The Social Animal

The Social Animal by David Brooks

“David Brooks has written an absolutely fascinating book about how we form our emotions and character. Standing at the intersection of brain science and sociology, and writing with the wry wit of a James Thurber, he explores the unconscious mind and how it shapes the way we eat, love, live, vacation, and relate to other people. In The Social Animal, he makes the recent revolution in neuroscience understandable, and he applies it to those things we have the most trouble knowing how to teach: What is the best way to build true relationships? How do we instill imaginative thinking? How do we develop our moral intuitions and wisdom and character? Brooks has always been a keen observer of the way we live. Now he takes us one layer down, to why we live that way.” –Walter Isaacson

Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians

Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians by James Gilchrist Lawson

Recommended by John Eldredge and Dallas Willard, this book is a collection of stories from man of ages past who have recovered the Ancient path. It provides story after story of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of ordinary people and inviting them up to an extraordinary life as they take their place in the Kingdom of God.

War

War by Sebastian Junger

In War, Sebastian Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat—the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis. (Amazon description)

The Body Keeps the Score

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

“In this inspirational work which seamlessly weaves keen clinical observation, neuroscience, historical analysis, the arts, and personal narrative, Dr. van der Kolk has created an authoritative guide to the effects of trauma, and pathways to recovery. The book is full of wisdom, humanity, compassion, and scientific insight, gleaned from a lifetime of clinical service, research, and scholarship in the field of traumatic stress. A must read for mental health and other health care professionals, trauma survivors, their loved ones, and those who seek clinical, social, or political solutions to the cycle of trauma and violence in our society.”
–Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience; director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York

Life’s Golden Ticket

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard

What if you were handed a golden ticket that could magically start your life anew?

That question is at the heart of Life’s Golden Ticket. Brendon Burchard tells the story of a man who is so trapped in the prison of his past that he cannot see the possibilities, the choices, and the gifts before him. To soothe his fiancée Mary, clinging to life in a hospital bed, the man takes the envelope she offers and heads to an old, abandoned amusement park that she begs him to visit.

To his surprise, when he steps through the rusted entrance gates, the park magically comes to life. Guided by the wise groundskeeper Henry, the man will encounter park employees, answer difficult questions, overcome obstacles, listen to lessons from those wiser than he, and take a hard look at himself.

At the end of his journey, the man opens Mary’s mysterious envelope. Inside is a golden ticket—the final phase in turning his tragic life’s story of loss and regret into a triumphant tale of love and redemption. (Amazon description)

Living in Christ’s Presence

Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard

In these pages Dallas Willard explores what it means to live well now in light of God’s kingdom. He reflects on the power of the Trinity in our lives, the meaning of knowledge, the importance of spiritual disciplines, and much more. Dallas Willard offers poignant thoughts about what it will be like to transition into the very presence of Christ in heaven. This book is adapted from the talks given at the February 2013 Dallas Willard Center “Knowing Christ Today” conference in Santa Barbara, California. Each chapter is followed with an illuminating dialogue between Dallas Willard and John Ortberg. The book closes with the theme of offering a blessing to one another. These reflections form an apt conclusion to Dallas Willard’s public ministry. It is a gift of grace. (Amazon description)

Rising Strong

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.

It is the rise from falling that Brown takes as her subject in Rising Strong. As a grounded theory researcher, Brown has listened as a range of people—from leaders in Fortune 500 companies and the military to artists, couples in long-term relationships, teachers, and parents—shared their stories of being brave, falling, and getting back up. She asked herself, What do these people with strong and loving relationships, leaders nurturing creativity, artists pushing innovation, and clergy walking with people through faith and mystery have in common? The answer was clear: They recognize the power of emotion and they’re not afraid to lean in to discomfort.

Walking into our stories of hurt can feel dangerous. But the process of regaining our footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness. It’s the process, Brown writes, that teaches us the most about who we are. (Amazon description)

Preparing For Heaven

Preparing for Heaven by Gary Black Jr.

C.S. Lewis once said, “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often, I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

In his acclaimed books, renowned writer, speaker, and philosophy professor Dallas Willard explored the nature of Christian life in God’s Kingdom. Yet one topic remained undisclosed: Willard’s understanding of heaven and eternal life. In the months before his death, Willard engaged in moving and insightful conversations about the meaning of life and the life to come with close friend and theologian Gary Black Jr. These inspiring dialogues were steeped in biblical theology as well as practical wisdom grounded in the here-and-now.

In Preparing for Heaven, Black reveals not only Willard’s profound and liberating vision of life after death, he also deftly unpacks the implications these realities hold for our lives today. Black shows how Willard understood our mortal lives as preparation for what comes next—that death is not the end of one life and the beginning of another, but rather a transition through which we continue the transformational work begun on Earth. Informative, challenging, and poignant, Willard and Black’s conversations and insights challenge us to reconsider our beliefs—that perhaps the line separating the afterlife from this life is not as absolute as we think, and that there is work to be done both now and in the glorious life to come. As a result we will find that our faith is more vibrant—and eternal—than we have dared to imagine. (Amazon description)

Tribe

Tribe by Sebastian Junger

We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding—“tribes.” This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.

Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians—but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today.

Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that—for many veterans as well as civilians—war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Tribe explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world. (Amazon description)

Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge

Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge

Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two-dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things. But when we discover his true character—this man who made the wind, music and flying squirrels—suddenly all of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst forth with color and brilliance like fireworks. Breaking Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, Beautiful Outlaw welcomes readers into the rich emotional life of Christ, showing how they can experience the actual personality of Jesus in their daily lives in ways that will deepen their faith. (Amazon description)

Renovation of the Heart

 

Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard stands above as a father of the faith.

Renovation of the Heart, a bestseller by Dallas Willard, explains the common misunderstandings about human nature and the discipleship process by outlining the general pattern of personal spiritual transformation―not as a formula, but as a systematic process. As intentional apprentices of Jesus, we are to move deeper into a relationship with God while becoming more like Jesus. In his unique, winning way, Willard guides you in discovering your true identity while exploring spiritual growth in a new way. (Amazon description)

The Practice of the Presence of God

Written over three hundred years ago, Brother Lawrence’s collection of spiritual insights sells more and more copies with every passing decade.  It is a supremely helpful tool for people who long to walk with God but are caught up in the rush of today’s world and the spirit of busyness that has impregnated our culture.

The enemy has a sinister strategy to tempt us to overcomplicate the Gospel.  Brother Lawrence walks out the refreshing alternative. Through decades of trial and hardship, he “learned the most essential ingredient of the Christian Life; how to remain in the presence of God.”

Brilliant.  Timeless.  Accessible. Brimming with hope.

I don’t generally read abridged versions of books, but I’ve made an exception with this one.

While the unabridged is even more thorough, the abridged version is small enough to tuck in a pocket, jam packed with life-transforming spiritual truths, and a length that invites you to read it in its entirety, in one sitting, time and time again.

This is a must for the library of a man who wants to become good soil.

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The Divine Conspiracy

Richard Foster said,

The Divine Conspiracy is the book I have been searching for all my life. Like Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling, it is a masterpiece and a wonder.”

I couldn’t agree more.

If Wild at Heart is the manual for the heart of a man, The Divine Conspiracy is the manual for that man’s heart for the decade of becoming good soil.

It’s not for the faint of heart.  And sure, not the kind of book you flip open for a few pages when you are taking a dump.  It reads like a manual.  A manual for the person who is thirsty and serious about becoming a student of God and His Kingdom.

While Dallas goes into great depths of Scripture, history, and theology, his message and his life are quite simple:

“Who are you becoming?”

“The most important thing about a person is not what he does, it is who he becomes.”

The rewards far exceed the work. And the commitment to read, re-read, pray through, go back and forth from the book to the Scriptures, again and again, will utterly transform your life today and your life for eternity.

