2013 Reading Report

My reading goal for 2013 was 50 books. I think I did okay! Here’s the list along with some comments. I hope this forever-long post might be helpful to you! 

The Daily Bible – F LaGard Smith.

Best “daily reading” Bible there is. Chronological, helpful commentary. Highly recommend.

Teaching to Change Lives – Hendrix

Great thoughts on teaching. Search online and you’ll find some helpful videos that accompany it. The “Laws of the Learner.”

The Harbinger – Jonathan Cahn

Sort of an “end times watchdog” book. Didn’t much care for the exegesis, theology, or style. That being said, he still had some decent points…

The Blogging Church – Bailey and Storch

Got this one at McKay’s for 75 cents. Was easily worth a dollar. Some already-dated thoughts on the power of the internet in ministry.

Old Testament World – Davies and Rogerson

Scholarly look at the ancient world. Not my worldview exactly, technical, tough read, but some interesting background information.

Drop Dead Healthy – AJ Jacobs

Read this while Leslie was in labor. Comic relief more than anything else. Jacobs attempted every fad diet, workout program, etc. to prove the point that they’re just about all crazy, but there’s still something to be learned from almost all of them.

Deep & Wide – Andy Stanley

How can a church be both deep (meaningful discipleship) and wide (inviting to the unchurched, seeker-sensitive)? Stanley gives some great thoughts for church leaders. If outsiders always feel like outsiders, they’ll never become insiders.

Letters to Heaven – Calvin Miller

Best book on the list so far. Calvin Miller is one of my favorites. He writes letters the afterlife to wrap up “unfinished business.” If you were going to write a letter to someone who is dead that made a difference (positive or negative) in your life, who would you write? What would you say?

Run With the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best – Eugene Peterson

This is Peterson’s take on Jeremiah. It’s not a commentary. It’s more like a reflection of Jeremiah’s life and ministry as a pattern for our time on this globe. Some neat thoughts.

Ordained Irreverence – McMillian Moody (Elmo Jenkins 1)
Some Things Never Change – McMillian Moody (Elmo Jenkins 2)
The Old Man and the Tea – McMillan Moody (Elmo Jenkins 3)

I’m lumping this trilogy together. It’s a goofy, light-hearted set of stories that center on the life of Elmo Jenkins, a fresh-out-of-college minister who is in way over his head. Preacher friends will enjoy this one.

Crossroads – William Paul Young

If you hated the Shack, don’t bother. If you disagreed with the Shack but still found it helpful and enjoyable, go for it. Similar style and presentation: grumpy old rich guy has mystical encounter with some other people to teach him the meaning of life. It’s kind of “The Christmas Carol.”

I Am Second – Sterrett

You’ve probably seen the videos, billboards, etc. from this movement. The book is a series of testimonials from people when they turned to Christ. There were some great chapters, but a lot of “whiffs” to me. If you care more about athletes from a decade ago than I do, it might mean more to you.

Eat that Frog – Tracy

Productivity book. Do hard things now. Kill procrastination. Neat ideas well told.

Scarred Faith – Josh Ross

Wow! A look at how pain makes us stronger and more real. Suffering is part of our faith, not an enemy of it.

Communicating for a Change – Stanley

Great look at “one point preaching.” Stanley doesn’t tell you how to preach; there are other textbooks for that. Stanley asks you to think about WHY you teach or preach. I wish every preacher would read this!

Lead with a Story: a Guide to Crafting Business Narratives – Paul Smith

Business book about using stories to effect change. Seems like I remember a Jewish rabbi who had success with this technique. Definitely worth it.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Got tired of losing in Civilization V. Neat old classic. Repetitive, good advice. Think before you act.

World War Z – Max Brooks

Guilty pleasure. Way better than the movie. Diaries of the zombie apocalypse.

The Ultimate Hang – Derek Hansen

Interested in hammock camping? If not, you should be. I’ve spent about 10 nights in hammocks and learned a ton of tips and tricks. Great way to camp!

How Carrots Won the Trojan War – Rebecca Rupp

The history of vegetables. Seriously. Some neat stories about the food we eat. Very similar to the Disappearing Spoon which told the stories of the elements. A bit long, some chapters were dry.

An Introduction to the New Testament – Ladd

A little light reading (snicker) for school. NT introductions are always interesting if you want to know more about the composition and history of the book!

New Testament Introduction – Donald Guthrie

Same as above – I liked Ladd a little better.

