2018 Library

Back on January 13, I posted an entry about a self-developed reading strategy for the year. The objective: read broader. The goal: read 25-30 books falling under 10 headings. Perfection wasn’t the hope as much as growth. Having read 28 books with at least one book under each heading, I testify that this strategy worked. I’ll repeat it this year, after some tweaking.

For the curious, here is the library of 28 books, listed by order read and avenue of reading:

He Loves Me, by Wayne Jacobsen (hard copy)

Limitless, by Nick Vujicic (hard copy)

Lincoln’s Spymaster, by David Hepburn Milton (audio)

The Closer, by Mariano Rivera (audio)

Always Looking Up, by Michael J. Fox (audio)

Awe, by Paul David Tripp (kindle)

The Rest of God, by Mark Buchanan (kindle)

Rhythms of Rest, by Shelly Miller (kindle)

Measure of a Man, by Martin Greenfield (audio)

Safe People, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (kindle)

Children of Jihad, by Jared Cohen (audio)

Understanding Gender Dysphoria, by Mark Yarhouse (kindle)

First Man, by James R. Hansen (audio)

Kiss the Wave, by Dave Furman (hard copy)

Miracle in the Andes, by Nando Parrado (audio)

I Hear His Whisper, by Brian Simmons (hard copy)

Quiet, by Susan Cain (audio)

No One Gets There Alone, by Dr. Rob Bell (kindle)

Onward, by Howard Schultz (kindle)

David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell (hard copy)

Coach the Person Not the Problem, by Chad Hall (eBook)

A More Perfect Union, by Ben Carson (audio)

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell (hard copy)

How to Read the Air, by Dinaw Mengestu (audio)

Transformed, by Joe Pellgino and Jack Redmond (hard copy)

The Search for More, by Marge Knoth (hard copy)

Dangerous Calling, by Paul David Tripp (kindle)

Boundaries For Leaders, by Dr. Henry Cloud (hard copy)

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What About the Books on Your Shelf?

If you’re reading this, chances are you read quite a bit. A growing question for you and other readers these days is how do you buy books. Traditional or digital? (My answer, yes) And then there’s the audio question. Does listening to a book count as reading it? (My answer, yes.)

In a coaching call this week, a completely different question surfaced. The agenda of the call was to determine the various kinds of books this guy wanted to explore reading in 2019. He wanted to determine other genres and topics than he normally chooses, even material that might be uncomfortable. When it appeared the list was about done, I asked him to think about what kind of books give him life, refresh him, maybe even recreate him. I thought I knew how he would answer the question. I was wrong.

I assumed he would talk about style or topics or genre. Instead, he responded by naming titles of several books he’d read that were still meaningful to him. As he talked about them, he realized a simple thing. A good thing to do as a reader is to re-read good books, books that breathed life into you, books that made a difference. So he decided that another source for his quest for building his library for 2019 was to take a look at the books he already has, books already on his shelf practically guaranteed to restore his mind, heart, or spirit.

What about the books on your shelf? Which ones fill you up? Which book have you always said you will read again and still haven’t? Which book are you craving? These questions just might lead you to some exciting reading-traditionally, digitally, or audibly. May the books on your shelf impact your 2019.

Sabbath Model

The subject of rest and Sabbath has become a constant for me over the last twelve months through leading a coaching program and co-leading webinars. If I’ve learned anything in this time, it’s that we could all use more conversing about this as well as more examples of it.

In that light, I thought I’d share how mine went yesterday with some notes.

It didn’t last all day. First thing, I had to deal with some car stuff. Finished and back home at 11.

The next seven hours were my time to “embrace that which gives life.” (Sabbath’s golden rule according to Mark Buchanan, author of The Rest of God.)

Those seven hours included reading devotions and two other books, blogging, meditating, napping, and going to the gym (in this period of my Sabbaths, the TV is not on). None of this felt like work. (Another aspect to Sabbath’s golden rule.) At the end of those seven hours, I could say I had more “life”; you could even say more peace.

No one model of Sabbath fits everyone. While reading may give one person life, it may drain another person. Similarly, playing golf would drain me (probably more like kill me) but would completely bring joy to some friends of mine. So to give us all some kind of guide, here’s a reminder of the golden rule for Sabbath: cease that which is necessary in order to embrace that which gives life.

