First Baptist Church, Mound City

A place to connect with God and others


Reading books opens minds, challenges notions, informs, and entertains. I like to put together a top 10 list of the books I have read over the past year. When I say “read” I mean reading a physical copy or listening in audio format. Two-thirds of the books I completed in 2018 were of the audio variety experienced while running, driving, doing yard work, etc. So here is the list for this past year. These are presented in calendar order, not preference. The early ones I finished early in the year and the later ones I finished later in the year.


1.    13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, by Amy Morin. This is an adapted volume compatible to her 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Both are tremendous book. All of us need to grow in our grit, stamina, and perseverance.

2.    Echoes of Exodus, by Alastair Roberts and Andrew Wilson. This book traces themes of redemption or deliverance through Scripture. It provides a wonderful lens to view God’s work throughout time. It was an excellent resource for our two message series “Deliverance” on the book of Exodus, and “Deliverance Stories” from the Gospel of John.

3.    What Does The Bible Say About Homosexuality,by Kevin DeYoung. Everything DeYoung writes is well researched and hard to contest his research or conclusions. Certainly a timely message with the material presented in a non-emotional, Bible-based way.

4.    Columbine,by Dave Cullen. The book is called the definitive book on the tragedy in Colorado. I have an interest in understanding people’s minds, how they think and process. The book deals deeply with the two boys and their family situations. Interestingly the leader of the pair was wearing a tee shirts that said “Natural Selection” under his trench coat that awful day. He set out to demonstrate that he was the strongest and should survive.

5.    Shoedog, by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. Not really an individual to emulate. I was taken by his passion for shoes, and life. There is something there to that as Christians have the greatest story in the world of which to get most passionate about.

6.    North, by Scot Jurek. The book recounts Jurek’s effort to set the record for fastest traverse of the Appalachian Trail.  Again, not a person to emulate his character. But a story of drive and passion. And Christians have the greatest reason to be passionate. Plus it will keep me running a little further.

7.    Everybody Always, by Bob Goff. I don’t know how I never heard of this guy before two years ago. Goff is a dynamic individual with a passion for life and for God. He presents some remarkable stories challenging readers to love everybody always. I could use the reminder.

8.    Enduring Courage, by John Ross. This is an account of Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I ace, race car driver, business leader, and more. He lived with drive and passion packing a full life into his years. I felt a connection as he is an Ohioan with roots back to Germany.

9.    Emotional Intelligence, by Travis Bradberry. Self-awareness is one of life’s great gifts. And when someone does not have it, it is readily noticeable. It was good for me to grow in my self-awareness as well as social and relational skills. This book is very practical while Emotional Intelligenceby Daniel Goleman is outstanding, but heavier to digest.

10.  The Ideal Team Player, by Patrick Lencioni. All of his are outstanding. This one arrives at three character qualities that presented as describing the kind of people to look for when adding to your team. He sees to be right on.


11.  Finish, by John Acuff. Funny, practical, helpful, and motivating to anyone who wants to finish more of what they start. And I met Acuff in early May! One bit of wisdom was to cut goals in half. Too-large goals cause many people to stop trying. Cut the goal in half and progress is much easier, and you are more likely to strive and attain the goal.  

12.  Business for the Glory of God, by Wayne Grudem. Grudem’s theology book in thorough and can be grasped. This book is a thin volume accurately describing key business concepts from a biblical perspective. He deals with concepts like profit, ownership, productivity, competition, inequality of possessions. A great read.  

Top 10 Books of 2018 (Caleb)

There are some many amazing books out there, I hope to highlight 10 of them I have read this year. There were several that I read again this year, but excluded from this list as you can find them on the lists from past years. The following list is in no particular order:

1. Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung. How do we find out what God wants from our lives? This is one of the best questions anyone should be asking, and it is especially applicable for young adults who are trying to figure out their lives. Kevin DeYoung gives the Biblical, logical, liberating answer here. BTW- it’s all in the title!

2. Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden. The true and inspiring story of the only person ever known to escape from a North Korean prison camp. We, in our comfortable western lives, need a dose of reality. There is evil out there (and in ourselves).

3. A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, by Daniel J. Levitin. This book details how information, statistic and data, and all be construed to lie. While not a ‘Christian’ book, I believe this is an issue we as Christians need to be aware of in order to enter the public conversation about the world we live in. Learning to think critically is a skill all of us should and should develop further.

4. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. While weaving an amazing story of a hidden tribe in Mexico, the author shares the amazing ways our bodies are designed to run. The author and the book has to go obnoxious links because they come from an evolutionary perspective. I get to simply marvel at the amazing way God has designed us as humans to be the greatest runners on the planet.

5. Everybody Always, by Bob Goff. Just an inspiring book on how we should love everybody, always. Like Jesus did. People are always the most important thing. Bob Goff weaves incredible stories that had me freely flowing from tears to laughter, all while feeling inspired to love others better.

6. Ameritopia, by Mark Levin. In this book, several of my passions come together: politics, history, and philosophy. In this book, Levin looks at the body of literature on utopian societies, and compares it with how and where the United States of America is heading. This is a fascinating look at the why behind socialism/communism and how it is impossible to debate or argue with anyone who holds these views.