A few notable quotes to entice you into letting this great work be a part of your apprenticeship in the Narrow Road:

“We were built to count, as water is made to run downhill. We are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does. That is our destiny.”

“The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and  thought, His Zoe [life], into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man.  The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”  (Dallas quoting C.S. Lewis)

“When we examine the broad spectrum of Christian proclamation and practice, we see that the only thing made essential on the right wing theology is forgiveness of the individual’s sins.  On the left it is removal of social or structural evils. The current gospel then becomes a ‘gospel of sin management.’ Transformation of life and character is no part of the redemptive message.  Moment-to-moment human reality in its depths is not the arena of faith and eternal living.”

“I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live my life if he were I.”

“Kingdom praying and its efficacy is entirely a matter of the innermost heart’s being totally open and honest before God.  It is the matter of what we are saying with our whole being, moving with resolute intent and clarity of mind into the flow of God’s action.   In apprenticeship to Jesus, this is one of the most important things we learn how to do. He teaches us how to be in prayer what we are in life and how to be in life what we are in prayer.”

“We are made to ‘have dominion’ within an appropriate domain of reality.  This is the core of the likeness or the image of God in us and is the basis of the destiny for which we were formed.  We are, all of us, never-ceasing spiritual beings with a unique eternal calling to count for good in God’s great universe.”

There is more… much more. You’ll have to go with God into its depths and goodness to find out.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

The Divine Conspiracy has revolutionized how we think about the true meaning of discipleship. In this classic, one of the most brilliant Christian thinkers of our times and author of the acclaimed The Spirit of Disciplines, Dallas Willard, skillfully weaves together biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice, revealing what it means to “apprentice” ourselves to Jesus. Using Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount as his foundation, Willard masterfully explores life-changing ways to experience and be guided by God on a daily basis, resulting in a more authentic and dynamic faith.

 

 

 

Let Your Life Speak

Parker Palmer has written one of the most honest, provocative and truly helpful books regarding vocation.  While taking a brutally candid journey through his battle with depression, he leads us along the narrow road, coaching us through “listening” to our lives as the primary path to discover and walk in our vocation.  And in doing so, he not only identifies the ability of our potential to guide us, but even more, our limitations.  While I differ in a few categories (like the unfortunate reality he is a pacifist), the wisdom and sage-ness of Life fought for and cultivated through suffering earns my deepest respect and admiration.  Palmer takes a candid and accessible approach into the honest journey from the false self to the true self.  It’s a book laden with depth, breadth, and guideposts to help us find our way home when we are lost at sea.

Band of Brothers

This book was the birthplace of Saving Private Ryan and the HBO Band of Brothers series.  But those were the cliff notes. This is the meat. Looking into the lives of yesterday’s heroes – ordinary men called up into an extraordinary mission.  Ambrose is an incredible modern historian.

The following is the description from Amazon:

As good a rifle company as any in the world, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, U.S. Army, kept getting the tough assignments — responsible for everything from parachuting into France early D-Day morning to the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden. In Band of Brothers, Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze, and died, a company that took 150 percent casualties and considered the Purple Heart a badge of office. Drawing on hours of interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers’ journals and letters, Stephen Ambrose recounts the stories, often in the men’s own words, of these American heroes.

Lone Survivor

A stunning and heroic story of watching how the Kingdom of God of weaves it’s way into the fabric of our lives.  A page turner to the core.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive.

This is the story of the only survivor of Operation Redwing, SEAL fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, and the extraordinary firefight that led to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history. His squadmates fought valiantly beside him until he was the only one left alive, blasted by an RPG into a place where his pursuers could not find him. Over the next four days, terribly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell crawled for miles through the mountains and was taken in by sympathetic villagers who risked their lives to keep him safe from surrounding Taliban warriors.

A born and raised Texan, Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training, where he and his fellow SEALs discovered what it took to join the most elite of the American special forces, to a fight in the desolate hills of Afghanistan for which they never could have been prepared. His account of his squadmates’ heroism and mutual support renders an experience that is both heartrending and life-affirming. In this rich chronicle of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers a powerful narrative of modern war.

Big Burn

Stunning writing. Essential pieces of history that we will repeat if we don’t read, listen to and learn from our past.  Egan reveals the birth of the US National Forest through the least likely places.  And he helps to show us how man’s inerrant ways have lead to the modern crisis of unhealthy forests, misinformed fire management strategy and consequent wildfires that are unprecedented in our lifetime.  Stories of heroism, courage, and bravery are woven through the tragedy and triumph. Great read. A must for anyone who spends time outdoors.

The following is the description from Amazon:

On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men—college boys, day workers, immigrants from mining camps—to fight the fire. But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them.
 
Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force. Equally dramatic is the larger story he tells of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen.

 

Unbroken

Remarkable writing and a stunning story hidden in the history of WWII.  You won’t be able to put this book down.

The following is the description from Amazon:

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

The Worst Hard Time

“Read History.”  This was some of the best counsel a sage gave me almost a decade ago and I haven’t stopped since.  Egan is a remarkable writer and gifted historian. While the Dust Bowl has come and gone from most of the collective memory of our nation, the timeless lessons just get better with age.  We have much to learn in this brilliantly told story, particularly in the categories of man and power, nature, stewardship of creation and finding and following the narrow road as Kingdom builders and innate adventure seekers.

The following is the description from Amazon:

The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since.
Timothy Egan’s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Brilliantly capturing the terrifying drama of catastrophe, Egan does equal justice to the human characters who become his heroes, “the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respect” (New York Times).

In an era that promises ever-greater natural disasters, The Worst Hard Time is “arguably the best nonfiction book yet” (Austin Statesman Journal) on the greatest environmental disaster ever to be visited upon our land and a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of trifling with nature.

Undaunted Courage

The rare and remarkable story of the first successful heroic coast to coast journey of white explorers in America.  Ambrose is a remarkable modern historian. Hidden in these pages is the wilderness of America that has been mostly destroyed. And yet with it comes a hope and a desire to enjoy and conserve the remnant that remains (sound like a familiar story?). The insight into the masculine journey is incredible. Well worth the read.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In this sweeping adventure story, Stephen E. Ambrose, the bestselling author od D-Day, presents the definitive account of one of the most momentous journeys in American history. Ambrose follows the Lewis and Clark Expedition from Thomas Jefferson’s hope of finding a waterway to the Pacific, through the heart-stopping moments of the actual trip, to Lewis’s lonely demise on the Natchez Trace. Along the way, Ambrose shows us the American West as Lewis saw it — wild, awsome, and pristinely beautiful. Undaunted Courage is a stunningly told action tale that will delight readers for generations.

Founding Brothers

America’s first band of brothers. Insights into our history, into the beauty and the mess of brotherhood and wonderings about how the hand of God was involved in writing our story in the most unexpected ways.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In this landmark work of history, the National Book Award—winning author of American Sphinxexplores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals–Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison–confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation.

The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers–re-examined here as Founding Brothers–combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes–Hamilton and Burr’s deadly duel, Washington’s precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams’ administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin’s attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison’s attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams’ famous correspondence–Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nation’s history.

Danny the Champion of the World

My all time FAVORITE book to read with my son.  Dahl said this was different than all his other books; this one wrote itself. He said he tried to keep up with his pencil as it wrote and wrote and wrote. He had no idea where the story was going until it’s masterful conclusion presented itself.  We laughed and wept and cheered as we read.  It’s a must.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Can Danny and his father outsmart the villainous Mr. Hazell?

Danny has a life any boy would love—his home is a gypsy caravan, he’s the youngest master car mechanic around, and his best friend is his dad, who never runs out of wonderful stories to tell. But one night Danny discovers a shocking secret that his father has kept hidden for years. Soon Danny finds himself the mastermind behind the most incredible plot ever attempted against nasty Victor Hazell, a wealthy landowner with a bad attitude. Can they pull it off? If so, Danny will truly be the champion of the world.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia

No story has better captured the essence, the truth, the Goodness and the beauty of the Gospel as a story, than Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia.  He rescues the imagination from a modern worldview and invites us and our children to be swept up into a Story that is big enough for our hearts to rest and hope.  A must read for our own hearts and to share aloud with the kids.

