What I’m reading right now

gods-word

I happen to be one of those people who read better when I’m reading more at the same time. I read worse (and less) when I try to do one at a time. So here’s what I’m doing, with a brief explanation:

1. Keeping the Heart, John Flavel. I read this along with my morning Bible reading. I like wading through Puritan-ish works like this slowly, reading it like a devotional. I find most modern devotionals shallow; Puritans work like a charm.

2. Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God, Scott Thomas. The title interested me, and after perusing it I noticed it has a practical edge. A pragmatic read tends to challenge me and help me think about what I do and how I can do it better. I usually get at these in the evening.

3. No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy. I need to read for fiction, and this is my attempt at that. It’s a gripping book. I’m starting to see what people say Cormac McCarthy is the best living American writer. I read this when I feel like it, sometimes at lunch or in the evening.

4. A Year with G.K. Chesterton, Kevin Belmonte. This offers a Chesteron reading for each day of the year, along with a “What GKC Did This Day” thingy. Whets the appetite for more, and is filled with good one-liners.

5. Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God’s Strength, Charles Stanley. Listen to this on my kindle during my commute. Don’t really like it much, but I want to finish it.

6. The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, Douglas Moo. My favorite and most consulted commentary for studying Colossians. I’m teaching through it Wednesday nights, and Moo’s is excellent.

7. The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, Mark Twain. I’ll usually read this when I’m about ready to sleep and don’t feel like anything long or heavy. Laugh out loud funny. Plus good illustrations for preaching.

 

Top Books of 2011

I think I did as much (or more) reading in 2011 than previous years, but most of it was seminary reading, where I had to read particular sections, articles, and individual chapters, and rarely entire books. So, the year concludes, and I’ve finished only 22 books, lowest in since 2008.

Here are my five faves for 2011:

1. The Bible

I read the Bible more this year than I ever have, and with each reading I am more convinced of its divine origin. The best apologetic of the Bible is the Bible itself. Take it up, skeptic, and read.

2. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul David Tripp

I enjoy Paul David Tripp. He’s easy to read, deeply theological, and intensely practical. I rarely walk away from one of his books without desiring to change something in my life. This book is a great resource for laypeople wondering how they can have an effective ministry in church life.

3. Humility, C.J. Mahaney

I picked this book up after Tom Pennington spoke at The Shepherd’s Conference and began reading it immediately. Pennington crushed me, preaching from 1 Peter 5, and sent me seeking help in the book store. Mahaney’s book is accessible; and comes highly recommended to readers of all levels.

4. The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry, John Piper and D.A. Carson

I read this book in two sittings. It captivated me, and might have been my favorite read of the year. Through it, I’ve been (re) inspired to be a lifelong learner, ever developing and increasing my understanding of Scripture and the ministry I’m called to.

It’s also helped me discover one of my passions in pastoral ministry, namely, training young men for the work of the ministry. It is a dream of mine to develop a system that trains young people to use their gifts in the service of the church.

5. The Next Story, Tim Challies

Challies’ book on how technology affects us is helpful. I especially benefited from the section that gives parents advice for raising kids in the digital age. If you’re trying to find a balanced look at the usefulness and potential distraction of our devices, pick up this book.

* * *

Oh, and if you’re into that sort of thing, friend me on goodreads.

 

What I’m reading

1. The Disciple-Making Church: Leading a Body of Believers on the Journey of Faith
by Bill Hull

I set a summer goal for myself to write a short book about the church as a training center. I believe that training (in character, doctrine, and competency) is at the heart of disciple-making, and is therefore the duty of the local church, per Matthew 28:18-20. As part of this summer project, I decided to read some books of the subject. This book, which I learned about through Mark Dever’s recommendation, is part of my research.

2. Churchill, by Paul Johnson

Winston Churchill is known for his long, effective, full life– a book under 200 pages cannot capture the whole of it, but it can give one a taste, and whet the appetite. I chose this one to get away from my typical diet of Christian books to try something new. I can’t remember the last time I read a biography of a non-Christian historical figure. It’s high time.

