Q&A with Francis Chan

In many Christian circles, we reduce the Holy Spirit to a mere footnote. We treat the Spirit as theoretical. In The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, Francis Chan helps readers see the Spirit of God as something less vague and more attainable and practical. The book will be especially helpful to people in prison as Chan boldly proclaims that the Spirit is for everyone who would receive it, regardless of background or where they live.

NOTE:  All of our author interviews are now in one print-ready PDF. Just click, print, and mail to your loved one in prison.

Q&A with Francis Chan:

Question: The Holy Spirit can sound so impressive and grandiose when we read stories in the Bible of the Spirit’s actions and of people filled with the Spirit. You detail a lot of these stories in your book. Can people who are in prison be filled with the Spirit?

Chan: I honestly don’t know a single Christian who would answer that question negatively. In fact, I would argue that those in prison might have an advantage over those who are not. Those living their lives in freedom and comfort are rarely interested in spiritual things. There are so many distractions, temptations, and forms of entertainment available today that the supreme enjoyment of Christ often takes a backseat. Some of my close friends spent years in prison and refer to their time incarcerated as “the good old days.” It was in prison that Christ met them, and they experienced rich times alone with Jesus and deep times with fellow Spirit-filled believers.

Question: When Paul was stuck in prison writing the letter to the Philippians, do you think he had the Spirit then, even when he was shackled in prison chains? If so, how do you see that the Spirit was manifesting its power in Paul’s life and words during that season of incarceration?

Chan: The fact that you and I are able to read the prison epistles today is probably the best answer I can give to that question. The Bible is one of the most precious gifts we have been given on this earth. 2 Timothy 3:16 explains that “all scripture is inspired by God”. Hebrews 4:12 explains that the words of Scripture are “living and active.” There are no other books that are “living”, only the words of scripture. Paul was “inspired by God” while in prison to write “living” words that we depend upon 2000 years later! How could anyone question what God is capable of doing through a person in prison?

Question: In your book, you note Paul’s description of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You go onto say: “Perhaps you read these verses and wonder why these things are not a part of your life. Don’t be discouraged. Ask God to make you more loving or to help you put to death the deeds of the flesh or to use you to bless His children. Remember that we cannot do these things on our own, and that these are the very things the Holy Spirit does in our lives. The Father tells us to ask Him….” (page 77)

What advice would give specifically to a person in prison who tells you they feel so little love, so little joy, so little kindness, etc.?

Chan: 2 Peter 1:1-9. Go read it. There’s nothing I can add to that passage. In it, you see the promises of God which should make us tremble. Study every word of that passage. You will see that we have been given everything, but that doesn’t mean we sit passively. God has given us everything we need. Now we need to give everything in pursuit of what He has given us.

Growing With | Q&A with Steve Argue

I once heard someone talk about burning coals as a way to illustrate the importance of someone being part of a faith community. The point was that coals grouped together burn longer and a piece of coal separated cools faster. Christ-followers of every age need community to grow an independent faith. This may seem paradoxical, but for each of us to be strong in our individual commitment to Jesus, we have to be around people: flawed, caring people who are also on a lifelong pursuit of determining what it means to follow Jesus.

Since the teen and young adult years are so formative, it is pivotal that 13-29 year-olds have people in their lives who care about their spiritual vitality. But how does a parent who is incarcerated take an active role in their child’s spiritual life? That’s what this post and author interview is about. Feel free to print this and mail it to a loved one in prison.

As devoted teens and young adults grow in their spiritual commitment, they will likely hear a lot of emphasis on making their faith their own. Guiding voices will encourage them not to rely too heavily on the faith of a parent, mentor, etc. To some extent, this is very healthy. Each person has to make personal decisions about their life and level of commitment that no one else can make for them. Someone may be able to be forced into a commitment to religion, but no one can be forced into a healthy relationship and commitment to Christ. That’s up to God and the individual.

The Bible does, however, repeatedly model and teach that the healthiest way for one to grow spiritually is within community: church communities and families. So while teens and young adults definitely need their own space, time, and experiences to foster spiritual maturity, having parents who model a healthy spiritual life is especially beneficial. In Deuteronomy 6:5-9 we find a famous passage teaching parents to model and talk about their love for God during the ordinary parts of the day so that children will see how important that love is:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9, NIV

That’s a beautiful passage and is one of the most famous from the Old Testament for good reason. But it can be difficult for us as parents to know how to start living that out. Kara Powell and Steve Argue’s book, Growing With, helps parents map out some practical plans for walking alongside their children in the pivotal years of faith development.