The following is the description from Amazon:

C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia has captivated readers of all ages for over sixty years, enchanting them with a magical realm where worlds come and go at the toss of a ring, where boys and girls become kings and queens, where there are more talking creatures than people.

Til the Cows Come Home

My kids and I wore the pages out on this book. An ancient Jewish Proverb recaptured in the imagination, creativity, and wonder of the west. A must read with fantastic pictures for your little kiddos.

The following is the description from Amazon:

It was a beautiful piece of leather, smooth as silk and tough as a tornado. In fact, it was the best-looking leather you ever saw. An old cowhand gave it to a young cowboy as a gift. The cowboy cut it up and made a handsome pair of chaps for himself. He said he’d wear those chaps ’til the cows came home. But months of roping and riding wore a hole in one of the legs. That made the cowboy sad, and it set him to thinking. His chaps may be worn out, but he still had some of the beautiful leather. And as long as the cowboy had that leather, he knew he had possibilities. Jodi Icenoggle’s endearing story, with lively illustrations by Normand Chartier, is adapted from a traditional Jewish folktale. This time-honored tale finds new life on a cattle ranch in the American West. An author’s note and a glossary of Western slang adds to the enjoyment of this story about a piece of leather and a resourceful cowboy.

Far North

One of our favorite activities is snuggling up and getting lost in epic adventure tales with our kids.  Even better when those adventure tales involve the wilderness and wrestle with the collision of the old ways and the new (modern) ones. A stunning story that is a must as part of the vision quest for your sons.

The following is the description from Amazon:

“Mayday! Landed on river. Engine out. 

Floating toward the falls.”

When the engine of their float plane fails during a water landing near the head of Canada’s monumental Virginia Falls, what began as a sightseeing detour turns into a survival mission for two high-school students and their elderly companion.

With the brutal sub arctic winter about to fall like a hammer, Gabe Rogers, his boarding-school roommate, Raymond Providence, and Raymond’s great-uncle, Johnny Raven, are trapped in a deadly wilderness. Braving icy rapids and desperately hunting for moose in their struggle to fend off starvation, all three travelers must rely on the others’ knowledge and courage, or survival is out of the question.

The Carpenter’s Gift

A great Christmas holiday read and a chance to write time-tested Kingdom values on the hearts of our children.

The following is the description from Amazon:

This new classic Christmas gift book “brings together two great traditions: the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity.” Opening in Depression-era New York City, The Carpenter’s Gift tells the story of eight-year-old Henry and his father selling Christmas trees. They give a Christmas tree to construction workers building Rockefeller Center and celebrate together. Through the kindness of the construction workers and neighbors, Henry gets his wish for a nice, warm home to replace his family’s drafty shack. He plants a pinecone from that first Rockefeller Center Tree. As an old man, Henry repays the gift by donating the enormous tree that has grown from that pinecone. After bringing joy to thousands as the Rockefeller Center tree, its wood will be used to build a home for another family in need.

The Velveteen Rabbit

It’s really for us. But reading it to our children won’t make us feel as awkward as sipping a latte alone at Starbucks, reading about stuffed bunnies.  Being Real… what would the world look like if we all came home to that.  Casting off fear, fear of man, and walking out from under shame.  Being us. Alive. True. Real.  Giving love, receiving love, moving closer to the source of love…

The following is the description from Amazon:

Nursery Magic is very strange wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it. What is REAL? asked the Rabbit one day. Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle? Real isn t how you are made, said the Skin Horse. It s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn t happen all at once, you become. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don t matter at all, because once you are Real you cant be ugly, except to people who don t understand.

You Are Special

As Brennan Manning says, “He loves us, because He loves us, because He loves us.  Not as we should be but as we are today.”  Lucado hits a home run in giving us a tool to communicate a thousand times over to our children, You Are Loved.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In You Are Special, Max Lucado tells the story of Punchinello, the wooden Wemmick who believes that he isn’t good enough because of what others say about him. When will Punchinello realize how truly special he is?

You Are Special is a beautiful story that reminds us that we are precious to God just the way we are. It is through spending daily time with him that we begin to see ourselves through his eyes. This is an important truth that children and parents need to know: God loves us even though we make mistakes and have flaws!

Unleashing the Power of Parental Love

A modern sage. Rare among men.  Gary helps unlock the deep roots of shame and helps unravel it’s grip over our parenting. He offers practical skills rooted in deep Kingdom realities. Sit at this man’s feet and it’ll transform your life, your today, and your children’s future.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Providing tried and tested steps that will instill unbounded self-confidence and joy within children, this book will also restore harmony between them and their parents. This guide provides professional advice to help raise a self-confident child, ensures that children will establish good friends and be successful in school, and teaches parents how to get to the center of their child’s world where their emotions reside—the energy source of behavior. Once inside their child’s world, discipline is much more successful and parents will accomplish the most precious of goals—their child feeling able to be loved.

 

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

After reading this you’ll know why he waited until his 70′s to publish his first book.  Stunning writing, heroic stories of masculinity, adventure, beauty and wilderness.  The agony and hilarity won’t let you put this one down.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Just as Norman Maclean writes at the end of “A River Runs through It” that he is “haunted by waters,” so have readers been haunted by his novella. A retired English professor who began writing fiction at the age of 70, Maclean produced what is now recognized as one of the classic American stories of the twentieth century. Originally published in 1976, A River Runs through It and Other Stories now celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, marked by this new edition that includes a foreword by Annie Proulx.

Maclean grew up in the western Rocky Mountains in the first decades of the twentieth century. As a young man he worked many summers in logging camps and for the United States Forest Service. The two novellas and short story in this collection are based on his own experiences—the experiences of a young man who found that life was only a step from art in its structures and beauty. The beauty he found was in reality, and so he leaves a careful record of what it was like to work in the woods when it was still a world of horse and hand and foot, without power saws, “cats,” or four-wheel drives. Populated with drunks, loggers, card sharks, and whores, and set in the small towns and surrounding trout streams and mountains of western Montana, the stories concern themselves with the complexities of fly fishing, logging, fighting forest fires, playing cribbage, and being a husband, a son, and a father.

By turns raunchy, poignant, caustic, and elegiac, these are superb tales which express, in Maclean’s own words, “a little of the love I have for the earth as it goes by.” A first offering from a 70-year-old writer, the basis of a top-grossing movie, and the first original fiction published by the University of Chicago Press, A River Runs through It and Other Stories has sold more than a million copies. As Proulx writes in her foreword to this new edition, “In 1990 Norman Maclean died in body, but for hundreds of thousands of readers he will live as long as fish swim and books are made.”

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

This book revolutionized my parenting.  Our hearts gravitate toward the biggest story we know.  I was brought home to that by Miller. Of course, we were made for the Larger Story. But we so often settle for such small ones.  In parenting, I’m now asking myself – am I inviting my children up into a bigger, better Story than the one they are living today?  Miller is hilariously self deprecating and yet leans into God for his hope. Honest, compelling, inviting.

The following is the description from Amazon:

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled. During what should have been the height of his success, he found himself unwilling to get out of bed, avoiding responsibility, even questioning the meaning of life. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty, and meaning.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story, to reinvent himself so nobody shrugs their shoulders when the credits roll. Through heart-wrenching honesty and hilarious self-inspection, Donald Miller takes readers through the life that emerges when it turns from boring reality into meaningful narrative.

Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with love, from wasting his money to founding a nonprofit with a passionate cause. Guided by a host of outlandish but very real characters, Miller shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a rare celebration of the beauty of life.

