Category Archives: Books

Books for Church Planters

Earlier today, I came across this post on recommended books for church planters. Since I am a church planter, I thought I would offer my own recommendations here. Following are my top three recommendations and one honorable mention.

Hugh Halter, BIVO: A Modern Day Guide for Bi-vocational Saints

Most of the literature for church planters centers on equipping planters who are focused on their work in a full-time capacity. As someone who is a bi-vocational planter, this book was extremely encouraging and helpful as it gave great validation to my method of planting. Furthermore, understanding the costs associated with planting in the urban landscape and the need for more new plants, I would recommend this book to anyone considering planting, especially in the urban context.

Lance Ford and Brad Brisco, The Missional Quest

Ford and Brisco offer a different take on church planting and evangelism, encouraging their readers to truly love their neighbors and focus on planting in a “movement mindset” rather than a “maintenance mindset.” This book will help equip any reader to better focus on contextualizing their methods to the needs of the community, thus hopefully resulting in a sustainable plant.

Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

In seminary, I was told by a professor, “Pick a dead guy. Read his stuff. Learn from him.” A few years ago, I came across this book, and since then, I have enjoyed studying Bonhoeffer’s works. He was by no means a perfect theologian, and some debate whether or not he could be considered an “evangelical,” but his life story, that is, his desire to make disciples who make disciples, his love for Christ, and his personal sacrifice can be a great encouragement to church planters struggling in the battlefield of daily ministry.

HONORABLE MENTION: Eugene Kranz, Failure is Not an Option

I love learning about the history of spaceflight, and along the way, I have read almost every astronaut biography that has been written. Several years ago, I read this work by a former NASA Flight Director and was amazed at his story of hard work and dedication. Church planting is a difficult task, and Kranz’s story of the rewards and challenges of one’s life work can provide some much-needed encouragement.

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Sophia’s First Sketch

On Sunday, I took Sophia to NYCC. She had an amazing time seeing people dressed up as her favorite heroes (she got to give Batman a fist-bump), getting convention swag (she received Mickey Mouse and Hello Kitty posters), and spending time with her dad. The best part of the day for her was getting a personalized Superman sketch from artist Cliff Chiang. When he gave her the sketch, she was beaming! I’ll never forget the smile on her face. Thanks to Cliff for doing the sketch even though he was packing up for the day.


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30 for 30 #15: New York Comic Con 2012

One of the best things about living in NYC is that this is the center of the comic book industry. Marvel and DC both have offices here, comic book movies are filmed (or at least based here), there are tons of comic book stores to visit, and there are lots of comic book fans in the area. As a result, there are many comic-related events during the year such as seminars, art shows, signings, and of course – conventions.

Since moving to NYC in 2008, I have attended many of these events. I’ve been to small shows, signings, art shows, and talks. However, the main event I enjoy each year is the annual New York Comic Con (NYCC). I’ve been to show each year I’ve lived here, and I’ve enjoyed each one. Sometimes I have worked with an exhibitor, and other times, I’ve attended as a professional (educator). While I have enjoyed each NYCC, this last year, 2012, was my favorite.

Here are my reasons:

  1. I was able to attend with my family. I have an amazing wife who is willing to attend with me each year as able, and this year, we included the kids. Although it was a hectic trip, heading into the city with two small kids, it was fun to dress up as a family and visit the con floor. My daughter, Sophia, loved seeing her favorite Superhero, Superman, in print, Lego, and human form.
  2. I attended with some great friends. The best part of a con is hanging out with your fellow comic book fans. Visiting the floor with Sophie, Luis, Matt, and Eric was great fun.
  3. I got to meet some of my favorite artists and writers. This year, I was pleased to be able to connect with Dustin Nguyen (Batman), Cliff Chiang (WonderWoman), Brian Azzarello (WonderWoman), and David Petersen (Mouse Guard) and have them sign some books and take some photos with me.
  4. I was able to be a part of a panel on using comics in the classroom. This was the best part of this year’s con experience. Joining two other educators and an editor from Diamond Bookshelf, I was able to speak about my experience in using comics to engage students and how to present this idea to reluctant administrators.

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30 for 30

In a few weeks, I will be celebrating a personal milestone: I will turn 30. In order to celebrate the day as well as the last 30 years, I have decided to take some time to reflect upon some of my most fond memories from my life. Therefore, over the next few weeks, I plan to write 30 posts, each detailing a favorite memory, event, or milestone.

I do want to add some clarification for the few people who may take the time to read about my memories. These posts will not be chronological nor will I be giving one per year. Furthermore, they will not appear in any certain order so that more importance be placed on one memory over another; it has been difficult enough to select only 30 events. Finally, I will be omitting some events that are simply “too obvious” to include in my list. If you know me well enough, then you are already aware of the love I have for Jesus, my wife, and my kids. So, rather than writing a post about the day I was wed, or the day my kids were born, or the day I met Jesus and decided to follow Him, I will be writing about memories that have included these individuals or have been inspired by them.

I’ve never been much of a blogger; honestly, I feel that my time is better spent on other things. However, as I think about the mark I want to leave on this Earth, especially on my children, I think there is benefit in spending the time to document my life to share with my loved ones. I hope that you enjoy reading my stories and reminiscing with me.

Just for fun, here’s a preview of what’s to come:

Alf, Pat Dye, Mjaka, Mentone, Chi Chi, RA, 11-02, Fury, Diamond, and more…

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New York Comic Con

This year, I have the privilege of speaking at a panel during New York Comic Con (NYCC). The title of the panel is “Making the Case for Teaching with Graphic Novels.” It is hosted by Diamond Bookshelf (of Diamond Comics) and will take place on Thursday night at 5:15pm in room 1A04. This is a great honor to be selected for a panel like this, and I am looking forward to the opportunity.

Here’s an excerpt from the Diamond Bookshelf website:


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Praying Through the Psalms

In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer provides us with reasons as to why Christians should incorporate the Psalms  – all of them – into their prayer life.

Bonhoeffer writes,

And how shall we pray those psalms of unspeakable suffering, the meaning of which we have hardly begun to sense even remotely? We can and should pray the psalms of suffering, the psalms of the passion, not in order to generate in ourselves what our hearts do not know of their own experience, not to make our own laments, but because all this suffering was real and actual in Jesus Christ, because the Man Jesus Christ suffered sickness, pain, shame, and death, because in his suffering and death all flesh suffered and died. What happened to us on the Cross of Christ, the death of our old man, and what actually does happen and should happen to us ever since our baptism in the dying of our flesh, this is what gives us the right to pray these prayers. Through the Cross of Christ, these psalms have been bestowed upon his Body on earth as prayers that issue from his heart.” (p. 48)

And, “The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.” (p. 49)

In other words, Christians looking for help in their personal devotions can look at the Psalms as source material for both Scripture intake and prayer. The book of Psalms is rich, ready for us to tap into its God-glorifying, Christ-honoring, and life-giving words.

As a result of my time reading Bonhoeffer, and reading about the impact they made on his life and ministry, I am about to begin reading through and praying through the Psalms myself. I’m looking forward to seeing God work in me through this.

Thanks to Eric Metaxas for introducing me to the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

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Recommended Book: “Holy Ambition” by John Piper

Recently, I told a friend that I had not read anything in the last year that had truly gripped me. I have completed a good many books in the last year, but nothing seemed new, fresh, or inspiring. However, this was before I was given a copy of John Piper’s new missions resource, a collection of sermons titled, Holy Ambition.

Now, I do admit that, as a church planter, it’s very likely that I would enjoy missions books. Nevertheless, this was a great book. There may not have been anything new or fresh (as the biblical content supporting missions has not changed), but the way Piper writes is truly uplifting and inspiring.

