Book Plan for 2017

Library with a book ladder and lampThis is my fourth year of putting together a reading plan. I’ve still not got a good rhythm on it. I think there are far too many unknowns for me and there are far too many good books out there that I am longing to read. So, I’ll keep plugging away and trying.

I’m trying to broaden my horizons a little bit more. I’ve been feeling a pull to more diversity in my plan, so I’m adding some touches here and there. I know that there will be blog books as well, books that I will review for my blog, which is always an unknown. I’m, never quite sure just what kinds of books will be offered, so it’s hard to predict those books. 

My plan for 2017 will be to lessen the number of books in the plan in hopes that I will be able to be more efficient in reading books from this list. It hasn’t gone well in the past when I have tried to read books on my plan when I’ve had an extensive list. Out of the 28 books on my plan for 2016, I only finished 9 of them, but I still managed to read 52 books for the year, one less than 2015, an average of one book per week. 

Maya Angelou “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

Rachel Held Evans “Evolving In Monkey Town”

Victor Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch “ReJesus”

Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon “Resident Aliens’

Howard V. and Edna H. Hong, editors “The Essential Kierkegaard”

Walter Isaacson “Steve Jobs”

Tim Keller “Center Church”

Tim Keller “Preaching”

Stephen Mansfield “The Search for God and Guiness”

Brenda Salter McNeil “Roadmap to Reconciliation”

Matt Mikalatos “My Imaginary Jesus”

Jürgen Moltmann “A Broad Place”

Flannery O’Connor “The Complete Stories”

Andrew Peterson “The Warden and the Wolf King”

David Platt “Counter Culture”

Preston Sprinkle “Living In a Gray World”

Preston Sprinkle “People To Be Loved”

John Steinbeck “Of Mice and Men”

Howard Thurman “Jesus and the Disinherited”

Mark Twain “How To Tell A Story and Other Essays”

N.T. Wright “Simply Jesus”

This is my plan which I know will most likely shift and change a little bit, but if I don’t start out with something, I’ll have a hard time hitting anything.

Would love to hear about some of your favorite books and whether or not you have interacted with any on this list.

Happy reading!

Books I Read In 2015

books to readI read a total of 53 books over the course of 2015. I had written up a plan with titles at the beginning of the year to try to be more structured and intentional about my reading throughout the year. Overall, I did all right with my plan. I didn’t read everything that had been on my list, mostly because my list was much more extensive than I had considered at the beginning of the year.

In 2014, I read 39 books (here’s my post). My original list had 33 books on it but I only read 7 of those 33 books. I began reviewing books for my blog that year and that continued in 2015. So, I thought I would do a little bit better going into 2015. I posted my list and thought I was being more realistic.

My 2015 reading list included 35 books. Of those 35 books, I read 11 of them (marked below with a +). The other 42 books on my list were a compilation of books that I read to review for my blog (marked below with a *, 19 total), books that I read to check out and preview before my son read them (marked below with a ^), and books that just kind of popped up along the way. Some books satisfied multiple categories and are marked as such.

My 2016 plan will be posted later this week and I hope that I’m getting better as I go.

Sam Allberry “Is God Anti-gay?”

The Arbinger Institute “Leadership and Self-Deception”

+* Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III “God Loves Sex”

* Mark Batterson and Richard Foth “A Trip Around the Sun”

Nadia Bolz-Weber “Pastrix”

* Andy Braner “No Fear In Love”

+^ Eoin Colfer “Artemis Fowl”

^ Suzanne Collins “Gregor the Overlander”

+ Suzanne Collins “Mockingjay”

Peter Criss “Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss”

* Rachel Held Evans “Searching For Sunday”

Michael Frost “Surprise the World! The Five Habits of Highly Missional People”

* Andrew Gant “The Carols of Christmas”

* John Greco “Manger King”

* Don C. Harris “Think Red Ink”

* Jen Hatmaker “For the Love”

Gary A. Haugen “Just Courage”

Wesley Hill “Washed and Waiting”

+ Tim Keller “The King’s Cross”

Justin Lee “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate”

^ Madeline L’Engle “A Wrinkle In Time”

* Amy Lively “How To Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird”

+ C.S. Lewis “Out of the Silent Planet”

David Lomas “The Truest Thing About You”

+ Brennan Manning “All Is Grace”

* Jonathan McKee “More Than Just the Talk”

* Jonathan McKee “Sex Matters”

* Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson “Mormonism 101”

* Scot McKnight “A Fellowship of Differents”

* Matt Mikalatos “Into the Fray”

* Donald Miller “Scary Close”

* Dr. Linda Mintle “We Need to Talk”

Joseph Myers “Organic Community”

Larry Osborne “Thriving In Babylon”
Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon “The Art of Neighboring”

^ Ridley Pearson “Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark”

^ Ridley Pearson “Kingdom Keepers: Disney At Dawn”

+^ Ridley Pearson “Kingdom Keepers: Disney In Shadow”

Dr. Kara E. Powell, Brad M. Griffin, and Dr. Cheryl A. Crawford “Sticky Faith – Youth Worker Edition”

Kevin Roose “The Unlikely Disciple – A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University”

+ Veronica Roth “Allegiant”

^ J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

^ J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

^ J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

Francis Schaeffer “Art and the Bible”

* Peter Scazzero “The Emotionally Healthy Leader”

* Judah Smith “Life Is _______”

+* Sam Storms “Kept For Jesus”

John R.W. Stott “The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus”

+^ J.R.R. Tolkien “The Hobbit”

* David Vogel “The Truth With Love”

+* Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman “The Daniel Plan”

August Wilson “Seven Guitars”


+ 2015 List

* Blog

^ Preview


Happy 2016 and happy reading!