What could you embrace during your next Sabbath?

Realignment Day

Five weeks ago I self diagnosed a need. I had a need for a day unlike any day I’ve experienced before. This need was driven by various things. Did I need rest? Yes and no. Did I need time with God? More yes than no. What did I most need was my question. I took this to my coach and what I came up with was this: I needed realignment.

I’ve never heard of a realignment day, but it resonated with me. Since it was self diagnosed, that meant I had to come up with the “treatment plan.” I went into the day with some structure, but very loosely held. I knew prayer and reading would play a major role, but how long and with what content I wanted to be fluid and hopefully spirit led. I’ll share some of how the day went and give you something to consider for your own realignment day.

  • To establish why the title of realignment, I considered these definitions: 1. To place back in line, to bring back into line. 2. To rejoin as an ally. In the consideration, I looked at biblical examples of folks who needed and received realignment such as Adam and Eve, Samson, David, Jacob and Esau, Hosea and Gomer, Moses, Jonah, the prodigal son, and Peter.  This led me to a personal conclusion: I need to realign with how God sees people, with his grace, and with who I am in his eyes. This foundation led the rest of the day’s activities. These activities including reading, praying, and worshipping through music.
  • Reading: four scripture passages and portions of two books about these passages. Some of this was planned and some not. I knew that I was drawn to reading prayers and conversation between Moses and God. But in the moment I was led to other passages from Daniel, Job, and I John. These passages illustrated what is needed for realignment and how to pray for it.
  • Praying: confessional and covenantal. The truth about realigning with God is that he isn’t the one that got out of line. So realignment should include confessing where you got out of line and covenanting about staying in line. But before I wrote out those two prayers I started the conversation with God by asking him this: “What messages do you want to share with me?” To my surprise, he had a lot to say-a full page, a total of 13 clear and specific messages. Those alone were worth the effort and intentionality of the day.
  • Music: listening and creating. Again, to my surprise I was led to listen to one particular song throughout the day. Then as a result of reading and praying, a new song was birthed in my spirit. By the end of the day, where I ended up at a bayside park, not only was I realigned but I also had a song of offering to give back to God and to others what my realignment day had given to me.

Not everyone requires the same type of realignment, but I’m convinced we all need it occasionally. 

  • Are you due? 
  • What could assist you in realigning? 
  • How vital should a realignment day be in order for you to make it happen? 
  • What surprises could God have in store for you on your realignment day?

Understanding Gender Dysphoria (book review)

January 13 I posted my 2018 reading plan. My coach helped me develop it as an answer for personal growth. Apart from that plan, I would have missed an important read.


In my search for a book on the divisive cultural topic of sexuality, I discovered author Mark Yarhouse, a Wheaton College graduate and a psychology professor at Regent University in Virginia. He’s written several books in this field for the Christian audience, so I figured he would be a good choice. He proved me right.

It is important to consider that original sin has corrupted all of existence, including human sexuality and experiences of our gendered selves.

Scripture reminds us that God does not abandon us in our fallen state.

The topic of gender dysphoria is not the same as homosexuality.

This 7-chapter book is graciously written for readers on all sides of the conversation. To assist us all in the conversation, he gives a great explanation for where we could fit in an integrated framework in the dialogue. He divides everyone into one of three groups: integrity, disability, and diversity. These names are lenses through which people often approach the topic of gender identity. Evangelical Christians are drawn to the integrity framework as it emphasizes the sacredness of maleness and femaleness. He encourages learning from all three in order to inform ministry settings and engage the broader culture. I agree.

You may be asking, “So what is gender dysphoria?” If you haven’t already googled it, do so. But then give Yarhouse the opportunity to give you an exhaustive look at the topic. If you are asking “should I read this book,” allow me to answer with the following questions:

  • Are you a church leader who truly wants to engage your community? If so, yes.
  • Are you a therapist? If so, yes. Your specialty field doesn’t matter as much as this subject does.
  • Do you know someone in your family or in your friend’s family who struggles with sexuality questions? If so, yes.
  • Do you struggle with giving grace to others outside your belief system but wish you didn’t? If so, yes.