Story of Christianity (Volume 1 – Early Church to Reformation) – Gonzalez
Story of Christianity (Volume 2)

Read these for my church history 1 and 2 courses at Knox. Good books telling the story of Christian history. Very, very detailed.

A New Eusebius – (Logos)

A collection of primary source quotes from church history.

Christianity and Liberalism – J. Gresham Machen

Classic. History repeats itself.

The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism – Carl F. H Henry

Used this as another take on Machen.

Who Do You Think You Are? – Mark Driscoll

Driscoll (or his ghostwriters) take you through the book of Ephesians. A look at our identity problems.

Between Heaven and Hell – Peter Kreeft

Imagine a conversation between three guys who died the same day: JFK, Aldous Huxley, and CS Lewis. Their worldviews collide in this conversation. Kreeft uses this as a different way to teach apologetics and reason.

The Derision of Heaven – Michael Whitworth

As much as it pains me to be nice to Whitworth, this is a really good study of the book of Daniel. I used it to supplement my preaching.

 The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous – Bill Wilson and Bob Smith

Read this because of jail ministry. I’m not all that impressed. It’s better classified as “recovery maintenance” than “recovery” material, if that makes sense. The view of God is also a little nonsensical. You can’t get out of your alcoholism without the help of God, but it doesn’t matter who God is or what he’s like… A little too watered down to hold water!

Journey to Freedom – Scott Reall

YMCA Restore Ministry book. Good for a small recovery group. Kind of cliché-filled. Almost as much about the Y as anything else.

The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us – Christopher Charbis

If you work with people, ever, you need to read this. The bottom line: we’re not as smart as we think we are. There are several ways our intuitions are absolutely wrong.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard – Chip Health and Dan Heath

What happens if a man is riding an elephant and wants it to change directions? The elephant, rider, and path are the metaphors the Heaths use to talk about change. Very well done!

Imagine: How Creativity Works – Jonah Lehrer

Instead of complaining that you’re not creative, Lehrer explains some myths about creativity and how to do better.

God Work: Confessions of a Standup Theologian – Randy Harris

Our thinking about God matters. We don’t need to be cranky jerks, but how we think changes how we live. Harris tells some stories about being in the business of helping people change their thinking.

Soul Work: Confessions of a Part Time Monk – Randy Harris

This is the better of the two Harris books I read. It’s his look at the Christian disciplines and monastic life. Really helpful stuff on prayer, too.

I Am a Church Member – Thom Rainer

Great book. Wish I could pass it out to everyone who wanted to be part of the church. It’s a look at the “rights and responsibilities” of church membership. A lot of people want to be on the team, but on the other side, too!

How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You – The Oatmeal

Yes, your cat is definitely plotting to kill you.

Safe Baby Handling Tips – David and Kelly Sopp

Leslie still tells me I’m doing it wrong… I still say the washing machine is a fine place for a baby bath.

 The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today – Everett Ferguson

Ferguson always does a good job. He helps you think through the nature and practice of the church. A bit tedious at times, but really good. We used it for 2 quarters of Sunday School.

Why They Left: Listening to those Who Have Left Churches of Christ – Flavil Yeakley Jr

Yeakley just about caveated himself to death in this book, but it’s a good look at why some folks have left us. Interesting conversation starter. I’d recommend for all elders and preachers.

 Abraham: Following God’s Promise: A Total Church Curriculum – Logos

Neat multi-media curriculum package by Logos. Read through it to review it. Neat idea for a tech savy church.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

I think I still have PTSD.

 7 Practices of Highly Effective Ministry – Stanley

Written in the style of Communicating for a Change. It’s part parable, part instruction manual for thinking through the “WHY” of church leadership. Great stuff.

 The Circle Maker – Batterson

Bold prayers honor God. Spends too much time telling his success stories, but I don’t know how else you’d write this book. Worth a read.

Sticky Faith – Powell

How do we impart faith that “sticks”? How do we help people see the reality of vibrant, personal faith?

A Higher Call – Adam Makos and Larry Alexander

Listened to this as an audio-book. Biggest problem? I sat in the driveway a lot waiting to get to the end of chapters because I didn’t want to miss anything. Really compelling story about good guys on both sides of WWII.

Stiff – Mary Roach

Roach writes a lot of popular science materials. This is a look at what happens to cadavers. Gets a little gory, but is really fascinating. Who knew?

What should go on my 2014 list?