My Reading List for 2019

1226 to read pile
Click here to see the 204 books I read in 2019. Every year I list my challenge goal on as 111 books because I’m too lazy to determine a more meaningful goal. I usually make it. In 2019 I almost doubled it.

Not all were books. Some short stories (as short as a single page) which I read in order to vote intelligently for the 2019 Hugo Awards. Well, I read what I voted on. I also read at least two works not listed, one of them over 300 pages long. The shorter was “‘No Pagan ever loved his god’: Tolkien, Thompson, and the beautification of the Gods,” by Megan Fontenot, available here. The longer was the unpublisher (yet) The Girl in the Wall by Dr. Helen Foster, which she honored me by requesting to beta read. A great, based-on-real-events story about World War Two spies and … if I tell you more I’ll spoil it. Hopefully, you’ll have the opportunity to read it someday.

This year’s list was swelled by my straight-through reading of Ellis Peter‘s twenty Chronicles of Brother Cadfael. I read history, biography, science fiction and fantasy. I found several good works analyzing the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, each reviewed separately.

I am grateful to live at a time and place where I can read pretty much whatever I want. It wasn’t always so; it may not always be so.

Happy 50th Anniversary

2019 50 anni sm Fifty years ago today–May 30, 1969–Treva L. Parsons and I exchanged wedding vows at Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield, Kansas.

Since then we have raised two sons and lived in seven states and four foreign countries, plus my overseas service during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.

Tomorrow, family and friends will gather at the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen, Virginia to celebrate with us.

Thank you, Lord.

Wallace Gray, RIP


Dr. Wallace Gray died Sunday, February 3.

I met him over fifty years ago at Southwestern College, Winfield, KS where he was the Kirk Professor of Philosophy and Religion for forty years. His enthusiasm and inquiring mind led me into a lifelong study of life, religion and people.

Recently he helped me polish my book, Living in the Spirit.

We saw Wallace last October when we returned to Winfield for my fiftieth class homecoming.

He made a huge impact on my life. I’ll miss him. Dr. Wallace, rest in peace.

Sharing in His Death?


“We rebuke the circumstances, but God wants something to happen inside us to beat death.” Gary Garner

“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11 NLT)

Do you want to suffer with him? To share in his death? We want the glory; He wants us to die to ourselves. The trial you face at this moment may kill you (if only metaphorically) but it may also be the direct path to your resurrection.

Embrace it; embrace the cross; embrace him.

Going to Frightening Places

“God calls us to go places that frighten us so that we will fully trust Him.” Levi Lusko

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” (Luke 12:46)”

We learn to walk by walking; we learn to trust by trusting. Let Jesus shine wherever there is darkness in or about you. Trust him.

Step by Step

“If we have His light, let us be willing to take it step by step. We shall not see all the way at once, but as we follow on we shall know the Lord God’s light is the soft and simple light which rests us and brings the satisfying sense of His in all His fullness, and all His purposes will ripen and unfold in all their fullness.” A. B. Simpson

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

We are microwave Christians: we want it all done quickly. That is not God’s way. Israel spent forty years in the wilderness because they were such slow learners; Canaan was not conquered in one campaign; the Good News spend step-by-step, city-by-city. Your life won’t be transformed until you are transformed. Be willing to follow the light you have.

God Works in Us

“Satan will seize even our good intentions. We strive to do the will of God. We will it, but God works in us to desire and to do his will. It’s not about me, but him in me.” John Gould

“It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

Our will power seems strong enough when focused on our desires, but when we consider what pleases God we seem made of Jell-O. Rest assured he has equipped you with what you need to please him and he comes along side you to desire and to accomplish his will.

Life in the Spirit

The redemption for the body which Christ brings, is not merely healing, but also life. It is not the re-adjustment of our life on the old basis, leaving it thenceforward to go like a machine upon the natural plane, but it is the infusion of a new kind of life and strength. Therefore it is as fully within the reach of persons in health as those who are diseased. It is simply a higher kind of life, the turning of life’s water into His heavenly wine. Gary Garner

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

The Spirit renews more than your mind; everything about you is refreshed–alive for the first time. Let him turn the water of natural life into the wine of life in the spirit.

“Lie Passive in His Hands”

“In order for a soul to be made into a vessel unto God’s honor, ‘sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work’ (2 Timothy 2:21), it must be utterly abandoned to Him, and must lie passive in His hands.” Hannah Whitall Smith

Passive? Not us. We have the urge to help God (or ourselves) without regard for our ignorance or imperfections.

Take our hands off the wheel and let God steer.

Relax; let go; let God.