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2016 Reading Challenge
January 29, 2016

Late last year I announced the 2016 Reading Challenge, a fun way to increase and diversify your reading through another year. I took the challenge and set this year’s goal at 104 books. However, because so much of my reading has to go toward reviewing books that are recently published and of interest to Christians (both for reviews published here and in WORLD magazine) I decided to pick from all over the list rather than working through it in order. What follows are the books I have completed so far in 2016 and, in parentheses, the reading challenge category they fulfill. They are listed in the order in which I completed them. Below that is the complete list of categories I need to cover.

  1. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien). I had read The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers at a nice, slow pace last year and began the final part of the trilogy on January 1. I enjoyed every page.
  2. Black Flags by Joby Warrick (A book about a current issue). This was one of two books I read dealing with the rise, reality, and purpose of ISIS. Because it is fast-paced and reader-friendly, Black Flags is an excellent place to begin. You can read my review here.
  3. The ISIS Apocalypse by William McCants (A historical book). Where Black Flags is somewhat biographical and reader-friendly, The ISIS Apocalypse is more of a history book and, thus, a little bit more difficult to read. Still, it tells the same story of the rise of ISIS and is worth reading to understand this organization and its goals. You can read my review here.
  4. The Deep Things of God by Fred Sanders (A book about theology). This is a brilliant book and one of my new favorites on the Trinity. You can read my full-length review here.
  5. What Is the Trinity? by R.C. Sproul (A book by your favorite author). This is a good, short, and thoroughly Sprouline treatment of the Trinity. I read it and a couple of other books on the Trinity as a warm-up for this year’s G3 Conference.
  6. Delighting in the Trinity by Tim Chester (A book about Christian living). This is one of two books by the same title. This one is plenty good, but probably just outside my top-3 or top-5 on the subject.
  7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize). I read this because it was awarded last year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is a very good novel but comes close to a concluding orgy of awfulness. A scene of rape mars the final chapters—the scene takes place in Germany at the close of the Second World War when Russian soldiers were pillaging and raping their way to Berlin, so it’s not like it was unrealistic. I just don’t know that it added anything to the book. Beyond that, it was a very enjoyable novel, but still not among my favorite Pulitzer Prize winners.
  8. The Forgotten Fear by Albert Martin (A book whose title comes from a Bible verse). This is a very helpful book on a neglected subject. You can read my review here.
  9. Dreamland by Sam Quinones (A book with a one-word title). This book received a fair bit of attention in the various round-ups of 2015’s best books. It is an interesting look at America’s opiate epidemic and the outsized role of one small Mexican county. It also draws negative attention to big pharma and its role in drug addiction.
  10. Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson (A book written by a first-time author). NFL standout Watson expands a Facebook post into a book-length treatment of race and racism. He writes from a distinctly Christian perspective and does a wonderful job of communicating the African-American perspective on race while challenging both African-Americans and whites to overcome their biases and to work toward lasting change. You can read my review here.
  11. Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson (A biography of a world leader). I wanted to love this biography but struggled with it a little. Still, Queen Victoria was a fascinating figure who reigned for a long, long time through a pivotal point in history. I appreciated Wilson’s treatments of her relationship with her husband and, later, with John Brown.

I am currently reading Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (it is so long!), The Lovers by Rod Nordland, and The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson; I am tracking it all through Goodreads.

I expect that I will be able to read 104 books, but that the difficulty will come in trying to fit those books into the categories. However, I suppose that will also be the fun part as well as the part that diversifies my reading.

The Light Reader (13 Books)

  • ☒ A book about Christian living (Delighting in the Trinity)
  • ☐ A biography
  • ☐ A classic novel
  • ☐ A book someone tells you “changed my life”
  • ☐ A commentary on a book of the Bible
  • ☒ A book about theology (The Deep Things of God)
  • ☐ A book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle
  • ☐ A book your pastor recommends
  • ☐ A book more than 100 years old
  • ☐ A book for children
  • ☐ A mystery or detective novel
  • ☐ A book published in 2016
  • ☒ A book about a current issue (Black Flags)

The Avid Reader (26 Books)

