My Top 5 Books of 2021

2021 is almost over, so here is my annual summary of the best books I read this year:

  1. The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (4 volumes)
    If you’re looking for a gripping tale of adventure and redemption, then the Wingfeather Saga is for you! Andrew Peterson’s saga follows three children on a journey to discover their true identities and save the ones they love. The storyline contains multiple layers as well as plenty of humor, action, and suspense, making it enjoyable for readers of all ages. The illustrations and maps throughout add another fun element. Christians in particular will appreciate many of the underlying themes present in these novels.

    Notable Quotes:
    “Blood was shed that you three might breathe the good air of life, and if that means you have to miss out on a Zibzy game, then so be it. Part of being a man is putting others’ needs before your own.” -Andrew Peterson
    “When you run out of hope, everything is backwards. Your heart wants the opposite of what it needs.” -Andrew Peterson

  2. Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher
    How should American Christians respond to the growing threats of soft totalitarianism from both the political left and political right? Inspired by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s essay by the same name, Dreher sets out to first define the threat of soft totalitarianism and then to offer a strategy for pushing back against it. Throughout the book, Dreher interacts with those who experienced the hard totalitarianism in Europe a generation ago to learn how they were able to persevere in the midst of the pressure, suffering, and trials they faced. In comparison to the hard totalitarianism they faced, Dreher characterizes the current environment as a soft totalitarianism that relies less on government oppression and more on societal pressure from the engines of cultural production like celebrities, thought leaders, corporations, and media. The end goal is the same (conformance to an ideology incompatible with Christian truth) but the means are different (pushing to the fringes of society instead of throwing in the gulags). As the author says: “A totalitarian society is one in which an ideology seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions, with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under control of that ideology.”

    The second half of the book offers some guidance on resisting the pressure of this totalitarianism. The overarching suggestion is to not give assent to any lies or untruths and, by doing so, keep them from further proliferating. To promote this, Dreher says Christians must see the reality of the situation, judge it in relation to biblical truth, and act in order to preserve the truth. In addition, Christians can cultivate a cultural memory, focus on family discipleship, and grow in understanding the Christian faith, both individually and in church community. He concludes by reminding Christians that “Suffering is a normal part of life—even of part of a good life, in that suffering teaches us how to be patient, kind, and loving.”

    There is much to be gleaned, learned, and applied from Live Not by Lies. Dreher writes from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, yet the principles are relevant to Protestants as well. This is certainly a worthwhile read for anyone thinking critically about the current cultural moment and wanting to prevent the continued drift away from true truth.

    Notable Quote:
    “We desperately need to throw off the chains of solitude and find the freedom that awaits us in fellowship.… We must see in our brothers and sisters not a burden of obligation but the blessing of our own freedom from loneliness, suspicion, and defeat.” -Rod Dreher

  3. The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges
    Discipline of Grace is an excellent resource for understanding sanctification. God is solely responsible for each Christian’s salvation, but after salvation, what are God’s role and our role in sanctification (the lifelong pursuit of holiness after salvation)? Jerry Bridges clarifies: “Both justification and sanctification have their source in the infinite love and free grace of God. Both are accomplished by faith. In justification, we rely on what Christ did for us on the cross. In sanctification, we rely on Christ to work in us by His Holy Spirit. In justification, God acts alone. In sanctification, He works in us but elicits our response to cooperate with him.”

    The main point of the book is that: “Grace and the personal discipline required to pursue holiness are not opposed to one another. In fact, they go hand in hand. An understanding of how grace and personal, vigorous effort work together is essential for a life-long pursuit of holiness.” The remainder of the book fleshes out the interaction between grace and discipline in the life of a Christian. If we have one without the other, we end up in one of two ditches: without grateful acceptance of God’s grace, we find ourselves with a relentless sense of guilt due to not living up to a certain unattainable standard; without a humble realization of our own sinfulness, we can be self-satisfied and self-righteous because of our knowledge and actions, especially in comparison to others.

    After discussing the importance of grace, discipline, mortification of sin, obedience, dependence, and preaching the gospel to ourselves, Bridges closes the book looking at five specific disciplines for Christians to practice: commitment, convictions, choices, watching, and adversity. Each of these disciplines is carried out with continual reliance on the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.

    All in all, this is a must-read for any Christian to encourage them in their pursuit of holiness and to understand the importance of both God’s grace and personal discipline.