My favorite sermon in the book is Other Sheep That Are Not of This Fold, which is based upon John 10:16 and was preached at a Don’t Waste Your Life collegiate event in 2008. The sermon provides the reader with not only the biblical support for missions, but biblical support which encourages the reader that God is sovereign and we can trust Him in our missions endeavors. As a planter, I need to be reminded of God’s plan.

The sermon can be found HERE at the Desiring God website. I recommend you take the time to read this sermon.

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Reflections on New York Comic Con

After a year and a half hiatus, New York Comic Con (NYCC) returned to the Big Apple, beckoning crowds of fans to visit the 3-day exhibition featuring comic’s finest artists, writers, celebrities and more.

As a long-time comic book fan, I could not avoid the temptation of being at NYCC. I attended all three days of the con, visiting exhibitors’ booths, seeking autographs from artists, and grabbing free stuff for my students. Needless to say, I had an excellent time.

Furthermore, I enjoyed the opportunity to help with the comiXology booth, where I was able to speak to other comic fans, creators, and people who have enjoyed using comiXology’s digital comics readers.


Dr. Doom (me) and Red Hood at the comiXology booth


After much thought, I decided to write about my experience of NYCC. As a result, here are some of my observations from the con: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Some of the best aspects, a.k.a. “The Good”

1. Artists Alley – This is my favorite part of any con. Hundreds of tables set up so artists can sign autographs, draw new sketches, sell prints, and more. I always enjoy meeting artists such as David Petersen (Mouse Guard) who really take the time to interact with fans and sign books. Artists like Petersen, knowing that their salary is derived from their fanbase, seem to enjoy spending time with fans.

2. Free Stuff – There’s not many things better than hundreds of booths giving away free merchandise. DC and Marvel especially made my con experience a great one by offering free copies of some of their most popular books from this last year. I was pleased to also get plenty of buttons, cards, bookmarks, and other free swag. Finally, two book publishers impressed me by giving me free graphic novels and books for my comic book club at school.

3. The Exhibitors – There were so many cool exhibits, I simply cannot mention them all. However, I must mention comiXology and their Jim Lee iPad giveaway (which was awesome), the Aliens movie booth, the Green Hornet booth which featured the car and motorcycle from the upcoming movie, and The Walking Dead booth which featured a huge promo backdrop of the upcoming TV series.

4. Celebrities – Only at NYCC can you stand feet away from Stan Lee, Robert Kirkman, Dan Didio, Jim Lee, Morgan Spurlock (from “Supersize Me”), and others. Furthermore, the con floor seems to be the great equalizer, allowing fans the boldness to approach their favorite celebs and for celebs to take the time to interact with fans.

5. Sales – Yep. At NYCC various comic book stores had some amazing sales, my favorite of which was ZAPP Comics from New Jersey which had a 50% off trade paperback sale.

Some minor issues I noticed, a.k.a “The Bad”

1. Crowds – There’s really nothing that can be done about this except saying that the crowds were intense – especially on Saturday. For anyone interested in attending next year, go early on Friday or late on Sunday. At those times the crowds are easier to manage.

2. Floor placement – NYCC could have done a better job with the way they organized the placement of booths at the con. I understand that marketing and money plays a big deal in making such decisions, but I was really frustrated that some very large and very attention-seeking booths were placed right at the main entrance, causing crowds to gather right in the entrance. For someone trying to simply get in the door and see the exhibits, this bottleneck was frustrating.

3. Costumes – While there were some awesome costumes, I get tired of seeing Harry Potter and other non-comic related costumes at comic con. Why is Harry Potter here? Does Harry even read comics? Whatever happened to dressing up as the Flash?

My Problems at NYCC, a.k.a. “The Ugly”

1. Ivan Reis (Green Lantern artist) – I don’t normally speak ill of others, but this guy was a jerk to his fans. Reis, who is currently one of DC’s most popular artists for his work on Green Lantern, walked up to his table where fans were waiting for his autograph, signed one book and then told everyone else that he “did not feel like signing books.” Then, he looked down at his sketchbook and ignored his fans. Obviously this guy does not understand that the people he ignored allow him to put food on the table. I am going to do all I can to avoid buying his work from now own.

