I set a goal for myself this year to read 52 books I ended up reading 42, even though I didn’t reach my goal I read more books than I typically did because I had an agressive goal. Here were the 10 best books I read all year.
This was by far the best book I have ever read on marriage. Practical, insightful and challenging. This book is a must read for every married couple as well as every sigle adult. Kellers chapter on singleness was the best chapter I have ever read on singleness. So powerful and so challenging.
Loved this book. Was so inspired by the faith, trust and passion for the Gospel. The scariest thing for me was reading this book and seeing the startling similarities between the US and Germany. It was so encouraging and challenging reading Bonhoeffer’s life. I pray that I have the same clarity of thought and conviction of faith he had.
One of the biggest challenges most churches face is ministry silos. It’s awful but most churches are made up of ministries that are far more loyal to each other than the overall vision. If a church staff is going to accomplish what God has called them to accomplish takes hearts that beat together and eyes that see the same thing.
Death by meeting was a fantastic read. In ministry much of your life is spent in meetings learning how to hold a good, productive meeting is essential no matter who you lead.
Loved the reason for God. I am not a big apologetics fan. However I Really liked how Keller clearly articulated the main objections people have to the gospel. There is much of it I plan on re-reading.
This was the first of many Bonhoeffer books I plan on reading. What a fantastic gem this is on community. There are many books out there that talk about small group and community. They have lots of value but if you work with small groups or in forming the community aspect of your church do yourself a favor and read this brilliant dissection of true Christian community.
Gospel Powered Parenting is easily one of two best books on parenting I have ever read. Loved how he explains parenting in light of the gospel. He explains that the grace of God can only be truly understood in light of the wrath of God. I think I underlined something on each page of this book. Such a good book.
The War of Art was fantastic. It has a bit of language in it, but if you are a creative you need to read this book. Pressfield does a masterful job of explaining the primary reason we don’t write, create and innovate. He explains how to push through it and create what you have always wanted to create. It was very challenging There isn’t a day I don’t face resistance and there isn’t a day I don’t think about what Pressfield said to do to overcome that resistance.
This is one of my top 10 books of all time. I try and reread this book every year. If you are a young leader its a great reminder of how to respond to the authority God has put in your life. If you are an older leader is a great reminder how to lead in a way that insures you do not create an environment that is conducive to rebellion in the hearts of the young leaders you lead. Really such a great book. Short, quick, powerful read.
After the unspeakable events of last friday there are not words that make sense of what took place. There are no words that can be said that would help bring comfort. Our nation is overcome with a collective sense of grief. Any time a child dies it is hard to understand, digest or explain. When multiple children die it’s horrific.
The question I hear most parents saying and I find myself thinking. “How do I send my kids to school on monday?” My wife asked me this very question here is how I responded perhaps it will help another parent out there. Here is why I am sending my kids to school tomorrow.
1. We as parents must create an environment where our kids can thrive and can become all that God has designed them to be. We can not however protect and shield our kids from everything. We have to demonstrate to our kids through any way that we can that ultimately we trust God more than anything. Christ is our cornerstone he is the reference point of our life. When life is good He is that reference point when life is painful He is our source He is our life. Our hope as a parent can never lie wholly in our ability to keep our kids from harm, our hope has to be ultimately in Jesus alone.
2. See Christ as more valuable than anything else. – Paul says in Philippians “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He understood something we so often forget. If Jesus is truly most valuable to us if we lose everything in life we are ok because we have Jesus. If we die we win in death because we get Jesus.
3. Sin produces death. I believe more than any political stance that the events of last friday are more about us seeing the results of us trying to live our lives apart from Christ. What gives me hope is that Jesus came to bring us hope and He is coming again to make all the sad things untrue.
The last thing I believe we should do as parents is boil this horrible event down to a republican/democrat thing. Our roll as a Christ follower is to point people to Jesus, to pray for those effected and to not pull away from the world or shield our children from the world as it grows darker but to do as exiled Jews were commanded in Jeremiah “seek the welfare of the city, build houses, plant gardens….take wives and have sons and daughters.” In times like these we need to demonstrate to our kids what it means to draw near to God.
4“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,a9for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.
10“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfareb and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Here are two great posts from John Piper who is exactly one million times more eloquent than I.
There are few things in life that dial the whole family in like an IRS audit. I have never been through one personally but I was through one as a child. I still remember the auditors name appropriately enough was Mrs. Castro. My parents were being audited but the whole family felt the impact. My parents were on edge we had to be extra quiet. We had to stay out of the kitchen but peer through the windows of the kitchen as Mrs. Castro disassembled seven years of our families lives. For a few days in the summer of 1990 our family’s life stood still. This IRS audit affected all of us.
Christmas time more than any other time of year does something magical. It does what family ministry leaders dream of all year long. It does the very thing that IRS audit did for my home growing up. It gets every member of the house on the same page. It consumes every member of the house. Three year old kids know it’s Christmas fathers who are work-a-holics are talking to their kids about santa and his elves, cutting down trees and putting up lights.
Here is where I think the church needs to be more proactive at Christmas. I think families are looking for things to create memories with their kids. I think parents this time of year more than any other time of year are looking to pass on traditions they grew up with as well as instill new traditions for their kids. As a way of helping parents who might be reading this or ministry leaders, I thought I would share some things our family does to help reinforce the powerful message of the incarnation of Christ.
Advent calendar – we allow our kids to open a door a day – They love this and it helps build that anticipation towards Christmas. I find it helps them focus on the coming of Christ.
Traveling wise men – This is a new tradition for us. We borrowed the idea from Sally Lloyd-Jones. We let each child take turns moving the wisemen and their camel around our house. They move them to a different location each day until christmas. With each child who moves them I talk for a few minutes about what Christmas is all about. I try to help them connect their anticipation to bring the wisemen to the manger on Christmas with the anticipation so many had for the Messiah. A month feels very long for the kids but they love moving the wisemen all over the house.
Cutting a tree – We still cut down a tree this tradition is just really fun. We listen to christmas music and often get hot chocolate.
Decorating cookies – I did this as a child it was much more fun as a child than it is as an adult. I am not sure we will do this again this year it was a bit stressful but the kids seemed to really like it.
Reading the Christmas story from the Jesus Storybook Bible – We read the Christmas stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible the few days leading up to christmas as a way to remind ourselves that Christmas is not about gift getting but in the gift that was given to us from God in Christ.
Practicing Thankfulness – On Christmas eve (yes that’s right Christmas eve) before we open our gifts we do a couple of things I love.
1. I read the story of Christs birth from luke out of the ESV
2. We each take turns saying one thing we are grateful to Jesus for.
3. Lastly we start with one family member and everyone says 1 thing they love about that person we do this till every family member has been praised then we pray thank Jesus and open presents.
Christmas can be leveraged for so many reasons and so many things. I always want to do what I can to leverage Christmas to reinforce to our kids the two things that are most valuable to our family, Jesus and each other. I would love to hear what traditions you have for Christmas. There are very few times you will the attention of whole families at a time, unless you are an IRS auditor, so lets use the this season to reinforce the things that are most valuable to us.