What I’m Reading

I’ve always believed that leaders are readers. I also believe that it’s important to read because what I currently know isn’t enough. Plus, every leader that I admire in my life is constantly suggesting books for me to read, which tells me if I want to be like them, I need to know what they’re reading. Better still, I need to read what they’re reading.

For the record, I always have fiction and non-fiction on my bedside table (physical or iPad). I like to dream, imagine, and be taken on an adventure. Likewise, I serve and lead people in a very nonfictional world. Both platforms have immense value to me.

Two non-fiction books were recently given to me by two different influential church leaders.

Lasting Impressions by Mark Waltz has not only been a thought provoking journey of how we incorporate people into the environment of church-life, but how we view them as individuals.

A pair of quotes from Mark that have really affected me:

We extend grace when our acceptance comes without requirements.

We must meet people where they are, not where we wish they were.

By far the most refreshing book I’ve read all year is Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. While books like Divine Nobodies, Quitting Church, So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore, and Frank Viola’s divisive Pagan Christianity – which, in my view, have only succeeded in splitting churches and emboldening already-disgruntled complainers who just needed confirmation why their complaining was “theologically sound” – DeYoung and Kluck urge readers to fall in love with the “betrothed of Christ” again, and renew their vigor for seeing her as beautiful like Jesus does.

Fiction-wise, I just finished The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. While there are handfuls of worldly-truth or witty anecdotes, I read it because I found her study on post-war adolescent behavior fascinating, and not that far emotionally from many of the situations I counsel young people through on a weekly basis. As a writer, it has a gripping premise, is a fantastic example of character development, and all three books are written in first-person, present tense. That deserves an award right there.

What are you reading? And why? ch:

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  • Christian Fahey

    “Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success” (Lisa Endlich). Want to find out why my cousin (investment banker for 8 years at GS) did so well. Upon reflection, I’d have to say your appraisal of Pagan Christianity is accurate. Have to look at the fruit. And I regret giving it a plug….

    • If you glean any tips worth passing alone on GS, I’ll pay you 20% for them. šŸ˜‰

      As for Pagan Christianity, I didn’t know you plugged it. Interesting. For the record, it takes an admirable man to recant a previously expressed view, and sad man to stick to his guns on something not worth dying for. You are the former.

      • Christian Fahey

        You’re a good dude, C. Prayers please. Rethinking a lot of stuff over the past 3.5 years. Need to do coffee with you and K soon. The Church is still His first and only plan, for all the warts. She’s still a beautiful gal.

        • Would love to, Christian. Rethinking is good. I’m at it a lot, so coffee sounds de’lish.

  • Sarah Novak

    “The Ultimate Treasure Hunt” by Kevin Dedmon.
    Only a couple chapters into it, but in love with it already. He teaches how to recognize words of knowledge the Lord is giving you to create a “treasure map” and go out and seek the most precious treasure-Daddy’s kids that He wants to welcome back into His glorious kingdom. Not only is it a brilliant read full of testimonies of treasure being found and rescued, but I can’t wait to go on my own treasure hunt!

    • Fantastic! While I’ve never read it personally, I’ve been through a number of the classes with teachers I’ve co-taught with on implementing the supernatural in day-to-day life. We also had pastors come and teach the Dibor (our former discipleship school) to do treasure hunts. Good stuff.

  • Jason Clement

    I’m currently reading “Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Nonprofits Impact Culture and Others Don’t” by Phil Cooke (which I will be regurgitating in bite sized goodness on you most Tuesday mornings), “Handcrafted CSS: More Bulletproof Web Design” by Dan Cederholm with Ethan Marcotte, and I also just grabbed copies of “Pocket Guide to the Bible” and “Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse” by Jason Boyett for some quick, light reading.

    I will be patiently awaiting your copy of “Why We Love The Church”… šŸ˜‰

    • I look forward to your morsels! lol Let’s trade books. Except for the CSS one. Too steep a learning curve for me. That’s why I’m trying to hire you.

  • Sarah

    First person present tense? Drat. So much for it looking like an original style if I ever get published . . .

