Charles William Eliot said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” Ah! Such wisdom in this quote.
Personally, this year of 2014 has been a new high for me when it comes to the reading of books. Not only have I read more than at any time of my life, the books I read were quite rewarding in a variety of ways. The longer I live, the more I believe that reading can shape a life unlike nearly anything else. Although I am one who enjoys a good movie, in my opinion, a good book will trump a good movie every time. It does concern me that more & more men that I meet read so little. It is through a Book that God communicated His truth to us. Often, no desire to read will lead to a struggle for a Christian to read the Word of God.
My wife and I constantly encourage and direct our children to learn to love reading. We do this in a multitude of ways: taking them to the library (we encourage them to find at least one book to check out every visit we make), purchasing good books for them as gifts throughout the year, raving about certain books my wife & I have read, and in general, making much of reading.
Like last year, I used Evernote to track/compile this list. In addition, I am constantly revising my current list of “books to read.” For something that I believe this important, why wouldn’t I want to be organized? One more note – two items that I read on a regular/constant basis are the Bible (daily) and WORLD magazine (a Christian biweekly news magazine). Enjoy the list and may 2015 be a rich year when it comes to reading for you!
Books That I Read in 2014
Top Five (in order)
1. The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan
2. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell
3. Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer
4. The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller
5. Out of Commission, Paul Chappell
Continue reading “Books I Read in 2014”
I started reading this book the third week of September 2014 – the same week I attended a “Preach the Word” conference in Baltimore, Maryland. That conference, along with this book, has really challenged me concerning the preaching of the Word of God!
Outstanding, solid read! If I was teaching a college-level class on the subject of preaching, this would definitely make the list of textbooks for the students to read, study, and dissect.
It does not take long for one to realize that the author has done his homework concerning this book. Of course, his preaching ministry over the past thirty years only adds to his vast knowledge and wisdom concerning this topic. I love the humility of this author as he teaches all of the facets of preaching.
The material is very applicable but I also find it quite inspiring. Going back through the book, I found I had underlined over one-hundred sixty sentences, thoughts, or illustrations. The book has four parts:
1. The Commission for Preaching
2. The Comprehension of Preaching
3. The Construction of Preaching
4. The Communication of Preaching
Continue reading “Book Review: Preaching That Pleases God by Tom Farrell”
Last month, I set out for work on what I thought would be a typical Monday morning commute – long, but necessary. After 45-50 minutes of driving, I parked my car and made my way onto the loading platform at the train station. It seemed that the trains were delayed (not unusual during this railway construction phase here in Philly) but I didn’t think anything of it. Boarded the train and away we went. The train stopped after only a few minutes. A voice crackled over the intercom, “There will be a twenty-minute delay due to a medical emergency.” After a low murmur arose from the train’s irritated commuters, we all sat and waited.
After what seemed longer than the promised twenty-minute delay, the train started moving in the right direction. It’s about time, I thought to myself. After pulling in to the next stop, we were all met with unpleasant news. Due to the nature of the medical emergency ahead of us, they were shutting down the westbound track that crossed over the river into Philly. We were advised to get on a train heading eastbound. Eastbound? That is not in the direction of my destination. That is the opposite direction of the work, people, and meetings that were waiting for me.
Continue reading “In the Grand Scheme of Things”
Absolutely loved the start to this book…what a powerful word picture the author uses to describe what the reader comes to know as a dying church!
You say, “Why in the world would I want to read about dying churches?” This book is not so much about dying churches, but observations from the “autopsies” of fourteen churches who had died. Rainer describes the thought of an autopsy as disconcerting and one that no one enjoys. However, in his introduction, he makes a very poignant statement. “The trauma of observing an autopsy is only beneficial if it is received as a warning to the living.” He then goes on to state that this book is not about dwelling on the past, but bearing fruit in the future.
Continue reading “Book Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer”
It has been quite a few years since I have read anything by John Maxwell. This book, given to me by a friend in the ministry, tops my book list thus far for 2014. Absolutely loved the humility by Maxwell throughout the book along with all of the quotes, illustrations, and proven principles of connecting with people around you. In matter of fact, I underlined or highlighted 101 different quotes, lines, or illustrations in the book.
This book was extremely helpful to me as a public speaker. However, Maxwell deliberately states that this will not only help the public communicator but anyone who deals with people on a regular basis. He also reiterates throughout the book that anyone can learn to connect with people…that it is NOT a natural born trait. He uses himself as an example who did very poorly in connecting with others as a young pastor for the first few years.
Continue reading “Book Review: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell”
Having read quite a few of Paul Chappell’s book, I believe this has been one of his finest. Some of his books are a bit dry, but I found this one to be a compelling, balanced approach to the subject of the Great Commission.