 

Peace Like a River

A dramatic story of what it looks like to live out Kingdom Life and walk with God in a modern world. You won’t be able to put this adventure down.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Hailed as one of the year’s top five novels by Time, and selected as one of the best books of the year by nearly all major newspapers, national bestseller Peace Like a River captured the hearts of a nation in need of comfort. “A rich mixture of adventure, tragedy, and healing, ” Peace Like a River is “a collage of legends from sources sacred and profane — from the Old Testament to the Old West, from the Gospels to police dramas” (Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor). In “lyrical, openhearted prose” (Michael Glitz, The New York Post), Enger tells the story of eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and its remarkable conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates. Leif Enger’s “miraculous” (Valerie Ryan, The Seattle Times) novel is a “perfect book for an anxious time … of great literary merit that nonetheless restores readers’ faith in the kindness of stories” (Marta Salij, Detroit Free Press).

Orthodoxy

A brilliant and foundational teaching that grounds our hearts in the reality of a Gospel, a story, a worldview, a way, that is ancient and unchanging and empowering to us in this moment.  A sage of sages.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Antiquated. Unimaginative. Repressive. We’ve all heard these common reactions to orthodox Christian beliefs. Even Christians themselves are guilty of the tendency to discard historic Christianity. As Charles Colson writes in the foreword, “Evangelicals, despite their professed belief in the Bible, have not been exempt from the influence of the postmodern spirit.”

This spirit is averse to Truth and the obedience that follows. And people today, as in Chesterton’s day, continue to look anywhere but heavenward for something to believe in.

Waking the Dead

Many people have told me that this book has brought clarity to their deep desire to understand the story in which they live (situational awareness) and the role in which they play.  Must read.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Wild at Heart helped men get their hearts back.

Waking the Dead will help us all find the life Christ promised.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s the offer of Christianity, from God himself.

Just look at what happens when people are touched by Jesus—the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life. In other words, to be touched by God is to be restored. To become all God meant you to be. That is what Christianity is supposed to do for you—make you whole, set you free, bring you fully alive.

But Jesus also warned that the path to that life is narrow, and few people would find it. You’ll notice few have. Waking the Dead will help you find that life, see the fierce battle over your heart, and embrace all that God has for you.

There is so much more. Do you want it?

Way of the Heart

Peels back many layers to get to our heart and the heart of our God in order to bring hope and homecoming.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Since it was first published more than twenty years ago, The Way of the Heart has helped millions of men and women cast off the anger and greed that trouble the world–and find love, compassion, and peace in the heart of God.

Inspired by the ancient teachings of St. Anthony and the Desert Fathers, The Way of the Heart clears before us a spiritual path consisting of three stepping-stones: Solitude (learning not to be alone but to be alone with God); Silence (the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive); and Prayer (standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart).

Distinguished theologian Henri Nouwen brilliantly illuminates each of these disciplines. In reflections that are beautifully clear and practical, as uplifting on the fourth reading as on the first, he helps us separate the wheat from the chaff in our spiritual lives–and reconnects us with what truly matters.

Within this one small book lies the most relevant and inspiring challenge that we shall ever face: to surrender the compulsive noise of the world for the way of the heart that leads us to God.

Desire

Covertly, it’s a book about heaven. If we knew where the Story was headed, we would live with more and more courage, risk and love.  This will help guide you there. Breathtaking book, written in the wake of John losing his closest friend and partner in ministry.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Can we find a life filled with passion, without being overwhelmed by it? 

In Desire, John Eldredge writes, “There is a secret set within each of our hearts. It is the desire for life as it was meant to be.” Yet how do we uncover our desires and learn to decipher them? As Eldredge says, “We all share the same dilemma—we long for life and we’re not sure where to find it. We wonder if we ever do find it, can we make it last? . . . We must journey to find the life we prize. And the guide we have been given is the desire set deep within, the desire we often overlook or mistake for something else or even choose to ignore. The greatest human tragedy is to give up the search.” 

Many good people have been told that the path to a holy life requires us to kill our hearts’ desires. And call it sanctification. 

But in this re-release of one of Eldredge’s most inspiring works, we discover that God is the author of our deepest desires. He has given us desire, and he loves to fulfill our hearts’ desires. For as the Psalms declare, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (37:4). 

God is calling to you through the desires of your heart. 

How you respond will set the course for the rest of your life.

Beautiful Outlaw

One of the most ruthless strategies of the enemy is to steal from us a picture and a deep knowing of who Jesus really is. We must recover this treasure if we are ever to have the supernatural and inextinguishable life that is offered through the Christian faith. These next three books have restored the heart of Jesus to my heart more than anything I’ve encountered…

The following is the description from Amazon:

Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things. 

In BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW, John Eldredge removes the religious varnish to help readers discover stunning new insights into the humanity of Jesus. He was accused of breaking the law, keeping bad company, heavy drinking. Of being the devil himself. He was so compelling and dangerous they had to kill him. But others loved him passionately. He had a sense of humor. His generosity was scandalous. His anger made enemies tremble. He’d say the most outrageous things. He was definitely not the Jesus of the stained glass. 

In the author’s winsome, narrative approach, he breaks Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, just as he set masculinity free in his book, Wild at Heart. By uncovering the real Jesus, readers are welcomed into the rich emotional life of Christ. All of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst like fireworks with color and brilliance because of his humanity. 

Eldredge goes on to show readers how they can experience this Jesus in their lives every day. This book will quicken readers’ worship, and deepen their intimacy with Jesus.

The Jesus I Never Knew

Let the cobwebs and the fog blow away and see Jesus as He truly is.  There are few authors that are able to pull back the religious veil and truly experience Jesus.  If you want to know what He’s really like, reading John’s Beautiful Outlaw, Dallas’ The Divine Conspiracy and The Jesus I Never Knew from Yancey are a must.

The following is the description from Amazon:

‘There is no writer in the evangelical world that I admire and appreciate more.’ Billy Graham Philip Yancey helps reveal what two thousand years of history covered up What happens when a respected Christian journalist decides to put his preconceptions aside and take a long look at the Jesus described in the Gospels? How does the Jesus of the New Testament compare to the ‘new, rediscovered’ Jesus—or even the Jesus we think we know so well? Philip Yancey offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work—his teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection—and ultimately, who he was and why he came. From the manger in Bethlehem to the cross in Jerusalem, Yancey presents a complex character who generates questions as well as answers; a disturbing and exhilarating Jesus who wants to radically transform your life and stretch your faith. The Jesus I Never Knew uncovers a Jesus who is brilliant, creative, challenging, fearless, compassionate, unpredictable, and ultimately satisfying. ‘No one who meets Jesus ever stays the same,’ says Yancey. ‘Jesus has rocked my own preconceptions and has made me ask hard questions about why those of us who bear his name don’t do a better job of following him.’

Meditations on the Parables of Jesus

How rare it is to sit at the feet of a man who has walked, intimately, with Jesus for almost a century… Keating offers insights on the true self like no other in Open Mind, Open Heart.  This sneak peek into some of the most stunning stories of Jesus is rich and remarkable…

The following is the description from Amazon:

Revising much of the content originally published in The Kingdom of God Is Like, and adding selected material from Awakenings and Reawakenings, Thomas Keating continues to stir the Christian imagination with insightful commentary on the parables of the Bible. Including the Mustard Seed, the Narrow Door, the Penitent Woman, the Sower, the Prodigal Son, and others, this collection of corresponding meditations renews the voice and vigor of each parable’s deeper meaning—so often overlooked through familiarity and fame. Originally told to seekers in an ancient land, each parable—packed with clues about the meaning of life, the nature of God, and the purpose of creation—has as much relevance and resonance as ever for both teaching the lessons of God and his mercy and for understanding the daily struggles of today’s fast-paced world.

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Once we can unearth our hearts mired in the reality of both the lost older son and the lost younger son, we can finally turn toward home and receive all the inheritance that is ours as the true, beloved son.

The following is the description from Amazon:

A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on a long spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell.

