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Faithmapping Book Winners

Last week we celebrated the release of Faithmapping by giving away 15 copies on Twitter and Facebook. Many of you entered by posting a favorite quote from the book in your status updates, then we numbered and randomly determined the winners using the number generator at

I’m pleased to announce the winners here, who will all receive a copy of Faithmapping in the mail. Thanks to each of you, and thanks to everyone who entered the contest:

  • Josh Wagner of Charlotte, NC
  • Josh Poore of Birmingham, AL.
  • Kevin Fiske of Joliet, IL.
  • Bob Comarsh of Yuba City, CA.
  • Emily Kraft of Louisville, KY
  • Thomas Perry of Dothan, AL.
  • Karen Davis of West Sussex, United Kingdom
  • Chris Gensheer of Santa Fe, NM
  • Jonathan Howe of Nashville, TN.
  • Steve Hinkle of Joliet, IL
  • Fred Miller of Indianapolis, IN
  • Julie Pizzino of Roanoke, VI
  • Nate Palmer of Frisco, TX
  • Robbie Melton of Louisville, KY
  • Justin Karl of Tuscaloosa, AL


5 Non-Christian Books That Made Me Love Jesus More

Jonah Sage is Connect Director at Sojourn Community Church, and guest blogger this week at

The fool says in his heart, ‘I should only read Christian books.’ Here are a few reasons why I say this (in no particular order):

  • The whole notion that a book can be “Christian” is silly because books don’t have souls.
  • The belief that only books explicitly referencing Jesus can teach you about Jesus would make Jesus cry.
  • Most of the world doesn’t read books about Jesus.
  • Beauty pushes us to experience God and there are thousands of beautiful books out there.
  • Reading from different perspectives gives us clarity on our own.

This doesn’t mean we should do something just because most people do it, this doesn’t mean you’re a “bad Christian” if you only have Max Lucado on your shelves, and this doesn’t mean you’re a fool if you don’t like reading. It just means that you might be surprised how much your love for Jesus can grow if you branch out a little. With that in mind, I humbly submit five of my favorites:

1. Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees

Martin Rees is Royal Society Research Professor at Cambridge University and holds the hilarious title of “Astronomer Royal.” That just means he’s smarter than pretty much everybody. This book discusses six numbers that hold the universe together (like the force of gravity). It helps to know a little physics but it is by no means necessary. He writes for simpletons like you and me and the results are breathtaking. I read most of this with my jaw on the ground. Naturally, there are a few thoughts here and there I disagree with, but the book, big-picture, is stunning. If you want to feel small, if you want to get a tiny glimpse of the power of God and the wonder of creation, this is a great place to start.

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

I cringe every time I read or say this book’s title, but that doesn’t take away from the gems it holds within. Don’t look at this title and think this must be a book on how to get popular. Instead, think of it as a book about communication. Many people my age (late 20s) had lackluster examples of what manhood and womanhood looked like. Simple lessons like looking people in the eyes or having a firm handshake were missed. Topics include becoming a better conversationalist, making good first impressions, and how to get along with people. The Apostle Paul encourages believers to be at peace with all men whenever possible (Romans 12:18). Learning how to interact and communicate well with people is a great step in that direction.

3. Food for thought: Resurrecting the art of eating by Robert Capon

This is kind of cheating since Capon is an Episcopal Priest. This book isn’t about Jesus though, so it’s all good. This book is about cooking, eating, and enjoying life. It discusses everything from how to equip your kitchen to picking a favorite style of cuisine. You’ll find recipes, knife suggestions, and lots of subtle jokes. This book will make you see Genesis 2:9 (And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food) in a new light.

4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

It was really difficult deciding which novels to put on here. I chose this one because it’s one of the more popular in history, it comes in plenty of inexpensive formats, and because the story revolves around two of my longest standing struggles—feelings of betrayal and entitlement. The Christian reads this and is left in awe of the love of God that takes rebels and makes them family. Dumas consistently confronts my half-hearted understanding of forgiveness and my sinful desires for worldly vindication. It’s a LONG read, but absolutely worth it. Download it for free and start whittling away.

5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

This is my favorite of Steinbeck’s work, and I’m in the minority for thinking so. It raises countless questions regarding morality, right and wrong, family life, love and hate, and starting over. The real agony of this book, though, is that many of the questions are obvious yet the reader is left hunting for the answers. The story itself is beautiful, but there is so much going on underneath. Read this first for the sheer joy of the story, then go through it again letting the story “read you.”

So that’s my list. Two novels, a self-help book, a science book, and a culinary book. What did I miss?

5 Things I’m Reminded Of When Doing Triathlons

TriathlonFirst let me clarify: I don’t do Iron Mans; I do sprint triathlons. These consist of anywhere from:

  • Half mile to a mile swim
  • 12-24 mile mountain biking
  • 4-6 mile trail run.

