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)

An Intentional Guide to Reading

BqMxeVhCQAIq7NaReading is my hobby. It’s one I never thought I’d take up. However, due to the volumes I was required to read in seminary the habit turned into a joy. So much of one that now when I come home from conferences it’s not uncommon I return with many free books. In fact, the picture to the left of this paragraph shows the amount of free books I received at one conference alone. Humorously, my wife has requested that I not purchase any more books until I read or discard of some of the ones I currently own. Yet, there still remain some I can’t go without purchasing anyway. In truth, my wife has a point, which is why I developed a plan to be more selectively towards what I read. It’s a plan that I think can benefit anyone at any reading level. So here are my suggestions:

  1. Read the Best

A few years ago my friend and I, Tom Hicks, were discussing how to not read everything, but how to read a lot. In summary his advice was, “Read the best!” This sound advice I’ve found to be true, but the question still remains, “How do we determine the best books?” My answer involves a few tests.

  1. Seek Out Authors Who Are Dead

As morbid as this may sound, hear me out. No matter what genre of books you prefer there is a never endless supply of books one could read. In fact, as I’ve read a vast amount of books over the years there is one thing I’ve found; many of them repeatedly say the same thing. Therefore, a weeding out process I use it to choose authors who are dead. This is because if people today are still talking about their books then the content has stood the test of time. The way they write and the things they say are worthy enough of our attention because something about their writing has reflected quality over time.

  1. Seek Out Books That Are Ten Years Or Older

Local bookstores feature all the best-selling books prominently. Some of these books a year from now will not be best sellers. Some will, but even some of those are still not the best. Literature fads come and go and as they do the wisdom in these books may not apply over time. However, if someone is talking about a book ten years after it was first published there is a strong chance it’s advice will be a valuable investment of our time.

  1. Enjoy Some Recent Authors

So far I have argued that we should focus on older books and authors. While this approach can be helpful, admittedly it can ignore current events. In response to this it’s helpful to have a few favorite authors. Try to limit it to only five or less and include authors from different genres. This way you can stay current with recent topics while enjoying your favorite modern authors too.

  1. Enjoy Some Current Books

CIIhZNiVEAEyT-PLastly, list out some of your favorite topics or genres you like to read. For example, I love books on leadership and on grace. As a result, I will consider buying a more recent book on either topic. For others I know they enjoy certain types fiction and this tip allows them to include those areas too.

Conclusion

Like my posts on journaling, you are free to disagree or adapt my approach to your own needs. Again, I share with you what has found helpful for me. My aim is to enjoy reading than getting bogged down in the piles of books could be read. Rather, I want us all to focus on the best works, both past and present. This way our hobby of reading energizes us than drains us. So please alter these tips anyway needed and let’s learn for life as we read together.

Book Review: Romans 8-16 For You by Tim Keller

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A lot has been written about the book of Romans. Some people interpret it in fragments and fail to see the holistic theme of the book. For example, some people have taken chapters 9 through 11 as written only for Israel, while the rest of the book is meant for non-Israel. Yet neither approach is correct. Rather, as Tim Keller has written Romans 8-16 For You, Romans is about the Gospel. He writes,

“The first seven chapters explain the wonderful truths of the gospel: of justification by faith, of union with Christ, of salvation through Christ alone and not through our works…Then comes the second half of the book. In chapters 8 to 16, Paul is going to continue to answer a question he began to ask in chapters 5 to 7: How does faith in the gospel of Christ actually lead to change in real life?”

Basically, Romans has a unified theme and a simple message, which is, the Gospel for salvation and transformation. From this simple message Paul relates it to very complex issues to show the truth. He practically relates the Gospel for all aspects of life. Each of these issues – adversity, predestination, Israel’s salvation, loving enemies, relationship to government, loving one’s neighbor, stumbling blocks, unity, and women’s roles in the church – Keller directly interprets. Below are some of the issues in more detail.