    I’m reading Mariah Mundi The Midas Box by G.P. Taylor right now. ‘Tis interesting. Why am I reading it? G.P. Taylor’s one of my new favorite authors. And it sounded cool.

  • Nathan

    Im currently in my rereading cycle. I have a few books I like to read at least once a year. “Tortured for Christ” by Richard Wurmbrand. It helps me keep perspective on how blessed I am to live in America.

    “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. The basic catalyst for spiritual growth is our pursuit of God in response to His pursuit of us. Reading this book keeps fresh in my mind that importance and the reality that if I pursue God diligently, He will reward me.

    “The Chronicle of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. How can you not read this once a year?

    As far as new reads? Next on tap are a few on Worship an worship leading by Bob Sorge, Jack Hayford and Don Potter.

    After the onslaught of positve reviews on “Why We Love the Church” I will definitely be reading that soon. As far as my thoughts on the subject currently? God views us individually the same way He does corporately, through the blood. There may be flaws but his grace is sufficient. His bride, both individually and corporately, is very beautiful.

    • Ooo, all good stuff here! Tozer is the bomb. Lewis is the triple bomb. Wurmbrand blows up stuff that needs exploding.

      Don Potter is an old family friend; wild, great, genius man.

      The perspective of the blood is so essential, isn’t it? Keeps me in check like crazy. Thanks for sharing, Nate.

  • Don Bonner

    I’m reading “Les Miserabl”e by Victor Hugo. As a retired teacher who was a high school drop-out with both an BA and ME degree, I missed out on many of the classics and occasionally pick up one that has been referred to so many times through the years. The last one was “Great Expectations” by Dickens. I love ’em.

    Thanks for sharing your reading, Chris.

    • Don, that’s awesome. Les Mis is a powerful work, for sure. (Seen the musical?). Never read Great Expectations, but I do love Dickens.

      • Don Bonner

        I love the musical, and could watch it many times over. But the insights Hugo shares in the book are eye openers – even in this day and age!!!

        • The mark of a truly powerful writer is being able to timeless truths regardless of context. Awesome.

  • Beth Walrath

    I’ve grow up with the concept “you can tell someones character by the books they read & the people around them.”
    I’m currently reading “Choosing To See” by Mary Beth Chapman because their story is so inspirational. Her faith in God is an encouragement to everyone.
    I’m also reading “Spiritual Warfare for Women” by Leighann McCoy. This is a subject I need alot of help with. It’s a book that will not only help me, but it will help me help others.

    • Good books! And I love the fact that you’re recognizing the benefit others will have from your investment into reading. Well played, Beth.

  • Mom

    Take Another Look at Guidance … Bob Mumford and grocery circulars and trade magazines

  • Ever read the Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard? That’s another fantastic read. šŸ™‚

    • Wow, parts of it a long time ago! Interesting, I should pick it back up; thanks for the reminder.

      • You should. šŸ™‚ It’s an older book, but relevant nonetheless.

  • Amy

    Finishing up “The Pursuit of God” by Tozer then going to read ” The Root of the Righteous ” also by Tozer. I think the titles of both books are pretty self explanatory as to why I have chosen to read them. I just want and need more of Jesus. So far I’ve been encourage and brought to my knees in pure awe of Him. I can’t wait to read more and also delve deeper into the Word.

    • Awesome. I think you’re landing on such a great mark, which is that, yes, we need to read the Bible, but we also need to read works by others who’ve read the Bible. Learning about God via their experiences adds a new dimension of our divine understanding. Keep it up, Amy!

  • I love The Hunger Ganes trilogy. Brilliant series, lots of really powerful stuff and layers of meaning. Hoping to reread them again soon.

    I am currently reading through The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, as I read that trilogy every year.

    • I’m intrigued to find others who’ve read THG. Glad you liked it, too. I loved seeing Katniss develop through all her trails; very well done.

      Go LOTR!

