Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - The Year of Books

Every year I make a New Year's resolution to read more in the coming. And every year I fail miserable. This year was different though. I set my goal at 52 books...and I read 59 books! And most of that was done in the first 9 months. I did't read much in October-December.

What helped me keep up with my reading this year was being a part of Tim Challies 2016 reading challenge. I also joined the reading group associated with the challenge on Goodreads. The reading challenge not only challenged me to read more but it helped me to vary my reading which helped keep me interested throughout the year.

One of the questions that I get asked when people hear how many books I read is "How do you have time to read that much?" If you don't know I have 4 children who are all under 8 years old, and am a bi-vocational pastor. Life is pretty busy. My answer to that question is usually "I really don't know". I don't feel like a spend an exuberant amount of time reading (and I'm not a fast reader either). Just when I get the chance, I usually pick up a book and read. It helps that I do enjoy reading. But I also feel the need to read. As a pastor, I feel like I need to read. Not only pastoral books, and theology books, but also books that give me into the way different people think. They say that leaders are readers. So I've tried to be disciplined in my reading. I should also mention that about 15 of my books were audible books that I listened to either at work or while running errands.

So what did I read in 2016? Let me first give a few of my favorites and then give the entire list.


It's impossible for me to list just one book, so let me give a few.

Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockrell
This was one of the first books I read this year (actually I listened to it). But the things that I learned in this book stuck with me throughout the year. It also helped that we were getting ready to head to Disney. I was impressed with how well run of a company they are, both from the book and from our vacation.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This year I read a lot more fiction than I have in the past. This was one of my favorites!

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This was the story of neurosurgeon who discovers that he himself has stage IV lung cancer. It is the author's own story, and one that he didn't get to finish before he died.

Habits of Grace:Enjoying God Through the Spiritual Disciplines by David Mathis
This was an excellent look at the spiritual disciplines and an encouragement to make them your own disciplines. This is one that I will keep within easy reach on my shelf for future reference.

Life Impacting Reads

I'm hoping that this book impacts me for many years to come (we are in the midst of baby step #2!)

This book changed the way that I thought about the Christians relationship to happiness. The book changed me because it directed me to the Bible. It ended up giving me a sermon series as well as a series of messages for a weekend conference I taught at. 


How to Be Here by Rob Bell
I choose this book to read this year because I needed a "book from a theological perspective I disagree with". And I figured Rob Bell would provide it. And while there were a few things I disagreed with, I was really encouraged by this book. This was a short read - one that I think I read in a day. But I really enjoyed it. 

I just found the story of RBG's life fascinating. Again, I don't agree with her on much, but I loved hearing her story. 

The List

There are many more that I could include above, I really enjoyed most of the books that I read. But without further ado, I will give the entire list. And they will be in the format of the reading challenge, so you can see what books went with what categories. The numbers won't make sense because I'm taking out the slots for the categories I didn't read a book in. And I apologize for not having the authors names beside them, but a quick google search should lead you to it. 