    Notable Quotes:
    “Believers do need to be challenged to a life of committed discipleship, but that challenge needs to be based on the gospel, not on duty or guilt. Duty or guilt may motivate us for a while, but only a sense of Christ’s live for us will motivate us for a lifetime.” -Jerry Bridges
    “The very same grace that brings salvation also trains us to live lives that are pleasing to God.” -Jerry Bridges
    “We cannot effectively pursue holiness without the Word of God stored up in our minds where it can be used by the Holy Spirit to transform us.” -Jerry Bridges

  4. Reading the Bible Supernaturally by John Piper
    Have you read the Bible? I mean, have you really read the Bible before? Or does it seem intimidating or like you always hit a wall? In this book, Piper expounds the joyous benefits of reading, meditating on, and studying the Bible. Part 1 lays out the goal of Bible reading: “The Bible itself shows that our ultimate goal in reading the Bible is that God’s infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation.” To reach this goal, the Bible must be read both supernaturally and naturally.

    Part 2 explains why reading the Bible in a way that leads to a true saving/transforming knowledge is a supernatural act. Reading the Bible supernaturally involves the following sequence: Seeing the glory of God in Scripture -> Savoring God above all else -> Being transformed by the Spirit of God through the Word of God. Part 3 discusses a few practical tips for reading Scripture naturally, using our natural faculties to read the Bible well (including an explanation of the APTAT model and arcing). If you haven’t ever thought through why and how the Bible should be read, this is a great introduction to the topic. By applying the truths in this book, you will come to see, savor, and worship the God of Scripture.

    Notable Quote:
    “This is how God has designed the Scriptures to work for human transformation and for the glory of God: the Scriptures reveal God’s glory. This glory, God willing, is seen by those who read the Bible. This seeing gives rise, by God’s grace, to savoring God above all things—treasuring him, hoping in him, feeling him as our greatest reward, tasting him as our all-satisfying good. And this savoring transforms our lives—freeing us from the slavery of selfishness and overflowing in love to others. This joy-sustained, God-exalting transformation of love is then seen by others, who, by God’s grace, glorify God because of it.” -John Piper

  5. How to Get Unstuck by Matt Perman
    Productivity and time management are topics that I wish were emphasized more in formal education. Fortunately, there are authors like Matt Perman who have read widely on the topics, thought deeply about the material, and filter it down to provide wisdom for improving in these areas. Unstuck is Perman’s follow up to his book What’s Best Next in which he lays out the importance of character and worldview when approaching productivity as well as principles for creating a personal mission statement, prioritizing and delegating, and developing a workflow.

    In Unstuck, Perman addresses what happens when we encounter barriers to our productivity. He begins by saying: “The key to time management at the end of the day is simple: you need to know where you are going, and you need to focus on the things that will get you there.” According to Perman, there are three primary reasons people get stuck: lack of vision, lack of planning and execution, and obstacles in the way. Perman refers to this as the “unstuck cycle”: try hard; gain momentum; get stuck; call on God, persevere, and apply personal effectiveness; get unstuck; regain momentum; help others get unstuck without judgement. Over time, going through this cycle will create greater levels of personal effectiveness which Perman defines as “the skill of leading yourself every day to get the right things done in the right way, for the right reason, and in the shortest possible amount of time.”

    Another helpful section of Unstuck covers the personal management process which consists of: analyzing and consolidating time, determining the chief areas of your job, creating a time plan, creating a task management system, making decisions consistent with your priorities, and flourishing. When we are able to manage ourselves better, we create more margin and better steward the time and resources God has blessed us with.

    Unstuck is a great book to read with others and then discuss with them to uncover ways they’ve been able to get unstuck from roadblocks that you may face also and to create plans together on how to improve your personal effectiveness–and then hold each other accountable to them.

    Notable Quote:
    “We cannot lead others truly unless we can first lead ourselves authentically. Personal leadership comes before interpersonal and public leadership.” -Matt Perman

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. For those that enjoy reading, I recommend setting up a Goodreads profile (it’s also a great way to keep track of what’s in your library). 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 2022? Share your recommendations in the Comments below.

BONUS: My Top 5 Books from: 2020 || 2019 || 2018 || 2017 || 2016 || 2015 || 2014 || 2013

My Top 5 Books of 2020

2020 is almost over, so here is my annual round up of the best books I read during the past twelve months:

  1. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
    Many Christians are familiar with the work of Christ: His fulfillment of the Law, His substitutionary death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. However, most are less familiar with the heart of Christ: how does Jesus relate to and feel about those who are His? In Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund explores this important topic and its implications for Christians who live in a world tainted by sin and suffering. Each chapter looks at an aspect of Jesus’ character from His ability to sympathize with us to the richness of His love and mercy even when we sin against Him. Throughout the book, Ortlund draws not only from Scripture, but also from The Heart of Christ by Thomas Goodwin as well as multiple works by John Bunyan.