I read a lot of reviews of this book, and I was happy get it cheap with a Barnes & Noble gift card. It is short, and I intended to read it over vacation and finish it before I got home, but, as is often the case, vacation was jam-packed with outings and games and busy-ness that I didn’t read past the first page. I will add, however, that I read the first paragraph of the first page at least four or five times.

3. The Joy of the Word-Filled Family, by John Barnett

This is going to be a long, slow read. It’s a long book for its type (well over 300 pages), and  Ashley and I are chipping away at it after dinners. This one will probably be on the list in the following months, perhaps even into the next year.

4. The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul

I’m reading through this for the first time with a student in my youth group. We’ve only read the first two chapters, and I’m loving it. I saw on a list somewhere (I was trying to find who wrote the list, but I can’t) that it was one of the five books every Christian should read. In the past month I’ve been discovering the ministry of R.C. Sproul– reading his books and listening to his sermons for the first time– and I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been missing.

Check out Ligonier Ministries for all Sproul’s stuff. Maybe even subscribe to their podcast Renewing Your Mind. They are 25 minute messages from Dr. Sproul that pack a theological punch.

All the books I read in 2010

My goal was to hit 30, and I did in August. Having a baby and starting seminary slowed things down after that. But here it is, the final list of finished books.

  1. A Sense of Urgency, John P. Kotter (1/11)
  2. The Trellis and the Vine, Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (1/24)
  3. Autobiography of Hudson Taylor, Hudson Taylor (1/30)
  4. The Reason for God, Timothy Keller (2/15)
  5. The Deliberate Church, Mark Dever (2/22)
  6. When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper (3/20)
  7. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (3/30)
  8. Be Complete, How to Become the Whole Person God Intends You to Be, Warren Wiersbe (3/31)
  9. Why Johnny Can’t Preach, T. David Gordon, (4/2)
  10. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer (4/16)
  11. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman (4/25)
  12. Crazy Love, Francis Chan (5/5)
  13. The Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards (5/14)
  14. Axiom, Bill Hybels (5/28)
  15. Our Sufficiency in Christ, John MacArthur (5/28)
  16. The Odyssey, Homer (5/31)
  17. Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints, Ed. Justin Taylor, John Piper (6/3)
  18. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (6/11)
  19. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (6/13)
  20. Spectacular Sins and their Global Purpose for the Glory of Christ, John Piper (6/25)
  21. Writing for Story, Jon Franklin (6/30)
  22. Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World, David Jeremiah (7/1)
  23. How to Tell a Story and Other Essays, Mark Twain (7/4)*
  24. Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton, (7/9)*
  25. What is the Gospel?, Greg Gilbert (7/10)*
  26. On Earth as it is in Heaven: How the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us to Pray More Effectively, Warren Wiersbe (7/21)*
  27. The Master’s Indwelling, Andrew Murray (7/27)*
  28. Shepherding the Child’s Heart, Ted Tripp (8/3)
  29. Eccentric Preachers, Charles Spurgeon (8/6)*
  30. Leaders Who Last, Dave Kraft (8/9)*
  31. Knowing God, J.I. Packer (9/10)
  32. Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper (9/20)
  33. The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter (9/23)*
  34. Pastor to Pastor: Tackling the Problems of Ministry, Erwin Lutzer (9/26)
  35. How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, Arthur Bennet (9/27)*
  36. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin (10/2)*
  37. The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Steve Lawson (10/9)*
  38. 33 Million People in the Room, Juliette Powell (10/12)*
  39. The Thought of God, Maurice Roberts (11/1)
  40. Death by Love, Mark Driscoll (11/10)*
  41. A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity, R.C. Sproul (11/17)*
  42. Commenting on Commentaries, C.H. Spurgeon (11/20)*
  43. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever, (12/19)

* means I read it on my kindle.

21 Books for 2010

So these were the books I enjoyed most this year. And by the way, if you’re still Christmas shopping for someone who happens to be a Christian bookworm, if you click through these links and by anything on amazon.com, you’ll make me a little money. Tis the season for giving, right?

