Personal thoughts and how I am preparing for the year.
Each January I take an intentional break from social media and most videos, games, and what I consider general distractions. During one month I do my best to focus on learning and planning. Each year this effort looks a bit different depending on where I am in life. I find this very helpful and I believe it has a significant impact on the whole year.
Eventually I hope to post more on this and more detailed thoughts on each resource and the insights I gained. For now I will only make a list with a brief description next to each item.
(the links are there simply to help you in case you are interested, I do not benefit in any way if you click or purchase any of these items)
Back in 2016 I finally received my copy of Bibliotheca. I had supported the original kickstarter campaign (so I paid a lot less than what it costs now) and expected it to arrive back in 2014 but long story short I am doing my personal devotional Bible reading from it this year whenever I am home. When I am away I read from the Andrews Study Bible which is my go to Bible on most occasions.
The reason why I am doing my devotional reading from the Bibliotheca is because it does not have chapter and verse numbers and I find that it offers me a different reading experience.
Supplemental Devotional Reading
As a Seventh-day Adventist I have been really blessed by the writings of Ellen G. White. I ended last year and began this year reading from the first six chapters of her inspirational classic Christ’s Object Lessons. I am reading from the version printed by the Andrews University Press and I was only able to find one copy available at Amazon. The content is the same, I just prefer that version because I like the design of the physical book. In case you want to search for it you can look it up by its ISBN 978-1-883925-99-4. A free PDF version is available here.
Those first six chapters renewed in my mind the importance of the word of God and strengthened my decision to make personal Bible study a top priority in this new year.
Currently I am reading Steps to Christ, one of my favorite books by Ellen White. I try to read it every year because I believe it reminds me of the basics and the beauty of the gospel. I have usually read from a paperback but this year I am reading from the bonded leather version. Once again, the content is the same. I received this copy as an ordination gift and I am enjoying going through and seeing what I highlighted the first time I read it and highlighting new portions this time around.
I am also reading books that offer a different perspective and cause me to think more deeply about things. One such book is God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, by Abraham Heschel. I bought a used copy and I have been reading this painfully slowly for months now. This book is not a top priority, so I don’t get to it often, but it is so thought provoking. I love the way the author writes and thinks and I am enjoying this book. I like to read books that challenge me to think more deeply and to look at things from a different perspective.
On a similar note I recently read a fascinating article from Liberty Magazine entitled “After Liberalism.” While reading the article I realized how little I know about philosophy, but I was still able to grasp the key idea of the article. I enjoyed it because it exposed me to a world I am not often exposed to (as a church pastor in south Georgia, USA) but one that many inhabit. I am grateful for that exposure and the thoughts it provoked.
I have mostly taken a break from podcasts because I have been focusing more on audiobooks this month but I listened to one episode recently that I found very insightful. Now I feel like I need to mention this, this is not a Christian podcast, the host does curse a a few times. I do believe that the principles of essentialism, discussed in this episode, are worth pondering and that establishing clear priorities have a huge impact on what we accomplish in our lifetime. The podcast episode and several show notes are available here.
I have not read the book Essentialism, but I found this video very helpful.
One thing I am doing differently this January is that I am investing more in audiobooks.
I recently finished listening to Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. I am strongly considering buying the printed book and going over it with some of my local leaders. Once again, this is not a Christian book and does contain some language I would not use. But the leadership principles Brene Brown, describes seem very powerful and I will be implementing several this year with my local leaders.
An audiobook I am currently listening to is Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich. This book has been amazing so far and I look forward to finishing it. There is so much to be learned not only about the life of Bonhoeffer but about history and theology as well. I am thoroughly enjoying this book.
This was quite different from what I usually post, so I would love to hear from you if you found this helpful at all. Would you be interested in more updates of this kind? Would you like a longer description of the insights I have gleaned from each of those sources? Let me know.