Highlights From My 2018 Reading List

Previously I shared my 2018 reading list. Within that list are a variety of books. Some were fun, some were serious, other books I wish I never started. The later books I will not spend anytime on. Rather, below, I want to share with you my big picture reflections over the books I read and the impressions they made.

Authors – In 2018 I read a lot from the same authors. Be it Richard Blackaby, Tim Keller, Eugene Peterson, or others. By reading the same author continually I read more books. Plus, since many authors emphasize consistent themes across their works, it is easier to retain the points they emphasize.

Francis Schaffer – Schaeffer resonated with me after finishing the biography on him. While reading this biography I discovered a kinship with him. Overall, I closely identify with his views on culture, worldview, theology, and ministry. As a result, I read two more works of his in 2018 and purchased the hardback version of the entire Francis Schaeffer Completed Works: Volumes 1 through 5. In 2019 I look forward to reading Schaeffer more with another author who I identify with.

Eugene Peterson – Peterson is another author I continually read in 2018. Across Peterson’s works I found an author who shares my ideal way to relate to God: through contemplation. Be it reading, writing, quietly thinking, music, and most of all praying, Peterson advocates to actively contemplate and see God at work. He believes we can see constant reminders that Jesus is on our side due to the free gift we have received through Christ alone. In response to the Peterson’s works, I have been reading, writing, and praying more. In 2019 I am looking forward to seeing how my faith grows and how I get to share Christ with other more through these contemplative disciplines. Continue reading “Highlights From My 2018 Reading List”

Books I Read in 2018

Below are the books I read in 2018. They range from theology to comic books to biographies and more. The next post will explain impressions the list gave to my reading and life. My hope is that you’ll find a book below that interests you. If so, feel free to ask!

  1. Who Moved My Pulpit by Thom Rainer (3/6/18)
  2. Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller (3/7/18)
  3. Blessed Are The Misfits by Brant Hansen (3/8/18)
  4. The Reason For God by Tim Keller (3/9/18)
  5. The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler (3/11/18)
  6. You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins (3/12/18)
  7. StoryBranding 2.0 by Jim Signorelli (3/13/18)
  8. Find Your Why by Simon Sinek (4/2/2018)
  9. Schaffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Sourituality by William Edgar (8/12/2018)
  10. Cinemagauge by James Harleman (8/13/2018)
  11. Art and the Bible by Francis Schaffer
  12. The Blacklist Graphic Novel Vol 1 by Phillip Lobel (8/19/2018)
  13. The Blacklist Graphic Novel Vol 2 by Phillip Lobel (8/20/2018)
  14. The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher (8/26/2018)
  15. A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston (8/27/2018)
  16. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud (8/29/2018)
  17. Goal Analysis by Robert Mager (8/30/2018)
  18. The Final Summit by Andy Andrews (8/30/2018)
  19. Unpacking The Blacklist: Season 1 Interpreted by G. Walter Bush (9/3/2018)
  20. Midwestern Style Guide (2nd Edition) by Steve Thompson (9/4/2018)
  21. God In The Marketplace by Henry & Richard Blackaby (9/8/2018)
  22. Biblical Theology by Nick Roark and Robert Cline (9/8/2018)
  23. Batman: The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul by Grant Morrison and Paul Dino (9/8/2018)
  24. Batman: Knightfall Vol 1 by Chuck Dixon (9/8/2018)
  25. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyun (9/9/2018)
  26. Batman: Vol 1. The New 52, The Court of Owls Vol 1 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo & Johnathan Glapion (9/9/2018)
  27. Batman: Vol 2. The New 52, The City of Owls Vol 2 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo & Johnathan Glapion & James Tynion IV & Rafael Albuquerque & Jason Fabok (9/9/2018)
  28. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade (9/15/2018)
  29. The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel (9/17/2018)
  30. Batman: The Sword of Azrael by Dennis O’Neil, Joe Quesada, and Kevin Nowlan (9/22/2018)
  31. Batman: Vol 3. The New 52, Death In the Family by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jock (9/23/2018)
  32. The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy by Tim Keller (10/20/2018)
  33. Pilot Down, Presumed Dead by Marjorie Phleger (10/21/2018)
  34. Nitro Book by Guy Evans (10/26/2018)
  35. The Trail of Blood by J.M. Carroll (10/26/2018)
  36. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck (10/31/2018). 
  37. Batman: Vol 4. The New 52, Zero Year – Secret City by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Danny Miki (11/3/2018)
  38. Run With Horses by Eugene Peterson (11/17/2018)
  39. Summary: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko (11/20/2018)
  40. The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson (11/27/2018)
  41. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: Summary by Mark Manson (11/27/2018)
  42. A Theology of Biblical Counseling by Heath Lambert (11/30/2018)
  43. The Blacklist: Elizabeth Keen’s Dossie by Paul Terry and Tara Bennett (12/1/2018)
  44. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson (12/1/018)
  45. Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul by William Irwin: Mark D. White and Robert Arp (12/2/2018)
  46. Awe: Why It Matters For Everything We Think, Say, or Do by Paul David Tripp (12/2/2018)
  47. The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick (12/6/2018)
  48. The Message of Christmas by Eugene Peterson (12/6/2018)
  49. Escape From Reason by Francis Schaeffer (12/6/2018)
  50. Batman: Knightfall Vol 2: Knightquest by Chuck Dixon (12/10/2018)
  51. Batman: Knightfall Vol 3: Knightsend by Chuck Dixon (12/11/2018)
  52. J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken (12/11/2018)
  53. Night by Ellie Wiesel (12/12/2018)
  54. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield (12/12/2018)
  55. Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi by David Crowder (12/12/2018)
  56. Dawn by Ellie Wiesel (12/13/2018)
  57. Stuff Christians Like: A Hilarious Look at the Funny Things We Do In The Name of Faith and Church by Jon Acuff (12/15/2018)
  58. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (12/16/2018)
  59. Batman: The Killing Joke (Deluxe Edition) by Alan Moore and Brian Bollard (12/17/2018).
  60. On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior (12/18/2018)
  61. Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble (12/18/2018)
  62. Batman: A Death in the Family by George Perez, Marv Wolfman, and Jim Starling (12/23/2018)

Shadowlands (Movie) Review

While this review is not on a book, it is on the dramatization of a prolific author who has written many great fiction and nonfiction. Plus, good movies are hard to find, but some films are like diamonds in the rough. They are hidden gems that have always been there; just a few knew of their excellence. One such movie that fits this description is Shadowlands with Anthony Hopkins.

Shadowlands is a film where Hopkins plays the late C.S. Lewis and his surprise marriage to his wife Joy. Hopkins both excels at his portrayal of Lewis while honoring his faith well, especially for a Hollywood film.

Part of the surprise with this movie is that it came after Hopkins initial portrayal of Hannibal Lecter and Van Helsing in Dracula. Since Lewis is considered a giant in the Christian faith, at least during the 20th century, it is easy that this film may have been forgotten in Hopkin’s lexicon of movies. Afterall, it is not often that one can legitimately contrast Dracula, Hannibal Lecture, and C.S. Lewis in the same paragraph. Despite these odd contrasts, the film is worth watching for the following reasons:

 

  1. Production is Valued – Recently Hollywood has attempted to make a better effort when making Christian films. For example, they will try to bring in a big-name actor. However, the movie is left with either a B-movie or made for TV-movie feel. Shadowlands has neither, which allows the viewer to enjoy the story without distraction.

 

  1. Difficulty is Valued – Too often Christian films love to close the plot in the end neatly. The aim is correct. Often producers want to show the hope of the Gospel lived throughout life. The problem with this approach is, often life does not have the happy ending for some time. Therefore, Christians films can inadvertently portray a lite-prosperity gospel. Though the intention is to inspire Christians; for some, it will offer a false hope that can frustrate in real life when the results are not so soon. Shadowlands does the impossible job of closing the movie by showing a harsh part of life, yet leaving the characters with a profound hope. This dichotomy is an example of how Christians movies should conclude. Not that every movie should end on a depressive thought, but that the consequences of living in a fallen world should remain as realistic as the Gospel hope often portrayed. Remember, the Gospel rescues us from the fallen hurt of the world, which should not be easily dismissed. Such quick dismissals cheapen the cost that Christ paid for both our sins, and it’s practical consequences. While Shadowlands does not overtly preach the Gospel, the movie provides a balanced portrait of the Christian dilemma and hope too.

 

  1. Faith is Valued – Throughout the film Lewis’ faith if valued. Pictures of how he connected his faith with his literary work among his colleagues exist. Apologetic lectures are shot multiple times. Plus, there is a point where he shows his vulnerability and how God can use this grief as a “tool” for his faith. These and other scenes exist throughout the movie. Even the closing line of the film, which I will not spoil, echoes of his devout Christianity to the trained ear.

Continue reading “Shadowlands (Movie) Review”

Prayer Made Easy

PrayerPrayer is easy. Prayer is valuable. Prayer is difficult. Prayer is unknown. These phrases among many more begin to describe people’s view of prayer. It’s also helpful to know the most diligent prayer warriors struggle with prayer. Even they desire for their prayer life to grow deeper. However, there is an easy and practical technique one can use to pray better.

Don Whitney has recently written a very small and effective book called, Praying the Bible. In this short book, which can be read in less than two hours, he provides a simple framework to pray better. Mostly he suggests Christians should pray the Psalms.

According to Whitney the Psalms provide the best and most consistent place in scripture to teach us to pray. This is because he believes that every theology taught in the Bible can be found somewhere in the Psalms. Now, he doesn’t want you to neglect the rest of scripture. Rather his point is that by regularly praying through the Psalms one’s prayer life will increase as they learn the theology of scripture too.

As a result, Whitney suggests this should be done by scanning the first five Psalms. In doing so a Christian should be able to find a Psalms they identify with and can begin to pray. As one prays they simply read each line of the Psalm they selected and pray it to the Lord. One may rephrase the line in a way that is more personal and prayerful for them. Also, each line may remind one of other things from their life to pray over. Then once all the reminders have been prayed over the Christian should move on to the next line in the Psalm until finished. Admittedly some lines may not inspire very much prayer. This is acceptable because within each Psalm there are plenty of prompts to increase the ease, interest, and value of one’s prayer life, which is the goal. A goal that can be repeated each day as one returns to pray the next five Psalms.

WhitneyPersonally, I have enjoyed this technique for about two-weeks now. Often I would pray other parts of scripture the same way, but it never occurred to me to make the Psalms my regular practice. In doing so I’ve found that not only has my prayer life increased, I’m personally changing, and my appreciation for biblical poetry is growing. One could argue this technique is already answering prayer due to the ways this new prayer approach is affecting other parts of my life.

In closing, I share this with you not because Dr. Whitney has paid me to or because I received a free copy of the book. I share this with you because this prayer technique is powerful and practical. I’ve already seen it in my life and I believe you can too. I know many people who want to “know how to pray” better. Well, this book is a tool that offers a very simple solution to an old problem. My hope is that you will read it, but my prayer is that your prayer life will grow even more.