x 1. A book about Christian living Habits of Grace
x 2. A biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
x3. A classic novel Grapes of Wrath
x 5. A commentary on a book of the Bible The Message of James
x 6. A book about theology The Attributes of God
x 7. A book with the word "gospel" in the title or subtitle The Hole In Our Gospel
x 8. A book a pastor recommends One Size Doesn’t Fit All
x 10. A book for children Soccer on Sunday
x 11. A mystery or detective novel The Secret Adversary
x 12. A book published in 2016 When Breath Becomes Air
x 14. A book written by a Puritan The Art of Divine Contentment
x 17. A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize All the Light We Cannot See
x 18. A book written by an Anglican Zeal Without  Burnout
x19. A book with at least 400 pages Walt Disney
x21. A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title Peace Child
x 23. A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers The Black Widow
x 27. A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with How To Be Here *
x 28. A book written by an author with initials in their name The Character of God
x 29. A book that won a ECPA Christian Book Award The Daniel Plan
x 30. A book about worldview Make Today Count
x 32. A humorous book A Walk in the Wood
x33. A book based on a true story Escape from Camp 14
x 36. A book with 100 pages or less Praying the Bible  **
x37. A book with a one-word title Awe
x 38. A book about money or finance The Total Money Makeover **
x 39. A novel set in a country that is not your own The Girl On the Train
x 40. A book about music His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra
x 41. A memoir The Yankee Years
x 42. A book about joy or happiness Happiness *
x 43. A book by a female author I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
x 44. A book whose title comes from a Bible verse Feed my Sheep
x 46. A self-improvement book  Living Forward
x 47. A book by David McCullough The Path Between the Seas
x 48. A book you own but have never read Loving God
x 50. A book targeted at the other gender The Notorious RBG
x 52. A book written by someone of a different ethnicity than you Essentialism
x53. A book published by The Banner of Truth The Bruised Reed
x 55. A book written by a first-time author Under Our Skin
x 56. A biography of a world leader Team of Rivals
x 59. A book about productivity Make Today Great
x 60. A book about or relationships or friendship How to Win Friends and Influence People
x61. A book about parenting Great Parents, Lousy Lovers
x 62. A book about philosophy David and Goliath
x 64. A book with magic Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
x 65. A book about prayer The Necessity of Prayer
x 70. A book about sports You Can’t Make This Up
x 72. A book about suffering Joni:An Unforgettable Story
x 73. A book by your favorite author Gray Mountain
x 74. A book you have read before Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
x 76. A Christian novel The Robbers Cave
x 77. A book about psychology The Tipping Point
x 81. A historical book The Hundred Year Walk
x 87. A book by a woman conference speaker None Like Him
x 91. A book about leadership Creating Magic *
x 92. A book about public speaking Ted Talks
x 94. A book by a Presbyterian The Shepherd Leader
x95. A book about science Sleep Smarter

Looking Ahead

So what's for 2017? Well. I've set my goal for 72 books this year, and will again be following Tim Challies challenge. Although he changed the categories. You can find the 2017 challenge on Tim's blog. I actually started my tally already and have 4 categories checked off the list for next year and am in the middle of 4 more. I would invite you to consider joining me next year, whether you aim for 70 books or 7, make 2017 a year of reading.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Pursuit of Happiness - Sermon from Psalm 1:1

I have not done a very good job with keeping up with my blog, or posting my sermons lately. So I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and post the audio from my sermon this past Sunday.

We started a series this past Sunday on Psalm 1 called The Pursuit of Happiness. We didn't make it very far into the psalm, only the first line: "Blessed is the man". What does it mean to be blessed? It's a word that we like to throw around a lot, especially in Christian circles. But what does it actually mean? Listen to this weeks sermon from Living Hope Fellowship to find out.

The Pursuit of Happiness (audio)
*Disclaimer - audio was recorded on iPhone so there are times when I moved away from the pulpit and it's not as clear.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May Reading Challenge Update

This year I took on Tim Challies reading challenge. My original goal was to read  96 books in 2016, but I have changed that to simply read as many as I can. I still hope to be in the 50-70 range by the end of the year, which would be more books than I've ever read in a year.

What I've loved about this challenge is that it's caused me to read a lot of books that I normally wouldn't have read. The way the challenge works is you read 1 book from each of the 104 categories that are part of Tim's challenge. I have cut some corners to include some books that I really wanted to read but couldn't find a category for, but I have tried to vary my reading as much as I can.

This month I read 8 books, bringing my total for the year so far up to 29. My favorite book that I read this month was "All the Light We Cannot See". The one that will have the biggest long-term effect on my life is "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. The book that surprised me was "Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bade Ginsberg". Even though I am on the opposite side of nearly every issue as this Supreme Court Justice, I found her life fascinating and grew to appreciate her.

Below are the books that I read this month, along with the categories that each book fell into:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (A novel that one the Pulitzer Prize)

The Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds  (A book about prayer)

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik (A book targeted at the other gender)

Peace Child by Don Richardson (A book with a fruit of the spirit in the title)

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (A book about money of finance)

You Can't Make This Up by Al Michaels (A book about sports)

Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash (A book written by an Anglican)

The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer (A book by a Presbyterian)