7. What Does the Bible Really Teach on Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. This is going to be one of the defining issues of our age, and we need to have a Biblical answer to, “Is homosexuality a sin?” This is the definitive answer, written in a clear, concise, easy to read way.

8. Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom, by Thomas E. Ricks. In this fascinating book, we see how these two great men of history, both fought, in their own way and in very different realms, for the freedom of the individual. There are so many important lessons to be learned about the essential nature of man and forces opposed to their freedom. If you like history, this is a fascinating read.

9. Sowing Seeds of Change, by Michael D. Crane. This is the best ministry philosophy book I have ever read. The questions of how a church can create change in the culture, and even what the role of the church is in the culture is of monumental importance. This is the most balanced and well thought out book on church ministry/mission philosophy I have read. See also: “What is the Mission of the Church” by Kevin DeYoung.

10. Gay Girl Good God, by Jackie Hill Perry. Weaving her own testimony in that with the fundamental nature of God and the impact of the gospel, this book is an eye opening and encouraging read. All of life really comes back to what and who are view of God is. This book takes us back to who God is, through the lens of the homosexuality debate.

I hope you find something that sharpens your mind, softens your heart, and lifts up your eyes.


Top Books for 2017 (Joe)

2017 presented the opportunity to go through many interesting, challenging, and perhaps, even a few boring books. Here is a rundown of some of the top books of the year. It is hard to list them 1 through 10 because of the broad categories. So, I will give a category and then a book or two that fits into that genre. Happy hunting as you select one or more of these for your 2018 reading list. Two-thirds of the books for 2017 were audio and one-third were hard copy. Audio has become a great way to pass the time while driving or running. Give it a try!


Inspirational. Inspiring stories make me want to live a better life.

Fearless, by Eric Blehm remains a remarkable story of failure and faith, along with Navy SEAL grit and determination.  This has made the list before… and probably will again.

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. A must for anyone looking to be inspired by grit and determination. Louie Zamperini shows us what an unbroken determination looks like.

Into the Fire, by Dakota Meyer. The story of Meyer and the heroics that led to his awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor in Afghanistan.


Historical. I like history so there will always be a good dose of history on my list. 2017 saw more than a dozen in this genre.

Killing the Rising Sun, by Bill O’Reilly. All of the “Killing” series are very good. Add this to your list.

Last Hope Island, by Lynne Olson. An account of how Britain was the last, nearest hold out again the Nazi regime. I was fascinated to learn that the U.S. had two embassies in London during the war. One for our dealings with Britain. The other for our dealings with all the governments in exile there.


Fiction. Like history, fiction helps drive time or run time go by.

The First Hostage, by Joel Rosenberg. This author presents a biblical worldview inside riveting stories. This is the first of a series, and they are all a homerun.

The Heist, by Daniel Silva. This is one example of a few good Silva books that spun a good tale about Israeli secret agents. The Mossad doesn’t mess around.




Lasting Impact, by Carey Nieuwhof). The subtitle says it well: 7 Conversations Church Leaders Need to Have. Each of the seven are spot-on and were helpful to me.

Turn the Ship Around, by David Marquette. A Navy submarine captain shares the secrets of his success in leading a remarkable rise in crew effectiveness. “Sir, I intend to…”  Great stuff here!

First In, Last Out, by John Salka. Leadership lessons from the FDNY. Don’t waste your water on smoke. Save it for a real issue. Many more nuggets in there.


Ministry focused

Making Sense of God, by Timothy Keller. I hope Keller is on my reading list every year. He makes me think in fresh ways. This was one of four Keller books for the year, all of the excellent.

Every Man’s Battle, by Steven Arterburn. An entire series of excellent resources in the “Every Man” series. This one deals with the struggles men have with their eyes and pornography.


Personal growth

Grit, by Angela Duckworth. Examples and stories, along with inspirational teaching about developing grit, mental strength.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, by Amy Morin. Another outstanding book to improve my personal determination. It keeps me running, among other persevering endeavors.

Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. Outstanding book teaching us to look to our motivation for what we are doing… and to encourage others with the same. It reminds me of why I run, among other persevering endeavors.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. I need to read this one again to drive beneficial habits deeper into my life.



The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller. Keller makes the list again, with this great book expounding Ephesians 5 and the mystery of Christ and the church, and husbands and wives. There is much at stake in how I honor my wife.



Disciple-Making Parent, by Chap Bettis. Brings to the fore the parent’s primary duty of advancing the spiritual formation of their child.

Sticky Faith, by Chap Clark and Kara Powell. Another that keeps the focus for parents where it needs to be – spiritual development of our children.



Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne. The book delivers on the title. Should be something I read every few years.

The Vanishing American Adult, by Ben Sasse. This work deals with parents who are raising the current younger generations without much grit or understanding of why, or spiritual formation.





     You probably wouldn't be excited about the DPP the way I am. Everyday Terry and I wait for the Daily Paislee Picture (DPP) - the latest in a series of pictures sent to us of our granddaughter. Many times I have replied "I'm glad you have 18 years to enjoy that sweet girl."

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