Monday, December 22, 2014

Year End Book Review 2014

So it has been a really long time since I have blogged.  Being a father and a husband takes a lot of time away from sharing tales of adventure from the life of the Baareman's and believe there have been plenty.  It's just hard to keep up.  But the one post I usually have time for, and this year is no different is my year end book review.  This post started out of challenge from my bride to make a new years resolution.  I never used to make them, but several years ago I decided that I would read at least 5 books every year.  I am happy to say that I have met that goal every year since I started.  And in fact, this year I exceeded the goal and made it to 7 books thanks to not having cable.  No, Laura, I will not bump the number of books per year.  But anyway, this year was a fantastic year of reading.  I read some great books ever and many have them have greatly impacted my life and my walk with God.  So I hope you enjoy my synopsis and I hope that you pick one of these books up to read.

Coffee with Calvin - While this book is actually more of a daily devotional I am counting it.  I read this for the first few months of the start of this year, nearly daily as part of my time with God.  I really enjoyed the devotionals.  The author takes different excerpts from John Calvin's theological institutes (which he wrote at the ripe old age of 27), unpacks them briefly and then provides biblical back up and life application.  So it's kind of an easy way to see how depth of theology can have a tremendous impact on not only what we believe but how we live our lives for Christ and how we interact with others around us.  I thought this book was great and it was especially cool to read the thoughts of one of the great reformer's of the faith.  Pick it up and add it to your daily devotions.  You won't be disappointed.

The Autobiography of George Muller - The story and journaling of this man's life was simply incredible.  This book has had the greatest impact on my life as a follower of Christ than any other I have ever read sans the Bible.  George Muller grew up in Prussia and eventually became a missionary/Pastor to England in the mid to late 1800's.  From the outset he believed that he had a special call on his life to demonstrate the goodness and reliability of our God through constant prayer.  After pastoring for awhile, he was moved to build an orphanage in England.  Not only moved to start on but also to not ask for a single penny.  He would fund everything solely through prayer.  It was incredible to read sections of his daily journal at the timely answers of our God to there needs for His glory.  George writes this almost as a letter to future believers and throughout the book offers many points of challenge and advice as we strive for Christ.  He also provides sharp commentary to stewardship which will be sure to make you think.  The  tow big take aways of many from this man's life is that he was an ordinary man living in Christ and does not want to be elevated as some special saint.  He just implores you to look at the evidence and realize it is the same God and He is faithful.  And two, that you will never ever regret investing in the kingdom of God.  This book is long and at times a bit arduous, but you will never regret reading it.  It should be required reading in Godly homes.  I give this book 5 gajillion stars.

Son of Hamas - So, confession...I didn't actually read this book.  But I did listen to it as a book on tape through Audible.  This was my first book on tape so I got to "read it" on long trips to Atlanta and back.  This book is a little different then some I've read but I enjoyed it none the less.  In fact, this was a fantastic book.  It is the story of man named Mosab Hassan Yousef.  He grew up as a young boy in Palestine as the son of one of the most influential muslim Sheiks and founder of Hamas, Sheik Hassan Yousef.  He describes life growing up in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He recounts times when his father would be detained for months in Israeli prisons and questioned for information regarding terrorism activities.  As Mosab grows older he becomes personally involved in the conflict fighting against Israeli's as apart of Hamas. He is also captured, tortured, but ironically ends up becoming a double agent for the Shinbet, the Israeli CIA.  This book is filled with emotion and action as the author describes from a most unique perspective the history, the daily effect of war,  and the hatred between people in this ongoing conflict that only Christ can heal.  All is not lost though, in the midst of all of the turmoil, Mosab meets some Christians and begins to read the Bible. He finally recants Islam and Mohammed for Jesus and eternal life.  This book is a full display of God's redemptive power through unimaginable circumstances but also provides helpful information in approaching the two people groups in this conflict.  This book is a fascinating, gripping thriller of a book with a powerful message.

The Gospel at Work - This was a much lighter and thinner book then some of the previous reads but a great book none the less.  Co-authored by a pastor and a veteran business man, this book delves into practical ways to approach our work in light of the Gospel.  The authors balance throughout the entirety of the book that one cannot be lazy in work nor can one make work an idol.  The book starts with redefining work in light of Biblical worldview describing that we were made to work and work is a good thing that has been tainted by the fall.  After a proper theological framework the book gets real practical and highlights chapters on being a Godly boss, being a Godly employee, looking at new jobs in light of the Gospel, and ultimately incorporating our faith in the workplace so people see and hear a difference in our attitudes and our conversations.

Weakness is the Way - This is a short but rather deep book written by J.I. Packer.  This was the first book i've read by J.I. (Knowing God is his most famous book but I will get to that back maybe in 2015.)  I really enjoyed it but he is deep thinker and writer, however he does not leave the reader in the dust but provides excellent application.  The book centers around 2 Cor which states "for my grace is sufficient for my power is made perfect in your weakness."  After providing very interesting background into the history and context of Paul's letter to the church at Corinth, he goes on to describe how self preservation and thinking we can do everything in our power has a negative impact not only in our lives as we walk with God but diminishes the power of the Gospel.  He ties this concept to many applicable areas of life including giving and stewardship which I thought was interesting.  A great read and lots of good take aways.  I would highly recommend this book.

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain - This was book is written by Matt Chandler.  It was the first book I've ever read by him and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I have listened to him preach and I know he has ties to The Gospel Coalition so I was familiar with him but had never read any of his books.  This book is centered on Paul's letter - Phillipians.  After providing some interesting history and background from the book of Acts on the church in Phillipi, Mr. Chandler jumps right into his central theme of the book which is holy discontent.  He breaks down many of Paul's statements in the book of Phillipians that apply to several aspects of our life to ultimately help you ask the question is Christ supreme in your life.  Do you have a holy discontent in which you are never satisfied with your walk with God.  Do you want to go deeper with God, serve Him more, even to have the attitude that to die is gain.  I really enjoyed this book.  Matt Chandler is an entertaining writer so it reads easily.  This is a great book to read if you are or are not studying the book of Phillipians.

The Soul Winner - Last but not least.  It wouldn't be a good reading year if I didn't include my boy Mr. C.H Spurgeon.  I love reading Spurgeon whether it be his sermons, his life story or his books.  This was a great book and it is classic Spurgeon.  It is essentially several lectures that he gave to seminary students and young pastors on soul winning and then all compiled together in one book.  So while it is geared toward pastors, there was still much to learn.  I especially appreciated his insights as a Sunday School teacher and a church Deacon.  He takes time to outline essentially how to win souls.  Now before you freak out and say "people don't save people, only God does"  relax.  This is Spurgeon we are talking about.  The whole first chapter is essentially a theological defense that regeneration and salvation are only a work of God and the Holy Spirit.  So in light of that he encourages young pastors and educates seminary students on practical things to assist in soul winning.  Spurgeon talks about our attitudes, do we expect God to save people through our messages to the people or do we have an attitude of indifference?  Are we actively praying for God to save souls?  Is there sin in our life? Are we two prideful?  So he discusses pitfalls and success in doing the work of soul winning.  There are a lot of insights from the prince of preachers and a man of faith who had a passion for people to come to Jesus.  I enjoyed the book but it may not be for everyone.

Well, I hope you pick up some of these this year and read away.  If you want to see past years just click the year: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013  Thanks for stopping by and finding out about some great reads.  What were some of your favorite books that you read this year?

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