Some people have labeled me a resource guy. I don’t know about all that. I do know that I like great sources of information that help me grow personally and as a professional. Over the years I have found particular voices that I trust on particular topics. Some I trust on limited topics, however the topics I do trust from them are some of the best I’ve ever accessed. I thought you might be interested in what I am reading, listening to and watching these days, with a bit of a synopsis. I hope this gives you a shorter route to “the good stuff.”
Below are the books I’ve been reading in various categories. Note that many experts in various fields are people that I do know their systems of belief. Others I’m not even sure they would identify as a Christian. For those who do identify as Christians, some are not committed to Scripture inerrancy or authority. I’m not sure that a Biblical Christian can adopt such views, but I still take the therapeutic, or scientific good they bring and pray they will one day believe the Bible is absolute truth. For some theologians and apologists who are inerrantists, I assume that I will disagree with many of these authors on other issues in Biblical interpretation (it might be better said they might disagree with my position). However, the books below on the topics they cover have been helpful and a part of my continued growth.
THEOLOGY / PHILOSOPHY
The Soul: How We Know It’s Real and Why It Matters (JP Moreland)
JP Moreland is one of the Top 50 Influential Living Philosophers of our day. He is a theologian and apologist also. He is the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot, Biola University. JP was our guest on Red Ink Revival’s podcast and shares a growing friendship with me. His book on The Soul is his philosophical argument for what a soul is and how it is outside the body. Today, many people limit all human experiences to brain function. When a Christian feels the presence of God, or experiences something miraculous, many secularists will say that it is brain happenings only. JP argues that the soul can be logically proven to be immaterial, therefore there are legitimate experiences that the brain registers that originate outside the brain. He even shares how the brain doesn’t originate memories, but memories come from the soul. It is a thoughtful and brilliant thought. He does say that human experiences, while in the body, must utilize the brain; however, they are transcendent experiences that are a part of the soul. I love me some JP!!
World Gone Crazy: Developing Discernment for These Last Days (Rick Renner)
Rick is an American Greek Scholar, and pastor of series of campuses in Russia. His books on Sparkling Gems, which are short Greek word studies from a variety of Bible texts, are favorites of mine. World Gone Crazy address the state of our world, the culture, secularism, and trends of deconstruction of faith and acceptance of immorality. It is a provocative look at the philosophical chaos that we are witnessing in the world. He takes us through a journey of Scripture highlighting the “last days” prophecies. From seducing spirits, to falling away, to people being hardened with hate – these last days prophecies are unfolding before our eyes. I encourage pastors and leaders to become established in these truths as the future of the world will face a growing anti-revival of all we have known and cherished. Red Ink Revival is about the emotional wholeness that leaders must manage while such uncontrolled confusion sweeps the world.
Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe (Voddie Baucham)
Voddie is the Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. His background in apologetics has been energized as he has watched the unraveling of our culture. Today, culture is promoting Critical Theory, a Marxist-inspired movement in social and political philosophy. It is the undergirding of versions of “marginalized identities” and applied in race theory, gender theory, sexuality theory, and more. Voddie opens our eyes to many of the deceptive nuances that Critical Theory has groomed generations of our kid’s schools to seminaries to mainstream media promoting ideas of socialism, defunding authorities, and “social justice” as the standard to achieve. The principles and tenets of Critical Theory are in direct opposition to the Gospel. Voddie does a brilliant job of highlighting the threat that Critical Theory is to our American Culture, and the evangelical church in particular. Even if you are skeptical that this is another “right wing” conspiracy book, you will be better to have read it to understand where many of us (me included) are thinking, believing and guarding against. I think every Christian, and for sure Christian leader, should read books like Voddie’s Fault Lines.