  • ☐ A book written by a Puritan
  • ☐ A book recommended by a family member
  • ☐ A book by or about a missionary
  • ☒ A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize (All the Light We Cannot See)
  • ☐ A book written by an Anglican
  • ☐ A book with at least 400 pages
  • ☒ A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien (The Return of the King)
  • ☐ A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title
  • ☐ A book with a great cover
  • ☐ A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers
  • ☐ A book about church history
  • ☐ A graphic novel
  • ☐ A book of poetry

The Committed Reader (52 Books)

  • ☐ A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with
  • ☐ A book written by an author with initials in their name
  • ☐ A book that won a ECPA Christian Book Award
  • ☐ A book about worldview
  • ☐ A play by William Shakespeare
  • ☐ A humorous book
  • ☐ A book based on a true story
  • ☐ A book written by Jane Austen
  • ☐ A book by or about Martin Luther
  • ☐ A book with 100 pages or less
  • ☒ A book with a one-word title (Dreamland)
  • ☐ A book about money or finance
  • ☐ A novel set in a country that is not your own
  • ☐ A book about music
  • ☐ A memoir
  • ☐ A book about joy or happiness
  • ☐ A book by a female author
  • ☒ A book whose title comes from a Bible verse (The Forgotten Fear)
  • ☐ A book you have started but never finished
  • ☐ A self-improvement book
  • ☐ A book by David McCullough
  • ☐ A book you own but have never read
  • ☐ A book about abortion
  • ☐ A book targeted at the other gender
  • ☐ A book by a speaker at a conference you have attended
  • ☐ A book written by someone of a different ethnicity than you

The Obsessed Reader (104 Books)

  • ☐ A book published by The Banner of Truth
  • ☐ A book about the Reformation
  • ☒ A book written by a first-time author (Under Our Skin)
  • ☒ A biography of a world leader (Victoria: A Life)
  • ☐ A book used as a seminary textbook
  • ☐ A book about food
  • ☐ A book about productivity
  • ☐ A book about or relationships or friendship
  • ☐ A book about parenting
  • ☐ A book about philosophy
  • ☐ A book about art
  • ☐ A book with magic
  • ☐ A book about prayer
  • ☐ A book about marriage
  • ☐ A book about a hobby
  • ☐ A book of comics
  • ☐ A book about the Second World War
  • ☐ A book about sports
  • ☐ A book by or about a pastor’s wife
  • ☐ A book about suffering
  • ☒ A book by your favorite author (What Is the Trinity?)
  • ☐ A book you have read before
  • ☐ A book about homosexuality
  • ☐ A Christian novel
  • ☐ A book about psychology
  • ☐ A book about the natural world
  • ☐ A book by or about Charles Dickens
  • ☐ A novel longer than 400 pages
  • ☒ A historical book (The ISIS Apocalypse)
  • ☐ A book about the Bible
  • ☐ A book about a country or city
  • ☐ A book about astronomy
  • ☐ A book with an ugly cover
  • ☐ A book by or about a martyr
  • ☐ A book by a woman conference speaker
  • ☐ A book by or about the church fathers
  • ☐ A book about language
  • ☐ A book by or about a Russian
  • ☐ A book about leadership
  • ☐ A book about public speaking
  • ☐ A book by Francis Schaeffer
  • ☐ A book by a Presbyterian
  • ☐ A book about science
  • ☐ A book about revival
  • ☐ A book about writing
  • ☐ A book about evangelism
  • ☐ A book about ancient history
  • ☐ A book about preaching
  • ☐ A book about the church
  • ☐ A book about adoption
  • ☐ A photo essay book
  • ☐ A book written in the twentieth century

Bonus (109 Books)

  • ☐ A book from a library
  • ☐ A book about business
  • ☐ A book by an author less than 30
  • ☐ A book published by a UK-based publisher
  • ☐ A book you borrow

January 08, 2016

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and every few weeks I like to provide a round-up of what is new and particularly notable. It has been a little while since my last update and I’ve got a few interesting ones to share with you.

