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Book Notes: Krakatoa by Simon Winchester

   Summary This is about the largest volcano eruption in recorded history. Winchester explores the causes, effects, and results of the explosion from many angles: history, culture, science, technology, religion, etc. Winchester's writing style is stiff and difficult (I've read two books by him this year), but if you are interested in Krakatoa or Indonesia, then it is readable. Why I read it I have heard interesting stories about Krakatoa, so I wanted to learn more. I also love Indonesia after spending two weeks there when I was in seminary. Quotes 13 percent of the earth's surface vibrated audibly, and millions who lived there heard it, and when told what it was were amazed. 264 To the outside world the eruption of 1883 may have spelled death and devastation. To the world of biology and botany, however, the subsequent energetic happenings on islands in the Sunda Strait represent nothing more nor less than a freeze-frame picture of the future of life itself--a demonstration

Book Notes: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

   Summary Gregor falls through a vent in his apartment building and is transported to a new world where he goes on a journey, fights battles, and learns about himself. It is kind of Alice in Wonderland meets The Odyssey . Why I read it I wanted a fun book to read on vacation that wasn't a slog. I enjoyed Collins' Hunger Games trilogy (as much as one can enjoy such a brutal series). I've been meaning to read this for years and finally picked up. I'm so glad that I did. Quotes "Fly you high!" (spoken throughout)  "Hope," said Vikus. "There are times it will be very hard to find. Times when it will be much easier to choose hate instead. But if you want to find peace, you must first be able to hope it is possible." 301   Key Takeaways This is super fun epic fantasy story for kids and young adults. I really enjoy Collins’ writing because everything works so well. I said years ago that Hunger Games is the most perfectly written series--also b

Book Notes: The Reason for God by Tim Keller

Summary This book is tremendous! It is an explanation of the Christian faith for today. Part one describes why common criticisms of Christianity undercut themselves. Keller makes the point that skeptics should doubt their doubts. Part two is an explanation of reasons to believe in Christ--Keller calls some of them clues that lead to God rather than proofs for God. Keller’s point is that Christianity is not simply an argument or a series of rational beliefs but a system that makes sense of the world and an invitation to a relationship of joy with the God of the universe. Why I read it I reread this after reading Andy Stanley’s Irresistible because I wanted to read a different way to engage skepticism than Stanley’s. This is much more satisfying to me. Stanley’s apologetic seems to be a combination of good hermeneutics with bold marketing as his apologetics. I think that leads to more confusion and skepticism rather than less. I prefer a careful and compelling invitation like The Reason

Finished the 1st Draft

I surprised myself last Thursday when I finished the first draft of a book that I've worked on for over a year. I thought I had two days left, and then I realized I had just a bit more to go to finish that draft.  I started it over a year ago. I didn't have a job, so I thought I'd be able to finish it in 3 months. Life happens, but I kept plugging away at it. That is something I learned from Thomas Kidd--he writes a great newsletter on writing and publishing. His goal is 1000 words per day. I kept at it with a specific amount I had to do each day.  The moral of they story is to keep writing and you'll get finished.  I'll post later on the topic and when I think I may be finished later. 

1st Quarter Reading

Here are my entries from my reading in the first quarter of the year. One of my goals this year is to read 36 books. I'm well on my way because I have been reading 50-55 pages per day.       862. Smart Baseball, Keith Law. 1/1/22 * * * * (A book about baseball and analytics. He explains how old stats like RBI are unhelpful or wrong, He describes what new statistics are and how they work. This is awesome. He's a good writer. The emphasis on data and programming makes this a book about the modern world and how statistics and analysis are changing everything.)       863. Comfort the Grieving, Paul Tautges. 1/5/22 * * (I love this series, but this book was not very good. The book Visit the Sick was much more helpful on the grieving process and Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals was much better. This was lot of tone-deaf pastoring advice along with a long checklist of work to do with those who grieve.)       864. The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean. 1/27/22 * * *

The Worst Part of Social Media

Social media has been a part of my life since my senior year of college in 2005. I was introduced to my wife on Facebook before a friend introduced us in-person.   Social media is normal now. It was in a state of flux for a long time as we all figured it out. Now it seems to have solidified.  I don't like where it has landed.  The worst part of social media is that it is now about hype or unwelcome opinions . I feel the temptation towards both of these, and I don't like them. Hype is the way everything we post is about how we and our lives are so great. It's not true, but it sure seems true.  Unwelcome opinions  are the way everyone constantly posts their own thoughts as commands or opinions that everyone else needs to know and agree with.  Neither of these things are the way that we talk with people in real life. I try not to boast of everything that I do in my conversations with friends or acquaintances, but I feel the temptation online to do that. I don't spray my op

New Podcast

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 I have a new podcast called " TL;DR: Preaching Edition ." This is a podcast with a pastor friend, Jeremy Byrd, where we explain our sermons that week in 5 minutes or less and have a discussion behind-the-scenes about preaching.  Jeremy is pastor of Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville, IL. He's a really good preacher and studies and teaches preaching. It is a fun conversation for me. I learn a lot from our discussions. It was inspired because I struggle to listen to a recorded sermon. It can be hard to find 30-50 minutes to listen to a sermon during the week, but I love to hear a relaxed description of Jeremy's sermons and what his thinking on it was. We include details that we can't include in a normal sermon, so there is value to people listening to it even if they attended.  It is the conversation that I wish more pastors would have. I would love to learn both the text and what pastors are thinking as they prepare to preach.  We are halfway through Se