Redeeming Pleasure Series

It’s been a few years since I released my second book, Redeeming Pleasure. But this past month I had the chance to write a new series about it and preach four messages that take concepts in the book and develop them in new ways. If you haven’t yet read the book, it gives an easy overview into the ideas. If you have read the book, you’ll recognize a few of the key themes and then will hopefully see them in a nuanced way as I develop them differently than I did in the book. You can also check out a site that explores more aspects of the book (see: RedeemingPleasure.com).

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Deep Work

It’s extremely early in the year for me to already add a five-star rating to a book on my yearly reading list. Yet here we are. I recently finished Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work (see: Amazon link). He writes about a different type of work which is increasingly rare these days yet which offers a disproportionate amount of return. Newport defines deep work as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” As the frequency and sophistication of the distractions continue to increase around us, those people who find the time and ability to achieve deep work will stand out from the rest. In addition, they will feel a sense of contribution on a greater level.

How much “distraction-free concentration” time do you have in your schedule? With the busyness of my life, I realize my need to intentionally work toward this. I was immensely intrigued by almost every section of this book. This is one of those books you have to digest slowly as you consider ways to apply (and disrupt) it to your current habits. As Newport argues, “the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.” This may sound daunting given your current reality, yet he provides numerous ways to approach this idea and how to nuance the application for your situation.

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My 53 Books of 2017

My 53 Books of 2017

In 2017 I read 53 books. There were some great ones this year that are definitely worth checking out. In particular, I’d say the Harry Potter series, Prophetic Imagination, What is the Bible?, Cross Vision, and Ready Player One. Very different books, but each one was so worth the read.

Below is the list 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 my reading lists from previous years as well as my recommendations on how to become a better readerAs always, you can find this list throughout the year on the menu at the top of my blog.

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Bible Reading Plan

Bible Reading Plan

Are you one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions each January? If so, you might have considered attempting to read the Bible more strategically this year. For most people that try it, it’s hard to know where to begin and how to tackle it. People usually just pick a plan and then dive in. Depending on which plan you choose, you may get bogged down in some Old Testament section or fall behind in your reading. Either way, you often end up giving up altogether. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been there before. (I see those hands).

I’ve tried tons of different reading plans over the years (and even finished some of them!). Here’s a key lesson I’ve discovered: developing a habit of studying the Bible is more important than completing it in a set amount of time.

I’ve enjoyed different aspects of different plans over the years. Some were more intensive than others. For the first time, I’m offering you a plan I’ve created myself. It’s a variation on one of my favorite plans I’ve done in the past (see: Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System). I love the premise of his plan but it requires reading ten chapters a day. That’s a lot. So I’ve created a modified version that does five chapters a day using his as a starting point.

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Top 5 Posts of 2017

Top 5 Posts of 2017

What a year 2017 turned out to be! Not only did the political and spiritual landscape change dramatically in America this year but also my personal life as well. I began the year in Arizona not knowing I’d be soon moving to Oregon. I close the year in a new role in a new state. As such, it isn’t surprising to me that three of my top five most read blog posts this year were about our journey. In case you missed any of these when they first posted, or just want to reread one again, here are my top most viewed blogs I wrote this year.

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Forgotten Among the Lilies

My list of books I want to read seems to always grow faster than I can cross books off it. Occasionally, a book will jump in priority when I hear it referenced in multiple circles. Such was the case with Ronald Rolheiser’s book, Forgotten Among the Lilies (see: Amazon link). Rolheiser is a Catholic Priest and writes with a unique a meditative insight into life. It’s not always an easy read, but it feels like a deep dive into the condition of your soul. I even quoted it a few times in a recent sermon (see: Divine Restlessness). This is a good end-of-the-year book, and the first chapter is brilliant.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

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