In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt’s depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son’s return, the father’s restoration of sonship, the elder son’s vengefulness, and the father’s compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes a powerful drama of the parable in a rich, capativating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and here represented with a vigor and power fresh for our times.

For all who ask, “Where has my struggle led me?” or for those “on the road” who have had the courage to embark on the journey but seek the illumination of a known way and safe passage, this work will inspire and guide each time it is read.

The Spirit of the Disciplines

Few teachers have ever brought a teaching and manifestation of the Kingdom of God, “on earth as it is in heaven,” as Dallas Willard.  Heady, thick but life transforming stuff in these pages.  I think of everyone I’ve encountered, Willard will be the least surprised by what He encounters when he Crosses Over and is finally home.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Dallas Willard, one of today’s most brilliant Christian thinkers and author of The Divine Conspiracy(Christianity Today’s 1999 Book of the Year), presents a way of living that enables ordinary men and women to enjoy the fruit of the Christian life. He reveals how the key to self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines, and how their practice affirms human life to the fullest. The Spirit of the Disciplines is for everyone who strives to be a disciple of Jesus in thought and action as well as intention.

Open Mind, Open Heart

For the over achiever, the discipline of center prayer can be one of the life saving spiritual disciplines available. Keating is a sage of sages. This book is a doorway into a piece of freedom, a way of abiding in the presence of God, and receiving peace in a way that is set apart from most. A must read.

The following is the description from Amazon:

This book is designed to initiate the reader into a deep, living relationship with God. Written by an acknowledged spiritual master, the book moves beyond “discursive meditation and particular acts to the intuitive level of contemplation.” Keating gives an overview of the history of contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition, and step-by-step guidance in the method of centering prayer. Special attention is paid to the role of the Sacred Word, Christian growth and transformation, and active prayer. The book ends with an explicit treatment of the contemplative dimension of the gospel. Open Mind, Open Heart will take readers into a world where God can do anything, into a realm of the greatest adventure—”Where one is open to the Infinite and hence to infinite possibilities.”

All is Grace

A candid and holy final swan song and autobiography of the heart as John eloquently captures Brennan’s life story of Grace just moments before he finally goes home… a must read on forgiveness, grace and Kingdom come.

The following is the description from Amazon:

It has been over twenty years since the publication of The Ragamuffin Gospel, a book many claim as the shattering of God’s grace into their lives. Since that time, Brennan Manning has been dazzingly faithful in preaching and writing variations on that singular theme –   

“Yes, Abba is very fond of you!”
 
But today the crowds are gone and the lights are dim, the patches on his knees have faded. If he ever was a ragamuffin, truly it is now. In this his final book, Brennan roves back his past, honoring the lives of the people closest to him, family and friends who’ve known the saint and the sinner, the boy and the man. Far from some chronological timeline, these memories are witness to the truth of life by one who has lived it – All Is Grace

Screwtape Letters

While a remarkable read on worldview and spiritual warfare, Chapter 15 has enough profound insight on the Twin Thieves that seek to remove us from the Present moment (and our true union with God) to change us for all eternity…but even more, for LIFE, today.  A must read from spiritual warfare to lifestyle warfare.

The following is the description from Amazon:

The Screwtape Letters by C.S.  Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written. 

Victory Over the Darkness

Spiritual Warfare 101 at its best. Anderson walks verse by verse through a Biblical worldview of the supernatural.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Ten years ago a breakthrough book launched a ministry that has helped more than one million people overcome this world and win the battle for their hearts and minds. Now Neil Anderson has revised and expanded Victory over the Darkness for a new generation of readers, outlining practical and more productive ways to Christian growth based on Christ’s promise, You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Victory Over the Darkness emphasizes the importance of believing and internalizing the cardinal truths of Scripture as a base from which to renew the mind and fend off the attempts of Satan to convince us that we are less than Christ empowers us to be.

The River of Doubt

The best biography I’ve read on Theodore Roosevelt. Millard’s focus is on Teddy’s last years, which were the toughest of his life.  This story centers around his (premature) exit from the US presidency and what would be his last epic wilderness adventure to the Amazon with his son, Kermit.  Brilliant, insightful. Must read.

The following is the description from Amazon:

At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, The River of Doubt is the true story of Theodore Roosevelt’s harrowing exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth.

The River of Doubt—it is a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world. Indians armed with poison-tipped arrows haunt its shadows; piranhas glide through its waters; boulder-strewn rapids turn the river into a roiling cauldron.

After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever.

Along the way, Roosevelt and his men faced an unbelievable series of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks. Three men died, and Roosevelt was brought to the brink of suicide. The River of Doubt brings alive these extraordinary events in a powerful nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.

From the soaring beauty of the Amazon rain forest to the darkest night of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, here is Candice Millard’s dazzling debut.

Theodore Roosevelt

No American figure has shaped me more than Teddy Roosevelt.  Auchinloss does a great job of offering a concise take on his story while cutting to the heart of this heroic and imperfect legend.

The following is the description from Amazon:

An intimate portrait of the first president of the 20th century

The American century opened with the election of that quintessentially American adventurer, Theodore Roosevelt. Louis Auchincloss’s warm and knowing biography introduces us to the man behind the many myths of Theodore Roosevelt. From his early involvement in the politics of New York City and then New York State, we trace his celebrated military career and finally his ascent to the national political stage. Caricatured through history as the “bull moose,” Roosevelt was in fact a man of extraordinary discipline whose refined and literate tastes actually helped spawn his fascination with the rough-and-ready worlds of war and wilderness.

Bringing all his novelist’s skills to the task, Auchincloss briskly recounts the significant contributions of Roosevelt’s career and administration. This biography is as thorough as it is readable, as clear-eyed as it is touching and personal.

Son of Laughter

The Story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, told in some of the most stunning narrative and imaginative writing I’ve ever read. I’ve worn these pages out and lost count in the number of times I gave this book away.  The enemy is brilliant in making scripture become two dimensional, losing it’s heartbeat – losing the blood, sweat, tears and visceral dimensions of real people living out a real story with a wild, unfettered and free God. Buechner is simply brilliant. And the God He brings in these pages is even more… It’s a must to recapture the Story, Our Story in the mess and beauty of God’s people.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Rich in family drama, passion, and human affinity, critically acclaimed author Frederick Buechner’s contemporary retelling of this captivating and timeless biblical saga revitalizes the ancient story of Jacob, delighted our senses and modern sensibilities and gracing us with his exceptional eloquence and wit.

Flags of Our Fathers

Epic, heroic story of Iwo Jima.  A great read to learn from our past and live more and more true in our present.

The following is the description from Amazon:

THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE IMMORTAL PHOTOGRAPH THAT HAS COME TO SYMBOLIZE THE COURAGE AND INDOMITABLE WILL OF AMERICA

In February 1945, American Marines plunged into the surf at Iwo Jima—and into history. Through a hail of machine-gun and mortar fire that left the beaches strewn with comrades, they battled to the island’s highest peak. And after climbing through a landscape of hell itself, they raised a flag.

Now the son of one of the flagraisers has written a powerful account of six very different young men who came together in a moment that will live forever.

To his family, John Bradley never spoke of the photograph or the war. But after his death at age seventy, his family discovered closed boxes of letters and photos. In Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley draws on those documents to retrace the lives of his father and the men of Easy Company. Following these men’s paths to Iwo Jima, James Bradley has written a classic story of the heroic battle for the Pacific’s most crucial island—an island riddled with Japanese tunnels and 22,000 fanatic defenders who would fight to the last man.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the story is what happened after the victory. The men in the photo—three were killed during the battle—were proclaimed heroes and flown home, to become reluctant symbols. For two of them, the adulation was shattering. Only James Bradley’s father truly survived, displaying no copy of the famous photograph in his home, telling his son only: “The real heroes of Iwo Jima were the guys who didn’t come back.”

