Friday, April 22, 2011

Flashback Friday: Reading is (still) Fundamental

***Originally posted March 2, 2010 for Read Across America Day. Reposted last October after a Pew Forum poll showed atheists and agnostics are more knowledgable about religion than most Christians. Reposting yet again because we're heading into the weekend before Easter and it worth checking out the books at the end to help us focus on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.***

Today is National Read Across America Day. Celebrated on the birthday of Dr. Seuss, events are held all around the country to "motivate children to read." A worthwhile event and a noble goal.

The American Christian Church needs something like this. Maybe not your priest/pastor/evangelist dressing up as the Cat In The Hat for the Sunday sermon. But something needs to be done in the Body of Christ to encourage reading and studying. Charles "Tremendous" Jones has often been quoted saying, "You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." Reading was so important to the Apostle Paul that he asked Timothy to "come to [him] quickly" and bring his "scrolls, especially the parchments" while he was believed to have been in prison (2 Tim 4:9,13) While this most likely at least included Scripture, it was just as likely it included Rabbinic teachings given Paul's education. Paul also taught that the Bible is "useful... so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Our reading shouldn't be limited to the Bible however, though as a Body we sadly fall short in this area. The number of Christian books are limitless, some of course better than others. I encourage you to find a niche that appeals most to you- history, biographies, theology, apologetics, etc and dig in. Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide lists 166 different categories of books. If you can't find something you like, well you're not really trying. It is important to remember though, that books should compliment, not supplement, your Bible study. This is a lesson I have had to learn the hard way a year ago as I felt myself spiritually withering away even though I was reading about a book a month. I was convicted listening to a lesson that reminded me that spiritual books should never take the place of the Word of God. So I have recommitted myself to my Bible study and any book I read is intentionally tied to a specific Bible study.

Not only do we have Read Across America, but it is also almost exactly a month before Easter. If you observe Lenten fasts, you may have given up chocolate or Facebook. Some also add spiritual disciplines to their fasts. If you're taking this season to dig deeper into your Bible study or read that spiritual book gathering dust on your bookshelf, amen! If not, don't fret because there's plenty of time. Many devotionals are written for a month's worth of study so now is a perfect time leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

With that in mind, here are some recommendations keeping to the theme of Easter: Calvary Road by Roy Hession, He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, Praying the Names of Jesus by Ann Spangler, Thirty Days at the Foot of the Cross edited by Tom and Sheila Jones, and Your Jesus is Too Safe by Jared C Wilson.

Happy reading!

No comments: