Category Archives: Books

My Top Ten for 2011

Each of us have our different tastes in music, books and movies, but most of us enjoy music and books and or movies.  I might read a book that I find particularly stirring or one that impacts me and my wife will think it’s just “okay.” So, your list might match mine or be completely different.  In fact, if you have a book, CD or movie that helped move you forward in your journey with Christ during the previous year, feel free to share it in the comments section.  I might just add it to my own list of things to read, watch and listen to in 2012.  My list below is not ranked in any particular order.  That is not my intention. They are simply the top ten books and recordings that have fueled my fire for Christ during the last year.  And maybe a movie or two. Anyway, here goes…

  1. Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy, by Eric Metaxas – This is a huge book about a great man.  I took my time with it and read it over the course of two months.  If you enjoys biographies or are inspired by the lives of great Christians, this is a must read! I loved this book and passed it on to a friend who passed it on to another friend.
  2. Ghosts Upon the Earth – Gungor – I don’t really know how to define Gungor and I think the band would be very proud of that.  This is a very talented, creative, innovative group of musicians and worshipers.  As a worship pastor, looking for more songs to help us say all that we need to say to God, most of Gungors songs are attainable for congregations’ singing, but it was unmistakable to me that worship was taking place during their concert at NWLC last summer.  It’s difficult to put my finger why they’re so appealing to me, but I can say that my kids and I can’t get enough of Gungor and Ghosts Upon the Earth displays everything we like about the band Gungor. Trans-Siberian Orchestra meets Sigur Rós and Queen – minus a measure of flamboyancy.
  3. Jesus Manifesto, by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet – I read this book toward the beginning of last year with my brother.  We live in different states, but called each other to discuss what we were reading.  Reading this sparked a revival in my own heart.  I didn’t even realize that I was in need of a revival, but after years of working in a church, I’d begun to subconsciously convince myself that I had to live this Christ life out of sheer will.  I would have never said that out loud or even believe that I believed it, but my inner thoughts were telling me a different story.
  4. 10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman – Last summer I attended the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City, KS and when Matt Redman lead one of the evening worship times, his recording 10,000 reasons became my top favorite worship album of the year.  We have already incorporated 2 of the songs and I suspect more are to come.  The two songs we sing as a congregation are 10,000 Reasons and Holy.
  5. Bark of the Bog Owl, by Johnathan Rogers – In 2011 I began following the blog at rabbitroom.com.  It’s a community of creatives – song writers, authors, musicians, theologians, artists, etc.  I encourage you to check it.  On to my point… one of the contributors to that site is the author, Johnathan Rogers.  The Bark of the Bog Owl is the first book in the Wilderking trilogy and takes the reader into world of swamps, gators and of course the mysterious Feechie folk.  Rogers is a wonderful writer and, though this book is more of a young adult fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  6. The Reckoning – NEEDTOBREATHE – For me it seemed like this was a step back from the groups previous offering – Outsiders – at least on my initial enjoyment level.  But I found that I couldn’t stop listening to it.  I’m still trying to figure out the deeper meaning behind some of the lyrics, but even if I don’t pick up on them, the music is fantastic!
  7. The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge – An older book that I finally got around to reading.  I can’t express enough that I wish I had read this book when I first purchased it several years ago.  I think I’d be a better dad to my sons.  I hope that I can make up for some of the time I’ve lost, know that many of the things Eldredge pointed out have turned a switch on in my brain.  If you have sons, or just need to understand some of the “why questions” on your journey as a man, then I encourage you to read this book.
  8. Over The Edge by Brandilyn Collins – Okay, I admit that I might be rounding up on this one, but let me explain.  I don’t normally read murder mysteries or suspense, but another book I read encouraged me to read the some of the same authors my wife chooses so… I actually like the book and finished it in maybe two days.  My wife and daughter had been reading a lot of Brandilyn Collins recently so I thought I would join them.  This is in my top ten to say – I’m glad I did – and it really is a good book for it’s genre.
  9. The King’s Speech – This was such a great movie.  I didn’t catch it in theaters when it came out, so I’m a little behind, but my wife and I rented it this year and found it to be a very compelling story.  Reminds me of another who tried to use his stammering as an excuse not to serve.  Yes, I’m talking about you, Moses.  For the rest of us, we have no excuses to offer God when He calls us.
  10. Captain America – The First Avenger – A shout out to my favorite childhood super hero! There were certainly better pieces of cinema in 2011 and certainly more inspiring movies.  I willingly concede.  But I was excited to finally see my favorite super hero on the big screen.

