To change up a little this year, I'm going to revert back to what I used to do with my books I've read. Instead of devoting a whole blog to a book, I'm going to lump them together in one blog post for each month. The truth is that there are some books that I can easily write and write about. (Warning: if I read any Teddy Roosevelt books this year, you'll see.) Then there are other books that even if they're good, I didn't enjoy them enough to write more than five or six sentences. So there may be a few books I do give their own post to, but I'll probably look at clumping them together in months as I shoot for 52 this year.
Since picking up "All In" and the "Circle Maker" book by Batterson a couple of years ago, I've been all over his books. The two books after "Circle Maker" have been really good. "The Grave Robber" is the second book. Batterson focuses on the first seven miracles of Jesus as told by John in his Gospel rendition. Batterson does a great job at showing how each miracle not only built on the other, but showed seven different areas in which Jesus declared Himself Lord over. Starting with the wedding at Cana and ending with the resurrection of Lazarus, Batterson makes it clear that Jesus became a "grave robber" only because He was obedient to become the "water turner" and "water walker" among others. In other words, Batterson shows a pattern of progression and points to the way that we progress in our relationship with Christ and our ability to know Him and make Him known as we go through life. I'd highly recommend the book.
I really like Matt Chandler, but, I've been a little disappointed in his books since his first book, "The Explicit Gospel." That book is in my opinion one of the best books I've ever read. It was extremely in-depth, thought-provoking, and revealing. I took a small group through it and it became even better. But every book Chandler has put out since then has just lacked in my opinion. His second book was really good to me, and would have been even better to me probably had I not read "Explicit Gospel" first. I compared them and there's not really much comparison. In Chandler's third book, his theology seemed to either show signs of changing or either he was a little more forthcoming about what he's always believed as he basically espoused the idea of eternal security. I didn't really like the third book at all. So when the fourth book came out and it was about marriage, I jumped on it to see what it would be like. And it was pretty good. In my opinion, it's only half good if you're married. It's probably all good if you're not. The book takes a look at the Song of Solomon. The first half of Chandler's book is about attraction, dating, courting, and relationships. I would highly recommend anyone in a dating relationship or wanting one to get this book and read it. In those ways, it is amazing. I'm thinking of buying a few copies for friends. I may even make it required reading for any stupid little boy that comes knocking on my door in about 30 years . . . Anyway. The second half of the books is about marriage and is very good as well. I would definitely recommend this book all the way around. It was very good. I don't know that Chandler will write another book as good as his first, but this one was good. (For the best book I've ever read on the Song of Solomon, check out David Jeremiah's "Love, Marriage, and Sex."
I consider myself a deep thinker. I love allegory. I love metaphors. I love the telling of a story in such a way that it's different than it's meaning, but at the same time the same. Lewis is a master at this. His "Narnia" chronicles is a perfect illustration of his taking the Gospel message and retelling it using new characters, lands, and conflicts. While Lewis has been quoted as saying it wasn't entirely his intention to do so, there's no way someone leaves a "Narnia" book or movie without really understanding who "Aslan" truly is. All that said, "The Great Divorce" was too strange and I never got it. The book speaks of a phantom bus ride taking people to hell or heaven. Lewis describes hell and heaven in the book which, like "The Chronicles of Narnia," is a fiction story trying to convey a non-fiction point. It may have been the time period Lewis wrote it from, or it may be my own preconceived ideas of the heaven and hell, but the book was way off to me. Lewis' "hell" seemed more like a Catholic purgatory and his "heaven" seemed more like a neighboring land over the mountains. Ultimately, who are we to say exactly what either will be like? However, there are some real descriptions in scripture that I didn't see illustrated at all. I think a Lewis fan should probably read the book, and maybe I'll give it a reread some day, but I can't really recommend it.
