Top 5 – Biographies by Travis Evans
October 18, 2008, 7:00 am
Filed under: Books, Top 5

Biographies capture the life and character of an individual: what they said, who they were and what they stood for. Some biographies are commendable because the people that the biographies are about lived lives that we can exemplify. Plus, some people lived exciting lives, lives worth reading about.

What are your Top 5 biographies?


Top 5 – Gospel Books by Travis Evans
October 4, 2008, 7:00 am
Filed under: Books, Top 5

Here at Manspeak we love certain things: books, movies, music, sports, and the great outdoors. So, on Saturdays, we want to know your favorites. Therefore, we bring you the Manspeak Top 5. To start it off right, the category will involve two things that we’re really passionate about.

What are your top 5 picks for books about the Gospel?

CJ’s books for the beach… by bigplew
June 10, 2008, 11:01 am
Filed under: Books, Featured Resource

by Mike Plewniak

From the Sovereign Grace Blog.

1. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson. From the prologue to the final paragraph I was captivated by the storyline of this book. Didn’t want the book to end, so I read slower as the book was coming to an end.

2. Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball by George F. Will. The best book I have read on baseball. Read it and you will understand the genius involved in what appears to be a slow and boring game. Read it and impress your friends with your newfound insight.

3. The Greatest Game Ever Played: A True Story by Mark Frost. I think this is the best book about sports I’ve ever read.

4. Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller. I’ve read a lot about WWII but I was ignorant of the air war. This book is simply stunning and unforgettable. There were evenings where I could only read two or three pages of this book because I was so affected by what I read.

5. Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season by Jonathan Eig. The most important event and year in professional baseball. If you love baseball you must get to know Jackie Robinson and the difference he made for the sport and our country.

6. The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL by Mark Bowden. If you love pro football this is really when it all started.

7. Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas by Tom Callahan. Favorite quote from the book: “That’s the thing sports will never get back. Once, the players were one of us. They lived right next door. They don’t anymore.” Learn about arguably the greatest quarterback of all time and a time in professional sports we will never see again.

8. The Terrible Hours: The Greatest Submarine Rescue in History by Peter Maas. Simply terrifying and thrilling.

9. Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics by Jeremy Schaap. As you anticipate the Summer Olympics you must read about Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics.

10. Everything They Had: Sports Writing from David Halberstam. Journalist David Halberstam was killed in a car accident last year. This volume is a superb collection of his best writings.

11. This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War by James M. McPherson. If you are interested in the Civil War this is a fascinating must-read.

12. For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War by James M. McPherson. I’ve always wondered why, and thanks to McPherson I now know.

Summer Reading, part 1 by bigplew
April 25, 2008, 10:32 am
Filed under: Books, Featured Resource, Leadership

by Mike Plewniak

Last night at VFC, I had the privilege to finish up our “From Blah, Blah, Blah to La, La, La” series by talking about guarding our summers. My main two things to guard were 1) time with God and 2) our friendships. In following up my encouragement to read good books, I thought I would give some recommendations of my favorite books, and I’d love to hear some of yours (I’m always looking for good books).

With that said, I wanted to start by recommending some fun books. I try to read a couple of different books at a time to keep my appetite for reading strong. Boring books don’t encourage me to read. Usually, if I keep a fun book (like the following) going, I read more across the board. So, here are a few fun books for the summer:

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

From start to finish, this book had me. I stayed up until 1 a.m. reading the conclusion. And after I read it, I had to wake-up my wife to read it to her. A great true story of perseverance, leadership, and exploration. A manspeak must read!

John Adams by David McCullough

The book that started the movement for Adams to get a major memorial in DC. An incredible man in the history of the USA, and someone who you will love learning about. Again, the ending is wonderful and true. His relationship (and differences) with Thomas Jefferson kept me reading other books about the two of them. HBO just did a series based on this book that is coming to DVD on June 10th. Your goal: read the book before you watch the series.

Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore

My historical hero. This is the first biography that I read on Spurgeon. From this, I started reading his books, sermons, sermon notes, autobiography, etc…. I love CJ’s encouragement to find great Christian men of history and to master their works. After 8 years of reading spurgeon, I’ve realized that I cannot master him or read all of his works. But what a great man to learn from and this is a great introduction to him.

April 1865 by Jan Winik

Subtitle: The Month that Saved America. Another book that shows how the decisions of leaders have massive implications. Lincoln and Lee are both highlighted as men who had to make decisions that would be highly unpopular, but ultimately necessary for the good of others. This book keeps you moving too. It’s hard to stop one chapter without starting the next.

Buy one. Do it. by Travis Evans
April 17, 2008, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Books

Read what Joshua Harris has to say.

May I recommend the Black Premium Calfskin one for $155.99?

Little Books – Big Impact by Travis Evans
April 3, 2008, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Books

By: T.A. Evans (It fits the trend…you’ll see)

The best books are all old.
C.J. Mahaney

I would add that probably the most influential books are small ones. Here are some that I have read and have greatly influenced me.

Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice – J.C. Ryle

This is my favorite book by Mr. Ryle thus far, and the best book on worship. Read it. Enjoy it. Apply it. I cannot say enough about it. READ IT!!

A Call To Prayer – J.C. Ryle

Let me sum this book up for you: Do you pray?

Here’s a quote that reveals Mr. Ryle’s heart: “There is a way by which any man, however sinful and unworthy, may draw near to God the Father. Jesus Christ has opened that way by the sacrifice he made for us upon the cross. The holiness and justice of God need not frighten sinners and keep them back. Only let them cry to God in the name of Jesus, only let them plead the atoning blood of Jesus, and they shall find God upon a throne of grace, willing and ready to hear. The name of Jesus is a never-failing passport for our prayers. In that name a man may draw near to God with boldness, and ask with confidence. God has engaged to hear him. Think of this. Is not this encouragement?”

The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer

I am currently on my third (maybe fourth) time through this book. I try to read a chapter each night. The chapters are short but by no means light. Let’s fill our thoughts with thoughts of the Holy. This book helps us do that.

Humility: True Greatness – C.J. Mahaney

This is the biggest of these small books, at a whopping 164 pages. Read this book every 3 months. Do it! This book exposes our pride which, as men, we have a lot of.

The Cross-Centered Life – C.J. Mahaney

This is a must for every Christian, especially new/young Christians. We must rightly understand justification and sanctification. This book shaped my passion for the Gospel. A personal favorite.

Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow – R.C. Sproul

I’m currently reading this book during my devotions. It’s a great book. It covers Bible study, prayer, worship, service, and stewardship. The chapter on service paints a great picture for Christians and has influenced my attitudes concerning it.

What little books have had a big impact on you? Which are your favorites? Ask me if you want to borrow one of these.

Anglers beware… by bigplew
March 15, 2008, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Books, Culture

by Bill Kittrell

compleat1.jpg“And that (fishing) be fit for the contemplation of the most prudent, and pious, and peaceable men, seems to be testified by the practice of so many devout and contemplative men as the patriarchs and prophets of old; and of the apostles of our Saviour in our latter times,—of which twelve, we are sure, he chose four that were simple fishermen,—whom he inspired, and sent to publish his blessed will to the Gentiles; and inspired them also with a power to speak all languages, and by their powerful eloquence to beget faith in the unbelieving Jews; and themselves to suffer for that Saviour whom their forefathers and they had crucified; and, in their sufferings, to preach freedom from the incumbrances of the law, and a new way to everlasting life: this was the employment of these happy fishermen. Concerning which choice, some have made these observations:—
First, that he never reproved these for their employment or calling, as he did the Scribes and the Money-changers. And, secondly, He found that the hearts of such men, by nature, were fitted for contemplation and quietness; men of mild, and sweet, and peaceable spirits, as indeed most anglers are…”


I sure love to fish and my best friends are fisherman. My love for fishing – and fly fishing in particular – led me to check out Sir Izaak Walton’s ‘The Compleat Angler’ (written in 1653). It is a fascinating read. But…I’m not sure even I can go as far in commending fisherman as Sir Izaak did!

And I think he is taking the verse used on the title page out of context a bit:

“Simon Peter said, I go a fishing: and they said, We also will go with thee.” John 21.3.

Peter and the disciples were discouraged. The Lord had been crucified and they were headed back to their old jobs despairing! This was no frolicking fishing outing with James and John.

I am struck, though, by Sir Izaak’s apparent respect for Scripture, the Savior, the disciples, etc. I can’t say for sure what kind of Christian he was, if he was a Christian at all, but it is obvious he lived during a time that was vastly different than our own.

Every where I turn in our culture seems to be against my most cherished beliefs and convictions. The media, music, politics, education, etc., no longer are supportive or even respectful of the Christian faith. If our culture wants to flatter a fisherman it just isn’t going to say Jesus found their heart ‘fitted’ in any way!

So, what does that mean for a man in the 21st century? It means there is a war on. It means there are enemies of the faith. Men today have to be vigilant and not just for their own souls. They have families and friends to lead. And the church needs men of courage who will keep the faith while they live in a hostile world.

1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith.”

“Satan…knows…all sin comes from failing to live by faith in future grace…Which means that the number one aim of Satan is the destruction of faith…Satan wants to catch us at a time when our faith is not firm, when it is vulnerable…The way to thwart the devil is to strengthen the very thing he is trying most to destroy.” John Piper

In the 21st century we can still ‘go a fishin’ like Sir Izaak and we can even cast a fly for a wary trout! But we cannot expect our culture to admire us because Jesus has inspected our hearts and likes what he sees. We don’t live in a world that will encourage our faith but, in fact, seems to be throwing everything possible at us to destroy it.

So, men, enjoy a great day on the stream…but be on the alert.