June 2011

I have a confession to make: I’m a book hoarder.

I’m not necessarily my-own-show-on-TLC level. Nope, I don’t have a strategically mapped path in between piles of Piper and Packer. There are no mountains of Mahaney, no avalanches of Alcorn, and I’m not tripping over Tripp.

But by golly, I like to pick up books on sale, and then I can’t always read ’em as fast as I grab ’em. So this year’s summer reading list doesn’t include many new releases. As a matter of fact, some of these have been on my shelf for a few years, but this is the summer to conquer the piles. Here’s a sampling of what I’ll be reading…

Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs, Bill Hybels. Hybels is to church leadership what Elvis was to deep fried PB&J consumption: unrivaled. I’ve skimmed parts of this book, but plan to go cover to cover over the next few weeks.

Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership, Alexander Strauch. This will win the award for biggest book and smallest print I’ve ever read. And don’t think about making fun of me, because I’ll drop it on your head. And you’ll die. I’m working through this one with my Dude’s Group. They can thank me later.

Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience, Jonathan Tisch. My brother-in-law tipped me off to this one a few years ago. He knows my love for all things guest-servicey. Sadly, the book did not come with chocolates. Or a pillow.

Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot, Max Lucado. Another brother-in-law pick. (I just realized he’s dominating 20% of my summer reading. Weird.) He claims this is Lucado’s best book. I say if you put all of his books in a cage match, God Came Near will come out victorious every time.

Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God, Voddie Baucham, Jr. Voddie was a huge influence on my ministry at a crucial time several years ago. His family rivals the Gosselins in size (but not in crazy). That makes for a good book.

How To Wow Your Church Guests: 101 Ways to Make a Meaningful First Impression, Mark Waltz. I pre-order very few books. Very few. But the constant exception is my friend Mark Waltz. He’s the guru of first impressions. (Some might say he wrote the book on it.) I’m looking forward to this July release.

Now You’re Speaking My Language: Honest Communication and Deeper Intimacy for a Stronger Marriage, Gary Chapman. I try to read at least one marriage book a year. This is the follow up to Five Love Languages. At least I think it is. (My love language is assumption.)

Ronald Reagan in Private: A Memoir of My Years in the White House, Jim Kuhn. A rare foray into history. I liked Reagan. He would have been 100 this year. I paid 100 pennies for this at Dollar Tree. Poetic, don’t you think?

Small Groups With Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities, Steve Gladen. Our own Spence Shelton is supplying all the campus pastors with this new release from the Saddleback Small Groups Sultan. Free reads are always better. I hope.

Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion, Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck. If you’re a close observer (or just psychotically obsessed), you’ll remember that this was on last year’s reading list. It was the one book I never got around to. This year though, I’m determined to love the church.

So that’s what I’m reading. Anything else you’d suggest? Any of these that I’m simply wasting my time on? Comment below.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, Russell Moore linked back to the blog with this tweet: “Honored to be on the new Oprah Book Club summer list.” Shortly after, my computer exploded in a puff of statistical glory. Hundreds…actually well over 1,000…of his followers fell for it and clicked the link, proving that Moore is not just on the Oprah reading list, he is indeed the Oprah Winfrey of the Christian publishing world.

Oprah has left the building.

Oh, I know. She’s coming back. The Great One will soon reincarnate on her own OWN station and be more incredibly enlightening than ever before. But for now, she hasn’t seen her shadow, so there’s still six more weeks of Winfrey Winter.

And that’s where I come in, dear readers. I shall fill in the temporary gap left by her Daytime Highness. I shall crank out my book club reading list for the summer. If you’re looking for a good read, start with one of these (listed in alphabetical order, because they’re all so darn good)…

Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches, Russell Moore. Peeps in our church believe in adoption, and this book will have you believing in it, too. I personally believe that every Christian is called to adopt…some are called to do it, others are called to finance it. And besides, Russ Moore is preaching at the Summit later this summer. The more books you buy, the less we have to pay him. (Just kidding. Maybe.)

Authentic Faith: The Power of a Fire-Tested Life, Gary Thomas. I can only recommend about 10 or 11 of Gary’s books, because I think that’s all he’s written. This is Sacred Marriage guy. If you want to learn how to persevere through waiting, suffering, persecution, or contentment, this is the book for you.

Choosing To Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide? Andy Stanley. I’m leading a reading group for some of our Brier Creek Campus guys this year, and this is a book that I made sure was on our list. If you’re a career-driven person, this book will rattle your cage.

Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word, Nigel Beynon & Andrew Sach. The above reading group just finished this one. Beynon & Sach take three years’ worth of seminary learnin’ and boil it down to 154 pages. If you struggle with making Bible study make sense, order this one.

Jim and Casper Go To Church: frank conversations about faith, churches, and well-meaning Christians, Jim Henderson & Matt Casper. A delightful, disturbing, insightful book written by a believer and an atheist who traveled the country and visited some of the nation’s best known churches. Casper’s haunting question* “Jim, is this what Jesus told you guys to do?” will make you think about how we’ve hijacked the bride of Christ.

Leading On Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion, Wayne Cordeiro. This is a great read for those in the ministry and those who aren’t. Cordeiro recounts his battle with burnout and how he gradually rebuilt his life and family.

Rescuing Ambition, Dave Harvey. A great accompaniment to Choosing to Cheat (above) as well as Pastor J.D.’s “Homewrecker” series that starts this weekend. Harvey helps us view ambition through a gospel grid.

Whiter Than Snow: Meditations On Sin and Mercy, Paul David Tripp. Read this during your quiet times this summer. Tripp masterfully walks us through David’s confession in Psalm 51 and provides hope and healing for those who have strayed (which, by the way, is all of us).

Coming up tomorrow: my own reading list for the summer. But what have I left out? What are some must reads that you’d recommend to the blogosphere? Comment below.

*Pun intended. You’re welcome.

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