    Gentle and Lowly is certainly one of the most encouraging and uplifting books I have read in a long time. I rarely get emotional reading books, but definitely teared up with thankfulness for my Savior multiple times as I read. The chapters are short, yet still packed with theological truth that will deepen your love for our gentle and lowly Savior. If you only read one book in 2021, make it this one.

    Our sinning goes to the uttermost. But Christ’s saving goes to the uttermost. And His saving always outpaces and overwhelms our sinning, because He always lives to intercede for us.” -Dane Ortlund

  2. The Everything Store by Brad Stone
    In The Everything Store, Brad Stone traces the early history of Amazon from it’s origins in the mind of Jeff Bezos through it’s early years and up to much of what we know as Amazon today: a multi-faceted conglomerate that now includes web services, physical locations, WholeFoods, and a massive (and growing) logistics infrastructure. The book is a fascinating look at Bezos’s creativity, ambition, and relentless drive to bring about his vision. I was struck by how forward-thinking Bezos was in the early days of the internet and how he realized there was a limited window in which he had to execute on his plan before it would have failed to achieve its potential. As an Arkansan, I also appreciated his admiration of Sam Walton and, ironically, how that led to a strong head-to-head battle with Walton’s brainchild Walmart. In addition, Bezos’s willingness to model and push for frugality within the company in order to conserve resources for expansion and to allow for lower prices (inspired by Walton) was a great example of recognizing the value of delayed gratification and the discipline required to achieve it.

    However, Bezos’s style of leadership did come at a cost. Stone doesn’t hide the fact that Bezos was so focused on moving Amazon forward that it often led (and still leads) to heated arguments, broken relationships, and burnt out employees. In that respect, as much as there is to learn from Bezos and the Amazon story, I wouldn’t recommend imitating his leadership style and the management culture he installed at Amazon.

    “It’s easier to invent the future than to predict it.” -Jeff Bezos

  3. Practical Religion by J.C. Ryle
    How should a Christian live, act, and behave? J.C. Ryle uses his concise and clear writing style to answer this question in Practical Religion.  In a culture that is so confused as to what true Christianity is, Practical Religion serves as a strong apologetic for what the true Christian faith looks like as it is lived out. In each chapter, Ryle examines a spiritual discipline, characteristic, or reality that should mark a true Christian. Each topic is handled with pastoral care, exhorting the reader to examine himself or herself in light of Scripture and to strive, with the Spirit’s help, to live a life that pleases the God who saved him or her. As a companion to his classic Holiness which defined what holiness is, Practical Religion explains what holiness looks like on a daily level.

    Ryle’s chapter on prayer in particular is one of the best treatments of the discipline I have read. If you find yourself faltering in your prayer life, then this chapter will be of utmost encouragement to you. The chapter on “the best friend” is also of benefit, especially in our culture that settles for shallow friendships or a “lone ranger” mentality. As is usually the case with Ryle, Practical Religion is approachable, soaked with Scripture, and a needed encouragement to pursue a holy Christian life.

    You will not find such love as the Bible describes, except in the soil of a heart thoroughly imbued with Bible religion. Holy practice will not flourish without sound doctrine. What God has joined together, it is useless to expect to have separate and asunder.” -J.C. Ryle

  4. The Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Watson
    The Lord’s Prayer is probably the most well-known and often-recited prayer in human history. Even those with rudimentary knowledge of the Christian faith can recite it by heart. But have you ever stopped to consider what this “model prayer” is actually teaching us? In The Lord’s Prayer, Thomas Watson takes an in-depth look at each of the six petitions of the Lord’s Prayer and how our prayer lives can be shaped by each one. The book begins by looking at the opening line of the prayer–“Our Father in heaven”–and has a beautiful list of encouragements related to God being our Father. Watson helps explain what each petition means, gives examples in Scripture, and then provides advice on how to pray in line with that petition during your daily prayers. While it does get a bit wordy at times, this book has lots of quality insights and quotes that will help bolster your prayer life, strengthen your relationship with our Father, and give you a fresh appreciation for this model prayer that Jesus gives to His disciples to teach them how to pray.

