Archives For 2013

10 Great Reads Encountered in 2013

Chris —  December 26, 2013

Here are ten books I’m glad I encountered in 2013.

Daring Greatly
Brene Brown‘s “data with a soul” may be the most important book you read for awhile. She lays out issues of shame and authenticity in a way that make you feel known. You will be a better human if you read this book.




Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier
David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw

Ecclesia Network friends Fitch and Holsclaw’s pitch for missional neo-Anabaptism. It’s important.




Faiths in Conflict?
Vinoth Ramachandra

One of the best books I read in MAGL. Comparative religions written by a Christian from Sri Lanka.




The Social Animal
David Brooks

David Brooks parable using brain science, behavioral economics and even a pitch for neo-federalism. You might not buy his politics, but he is a model thinker.




Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts
Ian Chron

Don’t let the ridiculous title fool you. It’s a story about the adventures of life, addiction and where the divine fit in.




Snow Crash
Neak Stephenson

The Matrix meets Raiders of the Lost Ark. Do not read if you are a charismatic Christian with thin skin.




The Power of Habit
Charles Duhigg

How habits work. Read if you want to be a better human. Read especially if any part of your life contains the word “discipleship.”




What We Talk About When We Talk About God
Rob Bell

God is: With us—For us—Ahead of us.
Nothing fans haven’t heard Rob say before, but written for a different audience. The Love Wins fiasco has forced Rob to find a new audience outside the evangelical world. This is a pretty good pitch.




Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

An introduction to Attachment theory. Great reading if you’re asking “why am I still single.”




Bill WillIngham

Grimms fairy tales meets Friends. So much fun.




In Austin, Fall is as subtle as flipping a switch. One day you hate you’re life and wonder why you live in an oven. The next, you want to put on a scarf and walk around Town Lake.

Fall also brings a twinge of guilt. With the end of the year approaching, I can’t help but think about how my New Years Goals have panned out.

Back in January, I publically stated four goals:

  • Become a Morning Person
  • Create a Regular Devotional Pattern
  • Write 200 Words a Day
  • Read 40 Books.

Fast forward ten months. I’m still not a morning person, although I’ve had some great mornings. I have done a lot of writing. I’ve had some great devotional times. I’m around 30 books right now, so it is still possible.


Why have I not succeeded at my New Years Goals?

1. I didn’t have the structures needed to pull them off. Continue Reading…

For the last three years, I’ve spent time in January creating a reading plan.  The list guides both my fun reading and on going education for the year.  It’s time to create your own, and here’s why:

1.  If you don’t make a plan, you won’t do it.

There are two conspirators keeping you from reading.  The first is that you don’t have to do it.  Unless you are in school, no one is going to make you do it.  The second reason is that life is just too full of easier, more passive activities.  Reading, even the most mindless fiction requires more work than watching television or surfing the web.  Making a reading plan is like a morning runner laying out their clothes the night before: because you’ve put the effort in beforehand, you are more likely to carry through when the time comes. Continue Reading…

The Mountain Goats provide the anthem for 2013.

Thanks to Trevor McCurry for introducing me.

I love New Years resolutions. I love the idea that if I just decide and try hard enough I can change.  But for the most part resolutions don’t last.  Goals are better, but they’re easier to make than they are to stick to.  That’s why I am trying this year to focus more on building habits.

Habits I Hope to Master in 2013

  • Become a Morning Person
    I hate that this is a goal, but I think it needs to happen.  There’s just too much I want to do, between church, work, grad school, and oh yeah, the whole hopes and dreams thing.  My hope is to create a habit of regularly waking up in the morning, and I’m using the carrot of fancy coffee when I actually pull it off.
  • Create a Regular Devotional Pattern
    My devotional life has always been haphazard.  The key I am using this year is to have a specific pattern and stick to it.  For now, that means reading a few chapters in the scriptures every morning
    and responding in my prayer journal.  I’m also using a few of the classic devotionals to mix it up.
  • Write 200 Words a Day
    If I could be really good at one thing, and then use my superpower for good, it would be writing.  I’ve always been one to write and reflect, but as Ira says, I have more taste than talent. My goal this year isn’t necessarily to post daily wisdom on the blog or get a book published, but simply force myself to write every day.  Anything under 200 words doesn’t count.

The question is, how do you build a habit?  Well that’s something I’m trying to learn.  I’ve been inspired Charles’ Duhigg’s exploration in The Power of Habitthat habits come from the combination of cues, rewards and routines. I’m using tools like the Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret and I’m even considering paying my enemies if I break a habit.

What methods have you found help with building habits?