2017 Reading Recommendations

Hey Church: 

Praise Him. 2016 is gone and 2017 is here (and now). I am excited to see our church family next week. In the meantime, a blog for your reading pleasure: 

You know, I am often asked, "John, what are you reading?" Actually that rarely happens. But if it did you could imagine how cool it would be. Regardless, I wanted to put together a resource blog on some books I have read, that I am reading or that I am planning on reading this year. Joe Galindo, a mentor and friend, once told me "There are two things that will greatly influence you - who you hang out with and what you read."

In my role as a shepherd, here are some books I believe will help you as Christ is being formed in you. Teresa of Avila said of the human soul, "The 'interior castle' has many rooms and they are slowly occupied by God, allowing us time to grow". These books should help Him take more ground in your heart. 

So here they are, in no particular order: 

The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family - Patrick Lencioni
This is my 3rd read by Lencioni. Lencioni is a great story teller. I cannot emphasize how easy his books are to read because they are simply good stories. Think of modern day Aesop's Fables. He primarily writes business strategy books, however, in this one he turns his attention to the "most important organization in our lives - the family." 
Who should read this? Anyone who is drowning under the weight of kids, work, expectations, diapers, ballet recitals and Netflix binges. Purchase it here

The Bait of Satan - John Bevere 
We tried to emphasize this book last year as a way to protect what Christ is giving us as a church (His Presence). Bill Johnson said, "God loves to manifest Himself upon His people when we're known for our love of each other." It is like God is attracted to love and unity. Bevere powerfully points to the bedrock of our faith - forgiveness. We are called to forgive as we've been forgiven. Moses smell the roses... 
Who should read this? Anyone who can't forgive, is walking in bitterness, who loves negativity and judging everyone. Purchase it here

The Bible - Jesus Christ
Each year, well meaning Christians set out to read the Bible in a whole year. I have done it a few times and was able to last year because I listened to it. I felt like the LORD was asking me to read the entire Bible last year. However, because I am very religious, at first I wondered if it counted because I listened to it. Then I remembered the Bible is a story that has been retold over and over, starting with the ancient world, which was an oral society. Meaning they passed down history and tradition through stories, song and prose. My point is this - ask the LORD where to focus (for me it is the Gospels and Psalms) and use The YouVersion app to listen to the Bible this year. Listen to other versions, NLT, ESV, NASB, The Message, etc. Turn off The Edge (RIP), NPR and Spotify and just listen while you are driving, or doing the dishes. 
Who should read this? People who are breathing. Download it here

Anything book written by Eugene Peterson - Eugene Peterson
The amount of grace and joy and beauty I've come to see and enjoy over the past year is in large part to to Pastor Peterson. He is really cool (see interview with Bono on the Psalms). The two books I would recommend to start with are Run with the Horses and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Peterson is a story teller and is uninterested in phony religion. He wants his readers to find Christ, savor Christ and become fully satiated in Christ. 
Who should read this? Those who are dull and dry of soul and could use some grace and beauty.  You can purchase here:Run with the Horses & A Long Obedience

The Beginners Guide to Spiritual Gifts - Sam Storms 
Finally! A reformed-charismatic-baptist book! Now there's something everyone can enjoy. Right out of the gate, Storms blasts you with the purpose of the book: "What the Church needs is the truth set aflame by the power of the Holy Spirit." Boom. If you are new to Normandy and this whole prophecy thing or if you want someone is smarter than you help explain the gifts - Sam's the man. 
Who should read this? Those hungry for more of the Spirit and those questioning the Gifts of the Spirit. Purchase it here

The Divine Conspiracy - Dallas Willard 
Excuse me while I find my brain. That is what happens when I try and get through more than 2 or 3 sections at a time. Willard was a brilliant philosopher. Brilliant is almost an understatement. In Conspiracy, Willard uses the Sermon on the Mount to reveal the radical dynamic of living in the kingdom of the heavens. 
Who should read this? Deep thinkers and drinkers. People tired of sin management and hopeful for a better way.  Purchase it here

God is Good - Bill Johnson
Bethel Church.  Love 'em or hate 'em, agree with 'em or disagree, God is moving at Bethel. There is a power coming out of the church and the effect is undeniable. Some of Johnson's thoughts are profound, but the main one centers around the goodness of God. He is better than you think.  I would read this alongside Diving Conspiracy. They are completely different in style and tone, but are after the same aim - Christ's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. My heart has been stirred as I've read this book. 
Who should read this? The faithless, the tired, the hurting and the hungry and anyone who questions the goodness of God. Purchase it here

The Longest Day - Cornelius Ryan 
This book is the reason we named our church Normandy. In it we saw heart, pain, the realities of life and death and sacrifice. Boys younger than the majority of us are now went to fight and give their lives to sacrifice for people they'd never really know - that they might be free. It is incredible. 
Who should read this? People watching Empire, OTNB, or GOT (meaning... this will be a better use of your time... no judgement though). Or if you like history and want to know more one of the most dramatic events in the history of our world (WWII). Purchase it here

The Babylon Bee - Funny Christians 
Think the Onion meets the Baptist Standard. This website is everything I have ever dreamed of when it comes to satirizing the Christian life (you know the parts that are kinda funny, kinda dumb, kinda sad and kinda true). Just listen to these delicious titles: 
Local Man's Bible Excited to Be Read for Whole First Week of January Again
Matt Chandler asks Drive Through Employee 42 Times if She's Tracking With Him
Rich Young Ruler Finds Home at Lakewood Church
Church Women's Group Organizes to Spread Good News of Plexus
Who Should Read this? Everyone at Normandy. See Hebrews 13:17. 

Hopefully this is helpful to give you a little vision or inspiration to shape your mind and heart towards Christ in 2017. If you would like to read one of these books and cannot afford it, come see me on Sunday and we will make it happen. 

Pastor J.