Growing With is organized into four main sections that contain two chapters each. The first section addresses our posture as parents. Powell and Argue encourage us to adopt an attitude of empathy toward our children. A “When I was your age” parenting approach rarely comes across as empathetic, the authors would say. To connect with our kids, we have to take time to appreciate how the experiences that shape their perspectives are different from our own experiences.

The next three sections deal with a young person’s family, faith, and future. Throughout these sections, Powell and Argue provide practical insight on fostering warmth in a family setting, an environment where a young person can grow in their personal faith, and setting them up for an adulthood with connection and meaning.

One of the attractive things about Growing With is that the authors aren’t going merely on their own hunches or experiences. Though they’re open about their own successes and failures as parents, what they present in the book is practical advice grounded in research and data. Powell and Argue are both in leadership positions at the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. But though their writing had academic grounding, they share their research findings in down-to-earth, relatable ways.

Click here to view Growing With on Amazon.

Q&A With Steve Argue, co-author of Growing With

Question: Growing With is a guide to helping parents helping their teen or young adult children grow in their faith. What practical things do you encourage parents who are away often because of business or deployment to do to grow spiritually alongside their teen/young adult from a distance? Which of these approaches could also apply to someone who is in prison?

Argue: Great question. Let me start by saying this– No matter who you are or where you are, you are a parent. And I assume that you love your kid(s). And nobody loves a kid like their parent. It doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes, wish we could do things differently, or longed to be closer (in proximity or with our relationship), but that love you have is real, and that is a gift to you and your child. 
For parents in prison, I can imagine that you feel an extra dose of distance from your kid. At some level, all parents can start feeling their relationship with their growing kids changing. The best thing you can do? Go first by taking a chance to step closer to them. This can be hard because you may have to break the ice in your relationship. It can feel awkward. You may not even know what to say. But our kids don’t know what to say either. So, you can help them by just reaching out and tell them what is true from your heart– that you love them, or miss them, or that you think about them all the time, that you’re praying for them, cheering for them, believing in them, no matter what. Kids usually want to hear from their parents these simple, assuring words. We live in a world where everybody puts so much pressure on our kids. They need to hear more than anything else- I’m on your side–no matter what. 

Question: You write about parenting in the present and parenting in real-time. This is challenging to all parents but especially parents in prison. What can incarcerated parents do to maximize the limited interaction they have with their teen and young adult children?

Argue: I appreciate you asking this. You know, most parents feel like they have only small moments with their kids because they’re always on the move with school, clubs, friends, activities. For incarcerated parents, they may feel the same and even more so. On top of that, visiting may feel like extra pressure – like you have to have this fantastic experience because you only get a few moments like this. So, meeting can feel stressful. I’d suggest trying not to make it that way. Try to make it a good experience by just enjoying each other’s company. Here are some strategies that may help.

Before the visit:

  • Write your kid and start to ask them about their life. You may even want to ask them if there’s something specific that they’d like to talk about when you meet. This can take the anxiety out of “what are we going to talk about” and give everyone time to prepare a little.
  • For you, write down a few questions you might want to ask them. Sometimes our minds go blank in the moment, and it’s nice to have thought about a few questions ahead of time.

During the visit: Try to ask questions that don’t sound like you’re quizzing them.

  • Instead of, “How’s school?” ask them, “Tell me something you’re learning about that you think’s cool.”
  • Instead of, “Who are your friends these days?” ask them, “What do you love about your friends?
  • Instead of, “Are you helping your mom/dad/grandparent out?” ask them, “Where do mom/dad/grandparent need help, and what do you think you could do to support them?” [then thank them for being there]

Remember that talking takes practice

I think we parents assume that we always need to get our conversations right with our kids or always have a happy experience.  Remember that every conversation is a connection that’s filled with information and emotion. When hard words from our kids come out, or emotions arise, take that as a sign that they’re trying to express themselves to you and communicate with you. It doesn’t always feel great, but it is a small move toward connection. Thank them for their honesty. Show them that you’re willing to hang in there with them through the great and challenging conversations.

