When 2012 ended, I made a commitment to myself that I would read 30 books in 2013.  By “reading,” I meant traditional book format, electronic format, or audible.

I thought I would post my list of 30 books for anyone that’s interested.  They are listed in the order that I read them this year.  With only a couple of exceptions, I recommend all of the books below.  My Top SIX for the year are highlighted in red.  Here goes!

1.  Walking With God, John Eldridge

Great read and encouragement in learning how to walk, be led, and depend upon God with every step.

2.     “Changing Lives Through Coaching” and “The Inspirational Leader” 
by Michael Burt
I listed these as one because there are so many repeat quotes and the same ideas in each book, it felt like I was reading the same book.
3.  Leadership, by Rudy Guiliani
Rudy tells his story of leading through the September 11 and more.  I especially like his section about communication and how he can to communicate better through owning the material and letting it flow through his passion.
4.  The Circle Maker,  Mark Batterson  
Batterson tells the story of how he walked circles around the block, praying and claiming the properties that would eventually be owned by National Community Church.  Great book that will build your prayer life.
5.  Attitude 101, John Maxwell
Encouragement to be all you can be. Typical Maxwell.
6.  Heavens Lessons, by Steve Sjogren
Great book describing Steve’s experience when he died briefly on the operating table, his recovery as he was revived, and what God has taught him through the experience.
 
7.  Lead Like Jesus, by Ken Blanchard
Book on leadership, “Jesus style”.  I read this one with a group of pastors from LifeChurch’s network.  Enjoyed discussing the chapters with them.
 
8.  The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges
Holiness is often overlooked for busyness but Bridges points out the need to be holy if we’re to experience God.  I read this one back in the college years, so this was a re-read of this classic.  Every Christian should read this one!
9.  Leadership Gold, John Maxwell
Maxwell waited until he was 60 to write this one.  He mentioned that you should write your own epitaph before you die.  Determine what you want it to say & write ire w/your life.
 
10.  Killing Kennedy, John O’Reilly  
Great view into Camelot and the life of the Kennedy’s.  Also gives background on Lee Harvey Oswald.  Interesting book.
11.  Plastic Doughnuts
Great short book on Christian stewardship for church leaders.
12.  American Sniper,  Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle was the most deadly American sniper in history.  He was a Navy Seal and saved countless American lives.  His story was interesting.
13.  Multiply, Frances Chan
Frances Chan is always a great read.  In “Multiply,” Frances challenges us to make disciples.  If you are a follower of Jesus, He has commanded you to make disciples.  It’s not really optional if you’re following Jesus.
14.  The Hunger Fix, Pamela Peeke
Not that great. lol  Don’t really recommend this one.
7Great
15.  7 Men & The Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas
Metaxas covered Eric Liddell, Charles Colson, Pope John Paul II, William Wilberforce, Dietrick Bonhoffer, George Washington, and Jackie Robinson.  Really enjoyed this one.  It was a great overview of the lives of these 7 truly great men.  It inspired me to look deeper into the lives of a couple of these men.  We need more men like these 7 that are willing to live their convictions for Christ.
16.  Discipleshift, Jim Putman & Bobby Harrington
Encouraging book with good ideas & stories on making disciples

KillingJesus

17.  Killing Jesus, Bill O’Reilly
I’ve read Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Lincoln” and enjoyed them both.  Since I’d read and enjoyed those two and I am a pastor, it felt natural to read his “historical” account of the life of Jesus.  I was very surprised, but this was a very spiritual book for me.  I didn’t really expect this from Bill O’Reilly.  I highly recommend this book and it is my number one read for 2013.

ToLive

18.  To Live Is Christ, Matt Chandler
Matt Chandler wrote this book as a study in Philippians.  Since Philippians is already one of my favorite books of the Bible, I was ready to pour into this book.  It was very encouraging to me and I also shared much of it in my Men’s Small Group.
19.  Gods at War, Kyle Idleman 
Idleman helps us see how behind every sin that plagues us is a god that we have put before God.  His challenge is to let God have first place in our lives.
20.  Uncommon, Tony Dungy
Dungy mixes stories of coaching, football, and life in this challenge to live a live that is different.

