Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Archive for December, 2011

Best Books of 2011

Posted by flyingbk on 12/30/2011

I’ll keep updating my last post on principles, but today I wanted to write up a quick post about my favorite books of 2011. I was going to rank them, but I don’t think there’s really any point to that exercise. So of the 29 books I finished this year, here is my top 10 (FYI, all links are directed to their Kindle ebooks; I swear by my Kindle!):

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. I just finished this book last night. I love the way Millard writes; her storytelling is simply lucid. President James Garfield was a remarkable man, and it’s a shame that his presidency was so short-lived. It’s even more sad to think that if Garfield had been shot 15 years later, he would not have died. (His death was the  result of poor medical care and complete ignorance when it came to infection.)

The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty by Adrian Wojnarowski. I heard this book mentioned on an early college basketball telecast last month. Then I checked it out on my Kindle, and it was on sale for under $4. Sold! Hurley is now one of my heroes, and I hope that I can impact young men the way he did.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’ve never enjoyed a dystopian, futuristic story until this one. It’s a story tailor-made for children of the 80’s. And even though I don’t understand all the references, it ‘s a fun read with a classic moralistic ending. Can’t wait to see the movie.

The Pint Man by Steve Rushin. There’s very little plot in this book, but that’s completely OK. Rushin is a master with words, a fact that any readers of  his Sports Illustrated columns can verify. It’s definitely the most unique book on this list.

Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides. I became a big Sides fan after reading his engrossing telling of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. This book, one of his earlier works, is excellent. I could not believe the efforts that American Army Rangers put forth to rescue their comrades from a Japanese prison. If you like reading stories about true heroes, check this one out.

The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies. A timely book written by the best possible author for this subject. I’ll be using snippets from this book throughout the year in my preaching as it explores how we should interact with (and be wary of) the plethora of technology available to us.

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin. Any Korean-American should read this beautiful story of a Korean family that frantically searches for its missing mom. I almost teared multiple times as I called to mind the love and sacrifice that my own Korean mom has displayed throughout her life for our family. The ending is pure magic.

King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus by Timothy Keller. Anyone who has heard Keller preach will find this book to be vintage. I really needed this book to remind me of the marvelous truths of the gospel. Last night, I bought his new book, The Meaning of Marriage, and I cannot wait to go through it.

Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady. I don’t enjoy many biographies, but I’m always intrigued by those that are about geniuses who are sorta insane at the same time. Fischer certainly fits in that category. After reading the story of his life, I certainly wish I had lived during his prime.

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line by Abby Johnson. You know what’s ridiculous? How many people believe that most of us on the pro-life side are goons who seek to torture anyone who enters an abortion clinic (liberal media caricatures FTW!.. or not). But as Johnson tells us, it was the love and compassion expressed by the pro-lifers who hung out to pray at her Planned Parenthood that changed her views, and her heart for the preborn.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. It’s an old British novel, and I absolutely enjoyed its delicious prose and cast of memorable characters. The sad thing is that I have trouble recalling the plot. No matter, though: What I do remember is that I couldn’t wait to read more. (Oh, and the best part: This book is available for free!)

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Principles for 2012

Posted by flyingbk on 12/29/2011

Yeah, I’m not calling them ‘resolutions’ anymore. That”s because I’ve failed so many times in keeping them, and thus that word arrives packed with more baggage than that of someone who primarily feeds their soul with reality TV shows.

I’m getting older and older (a truth which my youth group kids love to remind me of), but I still relish the start of a new year and the fanfare and promise that it brings. I always call to mind Isaiah 43:18-19:

Forget the former things; 
   do not dwell on the past. 
See, I am doing a new thing! 
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert 
   and streams in the wasteland. (NIV)

I love that we serve a God who absolutely loves to do new things in our lives. Because of Jesus, we’re not prisoners of our past, and we can always start anew today. We don’t have to wait until the Times Square countdown reaches zero; that’s why I’m starting these principles a couple days early!

Here’s what I have so far:

1) Don’t text when a phone call is better. Texting is convenient when you need to inform a group of people about something. Otherwise, I’m planning on going back to real human interaction with all its awkwardness and glory.

2) Sleep earlier. Be in bed by midnight with only (if any) a Kindle in hand. I sleep too late and I wake up too late. And I waste too much on my smartphone in the evenings. If I want to read before sleeping, then let it be purposeful reading (i.e. working on finishing a book).  There are exceptions to this principle, mainly on Sunday (since Monday is my day off) and Friday nights (I usually come home late after church).

3) Read 52 books in 2012. Yes, that’s a book a week. And honestly, I don’t think I can reach it. But why not aim high? More importantly, though:

3a) Read books that will help me grow and go deeper. I’ve realized that much of my reading in 2011 was only for pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with pleasure reading, but I don’t want to mainly hang out in the shallow end.  Specifically, I will be targeting books that will help me with preaching, pastoring, leadership/people skills, and instill in me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the gospel. My favorite genre, the historical nonfiction narrative, and various fiction will always be there, anyway.

4a) Eagerly desire the gift of prophecy. This one came to me as I was praying at church over the weekend. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NIV) commands us to “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” I love how there’s a  clear relationship between the way of love and the gift of prophecy. As I seek to love God and people well, and eagerly desire this gift, I will grow in this gift! Pretty cool stuff! May I be one who “speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3, NIV). Amen.

4b) Seek to grow in the fruit of patience. 

Of course, I won’t be perfect in implementing these principles. Not even close. But they represent goals to which I am aspiring, and I hope that I follow the words of Proverbs 4:25-27 (NIV): “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

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