“Just look for a moment at our daily routine. In general we are a very busy people. We have many meetings to attend, many visits to make, many services to lead. Our calendars are filled with appointments, our days and weeks filled with engagements, and our years filled with plans and projects. There is seldom a period in which we do not know what to do, and we move through life in such a distracted way that we do not even take the time and rest to wonder if any of the things we think, say, or do are worth thinking, saying, or doing.”
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?)
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
“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
I love this video and the perspective it gives us on Christmas.
Hearing the Christmas story my whole life, I tend to picture Mary and Joseph walking through the streets of Bethlehem with a saintly glow while people around them move aside in awe and wonder. But the reality is, they were two scared teenagers in an unfamiliar city with nothing but a promise from God to hold onto.
I wonder if this was happening today, how would I react? Would I stop and offer them help? Would I welcome them into my home and give up my bed to them? Or would I look down on them, assuming they were two kids who made some bad choices and walk away?
So many times we are looking for God only in the spectacular or miraculous and we actually miss the supernatural. We miss what God is doing around us and the opportunities He has put in front of us because they may seem small or insignificant.
I firmly believe that where it appears God is moving the least, He is actually doing the most!
The birth of Christ was an amazing day that signaled a new hope for the World, but it was not the end of the story. It was the beginning of an incredible plan God has for this World, a plan that is still moving forward, a plan that you and I have a key role to fill. You and I are the instruments the Lord has chosen to spread the truth and love behind the Christmas story. We have been chosen to take part in radically changing the world.
My prayer this Christmas season is that I would walk with open spiritual eyes, seeing the hand of God in everything around me. That I would move through this world with an open heart, ready to partner with The Lord to bring life, hope and love to the people I come in contact with.
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.