DavidGoliath

21.  David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell says that he was moved to a closer relationship with Christ as a result of writing this book.  Usually a business writer, Gladwell definitely helped me see David and Goliath in a different light.  In the process, he encourages us not to think that Goliath always has the advantage in life.  “David” can still win the battle today!
22.  233 Key Insights, Kerry Bural
Great short “E-Book” that offers short insights and sayings that make alot of sense for business, ministry, and life.  They are all written in pithy, twitter style length.
23.  “Mansfields Book of Mighty Men,” Stephen Mansfield
This book was a challenge to become the man God calls us to be.
24.  Prayer :  Your Own Letter to God, Andre Dugger
Andre is a friend of mine and this book is an instruction manual to prayer and ways to talk to God.  It was great reading the book since I have a relationship with the author.  Andre is a true prayer warrior and he lives what he wrote.  If you’re a new believer and you want to learn how to pray, read this book by Andre.
25.  “Do Something: Make Your Life Count,” Miles McPherson
The Pastor of “The Rock” church in San Diego shares stories of real people that are doing things for God.  Challenges us to “DO SOMETHING!”
TippingPoint
26.  The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
I was encouraged to read this book since I enjoyed “David and Goliath” so much.  I found this book very good too.  Gladwell says that in most things there is a “tipping point” that leads to a certain outcome, which can be good or bad.  Of course in business and ministry, we want to find that “tipping point” that well lead us to reach others more effectively.  I recommend this one too.
27.  It’s Not About The Coffee, Howard Behar
One of the early movers and shakers at Starbucks tells us a few things about how the coffee shop became so successful.
28.  Limitless Life, Derwin Gray

LimitlessDerwin is a great writer and author.  In this book, he challenges us to live a “limitless life.”  Derwin says that many have “labels” that have been assigned to them, such as “addict,” “afraid,” “damaged goods,” or even “religious.”  Our labels can be a lie.  When we begin to see ourselves as God says that we are, we can live a limitless life.  He encourages us not to listen to the lie that the labels have said about us.  Good read!

29.  Totally Forgiving God, RT Kendall
I was excited to get into this one, as Kendall’s book “Total Forgiveness” is one of my all time favorite reads.  This book was not as strong as “Total Forgiveness”, but still worth the read.
30.  Faith and Doubt, John Ortberg
In typical Ortberg style, the author talks objectively about having faith and doubt.  Doubt is sometimes looked down upon in Christian circles, but Ortberg addresses it as a normal part of faith.  It’s a good explanation of what goes on in many hearts that they won’t speak out loud.  Ortberg says that Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith.  He says that the very nature of Faith requires a bit of uncertainty.
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My Favorites from 2013:
Killing Jesus, Bill O’Reilly

A friend mentioned that she wished she had a list of the best spiritual books.  There are so many good books to choose from but I thought I’d post the ones that have helped me the most thought the years.

Here goes:

“Experiencing God”, By Henry Blackaby  The Blackaby’s have written several books and they are all good.  “Experiencing God” is best if you can go through it with a group.  Believe it or not, when I teach it, I always use the Youth version.  My men’s group of 11 guys are loving it right now.

“Total Forgiveness”, by RT Kendall

GREAT BOOK that helps you walk through forgiving and understanding what forgiveness is AND what forgiveness is not.

“Crazy Love,” by Frances Chan   This book challenged me.  If you’ve grown complacent in your walk with Christ, this book will shake you up!

“Christian Atheist,” by Craig Groeschel  Craig says that a “Christian Atheist” says they believe in God but they live like He doesn’t exist.

“When God Doesn’t Make Sense,” by James Dobson  Sometimes we wonder why bad things happen to “good” people.  Dr. Dobson helped me walk through my doubts and wonderings about this several years ago.

“Not A Fan:  Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus”, by Kyle Idleman  This book challenges the “rich” in the world, and that includes you and me.

“Weird, Because Normal Isn’t Working,” by Craig Groeschel   Craig says that we should be weird in the way we look at our finances, relationships, money, careers, family, and every part of our lives.  Everyone else looks at them “normally” like the rest of the world and they’re a mess!  Be weird!

“The Pursuit of Holiness,” by Jerry Bridges  This is an oldie but a goodie.  I read it in college and it really taught me how God calls us to live a holy life.

“More Than  A Carpenter,” by Josh McDowell  This book explores the impact of Christ on the world.  Another one that I read in college that helped me stay the course!

This isn’t an exhaustive list.  These are just the ones that come to mind.  These aren’t just “good” books that I have read.  These books impacted my life as a Christ follower.

What books would you put on this list?

Books I Read In 2012

January 1, 2013

At the beginning of 2012, I set a personal goal to read at least 25 books.  I finished number 25 on December 31st.  lol  Some of these books I listened to via Audible.com and some I read in the traditional way.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed each one.

Here are my top 5 Favorites and then I’ll list the rest in no particular order:

1.  “Deep and Wide” by Andy Stanley  Andy talks about his mission and vision to reach those who are far from God.  He also talks about methods to do that.  I loved this book as it challenged me and also helped me realize that I’m not as crazy as I thought I was in my pursuit to reach others that don’t know Him!  lol

2.  “Making Vision Stick”, by Andy Stanley  Yes, I love Andy’s brain.  This book is so practical about sharing vision in the church and in business.

3.  “Through My Eyes,” by Tim Tebow  It’s great seeing Tim live out his faith & seeing his heart.  Makes me like him even more and I hate that since he’s a Gator.

4.  “Hearing God,” Henry Blackaby and “How To Hear From God,” by Joyce Myer   Ok.  I know this is two different books but both are very good at helping to learn how and when God speaks.

5.  “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson  Steve was a real knucklehead and a genius at the same time.  His life story is a very interesting read.

Honorable Mentions

“How to Kill 11 Million People,” by Andy Andrews  This is a very short book and no, I’m not thinking of going into the serial killer occupation.  It explains how Hitler killed the Jews without a revolt on their part.  He did it one believable lie at a time until it was too late for them to react.  GREAT READ!

“The Blessed Church”, by Robert Morris  This book tells the story of Gateway Church and how God has blessed it.  There are some great lessons to learn from their experience in building the church.

“5 Levels of Leadership”, by John Maxwell  It’s Maxwell.  If you want to grow in leadership, he’s the one you have to read!

“God’s Smuggler”, by Brother Andrew  and “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom  Great books about the lives of real people depending upon God.

Here’s the Rest and I recommend All Of Them

“Being George Washington,” by Glen Beck

“King Me,” by Steve Farrar

“Killing Lincoln,” by Bill O’Reilly

“Winning The Food Fight,” by Steve Williets

“Seal Team 6,” by Howard Wasdin

“American Son,” by Marco Rubio

“The Explicit Gospel,” by Matt Chandler

“One Minute After You Die,” by Erwin Lutzer

“Son of Hamas,” by Masab Yousef

“No Easy Day,” by Mark Owen

“Unleashed,” by Perry Noble

“This Ain’t No Practice Life,” by Micheal Burt

“The Leadership Pill,” by Ken Blanchard

Not A Fan

January 3, 2012

One of the most challenging books that I read this past year was “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman.  Many people in the United States agree with the Doobie Brothers that “Jesus is just alright.”  Most would even agree that they “believe” in Jesus.  Idleman proposes that Jesus has many “fans.”  The challenge is that Christ never wanted “fans” that simply believe.  He called for followers.

Here are some quotes from the book that I underlined & highlighted that hit close to home with me & a few comments from me in italics:

There is no way to follow Jesus without Him interfering with your life.

Most of us don’t mind making some minor changes in our lives but Jesus wants to turn our fives upside down.  Fans don’t mind a little touch up work, but Jesus wants a major renovation.

When we decide to “believe” in Jesus without making a commitment to follow, we are nothing more than fans.

In the Gospels, Jesus said, “Believe in me” about 5 times.  He said, “Follow me” about twenty times.

It’s not that a fan doesn’t want a relationship with Jesus.  They just want the relationship on their own terms. 

Luke 9:23:  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself daily, pick up his cross, and follow me.”

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The satirical magazine, “The Door,” suggested that couples living together share these vows:

“I John, take you Mary, to be my cohabitant, to have sex with, and to share bills with.

I’ll be around while things are good, but I probably won’t be if things get tough. As the saying goes, ‘When the going gets tough, seek greener pastures.’ After all, the grass frequently IS greener on the other side of the fence.

If you should get a cold, I’ll run to the drugstore for some medicine-but if you get sick to the point where you take more than a day or two off work, don’t count on me.

And forsaking many others, I will be more or less faithful to you for as long as it feels good to me.

If you should ever catch me screwing around on you, remember it doesn’t necessarily mean that I no longer care for you. I will still probably want to share bed and bills with you.

So help me!”

Idleman suggests that fans are offering these kind of vows to Jesus.  “I’ll follow you as long as things are good and you hold up your end of the deal.  I’ll follow you as long as you don’t ask too much of me.”

If we’re serious about following Jesus, we aren’t just “trying God” to see if it will work out.  We don’t have a plan B if God doesn’t come through.  We are laying our life down and agreeing to follow Jesus, regardless of the consequences.

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Fans want to follow Jesus on their own terms.  Barna surveyed a group in America that said that they “believe” in Jesus.  Of that group:

  • Only 23% also believed that sex outside of marriage was wrong
  • 13% agreed that getting drunk is a sin

Fans want to be included in the group that “believes” in Jesus, but they want to come to Him on their own terms.  Jesus never left open the option of selective commitment. 

Jesus makes it clear that following Him means taking up your cross and dying to yourself.

What are your thoughts about fan vs. follower?

I was asked to review the book, “Radical,” by David Platt on my blog.  I had heard that it was a very challenging and thought provoking book and that proved true.  The very subtitle of the book, “Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream,” suggests that the American Dream has taken my faith.  As I read the book, I realized that in some ways, I had come to desire the American Dream more than I had desired to really follow Jesus.

Platt says, “We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with”

For many Americans, Christianity is great as long as we can conform it into our own image of what it should be and make it fit into our lives.  The call of Christ, however, is a call to reshape our lives into what He calls us to be and live.  Some may call living the way the Bible tells us to live “radical”.  By today’s standards, living for Christ may be quite radical from what we see in most who claim to know Christ here in America.

Without admitting it, when we approach Jesus we often come with an attitude like, “Tell me what you have to say and then I’ll decide whether or not I like it.”  If we approach Jesus in that way, we will never hear him.  We need to approach Jesus saying “yes Lord” before we even know what it is that He wants from us.  Does that mean selling all we have and giving the money to the poor or going to Africa to serve in an orphanage?  It means saying “yes” no matter what he is telling us to do, even before He tells.

Sometimes we forget that He is Lord as we read Him our list of requests and go merrily on our way.  Truth is, He is the Master. We’re not.  Yes, he wants us to come to Him when we hurt, when we are in need, and when we need healing, but He wants us to come to him as Lord with thankful hearts,  He wants us to be willing to listen to Him and obey.  He wants us in the Bible so that He can speak to us and lead us.  We aren’t leading Him.  We’re supposed to let Him lead us.  It’s easy to forget.

Platt is pretty hard on the American Dream.  He reminds us that Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”  When we neglect the poor it shows where our hearts really are.  We are put here for a purpose and it is only for a small amount of time in light of eternity.  Let’s not live like this is the final destination.  It’s just a short “blip” on the map.  Let’s rearrange our lives or whatever He leads us to do to live a “radical” life for Him and not for ourselves.

Question:  What are your thoughts?