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My Summer Reading List for 2017

It is no secret – I love reading. I am also a bit eclectic when I read. I am truly all over the place. Yet, because of that very fact, many ask what I am reading. So here is my Summer Reading List for 2017.

So here is my Summer Reading List for 2017. It ranges from sci-fi novels, business marketing helps, leadership and social media, and so much more.

Hope you enjoy!

#1 Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday (marketing/social media)

I decided to read this book because I have been working in a marketing department of a large company. I felt as if much of what they did and how they thought would benefit me and the charity I run for them. Plus, it allowed me to have a starting place to discuss intelligently with them on marketing topics.

I highly recommend this to someone wanting a quick read that allows them a portal into the marketing world, especially as it relates to social media.

#2 As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson (ministry/preaching/spiritual formation)

I try and read all that comes out from Eugene Peterson. Finding out this will be his last book meant I would have to have it. This large tomb is worth its weight in gold.

The text is a compilation of his sermons through Scripture (Genesis to Revelation) at a certain place, time, and period. They have only edited some as needed, but the fact that he talks about what happened in the 60s and 70s and how they affected the church he pastored for almost 30 years is powerful. It’s literally like being able to binge read the life of a pastor as he grew, his congregation grew and how Scripture informed it all.

Feel free to skip this book, but be warned as it will be discussed in a category of its own for years to come.

#3 Digital Leader by Erik Qualman (social media/leadership)

I have followed Erik Qualman since his first days as a Twitter guy and blogger. His first book, Socialnomics was amazing and I still find I need to go back and re-read parts.

What Qualman does here is built on those principles by the practical work and learning he has done over the years and created a wealth of advice for those leading in an unprecedented digital age.

I will admit, it is a bit long in parts, but overall, the content is next to none. Other leaders in the social world will be reference this work, so make sure to become conversant with it.

#4 Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith (sci-fi/apocalyptic novel)

Of course, I love reading sci-fi and fantasy when I can. This was a .99 cent book deal that I bought and finally got around to reading. It was well worth the buck!

The novel is based on the future where the earth has had a major apocalypse and humanity lives on giant air ship cities. To make sure the ships fly and run well, Hell Divers, dive to the surface of the earth to scavenge for parts.

What lives on the earth still is what makes the novel so much fun. Plus, it’s full of thought and questions about what does it mean to be human in a post-apocalyptic world and at what costs will someone go to make sure life carries on. Anymore and spoilers come out, so fans of apocalyptic tech/sci-fi will love this novel and the sequel, Hell Divers 2.

#5 The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe (journalism/language/literature)

I actually bought this book because the title fascinated me and I tend to enjoy reading and listening to Tom Wolfe.

What makes this book unique is it’s not a novel as Wolfe tends to write but a telling of his version of looming at Speech and its connection to evolution. He tackles the topic as it intrigued his journalism side. Why it intrigued him was because of the notion that language and language development was the one major thing that plagued Charles Darwin and subsequent evolutionists that followed in his thinking.

The crux of the book is that language wars against evolution as a major issue. Why did only humans learn language, semantics, and complex nuances? Why was a humans brain so large from the beginning and other parts so week? The large brain gave no evolutionary advantage through language for millions of years? Sounds interesting, right? Well to Tom Wolfe, it did too and he sets out to talk about the language and evolution wars of the past to liven up and bring back this theory to the modern public.

Let’s just say, Wolfe has his journalistic bravado and unnecessary snark at points, but overall, fans of Wolfe and fans of language and language development will find this book as fun as it is informational.

#6 Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger (ministry/leadership)

My friend and missionary, Adam Fogleman, reached out and told me I have to read this book. I am half way through now as it was a late addition to the list. I try not to fully endorse a book till I have a full fill of its content, but I find myself highlighting something on each and every page.

I will more than likely be doing a full blown book review of this one next month, so stay tuned.

#7 Ready Player One by Ernest Clime

Another sci-fi/apocalyptic/techie novel makes the list!

So all of my good and nerdy friends keep talking about this book. And I tried to ignore the chatter till someone said it is full of 80s pop culture. 80s music, games, movies, etc. I was hooked from the beginning.

