Books I Read in 2014

January 13, 2015

The last 4 or 5 years, I’ve set goals of reading 25-30 books each year.  This year I read 29 books.  This list includes books that I read in the traditional way, as well as those that I listened to audibly.  (www.Audible.com is awesome!)

The list is in the order that I read them.  My favorite from the 29 books were:  “12 Years a Slave”, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” “Jesus Is”, and “The Grave Robber.”  I’ve put a few notes below of what struck me about a few particular books.

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2014 Books
1.  12 Years A Slave, Soloman Northup  This was a long book and I never lost interest.  It made me aware and “feel” what it was like to be free and captured into slavery.  This story was also turned into a movie.
2url-5.   More Than A Carpenter, Josh McDowell  Great classic that I’ve read a few times.  If you want to know more about what stood out about Jesus, this is the book.  It’s also a great book to give to someone considering whether or not to follow Jesus.

3.  Bonhoeffer, Etic Metaxas
4.  Aha, Kyle Idleman
5.  Grace Based Parenting, Tim Kimmel
6.  Bait of Satan, John Bevere
7.  Seeking Allah. Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi:  Great account of a devout Muslim url-3who was seeking to know Allah but found Jesus in the process.  The author offers powerful apologetics of why he came to faith in Christ and also the cost he paid for doing so.
8.  Be Real, Rick Bezet
9.  The Last Days of Jesus, Bill O’Reilly
10.  No More Dragons, Jim Begren
11.  Phariseetomy, Peter Haas
12.  LifeTime Guarantee, Bill Gillham
13.  All In, Mark Batterson
14.  Jesus Is, Judah Smith
15.  Recovering Redemption , Matt Chandler
16.  God Less America, Todd Starnes:  Our country is getting farther and farther away from the God of most of our founding fathers.  In many ways, we’re moving to a country that is hostile towards the God of the Bible.  Todd Starnes shares many examples in this book.
17.  The End of Reason, Ravi Zachariahs
18.  The God First Life, Stovall Weems:   Good book on getting back to the basics of growing in Christ.  Reminded me of LOTS that I already knew but needed to be reminded of.
19.  Knowing God Intimately, Joyce Meyer
20.  Killing Patton, Bill OReilly
21.  Heavenly Man, Brother Yun:  I read two books in a row about the underground church in China.  Believers in Christ in China have paid a HUGE price for their faith.  This is a great book about commitment, persecution, and perseverance.
22.  God’s Double Agent, Bob Fu:  The second book that I read about the underground church in China.
23.  The Measure Of Our Succes, Shawn Lovejoy
24.  Stolen, Kristen Rosenblast:  Story of the author’s entrapment in the sex trade and how God rescued her from that life. 
25.  Ordering Your Private World, Gordon McDonald
26.  Gifted Hands, Ben Carson:  Inspiring story of Ben Carson, the surgeon who became famous for separating siamese twins.  His life wasn’t the easiest but he excelled against the odds and it looks like he will also be a candidate for President in the next election.
27.  Learning From Giants, John Maxwell:  Not my favorite Maxwell book.
28.  The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson:   One of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson’s url-4newest book is now one of my favorites.  He discusses how miracles aren’t just a thing of the past.  God still moves today in big and small miracles that point us to Christ.  Great read.
29.  Four Cups, Chris Hodges

Baby Light

December 24, 2014

“Gramps”

December 8, 2014

One of my favorite memories of my grandparents was when my grandfather and I played a trick on my grandmother.  This video tells that story!

Food God

November 18, 2014

If eating too much is ever an issue with you, check out this video:

Afraid

November 13, 2014

Someone asked me recently if I thought it was ok to drink alcohol.   While I wish the answer was a simple “yes” or “no”, I don’t think it’s quite that easy.

My personal opinion really isn’t that important, but what is important is what the Bible says about the subject.

Let’s get one thing out of the way quickly.  It is wrong to get drunk.  Ephesians 5:18 says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  If the purpose for drinking alcohol is to get a buzz, that’s a sin.

Alcohol

MEDICAL ISSUES

I had a doctor tell me once that a little red wine before bed would be good for my cholesterol and would help me sleep better.  The Apostle Paul seemed to agree with that doctor as he wrote 1 Timothy 5:23.  Paul said, Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.” 

For medical reasons, Paul seems to agree that it is ok and even encourages a nightly sip.   Incidentally, Paul is speaking in the context of a letter to Timothy.  Timothy was like a son to Paul, and Paul would have known about Timothy’s nagging stomach issues.

Jesus

What did Jesus think of alcohol?  Jesus’ first miracle is recorded in John 2.  He was at a wedding and the wine began to run out, which was a major taboo in that culture for a wedding.   Jesus’ mother approached Jesus, asking Him to help the situation.  Jesus, it seems almost reluctantly because His “time had not come” yet, turned water into wine.  Jesus seemed to concur that in that culture, it was permissible to drink wine.

So…  it seems that in that culture, a little brewsky with your pizza was allowable.

IT STILL MAY NOT BE OK

Huh?  It seems like Paul and Jesus are in agreement!  The King of Bud is at hand!  So why am I telling you that it STILL may not be ok to drink alcohol??

Let’s look at one more passage of Scripture.

In Biblical days, false idols were everywhere and animals were often sacrificed to those idols.   Once the animal was sacrificed, the caretakers of these idols opened up what amounted to butcher shops where people could buy the meat from the animals that were sacrificed.  It was good meat at a good price.  I’m sure filet mignon tastes good even if it was sacrificed to the false god, Baal.  Bring on the A-1!

But wait!  As those who formerly sacrificed to the false idols found the true God and became Christians, their consciences would not allow them to eat the meat that had been sacrificed to those idols.

Paul basically said in 1 Corinthians 8 that there really wasn’t anything wrong with eating the meat that was sacrificed to those idols because there is only one God.  HOWEVER… and this is a BIG HOWEVER….  If his eating this meat cause someone to stumble or be confused in their faith because of their background, Paul said that he would pass on the “Idol Burgers.”  He felt that it just wasn’t worth taking the chance of harming someone’s faith.

Does Eddie Drink Alcohol Then?

Though I don’t throw stones at someone for drinking a brewsky with their pizza, especially Unknownwith the above verses in mind, you won’t find me with a Coors in my hand.

I’ve lived my life with the goal of reflecting Christ to others around me.  Even though it’s not the right thing to do, some young believers jump to the wrong conclusions when they see someone drinking a beer.  I’ve witnessed it, though I have disagreed, it happens.

Though I do believe that our culture is changing to a more positive tolerance towards alcohol, I still am not willing to take the chance that a Bud Light in my hand would discourage someone in their walk with Christ.

I also don’t want “Eddie drinks and he follows Christ” to be the reason that someone thought it was ok to drink alcohol.  There is always a chance that someone could drink as a result of my influence and they could be led into sin by abusing it.  Sometimes alcohol can be a “slippery slope.”

I’m not saying that drinking alcohol is a sin, but I don’t believe the right question is “How close to sin can I get without sinning?”  I think the right question for believers is “How close to God can I get?”

I would encourage you to weigh all of the Scripture about alcohol, take the cultures into account, and ask God if it is ok for you to drink.  I really can’t or won’t answer that question for you.  I have quite a few friends that I respect that choose the brew.  I encourage everyone to make their own decision but to really seek God, the Scriptures, and pray about it.

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

When God Removes His Mask

December 25, 2013

Unknown-1For centuries before he was born, mankind wondered what God looked like.  On this night, God took off His mask and showed us what He looked like in the form of the Christ child.

Jesus was in heaven.  He didn’t have to come from heaven to us but he loved us enough to do that.
If I were Jesus, I wouldn’t want to leave heaven.  I would be content there with angels singing and worshipping me.  Guess it’s a good thing I’m not Jesus.  (Sometimes I don’t want to be inconvenienced to help someone, until I think of how Jesus was inconvenienced for me.)
If I were God, I wouldn’t want to send my Son down here to earth to be treated the way that He was treated.  He left heaven and couldn’t even get a hotel room to be born into.  He had to come into this dark world in a BARN!
That’s not the way a King should be treated.  He left heaven and came to a dark world that didn’t appreciate His sacrifice at all.  He left heaven, knowing it would lead to the most horrible death ever…. crucifixion, but He came anyway.
What brought the baby from heaven?  He came because He loves you.
Why did God send his son?  I wouldn’t send any of my three sons to die for any of you.  (Though on some days I might be wiling to spare one for you to make a slave or something, depending upon what they’ve done that day- but that’s another blog post.)
The truth is, God sent His only Son to die a horrible death because He knew it was the only way to restore a relationship with you.  He loves you.
The baby Jesus is the perfect picture of what God looks like.  Giving to us EVERYTHING when it makes no sense.  Sparing His own Son for His enemies (us).
A few years ago I went to Mammoth Cave.  The guide led us into a HUGE room, told us to stand still, and he cut off the lights.  The place went so dark that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  I’ve never seen it that dark before.  After a few minutes, he lit a match.  It seemed like it lit the whole place, it was so bright.  That one small match cut through the darkest dark imaginable.
Jesus came into a world as a baby.  The world was so dark, so separated from God by sin, that we had no hope.  Yet, the small flame in the form of the Christ Child gives us hope and life in a world that is hopelessly dark without the Light!
In John 8:12, Jesus said this:
“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
We crucified the Son, and we put the light in a tomb, but the light didn’t stay in the grave.
If it had, we wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas.
  • Death couldn’t hold the light that came on Christmas.
  • Satan couldn’t put out the light that came on Christmas.
  • Demons thought they had put an end to the baby’s mission but they were wrong.
  • The light had come into the world.
The baby Jesus, the light, came on Christmas and was born into a manger.  He grew up, showed us that He was the light by His love, was crucifed, and the grave couldn’t hold the light.
Jesus was the first Christmas gift and the best gift we could ever get.  God removed the mask of his nature, love, personality, and compassion when Light came into the darkness in the form of a baby.  Merry Christmas!  The LIGHT has come!

I thought she pretty much nailed my thoughts too.

PrayEatCreate

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This happened at a perfect time in my life. Because of an internal battle I was recently having with myself, I am now properly and confidently equipped to take my stance in this battle. For the past several days I’ve been asking myself this: “As a Christian, I know homosexuality is against my faith as are several other lifestyle choices. How do I show love to the people whose lifestyle I disagree with?”

I recently found my answer, which lies in this phrase: “Judge the sin, not the sinner. ”

I love Duck Dynasty. I love the Robertsons, I love the family values they encourage and I love the God that they glorify. It makes me so happy to see their television show booming and every time I see a product in a store that has been Robertson-styled (nail files, nail polish, bedroom slippers, throws, bedding, hair bows, sleepwear, games…

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I am SO thankful to be able to share this post.  A year ago today, we weren’t sure if it would be possible.  Today, Chloe writes about her experience, herself.  God is good.  Here is Chloe in her own words.
Here are a couple of the posts from a year ago:
-Eddie
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FROM CHLOE:
It was one year ago today that I was on my way home with my sister when we hydroplaned and hit another car head on. It’s been a weird year. In some ways the longest year of my life and in some ways the shortest. In some ways a complete tragedy and in some ways completely beautiful. I could write a book about everything that’s happened in the past 12 months, but I guess I’ll start with a really long Facebook post.In the past year I have :
Survived 13 surgeries. Accepted Vanderbilt medical center as a second home. Had my foot shattered in to what my surgeon said looked like a crumbled ritz cracker. Looked down and saw my snapped ankle sticking through my foot. Had stitches in 8 places. Broke 3 ribs. Had a concussion. Had a blood transfusion. Lost 4 teeth. Broke my jaw in 5 places. Had my mouth wired shut for 7 weeks and didn’t eat anything but ensure and chicken broth for 2 months. Stayed at a different hospital than my sister and for a week was convinced that I had killed her and no one would tell me. Had to get shots in my tummy every day for a month. Laid down unable to move for 3 months. Had an open wound for almost 5 months. Got told that they may have to amputate my foot. Got told there was a one in a million chance that I would ever be able to dance like I used to. Had a machine hooked up to me for 4 months. Had my bone clipped while I was awake. Had a sponge pulled out of my body 43 times. Felt pain that I never knew existed-pain that actually makes you black out. Taught dance from a wheelchair. Was in a wheelchair for 7 months. Didn’t leave the house without medical equipment for 10 months. Have a couple more surgeries still to come. Haven’t had a single day where I’m not in pain. Felt my body dying and fought to hang on.

Chloe

In the past year I have:
Seen God and felt a peace that I could never explain. Been AMAZED by the love of people around me. Realized the value of life. Realized how strong I am when I have to be. Found a new respect for doctors and nurses. Become so much closer to my family. Realized how much my parents love me. Never been so thankful for my sister who is my best friend. Learned to appreciate the little things- being able to go outside or eat your favorite food. Found a new compassion for people who have it so much worse than me and a need to help them. Realized how much I love my job- though I may not be able to dance like I used to I can still share what I love with little ones who make me smile. Realized how lucky I am to be with my Matthew. I thought I loved him before, but this year showed me we can get through anything together and now I know how to love in a way I didn’t know how before. This year showed me he will be the best husband. I think the biggest thing I’ve realized this year is the impact of prayer. I now have a real relationship with God. A year ago today I promised God if I could have a second chance then I would live my life for Him, and that promise has saved me in so many ways.

Chloe:Mat
(Chloe and Matthew in July)
As terrible as it sounds, I think everyone at some point has the thought,” I wonder who would care if I died”, and in a way I got to find that out this year. I was so surprised. I wasn’t giving people enough credit. I can never ever express how much every prayer, every message, every card has meant to me. I love you all so much. You never know what tomorrow holds. I wasn’t speeding, I wasn’t texting. Something happened that I couldn’t control. As cliche as it sounds, I now get what it means to live like it’s your last day on earth. I’m forever thankful and forever changed. I can’t wait for the rest of my life. On to the next year.