Ruth Ruth: A Discourse Analysis of the Hebrew Bible by Daniel Block (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament). I’m really excited that the excellent ZEC series has now expanded from the New Testament to the Old. Here’s a description of the series: “Designed for the pastor and Bible teacher, the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament brings together commentary features rarely gathered together in one volume. With careful discourse analysis and interpretation of the Hebrew text, the authors trace the flow of argument in each Old Testament book, showing that how a biblical author says something is just as important as what they say. Each volume offers a set of distinctive features, including: the main idea of the passage, its literary context, the author’s original translation and exegetical outline with Hebrew layout, its structure and literary form, an explanation of the text, and its canonical and practical significance.” The series kicks off with two volumes from Daniel Block, Ruth and Obadiah, and one from Kevin Youngblood on Jonah. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon: Ruth, Jonah, Obadiah)

College Debt Trap Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree without Going Broke by Alex Chediak. “Beating the College Debt Trap presents students with a better way to do college. The radically counter-cultural truth is that students don’t have to be totally dependent on Mom, Dad, or Uncle Sam to get the most out of college. Graduation on a solid financial foundation is possible. But it will require intentionality, creativity, hard work, and a willingness to delay gratification. Chediak gets into the nitty-gritty of how to pay less for college, get meaningful work during college (while setting yourself up for success after college), pay off any loans quickly, spend less, save more, and stay out of debt for good. He also unpacks how to transition from college into career, honor God while achieving financial independence, and use your finances to make a positive, eternally-significant difference in the lives of others.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Judge NotJudge Not: How a Lack of Discernment Led to Drunken Pastors, Peanut Butter Armpits, & The Fall of a Nation by Todd Friel. “While there are great, godly men who boldly and biblically shepherd their flocks, the majority of evangelical churches have become silly centers. The result? America the beautiful has become America the debauched. In Judge Not, Todd Friel dares to violate Evangelicalism’s first commandment: thou shall not judge. Friel satirically and painfully exposes some of the rot in the underbelly of the contemporary church, and points to a solution to help rescue the church, save souls, and glorify God. Prepare to potentially be shocked, offended, and inspired to do more than just complain about the state of Evangelicalism. This book will enable you to actually do something to put an end to the chicanery that pervades far too many churches.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Kuyper Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology by Abraham Kuyper. This is a massive new set put together by Lexham Press (owned by Faithlife, the parent company of Logos). The series is being released volume by volume in Logos, hardcover, and Kindle formats. “A resurgence of interest in Kuyper, his life, and his writings is taking hold as Christians search for ways to faithfully understand and engage culture. Lexham Press is pleased to announce the publication of a major series of new translations of Kuyper’s writings in public theology. Created in partnership with the Kuyper Translation Society and the Acton Institute, the Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology will mark a historic moment in Kuyper studies, and we hope it will deepen and enrich the church’s interest and engagement in public theology.” (Learn more or buy it at Logos or Amazon)

Miracles of JesusThe Miracles of Jesus: How the Savior’s Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption by Vern Poythress. “Jesus walked on water. He healed a blind man. He turned water into wine. More than just displays of his divine power, Jesus’s miracles signify something deeper—they’re windows into God’s grand story of redemption, foreshadowing the great miracle of Christ’s death and resurrection. By explaining the meaning and significance of all 26 miracles recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, New Testament scholar Vern Poythress shows us their relevance for our lives today. Poythress unpacks for us how understanding the meaning of Christ’s miracles will help us better grasp the salvation God has brought into the world.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Evangelical EthicsEvangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today, Fourth Edition by John Jefferson Davis. “For three decades, Evangelical Ethics has been regarded as one of the best treatments of contemporary ethical problems facing Christians. John Jefferson Davis brings mature biblical thought to issues such as homosexuality, genetics, abortion, euthanasia, war and peace, the environment, divorce, and remarriage. This fourth edition includes a new chapter on the history and legacy of slavery in the United States. Other chapters have been revised and updated.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

A Roundup of Book Roundups
December 30, 2015

I love book recommendations. So when various friends take the time to put together lists of their favorite books in 2015, I enjoy seeing not only what they recommend, but why. So I thought I would compile a variety of book roundups that I’m aware of for this past year:

Another list that may be of interest is Englewood Review of Books’ compilation of Top 50 Books For Christian Readers to Watch for in 2015. Similar in concept is Brian Dodd’s list, The Top 15 Books Christian Leaders Should Read In 2015.