I read the novel in two days and ended up sending a copy to my brother for his birthday.

Basically, it’s the future and its sucks (of course) and people find a way to escape their poor, sorry lives by jumping onto the Oasis. A fully online world where your avatar has stats can go on adventures, can go to school and can be far cooler than you will ever be in the poverty-stricken, energy starved world of the future.

The story is a first person account of a young man who in the real world has nothing going for him, but in the Oasis is a rock star after solving a mysterious riddle from the eccentric 80s lover and creator of the Oasis, now deceased. Once these three riddles and three keys are possessed by someone – they become the ruler of the Oasis and inherit the future and power and prestige left behind by the founder.

As it starts out as his quest to solve these riddles and save the Oasis, he is joined by friends, chased by enemies, and goes on one heck of the 80s like ride to save the future and make sure the Oasis stays as authentic to its purpose as the founder had wished it to be.

Trust me, I wanted to go back and listen to all my 80s music, re-watch Back to the Furture, War Games, dust off the Atari and Nintendo and relive my childhood. It is one fun book. The only caution I give is that some of the themes are adult in nature, so being a book about games and such doesn’t mean it is void of some language and topics you may not be ready to chat about with your kiddos.


BONUS: What I am currently listening to on Audible:

#8 What is the Bible by Rob Bell (ministry/biblical studies/pop culture)

I started listening to this last week and thought I would add it on at the last minute. So many people either love or hate Rob Bell (with much in between that just don’t care). Nevertheless, I wanted to see what all the talk is about, but after needing to read other books, I bought the audio version to listen to while I commute back to work.

So far, many of his ideas he has shared in other books or on his blog/podcast, and some very fresh and engaging ideas. while he still asks questions that he never wants to answer only making it harder for people who follow his works to find out what he is really trying to say. But it’s Bell, he likes the mystery.

He narrates his own audio book and all I can say is he is one engaging, powerful stroy teller. I am sure to use some of his thoughts on certain Scriptures in sermons to come. Once I am finished listening, I will do a fuller review.

HAPPY SUMMER READING! 

A Mile Wide: A Review

 

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Hatmaker, Brandon. A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2016. 205pp. $22.99.

Brandon Hatmaker and his wife, Jen Hatmaker, have been making waves the last few years with their widely accessible and practical books. The topics are easily approachable with desired outcomes of living what you believe. Some books focus heavily on philosophy and higher thoughts while others are so practical that a bit more thinking would have proven advantageous. Brandon Hatmaker in A Mile Wide has provided both thought and practice for a life of rooted deep faith.

Basing his thoughts off the phrase first founded by Edgar Nye when describing the Platte River, “A mile wide and an inch deep,” Hatmaker discusses the downward slippery slope faith has been on for decades now. What was once a concern is now an epidemic worth of revolution. Too many have such a shallow faith and this faith has been feed not only by churches basing ministry and training on consumerist models, but on the people who continue to choose an easy path to faith.

Did not Jesus say the path was narrow?

Narrow doesn’t mean exclusive. All are invited. Narrow means that it will take work.

Back to the Platte River. Hatmaker refers to Nye, “Nye wrote that the river “has a very large circulation, but very little influence. It covers a good deal of ground, but is not deep. In some places it is a mile wide and three-quarters of an inch deep.” Christianity has a large number of adherents but is continually, year after year, losing influence.

Why?

Superficial faith only leads to superficial thoughts and actions. Hatmaker charges us to find a deeper faith to create more lasting and long term changes. To illustrate this, he utilizes Jesus’ discussion of the soils. He takes a familiar story and utilizes that familiarity to teach on what it would look like if we had deeper faith, deeper roots, and deeper change in our communities.

One of my biggest take always from the book was his family’s use of #FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). It resonated with me because my personality is one of going and doing all the time. If someone, like my wife, kiddos, and close mentors, didn’t remind me to slow down at times; I would continually go…go…go!

Why is that? Because I have this deep set fear of missing out on something. If we are honest we all do. It’s why we check email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, IMs, Pinterest, Internet Forums, and so much more every second we can because we do not want to miss out. We do not want to be the person with the dumbstruck face when someone reveals the news we missed. God forbid! So it drives us to stay connected.

