvinism, humble Calvinism, Christ-like and fruit-of-the-Spirit Calvinism.

The points of Calvinism point somewhere, to someone: Jesus of Nazareth. He is the marrow of the doctrines of grace. Total Depravity reminds us that we are totally dependent on Jesus. Election shows how we are chosen in Christ. Each point points to Jesus. The most important five-letter word in Calvinism isn’t TULIP—it’s Jesus.

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First Look: An Interview with Abigail Dodds, Author of (A)Typical Woman

I’m excited to roll out this blog series entitled First Look, where I’ll be interviewing authors about their new books. The goal is to point you to solid, Christ-centered resources by giving you a peek into the author’s mind and heart.


Abigail Dodds is a wife, mother of five, and grad student at Bethlehem College & Seminary. I’ve long admired her writing abilities, but mostly her desire to exalt Jesus in everything she writes. She is author of (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ (Crossway, 2019).

Tell us what your new book is about.

(A)Typical Woman answers the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian and a woman?” It isn’t looking at all the verses in the Bible about women or addressed to women and then trying to assemble a composite of the ideal woman for us to try and imitate so we can be real women. The book is simpler than that. It isn’t throwing out the necessity of paying close attention to what God has to say to us in particular passages as women, but it isn’t trying to achieve womanhood. Instead, we want Christ to be our beginning and end. So we must examine two parallel and conjoined realities: the gift and reality of being born––made through Christ––as a woman, and the gift and reality of being re-born––made through Christ––as his daughter.

The book has three sections:

  • “Women Through and Through” is the foundation of the book. It examines our new birth, our womanhood, how we read the Bible, the meaning behind our bodies, holiness, etc.
  • “Women in All We Do” looks at some of the particular callings women have.
  • “Fearless and Free Women” is more personal, looking at how Christ matures us as Christian women.

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10 Great Resources for New Moms

I became a mom to our beautiful baby girl last year.

Newborns are precious and wonderful. But the challenges that accompany them? Hard and wearying (though completely worth it). I quickly learned that a-lack-of-solid-sleep plus not-knowing-what-I’m-doing equals an emotional rollercoaster and therefore a great need to be well-resourced and rooted in God’s eternal truth.  

The following books, podcasts, and other resources greatly encouraged me through the season of new motherhood. Here are 10 suggestions to both nourish your soul and equip you as you get acquainted with your newborn:

1. Risen Motherhood

Risen Motherhood exists to encourage, equip and challenge moms to apply the gospel to their everyday lives. A 15-20 minute podcast started by two young moms, Risen Motherhood is delightful and practical. I love listening to this podcast when I’m driving, nursing, or picking up around the house. Between the co-hosts, Emily and Laura, there are eight kids, lots of momma-experience, and a great love for Jesus. The best parts of the podcast are their humility (they never claim to have it all together) and practical application of the gospel to motherhood and parenting.

2. New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional

Paul Tripp’s one-page daily devotional readings are full of street-level application of God’s grace. As new moms, we need the timeless realities of God’s Word to give us perspective when we’re tired, discouraged, bored, and frustrated. Tripp excels at helping his readers view all of life through the finished work of Jesus Christ: In him, we are approved by God, filled with the Spirit, freed from sin’s bondage and lies, and helped by his grace. I always come away from the day’s reading grasping more clearly how God desires to transform my heart, and this encourages me as I begin another day with my baby.

3. Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood: An Eleven-Week Devotional Bible Study

Author Melissa Kruger clearly had moms in mind as she wrote this Bible study. Not only is the content directed and relevant to moms of any stage, the format of her book is excellent for new moms: She includes each Bible passage within the book and space for journaling, meaning no extra tools to remember! I’ve been so helped by her ability to draw out biblical truth in a fresh way, and so comforted to know many moms have walked this road before me. Most of all, I’m reminded of how near God is to me through his Son, and that I can ask him to help me glorify and enjoy him each day of motherhood.