It’s hard to exercise without a goal, so for my daily exercise I set the goal of trying to do a couple triathlons per year. But it’s not simply about having a goal. Running triathlons teaches and reminds me of important things:

The Trinity

All great things come in threes, right? The perfect unity and diversity of our triune God is a divine wonder that we should reflect on whenever we see triune patterns in this world (check out my “3 Books On The Trinity” post here).

Hilarity & Humility

Doing a triathlon always physically humbles me, no matter how much I train. I leave the race feeling smaller than when I began. Last year I almost needed an IV at the Xterra Trail Run in Alabama because I hadn’t trained enough. And in every triathlon, as soon as I start swimming I feel like I might drown.  My goal is always to finish in the top half — Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don’t. Triathlons are a great way to remind me of my limitations, and help me to not think too highly of myself.


A race is never just about the race.  You’re not doing it alone. The joy comes from people I prepare and go to the race with, and talk about it with afterwards. We experience camaraderie and the kind of bonding that happens when you go through something extraordinary with others. We were created for community; doing triathlons with others is a good reminder and display of this gospel truth.


Training is a constant reminder that all good things require discipline and sacrifice. As Paul said,

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. — 1 Timothy 4:8

One value of physical training is the reminder of the need to be disciplined in what we do. It helps me see the importance of discipline and sacrifice. The book Triathlon Training In Four Hours A Week has been a big help in my training. I don’t have a great deal of free time, and I’m sure you don’t either. But four hours a week? That is doable.

The Glory

With training comes glory. Even when I finish in the bottom half of a triathlon there is a certain glory in just finishing. It’s the glory of the feast that comes afterward, the celebration with my family. This Christian race is similar. God calls us to finish the race.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. — Acts 20:24

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. — 2 Timothy 4:7

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, — Hebrews 12:1

“Triathlon” image by Pieter Smit, used via Creative Commons license 

See Incredible Footage & Help My Friend Tell Stories That Need To Be Told

Coury Deeb has been a Sojourner from the beginning. He’s my friend and a dear brother in Christ. He’s also the founder of Nadus Films. The video above sums up the reason we all need to support Nadus — they’re telling stories that need to be told, in a creative, compelling way.

Nadus needs to raise about $12,000 more in the next week in order to finish production on their next film, BBoy For Life, about how the lives of break dancers in Guatemala City are affected by some of the worlds most dangerous gangs. You can watch the trailer below, and then go to the Nadus Kickstarter page to make your pledge. Pray about whether you can give $2, $10, $20 or more, and know that whatever you’re able to give, God is working through Coury and everyone at Nadus:

Summer Reading: Top 5 Books On My Reading List

Memorial Day is less than a week away, and with that, the summer reading season is upon us. This summer as always I hope to dig into some books that I’ve been anticipating for awhile. Here is my Top Five list:

The Genius Of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmstead by Merloyd Lawrence

Olmstead designed Cherokee Park here in Louisville, as well as New York City’s Central Park and other parks around the nation. He was also a journalist, abolitionist and an important voice for environmental protection and beautification. I’m eager to dive into this full biography.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

This is one of my friend Kevin Cawley’s favorite works of fiction (Kevin is Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in Kansas City, MO). He reads it every year, so I thought I would give it a read this summer. Not that he needed to do a lot of convincing — Berry is becoming one of my favorite writers. This is the story of a man’s love for a woman, and for his Kentucky community.

Consider The Lilies: A Plea For Creational Theology by T.M. Moore

“How can we perceive and experience God’s grandeur in creation? What does creation tell us about his plans, purposes, truth, or ways?” This is a book about learning to do theology as we consider the part we play in the world around us. This will be my second round reading Consider The Lilies.

The Solace Of Fierce Landscapes by Belden C. Lane

Part memoir, part theological treatise, part meditation, “The Solace of Fierce Landscapes explores the impulse that has drawn seekers into the wilderness for centuries and offers eloquent testimony to the healing power of mountain silence and desert indifference.” I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lane’s Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality, which explores similar themes of desire, beauty and ecological sensitivity.

The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life In A Virtual Age by Richard Louv

Louv is not a Christian but his writings on nature are stimulating, as we think about the intersection of nature and neighborhoods, and sense of place. Louv asks “What would our lives be like if our days and nights were as immersed in nature as they are in electronics?”


Have you picked up on the fact that I’m on a nature/place kick? I’m not always a “theme cluster” reader but this is definitely one of those summers I am reading according to a theme. As I’ve said before here in this blog, I’m increasingly drawn to conversations about place and space. However …


The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach

This is a highly regarded new novel, and is supposed to be a page-turner. It’s a drama about human nature, life, love, and the king of summer sports – baseball. I plan on reading when I’m on pure vacation.

Do you have a summer reading list? Is it centered on a particular theme or author, or is it all over the place?

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