Question: What encouragement do you have for the incarcerated parent who wants to be a positive spiritual role model for their child but faces feelings of shame and unworthiness because of their imprisonment?

Argue: All parents feel like they have to be perfect to their kids. The reality is that, as our kids get older, they see the best and worst in us. To you incarcerated parents, I would say that your conviction does not define all of you are. One mistake is not to label you all bad any more than one good deed makes you perfect. You are a human being, made in the image of God, and loved deeply by God. 

Every day, you and I have a choice to live to make this world better or worse. For our kids, we can try to model this to them by the way we live, share our lives, and treat others. So, at the appropriate times, tell your kids what you’re learning, share with them your regrets, ask them for forgiveness, remind them that each day, by the grace of God, you’re seeking to live the life that God wants for you. Deep down, I think kids want to make sense of your story. By you opening up and sharing it when you can, you’re inviting them into your spiritual story, as well. It will help them reflect on their own lives, too. In the end, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, or healing isn’t merely a theoretical concept, it’s real life, and you can share that with them in small, consistent ways.

Question: If someone who is incarcerated plans to look for a church home to attend after release with his or her family, it can seem overwhelming because there are so many options. You work closely with many churches as part of your role at the Fuller Youth Institute. What are some tangible qualities someone should look for in a faith community when searching for a church home?

Argue: I hope you do plan to look for a church, and I pray that churches will be welcoming to you. Sometimes looking or a church can be tricky because churches are complicated! Honestly, I’d start by finding a few friends who are willing to share their faith journeys with you. Find that Christian friend or two. And then, together, seek out a church that you all feel is a good fit. A “good fit” is pretty subjective, but here are three questions you may want to consider:

To the pastor of the church, ask this: Other than other religious leaders, who do you work within our community to make our community better [this will tell you how invested the church is in the community and not just their own church]

To the people of the church: How do they talk about each other? Do you see diversity in the way people look, and the opinions people share?  [this will give you a glimpse into how generous the church is toward each other]

To other leaders in the church, ask: How can I use my gifts and talents here? Talk with them about ways you can get connected to the community or serve. To belong means more than just to feel welcomed. Most want to feel like they can contribute, too. 

To other businesses in the community, ask: What do you think of this church in town? What they say may give you an impression of what the community thinks of the church. 

Also, check online and see what kinds of topics the church speaks to. Are they concerned with equality, justice, care for those in need, and do they value the dignity in every human being? You can learn a lot about a church by what they spend most of their time talking about.

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook | Q&A with Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

In the Bible, we read about a young man named Daniel. A foreign military invaded his home city of Jerusalem. They burned all the buildings, killed many of the people without regard for age (2 Chronicles 36:17), and sexually assaulted many of the women (Lamentations 5:11). The attacking army put the survivors in chains and forced them to walk to Babylon. Daniel was among this group of captives.

If I had been in Daniel’s situation, I doubt I would have seen my years in Babylonian captivity as an opportunity for spiritual growth and deepening of trust in God, especially after I had just witnessed many friends and family get assaulted and killed back home. Perhaps many of the captives didn’t. But Daniel and a few others didn’t merely endure captivity in Babylon (including plots to kill them and changes of identity meant to insult them) but grew in their trust in God.

A major reason Daniel was able to deepen his relationship with God in the face of such adversity to spiritual disciplines. He may not have called it that, but he practiced spiritual disciplines, notably prayer, trust, and fasting. He persisted in his commitment to prayer even when praying to God became illegal. Violators would be executed. That’s why they tried to feed Daniel to lions.

When many of us think of spiritual disciplines, we think of Bible study, prayer, fasting, worship, and a few others. Those are all great ones to commit to, but there are many more that we can consider incorporating into our lives.

In Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun defines a spiritual discipline in the subtitle of her book: practices that transform us. Of course, many practices can transform us, but Calhoun covers 75 Christian spiritual disciplines including gratitude, rule of life, detachment, simplicity, waiting, mentoring, truth-telling, prayer walking, and journaling. With each spiritual discipline, Calhoun has crafted an accompanying desire. Here are some examples:

Discipline: Simplicity
Desire: to uncomplicate and untangle my life so I can focus on what really matters

Discipline: Forgivness
Desire: to live into Jesus’ forgiving heart and stop the cycle of vengeance

Discipline: Memorization
Desire: to carry the life-shaping words of God in me at all times and in all places

Discipline: Teachability
Desire: to remain a lifelong learner who is continually open to the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit

Discipline: Sobriety
Desire: to live with moderation and full attachment to God–without dependence on substances that are harmful to my life

Chart is on pages 13-16 of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.

