Books I Read in 2014

Stack of booksCharles 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
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Book Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer

autopsyAbsolutely 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.

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Book Review: Out of Commission by Paul Chappell

CommissionHaving 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.

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Help Me Reach These Goals in 2014

j0439558I have been all over the map concerning resolutions or goals (I prefer the word goals) for a New Year. Some years, I set very concrete goals; others, I had no goals. And some years I had very generic goals (which are quite hard to measure). Closing out 2013 and charging into 2014, I have pondered the subject of setting goals for the New Year.

When I think of great men and women of the Bible, I cannot help but think that goals were a major part of the life of many of these people. Take Joseph, for instance. He had to be able to set goals and see those goals through to fruition as the second in command of Egypt while gathering grain and corn during the seven years of plenty. Solomon set goals for both the building of the temple of God and his own house. I am absolutely convinced that the apostle Paul was a goal-setter. He did not wander aimlessly going wherever his journeys led him. He was a man of passion for the Lord Jesus Christ and set high goals in starting churches and visiting the churches he started during the various missionary journeys he took. Philippians 3:14 is often quoted in support of setting a goal –  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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Books I Read in 2013

Okay, I did it. At the start of this calendar year of 2013, I set a goal to read twenty-four books by the end of the year. Having just finished the thirty-seventh book as we near the end of this year, I am thankful for many things:

1. For the teachers who taught me to read – it is one of the greatest gifts a person can be given.
2. For my mother who instilled in me a love to read as a young boy. My wife and I are trying to do the same for our children.
3. For friends (specifically ministerial friends) who encouraged me in my reading by recommending a book or sending me books.

Before I share the list of books that I read, allow me to give you general thoughts I had as I set goals for my reading. First, due to much of my commute being on a train, I decided to set a goal higher than I had reached previously. I have never had the luxury of having so much reading time, so in hindsight, my long commute did end up being a blessing. My thoughts were that reading a book every two weeks was quite aggressive, but doable. Second, in Evernote, I compiled a list of books in order that I wished to read them. This did several things for me. It kept me on track. It also helped me order them in categories and not read too much of one genre of a book. Although I did add a few books throughout the year that were not on my list, the list helped me focus on my goals. Third, I always tried to keep a highlighter on hand to highlight those items and truths that stood out to me.

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The Importance of Reading

I like to read. In matter of fact, I really enjoy reading. That did not happen by accident. There are several factors that led to my enjoyment of reading. First, my parents put me in a good school where I learned to read at an early age. Second, they supplied me with books that were fun to read for a young boy. Books like the Hardy Boys, The Call of the Wild, Irish Red, and Big Red were just a few of the types of books that were given to me. In addition, my Pops (some of you call him dad…I call him Pa or Pops) provided me with exciting missionary stories that piqued my interest about spiritual adventure in far away lands.

The subject of reading reminds me of the first quality Bible that my parents gave to me on my 14th birthday. The Bible was a leather, Scofield Reference edition. Inscribed on the front cover was I Timothy 4:13, “Til I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

 

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