This was originally published at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson

This is my favourite read from 2018 and I am almost considering rereading it just to gain more of Anderson’s wisdom. The premise of this book is that so many of us who are saved by grace live as if we were god of our own lives. We try to do everything for ourselves—attempting to be super-woman (or super-man), and constantly striving to “have it all.” We get irritated at our friends Facebook posts, because we feel we are missing out or appearing less interesting than them; we are disappointed when we aren’t the best thing in another’s life simply because we have grown too big in our own.

Humility is a concept that, I realised, I didn’t understand completely. I thought it was simply the absence of pride. But as Anderson explains:

Humility, then, is not simply a disposition or set of phrases. Humility is accurately understanding ourselves and our place I the world, Humility is knowing where we came from and who our people are. Humility is understanding that without God we are nothing. Without His care, without His provision, without His love, we would still be dust. (p56)

Anderson writes beautifully, weaving an analogy of gardening that is poetic and inspiring. Humble Roots is a short, easy read and I found myself drawn back to it time and again. The book lingered in my mind and impacted my soul.

In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin

In His Image by Jen Wilkin has ten chapters—each examining a characteristic of God and how we are called to reflect this characteristic.

Wilkin dedicates this book to the memory of R.C. Sproul, “who taught profound truth in plain speech, and who dignified everyday disciples as capable theologians.” This excites me—and it’s exactly what Wilkin does. She makes theology accessible to each individual. She balances the personal and the theological, helping us to see how we, as God’s image bearers, can grow in his likeness. Thus, in Chapter 4, “God Most Just,” Wilkin writes:

This is a chapter for those who have been treated unjustly. And it is also a chapter for those who have acted unjustly. Whether you identify more readily with the first category of the second, the perfect justice of God is reason to celebrate. Yet, it is a topic we often avoid. Many a sermon has been preached on the love of God, many a hymn has been composed on the grace of God, many a devotional has been written on the mercy of God, but rarely is his justice the subject of our worship and reflection. (p57)

Wilkin writes in a personal, conversational style that is grounded in biblical truth. She humorously shares herself and enthusiastically draws us in, teaching us theological truths to help us sharpen our faith.

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afsharr

Tessa Afsharr is a biblical fiction writer who helps shine light on a historical appreciation for the culture in bible times. Her books feature strong characters (often female leads) who draw us in and captivate our attention. Her writing is easy to read and generally fast-paced. Thief of Corinth is another winner.

When I read fiction, I want to be swept up in the story yet also have my mind engaged. I feel that good biblical fiction gives us a hunger for the original text—and this is what Afsharr provides. She actually sets aside a chapter at the end of the story to explain her research, to show the biblical evidence for her plot decisions, and to encourage her readers to go to God’s word themselves to broaden their understanding of the Bible.

The Friend Who Forgives by Dan DeWitt and Catalina Echeveri

I have loved all of The Good Book Company’s “Tales that Tell the Truth” picture books for children, and their latest—The Friend Who Forgives by Dan Dewitt and Catalina Echeveri—is no exception. This book follows the story of the Apostle Peter, helping adults and children alike come to appreciate the goodness of God to change a person’s life.

TDeWitt and Echeveri show the importance of God’s forgiveness for Peter and for us. This book is written with a strong sense of character and a captivating voice that works to draw the reader in to this simple, yet beautiful, story of redemption. 

Through highlighting Peter’s personality trait of being quick to speak, DeWitt and Echeveri show the importance of God’s forgiveness for Peter and for us. This book is written with a strong sense of character and a captivating voice. I also loved the little asides throughout the story (such as “Fish for breakfast??? … That’s weird”) that work to draw the reader in to this simple, yet beautiful, story of redemption. There is also a Call to Action in the book as DeWitt and Echeveri compare Peter’s need for forgiveness and then his desire to call others to repentance, with our opportunity to do the same.

The illustrations are beautiful and Echeverri brings her clear theological understanding, humour and her love of vibrant colour to each page. Her characters are full of expression and are a delight to behold, continuing to help build on the story and provide opportunities for discussion between the adult reader and younger child.

I bought this for my almost three year old for Christmas and I have enjoyed reading it with her and her older siblings on many occasions.