Thriving At College

With student debt at an all-time high (over one trillion dollars in the USA), and one out of two new graduates unemployed or underemployed, it’s imperative that we equip our young people to launch successfully into their adult years.  About 70% of this year’s graduating seniors will pursue college this Fall, but past data suggests that approximately 30% of them will not successfully advance to their second year.

My friend Alex Chediak has written a wonderful book entitled Thriving At College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready For the Real World!

Alex has received several degrees from various institutions, and is a college professor – he knows college! More importantly, Alex is a thoughtful, godly brother in Christ and is concerned for the souls of young people. I give Thriving at College to students at Ephesus Church, and recommend every pastor consider doing the same. I will post a review of Thriving at College soon. In the mean time, check out these links:

1. Thriving at College was highlighted on two episodes of Focus on the Family, and the audio messages are available (episode one, episode two).

2. A short parent-child discussion guide is available as a free PDF download to help parents start talking to their kids about going to college.

3. This 800 word guest post at the Desiring God blog unpacks several principles on how to thrive at college.

4. Thriving at College is currently selling for only $7.99 (47% off), and $7.00/copy (for two copies or more), with free shipping on orders over $49.  (Offer good until June 8.)

A Rare MUST READ Book

There are very few books that I think a Christian MUST read, and maybe I’ll soon post a list of what I think those books are. But one I want to point out that has quickly moved toward the top of the list is called Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul by Octavius Winslow. If you are prone to backsliding (youare human, aren’t you?!) and discouragement in the Christian walk, get this book and read it every year. Devour it. Think on it. Memorize statements from it. Write down quotes and put them in places where you will read them regularly… it’s that important!

You can get it for $0.99 for Kindle! Go get it… right now!

No seriously, click here and buy it.

Women and Theologically Weighty Reading

I have always had a goal of encouraging Christians to read substantive Christian books. As was mentioned in a previous blog post, reading fiction and/or non-Christian books isn’t wrong (and most certainly can have value), but Christian people are only hurting themselves when they do not pick up and read good Christian works. The Lord has blessed His people with many generations of theological gold, and it would be a shame to ignore it. Many wise Christian men and women have penned some excellent words to help us know and love God more. Let us not neglect this kind of reading!

I found Reinke’s quote about reading theological weighty books among women to be interesting. I think the challenge/encouragement to women he offers through a quote by Elyse Fitzpatrick is fitting and helpful:

Theologically weighty books about Christ are essential for the soul—for men and women. And although women purchase the majority of books released by Christian publishers, women are far less likely to read theological books, writes counselor and author Elyse Fitzpatrick. In her 2003 evaluation of the Christian publishing industry, she writes, “Many women are intimidated by the thought of studying something that is ‘theological’ in nature. They are afraid of being bored, looking foolish, becoming unattractive to men, or becoming divisive.” And she confronts women who would rather read only novels as a way to escape personal disappointments, and who read these books to “build fantasy castles filled with knights on white steeds who will come to rescue her from her mundane, stressful, empty, or disappointing life.” Rather, she offers this challenge: “Let’s become known as a generation of women who delight in, tremble before, receive counsel from, drink, devour, digest, muse upon, and absolutely cherish God and the truth that He’s revealed about Himself and about ourselves. Let’s not worry about whether we look dumb or too smart.”

Reinke, Tony. Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books. (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2011). Kindle Edition, 96-7.

Devotional Reading

Second only to Bible reading plans at the beginning of each year, I am asked about devotionals that can be read in conjunction with the Scriptures. Devotionals are very helpful, and give us good things to think on throughout each day in addition to the Scripture we’ve read. Admittedly, many devotionals are shallow at best, but there are some that I have found to be helpful, meaty, and worth my reading time.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn ($8.66, Kindle Edition $7.99)

While not necessarily written as a devotional, I have read Note to Self as a devotional and found it to be full of good thoughts to ponder throughout the day in small chunks. In other words, I would typically read a shorter book like this one in a sitting or two – this book is better consumed a chapter per day. And they are only a few pages each, making this an excellent choice for devotional reading.

Morning Thoughts and Evening Thoughts by Octavius Winslow (Kindle Only, $0.99 each)

Winslow was a very well known reformed pastor in the 1800s. His writings are deeply devotional and have proven to be a wonderful balm to my soul on countless occasions. At 99 cents each, these morning and evening thoughts are hard to beat!

Morning and Evening by C.H. Spurgeon ($12.17, Kindle Edition, $0.95)

Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening is a classic devotional read. As with all of Spurgeon’s works, it is highly readable and enjoyable, just as much today as it was in the 1800s. This is also available free online.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin ($26.28, Kindle Edition $0.99 or Free for download)

Two years ago I followed a daily reading schedule to get through Calvin’s Institutes. It was highly rewarding, and I think something every Christian should do at some point. Many people talk about Calvinism or claim to have an understanding of what Calvin taught without ever actually reading him. Here’s a great way to get through his magnum opus in one year.

Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul Tripp ($10.28, Kindle Edition $7.69)

Tripp wrote 52 short chapters, mainly working through Psalm 51, to address our sin and God’s mercy. Whiter Than Snow is a very rewarding read, and each chapter comes in at 3 pages or less, making it perfect for a devotional.

Tabletalk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries (1 Year subscription, $23)

Ligonier Ministries has published Tabletalk Magazine for many years, and has proven to be an excellent daily devotional for Christians. Tabletalk provides 5, 1-page readings for each week, and lengthy articles on a specific monthly topic to read on the weekends. It is well worth the subscription price.

Operation World by Jason Mandryk ($14.86, also available on the book table at Ephesus Church)

I’ve said many times, I believe Operation World should be in every Christian home. While this isn’t devotional reading, it is the most helpful guide available to walk Christians through praying for every country in the world every year. We have a mandate to pray for the nations and to do all that we can to see the advance of the gospel to the nations. Operation World will be very helpful to you and your family to accomplish that great task.

What devotional would you recommend? Leave your comments below!