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Top 10 Reads of 2020

By Jesse Jost

I finished 50 books this past year. Here are my top 10 with a word of recommendation, as well as the 10 that just missed the cut but are still highly recommended, and also a complete list of all 50 books.

10. Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920’s

by Frederick Lewis Allen

The 1920’s were a fascinating and often overlooked time in North American history, a decade of religious decline, sexual revolution, family upheaval, and booming business. Frederick Allen wrote this book in the early 1930s. His voice is fresh and his eye for interesting detail makes for a riveting read. I loved his sequel about the 1930s:

Since Yesterday: The 1930s in America, September 3, 1929–September 3, 1939

by Frederick Lewis Allen

9. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

by Timothy J. Keller

Timothy Keller always writes with simplicity, but profound depth, and has much practical application. His book on prayer covers the subject in rich historical detail and draws from a wide range of Christian thinkers on the subject. An excellent and soul-stirring overview.

8. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

by Cal Newport

Is modern technology serving us, or are we becoming enslaved? I got an eye-opening look at the ways that social media and our devices are designed to make us addicted and take more from us than we intend to give.

Newport is not anti-technology and he sees the value in social media, but he challenges us to live the life we want to be living rather than carelessly throwing away our most valuable possession: Our time.

I also high recommend “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” by Nir Eyal, Julie Li which also covers similar themes.

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2020 Jesse and Heidi Jost Christmas Letter


This is us back in September

by Thomas Jost (almost 14 months)

I know its not traditional for authors to include their age beside the name, but in my case it is so impressive I made sure to add it.

A couple years ago my Dad wrote the Christmas letter from the perspective of “a letter from your future self” to last year’s version of you. He thought about doing that again this year, but he says this year was so crazy that past selves would never believe it!

So Dad asked me to write the letter this year. I’ve never done a Christmas letter before, but being 14 months means always trying things you’ve never done before, even if everyone is screaming around you that it is a bad idea. So here it goes.



Your Truly slaving away

I am Thomas, with luscious blond hair and dark brown eyes. I am currently single but that won’t last long, I’m sure. I’m often referred to as a miracle baby, and I’m not always sure if that is because my Mom almost miscarried me, or if they are referring to my magical ability to make things disappear in the toilet.

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  • Dale Jost

    Creative overview of 2020 Thomas! Loved it❤️❤️❤️

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Unprepared for Battle

Unprepared for Battle

By Jesse Jost

Recently we had a friend over who was discussing the holocaust. She said there were three groups of people during that horrific time. Those who perpetrated the crimes against the Jews, those who did all they could to oppose the evil men, and those who did nothing. Her questions haunted me. Which group am I in with the evil that is taking place today?

During the craziness of 2020, I’ve written blog and Facebook posts aimed to call people to prayer, bible memorization and meditation, and a deeper walk with God. I have also urged caution about embracing conspiracy theories and being careful about what we believe.

Almost every time I have posted, I get responses interpreting my advice as “not standing up for truth” or failing to be the watchman. That I’m somehow urging people to bury their heads in the sands of personal piety, and ignore the pleas of the oppressed.

I always cringe when I get one of these responses because that is not at all what I intend to communicate.

I believe there is a real spiritual and cultural battle raging right now. I believe God calls His Church to be soldiers in this battle. My concern is that we as soldiers of the King be prepared for battle.

As we have seen throughout history, sending soldiers into battle who are not equipped for the fight has been catastrophic both for the soldiers and the country they are defending.

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  • Konrad

    “Part of the reason I have been so passionate to point people away from possible conspiracy theories and back to God’s word, is because only on the sure foundation of the Bible can we find true unity. ” Amen and amen! Keep standing for the Truth as expressed His Word. One of the side benefits of 2020 is that is has been another reminder of the unrelenting relevance of the Bible to our day. I can not think of a time that I have held fast to what the scripture teaches and had it let me down or be less than advertised. Some things are hard (“…they that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution…”) and counter-culture (“Bless those that curse you”), but It has always been true.

    Asking me to defy what the scripture teaches in favor of hearsay and theoretical ill-intentions of others (a lot of which is neither provable nor disprovable), is asking me to lend more authority to the conspiracy or man’s wisdom than to the Word of God, or said another way, putting scripture in subjection to conspiracy theory or man’s wisdom. That doesn’t seem like a good trade.

    ~K

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The Belt of Truth In An Age of Disinformation

By Jesse Jost

We sure seem to be in the thick of spiritual battle right now. When in the heat of a war zone, armor suddenly becomes a lot more precious! We desperately need our spiritual armor.

The first piece of armor that Paul mentions in Ephesians is the Belt of Truth. The belt in his day provided a place to tuck the long tunic so you didn’t trip and fall on your own clothing. Truth is one of our most critical protections.

But what is truth?

Today with the vast amounts of data, memes, talking clips, and rumors, information and disinformation, truth about what is going on is harder to discern than ever.

With trust in mainstream media evaporating, people are turning to social media for their news and information. It seems more free and less subject to government censorship, as anyone can share their perspective.

The problem is that social media outlets like Facebook, don’t care about informing you as much as they care about winning your attention.

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It’s Not What You Know That Shapes You…

By Jesse Jost

After a painful struggle with bulimia and pornography, my wife’s sister, Katrina, decided that the battle was too exhausting. Rather than continue giving into temptation, she would end the struggle for good. She took her own life in 2001, shattering the lives of those who knew her.

When I hear about her struggles, or read her journal from those dark days, there are so many things I wish I could have told her, verses I could have pointed her to, truths I wish she had known. But then I keep reading her thoughts, or notes she wrote other people, and I am reminded that she DID know the very things I wish I could have told her.

