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? 

How Anyone Can Read Two Books in One Week Without Adjusting Their Schedule

There are lots of good books out there and it can be difficult to find time to read. It can be especially challenging if you are a student and your plate is already loaded with assigned reading. Great books get published every month and it is easy to fall behind.

2 books a week

I found a great way to increase my reading volume to about two books a week without making any major adjustments to my schedule. I opted to use the time I was already doing something else to read. At first I took a book to the gym, but it was incredibly difficult to read while I was bouncing up and down on the treadmill.

Finally I found that the kindle app on my i-phone could read out loud to me while I read along with the screen. This worked great and It wasn’t as distracting as trying to read a regular paper book. With the Kindle app you are also able to highlight text, post to FB, send tweets, etc. I usually knock out an extra book per week via the kindle app on my iphone, the great thing is that it syncs across all my devices and even into the cloud so I can go back and see what I’ve highlighted.

I’ve used this method to read source books for a few of the papers I wrote for my masters degree. The best thing is that the kindle app is FREE on most smartphones, tablets, etc. and books are generally cheaper than buying in print.

Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

I also found audible, a book service that has audio books for reasonable prices for audio books. I like audible because someone is reading to you and the flow of the text sounds more natural. Of course the trade off is that you are listening to a book rather than reading it, but it’s still a great way to get a book in.

I grew up listening to books on tape when our family would take long drives in the car and so it wasn’t a big adjustment to sync with my phone and listen to a book while driving to and from work. Audible is a great resource for reading fiction or books that you don’t need for academic purposes. Audible always seems to be running deals for new members so if you’ve never subscribed to the service before you can usually get one or two free books out of the deal.
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Of course there are other ways that I have streamlined my schedule to include more time to read. You can catch some of those ideas and tips over at my blog article entitled: If you Want to Be a Leader You Need to Be a Reader

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Philippians 4:10-13 (Devotional Thought)

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13 ESV)

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” is perhaps one of the most misquoted verses of all time. I have to confess that as a young athlete I thought this verse was awesome because I thought that quoting it before I tried to make my free-throw shots in basketball would somehow help me become a better player.

The Apostle Paul is actually talking about Continue reading “Philippians 4:10-13 (Devotional Thought)”

Philippians 1:27-30 (Devotional Thought)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:27-30 ESV)

“Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel,” have you ever thought through this statement? Have you ever pondered what it means to live worthy? It’s not like we could pay Jesus for what he has done for us. We could never make up for our sin! This verse isn’t asking us to do that, but Paul is commanding us to move forward in the power of the gospel!

I once heard a story about identical twin brothers. As they grew into adulthood they took two very different paths. One was a very moral, upstanding man the other became a drunk, was caught up in illegal gambling, and would often get in fights. One night the less moral brother got into a fight over a gambling debt and killed a man. He didn’t know what to do so he ran to his brothers house in the middle of the night.

“Brother, Brother, what do I do? I killed a man!” By now they could hear the police sirens in the distance and knew that they must be coming for the murderer. The good brother quickly insisted that they change clothes. “Here put on my clothes and I’ll wear your blood stained garments.” The murder sobbed and said, “No, their must be some other way!”

The good brother insisted that they change and soon the good brother was wearing the murders clothing complete with blood stains and the murderer found himself in a nice white shirt and slacks. Just before the police entered the house and began to take away the good brother and the murderer spoke up, “What do I do now?”

“Live like the man whose clothes you wear.” And from that day on he became someone different. He was often tempted to settle into old habits and go back to a lifestyle that he was familiar with, but he reached down and would feel the buttons on his shirt and remember, “I am someone different now.”

We were once guilty of great sin before a holy and righteous God. Jesus paid for our sin by his death on the cross and credited us with his righteousness so that not only are our sins not counted against us, but his goodness is counted for us. Sometimes when we are tempted to sin, we need to remind ourselves that we are different than we once were. The gospel gives us power to live every day different than we were before Christ. The gospel gives us boldness. We used to care what people think but now we care more about what God thinks. It doesn’t mean that at times we won’t be tempted, but the ability to resist the temptation comes from trusting that Jesus is enough. We need to be reminded of the gospel everyday because the gospel is important everyday.

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Philippians 1:22-26 (Devotional Thought)

If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:22-26 ESV)

The Apostle Paul is in pain. He’s been beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead, and mistreated by people like the jailer in Philippi more than once. For Paul, death means that he’ll get to see Jesus face to face in a good way, and to keep on living means that someone else will punch him, hurt him, and make him suffer. He has a preference. He’d rather be with Jesus.

But you don’t become an Apostle by putting your needs, your wants, your desires at the head of the line. Paul has to ask himself a serious question: What is better for the church? What is better for those people who have heard the gospel and believed because of his testimony? What is better for them?

This is what maturity looks like: It’s when you put the needs of others ahead of your own. I experienced it when I got married. I experienced it when I had children and I’ve experienced it as a leader in the local church. This is how the gospel transforms your life. You no longer live as if you are the most important thing in the universe. You live around the reality that Jesus is the most important thing in the universe and you do your best to bring other people into a right relationship with Him.