You can view a table listing the 75 spiritual disciplines paired with their corresponding desire in the free preview portion of the book on Amazon.

Unlike many other books, I don’t recommend reading Spiritual Disciplines Handbook starting at the front cover and reading until the conclusion. Instead, the reader should treat it as a resource, reading sections they feel drawn to in a given season of life. It’s not a book you read and are done with, but a resource that keeps feeding you as you return to it each time. The table of disciplines/desires in the first few pages of the book can help the reader determine where to start.

Here is how Calhoun organizes each section on a spiritual discipline (I will use the discipline Confession and Self-Examination as the example here): first, Calhoun provides a table that includes the desire associated with the discipline, scriptures that encourage or show examples of the discipline (Psalm 139:23-24 is the first she lists for Confession and Self-Examination), a bullet-point list of what the practice includes (“admitting to God the natural propensity to rationalize, deny, blame and self-obsess”), and a list of examples the fruit that comes from God when one participates in the discipline (“gaining insight into your temptations and God’s work in your life”).

Calhoun then provides an opening reflection on each spiritual discipline. The reflection on Confession and Self-Examination is five paragraphs long which is pretty typical of the sections. She then lists several reflection questions and spiritual exercises that helps one implement the discipline. Here are fragments from Confession and Self-Examination:

From Opening Reflection:
Confession may be good for the soul, but it can very hard to do. We are invested in looking like good moral people. After all, appearing good is one way of dealing with the notion that something is wrong with us…
…The truth is that we all sin…
…True repentance means we open the bad in our lives to God. We invite him to come right in and look at our sin with us. We don’t hide behind being good, moral people or indulge in neurotic self-recriminations. We don’t pretend to be other than we are… In the presence of the Holy One we give up on appearing good and fixing our sin. We lay down our ability to change by the power of self. We turn to Jesus and seek forgiveness.

From Reflection Questions (one of five):
Does your confession tend to be along the lines of “Forgive my sins, dear Lord” rather than specifically naming your sins one by one before the face of God?
What does the lack of specific confession to do self-awareness?

From Spiritual Exercises (one of ten):
Enter into a covenant group or an accountability relationship where you cannot hide. Tell the truth about who you are and ask your partners to pray for you…

Quotes are from Spiritual Disciples Handbook pages 102-103.

If an incarcerated reader who is serious about spiritual growth were only allowed a few books on his or her shelf, I would strongly recommend that the Spiritual Disciplines handbook be one of them. Calhoun’s gifted style of writing compels the reader to reflect and act. Best of all, the book challenges the reader to deepen his or her relationship with God.

But when thinking about spiritual disciplines, it’s important to keep in mind these words from Douglas Rumford (who Calhoun quotes in her book): “In themselves, spiritual disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to a place where something can be done.”

Click here to view Spiritual Disciplines Handbook on Amazon.

Q&A with Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, author and spiritual director:

Question: In the Bible, Daniel continued his spiritual practices such as fasting and prayer while in captivity and it seems he even grew spiritually during that time. How do you think Daniel’s commitment to spiritual disciplines during captivity helped shape the path of his life?
Calhoun: Spiritual practices make room for God to show up in our life.  Prayer is a practice that intentionally opens us to the presence of Jesus.  Singing, making music, praising God — all open us up to more of God.  Reading the bible, forgiving our enemies, working for justice, serving others — are all spiritual practices.  They aren’t something we get perfect — they are simply ways we learn to live like Jesus.  And through seeking Jesus we change.

Question: There are so many ways to think about time spent during incarceration and many of them are negative. Do you believe that, while acknowledging the pain of incarceration, that imprisonment can be a time for spiritual growth? 
Calhoun: Suffering and pain. Incarceration and isolation.  Nobody wants them.  Yet I have found that times of difficulty offer me agency.  I can either constrict around my pain and make it the most interesting there is about me.  (And when I do that I live in the past — with a narrative that is often about being a victim.)  OR I can open myself to God and others.  I can choose to live in the past or I can choose to seek God where I am.  God can come into your darkness.   Jesus, God in person, comes to earth to show us how to live, forgive, and love.  Just look at his life and the cross and you will see that though you and I are imperfect we are also worthy of love and belonging.    

