Archive for the ‘literature’ Tag

Dipping, Dunking and Devouring   Leave a comment

As I sat at my desk recently I noticed once again the proliferation of books! Yes I do have a Kindle which helps but, no matter how hard I try, piles rise relentlessly from every surface in my vicinity. Most books have been opened but I  could not honestly say I am “reading “them. As I pondered this I realized my reading habits in many ways fuel this phenomenon. In my mind I have the books around me in three categories.

First are those in the “dipping ” collection. These are volumes that have caught my attention for one reason or another (or perhaps come from the amazing IVP Book Club!). They have an interesting title that is relevant either to my devotional interests or some subject about which I am or might preach. So I have dipped! I have read the back cover to see who has endorsed the content and what qualifications or context the author writes from. I have also consulted the table of contents from which I have found I can learn so much more about the book than simply chapter headings. If a writer gives his chapters quirky or amusing titles their style will, in all likely hood, be very different than one whose titles are simply subject headings. The way in which chapters are ordered or collected also gives insight into how the author thinks about their subject. Often I will also read the introduction and occasionally the first pages of a couple of chapters.  This done, most books take their place in one or other of the piles.

Then there is what I call the “dunking” books. Dunking is a more substantial immersion that just a dip! These volumes are ones that I have discovered whole chapters or sections that interest me. Sometimes a chapter will address a particular question I have been asked or challenge I am facing. Inevitably these volumes spend at least some time resting in one pile or another , maybe a smaller one or one closer to me but a pile nevertheless.

However none of these has reached the final stage of “devouring.” These are the books ( hopefully not more that a couple at any one time!) that have so captivated me that I have determined to read them systematically from cover to cover with yellow highlighter in hand. If my Kindle is in my hand, notes, marks and highlights are frequent and I am unable to resist the temptation to talk about the content to anyone who will listen.

Here are a few books that I have currently in some of these groups:


“Whats a Christian to do with Harry Potter” Connie Neal  “Found: God’s Will” John MacArthur  “Creating a Missional Culture” JR Woodward, “Community is Messy” Heather Zempel, “Preaching for God’s Glory” Alistair Begg, “Center Church” Tim Keller


“Pursuing God’s Will Together” Ruth Haley-Barton      “Doing Church as a  Team” Wayne Corderio   ” The Lamb Wins” Simon Ponsonby, ” Deep and Wide” Andy Stanley,


“Organic Outreach for Churches” Kevin Harney   “Living into the Life of Jesus” Klaus Issler

Then there is a final group of well thumbed books that I have devoured and have so helped me that I like to keep them close and refer to them often ( but I can’t think of an adjective beginning with “D” for them!). Here are a few:

“Jesus Driven Ministry” Ajith Fernando, “A Praying Life” and “Love Walked Among Us” Paul Miller, “Invitations from God “Adele Ahlberg-Calhoun

How about you? Do you have any particular reading habits? Do you have books that you might place in any of the above categories that you could recommend?

Posted January 6, 2013 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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Books I am reading   Leave a comment

One of the great joys of feeling better is that the desire and ability to read has returned. For the last year each time I would pick up a book it would be a signal for my eyes to close! I had a very dry year, spiritually. I never doubted the hand of God on my life and His control over all that was happening, however often the control room seemed a long way away. And such intellectual and physical energy I had was focused on asking the Father for weekly sermons and then preaching them, only to crawl into bed to accumulate the energy for the next Sunday

What a joy it was to get back my desire to read!  I thought I would share with you the books I have read and am in the process of reading. I have completed four books so far this year; the first two focus on the development of my devotional life and the other two are works of fiction (it’s been a long time since I read any fiction!!!)

Opening to God by David Benner is a book I probably would not have seen if I had not been a member of the Intervarsity book club. It was delivered to me so I glanced at it and my interest was piqued. Focusing on prayer, it is a practical book that really helps the reader to experiment and cultivate a prayer life that draws them closer to God.

Whole Life Transformation by Keith Meyer another Intervarsity book the author of which was not known to me. The title caught my attention and it did not disappoint. The book is particularly aimed at pastors and the like and is based on the author’s experience in pastoral ministry. A question from his son caused him to rethink the foundations of his ministry. This is also a very practical book with many suggestions as to how to translate the content into a day to day reality

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Maggie gave me this for Christmas having read about it pamphlet. Immediately I picked the book up I remembered why I have not been reading fiction; when I get into a story, I can’t put it down. This a wonderfully written true story (so not technically fiction) about a service man captured by the Japanese. He somehow survives a horrendous selection of tortures to struggle with the return to civilian. A superb book, (Mark Batterson said it was the best book he read last year!) but not for the squeamish!

Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peritti This fictional work is the second of a pair of books that paints a picture of the relationship between the forces of evil and the Christian community. The story is gripping (as is the first by the way) and I found myself having to remind myself that it all comes from the fertile imagination of the author and is not the truth! However I believe it did somehow give me a fresh appreciation of the reality of evil. Once again I could not put it down and I think Maggie wonders if it was a good thing to encourage me to include fiction in the books I read

Right now I have my bookmarks in;

Small Faith Great God by NT Wright another Intervarsity offering. Wright is one of our most prolific and gifted Christian theologians and authors. So far the book is great and has given my yellow highlighter ample employment.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller. Keller is an amazing apologist and renders complicated theological ideas with incisive simplicity. This book is destined to become classic in apologetics alongside the work of Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel.

On Road with the Archangel by Fredrick Buechner. More fiction, a fascinating story set in Jerusalem, Antioch or Alexandria about 722 BC, If you have never read any Buechner, I recommend you do. His use of images and language is extraordinary.

Books “on deck”

The Lighthouse by PD James

So what are you reading? I would love to hear. If you are looking for something I have one or two books in my office that you can borrow if you wish!

Posted January 24, 2011 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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