PSYCHOLOGICAL / THERAPEUTIC / NEUROSCIENTIFIC
Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace (JP Moreland)
JP (more about him above in the book, The Soul) in his mid-fifties began to experience severe panic attacks, debilitating chronic anxiety and depression. Today, JP is 73. At around 55 he had debated on major stages, been an accomplished voice for theology and philosophy, and had spoken hundreds and hundreds of times to public audiences. Somehow, out of nowhere, he was so severely impacted that he had to step away from all professional duties. His first bout lasted for several months. Through medication, counseling and group therapy he became stabilized and felt much more normal. About 10 years later it surged back into his life. In prayer, God told him he was going to use JP’s research skills to position him through this season of anxiety and healing to understand the roots, the psychology and neurobiology of why people suffer. JP began immediately searching books, interviewing experts and reading research papers until he became completely whole again. Today, in his book Finding Quiet, he shares his findings and his practical exercises – research and clinically based, as well as theologically sound – to return people who suffer to health. Many of the experts he cites are people I have studied as well. That was refreshing to know JP was finding the right experts, which lended all the rest of his research to be of the highest credibility also. JP’s treatment – theologically and neurobiologically - of things like self-compassion, the necessary use of the sciences, and his exercises are some of the best I’ve found in books.
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind (Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson)
Daniel Siegal is a brilliant neuroscientist who is known as a leading expert in relationship attachment theory, the brain’s circuitry patterns for how humans learn to bond to other humans. The co-author, Tina Payne Bryson, shared a mentoring group of 12+ people that I was a part of. She is a leading expert in child development and parenting practices, basing her findings on clinical and scientific research. I always love reading after and listening to child development psychologists as they are uniquely able to make the concepts accessible to parents and children. To me, this book is a golden standard that should be in every parents required reading list. If a couple want to have a child, the first order of business should be to read this book. My wife and I have two adult sons that we are over-the-moon proud of. We were taught to force compliance, focus on behavior and from that perspective change the heart. Today, I have very strong convictions that behavior begins in the heart. When the heart is met with appropriate empathy, nurture and protection behavior becomes so much easier to steer. Boundaries and discipline are very important, but not all variations or applications are the same. The Whole-Brain Child does a masterful job of pulling these ideas apart. Tina Payne Bryson has been a guest on the Red Ink Revival Leadership Podcast, Episode 69. She is a hoot too.
Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief (Claire Bidwell Smith)
Claire Bidwell Smith is considered a leading expert in areas of grief processing. Our brains are predisposed to protest grief. The reason? Because grief feels to our brain like we are out of control. The unpredictability of this experience puts the brain in threat awareness. An example of this is when we are surprise by a crying episode, we tend to pull ourselves together and apologize. Anyone sitting by knows that the cry is a non-offence. The cry is the release of energy from a grief, sorrow or loss experience. Yet the one crying feels so uncomfortably vulnerable. Most of us take off in one of two directions when grief shows up. We speed up our minds, lives and activities to avoid it. Or we shove it down to repress it as long as possible. The important thing to know about grief is that it has to be turn toward and experienced to be processed through. Claire gives background of the brain, its functions and how we can take the brain through specific kinds of exercises that help us turn toward the grief for healthy processing. Keep in mind that grief experiencing is not limited to the passing of a loved one. Grief is profoundly present when dreams are lost, when opportunities are taken or when expectations are disappointed. All leaders are dreamers. Dreamers often feel their dreams are being disrupted, falling short or completely unavailable now. Some dreams are relationships desired for the span of a lifetime, but then they leave or betray. Some dreams are goal oriented, to accomplish certain things in a time frame. Some dreams contingent on the organizational flow coming together, yet sometimes the flow is complicated and hindered. If a leader doesn’t learn to process grief, they will feel surges of energy compelling them to say, do and medicate in ways that are incongruent with their values. To be a great leader requires that we be great grief processors. Red Ink Revival Podcast episodes 33, 37 and 38 with Dr. Todd Bowman go through the nuances of grief also.
VIDEOS / PODCASTS
One of my favorite things to do is to watch videos while I’m multitasking. I also love working out to podcasts that expand my thinking. Below are some videos and podcasts that I have greatly enjoyed.