I’m a pastor and so I often hear people say things like “I’m not getting fed at my church” or in youth ministry someone younger will say that they feel like they belong with the more “mature” group. This kind of thinking isn’t mature. It’s actually babyish. Sorry to be blunt but adults don’t cry to get fed, babies do. Real maturity is looking out for the needs of those around you not abandoning people because you found a group that meets your intellectual needs. When you shift towards putting what you think your needs are at the center of everything, you’ve lost sight of what’s really important.

One of the dangers of immaturity is that we can think we know what’s best, when we really don’t. One time my son had a pair of scissors he had gotten off the table and he went crazy opening and closing them. I immediately told him to give me the scissors. He insisted that he knew what he was doing and before I could stop him he ended up cutting himself under the eye. His immaturity gave him confidence to do something that ultimately was not good for him.

Sometimes what WE need most is to put the needs of others ahead of our own and in doing so we fulfill God’s plan for US and we are used by God to minister to others.

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Philippians 1:15-18a (Devotional Thought)

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18a ESV)

Not everyone was rejoicing with Paul. Some people saw Paul’s being in prison as an opportunity to talk bad about him. Perhaps they would have done things differently. Perhaps they thought he was being too bold or brash. You expect the bad guys to say bad things about you, but these people were Christians!  How would you feel if Christian people were saying mean things about you?

Paul reveals that their motives weren’t exactly pure. They were envious and they wanted the recognition that he got for leading people to Jesus and planting churches. So they preached Christ but they did so in such a way as to drag Paul’s name through the mud. They got the gospel right, but they got Paul wrong. They actually took some kind of weird pleasure in causing Paul pain.

Yet, even in the midst of this harsh judgment from Christian brothers Paul finds a way to praise God. He doesn’t focus on himself but rather what is happening with the gospel. Sure there are people out there talking him down, but are they talking Jesus up? That’s what Paul wants to know. He doesn’t care why they preach as long as what they preach is truth about Jesus.

This Jesus first, Paul second attitude allows him to see the good in people who have said some mean things about him. He does not get bogged down in personal attacks. He does not write to the Philippians telling them that this person is a jerk because they said mean stuff about him. He simply says don’t worry, as long as they are preaching the gospel God is glorified.

Sometimes we get this picture in our mind that if we could just go back to the New Testament church where everything was perfect, life would be better. However, even in the first churches people weren’t prefect. Many of them did great things for God while holding on to sins like envy and rivalry with God ordained leaders like the Apostle Paul. It’s not that God looks lightly at this, but that God used them despite their sin. Paul chose to look at this situation and rather than take personal offense, he put a priority on the gospel. He chose to see how God could use even this bad situation for something great like telling the world about Jesus.

We live in a day and age where it is too easy to get offended over the slightest thing. The gospel is greater than our personal feelings. Many times we get offended because we put ourselves ahead of God or ahead of the gospel. Paul reminds us that when we put the gospel first, personal attacks and criticisms don’t sting as much.

Criticism always stings. It stings so bad that sometimes we are just afraid of what people ‘might’ say. Ask God to give you courage today to put the gospel first no matter what people say or might say about you personally.

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The Donkey Who Carried a King (Children’s Book Review)

the donkeyThe Donkey Who Carried a King written by R. C. Sproul and Illustrated by Chuck Groenink is a fantastic story for children and parents alike.  I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading it again and again to my son and daughter.  Dr. Sproul does a great job of taking something that kids are familiar with (like being picked last for a game) and pairing it up with a theme from Scripture (offering your best work no matter the circumstances… and of course the gospel).  Thus taking the readers along a journey from the common to the sacred.

The only draw back to this book verses the other R.C. Sproul Children’s books like The Prince’s Poison Cup, The Lightlings, and The Priest with Dirty Clothes is that the grace of the gospel comes abruptly at the end. The book seems to focus on the servanthood aspect of Christ’s ministry  The questions at the end help bear out more gospel grace reflections along with the many elements of service.

The Illustrations are amazing! The images are child friendly, compelling and illustrate the story beautifully. The use of passive light colors contrasted with darker hues of purple, and deep crimson really set the mood for what’s being described. There is enough in each section to keep my younger four year old looking at the pages while I’m reading, but not so much that he’s distracted from the story.

The Donkey Who Carried a King was a great read.  Perhaps the strongest aspect of the book was the parents section in the back.  Parents are given great questions to ask their kids and help draw the connections between the story they have just read and the scriptures.  We read lots of books at our house, but this element really seems to make this book especially useful.  I’ve noticed most all the children books published by Reformation Trust tend to have this element and its worth noticing the lengths the authors and publishers are going through to produce quality kids literature that goes beyond entertainment and into training and guidance.

Over all this was a fantastic book and I highly recommend it for parents with young children.The Donkey Who Carried a King is an excellent resource. The retail price is $16.00 (Hardcover), and is available at places like Amazon.com for $13.60. I gave it four stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Trust Publishers as part of their Blog for a Free Book Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”