Question: Of the 75 spiritual disciplines you write about in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, are there a few that you may especially recommend to someone in prison?
Calhoun: Spiritual practices are not generic like an aspirin. If you have a headache, or a fever, or an ache, you can say, “here take an aspirin.” Spiritual practices fit the person you are now.  Some people will find the spiritual practice of gratitude a practice that helps them focus on God’s goodness to them. Others may find worship and song give them access to God’s love more easily. Still others may find bible reading or service ways they open up to God.   
So choose a practice that opens you up.
Make a list of everything you are grateful for.
sing and make music and worship God
Serve others
Read Scripture
Pray for others
Be a spiritual friend to someone
Practice being present to God
Practice kindness and control of your tongue
Have a breath prayer that you say to remind you that Jesus is present with you.  

God and The Pandemic | Q&A with N.T. Wright

I recently watched a post-civil war era movie about a soldier whose wife died of illness while he was at war. Toward the end of the movie, he’s reflecting with a friend, years later, about his wife’s death. He seemed certain that her death was “God’s curse” for him, passed along to her as punishment for what he had done in life and in war. 

The main character’s friend, on the other hand, suggested that God had nothing to do with the woman’s death. He said: “She just got sick.”

It’s natural, when tragic events occur, for people to assign some role to God. The characters in the movie expressed two views of God’s role in someone’s death: 1. God caused it, and 2. God had nothing to do with it.

Had there been more characters in the scene, more people could have weighed in with other suggestions: the woman’s death was part of God’s bigger plan or greater purpose, God was saving her from something in the earthly future (they could use Isaiah 57:1 to back this idea up), or God was simply “calling her home.” The suggestions of God’s role (or lack of role) in her death could go on and on.

In God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath, N.T. Wright provides biblical structure to help readers process the question of God’s role as it relates to the global pandemic. Although vaccines have provided plenty of reason for optimism, thousands still are still dying every day from COVID-19. The virus has hit prisons especially hard. Toward the end of 2020, PBS reported that 1 in 5 incarcerated people in the United States had the virus. At the time of this writing, the virus has killed 2.7 million people worldwide. “Where is God in all of this?” is a fair and natural question.

Wright begins the book by describing many of the common interpretations of God’s involvement in tragic events. Everything from “this is the end” to “this is an opportunity.” The first chapter is a reminder that we can’t box God into one idea of how he responds to or initiates events in the world.

Then, Wright addresses teachings from the Old Testament that show God’s response to crisis. It would be easy to look at any one Old Testament passage alone and draw all of our assumptions about God’s involvement in tragic events from there. But Wright offers a well-rounded view of Old Testament judgment and grace.

The crucial part of Wright’s discussion arrives in the chapter about Jesus. He emphasizes how it’s essential, in a personal or worldwide crisis, to understand the situation through the lens of Jesus’ sovereignty–and to understand Jesus’ sovereignty in light of his own death and resurrection:

A lot of the talk about “What is God doing in the coronavirus pandemic” assumes that God is “sovereign,” and it assumes what that “sovereignty” will mean. Jesus, though, was unveiling a different meaning of divine sovereignty. This is what it looks like, he was saying as he healed a leper, or as he announced forgiveness on his authority to a penitent woman. This is what it looks like, he was saying as he celebrated parties with all the wrong people. This is what it looks like, he was saying as he went up to Jerusalem that last time and solemnly announced God’s final judgement on the city, the system, and the institution – the Temple – that had refused God’s way of peace. This is what it looks like, he said as he broke bread on the last night with his friends. This is what it looks like, he said as he hung on the cross, with the words “King of the Jews” above his head…This is what it looks like, he was saying three days later to his astonished friends in the upper room…
…Trying to jump from an earthquake, a tsunami, a pandemic or anything else to a conclusion about “what God is saying here” without going through the Gospel story is to make the basic theological mistake of trying to deduce something about God while going behind Jesus’ back…
…The point is this. If you want to know what it means to talk about God being “in charge of ” the world, or being “in control,” then Jesus himself instructs you to rethink the notion of “kingdom,” “control” and “sovereignty” themselves, around his death on the cross.

