My Top 8 Books of 2015

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I enjoyed so many of the books I read last year to narrow the list down 8 is a challenge indeed. But if had to recommend only 8 books out of the books I read last year these would be it. Each one challenged me personally in unique ways. Each of them is well worth the time it would take you to read them. Enjoy.

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True Spirituality – Francis Schaeffer
Francis Schaeffer is amazing. I only regret I never stumbled upon him sooner. He is best known for How Shall I Then Live also an excellent read but True Spirituality has to be my favorite book by Schaeffer to date. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from a book that is a must-read for any Christian.

In our culture, we are often told that we should not say no to our children. Indeed, in our society repression is often correlated with evil. We have a society that holds itself back from nothing, except perhaps to gain something more in a different area.

There is one difference between the practice of justification and sanctification. As justification deals with our guilt, and sanctification  deals with the problem of the power of sin in our lives as Christians, justification is once for all, and the Christian life is moment by moment

When I lack proper contentment, either I have forgotten that God is God, or I have ceased to be submissive to him.

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The Republic by Plato

A sad reality of the state of our school systems is we no longer teach our kids classically. They are not taught how to think but increasingly through programs like no child left behind and common core are taught what to think. I was never forced to read the classics in school and that is to my detriment.  The Republic should be mandatory for every student before they graduate. The Republic created categories in my mind that didn’t previously exist. It’s treatment of education and politics make it a must read for any person who wants to be a productive member of society. The Republic was an excellent book. It is definitely one of those books you read more than one time.

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Finding Truth by Nancy Pearcy

Nancy Pearcy has a gift that is definitely needed in our world today. Her ability to describe and articulate what a true biblical worldview should be is amazing. I highly recommend Finding Truth and Total Truth. For any High School senior going to College this fall these books are more than a good idea they are essential.

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Preaching by Timothy Keller

Tim Keller is my favorite preacher so a book by him on preaching for me was a rare treat. To see how he thinks and where he is coming from as he communicates is amazing. I have read several books on preaching. Keller’s book is by far the best I have read, he is practical, spiritual and overall helpful. If you communicate to any size group his stuff on preaching to the heart is gold.

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A Free People’s Suicide by Os Guinness

Os Guinness is becoming one of my favorite authors. His insight and classical background give him such depth in everything he says. A Free People’s Suicide is a thoughtful critic of the American experiment from the outside in. Guinness has a genuine love of America without being blinded to her weaknesses. He is approaching the topic of America’s freedom and responsibility as an outsider so he equally implicates Republicans and Democrats alike. Really balanced and very convicting. Great book

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Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower

Loved this book by Jack Klumpenhower. It was much needed among the growing number of books for youth pastors and kids pastors. He does an excellent job of explaining the need for gospel-centered teaching and then explains how we can do that more faithful in the classroom. I bought a copy for everyone who preaches to our kids or youth.

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John Newton: From disgrace to amazing grace by Jonathan Aitken

This was a lengthy treatment of the life of John Newton. A fantastic Biography that did not gloss over the awful life that Christ redeemed. The things Newton faced were staggering. I found this biography so informative and at the same time life-giving. It challenged me to love and trust Christ more. I left with a greater appreciation of the Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like John Newton and especially me.

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The Prodigal Church by Jared Wilson

I like Jared’s writing style he doesn’t pull any punches and he isn’t afraid to say things that I am still afraid to say. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his book.

How we “do church” shapes the way people see God and his Son and his ways in the world

It is a customary mantra of ministry that healthy things grow. And yet sometimes healthy things shrink. This is certainly true of our bodies, when we’re eating right and exercising. I mean, the formula doesn’t always work in every circumstance. “Healthy things grow” sounds right. But cancer grows

But the only thing of value the church has to offer is the gospel. I believe that one result of the emerging Experience Economy will be a longing for authenticity. To the extent that the church stages worldly experiences, it will lose its effectiveness.

What was your favorite book of 2015?

Books I read in 2015

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In 2015 I read fewer books than 2014 but I definitely grew as a reader.  I always thought that reading more was how you grew as a reader but it’s not true it’s reading better books. It’s reading books that are beyond you that grow you as a reader.  Mortimer Adler says this about reading books –

“Too often, we use that phrase (well-read) to mean the quantity rather than the quality of reading. A person who has read widely but not well deserves to be pitied rather than praised.”

I have been someone who has read widely but not well. This year I began to change that. I hope to continue to do so in each successive year.

I love what Mortimer Adler says about good books at the end of his book on how to read books. He says:

“A good book does reward you for trying to read it. The best books reward you most of all. The reward, of course, is of two kinds. First, there is the improvement in your reading skill that occurs when you successfully tackle a good, difficult work. Second – and this in the long run is much more important – a good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You learn more than how to read better; you also learn more about life. You become wiser. Not just more knowledgeable-books that provide nothing but information can produce that result. But wiser, in the sense that you are more deeply aware of the great and enduring truths of human life….These are matters about which you cannot think too much or too well. The greats books can help you to think better about the, because they were written by men and women who thought better than other people about them.”

This was always my problem I was reading books to become more knowledgeable but that knowledge was limited because it addressed only a specific problem. When you read better books. When you read the books that your favorite authors, favorite author, favorite author wrote you see things differently. You no longer have knowledge about a topic you see more deeply, you enter the conversation rather than catch the highlights, because you see the border picture you see the whole argument not simply parts of it.