Few books ever have captured the complexity and furor of war and its aftermath as well as Flags of Our Fathers. A penetrating, epic look at a generation at war, this is history told with keen insight, enormous honesty, and the passion of a son paying homage to his father. It is the story of the difference between truth and myth, the meaning of being a hero, and the essence of the human experience of war.

 

Adrenaline and Stress

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to identify that the spirit of the age is a driven, busy spirit.  Pushing people to exhaustion.  Rather than buckle up and make the best Christian version of a road leading to destruction, it’d do us all well to pause, make an honest assessment, and consider the cost and the outcomes of the road we are currently traveling.  Hart is engaging, medically-based and Kingdom bound to bring people to deeper healing, wellness and hope. There is another way.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Psychologist Archibald Hart theorizes that heart attacks and other stress-induced illnesses are the lethal by-products of too much adrenaline pumping through our systems. He suggests ways to minimize these threats through adjustments in values and lifestyles.

Anticancer

David has touched upon some Truth, Goodness and Beauty that causes a deep pause in and decent into the what we do and why we do it.  It’s a challenge to the modern culture of hurry and busyness and a healthy questioning and possible alternative to a medical approach of pursuing life rather than avoiding death. From the inside out, this physician turned cancer patient has earned the right to be heard.

The following is the description from Amazon:

At age thirty-one David Servan-Schreiber was a rising neuroscientist with his own laboratory for brain imaging funded by the National Institutes of Health. While testing brain-scanning equipment, he discovered a tumor the size of a walnut in his own brain. This is the moving story of how a researcher and scientist who believed only in conventional treatments was transformed into an integrative physician who realized the importance and power of the body’s natural defenses against chronic disease.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s advice details how to find the right blend of traditional and alternative health care; how to develop a science-based anticancer diet (and the small changes that can make a big difference); the top ten household products to replace; understanding the effects of helplessness and “unhealed wounds” both physical and emotional, and how to regain balance; and how to reap the benefits of exercise, yoga, and meditation.

Anticancer takes us on an inspiring personal journey and ultimately guides us to a new way of life.

Bondage Breaker

Building as Part II of Victory over the Darkness, Anderson leads us through the process of praying through our freedom.  This is an absolute must.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Featuring a new introduction by Neil T. Anderson, this freshly re-covered edition of his bestselling bookThe Bondage Breaker (more than 1.2 million copies sold) leads readers away from the shadows and shackles in their lives and toward the freedom that comes when they

  • realize they have the right to be free
  • confront the power of Satan
  • fight the temptation to do it their way
  • trade deception for grace
  • affirm their identity in Christ

Neil Anderson ultimately helps people break negative thought patterns, control irrational feelings, and break out of the bondage of sinful behavior. Those struggling will discover how to embrace the promise of Jesus to win the spiritual battles that confront them.

Unspoken Sermons

I’ve not encountered a man who knows the Father, and lives out of Sonship, more than George MacDonald.

The following is the description from Amazon:

MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons include sermons arranged in series building upon one another. Throughout the series MacDonald is more concerned with a person developing a love of God than developing dogmas. His sermons are focused more on doing the will of God than believing true things about God. George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. He is known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels. MacDonald inspired many authors; W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, Madeleine L’Engle, Elizabeth Yates and there is even evidence that Twain was influenced by MacDonald. It was C.S. Lewis who wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his “master”: “Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later,” said Lewis, “I knew that I had crossed a great frontier.” G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had “made a difference to my whole existence.”

Margin

A healthy, challenging, sobering and instructive alternative and possible way out from under the tyranny of the spirit of the age that has simply become the norm of our every day life.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Today we use margin just to get by.

This book is for anyone who yearns for relief from the pressure of overload. The benefits can be good health, financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and availability for God’s purpose.

Reevaluate your priorities, determine the value of rest and simplicity in your life, and see where your identity really comes from.

Reversing Heart Disease

Revolutionary, Maverick, Outcast. One of the men that history will be left to truly assess.  I can’t help but consider how much the Gospel is hidden and carried through paradox.  Ornish flips the possibility of preventing heart disease upside down (from a modern western medicine point of view) and takes a bold but balanced approach to considering that the solution for health and wellness might actually be in the places that were intended to bring us deep life in the first place.  A must read for wellness as we humbly engage the aging process, fight for life, and treat our bodies, souls and spirits with a posture that is grooming us to one day be sages that are alive, well and able to offer God’s heart and wisdom to the next generation.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Dr. Dean Ornish is the first clinician to offer documented proof that heart disease can be halted, or even reversed, simply by changing your lifestyle. Based on his internationally acclaimed scientific study, which has now been ongoing for years, Dr. Ornish’s program has yielded amazing results. Participants reduced or discontinued medications; their chest pain diminished or disappeared; they felt more energetic, happy, and calm; they lost weight while eating more; and blockages in coronary arteries were actually reduced.

In his breakthrough book, Dr. Ornish presents this and other dramatic evidence and guides you, step-by-step, through the extraordinary Opening Your Heart program, which is winning landmark approval from America’s health insurers. The program takes you beyond the purely physical side of health care to include the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects so vital to healing. This book represents the best modern medicine has to offer. It can inspire you to open your heart to a longer, better, happier life.

Steps to Freedom in Christ

A spiritual housecleaning. This is the best 101 version of praying through our stories and inviting the full work of Jesus to free us from bondage that I have ever seen.  It’s remarkable to do with a spouse, a close ally, or just solo with God. You won’t be the same after this. Can’t recommend it enough.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Time-Tested Steps That Will Lead You to Freedom in Christ! The victory that Christ promises us is complete. He has promised that knowing the truth will set us free. The Steps to Freedom in Christ is a comprehensive process that will help you resolve your personal and spiritual conflicts in Christ. If you have received Christ as your personal Savior, He has set you free. You will still have conflicts in your life, but you can overcome them because of your position in Christ as a child of God. Experience daily victory over sin and doubt with this next generation of The Steps to Freedom in Christ. It will help you reclaim the promise of freedom that Christ offers to all who call on His name.

Amish Grace

While we are often good at finding faults and shortcomings, sometimes it would do us well to find the greatest strengths and pieces of the Kingdom of God in which a community of folks have been able to walk in.  The Amish are a peculiar people no doubt. This story from the inside out is a candid, insightful and challenging suggestion of what forgiveness, incarnate, might look like as it expressed through the mess and reality of a group of people doing their best to walk with God.

The following is the description from Amazon:

On Monday morning, October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In front of twenty-five horrified pupils, thirty-two-year-old Charles Roberts ordered the boys and the teacher to leave. After tying the legs of the ten remaining girls, Roberts prepared to shoot them execution style with an automatic rifle and four hundred rounds of ammunition that he brought for the task. The oldest hostage, a thirteen-year-old, begged Roberts to “shoot me first and let the little ones go.” Refusing her offer, he opened fire on all of them, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police stormed the building. His motivation? “I’m angry at God for taking my little daughter,” he told the children before the massacre.

The story captured the attention of broadcast and print media in the United States and around the world. By Tuesday morning some fifty television crews had clogged the small village of Nickel Mines, staying for five days until the killer and the killed were buried. The blood was barely dry on the schoolhouse floor when Amish parents brought words of forgiveness to the family of the one who had slain their children.

The outside world was incredulous that such forgiveness could be offered so quickly for such a heinous crime. Of the hundreds of media queries that the authors received about the shooting, questions about forgiveness rose to the top. Forgiveness, in fact, eclipsed the tragic story, trumping the violence and arresting the world’s attention.