God and the Pandemic. Quotes from pages 20-21, 23, and 25.

In the last couple of chapters of his short (76 pages) book, Wright lays out what practical responses are to a crisis for a Christian. He does this in light of Jesus’ teachings and the rest of the New Testament. These chapters will be particularly meaningful to the incarcerated reader who is not only processing the pandemic but the ongoing crisis and trauma of imprisonment as well.

God and Pandemic would be best for a reader who has prior knowledge of the Bible since it’s not meant to be an introduction to scripture.

Click here to view God and The Pandemic on Amazon.

Q&A with N.T. Wright, author and Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall at the University of Oxford:

Question: The pandemic has hit some prisons especially hard. What words about God do you have for prisoners who have suffered physically and emotionally (unable to have physical visits from loved ones) due to the pandemic? 
Wright: Isolation and sickness are terrifying. God has promised ‘I am with him in trouble; I will deliver him and bring him to honour’ (Ps 91). And Ps 23 is of course always important: even if I walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. All these come amazingly true in Jesus, who is God-with-us and comes to the darkest place so that God will indeed be with us there.

Question: What story of someone in the Bible who was in prison is most meaningful to you and why? 
Wright: The story of Joseph in prison in Genesis is very important: despite the fact that he’s been unjustly treated, Joseph comes through and by the end of the story he appears as the true Wise Human who brings rescue and hope — and, right at the end, reconciliation.

Question: Why should people in prison read scripture on a daily basis?
Wright: Scripture is like food and drink. Without it you lack the energy to face the day with wisdom and courage and hope.

Question: If you met someone in prison who had never read scripture before, where would you suggest they begin? 
Wright: I would suggest starting with the four gospels, and Psalms. So many of the Psalms are written from places of real distress.  And in the gospels one of the most important characters, John the Baptist, is the primary witness to Jesus and he ends up in prison . . . on death row as it turns out . . . But of course Paul was in prison when writing four of his letters. Of these, perhaps Philippians is the most joyful.


One of my professors once compared reading to eating. He reflected on his own diet and said that if he keeps eating only fast food, he knows what will happen to him. He talked about the way it’s challenging for him to eat healthy, but he knows it’s beneficial when he does. My professor then said the same thing about reading: sometimes he only wants to ingest easy reading material that won’t prompt him to think or grow. But he recognized that reading material that challenges him to reflect (on new concepts, on whether he agrees or disagrees, on his own life, etc.) is healthy for his intellectual and spiritual growth.

All of us, incarcerated or not, need to read regularly. Reading can inspire creativity, challenge our own assumptions, expand our worldview, grow our vocabulary, and grow spiritually.

The Purpose of Prison Book Review

The purpose of this website is to provide book recommendations for people to consider sending to their loved ones or friends who are in prison. Reading is a crucial experience for people in prison or jail. Whether they’re reading letters, news, magazines, or books, what people in prison read impacts their prison experience. I hope the books on this website will help the prison or jail sentence of your loved one become more productive time. I also hope that if you read the books too they will spark healthy discussion between you and your loved one.

Types of Books

Most of the books I review on this website will be Christian non-fiction. I won’t recommend books that weaponize scripture, use fear-based appeal, promote racial prejudice, teach exclusion based on sexual orientation, or promote the concept of a prosperity gospel. I will tend to recommend books that present multiple perspectives on a given topic, are grace-oriented, are personable in style, and are written from a posture and tone of humility. The books will vary in terms of reading level and assumed knowledge of the reader by the author. I will also try to review mostly books available in paperback since many jails and prisons will not allow hardcover.

In addition to book reviews, I will occasionally post interviews with people who, because of their areas of expertise, will have helpful insight and advice for people in prison and their families. Feel free to print those or any post to mail to a friend or loved one in prison.

About Me

I am a full-time minister to young adults at a church in the Kansas City area. My wife, Rachel, and I have three children. I enjoy writing and reading. I understand the pain of having a loved one who is in prison, which is what drove me to write my first book. I was arrested twice as a teen because of drug abuse problems and appreciate a human’s capacity to change behavior through the transformative power of the Spirit.