Here are some books that turned up numerous times on these various lists:

If you are looking for some mainstream lists, consider the New York TimesAmazonWashington Post, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and Barnes & Noble.

Finally, these lists can help those of you who would like book ideas for The 2016 Reading Challenge.

Happy reading!

Image credit: Shutterstock

Join Me for 10 Days of Productivity
December 30, 2015

As you may already know, I plan to begin 2016 with a ten-day focus on productivity. I would love to have you join me and the several thousand people who have signed up for this program I'm calling 10 Days of Productivity.

(Have you heard enough already? Sign up here.)

As you know, I recently released Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, a book on this very subject. There are, of course, a million books on productivity, but I wrote mine to address a couple of weaknesses in the genre. First, I wanted to provide a compelling and Bible-based definition of productivity that both redefines and elevates what it means to get things done. Second, I wanted to combine the theoretical with the practical, to teach both the why and the how of productivity. There is a lot of benefit in combining the best reason to be productive with the best tools and systems.

Do More Better is not just a book to read, but a book to do. 10 Days of Productivity is meant to both complement and supplement the book in this area of putting it into action and keeping it in action. Those 10 days can help get the new year off to a great start. In that time I will lead you through much of the book's content, coaching you as you begin to focus on this new kind of productivity, as you learn to use some new tools, and as you develop some new routines. 

This is not 10 days of beginning projects and checking items off a list. This is 10 days of understanding and emphasizing the best and highest kind of productivity in all of life. It is 10 days of preparing to make 2016 a year where you learn to better steward your gifts, time, talent, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.

FAQ

  • Who is it for? I believe productivity, rightly defined, is a universal calling. Therefore this program is for anyone and everyone. It's for students and businessmen, stay-at-home moms and work-from-home dads. Whoever you are and whatever you do, I am confident you will benefit from it.
  • What does it cost? There is no cost to participate, though I highly recommend purchasing a copy of Do More Better (which can be had for as little as $5.99).
  • What does it look like to participate? You will receive an email from me on each of the first 10 days of 2016. There will also be a Facebook group where we can interact. (After the program I'll erase your email address, so there is no need to fear spam).
  • Do I need to own Do More Better to participate? No, but it will definitely make the program more valuable. Again, it's an inexpensive book and will contain lots that I can't cover in these 10 days.
  • Where can I buy Do More Better ? The print and Kindle versions are available at Amazon, while Cruciform Press has the ePub and PDF.
  • How do I get started? All you need to do for now is sign up. We will kick things off on New Year's Day. You can read the book in advance, read it simultaneously, or not read it at all.

What Reviewers Are Saying

  • David Murray: "Do More Better is the simplest, most concise, most comprehensive, most practical, and most realistic productivity guide that I've encountered." 
  • Nick McDonald: "I read this book two weeks ago, and it’s already changed my life. ... This isn’t a book I read. It’s a book I DID.” 
  • Darryl Dash: "Do More Better, though, is the shortest, clearest, and most practical guide to productivity I've read. I'll be implementing its advice, and I encourage you to read and apply it too."
  • Gloria Furman: "No doubt, the great claim in the first pages that this book will change your life, is spot on."
  • David Steele: "His work is God-centered, practical, and offers users immediate help that is sure to boost personal productivity. I commend this excellent work and trust that God will use it to encourage many people!"
  • Eric Davis: "Anyone can tell you what they’re doing that works. It's quite another thing to shepherd someone through change. I think this book does a fine job of that."

 

 

December 10, 2015

2015 was a pretty good year for Christian readers, and today I want to share some of my top picks from the year that is swiftly drawing to a close. Let me offer a few caveats: First, these are almost certainly not the best books of 2015 in any objective sense; rather, they are my favorites, the ones that have remained in my mind and impacted my life since I read them. Second, they are in no particular order. And finally, at the request of several readers I am posting this list before the end of the year because some people would like to refer to it as they do their Christmas shopping. Enjoy!