Love and Gratitude Flow from the Gospel

Keller spends time exegeting chapter eight. He wants to connect to the first seven chapters of Romans to “remember what Christ has done and will do for us…to feel the obligations of love and gratitude to serve and know him.” By doing so Keller is able to explain the doctrines of divine election much easier. This is because living in gratitude for what God has finished about salvation allows Christians to directly see the importance of biblical predestination. A connection that will be explained further in the next section of this review.

Divine Election and Predestination’s Connection to the Gospel Continue reading “Book Review: Romans 8-16 For You by Tim Keller”

Book Review: Am I Called? by Dave Harvey

UnknownSeeking to become a pastor or minister is confusing. Every group has a different way of vetting those who believe they’ve been called to serve others. Different denominations have different requirements and each church offers a variety of methods. Depending on the type of church you belong the process can be easy or difficult. But, what does the Bible say about a ministerial call? Author Dave Harvey offers some principles he bases on scripture in his book Am I Called? to help men of all ages decide if they are called to pastor.

Written from a reformed perspective, Harvey discusses various elements to determine if one is called to pastor. He believes ministry is a calling and not just another career someone pursues. This is important because with the calling comes certain gifts needed to effectively carry out the duties of a pastor. Some of these gifts are an ability to preach, being able to shepherd and love people, loving the lost, having godly character both personally and with one’s family, and more. Each of these are skills are needed for the Gospel ministry, and they serve as a personal affirmation along with the external confirmations others give for one’s call. The uses of these validations are important because one should know God has called for His purposes and not for their own benefit.

Sadly, within some Christian circles and laity, the ministry can become more about the people involved than proclaiming the glory of God. When this happens a minister turns into a career professional, which is opposite from the idea of a sacred servant. As a result, Harvey is wise to use the Bible as the standard to interpret one’s ministerial qualifications. This is because God called ministers should point others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not themselves.

Harvey is right to biblically define pastoral ministry by using the qualifications in 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1. In fact, he writes, “Too often, when a man’s character hasn’t stood the test, he remains in ministry by simply rewriting the test.” In other words, there must be an objective standard. If one is called to Christian ministry then it would reason their qualifications would agree with scripture. Therefore, a man’s personal life, his family, how he speaks, and more should be examined because the higher his character is the better one will listen to him about the Gospel. Continue reading “Book Review: Am I Called? by Dave Harvey”

How Will The World End?: Book Review

Unknown-1When writing a good story the ending can be the most difficult part. God’s story of redemption found within the Bible is no different. The difficulty is found when one is required to interpret the Bible’s ending from a list of possibilities. As a result, for centuries many scholars and layman have debated exactly how Jesus will return. Churches have split, false teachers have risen, and new Christian sects have developed from a variety of end time theologies. Therefore, it is very important that Christians interpret prophetic passages in the Bible carefully.

According to author Jermaie Rinne in the book How Will The World End one can be careful by simply remembering that, “Jesus is returning.” No matter how Jesus will return, He is returning. When He comes back one won’t argue if His return is theologically correct or not. Rather, one should be glad He has returned, period. This simple, yet profound truth allows Christians to be able to “focus on the work at hand” than “watching the clock” for His return. By knowing He will return, Christians should be motivated to engage in missions more. After all, this best prepares as many people as possible for His certain return. These pieces of sage advice are sprinkled throughout How Will The World End, along with specific theological explanations and other practical applications.

For example, one-way Rinne made How Will The World End practical is by using contemporary examples people are familiar with. Early in the book he references movies like Armageddon, and Pacific Rim to contrast what the Day of Judgment will look like from the happy endings often shown in Hollywood. However, if one has professed Christ as Lord then there will be a happy ending for the Christian. This book is also concise, which makes it easy to understand basic end time theology without the elaborate prophecy charts found in other eschatological systems. Continue reading “How Will The World End?: Book Review”