    When sin becomes exceeding sinful, free grace becomes exceeding glorious. God’s pardoning love can conquer the sinner, and triumph over the sin. Consider, thou almost despairing soul, there is not so much sin in man as there is mercy in God.” -Thomas Watson

  5. The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhou
    Most management books are written by seasoned executives and seniors leaders for seasoned executives and senior leaders. While they still contain good insights, they aren’t as helpful for the first-time or frontline manager. Zhou’s The Making of a Manager is a wonderfully practical and short handbook for those stepping into their first management role. The author begins by explaining what the role of a manager is and how being a team leader differs from being a team member. In the subsequent chapters, Julie draws on her experiences as a new manager to explain the importance of things like managing yourself, hiring the right people, and giving feedback. She addresses common doubts and worries that a new manager may wrestle with while also providing practical advice on how to navigate building a team versus inheriting a team. If you are a new manager or want to explore if management might be right for you, then pick up The Making of a Manager as a resource for personal development.

    “This is the crux of management: It is the belief that a team of people can achieve more than a single person going it alone. It is the realization that you don’t have to do everything yourself, be the best at everything yourself, or even know how to do everything yourself. Your job, as a manager, is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together.” –Julie Zhuo

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. For those that enjoy reading, I recommend setting up a Goodreads profile (it’s also a great way to keep track of what’s in your library). 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 2021? Share your recommendations in the Comments below.

BONUS: My Top 5 Books of 2019 || My Top 5 Books of 2018 || My Top 5 Books of 2017 || My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

My Top 5 Books of 2019

2019 is almost over, which means it’s time for the annual round up of the best books I read during the past twelve months:

  1. The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning
    How dangerous is sin? In his book, Venning delves into Scripture to show the reader how destructive sin is to the individual, to the culture, and to nature. Venning’s vivid imagery displays how vile sin is and points to Christ as the only possible remedy and escape, through faith and repentance. This book is especially poignant for American Christians today who live in a society in which sin isn’t taken seriously–in fact some sins are even celebrated. The Sinfulness of Sin will remind you that sin is the enemy of every human and motivate you to more diligently fight against it in pursuit of the holiness that Christ has called us to.

    Be as willing to die to sin as Christ was to die for sin, and as willing to live to Him as He was to die for you. Be as willing to be His, to serve Him, as that He should be yours to save you. Take Him on His own terms, give up yourself wholly to Him.” -Ralph Venning

  2. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
    Is it better to specialize early, specialize late, or not specialize at all? That is the question that Epstein seeks to answer in Range. Epstein begins the book by debunking the “cult of the head start”–the idea that it is better focus on one skill or a narrow set of skills as early as possible in order to master it. While this does work in some arenas that are based primarily on repetition, pattern recognition, and muscle memory (golf, chess, etc), it doesn’t translate to problem-solving or strategic-thinking fields. Epstein spends the rest of the book sharing research demonstrating the ways in which a more generalized approach to learning translates better to the “knowledge economy” in which we find ourselves today. Exposure to a variety of situations as well as cultivating curiosity in diverse interests tends to translate to better learning, and more importantly, better application of the learning.

    “Breadth of training predicts breadth of transfer. That is, the more contexts in which something is learned, the more the learner creates abstract models, and the less they rely on any particular example.” -David Epstein

  3. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
    I picked up Peterson’s book in an effort to better understand his worldview after I kept hearing his name pop up and after watching some of his videos on YouTube. In 12 Rules for Life, he outlines 12 principles for finding meaning in the midst of chaos. Many of his 12 rules are common sense ideas grounded in Judeo-Christian teaching, but have fallen out of fashion with the recent shift towards relativism and secularism. As society has been uprooted from it’s foundation, it has left many searching for purpose, which according to Peterson, is at the core of many of the societal struggles present today. Peterson doesn’t claim to make any profound observations in his book, but is simply collecting and reiterating ancient wisdom that correlates with human flourishing. What’s intriguing about Peterson to me as a Christian is that he gets so much right and is so close to the biblical understanding of sin and the need for redemption; however, he comes up short of seeing Jesus for who He is, the Bible for what it is, and, as a result, the true antidote for chaos that is found by grace through faith in Christ alone. Regardless, 12 Rules is a fast read full of wisdom for facing challenges and living a purposeful life.

    “You need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged.” -Jordan Peterson

  4. Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst
    Has your organization started to stray from its founding mission? Over time, many do–either in the pursuit of money or due to a poor succession plan, an eroding culture, or any number of other compromises. One of the often overlooked responsibilities of leadership is to steward the organization’s culture and ensure focus on the mission in the face of growth, time, and pressure. Because of this, Mission Drift is a meaningful read for anyone in leadership.The principles in this book are a gut-check for leaders who must stay vigilant of Mission Drift and set the expectations for those they lead. While the book is geared towards nonprofits, ministries, and churches, the underlying lessons apply to for-profit organizations as well (which would make a great follow up to this book).

