Two Great Books I Read Over Christmas

I took some time off over Christmas to do nothing but unplug, hangout with my family, and not think about anything.

I also read two amazing books. (Seriously, these are great.)

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
This is the story of Nike from its first day to the day it went public in the 80’s, written by the founder Phil Knight.
I love books like this because it reminds me that big companies like Nike weren’t instant successes. We see the big company but miss the years of hard work, doubt, failure and in some cases dumb luck that lead to breakthroughs.
Something I did not expect from this book was how honest Phil Knight was on how empty and frustrating parts of his success has been, and what he lost along the way. (His oldest son died in a diving accident and he is really open about how he dealt with it.) I really loved this book.

“Stuff Matters” by Mark Miodownik
Everything we use and rely on is made of something, and that something is made of something else. The screen you are reading right now is made of glass or crystal and that glass or crystal is made of other elements that is made of a combination of other elements (and so on and so on). The author, Mark Miodownik, is a material scientist and is able to explain what “stuff” like glass, paper, or concrete is made of in a very scientific yet simple way that anyone can understand and be completely fascinated by.

I literally read this book in a couple hours. It was that interesting and understandable.

So, there you go. Add these books to your 2017 reading list. (You have already started writing your reading list right?)

My Favorite Books from 2016

Last year I listed my top 5 books as well as 8 that almost made top 5. (Check out 2015’s list here)

This year I am going to list my top 5 books of 2016, these are the books that I read and re-read that made the greatest impact on how I live and think, plus 12 other books that I had a hard time not adding to the top 5.

The “Honorable Mention” list are a few other books I enjoyed from the books I completed in 2016. (I don’t finish every book I start, if I get bored or I lose interest I don’t waste my time in finishing.)

All of these books are really amazing. Just buy them all.

Top 5 Books of 2016:

1) “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
2) “The Way of the Heart” by Henri J.M. Nouwen
3) “American Icon” by Bryce G. Hoffman
4) “Humility” by Andew Murray
5) “Reclaiming Conversation” by Sherry Turkle

“Originals” by Adam Grant
“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson
“Adventures in Prayer” by Mary Jo Pierce
“Deep Work” by Cal Newport
“How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg *Re-read from 2015 (Probably should be top 5 since it’s the second year I’ve listed it.)
“Sprint” by Jake Knapp
“Finding Eve” by Rita Springer
“The Wisdom of the Desert” by Thomas Merton
“The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Church Monks” by Benedicta Ward
“Sacred Listening” by James L. Wakefield
“Prayer Primer” by Thomas Dubai
“The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting” by Talbot W. Chambers

Honorable Mention:

“Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday
“Poets and Saints” by Jamie George
“The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” by Benjamin Franklin
“The Leader Who Had No Title” by Robin Sherma
“The Lives of the Desert Fathers” by Norman Russell

{Listen} Climbing Ladders

When you’re a kid and you see a ladder, you want to climb it. When you see a tree you want to climb it. When you see a mound of dirt, you not only want to climb it, you play “King of the Hill” to make sure no one else gets to the top of the hill before you.

As adults, not much has changed. We still have ladders. Only our ladders have become corporate structures and our hills have become title or position.
But what if you’re not built for climbing ladders?

There is Sorrow but Peace

I spent yesterday sitting next my friend as she took her final breaths in this world.

I cannot remember a time in my life I did not know her. Virginia was more than a friend; she was a sister.

She was always quick to encourage me, counsel me, and correct me if I needed it. There were times when I made her laugh, made her cry, and times when I completely infuriated her. But I knew she was always proud of me, and that she loved me.

Virginia was passionate about God, her husband and the hundreds if not thousands of students that she taught… more than taught, she impacted the course of their lives.

For the last three years, I’ve had the honor of being on the board of Stonegate Christian Academy, the school she lead and poured herself into. It’s hard to put into words the love and passion she had for that school. Not because she loved running it, but because she loved every single student that was there. She understood that she was responsible for more than their education. She had been given the responsibility to steward their lives and prepare them for the things God created them to do. To help mold them into the men and women God created them to be.

Virginia was an amazing person.

This is not the first time I have had to watch a close friend’s life come to an end. It’s always hard. But as I sit here thinking about Virginia, trying to process this loss, I am reminded of two scriptures that I have thought a lot about this year:

Hebrews 13:14
“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

John 16:33
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

These two scriptures bring me incredible peace, but they don’t take away the heartache. That is the amazing thing about a relationship with Jesus. Sorrow and peace can live together in the same heart.

There is sorrow because I will deeply miss my friend. But there is peace because I know I will see her again.

Ministry Advice to a Young Leader

Earlier today while doing a live Periscope Q&A for my church with another one of our Pastors, we were asked what advice we would give to young leaders starting out in ministry. The video cut off right before we answered the question, so I thought I would share my answer here. (Hopefully, the person who asked the question will see this answer.)

In short, my answer is this: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

When I was starting out in ministry I took myself WAY too seriously. I thought Pastors were supposed to be serious, firm, and stoic. The COMPLETE OPPOSITE of my personality.

I like to have fun. I’m a goof-off, a smart aleck and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth so many times I can tell you the brand of shoes you are wearing by the taste. That’s who I am. That’s who God made me to be. (Though, I am getting better about the foot in mouth thing. Sort of.)

I take the CALL OF GOD on my life VERY SERIOUSLY. I take my position as a Pastor VERY SERIOUSLY. I just try not to take myself too seriously.

I believe that one of the greatest things a Pastor can do to spread the Gospel is lighten up and have some fun.

The Gospel is literally translated “Good News”, and it is our responsibility to share that “Good News” with everyone we come in contact with. How can we effectively share the Good News of the Gospel, if when we show up, it’s BAD NEWS to everyone around us.

*This applies to all Christians as well.

Misplaced Priorities

In our first year of marriage my wife worked double shifts waiting tables and I made $1000 a month doing “ministry”.

She worked, she sweated, she worried about our bills. She worried about us.

I didn’t work and I didn’t worry. I sat at Starbucks everyday reading books, magazines and my Bible… because I was called to “ministry”.

I put my marriage and my wife’s mental stability aside for my own desires.

Why did I do it?

I forgot that my first call of ministry, every husbands first priority of ministry is his family.

No exceptions.