Plausibility The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction by Ed Shaw. There may be no societal issue more pressing and prevalent today than the issue of homosexuality. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? What is the church to do with those who experience same-sex attraction? It has been a joy to see many Christians begin to offer compelling responses to the world’s wisdom. Ed Shaw’s is one of the best so far. He helpfully identifies specific concerns and shows how the Bible calls us to meet them in God’s way, and he does all of this with a firm grounding in Scripture and without an ounce of compromise. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Charlie Brown Religion A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz by Stephen Lind. This fascinating work tells the story of cartoonist Charles Schulz’s life and times while keeping the focus on his faith. His faith was as complicated as the man himself and both developed and diminished over the course of his life. Even while Schulz did so much to generate religious conversation in society, he himself turned further and further from the Bible’s wisdom. This is a fascinating portrayal of a fascinating figure. (Buy It | Read My Review)

We Cannot Be Silent We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong by Al Mohler. Mohler’s work is both courageous and timely. It closely and critically examines the defining moral issues of our day—sex, gender, and sexuality—and stands firm on the unpopular, traditional, biblical viewpoints. Mohler serves as a trusted guide to many of our deepest, most difficult, and most perplexing questions. The book will equip you to better understand this world and to live as a Christian in it. (Buy It | Read My Review)

How to Walk Into Church How To Walk Into Church by Tony Payne. I once spent a delightful day with Tony Payne, driving from one end of Sydney to the other and chatting all the while. At that time he told me he was working on this book, and I looked forward to it ever since. This is easily the simplest book on the list. All Payne wants you to do is consider how you walk into church each Sunday. His request is this: Walk into church praying about where you should sit. Yes, it is that simple. And it has that much significance. (Buy It | Read My Review)

New Pastors Handbook The New Pastor’s Handbook: Help and Encouragement for the First Years of Ministry by Jason Helopoulos. This is a book by a young pastor for other young pastors. In forty-eight short chapters Helopoulos provides counsel on knowing and heeding God’s call, on starting out strong in ministry, on the pitfalls young pastors face, and on the joys of ministry. The biggest section is comprised of very practical tips and pointers on a selection of pressing issues: caring for family, reading, leading, busyness, friendship, suffering, and many more. Ultrapractical and stuffed full of timeless wisdom, it will prove valuable to many pastors. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Accidental Feminist The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design by Courtney Reissig. Gender, we are told today, is merely a social construct, untied from sex and unleashed from masculinity or femininity. The clear demarkations of days gone by have been replaced by endless shades of gray. The Bible describes something very different. The Bible describes masculinity and femininity as being distinct, and it describes both of them as reflecting something unique and important about God himself. There is a better way—God’s way. In God’s world distinction exists in order to point to eternal truths, the very subject of Reissig’s excellent book. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Compelling Community The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive by Mark Dever & Jamie Dunlop. This book is not a quick-fix or a church-wide program of change. It’s not a how-to guide and not a biographical account of a person or church. Instead, it is “a set of biblical principles that can guide gradual change in your congregation over several years. … It’s a book that attempts to focus on God’s purposes for church community instead of our own. … It’s a modern retelling of truths that have been discussed throughout church history, and especially in the centuries following the Protestant Reformation.” It is not theoretical but practical, drawn right out of the authors’ experiences with their own congregation. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Finding Truth Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes by Nancy Pearcey. In this follow-up to Total Truth, Pearcey offers 5 principles meant to unmask our culture’s endless worldview alternatives to Christianity—secularism, atheism, and the like. There are all kinds of books that make a similar promise, but this one has a noteworthy difference: Pearcey looks to Romans 1 to find a kind of apologetics training manual for identifying and challenging any other worldview. Pearcey promises that the principles she lays out will “provide you with the tools to recognize what’s right and wrong with any worldview—and then to craft a biblically informed perspective that is both true and humane.” She makes the promise and she delivers on it. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Worldly Saints Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? by Michael Wittmer. In this book Michael Wittmer answers common questions like these: Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy your life? Is it possible for you to be fully committed to the Lord and still find time to enjoy life’s pleasures? Or, as some seem to feel, do we need to live lives of utter frugality, sending all our money to the mission field? Are we responsible to share the gospel with absolutely every person we encounter? Should we really feel that constant low-grade guilt that accuses us that we are not doing enough for the Lord? In short, how do we resolve the tension between the pleasures of earth and the purpose of heaven? His answers are as compelling as any I’ve read. This book is a life-changer. (Buy It | Read My Review)

On Guard On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak Reju. I wish this book didn’t exist. At least, I wish it didn’t have to exist. But in a world where abuse is rampant even within churches, this could be one of the most important books you will ever read. If I could mandate that at least one leader from every church had to read a single book, I don’t think there are too many I would choose ahead of this one. Reju carefully shows the danger of abuse and lays out steps to identify and protect against it. “Protecting the children under your care is a way to preserve your gospel witness in your community.” Not only that, but “Our ethical and moral responsibility as Christians is to protect the children whom God has entrusted to us.” We all need to take this very seriously. (Buy It | Read My Review)

Join Me for 10 Days of Productivity
December 09, 2015

I plan to begin 2016 with 10 days of productivity, and I would love to have you join me. Let me tell you how and why you may want to join this free little program I'm calling (you guessed it!) 10 Days of Productivity.

(Heard enough already? Sign up here.)

As you know, I recently released Do More Better, a book on this very subject. Now I know that there are an awful lot of books on productivity out there, but I believe the one I wrote offers a couple of unique features. First, it provides a compelling definition of productivity that both redefines and elevates what it means to get stuff done. Second, it is very practical, going all the way to the level of helping you choose specific tools and assisting you in setting them up. This combination of a right, biblical understanding of productivity, combined with the best tools and systems—this is powerful.

Do More Better is not just a book to read, but a book to do. 10 Days of Productivity is meant to both complement and supplement the book in this area of putting it into action and keeping it in action. Those 10 days can help get the new year off to a great start. In that time I will lead you through much of the book's content, coaching you as you begin to focus on this new kind of productivity, as you learn to use some new tools, and as you develop some new routines. I will do most of this through emails, though there will also be an optional Facebook group where we can interact.

I want to be clear: This is not 10 days of beginning projects and checking items off a list. This is 10 days of understanding and emphasizing the best and highest kind of productivity in all of life. It is 10 days of preparing to make 2016 a year where you learn to better steward your gifts, time, talent, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.

FAQ

  • Who is it for? I believe productivity, rightly defined, is a universal calling. Therefore this program is for anyone and everyone. It's for students and businessmen, stay-at-home moms and work-from-home dads. Whoever you are and whatever you do, I am confident you will benefit from it.
  • What does it cost? There is no cost to participate, though I highly recommend purchasing a copy of Do More Better (which can be had for as little as $5.99 for Kindle, $5.49 for PDF/ePub, and $8.99 for print).
  • What does it look like to participate? You will receive an email from me on each of the first 10 days of 2016. There will also be a Facebook group where we can interact. (After the program I'll erase your email address, so there is no need to fear spam).
  • Do I need to own Do More Better to participate? No, but it will definitely make the program more valuable. Again, it's an inexpensive book and will contain lots that I can't cover in these 10 days.
  • Where can I buy Do More Better ? The print and Kindle versions are available at Amazon, while Cruciform Press has the ePub and PDF.
  • How do I get started? All you need to do for now is sign up. I will be in touch near the end of December, and we will kick things off on New Year's Day. You can read the book in advance, read it simultaneously, or not read it at all.

What Reviewers Are Saying

  • David Murray: "Do More Better is the simplest, most concise, most comprehensive, most practical, and most realistic productivity guide that I've encountered." 
  • Nick McDonald: "I read this book two weeks ago, and it’s already changed my life. ... This isn’t a book I read. It’s a book I DID.” 
  • Darryl Dash: "Do More Better, though, is the shortest, clearest, and most practical guide to productivity I've read. I'll be implementing its advice, and I encourage you to read and apply it too."
  • Gloria Furman: "No doubt, the great claim in the first pages that this book will change your life, is spot on."
  • David Steele: "his work is God-centered, practical, and offers users immediate help that is sure to boost personal productivity. I commend this excellent work and trust that God will use it to encourage many people!"
  • Eric Davis: "Anyone can tell you what they’re doing that works. It’s quite another thing to shepherd someone through change. I think this book does a fine job of that."

