10 Ways to Read More Books in 2021
I read 70+ books in 2020. Below I’ll tell you how.
“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” I don’t think you should cheat. Cheating is wrong. But you should, however, make the most of every advantage you have as best as you can.
That’s what I seek to do with reading. I take advantage of everything I can.
I read all sorts of books for all sorts of reasons. Depending on the reason for reading and the type of book, I will read it in a different way. Some people shun audiobooks. But, I personally don’t get that. There are all sorts of reasons for reading and all sorts of ways that people retain things best.
As I said, I think we should wisely take advantage of everything we can as best as we personally can.
Here are nine things I’ve used to my advantage:
Time is the most precious commodity there is. Even little bits of gold have value, how much more small slots of time!
You can get a lot read when you make the most of small time slots. Waiting can easily turn into productive reading. I always have a book on hand. And my wife often listens to audiobooks while doing dishes or laundry.
2) Old fashioned books
Always have one with you. You never know when you’ll be able to get a few paragraphs or a few pages read.
3) Kindle app on my phone
It’s always with me. I always have a book I’m reading on Kindle.
4) Hoopla or Libby
Hoopla and Libby are free apps and one of them should be available through your local library. I’ve used them both at different times to listen to tons of books.
Audible is an audiobook service. My wife and I had a membership for a long time. It was great.
ChristianAudio is an audiobook service that provides Christian audiobooks. You can signup for a free audiobook a month.
Speechify is an amazing app. It was created by Cliff Weitzman, someone with dyslexia, to help people with dyslexia.
With Speechify you can take a picture of a page in a book and it will convert it to audio. I will sometimes buy a book on Kindle and take a screenshot of each page of the Kindle book and load it on to Speechify. In this way, I can listen to the book.
I can also still make notes. If something sticks out to me that I want to capture I’ll take a screenshot on the Speechify app. Then I’ll search the keywords from the screenshot on the Kindle book and highlight and make any notes I want to make.
Speechify has been a huge blessing to me. I read very slowly but when I use Speechify I can read over 650 words per minute. Speechify probably triples my reading speed but I’m still able to retain what I read and make notes.
8) A community of book lovers
I have multiple friends (including my wife!) that love to talk books and encourage the reading of good books.
Goodreads is a social media site for reading. Goodreads allows you to track and review books you’ve read as well as receive recommendations from friends. You can see my Goodreads account here.
10) Pocket (very helpful but not for books)
Pocket is an app that allows you to save articles to your “pocket.” It’s a great way to save and organize articles. But, the thing I enjoy most is that it has a function that allows you to listen to articles.
Pervasive Peace through the Second Advent
In Christmas, we celebrate the advent or coming of Christ. The first coming enabled a way for peace to be realized. Humans can, through Christ, have renewed fellowship with God. Yet, as Jesus Himself said, in the world we will have trouble and tribulation.
So, if that’s the case, if in the world we will have difficulty and distress, then how can we have peace? This Sunday I get to preach on the “Pathway to Peace” from Isaiah chapter 11. I’m excited and thankful to be able to do that.
I, however, have too much material. So, I thought I’d share here, part of how that peace is possible.
First, Isaiah paints a beautiful and powerful picture of peace (see Isaiah 11:1-9). A little baby can play with a king cobra without fear (v. 8). How is this possible?
Isaiah 11:9 tells us: the knowledge of God is intimately experienced. And so: nothing will “harm nor destroy on all [the Lord’s] holy mountain.” Instead of harm, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
The Messiah will make it so not only the knowledge of the LORD is pervasive but intimacy with the LORD is too. Knowledge in the Old Testament is not merely head knowledge, but it is experiential (When Adam “knew” Eve, Genesis 4:1, it was not mere cognitive knowing, it was experiential).
Also, we should ask, how is it that the waters cover the sea? The waters cover the sea by filling it to the fullness of capacity. God and His goodness will be experienced and known to maximum capacity! We will have the strength together with all the saints to comprehend and know “the breadth and length and height and depth” of the “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and we will be “filled with all the fullness of God” (see Ephesians 3:18-19).
Look at what’s going to happen when Jesus reigns on earth!:
“Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7).
Of peace, there will be no end!
Justice and righteousness forevermore!
Of course, this is not yet a reality. First, Christ came as a Lamb to be slain. Next, He’s coming as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (see Revelation 5:5).
In that day, when perfect peace comes upon the earth, the LORD says, “my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands” (Is. 65:22). The most precious moments that we experience on earth—whether that’s a Thanksgiving dinner, a beautiful sunset, or being lost in a song or prayer of praise—will be multiplied infinitely.
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
How ironic, how sad, that the Rejected One, is the One who brings renewal of the whole earth.
Fellow Christians, please share the message that is so needed in these days of distress. And pray for your neighbors, that they would have peace that surpasses understanding.
Please pray that the Rejected One, the one alone who brings perfect and pervasive peace, would no longer be rejected.
10 Quotes on Preaching
“Expository preaching is the best method for displaying and conveying your conviction that the whole Bible is true… A careful expository sermon makes it easier for the hearers to recognize that the authority rest not in the speaker’s opinions or reasoning but in God, in his revelation through the text itself… Expository preaching enables God to set the agenda for your Christian community… Expository preaching lets the text set the agenda for the preacher as well… Exposition can prevent us from riding our personal hobbyhorses and pet issues… A steady diet of expository sermons also teaches your audience how to read their own Bibles” (Timothy Keller, Preaching, 32-38).
“Expository sermons help us let God set the agenda for our lives…. Secondly, expository preaching treats the Bible as God treated it, respecting particular contexts, history and style of the human authors” (Peter Adams, Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching, 128).
“An expository sermon may be defined as a message whose structure and thought are derived from a biblical text, that covers the scope of the text, and that explains the features and context of the text in order to disclose the enduring principle for faithful thinking, living, and worship intended by the Spirit, who inspired the text” (Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, 31).
Should Wives Work Outside the Home?
Titus 2:4-5 and 1 Timothy 5:14 talk about young wives working at home, is this the ideal role God ordained for women? Should women not work outside the home?
To answer those questions, it will be helpful to look at five considerations.
Principles from the Bible
First, it is important to glean principles from the Bible to answer this question. The first principle or truth that I think is relevant is that God made humans gendered. The Bible clearly teaches that males and females are both made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) and yet males and females differ from one another in some respects to various degrees. Scripture also teaches that within the family and within the church God has given complementary roles and gifts. For example, see the table from God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger:
The way that Andreas Kostenberger says it, is that “Women are to place special priority on their God-given calling as mothers and homemakers.” That, I agree, seems to be a biblical principle. Women are especially equipped for that task (even physiologically).
Priorities from the Bible
Next, it is important to consider priorities from a biblical perspective. We want our priorities to lineup with the priorities of Scripture. If they don’t we will have a problem with Scripture wherever it is at odds with our priorities. Our priorities, however, should be aligned with Scripture; we should not seek to align Scripture with our priorities.
Interestingly, “A 1982 Gallup poll showed that more than eight out of ten respondents (82 percent) assigned top priority… to the importance of family life. Families… rated as more important than the possession of material goods.” Scripture agrees with what was the majority assessment in 1982 (see e.g. Deut. 11:19, 21; Ps. 127:3-5).
What, however, do we value? Fortune or family?
Tacitcus, the Roman historian and politician writing around the same time as the Apostle Paul in A Dialogue on Oratory said,
“Our children are handed over at birth to some silly Greek servant maid… The parents themselves make no effort to train their little ones in goodness and self-control; they grow up in an atmosphere of laxity… they come to lose all sense of shame, and all respect for themselves and for other people.”
Tacitcus had a problem with that approach. And I think Christians should too.
We, however, haven’t answered our above question yet, but we’re getting there. But, it’s vital that we consider our motivation and priorities as we ask the question.
Disagreement Over Doctrine
Doctrine matters. Doctrine can cause delight or be very damaging. And sadly, false doctrine is more common than many people realize.
It’s not just me that says deception and damaging doctrine is prevalent though. That’s what Scripture says (see Matt. 24:11, 24; Mk. 13:22; Acts 28:31). False teaching is not a small concern. There is false teaching that is the doctrine of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). Remember, as Ephesians 6:12 says, we are at war not with humans but with unseen spiritual powers. This is serious. Paul says this will happen in “later times.” That’s where we are now. We are in the last days, the days in between the Ascension and the Return of Jesus Christ.
It’s helpful here, however, to consider that not everything we disagree with is the “doctrine of demons.” So, it helpful for us to consider “theological triage.” There are some teachings that are especially connected to the good news of Jesus Christ and there are other things that are further down the list of importance.