Great, great book!! It's close to 300 pages and I read it in one sitting. For all that can be said about some aspects of his presidency, I still like George W. Bush very much. His first book, "Decision Points," was amazing. When I saw he wrote a book about his father, I knew I had to get it. The book did not disappoint. Bush talks of his father's life from his childhood all the way to his love of skydiving (even at 90 years old). George H. W. Bush was a trailblazer. Though he could have taken the easier road offered to him by family connections, he constantly sought out his own adventure. That spirit led him to leave his New England home, heritage, and family, and move to Texas to get into the oil business. Of course before any of that happen, Bush had already paved his own trail by enlisting in the military after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He became an expert pilot and the youngest pilot to fly many Pacific missions. His plane was shot down over the Pacific and he miraculously survived. That innate nature to survive and serve would be a bedrock in his life. Known as a humble man by friend and foe alike, Bush sought out the best for his family while refusing to hinder the other man from offering the best to his. As Bush eventually made his way into politics, he continued to display a moral character. When he lost some of his first races, he did so gracefully. And when he was tasked as the head of the Republican Party to look then President Richard Nixon in the face and demand his resignation, he did so sternly, yet with empathy for the man he had worked for and the state of the country. As President Gerald Ford took office, Bush was offered prize ambassador posts for his handling of everything with Watergate and before. Ever the challenge seeker, the elder Bush asked to be sent to China. Being sent to China was a demotion of sorts because diplomatic relations were still shaky and an official ambassador position did not even exist. Bush wasn't concerned about the position title. He saw potential and a path away from the busy DC limelight. Yet months later, when asked to come back to oversee the CIA after its many indiscretions came to light, Bush came back to serve his country and reorganize the CIA. That attitude of service would continue to push him all the way to Ronald Reagan's vice president and later the president of the United States. George W. Bush describes his father as a man of character and faith. He is a family man who also adores his country. He is a treasure to the country and this book was a perfect telling of his story by a son to his father.
I'm a big baseball fan. I'm a die hard Braves fan, but I've got several other teams I root for (as long as they don't play the Braves). The Cubs are one of them. The Tampa Bay Rays are another one. I like to call them my American League team. I've been to a couple of games and I've always liked the way they played. My favorite player on the team (now traded to Oakland . . . Come on!!!) was Ben Zobrist. I make sure I wear by Zobrist shirt when I do go to a game. I knew he was a strong Christian and that his wife was an up and coming Christian singer, so I really pulled for him. When I saw they had written a book a few months back, I picked it up immediately. The book was really good. The two detail their early childhoods and how God perfectly orchestrated their being together. It truly was a God thing to say the least. Their faith and strength of conviction was amazing and a perfect example of what should be. However, they also detailed their struggles and how God was able to pull them out of some tough spots in their lives and marriage. They have a great testimony and God is really using them in concerts and rallies to touch others. Now that he's been traded to Oakland, I suppose I'll be pulling for them this year . . . If you're a sports fan, you'll really like the book. Even if you're not, it's still a really good book as it talks about so much more than just baseball.
I was going through my library to look for my next book to read, and I found this one. This book is from 1966 and my Papa owned it. After he died a few years ago, I got it from his house and put it on my shelf. It was a pretty good book to say the least. Written in the 1960's, Lowery proclaimed that Christ was coming any time. He talked about how bad the world was and how sin was abounding. T.L. Lowery is still alive today well into his 90's. I'd love to know how he would compare the world in the 60's to what we're witnessing today. Besides the part of the book detailing the second coming, Lowery spends most of the book talking to the church about what we must do to be ready and to be active in the last days. That part of the book was really good. It read like a group of sermons put together, which was fine by me considering I'm a preacher. I don't know that I would have looked to read it necessarily just to read it, but I enjoyed reading it if for no other reason it let me think about my Papa and MaMa and how they may have read it or talked about it.
If making some late resolutions is any indication of what 2015 will be, then I guess it's going to be another busy year. 2014 was quite a busy year for the Herrington family. I'll go ahead and get this out of the way, I didn't complete really any of my 5 resolutions for 2014. I didn't read 52 books. Instead of losing another 20 lbs, I gained 20 lbs. I still haven't written by first book after two years of saying I'm going to start on it. I didn't run 400 miles by any stretch. I may have ran 40 miles the whole year. The only resolution we got somewhat accomplished was paying off debt. We did pay off our Kia three years early, so we're closing in on being debt free. We've got a five year plan anyway!
