Reading Posts

My 70 Books of 2019

My 70 Books of 2019

I was able to tackle a few more books than normal in 2019.

Below is the list of 70 books I read and my ratings for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. You can check out my running list throughout the year by clicking on the “reading list” link on the top right of my blog.

In addition to this list, you might also check out:

Click on any of the titles below to get to a link to buy it.

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2019 Reading List – 3/4

2019 Reading List – 3/4

We are 75% through 2019 by now. In Oregon, that means the beauty of Fall is all around us and the weather has a chill to it. It’s one of my favorite times of the year and a good opportunity to check in on the books I’ve read so far. I’m feeling good about being 9 books ahead of my goal of reading 60 total this year.

Here are the books I’ve read since January with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. 

In addition to this list, you might also check out:

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2019 Reading List – 1/4

2019 Reading List – 1/4

We are a quarter of the way through 2019 by now and you have probably forgotten about those New Year’s resolutions. If not, now’s a good time to gauge your progress so far and make sure you are doing what you wanted to do this year. One of my goals was to read at least 60 books this year and so far I’ve read 16 of them. That puts me slightly ahead of pace.

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Her Gates Will Never be Shut

I’m continually amazed by how many people ask me about my views of hell. In much of Christianity today we discuss hell as if it is the single greatest reason for believing in Jesus. The challenge of this is that most of our views of hell are shaped more by fictional literature and movies and less by what the Scriptures actually say about it. This ends up creating a religion based on acquiring fire insurance rather than in experiencing Jesus.

I’ve read numerous books on hell that have challenged my thinking over the years but none as good as Brad Jersak’s book: Her Gates Will Never be Shut (see: Amazon link). Most Christians only know one view of hell, often referred to either as Eternal Conscious Torment or infernalism. Jersak does an incredible job showing the dominant three views that we find throughout the Bible and then offers a way to make sense of them. It should give Christians a renewed sense of humility when we realize there is no easy way to argue any one of them. Perhaps the best line of the book is when he says, “I am more hopeful of Jesus than I am sure of hell.”

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book to give you a taste of it:

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How Was C.S. Lewis Influenced by Reading Books?

How Was C.S. Lewis Influenced by Reading Books?

I’m in the late stages of my Master’s program at Fuller Theological Seminary and I saved my elective courses for the end. This means I’ve fulfilled all of the required courses and can now take optional classes that are of particular interest to me. This semester has been the enjoyment of an entire class on the life and theology of C.S. Lewis. Lewis wrote numerous acclaimed books such as the Chronicles of Narnia series and his popular Mere Christianity book exploring theology.

I’ve had the chance to write a couple of papers that others may actually be interested in reading. I say “may” because these are academically styled and therefore not the way I normally would ever write. If seeing footnotes is a trigger for you of painful school memories then move along. However, if you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, you may be curious to know what I found as I explored the way he was shaped in his theology and thinking from the books he read. It was both encouraging and motivating for me in my own pursuit of learning through books today.

Click on the link below to read the paper. (And if you’re wondering, I got an A on it).

How Was C.S. Lewis Shaped by Reading Books?

The Cross and the Lynching Tree

I finally had the chance to read a book I’ve had on my list for years now. The Cross and the Lynching Tree is considered by many to be theologian James Cone’s finest book (see: Amazon link). The book rocked me. Cone looks at the nature of the cross in light of America’s history of lynching. As such, this should be mandatory reading for all Christians in America. As Cone notes, “Every time a white mob lynched a black person, they lynched Jesus. The lynching tree is the cross in America.”

I was amazed how it guided me through moments of tears into moments of desiring God to use me in new ways for the benefit of others. This is a theology that I don’t find in many places yet I realize the deficiency this has created in me. We need to listen to voices such as Cone’s, even when (and especially when) they are hard to hear. I was somewhat aware of the history of lynching, but I admit I had barely scratched the surface on seeing the horrors of it. I suspect most (white) readers will have the same experience.

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