It is often that you find two camps pitted at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the Great Commission. There are many churches who teach and preach and practice soul winning, soul winning, soul winning but do a poor job of discipleship (which is just as much a part of the Great Commission). At the other end are churches who are excellent at the discipleship piece of the Great Commission but are not reaching anyone with their evangelistic or soul winning efforts because they basically are not pursuing souls. This book is call for a balanced approach.
Chappell has done a superb job writing a Biblically sound book filled with philosophy and practicality concerning the Great Commission. And from what I can tell, he and his church successfully practice what he teaches in the book. It is no wonder that his church is a very solid, growing (quite young still), balanced work.
Continue reading “Book Review: Out of Commission by Paul Chappell”
The Wall Street Journal recently (August 13, 2014) published an article detailing the surge of food and drink retailers to use “see-through” packaging to market their goods. Generally, goods sold that show at least some of the product are selling better. The piece highlighted the delicate balance of using this type of packaging with a variety of different foods. For instance, potato chips don’t sell well with “see-through” packaging but tortilla chips do. Granola, pricey juice drinks, yogurt, and pizza are examples of “see-through” items that seem to be selling better than their “hidden” competitors.
The research was clear (no pun intended) – shoppers are more inclined to buy when they see what they’re getting. But here is the kicker – “transparent packaging is surprisingly hard to make. Food often isn’t ready for a big reveal after a package has suffered shipping, shelf stocking, and other jostling.” Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2014, See-Through Food Packaging Boosts Sales
Now this grabbed my attention! Having worked and interacted with people of all shapes, sizes, political persuasions, different levels of religious fervor, and a sundry of other temperaments, I am convinced that the most attractive people are those who we can “see through.” And let me tell you – just as actual transparent packaging is hard to create for the retailers, a transparent life is hard to live. Why? Because just like a bag of chips, life has a way of causing “shipping problems, shelf stocking, and other jostling” to occur day-to-day.
Continue reading “See-Through People”
With the recent suicide of Robin Williams due to severe depression, I have heard many well-meaning Christian friends comment something like this:
“It just goes to show that money doesn’t make you happy.”
“Wealth, fame, and popularity does not bring joy.”
“Having lots of money or being famous will not bring you inner peace.”
And although I agree with the truth behind these statements, we sometimes like to say certain statements to bolster the position of the Christian. We say them to show (albeit falsely) that we don’t struggle with these types of things. I am sure you have heard them. They go something like this:
“We Christians have that inner peace that the world doesn’t have.”
“Having Jesus Christ in my life keeps me from being depressed.”
“If they only had God in their life, they wouldn’t struggle like they are struggling now.”
Anyone that has been a Christian for any length of time and has dealt with people, knows the real truth – Christians struggle with depression too.
Continue reading “Christians Struggle Too”
If you know anything about my wife, you know that every time we drive by a Wal-Mart, she places her hand over her heart! Well, maybe not EVERY time but seriously, Wal-Mart holds a special place in our heart. Why Wal-Mart? I’ll get to that in a moment.
Growing up in Northwest Montana, we were not privileged to have a Wal-Mart in our town. In fact, Wal-Mart did not have a presence in Montana until 1992. By then, I was in my sophomore year of college. No, we had the utmost “privilege” of shopping at the only other “mart” that was in town. Yes – we suffered by shopping at Kmart. I guess I should say my mother suffered while shopping at Kmart. I do not have fond memories of Kmart for several reasons. First, every Kmart I have ever been in has something like 37 registers with only three of them open for service. Usually, one stands about seven deep in line just dreaming about another one of the multiple registers being open for service! Second, I do not believe the words “customer service” and “Kmart” were ever found in the same sentence (until now). I have never had the privilege of actually finding a Kmart associate to help me in the department that I am aimlessly wandering in the unfruitful search for an item. One must traverse their way halfway across the store to hopefully spy a Kmart associate. However, this is not the worst of it. When you do find one and ask for the item you are looking for, the conversation goes something like this:
Continue reading “Right This Way Please”
In my day job, when I am asked to assist an employee with a problem, I often ask them a very important question. If their response is in the negative, I nearly always ask them to do this one thing before we go any further. This one thing has solved more problems in the type of work that I perform than anything else. Recently, as I asked an employee this question, she looked at me with a sheepish grin (one of those grins that said, “I know I should be doing this more often, but I’m not) and told me “no.”
Before I finish that story, I think the first time I remember seeing a verse next to his signature was during high school. You see, my dad’s company had gone out of business and for a period of 3-4 months, he had to go out-of-state for employment to provide for our family (if you only knew my dad – he is the best Christian I know). So, he got on a plane in Missoula, Montana and flew to southern California to work with my uncle in his construction business.
Continue reading “Restart”