  • I grew up with my dad (http://simissions.org) having floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with every kind of book imaginable. I try to alternate between something fun and something inspiring. I also didn’t grow up reading many of the classics, so it’s been fun finding them for free as ebooks. “War of the Worlds” was so much better than the movie.

    I just finished Stephen Lawhead’s latest book, “The Skin Map”. He’s one my all time favorite authors and this series is one his best. The first chapter grabs you and doesn’t let go. Can’t wait for the next one.

    I’m reading two books right now, one my good friend Dan Jackson (http://actiondanjackson.com) sent me as a prize, “Never Surrender” by General Jerry Boykin). So far it’s very interesting read in the first person of being a Christian and taking part in some pretty crazy special ops.

    The second book I just picked up on vacation at a used book store, hardcover in mint condition for $4.95 ftw! It’s a Dan Brown novel, “The Lost Symbol”. I know Dan Brown can be controversial, but he knows how to write a compelling novel and I’m already fascinated just two chapters in. It’s going to be a great beach read.

    • Man, both those sound awesome! We share that similar “read something fun, read something inspiring” m.o. Cool! And yes, while Dan Brown is controversial (mostly by those who feel threatened by opposing points of view), he’s an outstanding craftsman of the tale. Let me know how both finish up!

  • Sarah Rice

    I just recently finished “The Lion Vrie” for the third time. Just started “Boy meets Girl” by Joshua Harris. It’s a great book to read on Godly relationships. I am also re-reading “Blink of an Eye” by Ted Dekker, to distract myself as I wait for “Athera’s Dawn” lol. šŸ™‚

    • Three times on TLV? Oh, you poor thing. I’m working…

      Dekker is a wild man. So quiet in real life, while his wife is very outgoing and charismatic. Funny how people are when you meet thing vs how you imagine them.

      • Sarah Rice

        LOL, yes three times… And I’m sure I will read it again. And even on the third time. It got me excited, edge of my seat, couldnt put it down and so ready for the next one… LOL.
        ha ha… Dekker is different. I have only read one of his books so far. But my brother has told me at least a piece of all the books he has read. Some do sound wild… lol.

        • You rock, Sarah! Hopefully you won’t need to read it a 4th time before AD comes out. šŸ˜‰

          • Sarah Rice

            Ha ha ha… thanks.

  • Based on some comments, I’m not sure what we believe the Church is? I thought there is only one Church, a living organism…you can’t join it, you are born into it.

    Paul said marriage was a great mystery..As far as Christ and His bride, they become one when the bride becomes one with the Word. The bride of Christ will not commit “spiritual adultery” with anything contrary to the Word.

    The only place of unity of the bride is the Word…Meeting any other place causes division…Just look in Watertown…If Apostle Paul was alive today, he’d have to write 70 letters to Watertown instead of one…why? Man and his ideas, his thoughts, his creeds, his opinions, his ego, his theology, his revelations…

    If we would just speak the Word of God with each other and allow the teacher, the “Holy Spirit” to reveal the Word to us, there would be one fellowship in Watertown…the fruit of man’s ideas is written in every town across America, 35,000 denominations, one Word…it wasn’t so from the beginning…

    The bride is one with the Bridegroom and the Bridegroom is the Word…the bride is perfect, beautiful, without spot or wrinkle, holy, unblameable and unreprovable in the sight of God because the Word is perfect and she is one with the Word…there is one faith we are to contend for and the fruit of that faith can be found in Acts Chapter 2…

    Jude says to contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints…that faith was “they continued steadfast in the Apostles doctrine”…that doctrine wasn’t based on the Word, it was the Word…the only place of unity among believers in the faith…

    Many books today are full of man and not the truth…People should be ever so careful of what they read today based on the warnings of our Savior and the Apostles concerning the last days…

    God’s Best To Everyone!

    • My prayer, regardless of whatever vague doctrine you have, is that you are modeling Christ’s love well among those you are called to serve.

      I really love you, Brian. Your theologies I find baffling, and most likely keep you from being a part of a local church family for any prolonged length of time – something I find sad.

