The Beauty of Books

Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. One of my favorite used bookstores and recently featured on Buzzfeed’s list of “17 Bookstores That Will Literally Change Your Life.”

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” –Charles William Eliot

One of my guilty pleasures is visiting used bookstores. Given the time, I can, and often do, spend hours browsing the shelves, flipping through pages, and enjoying the unique smell of the aging paper. It’s incredible to look at the volume of volumes knowing that each binding quite literally contains its own unique story. From the folio edition of a classic novel to the in-depth theology book to the paperback version of a business bestseller, each text represents hours of thought and work to communicate an idea.

Why do I enjoy books so much? Primarily because books are such a beautiful and powerful way to convey a message. They have the ability to inspire, educate, and entertain their readers. In the quote above, Eliot captures the role of a books well when he refers to them as the reader’s friend, counselor, and teacher. Understanding each of these characterizations helps to comprehend what makes books so beautiful and unique:  Read more of this post

Six Questions to Ask When Choosing a Job

Job search

Let’s be honest…choosing a job can be a nerve-racking experience. Whether you are a high school student getting a summer job, a college student looking for an internship, a recent college graduate searching for your first position, or an experienced professional taking the next step in your career, a lot hangs in the balance when pursuing a new job opportunity. As someone who recently when through this process myself, I can relate to the difficulty of narrowing down your options and ultimately choosing which direction to go. Rather than letting your emotions take control and paralyze you in indecision, it is best to go take a rational approach to help filter offers and make a decision. In their book “The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Job,” Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger offer six questions that can help you find, filter, and select a job. They break the questions down into two categories: the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Here are their questions:  Read more of this post

Rise [Book Review]

“Enjoy yourself while you can.”
“Don’t grow up too fast.”
“You’re too young to make a difference.”

If you’re like me, you’ve heard one of these phrases at some point in your life. Not much is expected of young people, especially in today’s culture of extended adolescence. This is reinforced by peers, parents, media, universities, and cultural in general. Just a few generations ago, many of our grandfathers were fighting wars on foreign soils while today it’s a challenge for young people to get to class or work on time, much less stand up for something they believe in.

Because of the convergence of these two factors, low expectations from others and low motivation for young people, there is a general stereotype that Millennials are apathetic. Of course, the reluctance of young people to make a difference isn’t a new problem. Almost two thousand years ago, Paul wrote to his young friend and mentee Timothy: “let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). 

To address this persistent problem, Trip Lee wrote Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story, a companion book to his latest album by the same name. This book is aimed right at young people, challenging them to live a holy life now, instead of waiting until later in life to “get serious about their faith.” Trip writes: “There are great benefits to living for Jesus in the present. Now is the time when we have the most strength. Now is the time when we have the most energy. Now is the time when we can give it everything we have. Now is the time to get up and live.”  Read more of this post

Passing the Torch: Four Ways to Prepare the Next Generation to Lead Well

kindle logo

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry + College/Career Ministry Kindle Retreat on Saturday, January 23, 2015.

Key Text: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

INTRODUCTION
The call to leadership is a call to discipleship. Christian leaders are given the responsibility to not only lead well, but to invest in the next generation so that they can carry on the gospel task. John Maxwell sums it up well: “The best leaders lead today with tomorrow in mind by making sure they invest in leaders who will carry their legacy forward.” In fact, one of the goals of leadership is to make yourself replaceable. Ideally, a leader should put people and systems in place so that if they have to leave their leadership role for some reason, things will keep running smoothly. As we will see in 2 Timothy, Christian leaders are commanded to “guard the good deposit” of the gospel in themselves and in those who they will pass the torch to.

EXAMPLES IN SCRIPTURE
It is interesting that none of the leaders in the Bible were seeking a leadership position. They were all underdogs and ordinary men and women who God chose and empowered to lead well. There are several positive and negative examples in Scripture of leaders passing the torch to the next generation. In the Old Testament, there are two different “succession plans” that start out well, but end in disaster. The first one begins with Moses. God appoints Moses as the leader of His people, who will lead them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. Along the way, Moses selected a young man named Joshua to be his special assistant and began to invest in him. Joshua was chosen to be one of the twelve spies to go scout out the Promised Land and he and Caleb were the only two that trusted that God would fulfill His promise to give them victory (Numbers 13). As Moses neared the end of his life, he asked God to appoint a leader to take his place and Joshua was chosen (Numbers 27).

Joshua then led the nation of Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. In addition to his military prowess, he also kept the people on track spiritually by constantly reminding them of God’s law, covenants, and promises.  Joshua 24:31 tells us that “Israel served the Lord in all the days of Joshua.” However, Joshua didn’t appoint a leader behind him, which leads to the downward spiral of Israel in the book of JudgesRead more of this post

3 Reasons Allstate’s #MayhemSale Stole the Show…Literally

 

 

If you tuned into the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, chances are you also quickly opened your laptop to plunder Matt and Shannon’s house as a part of Allstate’s brilliant #MayhemSale campaign.

