" but you don't have to take *my* word for it..."

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture.
Just get people to stop reading them.
~ Ray Bradbury ~

one of my greatest desires as a pastor is that the people under my care would read more good books. in this context (a pastor to his congregation) i define a good book as one that enriches the mind and soul and stokes a hunger for biblical truth as well as love and obedience to christ.

objections that often come are “i’ m not a good reader”/ “i don’t like to read”. while i certainly understand the sentiment, i also understand that life is full of our doing things we don’t necessarily “love” doing. but i have also found that those who begin to read with purpose (stated above) discover that it becomes less and less a chore over time.

another objection is “i don’t understand all of those big words/concepts” or “i am not up to that level of reading”. while there are certainly books written specifically for the academy or for specialists in a given area, there are just as many books written for the “person in the pew”.

consider the following quotes:

If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth is not diffused – error will be. If God and His Word are not known and received – the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet – the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land – anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end.Daniel Webster, 1823

Why does today’s Christian find the reading of great books always beyond him? Certainly intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another. We are as smart as our fathers, and any thought they could entertain we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort. The major cause of the decline in the quality of current Christian literature is not intellectual but spiritual. To enjoy a great religious book requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have. The early Christian Fathers, the Mystics, the Puritans, are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied, and none but the God-enamored can come. – A.W. Tozer , 1897-1963

both of these quotes ring with such prophetic reverberation that it is nearly chill inducing.

one of my new year “resolutions” is to read at least 3 books a month that are not a part of my sermon or teaching preparation. while these three books will be “theological”, they will vary in category. some will be biography. some will help me grow in the areas of counseling, preaching, doctrine, devotional life, etc.- but the point will be for my spiritual growth.

this is not at all to say that reading “non-christian” books is inherently wrong or bad. the point is that i take intentional steps to grow in my understanding of the lord and his word- to expose myself to those things that will increase my affections for christ. (see Matthew 28:20; Acts 20:18-21; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 4:11-15; Colossians 1:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-121 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12).

at the beginning of each month i will post what i read the month before as well as a small blurb &/or recommendation for each title.

you don’t have to read three books a month. you may be able to read 6. but what steps are you taking to follow the many biblical commands to grow in wisdom and knowledge of the lord and his word? even if it is one book a month, you will better off than when it was none.

two more things:

1.) i am also reading through the whole bible – so no hate mail telling me reading books by men is not as good as reading god’s word. i know this. and i agree.

2.) being discerning in what we read is a good thing. i have seen books on the “recommended” shelf at christian bookstores that i would never recommend anyone to read. one of the tabs at the top of this website is titled “resources”. that would be a good place to start if you are not sure where to begin/what to read. these are my opinions, of course, but they are titles that i believe cover the basics.

Advertisements