All the factors that led Katrina to end her life will remain mysterious; she clearly was not fully rational at the time. But this much is clear: Her problem wasn’t that she didn’t know truths that could have set her free. The problem seems to be that these truths were forgotten and pushed from her focus by the lies and desires that enslaved her attention. 

Her attention was filled with despair over her failures, and belief that her life would always remain an exhausting struggle. There was no room in her mind for hope in the Holy Spirit’s power to transform, or the power of confession and accountability, or the love and mercy of God. It wasn’t that she didn’t know about these truths; they just didn’t shape her attitudes and behaviours any more, because her mind was captivated by other tormenting ideas.

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“The Science is Clear” – And Other Lies That Cause Division

by Jesse Jost

“The science is clear” has to be one of the most division-causing sentiments of our time. It is a phrase used confidently and sometimes condescendingly by people on opposite sides of an issue.

If you can find intelligent people arguing for opposite positions, there is a good chance that the science is not as clear as one side wants you to believe it is.

We live in confusing times and we are desperate for certainty and clarity. But the reality is that 2020 has thrown us a whirlwind of issues that are complex and baffling. We have educated experts confidently giving us articles and sound bites that make their point of view sound obviously correct.

It’s easy to come away from these articulations feeling confident that we have the truth, and that those who see it differently are gullible “sheeple” who refuse to think for themselves. Both sides can feel this way about those who disagree.

Emotional certainty that we are correct and have an issue all figured out is comforting in confusing times, but this confidence is rarely warranted by the evidence.

Scientific truths are far more challenging to discover and establish than Facebook memes would have you believe. Here are some cautions to keep in mind as you navigate scientific claims and arguments.

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  • Tim Lipp

    Beautifully put Jesse, thank you for sharing!!!

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The Easiest Way to Control Your Human

(Private correspondence from demon Dr. Wormwood PhD intercepted by Jesse Jost)

My Most Odious Apollyon Jr.

I want to inform you about the latest research on how to effectively sabotage a human’s life, especially the vermin claiming to be Christians. These Christians pride themselves on having right ideas about God and doctrine, and spend infinite hours arguing and dividing over these ideas.

Their ideas of doctrine and theology are an important battle ground, and I do try to twist them wherever I can. But I have found that as long as their ideas about theology are kept at a rational level of mental assent, and don’t reach the deeper level of their heart, even the most orthodox theology is harmless to our cause.

You see, my fellow destroyer, people have a set of professed beliefs that they think they believe. What they don’t realize is that they also have a deeper set of beliefs brewing in their subconscious, or what Solomon called “the heart.”

The deeper beliefs are what I call impact beliefs because they shape the vermin’s emotions, attitudes, and actions. Impact beliefs are rarely scrutinized, and can be changed without evidence or well-reasoned arguments.

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You FEEL you’re right, but are you? The Liabilities of the Emotional Mind

By Jesse Jost

I’m studying emotional intelligence, and am fascinated by how our rational mind (the frontal lobe) and emotional mind (the amygdala) work.

The data from our senses passes through the emotional part of our brain before it hits the rational part. Consequently, we have feelings about things even before we have thoughts about things.

The lightning-fast emotional response enables us to recognize danger and react by reflex when needed. If you see a rope being thrown at you, the data gathered by your senses will trigger fear because your amygdala senses that the object could be a snake, and will cause you to react by jumping out of the way before you have time to decide if it’s a rope or a snake. The emotional response needs to be fast, because if the object is a snake, time wasted evaluating the object may be fatal.

Our instantaneous emotional response to life can be life-saving; it can also be a liability. The “eyes” of our emotional brain see life in a simplified way, devoid of the complexity and nuance afforded by the more careful deliberation of our rational mind. This simplicity allows the emotional mind to make quick judgments and produce instant emotions.

Emotions are a gift that make the experience of life so rich, as well as a source of wisdom that can help our rational mind make wise decisions informed by empathy and awareness of emotional consequences.

However, the way emotions are formed by snap judgments can make strong emotions a liability if they are not questioned by our rational mind.

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What Seeds Are You Planting With Your Tongue?

By Jesse Jost

Seeds are remarkable. They can lie dead and dormant for years. Yet put them in the soil and water them and new life magically springs forth with enough explosive power to crack concrete.

Seeds are always faithful to their DNA. They always reproduce according to their kind. You will never get a watermelon from a pumpkin seed. If you want a watermelon, you had better plant a watermelon.

Whether we realize it or not, our words are like seeds. They have the same explosive power to shape someone’s world. Proverbs says that “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Prov 18:21)

The thing about words and seeds is you don’t have to realize what you are sowing to reap the consequences. We put some straw on our garden one year to protect our strawberries. What we didn’t realize was that the straw was full of Canadian thistle seeds. Those thistles are unbelievably nasty and sharp. They have taken over our garden and made weeding a nightmare.

It didn’t matter that we didn’t consciously sow those thistles. Just the same, we have been dealing with the fallout of our careless choice. 

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The Propaganda Wars Of Social Media

By Jesse Jost

I love that we have social media platforms to share perspectives and be educated by different opinions. In the past, we only got our information from authorized sources. This ability to share information freely should be a safeguard against governments’ attempts to use propaganda to control us.

But on these platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to post and share without deep reflection. Also the brain-exciting notification makes us addicted to the need for positive, self-affirming feedback.

I think these two aspects of social media are playing a role in how polarized our countries are becoming. When I’m trying to form an educated perspective on what’s happening and how I should respond, it drives me crazy sometimes that the issue in question is hijacked by becoming politicized.

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