    “In its simplest form, Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul.” -Peter Greer and Chris Horst

  5. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall
    How does geography impact the political and economic decisions of a nation or people group? Often in more ways than we may think. In Prisoners of Geography, Marshall looks at 10 maps of the world and explains how geography has played a key role in the lives of the people who live there. Some of the examples demonstrate why conflict is so common in certain areas while others explain how geography has helped some kingdoms and countries thrive. This was an interesting read and a good introduction to geopolitics for the layperson.

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. For those that enjoy reading, I recommend setting up a Goodreads profile (it’s also a great way to keep track of what’s in your library). 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 2020? Share your recommendations in the Comments below.

BONUS: My Top 5 Books of 2018 || My Top 5 Books of 2017 || My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

My Top 5 Books of 2018


2018 is almost over, which means it’s time for the annual round up of the best books I read during the past twelve months:

  1. The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson
    Think you know the 10 Commandments? Thomas Watson’s commentary on the 10 Commandments (part of his Body of Practical Divinity trilogy) will take you much deeper into each of the commandments. Following Jesus’ example in the gospels, Watson applies each command not just to outward action but to an internal reality–the state of a person’s heart (see Matthew 5, Mark 10, and Luke 18). Watson skillfully expounds on the breadth and depth of the 10 Commandments’ role in the Christian’s life, giving both a framework for holiness and instruction for obedience. While emphasizing the importance of the Law, he does not do so at the expense of the mercy and grace found through faith in Christ. Watson’s The Ten Commandments is a needed reminder for those who have grown up hearing, but not meditating on, the Commandments their whole life. Thou shalt read this book.

    “Love is an industrious affection; it sets the head studying for God, the hands working, feet running in the ways of his commandments.” -Thomas Watson

  2. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
    In Shoe Dog, Phil Knight tells the story of NIKE’s conception through it’s IPO.  This book isn’t your typical autobiography as it focuses more on the people surrounding Knight and his philosophy of business than it does on the author himself. The story of NIKE is one of determination in the face of challenging circumstances and the isolation of many people doubting the viability of the venture. It is a testament to just how far innovation, passion, and commitment (or some would say stubbornness) can go in bringing an idea to life. Knight not only gives insight into his management philosophy, but is also transparent about the toll it took on his personal life–in particular his relationship with his sons. Shoe Dog is a fast-paced and enjoyable read, even for those who don’t typically enjoy biographies. The book definitely lives up to the hype that has surrounded it since it came out. Go pick up a copy and read it–Just do it.

    “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” -Phil Knight

  3. Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ by Andrew David Naselli and J.D. Crowley
    When was the last time you spent time you heard a sermon or lesson on the conscience? If you answered “when I watched Pinocchio”, then you should pick up Conscience by Naselli and Crowley. In this book, the authors purpose is to explain what the conscience is and persuade you that it is something you should be paying more attention to, especially if you are a Christian. Nasellli and Crowley emphasize that, while the conscience is not on par with Scripture or the conviction of the Holy Spirit, it is still a God-given gift to every human being. The conscience isn’t static, but can be trained–either actively or passively–to hopefully be more aligned with God’s will, but can also be seared towards certain actions through repeated violation of the conscience’s “warning system.” In addition, since each person’s conscience is unique, the authors encourage readers to not intentionally lead someone to violate their conscience (no matter how ridiculous we may think their view is), but to rather patiently help them align their views with those found in Scripture so that they might experience the fullness of the gifts that God has given us to enjoy. Conscience draws upon multiple biblical passages in addition to the authors’ experiences in a variety of US and international contexts to make a strong case for paying more attention to the state of your conscience while providing practical tips for how that works itself in your daily life and relationships with others.

    “Because God is the Lord of your conscience, he expects you as a mature believer to gradually adjust your conscience to match God’s will as Scripture reveals it. To train and educate your conscience is not to sin against it but to put it under the lordship of Christ.” -Naselli and Crowley

  4. Grace: God’s Unmerited Favor by C.H. Spurgeon
    What makes salvation possible? In this short book, C.H. Spurgeon highlights the primacy of God’s grace in making salvation possible and in continuing to sustain His people until the end. Grace is a series of easy-to-understand expositions of key passages in which the author shows that God’s grace is the cornerstone of Christianity. The book will create an even greater appreciation and thankfulness for the lengths that God has gone to in order to redeem people from the snares of their sinfulness. Spurgeon concludes the book with twelve mercies for those whom God has made a covenant with:

    1. Saving knowledge
    2. God’s law written in men’s hearts
    3. Free pardon
    4. Reconciliation
    5. True godliness
    6. Continuance in grace
    7. Cleansing
    8. Renewed nature
    9. Holy conduct
    10. Happy self-loathing
    11. Communion w/ God
    12. Necessary chastisement