      I’m a bit surprised that you don’t find Paul’s commissioning of his letter to the Romans, and that it be distributed to all the churches therein, as at least a singular Biblical reference to the presence of many groupings of churches within Italy; nor Jesus’ citing of 7 distinct churches in the book of Revelation, each with diverse views, and of which He commended and spoke chastisement to, and all clearly part of the Early Church; nor Paul’s request of multiple church elders to be summoned in his intentional passing of Ephesus.

      I agree, the Word is Jesus and He is revealed through the Body ā€“ which is the Church. But your emphasis on “the Word” without giving any context or specific reference is extremely confusing and concerning to me. Jesus actually said to the Pharisees, “You go to the Scripture because in them you think you have life, but you fail to come to me.”

      If I’m judging correctly from your comment, you don’t read anything but the Bible (as that was the original question I posed on this blog post). Before the Lord, and before my readers on this blog, I could never endorse such a position when given the freedom, in a free country, to where we can further our knowledge of God so easily. Not a single one of us has the entire truth. And if you argue that you have the Holy Spirit within you, fine; then I would ask, subject to whom? For us not to value the insight, success, and failures of other men and women of God by not reading their words, and by further submitting our own opinions to wise teachers of the Word, would be a deep grievance against the Lord, an extreme display of a lack of wisdom, and even a hate for it. You even have my readers reading your own commentary on scripture; how is this not a form of published text?

      Because I’m familiar with your traditional methods of extended online debate about theology, I’m asking this ends here; if you’d like to talk further, you know how to reach me in person.

  • Chris, Not sure what set you off.

    My last comment was for people to be careful with what they are reading. These are perilous times concerning those that have infiltrated fellowships with deceptive doctrines, however, before coming out and saying this statement, I had to explain the purpose of the importance of the Word of God in the believer.

    I am a bit offended concerning the 1st 2 paragraphs of your response due to judging me, however, I walk in forgiveness and hold it not against you.

    As far as fellowship? I am in deep fellowship with exceptional brethren in the area…not in word only, but in deed, and not just 2 hours in a building on Sunday, but every day…again, as stated, there is only one Church, I’m part of it, so are you and the Church has no walls…

    I find the word Pharisee being used frequently…please remember, it was the Pharisees that had the Word of God crucified…
    Blessings…
    p.s. I am always available for a chat, stop by my business sometime my brother…

  • Jennette

    Hello! I just finished Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson, Writing Fiction For Dummies and currently reading Boundaries with Kids by Cloud and Townsend, and The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley. The whys of reading…the dummies book and the boundaries one are probably self-explanatory. I’m a writer trying to take my writing to the next level and I’m a mom of a 2 year old and 8month old šŸ™‚ The other books I’m reading is for pure pleasure and maybe to scope out the young adult general market (the grimms).

    I think the book, Why We Love the Church…, sounds good. A nice reminder of how we need more grace and less judgements from each other about each other. A couple of years ago I read, Searching for God Knows What, and enjoyed it. I think it’s easy to get caught up in pointing out the short-comings of the churches and forget our call to love each other.

    • Great books, and I certainly commend you for taking your writing so seriously especially with little ones running around! God bless everything you put your hand to.

  • Kirk Gilchrist

    Great post as always Christopher. I just finished the book about, Why I Love the Church. I must say that I love this book, and actually most books I have read. I love to read Manning and Tozer – and find that other men and women of God have much to share and have insight I do not have. I actually relish reading them.

    I find it alarming when others won’t or don’t read. Why not? I’m sure I nor anyone has a “handle” on the truth. This is why we must get other thoughts and truth in regards to life and the Bible.

    Thanks for asking for other thoughts and suggestions. Most of your readers responded with some great suggestions. I look forward to reading some of these suggestions.

    Thanks again.

    • Thanks Pastor Kirk. Yeah, I agree. As President Eisenhower said, “Learn from other’s mistakes; you don’t have enough time to make all of them yourself.”

      The only danger with asking others what they read is now I have a much longer to-do list, and need to allocate more money in my budget to books! I certainly have some awesome readers on this blog.