Reading List: 2015

As it is obvious I am out of opportunity to add to this list, I am not waiting until the new year to post it. I had set a goal of reading two books a month over the course of 2015, and I exceeded my goal by six books. There were months I was much more motivated than others, but I never fell below two books per month. I am happy with this, though I do not know if I would do it this way again. I’m not sure I need to reach a certain number to consider it a success.

My goal was to read a lot of non-fiction over the past year, and again I succeeded. I had thought it would be mostly spiritual and homeschool books, but a large chunk of history, specifically about trains and the railroad, found their way in. My plan for the coming year is to be more diverse in my reading. I would like to keep a selection of spiritual and homeschool books but add some more fiction, specifically classics. And that is why I’m not sure a strict “two books a month” is doable.

I would like to read War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, and Moby Dick over the next year. I know I cannot read two of them in a month. But, should it take me two or three months to finish one, at least I am steadily working toward a worthy goal. I’m not sure how to track this, though. I don’t want to set an arbitrary number, but I do want to make sure that I am consistently working toward reading these books.

My biggest issue is needing to reclaim my leisure time. I spent too much time watching television this year and I need to get back to my books and my games. When I indulge, I want it to be in activities that actually enrich. This, however, is much easier said than done. It will take a lot of work to change the bad habits I have fallen into over the past couple of years, but I feel up to the task.

Anyway, here is my list with links to the books on Amazon so you can check them out should you want to. These are not necessarily the editions I read. For instance, my copy of The Great and Shining Road was a used library book. And I am including a few brief comments about certain books, both positive and negative:

AHA – Jan
I Am A Church Member – Jan

The Liberal Arts Tradition – Feb (A good primer on Classical education.)
A Grief Observed – Feb

The Constitution Made Easy – March
The Reason for God – March

Consider This – April (A very good book for homeschoolers.)
Mysterious Benedict Society – April (I enjoyed reading this with my son.)

Caught Up in a Story – May
Galatians For You – May (Keller makes things practical and applicable.)

Crimes of the Educators – June (Good info but repetitive in presentation.)
The Well-Trained Mind – June (Not really Classical, but a good practical guide to homeschooling.)

The Colonial Experience 1607-1774 – July (These will be our middle and high school history texts.)
The Sections and the Civil War 1826-1877 – July (These will be our middle and high school history texts.)
The People of God – July

Norms & Nobility – August (The best book on Classical I’ve read.)
How Should We Then Live? – August (Simply amazing.)
The Little Red Book of Wisdom – August

Teaching from Rest – September
The Rector of Justin – September (One of the best fiction books I’ve read.)
The Silkworm – September (Guilty pleasure fluff book)

10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child – October (Very Good.)
Mr. Lincoln’s Army – October

Career of Evil – November (Guilty pleasure fluff book)
Co. Aytch – November (Read with my son for school.)
The Great Railroad Revolution – November
Full Steam Ahead – November (Recommended for any homeschool.)
The Great and Shining Road – November (Great account of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.)

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – December (Recommended.)
A Christmas Carol – December (A classic we now read annually.)

And these are the books I haven tentatively set for 2016:

Awe – Paul David Tripp (I am already reading this.)
Give Them Grace – Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
5000 Year Leap – Cleon Skousen
The Pleasures of God – John Piper (I need to read more Piper.)
Prayer: Asking & Receiving – John R. Rice
Norm & Nobility – David Hicks (I read this every year.)
A Christmas Carol – Dickens
War and Peace – Tolstoy (Maude translation)
The Brothers Karamazov – Dostoevsky (Avesy translation)
Moby Dick – Melville (I’m unsure of the edition. Perhaps this one.)


What did you read this year? Do you have any questions about my list? What do you plan to read next year? Leave the questions and/or answers in the comments.


Joy to the World!

Adoration of the Shepherds by Charles Lebrun, 1689

“I rejoice that we have a Savior who had the goodness to come forth and redeem us and I rejoice that we have a Savior that yet looks forward to the redemption of the world.”

The Gospel of John 1:1-18

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

The Gospel of Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The Gospel of Matthew 1:18 – 2:12

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.


We Have A Savior!

This may be my favorite Christmas song. It spells out the meaning of Christmas so simply, elegantly, and beautifully. We have a Saviour!

A child has been given,
The King of our freedom
Sing for the Light has come
This is Christmas

Come and adore Him
And bring gifts before Him
Joy to the world
Worship the Son
This is Christmas

This is Jesus, Emmanuel
Here with us, tell all the world
We have a Saviour
We have a Saviour

We are no longer lost
‘Cause He has come down for us
We have a Saviour
We have a Saviour

Sing with angels
And lift up your voices
Join in the song of hope
This is Christmas

This is Jesus, Emmanuel
Here with us, tell all the world
We have a Saviour
We have a Saviour

We are no longer lost
‘Cause He has come down for us
We have a Saviour
We have a Saviour

His love will reign forever
His love will reign forever
His love will reign forever

It Is Well With My Soul

I know some people are unhappy with the Gospel being presented at funerals, but the Gospel is why I am able to sing this today. The Gospel is what gives us the hope and grace to carry on during dark times. The Gospel is a promise of forever in the embrace of the Father for those who believe. The Gospel is the acknowledgement that there is so much more than this life, and that death, while mournful, is just a temporary separation for those who dwell in Christ. A funeral is the perfect place for the Gospel.

Romans 8
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“It fits to glorify God — it not only fits reality, because God is infinitely and supremely praiseworthy, but it fits us as nothing else does. All the beauty we have looked for in art or faces or places — and all the love we have looked for in the arms of other people — is only fully present in God himself. And so in every action by which we treat him as glorious as he is, whether through prayer, singing, trusting, obeying, or hoping, we are at once giving God his due and fulfilling our own design.”

– Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering p. 168

The Supremacy of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Col 1:15-20