2. Celebrities – I think it stinks that celebrities featured at the show (Lou Ferrigno and others for example) charge for their autograph or picture. Don’t they make enough from me already through my watching their TV shows or movies? Asking for me to pay for your picture is simply pathetic and an example of extreme arrogance.

3. The Media – I got so tired of watching the local network coverage of NYCC. Rather than mentioning the great exhibitors, panels, artists, and writers, the local networks instead featured the 300lb, 35 yr old, single, weirdos who only come out of their mother’s basement for the 3-day opportunity to dress in spandex and dance to Michael Jackson tunes with other weirdos. Such is the reason I sometimes hesitate to tell people I went to the con because I don’t want to be labeled as the “comic book guy” from the Simpsons.

4. Costumes – Some people should never wear spandex, body suits, or bikini bottoms – EVER. Enough said. I would elaborate, but I would rather purge my mind of such occurrences.

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Comic Book Club

Great News: This morning, I had a meeting with one of my colleagues and my principal about starting a comic book club at our school for students (our school is located in Sunset Park – Brooklyn, NY). As many of you may know, increasing literacy among students is a big deal within education circles today, and we feel that comics can help that. Our meeting went very well, and because this club involves reading and literacy improvement,  the principal approved our request. So, beginning in the first week of October we will be meeting with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students one morning a week to read comics, discuss comics, and hopefully even create some comics.

Although my colleague and I do have some comics that we are going to bring to school to share with our students, we by no means have the ability to create a great comic library on our own. Therefore, we are asking for help. Below, I am posting a list of graphic novels and trades that we would like to have for our students to read. Hopefully, we can have individuals and local comic shops donate books for us to share with the students.  If you are reading this today and would like to help us in creating a graphic library, please feel free to leave a comment with your contact information or email me at contact[at] Furthermore, if you know of any series that we should be reading with our students, then feel free to make a recommendation. We greatly appreciate those who would be willing to help us as we seek the best for our students.

Trades/Graphic Novels for Comic Book Club*

Superhero Based

  • Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
  • Superman: Red Son
  • All-Star Superman (Vol. 1 & 2)
  • The Death and Return of Superman
  • Batman: Year One
  • Robin: Year One
  • Batgirl: Year One
  • Nightwing: Year One
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood (Vol. 1 & 2)
  • Batman: The Long Halloween
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Green Lantern: Secret Origin
  • Green Arrow:  Year One
  • DC: The New Frontier (Vol. 1 & 2)
  • Hellboy Vol 1: The Seed of Destruction
  • Ultimate Spiderman Vol. 1 & 2
  • Ultimate X-men Vol. 1 & 2
  • Marvel: Civil War

Non- Superhero

  • Maus (Vol. 1 & 2)
  • Mouse Guard (Fall & Winter)
  • Night Owls
  • High Moon
  • Twilight: the Graphic Novel
  • Marvel Literary Classics (including, but not limited to)
    • Pride and Prejudice
    • Sense and Sensibility
    • The Illiad
    • The Three Musketeers
    • The Man in the Iron Mask
    • Moby Dick
    • Treasure Island

*this list is a working document and may be changed as we review new titles and series.

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God Revealed in Nature

Recently, famous scientist Stephen Hawking released a book in which he claims that there is no need to give God credit in the creation of the universe. Rather, “spontaneous creation is the reason there is something.” This statement comes from one of the most brilliant minds in the world today, and yet, he is wrong. When he looks at nature and sees evidence for the non-existence of God, he is simply “suppressing the truth” that God is revealed in nature.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome, writes,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23 ESV)

Here, Paul makes a clear point that God has revealed himself in the world around us, and that when people (such as Hawking) look at the universe and deny His existence, they are simply suppressing the truth trading wisdom for foolishness.

It is my prayer that Professor Hawking will see his error and acknowledge the God that is revealed in the universe that he so loves to examine and explore.

For a review of his book by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of SBTS, click HERE.

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