Every year I aim to read a certain amount of books. I do this for two reasons:
Coming out of 2016, a year in which I read 67 books, I decided to slow down my reading pace in order to "chew" on content instead of quickly processing it--thanks for the challenge, David Mikics! With that in mind, I aimed to read 50 books by the end of 2017. As of December 28th, I am three books short of my goal. Here is a list of the books I have read thus far:
Update on 12/30/2017: I was reminded that I read two books I forgot to enter into Goodreads. This brings my total books read for the year to 49.
Here are my top 10 posts from 2017:
Not all of the books listed below were released in 2017. For further recommendations, take a look at the list of books I read in 2017.
10. Becoming A Pastor Theologian (Wilson, Hiestand)
9. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (Reinke)
8. How Does Sanctification Work? (Powlison)
7. Humble Roots (Anderson)
6. Practicing Affirmation (Crabtree)
5. Devoted to God (Ferguson)
4. Reset (Murray)
3. Leading Yourself First (Kethledge, Erwin)
2. The Imperfect Pastor (Eswine)
1. The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (Calhoun)
I was recently teaching at my church on Psalm 131 (currently my favorite of all the Psalter), and I shared seven ways to kill pride every day. This list is from C.J. Mahaney's little book, Humility. I have personally benefitted from looking over this list every morning before I start my day. You can see the entire list below or you can download it here.
1. Begin the day acknowledging your dependence upon God and your confidence in God.
2. At the outset of each day express specific gratefulness to God.
3. Practice the Spiritual Disciplines.
4. Seize Your Daily Commute as an Opportunity to Meditate on Scripture.
5. Throughout Each Day Cast Your Cares Upon Him.
6. At the End of the Day Transfer the Glory to God.
7. Before Falling Asleep Acknowledge the Purpose of Sleep.
Silence is hard. It's an art form, a discipline, a science of sorts. Most importantly, silence is needed.
What's odd, however, is how our culture caters to noise. It's all around us. Cell phones. Music. Movies. Podcasts. And that is just audible noise. There is noise all around us that we can't even hear, yet it crowds our minds and causes our hearts to feel like a neglected junk drawer. Noise like social media, the internet, magazines, and advertisements. While none of this "noise" is terrible in and of itself, it does cause what I call soul clutter.
Soul clutter is the absorption of noise to the neglect of silence. When we take in so much noise at the neglect of silence, our souls begin to feel like a messy desk—unorganized and scattered. I'm no stranger to this illustration. I find that when my desk is clear and in order, I'm able to concentrate on the tasks in front of me with higher intensity and focus. However, when my desk is messy, I have a hard time thinking, working and even concentrating. The same is true for our souls. When our souls fill up with noise and distraction, we feel hurried, anxious, and frantic. In other words, we experience soul clutter.
How are we to clean out the junk drawer of our hearts? How can we organize our messy souls? Through silence.
Silence slays soul clutter as nothing else can. Silence is a meeting between you and your own heart before God. As we embrace this meeting, God works wondrously to clear away the noise from our bombarded souls and instead fills our souls with His joy and peace as we gaze into His glory. Adele Calhoun sees the need for this silence before God when she writes,
"We need to realize that the world can go on without us for an hour or a day or even longer. We don't need to respond to every word and request that comes our way. The discipline of silence invites us to leave behind the competing demands of our outer world for time alone with Jesus. Silence offers a way of paying attention to the Spirit of God and what he brings to the surface of our souls."
Therefore, I am planning to take the whole month of December and purposefully shut down the noise of social media. While I love social media and don't feel dominated by it, I have a renewed desire to embrace the gift of silence to declutter my soul. I plan on continuing to write on this site which will automatically post new blog posts on all my social media outlets (so don't worry, I won't be cheating!). I will also still be sending out an email every week with my most recent posts.
Silence is a gift God gives us to see our hearts before Him—will you accept it?