      “God observes us, all lost and ruined, and in his infinite mercy comes with absolute promises of grace to those whom he has given to his Son Jesus.” -C.H. Spurgeon

  5. Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Build, Coach, and Lead Your Most Productive Sales Team by Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk
    “Sales enablement” is a relatively new term in the business world. It is a discipline that stands at the intersection of sales, marketing, operations, strategy, and communications. As with most new disciplines, there is a level of ambiguity as to what it actually is, which is where Matthews and Schenk’s book comes in. Their book is designed to not only define the term, but outline what it should look like within a company. Sales Enablement uses both objective and subjective data that Miller Heiman Group has collected from organizations of various sizes and compiles it into an actionable framework for businesspeople. The book puts a lot of emphasis on beginning the implementation of a sales enablement discipline with a charter and a plan, recognizing that businesses of various sizes will have different capacities for different sized teams with varying access to resources. While some of the examples tend to favor larger organizations, this is still a very practical read for people in small and medium sized businesses as well, especially if you are doing high-value B2B sales.

    “Sales force enablement is a strategic, cross-functional discipline, designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and sales managers along the entire customer’s journey, powered by technology.” -Matthews and Schenk


Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. For those that enjoy reading, I recommend setting up a Goodreads profile (it’s also a great way to keep track of what’s in your library). 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 2019? Share your recommendations in the Comments below.

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS:  My Top 5 Books of 2017 || My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

30 for 30: 30 Years, 30 Thoughts


In order to commemorate the three decade milestone, here are 30 lessons I’ve learned during the last 30 years:

  1. Always put God first, others second, and yourself third.
  2. Don’t take people (especially your parents) or things for granted. The older you get, the more you realize just how much you’ve been blessed.
  3. Excellence and perfection are two very different things—excellence is attainable, perfection is not.
  4. Listening is often more valuable than talking.
  5. Manage your money wisely: learn when to spend extra for quality, when to be thrifty, and, most importantly, when to be generous.
  6. Read meaningful books. The stories and knowledge found in them will profit you for a lifetime.
  7. Stick to your convictions, even if they aren’t popular. A clean conscience is more desirable than the crowd’s applause.
  8. Own your mistakes and failures. Learning from them will benefit you in the long run.
  9. Call your Mom. She loves it.
  10. Ground your identity in Christ alone—anything or anyone else is a fickle and superficial substitute.
  11. Learn to say “no”. Your time is valuable, so do your best to use it for things that matter.
  12. Never stop learning. You may have finished school, but that shouldn’t be the end of your education.
  13. There’s no such thing as too much Chick-fil-A.
  14. Make time for rest, recreation, reflection, and solitude.
  15. Have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish, achieve, or experience in the next 5-10 years. This will give direction to the decisions you make today.
  16. Being a member of a healthy local church is a true joy.
  17. Bitterness can consume you if you let it; forgiveness is a much better option.
  18. If possible, go see the world. Exploring new places and experiencing different cultures will make your life richer.
  19. Your Dad is a fountain of wisdom—soak it up.
  20. There are seasons in the Christian life when it’s best to read through the entire Bible in a year and other seasons when it’s best to dive deeper into a section and dwell on the richness found within it.
  21. Asking a good question usually takes much more skill than making a good statement.
  22. Your integrity and reputation are the most important assets you have—make every effort to remain above reproach.
  23. Go outside: a little bit of fresh air and natural beauty goes a long way towards relaxing, clearing your mind, and stimulating new ideas.
  24. Having a brother who is also a stalwart friend is a true blessing.
  25. Inter-generational discipleship is a beautiful thing: hearing the triumphs and trials of others gives you a different perspective on your triumphs and trials.
  26. Look up from your phone and take in your surroundings. I guarantee people-watching is much more entertaining.
  27. Innovation is often messy—don’t let that stop you from taking the initiative to try something new.
  28. Spend time with kids. They don’t care about your profession, possessions, or popularity: what matters to them is that you show up and show that you care.
  29. Learn when to do something yourself and when to hire a professional.
  30. Puns are the most refined form of humor.

What are some lessons you’ve learned so far during your life’s journey?

