My Walks with Cloud, Townsend, Keller and Platt

I am not convinced that walking is a hobby. If it is a hobby, it’s probably safe to say that it’s lame. But if we were to call it hiking, or speed walking, then I think I could possibly start to accept it as something cool I tell people I do.

As it stands I do walk, just about every day, a 5 mile route near our house. I have done this for about 6 years now. We are in the country, so it’s a bit of a risky walk. Does danger make it cooler to say I take the daily hikes? Stray dogs (sometimes vicious, sometimes I rescue them), vineyards sprayed with death chemicals, random shady cars parked on the path I use. Out this far in the country, you are not out here unless you have a reason to be, there are no pedestrians, just idiots adventurous people like me.

Walking takes longer

I used to run, like a lot. But after a back injury and a visit to the chiropractor, I now limit to jogging and walking, I mean flat ground hiking. The change of pace was rough at first, but now I would not trade it for anything because during these hikes I listen to audio books, sermons and podcasts. These times have become times of active rest, recharging my batteries, peace and growth. It’s hard to describe the mode I go into. It does not matter if it’s in the 100’s or if it’s freezing, raining, light or twilight. Something special happens out there.

For the longest time I would listen to sermons by Tim Keller. I can fit in 2.3 sermons in a walk. Listening to Tim’s sermons is nothing new, I’ve been doing it for 20+ years, but being out and active versus being in a car or listening at home, unlocks a “next level” of engagement.

About 6 months ago I started listening to a string of Audio books on growth topics. I have been putting off writing this post because words can’t really do justice to the transformation inside and the fellowship I experience on these walks, but I decided to attempt it anyway so I could share a list of books that have helped me to change my thinking and habits.

I sought out these books from a place urgency as I was looking for direction and hungry for wisdom. My desire was permanent change. I wanted to shed what I knew to be some horribly annoying immaturity and brokenness that was getting in the way of a good life. The saying that easy decisions make for a hard life and hard decision make for a good life, was ringing in my ears.

The Books

The first book I listened to was a book I had listened to years ago. Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. In full transparency, I started this book on my hikes, but most of it was listened to on the plane to and from Oxford. It still counts. This is a classic text on boundaries and how to establish and keep them. This book applies to everyone, regardless of where you are with your own boundaries. We can all use some work, and we also need to be patient with our friends and family that also need to read this book.

After that came some key sermons from Tim Keller, I started going through the Podcast instead of digging through my MP3 library. So I was not in control of what was played, and that turned out to be really beneficial.

The next book was 9 Thing You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life by Henry Cloud. Incredibly practical, this book can be life changing if you want it to be. While it is foundational, “101” kinds of things, they are also profound and easily missed. Up next I decided to read Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend for the first time. If you are married or ever plan on being married, or have friends who are married, this book is almost a requirement. I followed that with Who’s Pushing Your Buttons by John Townsend. This book is incredible, we all have people who push our buttons and dealing with them in love and truth is difficult. This book helps. After Pushing Buttons I took a small break from books and switched back to Keller and David Platt for a bit. Needed to let that all sink in and process for awhile.

The Entitlement Cure by John Townsend was next, just like all the books this was excellent. The title threw me a bit, I did not think myself entitled, but the symptoms matched my own, so I dove in. I am really glad I did. Then came People Fuel by Townsend, which I found to be great, as usual, but I had a hard time focusing during this one. I will need to revisit at some point. The next to last book was one of the most practical books, How to Have That Difficult Conversation by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I listened to this one 3 times through, taking lots of notes. This book touches every domain in life and wow, was I doing it so wrong!

The final and most recent book that I completed is Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud. This one is the most intense of all of them. It felt like a 1 on 1 counseling session. If I had to choose to just read one of these, this would be the one. It’s a close tie with the Difficult Conversations though.

You may have picked up on the fact that all of these books are by Dr. Cloud, John Townsend, or both. Good job! You get a gold star. This was not intentional at all, it just happened. As I tried other books by the “Boundaries” authors, I was impressed more and more. Practical, Biblical, and direct. These books draw on some deep wisdom and years and years of theological and psychological experience.

I am done with these authors for awhile, and with these topics. I am switching back to Cybersecurity and AI with the books, at least for awhile, and of course mixing in my podcasts.

I have heard time and time again that people don’t change. But that’s not true, I am proof. It’s difficult, it’s painful, it’s constant hard work, it takes a lot of focus and energy, and it takes a community. It’s worth it, you will thank yourself later and your friends and family will be grateful too.

Tim Keller

Tim Keller is my favorite teacher and author. I started listening to his sermons in 2001. Back then, you could only get his sermons on cassette tapes and by ordering them from Redeemer. During 2003-2004 life was such that Tim Keller was the main teaching influence in my life. A mentor if you will. I never stopped ordering Keller’s sermons. Each year I would order just about every 2-3 weeks and as time went on, the format changed. From tapes to CD’s and finally to Mp3’s. My work commute times were actually my favorite. I would spend hours listening to Keller in my car or plugged into headphone on BART. I have listened to just about every series a few times, and several more than a dozen times. Because of Tim Keller I was able to connect my childhood/early teens raised on Theology to a very real and practical living out of what I knew in my head. I don’t know how to explain it other than he is able to engage my heart, mind, and bring me to Jesus in a way that just gets me every time. Repentance, change of lifestyle and habits, real and practical actions as a result of listening.

Books by Tim Keller

Tim Keller’s books, reading them is like having C.S. Lewis in my own time. His books do much the same for me as C.S. Lewis, but in a more relevant way. “Every Good Endeavor” gave me passion for life that I never had, and prompted me to stop living and working for my own desires. It also prompted me to brainstorm and create EmotionsManager. His book “Walking with God Through Pain And Suffering” was so incredible. I read it twice. Galatians For You and Judges For You were fun to read as well. Really, all of his books are well written and very informative.

Get a sermon

Keller’s sermons are hight quality. You should download a few. :-)

I had it in my head several times to take sermon notes and post them online. In 2010 I tried that, but was not consistent at all. (Update: attempting this again here.) Fun to look back at that site though. I hope to meet Tim someday and just shake his hand and tell him my story in a few minutes time, thank him for his faithfulness to the Gospel.