So with so much failure with those resolutions, why make some for this year? I make new / old ones for a few reasons. The main one being that 2014 was so crazy and life-altering that I'm going to give myself a pass. I know I'm biased . . . But when I made my 2014 resolutions, I didn't know I'd be moving to a new church and new town in just three weeks. Like with anything else I do, I literally through most everything I had into Bell Street Church of God in 2014 from time to money. A year later, the Lord helped us complete 14 major renovation / remodel projects costing about $30,000. We didn't have to borrow a dime to do them either. We also had a major addition to the family in the birth of Charlee June Herrington in July of last year. A baby is a bundle of joy, but a baby is also a bundle period. Adjusting to a second child in the house while still adjusting to a new church, town, and home, while working 70+ hours most weeks will put a damper in anyone's plans. So that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Now I don't necessarily expect things to slow down in 2015. Those who know me know I like to keep something going at all time. I've got one life, one family, and one ministry. I want to experience them all to the fullest! So I am making some 2015 resolutions nine days late, but nevertheless, I'm making them. And let me remind the naysayers of resolution making who always like to opine every year to get over it. I hear your pseudo-psychological mumbo jumbo about living for every day instead of making resolutions you probably won't keep. I hear you when you say it's old-fashioned or pointless. I also hear you, Mr. Super Spiritual, saying that resolutions are of the devil . . . however that works. For me, my resolutions are goals and part of my own life vision. I'm a huge believer in vision. The Bible says without one, people die. And I plan to live as long as God lets me. So my resolutions are goals and objectives I hope to accomplish for myself this year. I may fail. I may succeed. But at least I tried. Your turn . . .
(1) Read 52 books in 2015 - I've had this same goal every year since 2011, and up until last year, I've either met it or moved past it. Last year, I ended with 36. This year, I want to get back to 52. I'll keep my mixture of Christian, history, and biography more than likely, and I plan to read the Bible through again in a different translation.
(2) Lose 30 lbs - Losing 30 lbs would put me under 200 lbs for the first time in 7 years. In 2013, I did see 197 lbs for about two days. (That counts though right??) Once we started pastoring, I've bounced between 200-240 with 240 happening in 2013 before I started running. I started the year at 226 lbs. With our current fast ongoing and a return to running, there's no reason why I can't achieve this goal in 2015. It'll take discipline, but it'll be worth it!
(3) Run 300 miles - As part of the weight loss campaign, I do want to get back to running. I was really doing good in 2013 before I re-injured my foot and ankle from a previous softball injury (that makes me sound tough in my mind). I ran my first 5K and ran 10 miles at one time. I averaged about 12-15 miles each week and had my times in the high 7 to low 8 minute mile range. I was really enjoying the exercise and the energy it gave me and I'm ready to feel that again. Running 300 miles this year won't be too bad. I'll probably start the end of this month into the first of February while the fast is ongoing. That would leave me to run an average of 7 miles a week, or roughly half of the pace I was on before. I got this!
(4) Write my first book - Third, um . . . fourth time's a charm? I really do want to write a book. I enjoy writing. I've got tons of ideas. I don't know if they'll be read or how good they'll be, but I want to write nonetheless so I can pass them down to my kids and grandkids one day. I also have a lot of ideas and vision stored up inside and eventually I'm going to start putting them on paper. I won't give up on this one no matter how many times I shoot for it and miss.
(5) Stick to our 5 Year Debt Plan - Having gotten settled in our new town and after having another child, we've been able to sit down and put together both a 5 year and a 10 year plan for our finances. The payoff of sticking to our plan for 10 years is the reward of hopefully building our own home just the way we want it. Sticking to our plan for our first 5 years means that when Charlee June goes to school and Billie begins working, (We've made the family decision for Billie to stay home with our kids before their school age. Not everyone can do that and we're blessed to be able to make that decision. You never get those years back, so we'll gladly push back our plans a few years to enjoy these precious years), the only debt we will have is some of her student loans and hopefully then upon her working, a new vehicle for her.
(6) Travel - I don't know how I'll fit this in and it more than likely won't happen like I want it to, but you got to shoot for something. I love to travel. I miss it terribly. A few years ago we went on our road trip to New England and we had a blast. I miss the feel of the open road and seeing new things. With mine and Billie's 10 year wedding anniversary coming in June, I'd love to hit the road again or possibly even take her on her must desired cruise. I guess we will see. We did get annual passes for Disney World this year for Christmas so I do know we'll be making a few trips to the Happiest Place on Earth. Let's hope we still call it that at the end of 2015!