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

My Top 5 Books of 2017



With 2017 coming to a close, it’s time for the annual round up of my favorite books from the past year:

  1. 51wut-kk3rlThe Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair Ferguson
    In the 1700s a debate, known as the Marrow Controversy, arose in Scotland. The controversy centered on how salvation comes about and the respective roles of law and grace. Ferguson goes beyond the controversy itself and expands the themes into modern times where we still struggle with legalism, antinomianism, and assurance of salvation. While few are outright legalists or antinomians, like those confronted in the Marrow Controversy we tend to drift into shades of these two extremes. As Ferguson so helpfully points out, the remedy for either extreme is not the other extreme, but the grace found in our union with Christ. This is a must-read for any believer, not only because of the personal edification you will receive, but also for the implications it has on the way we minister to each other in our pursuit of holiness on the way to our heavenly home.

    “Antinomianism and legalism are not so much antithetical to each other as they are both antithetical to grace. This is why Scripture never prescribes one as the antidote for the other. Rather grace, God’s grace in Christ in our union with Christ, is the antidote to both.”

  2. 51nvavpgjklHere I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton
    With 2017 being the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I set out to learn more about the Reformers before heading to Europe with my brother. Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther gives an in-depth and honest look into the life of the man who started it all.  Here I Stand details the events leading up to the Reformation and the ramifications that the Reformation had (and continues to have) on all areas of life: economic, political, familial, social, and spiritual.

    “A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.” -Martin Luther

  3. 51jf2bcjadfl-_sy346_The Gospel Call and True Conversion by Paul Washer
    What does it truly mean to hear the gospel and become a Christian? This is a massively important question and Washer’s book gives a succinct answer to it. In addition, it is a welcome antidote for the challenge of nominal Christianity (people who claim to be converted, but are not). Washer also emphasizes the implications of conversion for the entire church, not just the individual.

    “We must learn to console and assure the weakest saint who is broken over his many sins, but we must also learn to warn the false convert whose life is a barren and fruitless tree and whose settled manner of living is a contradiction to the gospel.”

  4. 41whpvpy2bmlEvangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by Mack Stiles
    Evangelism is an often talked about, and dreaded, spiritual discipline. Stiles’ premise in Evangelism is that many evangelism efforts fail because they are viewed as programs or taken on individually instead of cooperatively. This short and beneficial book challenges us to reframe evangelism as a community effort. A culture of evangelism more closely mirrors Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. Evangelism isn’t a book with a new step-by-step program or a clever alliterated outline–it’s an encouragement to join hands with other Christians to share the gospel with others.

    “Defining evangelism in a biblical way helps us align our evangelistic practice with the Scriptures. Here’s a definition that has served me well for many years: Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.”“There is much room for humility when it comes to evangelism. We need to acknowledge that God is sovereign and can do as he wills to bring people to himself. There is no formula that dictates how God must work in evangelism. And though we may disagree with the evangelistic practices of individuals, ministries, or churches, we must also recognize that when people develop good-hearted commitments to evangelism, God can produce true fruit. I, for one, will take people practicing evangelism as best they can over those who forgo evangelism until they have the perfect practice.”

  5. 51enlmlxbzlEscaping the Price-Driven Sale: How World Class Sellers Create Extraordinary Profit by Tom Snyder and Kevin Kearns
    Are you tired of annoying salespeople? Escaping the Price-Driven Sale encourages a consultative and strategic approach to marketing and sales that constantly adds value for the client or prospect. The salesperson can do this through discovering unrecognized problems, identifying unanticipated solutions, exploring unseen opportunities, and brokering strengths. This is a helpful read for anyone involved in high-value sales that will set you apart from the competition.

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. 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 2018? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS:  My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

My Top 5 Books of 2016



It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close. The Lord has been faithful to provide once again this year, including an array of interesting books to read. Here’s a round up of my favorite books from this year:

  1. Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle
    A poignant book for Christian men and women of all ages, but especially for young men. Writing with his trademark timelessness, Ryle’s advice–or rather exhortation–is just as relevant today as it was when it was written. Ryle warns young men of common pitfalls and trends (like pride, an “invincibility” mindset, and a lack of seriousness) and challenges them to pursue holiness now by joining a church, praying, reading God’s Word, and being mindful of life’s brevity. He encourages young men to look beyond themselves and to be whole-hearted disciples now rather than to “put it off” until later in life so that they can be wild and immature now. This is a quick read that will leave a lasting impact.

    “Your soul is the one thing worth living for. It is the part of you which ought always be considered first. No place, no employment is good for you, which injures your soul. No friend, no companion deserves your confidence, who makes light of your soul’s concerns.”

  2. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unforeseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
    In this book Ed Catmull, one of the co-founders of Pixar, does a great job of weaving management principles into the Pixar story without overemphasizing either one. Catmull takes the reader inside Pixar and it’s well-known Braintrust to show how the culture they’ve built allows them to perform at such a high level (and how he and John Lasseter translated that to Disney Animation after their acquisition of Pixar). Many of the principles in the book can be applied to non-creative companies as well. If you’re a fan of the Pixar movies and learning more about corporate culture, then this is the book for you.