Christians can benefit from valuing and speaking into the sacredness found in the integrity framework, the compassion we witness in the disability framework, and the identity and community considerations we see in the diversity framework. No one framework in isolation will provide a sufficient response or a comprehensive Christian model of pastoral care or cultural engagement.

For everyone’s sake, consider reading this book.

2018 Reading Strategy

Two weeks into the year. And I asked for a strategy. Got it.

When it comes to reading, I’d say I’m slightly above the average reader as to how much and to diversity. But that’s been pretty much up to chance, outside of the structure of assigned reading by instructors or bosses. In my adult life, my content has been determined by curiosity, reference, or gifts. Nothing wrong with any of those. But for 2018 I wanted a strategy. So my coach and I walked through that this week. Here’s the result:

  • Overall goal: A well rounded, self-assigned curriculum that includes subjects I’m currently engaged with but also subjects that will widen my knowledge
  • Number goal: Not necessarily concerned about it, but landed on a total of 25-30
  • Targeted content: I will read 1-4 books that fall under the following ten headings: 
  1. Coaching
  2. Leadership
  3. Psychology
  4. Devotional
  5. Biographical
  6. Political
  7. Fiction
  8. Christian Living
  9. Audio books
  10. Miscellaneous

I really like this plan. It’s intentional. It’s accountable. It’s broadening. It’s flexible. It’s doable. It’s motivational.

If reading is a thing for you, what’s your strategy? Does it need reviewing or tweaking? Feel free to share by commenting.

If you have another thing, same idea. How can you grow in that thing in 2018?

2017 Library

Throughout 2017 you’ve read posts referencing books I’ve read. Below is the library, in order which I read them. You’ll notice several books about coaching, which was required reading for classes I took during the year. Something else I noted this year on the list for the first time-whether I read the book on kindle (13) or hard copy (10). Something for the curious to know and chew on.

God is in the Manger, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (hard copy)

The Salvation of Souls, Jonathan Edwards (hard copy)

Christian Coaching, Gary Collins (hard copy)

Co-Active Coaching, Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, Laura Whitworth (hard copy)

Becoming a Professional Life Coach, Patick Williams, Diane S. Menendez (hard copy)

The Next Level, Scott Wilson (hard copy)

The God-Shaped Brain, Timothy Jennings (kindle)

The Critical Journey, Janet Hagberg, Robert Guelich (kindle)

Brain Savvy Leaders, Charles Stone (kindle)

The Phenomenon, Rick Ankiel and Tim Brown (hard copy)

The Myth of Equality, Ken Wytsma (hard copy)

Business for the Glory of God, Wayne Grudem (kindle)

Business by the Book, Larry Burkett (kindle)

The E myth Revisited, Michael Gerber (kindle)

1,000 Churches, Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im (hard copy)

How to Become a Rainmaker, Jeffrey J. Fox (kindle)

This Is Your Brain on Sports, L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers (hard copy)

Awe, Paul David Tripp (kindle)

Law and Ethics in Coaching, Patrick Williams and Sharon K. Anderson (kindle)

Ethics & Risk Management for Christian Coaches, Michael J. Marx (kindle)

Effective Group Coaching, Jennifer J. Britton (kindle)

Rhythms of Rest, Shelly Miller (kindle)

The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan (kindle)

2 Love Questions

Unintentionally, I’ve read quite a bit on the subject of love in the last few weeks-more specifically, the impacts of love versus fear on one’s life-the good, the bad, the ugly. Guess which one produces the good?

Most of this reading was in Timothy Jenning’s book entitled The God-Shaped Brain. Jennings presents convincing psychological, neurological and biblical evidence of the rewards of receiving and giving the love of God. Then I read the last chapter entitled “Love is All We Need” in a coaching book, an assignment for a class. The coauthors trump the value of love for a healthy, well-lived, fruitful life.

I’ve been focusing on the discipline of journaling since the beginning of the year. As a response to these readings, I’ve let this subject of love be my jumping off spot this week. And I’ve unearthed a powerful exercise. It’s simple but thought provoking. If followed daily, it could change how each day is reviewed and how the next day is lived. The exercise includes answering the following two questions at the end of the day:

  • How did God show me his love today?

