100 Books in a year (round 3) 

I love to read. I’m pretty busy and focused on ministry and other projects but I am able to knock out about 2 non-fiction books a week. Usually I’m reading at various points in a half dozen different books but end up finishing a few books each week. 

I have done this and recorded the journey a couple of times here on the blog and so I thought it would be fun to do again. I’ll create a page near the end of September to mark a definitive starting and ending point. I’ll post the titles of the books I’ve read and thier page count as well as a simple star system (1-5). To let you know what I thought of the book. If I post a review on here I’ll share the link. 

Many of the books I read are “foils” in that I purposefully read books from an opposing view point. If I post on one of these books I will simply put the word “foil” in parenthesis beside it so you will know that I don’t fully believe or endorse that book. Regardless of if I agree with the author, I will still rate the book on the star system according to the quality of writing and the quality of arguments… So a “foil” book might get a 5 star rating if the author took on the actual arguments on an issue instead of raising and creating “straw men” arguments or diverting our attention from the real issue.

At this time my interests are pretty heavy in theology, philosophy, American history, business, economics, leadership, parenting, and obviously Christianity. I do read a little fiction but I do prefer non-fiction.

What books would you recommend for the list? 

101 Books in a Year

A couple of years ago I set out on an ambitious adventure to read 100 books in one year. I exceeded my page goal but came up about 18 books shy by the dead-line. At the time I was finishing up my master’s degree. This year I am unencumbered by school work (I’m not writing papers) and I wanted to challenge myself to again read 100 books in a year.

101 Books? You may be thinking, “Hey the title says 101 books?” I know. In addition to reading 100 regular books I want to continue my tradition of reading the Bible all the way through at least once this year. (The Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, but for my purposes here I’ll count it as one). At the bottom of my book list I’ll keep a tab of the 66 books of the Bible and how many times I’ve read each book since the start date (some shorter books I’ll have read dozens of times before the end of the year… For example I read the book of James about 46 times this summer). This is the first time I’ve measured my scripture reading against my other reading.

What kind of books? I’ll be reading all sorts of books according to my interests. I’ve decided this year to limit my fiction intake and make an intentional shift to read more science, nature, history, business, and economics books in addition to a heavy lean towards theology.

Why November? Obviously starting in November may seem a bit out of the norm, but in analyzing my reading patterns I came to realize that I read more when the daylight hours are shorter. I hope to pass the 50 book mark in March and provide myself with a comfortable lead going into summer.

Why Blog about it? I wanted to blog about it for two reasons. One, for accountability. I want others to know my goals and feel some pressure to meet them. The second reason is to provide a forum for interaction. I’m hoping you’ll provide me with solid leads on good books, encouragement and a challenge (I know some of you read incredibly more than 100 books a year).

What have you read so far? I’ll be keeping a list of books I’m reading, have read, and the scripture I’ve read on the page marked 101 books (current). I’ll be updating it weekly. Feel free to provide your comments and recommendations. I’m looking forward to the journey.

5 Benefits of a Blogging Pastor

I was first introduced to the bold new concept of a blogging pastor by the book “The Blogging Church.” Much has transpired since that time, but one thing remains the same: Blogging can be an effective tool for pastors and churches if used wisely. I have a few years of blogging experience under my belt and have enjoyed reading the blogs that my Pastor and others have produced. More recently I took somewhat of a long blogging vacation (more than a year on this blog) and I noticed that I was still constantly referring people to my blog posts (not for vanity sake, but because I thought what I posted would be truly helpful them). I composed this list of five benefits of a blogging pastor not only as a reflection on how I use my blog and other bloggers have influenced me, but also as a reminder to keep blogging for the sake of those I shepherd as well as those whom I have never met.

To Help Your People Facing a Cultural Issue. Our culture is moving and changing at a rapid pace. Often times our folks have had a week at the water cooler to discuss issues before they ever walk in the door on Sunday (and that’s just your regular attendees). Many are struggling to figure out where to embrace and where to challenge culture. It’s easy to be right on an issue, but wrong on an approach. Having a blog can be a great outlet for pastors to address cultural issues from a biblical perspective. Not just being right on the issue, but also seeking to demonstrate a godly approach. I was deeply impressed and somewhat glad when my pastor posted his thoughts on issues pertaining to the Boy Scouts of America this past year. Though I don’t yet have a Boy Scout, I know his insights were helpful to those trying to form an intelligent opinion about the issues at stake.

Your Blog is Available When You Aren’t. Pastors are busy people. Much busier than most people would expect (but that’s another post). The more people that you have a charge over the harder it can be to have a conversation about important topics or issues. Having a blog is like having another preaching post. It helps put you in front of people (even when you can’t be… like at 3AM in the morning). It also provides a great place to send people who are dealing with issue. “I blogged about that last year, check out the article I wrote and then let’s sit down and talk about it over coffee.”

