Books are important! This year one of my goals is to read 12 books for fun. Last year I read 11 books but it was a couple of books I did not finish. So as a way to stay accountable, I decided to make a mini-series of blog posts. Each post will be about the books I have read or am currently reading. I plan to give a review of the books and introduce you to some different books. I hope this series will be beneficial to you as well and encourage you to pick up some books.
The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God’s Eyes ~ Rick Warren
Every church is driven by something. Tradition, finances, programs, personalities, events, seekers, and even buildings can each be the controlling force in a church. But Rick Warren believes that in order for a church to be healthy it must become a purpose-driven church, built around the five New Testament purposes given to the church by Jesus. “The issue is church health, not church growth!” declares Warren. “If your church is healthy, growth will occur naturally. Healthy, consistent growth is the result of balancing the five biblical purposes of the church.”
Rick Warren shares a proven five-part strategy that will enable your church to grow • warmer through fellowship • deeper through discipleship • stronger through worship • broader through ministry • larger through evangelism The Purpose Driven® Church shifts the focus away from church building programs to emphasizing a people-building process. Warren says, “If you will concentrate on building people, God will build the church.”
At my church, I am a part of the youth ministry council. I have grown interested in the organization and running of a church. Not because I want to do that but I feel like I need to understand the frame of thinking. I want to serve and advocate for the youth in my church. The youth minister gave me the book to read. He has really been fostering my interest in youth ministry as a whole.
I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. While some of the information and ideas presented were very helpful my lens is different. This book is written through the lens of a man leading a fairly big church that was started by him. I think he sometimes dismisses and diminishes the very real possibility that an established church will have more obstacles in changing its culture. While I only gave this book 2 stars, I think it was an important read. It helped in changing my views and opening my eyes to the culture and tradition of my church.
Go Tell It On The Mountain ~ James Baldwin
Go Tell It on the Mountain, originally published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery one Saturday in March of 1935 of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a Pentecostal storefront church in Harlem. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle toward self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.
This book was my Black History Month book. A couple of friends and I decided to read it together. “The Fire Next Time” was my introduction to James Baldwin but that was a while ago and I was excited to dive into this novel.
I gave this novel 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I’m not going to lie to you, it takes a while to really get into. The writing style reminded me of someone’s diary with no dates. It was written like a stream of inner thoughts with character interaction sprinkled through. However, Baldwin’s descriptions of the church and all that comes with it were well written.
Some of the thoughts and observations I made while reading the book (no spoilers):
- John was dealing with a stepfather that seemed to purposefully try to place blame on him for any situation
- Reading about slavery is never easy. Understanding why someone did not want to leave slavey when they could was hard. But how many people never leave their hometown because they are comfortable
- It’s always sad to read and see black men put down black women especially when what happened to the person was not their fault
- Little has changed. Innocent black men are beaten and traumatized by the system and the family is left picking up the pieces. Too many people believe black people are inherently criminal.
- How many times do we believe God is telling us to do something and then abuse the opportunity? This book explores that a little.
- The erotic-like language used to describe the church, the Holy Spirit, and etc. was interesting. Baldwin did an incredible job of conveying the passion that is found in the church. He also demonstrates how easy it is for some church people to make someone feel guilty for passion outside of the church
Altered Carbon ~ Richard K. Morgan
Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course.
But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn’t be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society.
I got this book solely because I enjoyed the first season on Netflix. A lot of people had complaints about the tv show but I watched it twice and I hardly watch movies or tv shows more than once. The action and the mystery of the show was what I enjoyed more than anything.
I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I won’t say I was disappointed but I understand why they changed so much on the tv show. An “envoy” who had superior deductive and fighting skills, got beat up a lot and missed so many clues in the book. Maybe I would have liked it more if I would have read the book before I saw the show. But I didn’t so the book was only okay. I figured out the “whodunit” before Kovacs did in the book. It took him until almost the end of the book to do so.
I have a couple of books I am reading through. Well 3, but one is for Sunday school at church and I’m reading through that one pretty slowly.
The Martian ~ Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Alongside: Loving Teenagers With The Gospel ~ Drew Hill
Alongside is a much-needed resource for both parents and those in youth ministry. In this transformative book, Drew Hill unpacks the challenges teenagers face and how youth leaders and parents can share the gospel with them at this crucial age. Full of practical insight and biblical knowledge, Alongside is an invitation to love teenagers well with the hope of the gospel.
Our teenage friends are full of questions and longings. They’re trying to figure out who they are, where they belong, and if they matter during this pivotal time of development all while facing new realities of loneliness and isolation, despite their social media followers.
Teenagers want to be chased, and Alongside brings Scripture to life and helps parents and those in youth ministry practically connect the life of Jesus to the lives of their adolescent children and friends.
Through Scripture and captivating personal stories from years of experience working in youth ministry, Hill pulls back the curtain and invites readers to step into the unfiltered world of teenagers.
How do we start meaningful conversations with our teenage friends? How do we build trust across the dining room table? What would it look like to prayerfully cultivate a group of leaders or parents with a shared goal of seeing Christ transform the lives of teenagers in our communities? What does Jesus have to say about caring for our middle or high school friends and how can he use us in his plan to rescue them?
Alongside offers practical application and biblical truths to highlight the complexities of relational youth ministry, address the needs real teenagers encounter in their daily lives and engage their hearts rather than just their behavior. Hill explores what it looks like to not only share the love of Jesus with our teenage friends but to share our very lives with them as well.
Restored At The Root: Get To The Source of Social, Emotional, and Spiritual Struggle ~ Joseph W. Walker
This book will help you gain a greater understanding of the issues that are consuming your life and will guide you toward living a life of social, emotional, and spiritual wellness. Through Jesus Christ we have the ability to be completely free of the emotional, social, and spiritual struggles that have us bound. But to experience lasting change we must stop dealing only with the symptoms and get to the root issue.
In Restored at the Root, Dr. Joseph W. Walker III shows readers how to break free of demonic attack for good by teaching them how to do the following:
Identify the demonic activity beneath their emotional, social, and spiritual turmoil
Understand the authority they have to cast out demons
Find the courage to confront the issue instead of trying to camouflage it
Charismatics tend to deal with life issues only from a spiritual perspective. This book goes a step further by discussing the intersection between spiritual authority and clinical spiritual counseling. That way, readers can identify underlying issues at work, which can help save their lives, marriages, and ministries.
If you want to follow my reading progress head over to Goodreads!