This could be in an answered prayer, through someone else’s actions, through my observation of nature, or through scripture reading and meditation.

  • How did I show his love today?

This is the more challenging question. If you are aware of the coming question, it should put you in the mindset that you want to have something to report. It doesn’t reflect well on receiving God’s love by not showing his love. This question has the potential of changing a day’s course for you and therefore for others.

Yesterday, a friend noted the good mentioned in a prayer that made them aware of God’s activity. Your focus on him, his love, his goodness will make a difference. Give these two love questions some thought and see how aware you can become of his love.

2016 Library

In some areas of my personal habits/disciplines, 2016 was a year of resurrection. Blogging was one. Another was reading. Neither have fully come back to previous stature, so it’s a work in progress.

From reader’s feedback, sharing what I’ve read has always been a source of numerous things for you, so as a look back at 2016 I thought I’d simply list my 2016 library for you. 

  • Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute
  • Awe, Paul David Tripp
  • Jesus and CEO, Laurie Beth Jones
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry
  • Breakfast with Bonhoeffer, Jon Walker
  • It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over, R.T. Kendall
  • Jesus and Mohammad, Mark A. Gabriel
  • How People Grow, Dr. Henry Cloud
  • The Essential Wooden, Steve Jamison
  • Tales from the St. Louis Cardinals Dugout, Bob Forsch
  • The Listening Life, Adam S. McHugh
  • The White Umbrella, Mary Frances Bowley
  • The Power of the Other, Dr. Henry Cloud
  • The Four Laws of Forgiveness, Brad Johnson
  • The Next Level, Scott Wilson
  • The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Peter Scazerro
  • The Prisoner in the Third Cell, Gene Edwards
  • Lincoln’s Melancholy, Joshua Wolf Shenk
  • The Allure of Gentleness, Dallas Willard

This list is in the order that I read them, no recommendations or endorsements. I did grow through their content. And enjoyed reading them all. 

Here’s to more enjoyable, growth-producing reading in 2017!

Identity

Inspired by a few observations and conversations lately, I’ve been thinking about identity. By identity, I’m specifically thinking about how we find our worth, and also how we keep in mind who we are based on our understanding of who God is and how he sees us.

Today I flew home from a trip to Detroit. One observation I had on the plane today was of a man one row up from me. I’m guessing he was at least 75 years old. I was first drawn to him because I was trying to figure out where the smell of peanut M&Ms was coming from. Busted. But then I noticed something much more intriguing.

He was reading a book. The side of the book I could see was being held open by some type of clamp, something I hadn’t seen before. Being a reader, I thought it was maybe some type of gadget to help you keep your place. As I looked closer, the reality became clear. It was the end of a prosthetic.
As I watched this man, I saw further that his right hand appeared to be writhed by arthritis. This man had a lot going on. Yes, he was an amputee. But he was more than that. I saw that he was a reader, a lone traveler, a mobile device user, and a candy lover.

I wondered what his story was. How did he lose his limb? Was he a vet? Had he been a contractor who suffered a career-ending accident? Did he keep working regardless and now was enjoying retirement in Florida? Was he a survivor of a disease? Does he identify himself mostly as an amputee? Had it been so long ago that he’s lived longer with the prosthetic than without it? What was the basis of identity for this gentleman?

What should be the basis of anyone’s identity? 

  • What we do to make money? 
  • What we do to enjoy life? 
  • Who we know? 
  • What has happened in our life? 
  • What we hope to happen in our life?

I believe true identity is rooted in seeing ourselves as God sees us. He sees us as good creations, as males and females made in his image. Despite our choosing to reject him, he sees us as forgivable. Despite our replacing him with other gods, he sees us as worth waiting for when we return after those gods fail us. Bottom line: God sees us. He cares if we have a job or not, if we have all our limbs or not, if we love candy or not. Regardless, he sees us. Truly sees us. That’s all we really need to know in order to answer any questions about our identity.

Thank you, fellow traveler, for reminding me that we all have a story. We all have an identity. When seen as recipients of our Creator’s gift of life, we never truly have to wonder who we are. We can know that we are loved and forgiven, seen and known, observed and accepted. That’s a great identity.