4. New Baby Survival Guide: Bite-Sized Bible Reading for New Mothers

The description for this book reads, “A new baby is a wonderful gift from the Lord, bringing great joy but also sleepless nights, constant laundry and, sometimes, total exhaustion. It can be hard to read your Bible and pray. These bite-sized Bible readings from the book of Psalms are designed for you to dip into and be refreshed by the Lord.” The authors Cassie Martin and Sarah Smart edify through their compact study of several Psalms and entertain through real-life anecdotes (I laughed out loud multiple times). I enjoyed reading each day’s passage and praying the closing prayers with our daughter.

5. Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope

“This short book by eight women explores the daily trials and worries of motherhood….The paradox of this book is the secret power of godly mothering. Becoming mom enough comes as a result of answering the question, ‘Are you mom enough?’ with a firm no. Who knew the answer no could actually be empowering when our strength is rooted in Christ? These short readings on Christ-centered mothering are the perfect length for nursing sessions or naps and will deeply encourage your heart.

Read the rest of the article at iBelieve.

Why I Read Christian Books All Wrong

I have a problem – a reading problem. When I read certain Christian books (especially those written by Puritans and the modern-day writers who love them), I can walk away from their paragraphs and pages discouraged, rather than built up and spurred on in the faith. I’ve felt everything from prideful offense at these books, wanting them back on the bookshelf, to embarrassment, as I fight a sense of defeat.

But why?

These are rock-solid books. Faithful books. God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-centered books, many of which have stood the test of time, and for good reason. So what is my problem? What is it within me that causes me to read this way?

The problem is with my heart, which is easily deceived. I forget important realities that should filter all the reading we, as Christians, do:

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2016 Reading Favorites

In closing the 2016 reading year, a few lessons come to mind that I’ll take with me into 2017:

  • I will read fewer books, and slow down with them, if it means enjoying and comprehending more of what I read.
  • I will choose better books rather than more books.
  • I will ask for more book recommendations.

I used Tim Challies’ Reading Challenge this year, which was useful in helping me read beyond categories that I would normally read. But, as the adage goes, “Know thyself,” I should’ve predicted that my Type A personality would steal some of the joy of this challenge, in favor of meeting (or beating) my reading goal.

Regardless, 2016 was a year of great books. The titles I’m sharing with you below were my favorites, and they follow the criteria I used in last year’s Reading Favorites article:

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6 Great Books to Read at the Start of the New Year

What would it look like for you to know Christ in 2017?

Resolutions toward physical fitness, habit changes, and life goals are commonplace in any given December, and when placed under God’s ultimate control, these are good pursuits. But there’s a better pursuit, the Bible tells us, one that takes to heart—well, our hearts.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

To prioritize growth in godliness for the purpose of knowing God is every Christian’s job, whether at the start of a new year or the dawn of each new day. Morning by morning, as we wake up with breath in our lungs, we’re beckoned to spend our moments on the greatest pursuit in existence: to know Jesus more intimately and to become like him.

One way to move toward this goal? Read great books. Not just any Christian books—great books. Books bursting with true, theological riches. Pages plumbing the depths of the gospel of Jesus. Titles trumpeting the value of holiness, the perfection of God’s Word, and the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for sinners stumbling their way to glory. Turn the pages and treasure the paragraphs of great books that will spur you on to know Christ and grow in godliness.

The Bible comes first. Great books follow. Here are six I’d recommend you read this new year…

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2015 Reading Favorites

Well – I’m no Al Mohler, and I certainly wouldn’t qualify for Tim Challies’ “obsessed” category on his Reading Challenge…but I read more books this year than I thought possible. Shout out to Tony Reinke, whose book Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books spurred me on to do so! 

My husband and I decided to set aside other activities (ahem, television) in favor of reading. While “obsessed” may not be the right word, we are certainly more hungry than ever to research good titles, put together a hearty stack of reads, refine our note-taking process, and then mull over and discuss our thoughts about each book upon its completion.  Continue reading