 

 

Image credit: Shutterstock

2016 Reading Challenge
December 07, 2015

Do you love to read? Do you want to learn to love to read? Do you enjoy reading books that cross the whole spectrum of topics and genres? Then have I got something for you!

Whether you are a light reader or completely obsessed, this 2016 Reading Challenge is designed to help you read more and to broaden the scope of your reading.

How It Works

The 2016 Reading Challenge is composed of 4 lists, which you move through progressively. You will need to determine a reading goal early in the year and set your pace accordingly.

  • The Light Reader. This plan has 13 books which sets a pace of 1 book every 4 weeks.
  • The Avid Reader. The Avid plan adds another 13 books which increases the pace to 1 book every 2 weeks.
  • The Committed Reader. This plan adds a further 26 books, bringing the total to 52, or 1 book every week.
  • The Obsessed Reader. The Obsessed plan doubles the total to 104 books which sets a demanding pace of 2 books every week. (If you think that sounds challenging, perhaps next year I can add the D.A. Carson Plan with 500 books!)

Begin with the Light plan, which includes suggestions for 13 books. Choose those books and read them in any order, checking them off as you complete them. When you have finished those 13, advance to the Avid plan. Use the criteria there to choose another 13 books and read them in any order. Then it’s time to move to the Committed plan with a further 26 books. When you have completed the Committed plan (that’s 52 books so far!), you are ready to brave the Obsessed plan with its 104 books. Be sure to set your goal at the beginning of the year and pace yourself accordingly.

All you need to do is download the list (or buy a printed version—see below), choose your first few books, and get going. Happy reading in 2016!

(Click the image to make it bigger)
2016 Reading Challenge

Ideas

  • Take the challenge with your spouse and divide the list in two.
  • Take the challenge with your family and divide the books between the entire family.
  • Take the challenge with your youth group or small group and divide the books between all of you. Regularly report on your progress with short reviews.
  • Set your goal and read the books from all of your lists in any order (rather than progressing from Light to Avid to Committed).
  • Discard all the rules and choose books from any plan in any order. Use the 2016 Reading Challenge as a guide to diversifying your reading.
  • Use #vtReadingChallenge to connect and to keep track of others on social media.
  • Have fun with it!

Get the Challenge

The 2016 Reading Challenge is available in 2 formats: plain and pretty. The plain version is a simple list you can print at home. The pretty version is styled as an infographic and will look amazing on your wall all year round. It might also make a neat Christmas gift. You can print it at home, download it and take it to Staples to have them print it, or have it professionally printed from our store and sent your way.

My thanks goes to Sarah N for the suggestion and her request for me to create this reading challenge (which is styled on a similar challenge issued by PopSugar).

November 30, 2015

For the past few years I’ve made it a point to collect Cyber Monday deals that may be of particular interest to Christians. While there are many places you can go online to find deals on electronics and other big-ticket items, I wanted to provide a place for Christian retailers to make their deals known to Christians who are trying to kick-start their Christmas shopping. I will update this list regularly throughout the weekend, so check back often.

Top Deals: Amazon | CBD | Circle | Ligonier | Westminster Books

Amazon

Amazon has a lot of their devices on sale today including Kindle Fire tablets for as low as $34.99 and Kindle e-readers for as low as $49.99. They also have a Cyber Monday page with a variety of deals (phones, KitchenAids, Kindle Unlimited, etc).

I have an entire post dedicated to Kindle deals right hereCyber Monday Kindle Deals for the Christian Reader. Here are a few highlights:

$0.99

$1.99

$2.99

$3.99

Again, visit Cyber Monday Kindle Deals for the Christian Reader for many more.