There are some things that are absolutes, like the deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and the authority of Scripture. There are, however, things that are less critical when it comes to theological triage. For example, what we believe about the end times is not as critical as what we believe about Jesus and how people are saved.Read More…
Insights from Zach Eswine’s book on Preaching
I really enjoyed Zach Eswine’s book, Preaching to a Post-Everything World, here are some highlights:
On the importance of illustration…
Eswine quotes Calvin Miller and says: “Jesus himself told lots of stories, and his sermons were full of images…. When asked, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Jesus in effect does not say, ‘Let me give you three Hebrew roots on the word neighbor.’ What he does say is, ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho….’ In other words he follows the question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ with an immediate ‘Once upon a time’ and then launches into a story” (p. 61).
“Those who are precision oriented must learn to tell the stories of the text. Those who are poetic must learn to surrender to the precision of the text” (p. 108).
On the importance of modeling how to think about reality…
“When we preach we publicly model for a community how a human being is meant by God to relate to reality” (p. 85).
Q&A: Many churches adopt confessions, why then do leaders and laypersons often stray from orthodoxy? What lessons can we learn from this?
Q. Many churches adopt confessions, why then do leaders and laypersons often stray from orthodoxy? What lessons can we learn from this?
A. Confessions are good and have biblical precedent. Humans, however, are fallen and as 1 Timothy 4:1 says, “some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” People are lovers of self rather than lovers of God (2 Tim. 3:2-4). That is why there are problems with heterodoxy and heresy, even where there are solid confessions in place. Confessions may not keep false teaching from emerging but it is helpful to have them in place to quench the spread (like gangrene) of unhealthy teaching.
One lesson we learn from the prevalence of unhealthy belief and teaching is the importance of qualified leaders. It is vital that pastors/elders be able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2) and correct opponents of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25). We also see the important place of church discipline. The church is set apart as the light of the world and the “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) if the truth is not proclaimed and protected by the church how dark will the darkness be?!
The second lesson is that churches must work hard to be watchful and stand firm in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13). If someone is contradicting orthodox teaching and causing division then they should be removed from the church community (1 Tim. 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 3:10). The church is to be the set apart people of God (Eph. 1:4; 5:27). Thus, Paul writes “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).
What does baptism mean?
In Scripture, we see that believers are called to be baptized (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16) but what does baptism mean? First, let’s consider the etymology; where the word came from and what it means. The English word “baptize” comes from the Greek word baptizo. Many believe that this word is correctly translated as “immerse” or “dip.” That is, in part, why we practice baptism by immersion. Also, submersion under water and raising out of it best pictures what baptism represents. What does baptism represent? Let’s look at Romans 6:3-8:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
Baptism is a proclamation of the believers union with Christ, in His death and resurrection. When the believer goes under the water it shows that in Christ they have died to sin. When they raise out of the water it shows they have been resurrected to a new pure (Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:11) life in Christ. Baptism is an outward sign of an inner reality. Baptism pictures many things.
- Death with Christ, death to sin
- Union with Christ
- Identification with the body of Christ, the church
- Proclamation of the work of the Trinity (“In the Name of…” cf. Matt. 28:19)
- Purification, the washing away of sins
- It looks forward to the resurrection, new creation, and going through the waters of judgment and being raised to new life justified
Should I be baptized?
Like many areas of baptism, there has not been uniform understanding on who should be baptized. We believe, however, that a clear case can be made biblically and historically for believer’s baptism. “Believer’s baptism” means only those who believe in Jesus and repent of their sins should be baptized (i.e. credobaptism instead of paedobaptism).
We see no scriptural support leading us to believe that non-believers were baptized. On the other hand, we have clear scriptural support to baptize believers. Peter preaches in Acts chapter two and says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit… So those who received his word were baptized” (38, 41 see also 8:12-13).
“The synagogue was under the management of “elders” (Luke 7:1–5) who seem to have had disciplinary and administrative authority as well as religious…Because of their heritage, New Testament leaders likely knew and used the synagogue models for the organization of the church… This might explain the fact that the New Testament gives no historical record of the institution of the eldership as it does with the Seven (Acts 6). Much of the church’s organization is assumed in the New Testament rather than argued… However, development in the church’s organization is found in the New Testament.Christian elders are first mentioned in Acts 11:30 as an existing institution. It is possible that some of the first Christians were already (Jewish) elders and continued in a similar capacity in the early church… Throughout the Book of Acts the elders are seen to be leaders of the church (Acts 14:23, 15:2, 20:17, 21:18).”