Share Resources with Your Congregation. Having a blog allows you to share resources with your congregation. Whether you are sharing about a good book, blogging on a cultural issue, or just sharing links to resources and posts by other authors, a blog can be a great place to house those referrals. For example if you are speaking on spiritual gifts, you can link to several other articles or spiritual gifts surveys or if you are challenging people to pray for the nations, you can link to several mission sights. Even if you write a blog post quoting from other sights and link to them, you are broadening the horizon of those who follow your blog and giving them resources they might not otherwise have had.

Deal With Issues or Questions that May be Under the Surface. Often times a pastor is aware of issues that lurk in the shadows but may have a difficult time finding the proper forum to address it. A blog allows a pastor to begin a dialogue that can lead to more personal discussion offline. I’ve found that many of my posts dealing with various issues from pornography to leading a family devotional time have allowed folks to talk more freely about issues or concerns they have offline.  Quite often I’ve heard the words, “I saw on your blog the other day…”

To Engage with A Variety of People. One of the neat things that hosting a blog has done for me is to allow me to see things from outside my box. What I mean is that I get the benefit of hearing from atheists, Muslims, people living in different cultures, places, etc. When they are generous enough to leave a comment or question on my blog I am better informed on how they perceive what I write. Opening up the conversation to those who are outside of my worldview not only tests the integrity of my worldview but also provides a unique opportunity to engage in a conversation over issues that are too often just left to insiders.

Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive. What are some of the other benefits of a blogging pastor that you have noticed? If you’re a pastor and have a blog, I’d love to check it out. Please feel free to share a link in the comments (or if your pastor has a pretty great blog, share his blog address in the comments).

Here are some links to the pastor friends that I follow:

Chris Aiken

Gerald Kirby

I’m Back!

Hey world,

After a long vacation, a short blogging experiment over at JonathanHillOnline.com, and heavy time investments in other areas… I’m back. Stay tuned for some newer content starting next week!

The focus will still be on family, reading and ministry. Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll update my reading list but in the mean time I thought it would be great to hear from you.

What have you been reading?

Do you blog anywhere?

(Share a link in the comments section and I’ll check it out)


Bad Start, Strong Finish: What Matters Most When It Comes to Goals & Resolutions

I remember seeing this movie once where a man is running in a heat to make the olympic team. Somewhere along the way he gets tripped up and falls down. As a viewer you take in the agony of the moment. All of the hopes he had for winning or even placing in the race are dashed to pieces. Even if he gets up, everyone is so far ahead that he will never make it. His dream for thy olympics is over… Or so you think.

You see it’s not how you start or even how you run that determines success in a race. It’s how you finish.  Races are peculiar that way. You can have a great start, great form and finish last.  You can also have a rough start, even fall down along the way, but still finish well.

I guess that is the point of this post. You made some New Year’s resolutions and right about now you have already fallen off the wagon or at least your feeling the temptation to quit.  Breaking into a new routine is harder than you thought is would be.  You’ve tasted failure and now you’re ready to give up.

Don’t believe that you must be a failure.  You had a bad start.  Get over it, get up and finish. Nobody cares that you’ve fallen except that little voice in your head and people who have already given up themselves. Finish the race.  The year isn’t over, It’s really just started, you have plenty of time to make up lost ground.

Oh yeah… and that guy who fell down. He got back up and won the heat.  Check out the clip below from the movie “Chariots of Fire.”

Read the New Testament in 90 Days!

I’ve been inspired by my friend and pastor Chris Aiken to read through the New Testament during the first 90 days of 2012.  We will be reading three chapters of Scripture a day and posting our comments on our respective blogs. I will be posting over at NewTestament90.wordpress.com instead of here in order to appeal to different audiences. That being said, feel free to cruise on over and subscribe to follow at NewTestment90.wordpress.com if you are interested.   Chris will be posting on his blog over at chrisaiken.wordpress.comI’ll be limiting my posts to 300 words or less to ensure that each day’s posting is brief. Jump in, comment about the scripture passage, questions, etc. Feel free to join in with the challenge even if you don’t come from a Christian background.  Honest skeptics and people from other faith perspectives are welcome. I will be writing from a Christian background.  However, I will instill a stipulation that all comments should be in good taste (you have the right to disagree with my opinion or another commentator, however you are expected to express your views in polite terms… more on this later).

If you plan on joining in and blogging along (and I hope you will), please be sure to comment below and I’ll include a link to your blog on the side bar over at newtestament90.wordpress.com Please be patient over the next few days as I get everything established there.

I’ll be publishing my first comments later tonight on John 1-3 and should be caught up by Tuesday morning January 3rd.