  1. The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything
    Colin Marshal and Tony Payne
  2. The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel, Mark Dever
  3. A Treastise Concerning Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards
  4. Our Sufficiency in Christ, John Macarthur
  5. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Tim Keller
  6. Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers, T. David Gordon
  7. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Neil Postman
  8. Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp
  9. Thought of God, Maurice Roberts
  10. Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, John Piper
  11. Pastor to Pastor: Tackling the Problems of Ministry, Erwin Lutzer
  12. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Ivp Classics), J.I. Packer
  13. When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy, John Piper
  14. Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction, Jon Franklin
  15. Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
  16. What Is the Gospel? (9Marks), Greg Gilbert
  17. Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Re:Lit), Mark Driscoll
  18. Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesteron
  19. Eccentric Preachers, C.H. Spurgeon
  20. The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter
  21. Knowing God, J.I. Packer

Reading Accomplishments so Far

Here’s what I’ve read for 2010. It’s by far the most reading I’ve ever done in 6 months. Last year I barely hit my goal of 25 books for 2009. This year, it looks like I’ll easily surpass my goal of 30.
* * *
  1. A Sense of Urgency, John P. Kotter (1/11)
  2. The Trellis and the Vine, Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (1/24)
  3. Autobiography of Hudson Taylor, Hudson Taylor (1/30)
  4. The Reason for God, Timothy Keller (2/15)
  5. The Deliberate Church, Mark Dever (2/22)
  6. When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper (3/20)
  7. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (3/30)
  8. Be Complete, How to Become the Whole Person God Intends You to Be, Warren Wiersbe (3/31)
  9. Why Johnny Can’t Preach, T. David Gordon, (4/2)
  10. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer (4/16)
  11. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman (4/25)
  12. Crazy Love, Francis Chan (5/5)
  13. The Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards (5/14)
  14. Axiom, Bill Hybels (5/28)
  15. Our Sufficiency in Christ, John MacArthur (5/28)
  16. The Odyssey, Homer (5/31)
  17. Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints, Ed. Justin Taylor, John Piper (6/3)
  18. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (6/11)
  19. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (6/13)
  20. Spectacular Sins, John Piper (6/25)
  21. Writing for Story, Jon Franklin (6/30)
  22. Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World, David Jeremiah (7/1)
  23. How to Tell a Story and Other Essays, Mark Twain (7/4)

2009: My Reading List

In the beginning of 2008 I set a reading goal for myself: 25 books in 2008.  When December 31st came, I was barely finishing off my 17th book.  I didn’t hit my goal.

So in the beginning of 2009 I set the same reading goal for myself.

And I hit it!

And here’s the list of books I read in 2009:

  1. The Great Omission, Dallas Willard (1/27)
  2. Brothers We are Not Professionals, John Piper (3/2)
  3. Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders (3/11)
  4. Oikos: Your World Delivered, Tom Mercer (3/14)
  5. The Shack, William P. Young (3/22)*
  6. The Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley (4/1)
  7. Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur (4/16)
  8. A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards, George M. Marsden (5/2)*
  9. Finally Alive, John Piper, (6/28)
  10. Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand (7/15)
  11. How People Change, Paul David Tripp (8/7)
  12. Portrait of Calvin, T.L.H. Parker (8/14)
  13. Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry, Doug Fields (8/26)
  14. Your Mind Matters, John Stott (9/4)
  15. Developing the Leaders Around You, John C. Maxwell (9/26)
  16. The Autobiography of George Muller, George Muller (10/3)
  17. Gospel Worship, Jeremiah Burroughs (10/3)
  18. Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around And Yours Can Too, Ed Stetzer (10/21)
  19. When People are Big and God is Small, Edward T. Welch (11/?)
  20. Release the Power of Prayer, George Muller (11/?)
  21. George Muller: A Biography, A.T. Pierson (12/7)
  22. The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, Doug Fields (12/12)
  23. The Gospel and Personal Evangelsim, Mark Dever (12/13)
  24. The Ultimate Priority, John McArthur (12/30)
  25. Future Grace, John Piper (12/31)

* means it was an audiobook.