Just in case you missed it, here’s an overview: in order to raise awareness for the new Project Aware Share, Allstate staged a faux burglary by their Mayhem character of a real couple’s house (who found out the couple wasn’t home from all their posts on social media). Once inside, Mayhem put a sale price on each item and liquidated them one-by-one on the #MayhemSale website for a fraction of what they were worth.

Allstate’s #MayhemSale was one of the most brilliant marketing efforts in years. Here are three reasons it stole the show…literally:  Read more of this post

My Top 5 Books of 2014

books2014

2014 is almost over which means it’s time for a list of the best books I’ve read this year. Here are my top 5:

  1. The Mortification of Sin by John Owen
    What a powerful book! Owen provides a thorough exposition of Romans 8:13 challenging the believer to examine himself and how he is working to not just fight, but kill, his sin. Owen shows us why we should be killing sin, gives methods for killing sin, and tells us why this can only be done by looking to the cross of Christ and relying on the Holy Spirit. This book was deeply convicting and intensely practical. A must-read for any follower of Jesus!

    “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” ― John Owen

  2. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy and Kathy Keller
    This is a great read whether you are single, dating, or married. Tim and his wife Kathy debunk common marriage myths, explain the mission of marriage, and show how marriage is a picture of the gospel. Then they offer practical advice to help prepare for marriage if you are unmarried or to work through tough patches, love and understand your spouse more fully, embrace your identity as man or woman, and confront your own self-centeredness and wounds if you are married. I especially appreciated the “Essence of Marriage” chapter in which Keller defines what true love is and how a covenantal marriage doesn’t stifle love, but allows it to find its fullness in promise and action towards a spouse.

    “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” ― Timothy Keller

  3. How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know by Byron Sharp
    This book is basically a MythBusters for marketers. Sharp and his team debunk theories that most marketers are taught in college by showing that they don’t exist in the real world. For example, he says that the main thing brands should focus on is availability (both mental and physical) and not differentiation or niche marketing. He also discourages the use of price promotions which lead to short-term sales boosts, but no measurable long-term growth. In a field commonly thought of as an art, Sharp shows that there are scientific laws and trends that can be applied to building a brand. Sharp outlines seven rules that have been shown to actually help brands grow. Whether you are studying marketing in college or have been building brand for decades, this is a book that you need to read to make the best use of your resources and create an enduring brand.

    “Marketing professionals today are better educated than in the past, and they have access to much more data on buying behavior. But the study of marketing is so young that we would be arrogant to believe that we know it all, or even that we have got the basics right yet.” – Byron Sharp

  4. The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert
    Christians must ask themselves: “How does my faith impact the way I do my job?” In this great little book, Traeger and Gilbert address the two main problems that everyone faces when it comes to work (idolatry and idleness) and then show how the gospel transforms our purpose and motivation for every aspect of our vocation. They close the book with practical application as it relates to choosing a job, managing people, sharing the gospel, and defining success. [See my full review here]

    “What makes you a success is being able to stand before King Jesus one day and say, ‘Lord, where you deployed me I served well. I gave it my all. I worked at it with all my heart because I was working for you, not for human master.’ When that becomes your goal, it is enormously freeing because you no longer have to define success on the world’s terms; you define it on Jesus’ terms.” -Traeger and Gilbert

  5. Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
    This abridged version of Metaxas’ larger Bonhoeffer biography is perfect for people who rarely read biographies. At 256 pages (compared to 624 for the unabridged edition), Bonhoeffer Abridged contains enough details to provide a context in which to place Bonhoeffer’s theology and actions, while maintaining a quick pace that highlights the most important events of his life. Bonhoeffer Abridged brings the reader face-to-face with the famous German theologian and inspires the reader to be a bold disciple of Jesus Christ in the face of incredible pressure to compromise. [See my full review here]

    “It was not apathy or passiveness. For [Bonhoeffer], prayer was a display of the strongest possible activity.” ― Eric Metaxas

Honorable Mentions:

I’d definitely encourage you to read at least one of these books next year. If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading now and what I’ve read in the past, check out my Goodreads profile. Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books or do have a book that would recommend reading in 2015? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS: My Top 5 Books of 2013

Jesus Continued [Book Review]

Have you ever wondered why Jesus said it would be better for His followers if He left and sent the Holy Spirit (John 16:7)? When I first read that verse, I was taken aback.

Like Thomas in John 20, many of us would much rather have a physical human being that we can touch and see than an unseen Spirit that, like the wind, “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8). Often as Christians, we feel disconnected from God. We look at God speaking to His people in the Old Testament, Jesus teaching the disciples in the Gospels, and the Holy Spirit moving mightily in Acts, but we have a hard time connecting that with our lives today. This difficulty that even seasoned Christians have relating to God the Holy Spirit has led to Him being referred to as “the forgotten God” (to borrow Francis Chan’s term).

In his book Jesus Continued…: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You, J.D. Greear wants to help Christians personally relate to God through the Holy Spirit.

Greear opens by asking, “Do you ever feel like God is someone you know about more than someone you know-like He’s more of a doctrine than a person?” Read more of this post

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