The Unsettling of America

While Berry is remarkable on many topics, his writing on power and how we handle it is remarkably insightful.  In this work, he relates it to the land we inhabit and how we care (or don’t care) well for it.  Berry is a revolutionary against a culture that worships knowledge and information but in many ways has turned a blind eye toward wisdom (Proverb 8).  Berry, including “What are People For,” is thought provoking and a deeply shaping voice from yesterday.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Since its publication by Sierra Club Books in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural development and spiritual discipline. Today’s agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it.
Sadly, as Berry notes in his Afterword to this third edition, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. We continue to suffer loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economic system dedicated to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are good people working “to make something comely and enduring of our life on this earth.” Wendell Berry is one of those people, writing and working, as ever, with passion, eloquence, and conviction.

Celebration of Discipline

A direct disciple of Dallas Willard, practical, helpful and hopeful coaching and mentoring in practicing the spiritual disciplines.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth is hailed by many as the best modern book on Christian spirituality with millions of copies sold since its original publication in 1978.

In Celebration of Discipline, Foster explores the “classic Disciplines,” or central spiritual practices, of the Christian faith to show how each of these areas contribute to a balanced spiritual life.

Foster, the bestselling author of several books (Prayer and Streams of Living Water) and intrachurch movement founder of Renovaré, helps motivate Christians everywhere to embark on a journey of prayer and spiritual growth.

Addiction & Grace

Unpacking addiction like nothing else I’ve read, May helps to dramatically increase our awareness in both the addiction and it’s foundation being rooted in our desire to love, to be loved and to move closer to the source of love. Begin to recover freedom on the most intimate and personal levels available…

The following is the description from Amazon:

Addiction and Grace offers an inspiring and hope–filled vision for those who desire to explore the mystery of who and what they really are. May examines the “processes of attachment” that lead to addiction and describes the relationship between addiction and spiritual awareness. He also details the various addictions from which we can suffer, not only to substances like alcohol and drugs, but to work, sex, performance, responsibility, and intimacy.

Drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist working with the chemically dependent, May emphasizes that addiction represents an attempt to assert complete control over our lives. Addiction and Grace is a compassionate and wise treatment of a topic of major concern in these most addictive of times, one that can provide a critical yet hopeful guide to a place of freedom based on contemplative spirituality.

The Gifts of Imperfection

From a decade of research – data with a soul – Brown uncovers the timeless truths of the fall and the foundation of our false self (poser) rooted in shame and fear.  From that place she gives powerful, time-tested and research-proven action steps toward a lifestyle of shame resilience and increasing freedom.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking,”What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?”

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough,” and to go to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”

The Starfish and the Spider

We live in a culture supersaturated with leadership books. But great leadership books are still rare. This is among the few.  It’s a must read for considering a model for Kingdom leadership.

The following is the description from Amazon:

If you cut off a spider?s head, it dies; if you cut off a starfish?s leg it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish. Traditional top-down organizations are like spiders, but now starfish organizations are changing the face of business and the world.

What’s the hidden power behind the success of Wikipedia, craigslist, and Skype? What do eBay and General Electric have in common with the abolitionist and women?s rights movements? What fundamental choice put General Motors and Toyota on vastly different paths?

Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom have discovered some unexpected answers, gripping stories, and a tapestry of unlikely connections. The Starfish and the Spider explores what happens when starfish take on spiders and reveals how established companies and institutions, from IBM to Intuit to the U.S. government, are also learning how to incorporate starfish principles to achieve success.

The Power of One

Page turner to the core. This story crosses many challenging themes and opens our hearts to wonder what God is up to in a person’s story and how we might take the road less traveled.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one.

Shit My Dad Says

Fall off your chair hysterical stories of the good, bad and ugly of a Father’s unintended / intended counsel to a son.

The following is the description from Amazon:

After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is “like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair,” has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:

“That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.”

“The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two.”

More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern’s philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny’s, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns’ kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice.

Walk in the Woods

The self deprecating humor will take you from hysteria to exhale and back again.  A less than capable attempt at hiking the Appalachian Trail is perfect backdrop to this levity, agony and hilarity.

The following is the description from Amazon:

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaing guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

Waiter Rant

The down side. You’ll never be able to naively enjoy a meal and and upscale restaurant again. The upside. The Truth will set you free. Everyone eats at restaurants.  It’s good to take a look under the hood at the back side.  If laughter is the best medicine, consider yourself healed.

The following is the description from Amazon:

According to The Waiter, 80 percent of customers are nice people just looking for something to eat. The remaining 20 percent, however, are socially maladjusted psychopaths.

Eye-opening, outrageous, and unabashed—replete with tales of customer stupidity, arrogant misbehavior, and unseen tidbits of human grace in the most unlikely places—Waiter Rant presents the server’s unique point of view, revealing surefire secrets to getting good service, proper tipping etiquette, and ways to ensure that your waiter won’t spit on your food.

Longbows in the Far North

Great hunting books are rare. I suppose it is because great hunting mentors are rare. To find a hunter that is passionate about the land, the animals, the chase, who values ethics and joy above all other pursuits in the woods and who is more interested in hunting stories than hanging antlers on a wall, is a holy treasure. Thomas is one of those men.  It’ll do a hunter well to sit at his feet and be mentored in the wilderness and it’s ways.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In this entertaining collection of memoirs, Don Thomas takes readers to places few will ever have a chance to explore. His deep respect for the wildness of nature is ever-present as he recounts the country, people, and animals he encountered during archery expeditions in Alaska and Siberia. Whether pursuing open-country caribou, stalking Russian rams, or quietly observing black bears on the coast of Alaska, Thomas s vivid descriptions of the Arctic wilderness convey the wonder inherent in the hunting experience. 16 stories of bowhunting adventure in the Far North including exciting encounters with bears, moose, wolves, rams, and deer.

A Sand County Almanac

One of the founding fathers of the conservation movement, Leopold offers stunning hands-on miles and eloquent words to bringing home the idea of conservation as extending ethics to include land and animals.  In some deep ways he begins to capture Genesis 2 and Romans 8 in it’s mandate for us to steward ALL of creation – God’s people, God’s land, and God’s animals. And that restoration, of Kingdom come, includes all of creation applauding as the sons and daughters of God take their place leading, offering, and stewarding creation according to God’s heart, pleasure and purpose.  It would do us well to step out of the modern western evangelistic worldview and recover some other golden pieces of the Gospel that have been lost.

The following is the description from Amazon:

“We can place this book on the shelf that holds the writings of Thoreau and John Muir.” San Francisco Chronicle

These astonishing portraits of the natural world explore the breathtaking diversity of the unspoiled American landscape — the mountains and the prairies, the deserts and the coastlines. A stunning tribute to our land and a bold challenge to protect the world we love.

The Christmas Box

It is so easy in our modern holiday season to give way to cynicism.  Or even easier to simply get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent and the inordinate expectations and cultural BS of the holidays.  What can we do to recover the Truth, Goodness and Beauty of it all?

Years ago I was praying in anticipation of Christmas and asking God how to live true in the midst of so many temptations and roadside bombs. He said, simply, “Bring the Magic.”  A reference to C.S. Lewis’ beautiful take on the Deep Magic, I made it my mission for each Christmas.

God seems to use some stories to resuscitate my heart each December and remind me of the Magic so I can fight to bring that Deep Magic of the Kingdom and Immanuel – God with us, to my family.

Richard Paul Evans says it brilliantly.  So often we end up trading “diamonds for stones.”  In some effort to get validation outside of God, we take our question to our work, gathering stones, all the while trading the precious diamonds of the “years of our youth” with our wife and our kids.

This story is a quick and heartfelt read to help you recover the Deep Magic of Christmas.  I think you’ll enjoy…

The following is the description from Amazon:

Since The Christmas Box was first published, more than eight million people around the world have been touched by its magic. It is a holiday classic that is as beloved in our time as A Christmas Carolwas in Dickens’s.

This special 20th Anniversary Edition contains a new Introduction by the author, explaining how this personal tribute to his children, intended for just a few family members and friends, became a worldwide phenomenon that brings inspiration and healing to everyone who reads it. As he reiterates his intention to remind families of the preciousness of their love for each other, Evans explains howThe Christmas Box has also helped children who have no families find love and hope. The miracle ofThe Christmas Box springs from its timeless message that knows no season.

***

This was the meaning of the Christmas Box, that someday I would turn around and my little girl would be gone . . .

How quickly the time has passed. Today those two little girls for whom I wrote The Christmas Box are adults. What hasn’t changed is the relevance of my little story. Now, just as it was a thousand years ago and will be a thousand years from now, parents still look at their children and feel their hearts breaking a little, knowing that the only promise of childhood is that someday it will be gone. It is my deepest hope that, for centuries to come, the message of The Christmas Box will endure as a reminder of the sanctity and holiness of a parent’s love. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

 

How Children Raise Parents

Flips our perception of reality right side up to debunk the false claim that parents raise children.  In the end, when our kids are 30 or 40 we will come home to the reality that it is them who have raised us. It is only through the process of walking with God in parenting that we become the parents we wish we were yesterday.  Allender helps us not waste our pain, avoid the pitfalls we can, and parent from the heart with a healing Kingdom motive.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Parenting with Humility…We often realize that we learn as much from our children as they learn from us. So why don’t parents approach the task of child-rearing as a learning experience, rather than a mandate to make sure their kids succeed in life?

To reduce the pressure and enjoy greater closeness in your family, turn your parenting upside-down by allowing God to use your children to help you grow up. Imagine what would happen if you began to prize what you’re being taught by your children’s quirks, failures, and normal childhood dilemmas, rather than worrying about whether you’re doing everything right as a parent. Now you can let go of the pressure to make sure your children succeed, and instead learn to grow into spiritual maturity by listening to your children.

Everlasting Stream

The second most formative book I’ve ever read – an incredible invitation in to masculinity and the deep and true paradoxes of the Christian faith, lived out in the field and in the fellowship of men. This is one of the most formative books on brotherhood, parent and community I’ve ever read.  It’s a must.

The following is the description from Amazon:

When Walt Harrington was first invited to Kentucky to hunt with his African American father-in-law and his country friends–Bobby, Lewis, and Carl–he was a jet-setting reporter for The Washington Post with a distaste for killing animals and for the men’s brand of old-fashioned masculinity. But over the next 12 years, this white city slicker entered a world of life, death, nature, and manhood that came to seem not brutal or outdated but beautiful in a way his experience in Washington was not. The Everlasting Stream is the absorbing, touching, and often hilarious story of how hunting with these “good ol’ boys” forced an “enlightened” man to reexamine his modern notions of guilt and responsibility, friendship and masculinity, ambition and satisfaction.

In crisp prose that bring autumn mornings crackling to life, Harrington shares the lessons that led him to leave Washington. When his son turned 14, Harrington began taking him hunting too, believing that these rough-edged, whiskey-drinking men could teach his suburban boy something worthwhile about lives different from his own, the joy of small moments, and the old-fashioned belief that a man’s actions mean more than his words.

The Everlasting Stream is a funny, intimate, inspiring meditation on the meaning of a life well lived.

Indescribable Gift

Through narration and artistry, this tapestry of history, tradition and scripture restores the imagination, wonder and awe of the most familiar Story of our faith. It was said by Lewis that through George MacDonald, God baptized his imagination.  For us to ever come into the fullness of knowing God and living in His Kingdom, our imagination needs to be baptized and restored.  This book is a great step. I have found myself returning to it every Christmas season for nearly a decade.  And with every return it leads my once again back to the Scriputures with renewed longing and hope. The ancient stories of Simeon, Anna, Zechariah, even the Inn Keepers are brought to light with the wonder and hope of all that is possible for us through the Incarnation. It is a must read for Christmas with the family.

The following is the description from Amazon:

In ten stirring vignettes, bestselling author Richard Exley tells the Nativity story through the eyes of the real-life biblical characters who were there–Mary and Joseph, the innkeeper, the Magi, the shepherds, even King Herod. Filled with full-color illustrations, The Indescribable Gift will deepen every reader’s faith with its compelling revelation of God’s unimaginable gift to mankind.

An American Life

Reading stories of great men has been a vital source of mentoring and nourishment for my masculine journey.  There are particular stories that stand out and make perfect sense looking back but when lived, looked much more seemingly odd or haphazard.  Stories like Joseph, Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan I count among them.  This autobiography is a fascinating story, not only of history but masculinity, sovereignty and God’s way with a man moving ever deeper into the life, walk and calling God has set for him.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Ronald Reagan’s autobiography is a work of major historical importance. Here, in his own words, is the story of his life—public and private—told in a book both frank and compellingly readable.

Few presidents have accomplished more, or been so effective in changing the direction of government in ways that are both fundamental and lasting, than Ronald Reagan. Certainly no president has more dramatically raised the American spirit, or done so much to restore national strength and self-confidence.

Here, then, is a truly American success story—a great and inspiring one. From modest beginnings as the son of a shoe salesman in Tampico, Illinois, Ronald Reagan achieved first a distinguished career in Hollywood and then, as governor of California and as president of the most powerful nation in the world, a career of public service unique in our history.

Ronald Reagan’s account of that rise is told here with all the uncompromising candor, modesty, and wit that made him perhaps the most able communicator ever to occupy the White House, and also with the sense of drama of a gifted natural storyteller.

He tells us, with warmth and pride, of his early years and of the elements that made him, in later life, a leader of such stubborn integrity, courage, and clear-minded optimism. Reading the account of this childhood, we understand how his parents, struggling to make ends meet despite family problems and the rigors of the Depression, shaped his belief in the virtues of American life—the need to help others, the desire to get ahead and to get things done, the deep trust in the basic goodness, values, and sense of justice of the American people—virtues that few presidents have expressed more eloquently than Ronald Reagan.

With absolute authority and a keen eye for the details and the anecdotes that humanize history, Ronald Reagan takes the reader behind the scenes of his extraordinary career, from his first political experiences as president of the Screen Actors Guild (including his first meeting with a beautiful young actress who was later to become Nancy Reagan) to such high points of his presidency as the November 1985 Geneva meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, during which Reagan invited the Soviet leader outside for a breath of fresh air and then took him off for a walk and a man-to-man chat, without aides, that set the course for arms reduction and charted the end of the Cold War.

Here he reveals what went on behind his decision to enter politics and run for the governorship of California, the speech nominating Barry Goldwater that first made Reagan a national political figure, his race for the presidency, his relations with the members of his own cabinet, and his frustrations with Congress.

He gives us the details of the great themes and dramatic crises of his eight years in office, from Lebanon to Grenada, from the struggle to achieve arms control to tax reform, from Iran-Contra to the visits abroad that did so much to reestablish the United States in the eyes of the world as a friendly and peaceful power. His narrative is full of insights, from the unseen dangers of Gorbachev’s first visit to the United States to Reagan’s own personal correspondence with major foreign leaders, as well as his innermost feelings about life in the White House, the assassination attempt, his family—and the enduring love between himself and Mrs. Reagan.

An American Life is a warm, richly detailed, and deeply human book, a brilliant self-portrait, a significant work of history.

Wild at Heart

The most formative and shaping book I have ever read.  Recover the heart that God has set within us, as men.

The following is the description from Amazon:

Every man was once a boy.  And every little has dreams, big dreams,  dreams of being the hero, of beating the bad guys, of doing daring feats and rescuing the damsel in distress. Every little girl has dreams, too: of being rescued by her prince and swept up into a great adventure, knowing that she is the beauty.

But what happens to those dreams when we grow up? Walk into most churches, have a look around, and ask yourself: What is a Christian man?  Without listening to what is said, look at what you find there. Most Christian men are . . . bored.

John Eldredge revises and updates his best-selling, renowned Christian classic, Wild at Heart, and in it invites men to recover their masculine heart, defined in the image of a passionate God. And he invites women to discover the secret of a man’s soul and to delight in the strength and wildness men were created to offer.