THEOLOGY / PHILOSOPHY
If God, Why Evil (Dr. Norman Geisler)
Dr. Geisler is one of my favorite theologian, philosophers and apologists. His treatment of the topic of Why Evil is the most structured and easily understood that I have heard. I have ripped it off and taught it as my own (LOL). He has passed to his eternal reward as of a few years ago. His book called “Chosen, But Free” is one of my favorites, opposing the Calvinist view of salvation. I have used the principles in it for years to argue against practical arbitrary sovereignty, the belief that God is controlling everything that happens. When good happens the credit goes to God. For many, when bad happens, we change our etymological definitions and call “bad” “good”, giving God credit for His good, mysterious wisdom. My theological constructs are that Redemption (the Gospel) concretely establishes God’s will. Many things then happen outside of God’s will. God will ultimately get what his will wants; however He is not controlling everything incrementally to get to that end. To do so would require a violation of free will, or a violation of God’s own good character. This video above is a great one to understand evil. Dr. Geisler is a cessationist, believing that the Holy Spirit miracle giftings past away when the apostles died. I am a contiuationist, believing that these gifts are available and active today. Dr. Geisler probably doesn’t believe universal physical healing is a part of the atoning work of Christ. I do. And this position of atonement is foundational to my systematic interpretation of Scripture. Yet, so much depth of understanding along my journey has been dug for me by Dr. Geisler.
Was The Trinity Made Up By the Council of Nicea (Dr. Michael S. Heiser)
Dr. Hesier is a provocative Old Testament scholar, regarded as a credible expert by many of the experts I follow and trust. However, Dr. Heiser’s positions on angels, demons, the Satan, the Nephilim, the Old Testament “sons of God”, the divine council of the Old Testament, and the like… well I’m still trying to figure out what I think about it. He has very provocative perspectives. I have no reason to not believe it necessarily. I have just never heard anything like it before. It seems that other experts see it as newer information as well, but they seem to confirm that Old Testament scholars have known these perspectives for generations; it just never trickled into the lessor scholarship circles. His book the Unseen Realm is a wild ride, a bit hard to read due to the new organization and definitions of ideas. I think Unseen Realm and his videos are a necessary read/watch for people wanting to understand the Old and New Testaments better. I had many takeaways. Dr. Heiser is a non-charismatic, and on those views, I have interpretation differences that I can affirm. He is also not a classical Calvinist, which is fun for me to know. I watch him on various topics on his channel and have definitely benefited from his scholarship and perspectives.
PSYCHOLOGICAL / THERAPEUTIC / NEUROSCIENTIFIC
Dr. Andrew Huberman – Neuroscientist https://www.youtube.com/c/AndrewHubermanLab/videos
Dr. Andrew Huberman is a tenured Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. His laboratory studies neural regeneration, neuroplasticity, and brain states such as stress, focus, fear and optimal performance. His channel (above) is one of my favorites. I regularly listen to his Youtube presentation lectures and have been immeasurably helped by his insights. I often quote his work related to victimhood to empowerment circuits. His work with special military forces and studies of their endurance in suffering is really fun to experience. I also listen for the experts he listens to and respects. I follow their channels too. Dr. Huberman’s podcast channel is https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/huberman-lab/id1545953110 .
Dr. Jeffrey Swartz
Dr. Jeffrey Swartz is a friend of theologian and philosopher, JP Moreland. JP reports that Jeffrey was an atheist for many years but came to understand the logical evidence of God, and thereby has had a transformational experience with Christ. I search for interviews that Jeffrey has been the guest of. He is one of the world’s leading experts in neuroscience and neuroplasticity. He is considered a premier researcher on obsessive-compulsive disorder, and has written on the topic in the book “Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior.” He has also co-written a book for organizational leaders that I have found provocative and very interesting called “The Wise Advocate: The Inner Voice of Strategic Leadership.” His four step process to change your brain chemistry was a primary principle JP Moreland used to recovery from his chronic anxiety and depression.
I hope you enjoy my list of tool-resources from my toolbox. Of course, I listen to a plethora of others that many of you would expect: Apologists Sean McDowell, Apologist Frank Turek, Theologian Frank Turek, Pastor Chris Hodges, Pastor Craig Groeschel, Pastor Andy Stanley, Pastor Steven Furtick, Pastor Keith Moore, Pastor Robert Morris, Kenneth Hagin Sr., Andrew Wommack, etc. Really there are too many to mention. They all provide me with unique “vitamins and minerals” that satisfy my heart and soul.
Till next time, may your life be inked red!