Why I Read [actual] Books

I didn’t grow up a reader. Surfer magazine was the only written word worth while (I promise, it wasn’t just the pictures…). I didn’t pick up a book for fun until I was nineteen. You’d think I’d be thrilled to be alive in a time where most people communicate with encrypted text messages, emoticons, 140 character tweets and youtube clips.

In many ways I love the tools at our finger tips. Other times I find myself wishing I lived during grandma and grandpa’s day when you needed pen and paper to record your thoughts and a bookstore to get a book.

No one ever walks into an Apple Store, picks up an iPad and says, “I love the way this thing smells.” And you don’t sit in front of your computer screen thinking, “It just feels so great in my hands.” I don’t have the best sense of smell, but I love the smell of old books. And my posture would be much better if I didn’t sit in front of a computer most of the day.

Contrary to what many in my parent’s generation think, the developed world isn’t digressing into an illiterate age. Instead, the definition of literate has changed. My good friend Jondou suggests that proper English has changed as well…Language evolves, but that’s a post for another day, possibly a discussion for our new blog). To quote Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message. We can’t ignore today’s media or the way in which it has changed our language.

But books, those things made out of paper and comprised of complete sentences, bring us back to the basics of language. If we never learn the basics, today’s valuable tools will lead us down a path of frustration into a world of dull dreams and incomplete thought.

The last year I’ve read a lot of what Michael Hyatt has been writing. I’d recommend his stuff to anyone. As a the former CEO of Thomas Nelson, he get’s the whole book thing. He writes,

Contrary to what is often reported in the mainstream media, books are not dead. They are still valuable today. But we must contend for their existence against all other forms of media. Books do for people what movies, television, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and social media will never do—fundamentally alter their worldview and inspire them to greatness.

We need to allow books to inspire us and alter our worldview. Sometimes I read for an escape. Others,  I read to be challenged. Simply put, I can’t afford to stop. None of us can. But too many of us have. This year I’ve been doing something I haven’t done since high school; I’m keeping a reading log/journal.

Why do you read? And what are you reading?

Birthday Reflection: 31 (2012)

Last Friday I turned 31. I spent some of the day reflecting on where I had been in the last year and where Hailey and I seem to be going in the not-so-distant future. When I turned 30 I wrote this and gave myself six goals to accomplish by the time I turn 35.

One year down, four to go. Let’s see how I’m doing.

  1. Become a Father—Check. In two months my daughter should take her first breath. Hailey has been a champ during pregnancy. It’s kinda funny how people keep reminding us that we are in for a big change. And it’s not so much the words spoken that make me laugh, but the tone that is used (like Hailey hasn’t been slowly growing a person inside her for the last 7+ months, but all of a sudden has a belly that hiccups, punches and kicks). It’s as if we haven’t been thinking, planning, praying and hoping for this for years. We know it will be different. We know we won’t sleep. The new normal is coming fast and I’m terrified. Terrified and excited all at the same time.
  2. Get back to (and maintain) a healthy weight—Still have work to do. Last year I wrote, “I’ve been told that a healthy weight is within 5-10 lbs of what you weighed when you graduated high school-I need to drop 20 lbs.” I came back from Malawi as heavy as I had been in a long time, started riding and going to the gym routinely, and dropped 10 lbs pretty quick. I still sit 20 lbs heavier than what I weighed 13 years ago.
  3. Publish a Book—Ha, had a lot of thoughts but WAY LESS time to write than I did last year. Still a goal, but seems as far fetched as #6 below.
  4. Go to a game at Wrigley Field—Check (well, almost). My pops and I are heading out to the mid-west next weekend. The Padres are in town the same weekend as the Indy 500.
  5. Go to the Indy 500 with my dad—Check (almost again). See above. Dad’s turning 60 in
    birthday bike ride

    June this year. Having a bit of an eary celebration by returning to his roots.

  6. Cycle across a country—hahahahahaha. Still a dream. First I’ll have to get to the point
    where I’m riding multiple times a week again. Baby steps, right? In fact, looking at these goals has convinced me it’s time for a birthday ride…

Three out of six in just over a year isn’t bad, but I’ve got a ton of work to do (on top of being a pastor, learning to be a dad, etc…it should be easy right?).

 

You Lack Discipline!

Kindergarten Cop, "You Lack Discipline!"

Twenty-ten is gone, Twenty-eleven is here.

It’s time to make the annual decision to lose ten pounds, stop smoking or finally finish that project around the house that was started three years ago. Our promises to ourselves don’t seem as hollow when surrounded by the oozing optimism of a new year.

We wait two or three weeks—till we’ve slept through the morning alarm for the gym or worked later than we said we would because the boss has one more thing that can only be done by you—to realize New Years Resolutions are a farce.

Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I am only really talking about my failed attempts at following through with Dave Rohde’s (fill in the year) life improvement plan. But something tells me I’m not—go look in the windows of your nearest 24 Hour Fitness today and then go back and do the same in a month…

But does the failure of the multitudes mean personal goals should not be set at all? Does it mean we shouldn’t make attempts to better our lives through a new commitment to X,Y or Z? No. Not at all. We just need to learn to actually commit ourselves to a change.

As I write, I can’t help but think of the now former California Governor’s famous quote from his more successful career, YOU LACK DISCIPLINE! Every time I fail to follow through with a new year’s resolution I look over on my shoulder to see a mini-version of Detective John Kimble screaming at me.

I lack discipline. There are many things I’d love to accomplish in 2011, but to get them done I have to learn to live differently.

So my resolution is simple in theory but difficult in practice: Live a more disciplined life. Hailey and I agreed that every night before preparing dinner we will ask each other if we have “done our twenty minutes.” At least 20 minutes of exercise and 20 minutes of Scripture study/prayer (sermon prep & curriculum planning don’t count). If not, we can’t eat dinner till each of us have met our daily goal. We figure if we can’t be disciplined with forty minutes of our day there is something seriously wrong.

My New Year’s Resolution is to make a daily decision to be disciplined, what is yours?