    “Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.”

  3. The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken
    Nik Ripken begins the books by sharing how his experiences in East Africa raised several questions in his mind about the goodness of God, the effectiveness of the gospel, and the prevalence of evil. These questions, as well as some personal tragedies, led the author on a new mission: to learn how persecuted Christians in different contexts have not only survived, but thrived. The stories shared in “The Insanity of God” are incredibly convicting: Christians who not only expect persecution to happen but have joy in the midst of it; Christians who pass on the faith from generation to generation, even without a Bible; Christians who share their faith despite the risk to their own health and well-being. It is a challenge to those in America who experience relative freedom and view persecution very differently.

    “Serving God is not a matter of location, but a matter of obedience.”

  4. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
    Reclaiming Conversation gives the reader an insight into the effects an “always connected” culture is having on our ability to relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us. If you have spent any time in an office, coffee shop, restaurant, or other public place recently, you have likely noticed the symptoms yourself: coworkers staring at their phones during important meetings, couples texting others instead of spending time together, teens Snapchatting each other from across the room, or people walking into poles while looking down at their phone. Turkle delves into a variety of challenges that stem from our difficulty putting phones down to converse and experience the moment with others. She also looks at how technology is affecting our family, friendships, romance, education, and work. I’ve touched on this in some past blog posts. Is this a call to abandon technology? No, but hopefully this book will challenge you (like it did me) to take control of your technology instead of letting it take control of you.

    “Relationships deepen not because we necessarily say anything in particular but because we are invested enough to show up for another conversation. In family conversations, children learn that what can matter most is not the information shared but the relationships sustained.”

  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    In what is considered by some to be the greatest book of all time, Dostoyevsky explores the depths of faith, evil, morality, and religion using the narrative story of three brothers and their repulsive father. Each of the three brothers personifies a particular worldview: Alyosha=morality/faith, Ivan=humanism/doubt, and Dmitri=sensuality. By using these characters, Dostoyevsky shows us what these three worldviews look like as they are lived out in the real world. Like many of us, they struggle with contradictions between their beliefs and actions and face constant challenges to their core beliefs. Through the brothers, the reader is able to wrestle with the same issues. The story is engaging, even if it bounces around quite a bit, but offers plenty of unexpected twists and meaningful insight. It’s definitely a long read, but well worth it (especially if you can listen to it as an audiobook).

    “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

I’d encourage you to take the time to read at least one of these books in 2017. Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge.

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 2017? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS:  My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

Martyrdom and Mission: Why Reformers Died In Their Day, How We Must Live In Ours

This is the tenth and final post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: David Platt                                      Key text: Psalm 51

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

The Reformers remind us that it is right to give our bodies to defend the Bible and the gospel. Even if we don’t die, we mist give our lives to the same task. A theology of danger and martyrdom is not a prominent theme in our churches today. Our views of safety and security are far too often American and not biblical.  Read more of this post

The Reformation Began with Paul: Justification the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forevermore

This is the ninth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Thabiti Anyabwile                                     Key text: Romans 3:21-26

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

If we are genuinely Reformed it isn’t because we’re following the teachings of a certain group of men, but because we believe it to be what the Bible genuinely teaches. The doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is not a Reformed doctrine (in that it began during the Reformation), but a biblical doctrine.

We ought to be able to demonstrate this through Scripture alone. For example in Romans 3, we see that God  justifies through faith in Jesus Christ (v 21-22) because man has fallen short of the glory of God (v 23-24) in order to display His own glory to the universe (v 25-26).

Five Truths About Righteousness:  Read more of this post

God’s Glory as the Base of our Courage

This is the eighth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                    Key text: Romans 11:33-36

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Those who persecute the faithful think they are serving the cause of justice. As hostility towards Christians increases, we lose the opportunity to explain ourselves. We are automatically characterized as something we are not and this causes us fear. Romans 11 provides a blueprint for increasing courage in our hearts and the hearts of others. Thin portraits of God won’t sustain us like a big, deep theology of God.

Not only is God big, but He is rich: He owns everything in the heavens and the earth. He is no stifled by a lack of resources. This encourages us because we are His sons and daughters. He has our back (Romans 8:31-39)! We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. This has tremendous implications for our courage. Having Christ as our inheritance gives us courage because it helps us put the sufferings of this age in the context of eternity. Everything now will seem worthless and small. We realize there is nothing that man can do to us. Even if we die, we gain eternity with Christ.  Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: