Tag Archives: books

America at the Crossroads

To say that America is at the crossroads is one heck of an understatement. But yeah I guess you can think of it that way. This election cycle has shown us that perhaps more than ever this country is divided, and that division shows up in the competing visions of where America ought to be headed towards in the future. And honestly, not matter which fork in the road America takes, the future doesn’t look so bright.

What I’m saying here is nothing new people feel this. But we can’t (contra what some people in political circles these days are saying) base facts on feelings. This is where George Barna’s new book, America at the Crossroads, comes in. Doing what Barna does best, polls and trend tracking, he gives us the hard facts about those feelings. The studies which you will find in this book track the results of how people are feeling/thinking about issues like:

  • Religious Belief
  • Religious Education
  • The Bible
  • Evangelicals
  • Government Satisfaction
  • Political Engagement
  • National Priorities
  • Population Growth
  • Happiness
  • Political Correctness
  • Confidence in Institutions
  • Confidence about the Future

Building upon his findings Barna consolidates what he finds into a helpful summary section, describing recent and past state of affairs regarding the t51ppw2abcjl-_sy344_bo1204203200_opic. Each chapter also includes a “key facts” section which he lists some important and pertinent information. For example in the chapter on National Priorities you will find that the top issue of concern for Americans  in 2015 was terrorism, followed by the economy and jobs. Republicans pretty much mirrored this trend. However democrats placed “improving the educational system” at the top of their concern list, followed by improving the economy and job situation. Finally each chapter includes an Outlook and Interpretation section, where Barna makes his own subjective interpretation of the data and predicts future trends.

Overall this is a pretty helpful book. I recommend that pastors take a look at these findings, as it will help them better understand where their congregations are at, and where they may be going.

BOOK GIVEAWAY

I would love to give away a copy of this book if you think it will be helpful to your ministry. If you would like a chance to win (and live in the continental US). You can enter to win by doing one of the following:

  • Tweet out the link to this blog post or the review and mention @Cwoznicki
  • Retweet my tweet about the giveaway
  • Like this post
  • Comment below on how this book would benefit you

I will be selecting one winner soon. Good luck!

Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an impartial review.

 

 

Good Luck!

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Books Read in 2015

I know this is super late! Every year, right at the beginning of the year I post a list of all the books I read that year. However the end of last year was a bit crazy. I was gone in Africa for half of January, then I jumped right into a theological method seminar which kept me really busy, then the baby came! All that to say here are the books I read in 2015, my list of best books of 2015 will be posted soon!

January

  1. Giving Blood – Leonard Sweet – 1/2/15
  2. Reformed Catholicity – Michael Allen & Scott R. Swain 1/6/15
  3. Space, Time, and Resurrection by T.F. Torrance 1/19/15
  4. God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom 1/21/15
  5. Two Views on the Trinity by Jason Sexton 1/24/15
  6. Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields & Duffy Robbins 1/28/15
  7. Exodus: Kregel Exegetical Library Commentary by Duane Garrett 1/31/15

February

  1. Total Church by Tim Chester & Steve Timmis 2/2/15
  2. The Happy Christian by David Murray 2/6/15
  3. Introducing Paul by Michael Bird 2/11/15
  4. Shepherding God’s Flock by Benjamin Merkle and Thomas Schreiner 2/13/15
  5. Retrieving Doctrine: Essays in Reformed Theology by Oliver Crisp 2/16/15
  6. Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian 2/18/15
  7. A God Entranced Vision of All Things by John Piper & Justin Taylor 2/24/15
  8. Scary Close by Donald Miller 2/25/15
  9. Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo 2/26/15
  10. The Paleo Chef by Pete Evans 2/28/15

March

  1. The Pastor’s Ministry by Brian Croft 3/4/15
  2. Nonviolent action by Ronald Sider 3/6/15
  3. Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves 3/7/15
  4. The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright 3/12/14
  5. Faith, Freedom and the Spirit by Paul Molnar 3/23/15
  6. The Mission of Preaching by Patrick Johnson 3/27/15
  7. Treatise on Grace & Other Posthumously Published Writings by Jonathan Edwards 3/29/15
  8. Teams that Thrive by Ryan Hartwig & Warren Bird 3/31/15

April

  1. Advancing Trinitarian Theology by Oliver Crisp & Fred Sanders 4/1/15
  2. Spiritual Friendship by Wesley Hill 4/3/15
  3. Confronted by Grace: Meditations of Theologian by John Webster 4/3/15
  4. Recovering Classical Evangelicalism by Greg Thornbury 4/6/15
  5. Jonathan Edwards’ Theology: A Reinterpretation by Kyle Strobel 4/11/15
  6. The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Carl Trueman 4/13/15
  7. Edwards and the Christian Life by Dane Ortlund 4/15/15
  8. The Story that Chooses Us: A Tapestry of Missional Vision by George Hunsberger 4/21/15
  9. Called to the Life of the Mind: Some Advice for Evangelical Scholars by Richard Mouw 4/23/15
  10. Encountering Romans by Douglas Moo 4/24/15
  11. The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright 4/27/15

May

  1. The Bees by Laline Paull 5/7/15
  2. The Kuyper Center Report (Vol 5): Church and Academy by Gordon Graham 5/11/15
  3. The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro 5/17/15
  4. Theology and California by Jason Sexton and Fred Sanders 5/19/15
  5. Ordinary Hero by Neil Cole 5/30/15

June

  1. The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken 6/1/15
  2. A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight 6/7/15
  3. F. Torrance: An Intellectual Biography by Alister McGrath 6/15/15
  4. Reading Barth with Charity by George Hunsinger 6/16/15
  5. The Holy Trinity Revisited: Essays in Response to Stephen R. Holmes by Thomas Noble and Jason Sexton 6/19/15
  6. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wind by Renate Wind 6/23/15
  7. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 6/29/15

July

  1. Paul’s Theology of Preaching by Duane Liftin 7/5/15
  2. Defending Substitution by Simon Gathercole 7/6/15
  3. Joy in the Journey by Steve Hayner 7/7/15
  4. Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 7/14/15
  5. Hearing Her Voice: A Biblical Invitation for Women to Preach by John Dickson 7/15/15
  6. Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 7/15/15
  7. Paul’s Divine Christology by Chris Tilling 7/30/15
  8. Preaching by Tim Keller 7/31/15

August

  1. Letters and papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 8/1/15
  2. The Tangible Kingdom Primer by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay 8/6/15
  3. Romans 1-7 For You by Tim Keller 8/10/15
  4. Teaching Romans: Unlocking Romans 1–8 for the Bible Teacher by Christopher Ash 8/11/15
  5. Paul and the Trinity by Wesley Hill 8/18/15
  6. Exploring Christology and Atonement by Andrew Purves 8/29/15

Septmember

  1. Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? By Thomas McCall 9/7/15
  2. The Trinity (De Trinitate) by Augustine 9/10/15
  3. The Trinity by Karl Rahner 9/15/15
  4. Unburdened: The Christian Leader’s Path to Sexual Integrity 9/17/15
  5. When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert 9/23/15
  6. A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Texts of the New Testament by Phillip Comfort 9/28/15

October

  1. The Trinity by Karl Rahner 10/5/15
  2. The Trinity and the Kingdom by Jurgen Moltmann 10/8/15
  3. Renew Your Life by Kai Mark Nilsen 10/19/15
  4. The Christian Doctrine of God by T.F. Torrance 10/25/15
  5. The Triune Identity by Robert Jenson 10/26/15

November

  1. The God We Worship by Nicholas Wolterstorff 11/8/15
  2. Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? By Thomas McCall 11/9/15
  3. Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God by William Hasker 11/14/15
  4. One God in Three Persons by Bruce Ware and John Starke 11/15/15
  5. Apostolic Church Planting by J.D. Payne 11/17/15
  6. God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay on the Trinity by Sarah Coakley 11/30/15

December

  1. Theology and the Mirror of Scripture: A Mere Evangelical Account by Kevin Vanhoozer and Daniel Trier 12/3/15
  2. Reordering the Trinity by Rodrick Durst 12/8/15
  3. Theology as Discipleship by Keith Johnson 12/15/15
  4. Crossing Cultures with Jesus by Katie Rawson 12/20/15
  5. Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation and Mission by Michael Gorman 12/22/15
  6. The Ecumenical Edwards by Kyle Strobel 12/24/15
  7. People to Be Loved by Preston Sprinkle 12/27/15
  8. Pioneering Movements by Steve Addison 12/27/15
  9. Introducing Paul by Michael Bird 12/28/15

What Should Preachers Be Reading?

What would you say to a preacher who feels intimidated by all he feels he needs to read in order to “speak to the culture”? Where should he start?

He needs to start noticing the cultural water he swims in every day. You don’t need to start with heavy tomes. Look at the music videos on YouTube getting tens or hundreds of millions of views. They’re almost always about cultural narratives of identity, freedom, and so on that shape us at our roots. Make them visible by reflecting on them. James K. A. Smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular [review | interview], which is a guide to reading Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, is a good starting point.

(HT: Tim Keller)

House of Hartt

I don’t normally blog about this kind of stuff (decorating, weddings, etc.) – but I’m just so thankful to Corinne from House of Hartt that I couldn’t help share my appreciation for her and her team’s work at our wedding!

Amelia and I got married in January and Corinne from House of Hartt was our decorator. As you know from reading this blog – I’m really into books and I write a lot – my wife loves the vintage feel – so Corinne provided everything that we needed to pull of a vintage library/book themed reception. Let’s just say that it was amazing! She absolutely went above and beyond what we expected.

We got so many comments from our guests talking about how amazing everything looked. People especially liked the background she made (from scratch) behind our dinner table.

Wedding Decoration 6

Corinne used high quality materials, which included some vintage furniture and props – like a tons and tons of books which matched our theme (titles) and even our wedding colors, she brought some antique type writers, even a library card catalog. The highlight was the furniture that she brought. It all looked so elegant!

We loved how it looked and our guests loved how it looked!

 

Wedding Decoration 5

Wedding Decoration 1

Wedding Decoration 3

I Think I Broke It… My Goal For Reading This Year

One of my friends set a goal for himself in 2012, to read 40 books. When I heard he beat it I thought “woah thats a great goal to have, I bet I could beat it.” So I set out to beat his 40 and read 50 books this year. Lets just say I broke my record. Here are all the books I completed in 2013. (Note: These were all books that I finished, there are more that I didn’t get all the way through.)

And the total is…..

106 books read in 2013

  1. Deep and Wide – Andy Stanley
  2. The Meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller
  3. Gospel Deeps – Jared Wilson
  4. Word Biblical Themes: Philippians – Hawthorne
  5. Risk is Right – John Piper
  6. Forsaken – Thomas McCall
  7. Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace – James Torrance
  8. The Heavenly Man – Brother Yun
  9. Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart – J.D. Greear

10. You Can Change – Tim Chester

11. Comeback Churches – Ed Stetzer

12. The Cross Centered Life – CJ Mahaney

13. The Quest for the Trinity – Stephen Holmes

14. How To Read T.F. Torrance – Stephen Colyer

15. Follow Me – David Platt

16. The Art of Neighboring – Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon

17. The Prophet Jesus and the Renewal of Israel – Richard Horsley

18. Consulting the Faithful – Richard Mouw

19. Athanasius – Peter Leithart

20. Ezekiel: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition – Brad Kelle

21. The Lost World of Genesis One – John Walton

22. The Trellis and the Vine – Colin Marshall & Tony Payne

23. Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture – Michael Frost

24. Insourcing: Bringing Discipleship Back to the Local Church – Randy Pope

25. The Greatest Story Never Told – Leonard Sweet

26. Hopeful Imagination – Walter Brueggemann

27. Discipleshift – Jim Putman & Bobby Harrington

28. La Mente de Christo – Ben Gutierrez

29. Eucharist: A Guide for the Perplexed – Ralph McMichael

30. Doubting – Alister McGrath

31. Housekeeping – Marylinne Robinson

32. Mere Apologetics – Alister McGrath

33. The Three Loves – Larry Krieder & Jimmy Siebert

34. A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards – George Marsden

35. The Way of the Heart – Henri Nouwen

36. Word, Spirit, Power – RT Kendall & Charles Carrin & Jack Taylor

37. The Alchemist – Paulo Coellho

38. On the Incarnation – Athanasius

39. The Blueprint – Jaeson Ma

40. Spiritual Parenting – Michelle Anthony

41. On Stories – C.S. Lewis

42. World War Z – Max Brooks

43. Zizek: A (Very) Critical Introduction – Marcus Pound

44. Jesus on Every Page – David Murray

45. Is Jesus in the Old Testament? – Ian Duguid

46. This Momentary Marriage – John Piper

47. The Book of the Dun Cow – Walter Wangerin

48. An Unhurried Life – Alan Fadling

49. Every Good Endeavor – Tim Keller

50. Work: The Meaning of Life – Lester DeKoster

51. Formed for the Glory of God – Kyle Strobel

52. On Guard – William Lane Craig

53. Incarnation – T.F. Torrance

54. Letters to a Young Calvinist – James K.A. Smith

55. Praying at Burger King – Richard Mouw

56. Fight – Preston Sprinkle

57. Big God – Britt Merrick

58. Is There a God? – Richard Swinburne

59. A Manuscript Found in Accra – Paul Coellho

60. NICNT 1 and 2 Thessalonians – Leon Morris

61. The Jesus Driven Ministry – Ajith Fernando

62. A Shorter Summa – Thomas Aquinas

63. Tyndale NT Commentary: 1 Corinthians – Leon Morris

64. Evil and the Cross – Henri Blocher

65. The Beginner’s Guide to Signs, Wonders, and the Supernatural Life – James Goll

66. Evangelical Theology – Karl Barth

67. Mentoring Millennials – Daniel Egeler

68. Reverence – Paul Woodruff

69. The Case for the Psalms – N.T. Wright

70. Planting a House Church – Larry Kreider & Floyd McClung

71. Hero of Heroes – Ian Duguid

72. On the Holy Spirit – St. Basil

73. The Apostle Paul – Pope Benedict

74. The Experience of God – David Bentley Hart

75. The Pastor’s Justification – Jared Wilson

76. Embracing Obscurity – Anonymous

77. Paul and Judaism Revisited – Preston Sprinkle

78. God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay on the Trinity – Sarah Coakley

79. Changing the World Through Discipleship – Robert Herbert

80. Does God Desire All to be Saved? – John Piper

81. Christology: Ancient and Modern – Oliver Crisp and Fred Sanders

82. Theology in Transposition: A Constructive Appraisal of T.F. Torrance – Myk Habets

83. The Message of 2 Corinthians – Paul Barnett

84. Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking – T.F. Torrance

85. Justification Reconsidered – Stephen Westerholm

86. Scholasticism: Personalities and Problems of Medieval Philosoph – Josef Pieper

87. Jonathan Edward’s Bible – Stephen R.C. Nichols

88. Psalms – Walter Brueggemann

89. Gospel Centered Ministry – D.A. Carson & Tim Keller

90. Reading for Preaching – Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

91. Crazy Busy – Kevin Deyoung

92. Existentialism is a Humanism – Jean Paul Sartre

93. Meno – Plato

94. A Little Book for New Theologians – Kelly Kapic

95. The Gambler – Fydor Dostoyevsky

96. In Search of Deep Faith – Jim Belcher

97. Number the Stars- Lois Lowry

98. The Humanity of God – Karl Barth

99.  Because of Winn Dixie – Kate DiCamillo

100. Tolkien’s Virtues – Mark Eddy Smith

101. Good, Evil and the Existence of God – Perry

102. Why Cities Matter – Stephen Um & Justin Buzzard

103. The Kingdom of God – Christopher Morgan & Robert Peterson

104. Risky Gospel – Owen Strachan

105. Clear Winter Nights – Trevin Wax

106. Prelude to Philosophy – Mark Foreman

Top Seven Books of 2013

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
There’ll books for reviewing
And blogs to be posting
When the end of  ’13 is near
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Yes its that time of the year again. No it’s not Christmas. Its book review season! It’s the time of the year when everybody puts out their favorite books of the year. And in true blogger form I am submitting my own list of favorite books.

Last year, I stuck with books published in 2012. I am sticking to that rule too (no not books published in 2012!), but books published this current year. That means that any book I read that was published in 2013 is eligible for this list.

Here are my qualifications to make it on to this list:

  1. Published in 2013
  2. I would give that book to somebody else
  3. I would re-read the book
  4. It is not a crappy book

With that I give you my favorite books of the year across 7 different categories:

Biblical Studies – Paul and Judaism Revisited by Preston Sprinkle

Paul and Judaism Revisited

It’s the year of the Wright. I mean Paul. Oops. Preston enters the foray with this book. I have reviewed this book at length a few months ago, so let me just sum things up. In Paul and Judaism Revisited Preston Sprinkle presents us with a new lens for comparing Paul and 2nd Temple Judaism: Prophetic and Deuteronomic Literature. This was my “Biblical Studies” book of the year because it was the biblical studies book that sparked the most ideas for papers for me. Lets just say, it might be useful to bring this lens into systematic theology…..

Devotional – Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson

Pastors Justification

Early this year I went through a bit of a dry ministry season. You could say that I found myself in a ministry slump. By God’s grace this book helped pull me out of it. Wilson breaks his book up into two parts; 1)An exposition of 1 Peter 5:1-11 and then 2)The 5 Sola’s. This book forced me really check myself and my motivations for doing ministry. The Lord used this book to expose some real idols and some dangerous ministry habits I was forming; so even though it seems to be a ministry book, think of it more like a devotional for pastors.

Ministry – Reading for Preaching by Cornelius Plantinga

Reading for Preaching

This book is pretty short, which means you will have time to do some more “reading for preaching.” Here Plantinga presents the advantages for preachers to have a regular reading program, this includes fiction, biographies, articles, poetry, news, etc. The best part about this book is that he practices what he preaches, his writing is suffused with the “literature” he recommends the preachers dive into. It personally encouraged me to develop my own preaching through reading more fiction.

Mission – Why Cities Matter by Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard

Why Cities Matter

I bought this book on a whim for my kindle, thinking that I probably wouldn’t get to it this year, but boy am I glad that I did get to it. As the title implies, cities matter, they matter a lot to God and to God’s mission, so they should matter to us to. I already buy into their thesis so they didn’t need to convince me, nevertheless their chapters on asking the right questions and contextualization are brilliant. Those questions are such great tool for anybody starting up a ministry in a city, whether they are church planting or starting up a college ministry.

Philosophy/Apologetics – The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart

The Experience of God

The Barthian in my cringes a bit when thinking about natural theology, thankfully that tendency has been tempered a bit, probably partly due to this book. Part philosophical theology, part natural theology, part apologetics, part attack against the new atheists, this book is all a work of genius. There is something about Hart that makes him so convincing, maybe its his cockiness maybe its his wit, but when you read him you can’t help but find yourself marveling at how smart this guy really is. The book tackles the question: What do we mean when we use the word “God?” By breaking our experience of God into three topics 1)Being, 2)Consciousness, 3)Bliss, he clarifies what we mean by God and argues that the God of traditional theism is the best way to explain our “experience of God.”

Theology – God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay on the Trinity by Sarah Coakley

God Sexuality and the Self

For some reason this was the hardest category for me this year. I kept going back and forth between four books: Myk Habet’s Theology in Transposition, Fred Sander’s and Oliver Crisp’s Christology: Ancient and Modern, Mouw and Sweeny’s The Suffering and Victorious Christ, and this book. I settled on this book because it was the most original of the three. Now I’m not the type of person who think “original” or “new” things are better, nor do I line up theological with Coakley in some major places, however her method is absolutely fascinating. There is a lot of potential in this book. And I am guessing it will end up being a book that you will have to engage with when talking about Trinitarian theology. And even more importantly her thesis that human sexuality is actually meant to point towards human desire for God is actually a really beautiful truth.

Best Book of 2013 – In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher

In Search of Deep Faith

Funny story, I never intended to read this book. It wasn’t even on my radar. But Jim Belcher tweeted out that he needed some reviewers, I responded, IVP sent me a free copy, and the rest is history. I was blown away by this book. I was finding myself in a dry season so Belcher’s book came along at a perfect time. In the book there are stories upon stories of “heroes” of the faith; there is just something about reading biographical material that awakens a deep sense of faith within you. This book has parts that are devotional, theological, historical, ministerial and its all weaved into a great literary presentation to boot. In other words its all you could ask for in a book. For that reason I decided that this book was my book of the year.

What were some of your favorite books this year? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Give them the Tools they Need!

Today would like to hit on one aspect of the small group coach-leader relationship: equipping. If you are a small group coach you probably know building a relationship with your leaders is super important but you don’t necessarily want to get stuck there. Pastor Bill Donahue from Willow Creek makes this point when he says that “It is easy to make the mistake of turning the coach-leader relationship into nothing more than a deep friendship.” I definitely agree with him. Because it is so easy to do that we need to maintain a healthy balance between shepherding and equipping.

Equipping can be a hard thing. In fact thinking about equipping can be a bit intimidating. After all its not like we are small group experts. Nor do we have access to unlimited resources. Often times it’s hard enough to find where to start the equipping process. So today would like to offer you a few ideas about tools you can use to equip your leaders.

  • Your Past Experiences: If you are reading this you probably have been doing small groups for quite some time now. Thus you probably have a lot of stories of small groups that went really well and of small groups that didn’t go so well. Also you know what worked and didn’t work in those small groups. So I would begin by having your leaders think through what is working and what isn’t working in their own small group. Then I would relate that to your own experiences. In addition to that, you have probably experienced a lot of the situations that your leaders are going through in their own small group. Whether it is someone breaking up in the small group, a fight with parents, or some sort of addiction; you have probably encountered it, thus you can speak wisdom out of your own experience with that issue.
  • Wisdom from Other Leaders: Hopefully you have a bunch of wise leaders around you. Whether it is the other coaches or a pastor, or even other small group leaders; there is always something to gain from others. As you work to cultivate community within the leadership, you will begin to be encouraged by what is going on in the other groups. Also you will learn from the other leaders’ experiences. In addition to learning from the experiences of other leaders don’t be afraid to ask your director or pastor about any specific issue that might come up.
  • Books or Articles: Personally this is my favorite way to resource. I love reading. And by love I mean LOOOOOVE!  I know reading isn’t for everyone, therefore giving people articles to read won’t always work, however as you read books and articles you will gain wisdom from that author and you will be able to impart that wisdom to your leader. If you are looking for a book/article on a specific topic feel free to ask me, I will do my best to look it up for you.

Discuss:

  • What other sorts of tools have you turned to in order to equip the people that you lead?