Here are the books I read in 2015.

1. Platform by Michael Hyatt
2. The Martian – Andy Weir
3. Expositional Preaching – David Helm
4. The Lion The Which and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis.
5. A Tale of Three Kings – Gene Edwards
6. Out of the Silent Planet – C.S. Lewis
7. Creativity, Inc. By Ed Catmull
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – by J. K. Rowling
9. The Tale of Despereaux by Katie DiCamillo
10. Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower
11. Culture Making by Andy Crouch
12. John Newton: From disgrace to amazing grace by Jonathan Aitkin
13. The Prodigal Church by Jared Wilson
14. What does the Bible really teach about homosexuality? By Kevin DeYoung
15. The Things Of Earth. by Joe Rigney
16. The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis
17. True Spirituality – Francis Schaeffer
18. Hand in Hand by Randy Alcorn
19. The Republic by Plato
20. Finding Truth by Nancy Pearcy
21. Preaching by Timothy Keller
22. A Free People’s Suicide by Oz Guinness
23. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
24. Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling
25. Judges For You – Tim Keller
26. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
27. Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
28. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
29. Poetics by Aristotle
30. Theogony by Hesiod
31. How to Read a Book Mortimer J Adler
32. The Survivor – Vince Flynn
33. Prometheus Bound – Aeschylus
34. Oedipus The King – Sophocles
35. Hippolytus – Euripides
36. Apology – Plato
37. Clouds – Arisophanes
38. The Bacchae – Euripides

7 must add books to your summer reading list

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One of the things I have learned in the past 20 years is when I encounter a problem. A good book usually helps me understand or point me in the right direction. I like reading books in the summer because It makes me feel better about lying lazily in the summer sun. Where I live in New York you have to pay for Vitamin D nine months out of the year. So when it’s free you jump on it. I thought I would share the books I am hoping to finish this summer.

ZPreaching by Keller – Few people have opened my eyes to the beauty of the Gospel like Dr. Keller. Few people can boldly lay out the truth in a way both sides see it clearly like Tim Keller. If you ever want to despair as a preacher. Preach a message then listen to Tim Keller preach the same passage. Looking forward to Dr. Keller’s thoughts on preaching.

 

 

2Q==-1Hand in Hand – Randy Alcorn tackles a very complex topic of Devine Sovereignty and meaningful human choice with clarity, grace and biblical responsibility. Have heard a ton of good things from both side of the argument.

 

 

 

Z-1The Deep things of God. – How the trinity changes everything. I am becoming more and more aware that the difficulty we have in faith and in our day to day lives comes from a flawed view of the trinity. Looking forward to reading Fred Sanders book for his practical take on a very complex issue.

 

 

Weekend Reading 2-20-15

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What books I am reading right now

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower

What blogs I am reading right now

Your Brain on Stories – Great post on the power of story and how it affects you. Thanks for the find @jonathancliff

If you develop tension in the story you will sustain attention.

If you sustain attention then it is more likely that the people
hearing the story will start to share the emotions of the main
characters in the story.
If people share the emotions of the main characters then they are

likely to mimic the feelings and behaviors of the characters when the
story is over.
Listening to a character story like this can cause oxytocin to be released.

And if oxytocin is released then it is more likely that people will

trust the situation and the storyteller and more likely that they will
take whatever action the storyteller asks them to take.

Grace and Race – Tim Keller nails it again such a great very short post on race.

“Thus Christians have a special test for racism. If racial differences are more important to you than differences in belief, you are acting as a racist.”

How To Raise An Adult@mattPerman tweeted out this book link – looks promising

In How to Raise an Adult, she draws on research, conversations
with educators and employers, and her own insights as a mother and
student dean to highlight the ways in which over-parenting harms
children and their stressed-out parents.

No, Tablets Aren’t Necessarily Rotting Kids’ Brains – Interesting take on the debate over screen time by the people at Lifehacker.

Weekend Reading 2-13-2015

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What books I am reading right now

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Out Of The Silent Planet By C.S. Lewis

What blogs I am reading right now

No Grey Area – Kevin DeYoung Talks about he proper Christian response to the movie and book series 50 shades of grey. 

How to build a thriving Children’s Ministry in small town USA. I love Dale Hudson’s passion for the local church. This post is both practical and encouraging. Our founding pastor attends Dales church. They do an amazing job I am grateful for Dale’s voice and the influence of Christ Fellowship on the church in America.

The Enemy of creativity… – Seth Godin can do more in blog post that is more like a pregnant tweet than many people can do in an entire book. (Also I think he is the only person still blogging on the typepad platform.) Great very short post on creativity.

President Obama and the problem of religious Conviction – Great post by Trevin Wax on the problem religious conviction. Trevin explains that our certainty in the truth can and will be offensive to our present day culture. Loved his statement – “you don’t deal with violent expressions of faith by pretending that confidence is the problem and content doesn’t matter.”

37 Android Apps, Free Streaming Sticks, Build your Nas, and More Deals – In the next few weeks I am switching over to an android phone – check out these free Android apps I will be.

This Crazy Simpsons Theory Actually Makes A Lot Of Sense – Thought this was interesting for the cartoon loving conspiracy theorists out there.