Brandon Hatmaker hits the nail square on the head with this fear! He takes it even further. We stay busy for Jesus because we fear we will miss out on something. How can we set at his feet and know him and be taught by him? We have to be up and busy! This only leads to a mile wide of work and an inch depth of true discipleship.

In Chapter 3, he focuses on identity. What a needed topic for today. I have worked with youth, young adults, and young professionals for over a decade and this topic is up front more than any other. Where Hatmaker adds new thinking is on how to apply Colossians 3:1-4 to our identities, to have a more solid Gospel oriented identity.

Position One: We Died with Christ (Colossians 3:3a)

Position Two: We Are Hidden In Christ (Colossians 3:3b)

Position Three: We Live In Christ (Colossians 3:4a)

Position Four: We Are Raised with Christ and Glorified in Christ (Colossians 3:1, 4b)

“When hope in the gospel becomes our default, we will no longer find our identity in the things of this world; we will find it in Christ alone” (58).

Another highly challenging issue Hatmaker brings up is the idea that many if not most Christians actually do church well. We all know when to go to church. How to read our Bible. What small group to attend. Where to serve. Yet, we are not so good at more biblically rooted mandates. We struggle in our neighborhoods, with our private doubts, with our lake of transformation, and so on. These things rarely find time for us to focus and work on, unless of course it falls on the small group lesson calendar. We spend little time on them because we have no idea where to start. Again, this is where beginning with an identity in Christ guides us to begin to work on our weaknesses through quiet study, meditation, accountability, and planned thoughtfulness. All of these take more time, vulnerability, and depth, but they are of utmost importance.

“A shallow religion survives from event to event and program to program. A deeper faith is rooted in trusting relationships where permission is granted to struggle, fail, and take risks,” Hatmaker explains (113). For him, deeper community cannot be achieved without certain factors, and especially vulnerability, permission, and inclusivity. I agree, these are needed for any relationship to be more than surface or superficial. Being open and honest about who you are and allowing others to do the same is the most difficult and yet most rewarding thing you can do to form authentic community.

One other part that stood out for me was the seven steps he lays out for seeking justice. More and more people are moving away from what used to be labeled the social gospel and are joining social justice movements. These movements, some religious and some not, have grown exponentially over the last decade. Millennials are cause-based at their core and so this social justice movement will be around for a while. His seven steps are helpful in understanding how to seek justice on a personal level.

Step 1: View the Journey as Discipleship

Step 2: Settle Your Gospel Theology

Step 3: Learn to Love Mercy

Step 4: Gain a Biblical Definition of Justice

Step 5: Learn to Identify Need

Step 6: Encounter the Need

Step 7: Engage the Need in Community

All these steps are unpacked in the book, so to learn more…wait for it…buy the book! Honestly, for some, this chapter may be worth the purchase price. Trust me on this. Brandon’s previous book Barefoot Church is a true testament that he knows and lives out what he speaks about here.

Overall I give the book 5 stars!

The fact that ideas dealt with in other books are summarized here, newer and tested ideas are presented, and it’s all done under 200 pages makes this book not only approachable but easily used over and over again. Too many books are repetitive and weighted down with excess information. Not so here. Hatmaker’s switching back and forth from Scripture, theology/philosophy, to actions is also admirable. He could have chosen one or the other, but we should all be thankful he chose both! Further, each chapter has questions that can be utilized as a family or community to take their faith deeper.

I recommend this book to anyone who pastors or minsters to people. You must first deeper your own faith before helping others go deeper. I know that anyone who leads young people (teens and young adults) must read this and utilize it to raise up this caused-driven group of Millennials to make sure they join the right cause and do the work of those causes for that cause with Gospel-minded locus.

“Jesus’ people are made up of everyone. He loves near and far, the normal and the weird. Click To Tweet

Brandon Hatmaker couldn’t have stated it better than that. As we begin to truly love anyone and everyone, we will start to see how our faith has grown from wide and shallow to deep and rooted! The path is narrow. It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

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