So there you have it. I've got six resolutions. Six goals to shoot for in the new year. Above all, I'm praying for a happy and healthy new year with my family and church. I've got huge plans and big dreams for Bell Street Church of God and ministry in general. If I don't do any of my six resolutions this year, I hope it can be said at the end of this year that I loved my family with everything I had, that I did ministry for my Savior Jesus Christ with all that was in me, and that I was an example of Jesus Christ in my day to day life. Above all, those are what really matter.
Those are my goals. What's yours?
Where did 2014 go? I mean it seems like it should be 2013 when I say, "Last year, we . . . " Instead it's 2015 and 2014 was a blur. There were a lot of changes in our lives in 2014, but that's for another upcoming blog. Suffice it to say, we were extremely busy last year, and while I probably could have found time to read more, I didn't. For the first time since 2011, I didn't read 52 books in a year. I fell well short in 2014 with 36, or 16 shy of my goal. I regressed last year after upping the mark each year. In 2011, I read 52 exactly. In 2012, I read 54. In 2013, I read 60. I had hoped to eclipse 60 in 2014, but that didn't happen. For 2015, I'm shooting to get back to 52 and start the climb again.
As for 2014, I read some really good books and some just alright books. My favorites were probably "Heir to the Empire City" by Edward P. Kohn, "Mrs. Kennedy and Me" by Clint Hill, "How to be Rich" by Andy Stanley, "Aha" by Kyle Idleman, "Vertical Church" by James MacDonald, "What the Bible Has to Say About Love, Marriage, and Sex" by Dr. David Jeremiah, and the two books I read by Craig Groeschel: "Fight" and "From this Day Forward." There were several other good ones, but these really stuck out to me throughout the year.
Here's the whole list:
1. “Heir to the Empire City” by Edward P. Kohn (January)
2. “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” by Clint Hill (January)
3. “Who Really Killed Kennedy?” by Jerome R. Corsi (January)
4. “Revelation: God’s Blueprint for the Future” by Robert Wigley (January)
5. “The Kennedy Detail” by Gerald Blaine (January)
6. “If I Could Find That Church” by Toby Morgan (January)
7. “Jesus Is” by Judah Smith (January)
8. “Lord Show Us Thy Glory” by Ray H. Hughes (March)
9. “Aha” by Kyle Idleman (March)
10. “Crashing the Chatterbox” by Steven Furtick (April)
11. “Lazarus Awakening” by Joanna Weaver (April)
12. “How to be Rich” by Andy Stanley (April)
13. “What the Bible Says About Love, Marriage, & Sex” by David Jeremiah (April)
14. “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson (April)
15. “Recovering Redemption” by Matt Chandler (May)
16. “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Matterson (May)
17. “Church Unique” by Will Mancini (June)
18. “Fight” by Craig Groeschel (June)
19. Bible – NLT (July)
20. “Primal” by Mark Batterson (August)
21. “Sidelined” by Chuck Pagano (August)
22. “How to Pick up a Stripper” by Todd Stevens (September)
23. “Instinct” by T.D. Jakes (October)
24. “Church of God Distinctives” by Ray H. Hughes (October)
25. “I Will Be Your Friend” by Michael W. Smith (November)
26. “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson (November)
27. “Knowing Aslan” by Thomas Williams (November)
28. “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis (November)
29. “Just the Two of Us” by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott (November)
30. “The Sacraments of Pentecostal Worship” by Daniel Tomberlin (November)
31. “From This Day Forward” by Craig & Amy Groeschel (November)
32. “A Family Guide to the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by Christin Ditchfield (November)
33. “Vertical Church” by James MacDonald (December)
34. “You and Me Forever” by Francis & Lisa Chan (December)
35. “Killing Patton” by Bill O’Reilly (December)
36. “Before Amen” by Max Lucado (December)
So there you have it. I'm shooting for 52 in 2015. Thanks for reading with me!
Ryan is engaged to Rachel and resides in Perry, GA. He is the proud "Dada" to Rylee and Charlee. He holds a Bachelors degree in Social Science Education and a Masters degree in church ministry / leadership. He has served in various positions of ministry, music, management, and more. He spends his free time with his girls, writing and playing music, reading books, playing and watching sports, and living life. To contact Ryan, email firstname.lastname@example.org.