Follow Jesus to the Ends of the Earth

Category: Books (page 1 of 3)

For the Glory – Chariots of Fire Revisited

Eric Liddell, the subject of Duncan Hamilton’s biography, For the Glory, was both an Olympic champion in the 400 meters and an exemplary missionary in China. Perhaps even more impressive is how he treated people throughout his life. Rich or poor, English or Chinese, he truly “did unto others” in the sense that Jesus meant.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Chariots of Fire, which came out in 1981 and told the story of Liddell and fellow countryman Harold Abrahams, as their running careers culminated in the 1924 Olympics. This book goes much deeper into Liddell’s family background and follows his life up to that Olympic moment, then on through his missionary career in China. Liddell’s faith in Christ and his devotion to others shines through in the book.

Liddell’s life story is wonderful and tragic. As you read you’ll discover a new hero in the faith, just as I’ve done. This is a splendid book for your summer reading and I encourage you to watch the movie if you’ve never seen it!

Paul – A Man of Grace and Grit

A man who stared down kings, survived stonings and shipwrecks, healed the sick and shook off the venom of poisonous vipers – what’s not to love about Paul? I just read this book for a course I’m taking on Acts and the Pauline Epistles. I thoroughly enjoyed Charles Swindoll’s thoughts on the life and ministry of Paul. It’s been I long time since I’ve read a book by Swindoll and I was quickly reminded of his humor, insights and his practicality of application, especially for those in ministry.

In the first chapter I was struck by Swindoll’s description of Saul as a “religious terrorist.” Swindoll goes on to say “That’s why there’s nothing more frightening, more vicious than a religious terrorist. What they do, they justify in the name of God.” Since this book was published, we’ve seen ever-increasing evidence of that reality. Which make me wonder, is there another Paul out there, currently committed to Islamic terrorism, who will become the great missionary of tomorrow? I hope and pray so. Perhaps even on the road to Damascus a similar miracle could occur?

Two thoughts kept circling around in my mind as I read this book and as I jotted down notable passages on the way through. First, this life of adventure lived by Paul. His was no boring, cloistered life of ministry. He was fully engaged and ever pushing on to new arenas. Fearless comes to mind. A second thought emerged as I found my way to the final few chapters; a theme that I’ve been weighing personally for the last year or so, and the life of Paul demonstrates it so well. That is, our need for longevity in ministry, or finishing well with the Lord, or keeping the faith until the end of life. My life, in particular.

I loved the book. So much so I ordered another book in the series. I’m challenged to push forward in my work in missions despite the daily obstacles. I encouraged to continue to pursue depth in life and in the Lord. Finally, I’m inspired to end strong and finish the race in a manner of which Paul would approve.

An Encouragement on MLK Day

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.            – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is our holiday reserved to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., commonly referred to as MLK day. I made it a point several years ago to start reading about the life and work of Dr. King. On this day I can say that Martin Luther King is one of my leadership heroes. Rarely will you see a leader so given to his ideals and so committed to his methods. King’s commitment to nonviolence endured despite being spit upon, hit in the head with bricks and constantly threatened. Martin Luther King is an American hero and a wonderful example of a leader who put his Christian faith into practice.

I would encourage you to read more about Dr. King and a good place to start is with his autobiography, pictured here. If you’ve not read it before, I would suggest you add it to your booklist for the year. You’ll be impressed and encouraged and thankful for this man who has blessed our times.


For the Love of Reading – Books I Read in 2016

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

Trinity College Library, Dublin

I enjoy reading. It’s a pleasure that never grows old. I read a great deal as I work in ministry and I read just for fun. This year I’ve read some excellent books and also read some that were not so great, but that’s how it goes. Here’s my list of the books (with the author’s last name) that I read this past year, in the order I read them. You’ll find **highlighted** the books I enjoyed the most and recommend highly. Happy reading!


Lead like Jesus – Blanchard & Hodges
** The Witches – Schiff **
The Kill Artist – Silva
Movements That Change the World – Addison
Predictable Success – McKeown
Impact – Irwin
Leadership and Self-Deception – Arbinger Institute
** Dead Wake – Larson **
H3 Leadership – Lomenick
The English Assassin – Silva
** The Things They Carried – O’Brien **
Multipliers – Wiseman
Native Son – Wright
** Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – Qureshi **
The Water is Wide – Conroy

Black Hawk Down – Bowden
The Girl in the Glass – Ford
Accelerate – Kotter
** This Change is Everything – Sebastian ** 
The Prince of Tides – Conroy
** I Once Was Lost – Everts & Schaupp **
** The Revenant – Punke **
The Stoning of Soraya M. – Sahebjam
Delighting in the Trinity – Reeves
The Way Is Made By Walking – Boers
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Dillard
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – Kamkwamba
** Church History in Plain Language – Shelley **
The Climb to Hell – Olsen
The Confessor – Silva

** Heroic Leadership – Lowney **
** Confederates: A Novel – Keneally **
Pope Joan: A Novel – Cross
A Life God Rewards – Wilkinson
The Sabbath – Heschel
Epic – Eldredge
The Fox was Ever the Hunter – Muller
True Community – Bridges
A Death in Vienna – Silva
Discovering the Camino de Santiago – Markey
Night of the Grizzlies – Olsen
Create vs. Copy – Wytsma
Being White – Harris & Schaupp
** The Bridge on the Drina – Andric **

The Color of Wealth – Lui et al
Danny the Champion of the World – Dahl
Prince of Fire – Silva
The Coffee Trader – Liss
** The First Time We Saw Him – Mikalatos ** 
** Follow the River – Thom **
Longshot in Missouri – Baker
** In the Sanctuary of Outcasts – White **
The Messenger – Silva
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals – Piper
The Confessions of Nat Turner – Styron
A Man Called Ove – Backman
Eat, Move, Sleep – Rath
** Hillbilly Elegy – Vance **

Finally, in December I finished my “read through the Bible in a year” program, so I include: ** The Holy Bible, New International Version **

This Change is Everything

img_0019You can see that on my desk is a copy of a new book on missions by my friend and co-worker, Shane Sebastian. This Change is Everything is the best new book to come out regarding missions since, well, my book that came out last year regarding missions!

There are two aspects to this book that make it important to anyone considering missions and to anyone working with young people who are considering missions. First, Shane helps us see how young people have been changing the world for centuries. Young people, mid-twenties and younger, have been making a kingdom impact since the days of the Old Testament. Why should it be any different today? We need to encourage people to see how much of a difference they can make in their youth.

In the second part of the book Shane deals with common barriers people face as they consider going to the world. These thoughts are spot-on, as Shane has been working with college students for twenty-five years and helping them work through these very issues. His wisdom comes from years of practical ministry. You will benefit from the hard lessons Shane has distilled for you.

Buy this book for yourself, or buy it to give away, but read it and and let’s help send a new generation to the world!

Heroic Leadership

What a good book and what a different sort of leadership book than I normally read! Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney examines and draws leadership principles from the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. The Jesuits have been around for over 450 years and Lowney attributes much of their success to the four pillars that guide their leadership: self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism.

I was struck by the principle of “indifference” practiced by the Jesuits, which encourages the freedom from inordinate attachments. If you’re free from the things of the world that hold you back, then you’re free to go anywhere in the world the Lord might take you. So unlike most teachings on leadership that I read and a teaching rarely heard today.

The Jesuits focused on finding and developing “as many as possible of the very best.” They worked at finding great young leaders and then putting them in challenging situations to further hone their leadership skills. They forced people to stretch and grow, all the while pushing them to live like Jesus and to treat people like Jesus would treat them.

I was also struck by the Jesuit’s Latin motto, “magis” or “more.” This does not refer to accumulating more money or stuff, which would put it in conflict with the principle of indifference, but rather magis represents the reality that there are new places to go. There are unexplored regions that have not heard about the Christian faith, there are more ways to improve the educational experience of the students under their care, things around you can be better. I love the push that results from aiming high.

Lowney does not sugarcoat the Jesuits and there are issues to be found in their work, but his insight into their leadership culture is rich and worthy of your time, especially if leadership is something you’re trying to live out. May we all be captured by the principle of magis!


I Once Was Lost

I recently finished this book on communicating the Christian faith in today’s postmodern culture by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. As I read, I found myself intuitively agreeing with the five steps to belief they identify that young people go through today – first, trust a Christian; second, become curious; third, open up to change; fourth, seek after God; and fifth, enter the Kingdom. The author’s observations and insights are helpful and on point and people involved in communicating the Christian faith with young people will agree.

This book is short and practical. This should be resource you own and use if you believe that communicating your faith is worth the time, energy and thought to do it well. FYI – we’ll be giving this book to the students participating in the Cru Study Abroad program starting the fall of 2016.

Movements That Change the World

I just finished Movements That Change the World, by Steve Addison.  It’s a fabulous book and should be required reading for anyone interested in missions. The book details spiritual movements both historically and in contemporary terms.

Addison describes 5 aspects of what contributes to a spiritual movement:

White Hot Faith
Commitment to a Cause
Contagious Relationships
Rapid Mobilization
Adaptive Methods

Here’s my favorite quote from the book:

“In the renewal and expansion of the church, the breakthroughs always occur on the fringe of ecclesiastical power – never at the center. In every generation, in some obscure place, God is beginning something new. That’s where we need to be.”

I encourage you to check it out!

A Wind in the House of Islam

One of the most encouraging books on missions that I have read for several years is this one, A Wind in the House of Islam, by David Garrison. Garrison has done extensive research on movements of Muslims turning toward Jesus over the centuries. Remarkably, this current century has seen more of these types of movements than the previous thirteen centuries combined.

Garrison’s book is filled with stories about Muslims from all over the world, or as he describes it, the nine “rooms” in the house of Islam, each representing a different geographical area where Islam in prevalent. Muslims are moving towards Jesus in every one of these “rooms” and Garrison shares stories from each.

The books closes with Garrison suggesting why God is drawing Muslims to himself today, and he shares ten bridges that God is using. He also shares suggestions for how the Christian world should respond. Especially interesting was his insight that many Muslims are turning to Jesus because they are frustrated and frightened by the violence they see in radical Islam. Jesus, the Prince of Peace and a prophet in Islam, is seen as a better alternative. What follows is that we as Christians need to continue to offer peace towards Muslims in our midst, as opposed to fear.

A Wind in the House of Islam is a great book, especially if you are interested in missions and the Muslim world.

Books I read in 2015

A someone who loves to read and loves to hear what others are reading, I share my list of books I spent time in this past year. I liked some books more than others (and some not so much), but the ones I particularly enjoyed I’ve highlighted. I reviewed a few in past blog posts, so you can check those out as well. I hope this helps you settle into a good book in 2016!

Here’s my list with Title and Author:

* Wheelmen – Albergotti & O’Connell
Leadership is an Art – DePree
20,000 Days and Counting – Smith
* All the Light We Cannot See – Doerr
The One Thing – Keller & Papasan
Work Simply – Tate
The 5 Levels of Leadership – Maxwell
Outliers – Gladwell
The Death of Ivan Ilyich – Tolstoy
Confession – Tolstoy
The Eleventh Draft – Conroy
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Skloot
The Faithful Executioner – Harrington
* Gone Girl – Flynn
* They Shall Not Have Me – Helion
* Mission at Nuremberg – Townsend
The Heart of Everything That Is – Drury & Clavin
The Question That Never Goes Away – Yancey
Giving Up Control – DeJonge
* Amazing Grace – Metaxas
Pirate Latitudes – Crichton
* Essentialism – Greg McKeown
American Lightning – Blum
American Sniper – Kyle
Divergent – Roth
* Sensing Jesus – Eswine
Insurgent – Roth
Thou Shall Prosper – Lapin
Allegiant – Roth
Start with Why – Sinek
Risk is Right – Piper
* The Keepers of the House – Grau
Ignore Everybody – MacLeod
The Girl on the Train – Hawkins
Dancing with Cinderella – Harlow
The Innocent Man – Grisham
Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Lindsay
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – Morin
* King’s Cross – Keller
Abundance – Sena Jeter Naslund
* The Great Santini – Conroy
The Road to Character – Brooks
What To Do When It’s Your Turn – Godin
Brain Rules – Medina
All Marketers Are Liars – Godin
The Burning Tigris – Balakian
With – Jethani
Guerrilla Marketing – Levinson
* An Army at Dawn – Atkinson
Making Ideas Happen – Belsky
Leaders Who Last – Kraft
Sophie’s Choice – Styron
* Life Together – Bonhoeffer
* Road to Valor – McConnon
Auschwitz, A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account – Nyiszli
The Art Forger – Shapiro
The Exorcist – Blatty
* A Wind in the House of Islam – Garrison
* A Man Called Intrepid – Stevenson
* The Spirituality of Gratitude – Kang
A Sailor of Austria – Biggins



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