Well, that’s it – nothing too spectacular to an outsider, but to me, this was a big part of my journey over the last year and includes the things I really enjoyed.  I’d love to hear about the books/albums/movies you enjoyed last year.  Please share your comments.

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Bonhoeffer

Well, I finally finished reading Bonhoeffer. It is a long book, but it didn’t feel long. Eric Metaxas did a wonderful job of giving it flow and of course, Bonhoeffer’s life itself kept me turning the pages. I was equally enlightened and challenged in my faith and my call to interact with my world around me, as a believer.
I had known of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for a long time, but only by name and that he had something to do with standing strong, for Christ, in the face of the Third Reich. What I did not know or understand was the way he first stood for Christ within the church. Bonhoeffer was indeed a prophet warning the church against the influence of the evil one who was using the new German government for a direct attack on the church and on God’s chosen people.

Bonhoeffer stood up for the church against the attacks on the Bible. He stood for the Jews as they were first banned from the German church, as they were dismissed from positions of leadership in Germany and as they were ultimately sentenced to genocide. Bonhoeffer was a warrior of Biblical proportions not unlike, Joshua or Caleb, Gideon or David, as he participated in the dangerous plot to assassinate Hitler.

If you’ve never read a biography of a faithful Christ follower, you should. I’ve only read a handful of biographies, but I haven’t regretted the time spent with any of them. And Bonhoeffer has moved to the top of that list!

You Should Read This


Andrew Peterson has written a really nice post regarding the Harry Potter saga. I’m linking it for you herebecause I want to encourage you to read it. I’ll look for you comments on his post if you chose to join the conversation.


Next Read – Bonhoeffer

https://i2.wp.com/1.bp.blogspot.com/_yOXRv9Nsgv0/S8pbO7SlbwI/AAAAAAAAAnY/tfmCshNq4tM/s1600/_225_350_Book.172.cover.jpg
Finally finished JESUS MANIFESTO and it was worth taking my time. So full of words that point the soul in the direction of Jesus Christ. As a worship leader, I long to point to Jesus week after week – more so now, after reading this book, than ever.
Interesting that in this book were several great quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve also read some quotes from him, which people have posted on twitter. It’s interesting because I had already decided that the next book I would read would be BONHOEFFER – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas.
You readers and/or movie goers may remember the story of William Wilberforce and the Movie – Amazing Grace, several years back. Metaxas first crack at a biography was Wilberforce and in his second effort he has picked a great man of God to study. I can’t wait to get started!
It’s going to take time to get through the 542 pages, but I imagine Bonhoeffer’s unique life at the heart of the empire of evil that was Nazi Germany would take time to tell. If you’ve read this book or any by Metaxas post in the comments and encourage me and others to enjoy BONHOEFFER – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. If you haven’t, pick it up and start reading with me.

 

I think it was Billy Graham who said that every believer should always be reading 3 books – The Bible, The Hymnal, and the Biography of a Christ Follower.

Added 5/3/11 I read this morning that Bonhoeffer just won the Overall 2011 book of the year from ECPA.


Is Jesus Center?

I’ve really been enjoying this book over the last month. Some terrific theology can be found in this book which takes deliberate steps to restate Christ as the center of our faith. While reading this book, I have been very encouraged and affirmed, as I’m reminded of who I am “In Christ.” I remember being told as I grew up in the church that, because of Christ, God no longer sees my faults and shortcomings when He looks at me. Instead, He see the righteousness of His Son, Jesus.Jesus Manifesto also does a great job of glorifying Jesus as the “Firstborn of all creation.” It reminds us that the whole of Scripture points to Jesus, just as Jesus says to the pharisees in John 5. Jesus, addressing the pharisees in John 5 says these words.

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.”

Reading Jesus Manifesto has reinforced this lesson; that the purpose for which we study the Word is to know Jesus. Sometimes in my life I have been guilty of looking to the Bible for a quick fix or a “How To.” But the Bible is not a “self help” book, it is in fact quite the opposite, a “deny self” book.

As of today, I’m 2/3 of the way through this book, but I have read enough that I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to put Jesus back at the center of their world.


If the Hood fits!

A couple years ago I read the trilogy “King Raven” by Stephen R. Lawhead. I was expecting a simple retelling of the old Robin Hood stories told so many times by Disney and others. What I found instead was a great work of fiction and historical fantasy that made me wish I could be watching this on the big screen in epic form like “Lord of the Rings.” It was really that good! Now my eldest son is reading this and loves it just as much.
If you like fiction, fantasy and/robin hood, you really should get a hold of this book. If you do, enjoy the journey and let me know when you get back and let me know what you think in the comments below.