Fans, Feedback, and Freedom

This blog has not exactly gone viral, which is fine for me. I didn’t start writing out of a need to be needed or a deep desire to become famous. While I would love to write a book at some point, writing is therapeutic for me, it helps me process and, for the last few years, grieve. Along the way, I’ve picked up some fans, or at least followers, who are fairly regular at reading my blog. I appreciate them greatly.

Feedback is an important part of writing as well, and I do my best to hear and listen to the feedback that I’ve gotten. More often than not, my blog gives me a place to process feedback that I have received in a more expansive format. I have had so many conversations which have turned into thoughts which have turned into blog posts. I appreciate feedback, especially from those who I know are looking at for my best interests. I’ve learned a ton from all of that feedback that I’ve received.

I’ve always tried to stay current and deal with current issues while also dealing with my own issues (of which there are probably a lot). There are some days that I write and I think that what I’ve written is brilliant, only to see that no one else agrees. Other days, when I write out of obligation rather than deep desire and emotion, it seems that I strike a chord and lots of people read. I’ll say this for blogging, it certainly keeps you humble. Anytime that you think that you’ve got it figured out, you better think again.

Part of the joy of this blog is the freedom that I have to share what I feel led to share. I have been so grateful for that freedom and grateful for all of those readers who have benefited from what I have shared. While I write book reviews on occasion and post them on this blog, I enjoy reading and love the fact that I can read and write about what I’ve just read. The freedom to share has been a great benefit of this blog for me.

Last year, a fellow blogger and friend of mine from seminary asked for those who were regular readers of his blog to offer up their favorite posts of his in order to revisit some reader’s favorites. I was one of the contributors as I have always watched and read his work with admiration for his level of brilliance and intellectuality. His pursuit sparked the idea in me and I have asked two faithful readers to contribute some of their thoughts and share their favorite blogs for me to share.

So, I will be reposting those blogs with their comments every Friday for the next few months. I hope that these posts and their insights will speak to you as they did to me. It’s always good to write, it’s even better to know that your writing is being read and used to speak to others. I am blessed to have had the opportunity that I have had and look forward to hearing more comments from those who read.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read. What I write comes from my heart and I am glad to share it, especially when what is shared connects to someplace deeper inside of you, the reader.


A Milestone….of Sorts

This weekend marked the one month anniversary of my blog transition to  In that brief time, I have gained nearly as many folone monthlowers as I had gained in over four years at  I have been much more consistent in my postings and I have been glad to have heard feedback from people about my ponderings.

I remember nearly 5 years ago when my wife encouraged me to start a blog.  I was vaguely familiar with the concept but unsure that anyone would be interested in what I would have to say.  Having played out as a folk musician with my own music many years ago, I knew the feeling of putting myself out there and the vulnerability that comes along with that, so it was not an entirely new experience for me.  But there was still some hesitation and trepidation.

In a conversation that I had this weekend, I was reminded of the need to take my own advice to heart.  In talking with my friend who was considering a blog post on adoption, he felt that he did not have much to offer in comparison to some of the other “heavy hitters” that are blogging today and who have written on adoption.  I reminded him that the people with whom he is in relationship do not have relationships with these “heavy hitters” while they do with him.  His influence can be greater among those with whom he is in community.

I need to remember that.  Sure, there are people who are smarter, funnier, and way more eloquent than me, but the people with whom I have relationships don’t necessarily know them.  But they do know me and respect me.  I have the opportunity and privilege to be able to share my thoughts with them and hopefully bring some encouragement and even challenge into their lives.

While many of us may never be famous or speak to hundreds of thousands of people, we all have a sphere of influence that is unique.  We all have relationships and communities with whom we can share, be ourselves, and offer our insights.  Those relationships and communities are invaluable to us, at least they are to me, they should never be taken for granted and certainly not underestimated.

Even if just one person reads my blog and is challenged, encouraged, enlightened, or whatever, I feel like it would be all worthwhile.  After all, it’s not always about numbers.  I can tout the greatest numbers in the world, but if there is no fruit from those numbers, does it really matter?  If I have thousands of followers on my blog and all it does is make people say, “That was nice” and then walk away and stay the same, I don’t really think it’s worth it.  I want to be an influencer and a world changer, even if it’s only for a small number of people.

Don’t underestimate the power of your influence.  If God’s calling you to something and you feel strongly about it, don’t shy away from it.  You might not sign a book deal or be on the speaking circuit, but what you have, your unique gifting, can be used by God for his kingdom’s work.

I’m Still Here

Taking a little bit of a break this week, just wanted to let everyone know that I am still here.im_still_here_xlg


Next week should be interesting.  Some fairly poignant thoughts on roadtrips, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.  Lessons learned….


That seems to be an understatement, but we can try to make it work.  Hold on loosely to the expectations and things will go much smoother.


Anyway, thoughts are coming.  You’ll hear from me soon.