Banner of Truth

The Banner is running a 48 Hr Cyber Monday deal. The Christian in Complete Armour (a classic, in-depth, Puritan title) is on sale for $15, down from $48, and you can select any 3 Puritan Paperbacks (classic, short Puritan works) for $9. Also, Banner’s Christmas Special is on through the month of December, featuring The Works of John OwenThe Works of John NewtonSpurgeon’s Autobiography, Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Romans Series and many other solid Christian books.  

Christian Audio

Christian Audio has books bundled together for $9.98. There are several bundles available.

Christian Book Distributors

CBD has deals for Cyber Monday. They include:

Bibles

Kids’ Books

And lots of books for adults that I will leave you to sort through.

Circle

Circle is on sale today. (I reviewed this product last week.) Circle is a new way for families to manage content and time across all electronic devices. It works with every device in the home and is simple to set up. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. Today only it is $85, discounted from the usual $99.

Cruciform Press

Cruciform Press has a deal lasting through to Monday. You can get 20% off all shopping cart purchases except subscriptions. Use the coupon code Challies20.

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front is offering the complete collection of their 8 DVDs for $60 or individual DVDs at $10. All products include free Media Mail shipping. I love these DVDs and think they make a great gift for a person on your Christmas list or even better, your church library. You can also get these discount prices at Amazon.

Getty Music

Getty Music has all of their albums at 50% off for the digital downloads.

The Good Book Company

The Good Book Company is offering 50% off DVD-based curriculum. That includes Gospel Shaped ChurchLive, Grow, KnowChristianity ExploredDiscipleship ExploredSoulThe World We all Want, and Putting Parenting to Bed.

Lexham Press

Lexham Press has several Kindle books on sale at $0.99 each: I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible by Michael Heiser, Bible Word Studies: A How-To Guide by John Barry, The Bible in Its Ancient Context edited by John Barry, The Bible in the Real World edited by Rebecca Van Noord, The Gospel Works Everywhere edited by Rebecca Van Noord, and When the Bible Is Complicated edited by John Barry. (Note: Lexham Press is the publishing arm of Faithlife; I am not too familiar with any of these books.)

Ligonier Ministries

Ligonier Ministries has a lengthy list of deals today. The Reformation Study Bible is on sale, as are a selection of books, teaching series, and other resources. You can also save on a subscription to Tabletalk.

Logos

Logos has several items marked down for the weekend. Deals include Theological Dictionary of the OT/NT (25 vols.) at 44% off, The Works of Cornelius Van Til (40 vols.) at 54% off, Crossway Apologetics Collection (10 vols.) at 31% off, B. B. Warfield Collection (20 vols.) at 41% off, Lexham Press Master Bundle (175 vols.) at 75% off, and Mobile Ed: Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew at 50% off.

Missional Wear

Missional Wear has Cyber Monday deals that will be available at midnight on Monday morning!

The Rabbit Room

The Rabbit Room has sales all weekend on a variety of books and CDs from Andrew Peterson and others.

Reformation Heritage Books

Reformation Heritage Books has many items on sale through the weekend. Printed book deals include The Gospel Call and True Conversion by Paul Washer at $5, The Works of William Perkins volume #1 at $25, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (Hardcover) at $24 and How Sermons Work by David Murray at $4. Ebook deals include Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation edited by James T. Dennison Jr. ($9.99).

Revive Our Hearts

Revive Our Hearts has a variety of products deeply discounted.

Shepherd Press

Shepherd Press has a simple sale: 40% off everything. They have a lot of books and DVDs to sort through.

Sovereign Grace Music

Sovereign Grace Music has all their albums marked down to just $6 (in digital formats).

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

SBTS is offering 40% off any conference registration. Use code CYBER40 to get the deal.

The Gospel Coalition

The Gospel Coalition is offering $20 off registration along with a free eBook download of Word-Filled Women’s Ministry from Crossway.

Unlocking the Bible

Unlocking the Bible has all of their products at 40% off.

Verse Art

Verse Art—Scripture-themed art that you can hang on your walls—is a new effort from Faithlife (the parent company of Logos). They are launching this new product with a Black Friday discount of 30% off.

Westminster Books

Westminster Books has all ESVs at 50% off along with various other Christmas deals.

Cyber Monday
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