Tuesday, January 17, 2012


College changed me.

Well, I suppose college changes everyone, but perhaps not in the way I'm referring to. 

College often changes how much you weigh, your capacity for and tolerance of beer, how often you skip class, the cleanliness of your room, how many people you fit into your car, the frequency of 2am trips to the grocery store / coffee shop / yogurt hut / hot dog stand / park / beach / forest / Perkins / police department / Wal-Mart / burger joint, where if you do your laundry and how often you call your parents asking for more money...

But I'm not talking about any of those changes. 

Before I went to college I was unable incapable of reading more than one book at a time. I never did it, and found the very idea almost incomprehensible. 

In college, however, that's truly not possible. You have multiple classes, all of which require quite a bit of reading, unless of course you're majoring in art-therapy, in which case, your classes require a lot of crying...and baths. The point being that in college, you must often be able to read multiple books at once. 

College brutally forced this inhumane change on me...and I'm ever so grateful for it. 

Truly, I didn't even recognize the change taking place. It was a struggle at first, but it quickly became old hat, as I studied semester after wonderful semester (I really enjoyed my college experience and would love to be a full-time student again...I welcome scholarships). 

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that he can't read more than one book at a time, and I realized that while I used to be that way, I now read multiple books at a time, as a matter of course. It's habit. I actually don't think I could limit myself to one book, unless I had to. Thankfully I don't.

Anyway, I haven't been writing many words lately. And I think it's because I've been reading so many more recently. 

I love reading, but these days I'm finding myself hungry for history, thirsty for theology, famished for fiction and starved for spirituality. So, I've been reading a lot. 

I wanted to take a few minutes and share with you some of the things I've been reading. I hope that you will be intrigued and inspired to pick up one (or more) of them and share in my joy. 

The Holy Bible

I've been a Christian for more than 15 years now. I read the Bible almost every day. The words are challenging, inspiring and truly life-changing. I read in the NIV (1984 edition) or the ESV. You can read most any translation that suits you... Except the New World Translation... stay away from that one.

God Is In The Manger, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As we have just finished celebrating the Advent season, I wanted to share a short review of this book. I read through every day of this Christmastime devotional, and found that it enriched my enjoyment of the celebration incredibly. There are readings for every day of the Advent season, leading up to Christmas and then readings for each of the Twelve Days of Christmastide, leading up to The Feast of Epiphany. I highly recommend that you buy this book, and dig into it next Christmas. 

The Lamb Among The Stars, by Chris Walley

This science-fiction trilogy by Chris Walley is an unbelievable achievement. The scope and depth are absolutely beautiful and brilliant, simultaneously. Set 11,000 years in our future, the series tells the story of Merral D'Avenos, a forester on Farholme, one of 1,600 "made-worlds" inhabited by humans, spread across the galaxy. The entire race is united in a miraculous peace, given as an act of love and grace, by God - whom all peoples worship whole-heartedly. What's more, sin and evil have ceased to tempt and torture humanity, and even something as simple as vanity or a half-truth would be completely unthinkable.  The plot thickens as we begin to see mysterious hints of the re-entrance of evil into this society. I'm just over halfway through the second book, and truth be told, it's taking great strength of will not to slam shut my laptop and pick up my Kindle, just so I can re-enter the story. 

Real Marriage, by Mark and Grace Driscoll

A few months ago, I watched a video in which Mark Driscoll, Preaching Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, recommended that husbands and wives have a weekly meeting that he calls "The Spouse Sync". This is a time to coordinate calendars, talk about important issues, menu plan, vacation plan, etc. My wife and I thought it was a great idea, and began this weekly meeting ourselves. It has been a great time, so fruitful. In addition to this, I would often plan a short devotional or together we'd read a relevant article or blog in an attempt to better fortify our marriage and create an atmosphere in which we could grow in grace and love. So, when this book by the Driscolls was released, we thought it would be the perfect addition to our weekly sync. We read a chapter per week and discuss the contents after our schedules and other business is out of the way. 
So far, it has been just as I expected it would be - challenging, inspiring, biblical and entertaining. I recommend this book to both married couples, those planning to be married, those trying to rescue a struggling marriage or those who simply want to be married. 

Church Planter, by Darrin Patrick

I'm one chapter and a long forward into this one. 
It's another that I would love to close the laptop for. When I was a younger man I doubted whether or not I could ever pastor or plant, because I was insecure about whether or not I could preach. As I'm growing older, and getting more life experience, I am starting to wonder if my insatiable desire to do ministry isn't meant to be filled by planting a church, preaching the Word, raising disciples and worshipping Jesus. As I have been thinking so much about this lately, I thought it would be a good idea to read a bit more about it. This book, by the head man for the Acts29 Network, seemed like a great place to start. 

Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris

With a forward by Chuck Norris that packs a real roundhouse kick to the (pre)face [yes I've used that joke before], this book is truly an inspiring challenge for people of all ages. Written for teens, by teens, the twin authors challenge readers to rise above the low expectations of our society, and refuse to just do enough to get by. They encourage people everywhere to not just continue on with those things comes easiest or naturally, but to Do Hard Things. Things that really challenge you or things you can't do alone. To allow yourself to be swept up in a cause bigger than yourself. To shun selfishness and cling to the cross.

The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis

A Weight of Glory is an intellectually challenging and spiritually inspiring collection of essays, sermons and talks given by the professor during WWII. Lewis waxes eloquently on subjects such as pacifism, academia during wartime and theology as poetry. Since it's a group of essays, I have been able to consume this collection slowly, drinking deep of Lewis' lyricism. At times, I just melt into my sofa at the heat of his words. At others, I dance in celebration that anyone could write like he did, and more so that  I have the privilege of reading what he penned.

Concise Theology, by J.I. Packer

Just what the title says, this book is a text on theology that is simple and accessible, while not forsaking the task of being profound and enlightening. Since college, I have missed my academic and theological training. It's great to be able to pick up this little book and get short, sweet theological refresher courses. I recommend it for anyone who wants to deepen their theology, but has no formal training and finds the idea of studying it an overwhelming one. It's also nice for those like me, who having received such training want to keep their chops up, as it were. 

Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott

My wife would tell you that I'm not really reading this. In fact, if you're a dude, then forget I mentioned it... 
Actually, don't. Alcott's follow-up to the classic, Little Women, should be required reading for every would-be father, or would-be man for that matter.  The story is well written and entertaining. It's also inspiring. It inspires me to want to be a good father one day. It inspires me to be a good man. It inspires me to be a good teacher. It inspires me to be a mentor. It inspires me to see the world with wonder-filled eyes. It inspires me to remember to be a man when I need to be and boyish from time to time. It inspires me to want to serve the Lord in simplicity and humility. 

Most of all, it makes me want to raise boys. 

So what if I haven't picked it up in months. One day I'll finish it...and you should to. 

Morning and Evening, by Charles Spurgeon

I'm on my second year through Spurgeon's Morning and Evening. I have yet to read all of the entries. I suspect I will continue reading this book for years to come. I see new things and learn new lessons each time I look at one of these powerful daily devotions. There is a wealth of knowledge to learn from this man. Probably more than my meager pocketbook has room for. I suppose I must pray that God will give me a bigger spiritual wallet, because Spurgeon has much more treasure to bestow upon us all. 

Well, this post started out as something simple to share with you, and has become quite lengthy. I hope that you will pick up one or more of these books and let me know how you like it. In addition, I hope you'll forgive me for posting a little less these days. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do. 

What are you reading these days? 


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