Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bibliophile or Bible-phile?

I need help. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I admit, I’m a book junkie. I remember after I became a Christian in college I would spend evenings devouring my Bible and afternoons hidden away in the bookstore browsing titles. Homework, what homework? Besides the negative consequences of slipping grades, the long term effects have also had their impact- overflowing bookshelves pushing away any open space, a cluttered garage filled with boxes of books, stacks of titles on the kitchen table that I insist on leaving out because I’m going to read them eventually, really I am.

Photo credit: Soilse
My latest drug of choice? Free e-books on Kindle. My Kindle App has 37 titles, only four of them read so far. iBooks has another twelve books, or free previews of books. And I just got done ordering three more titles from Amazon. One of those, God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola, I got mainly because of the 25 free resources (a few were audio, so those didn’t add to my book count) offered the first week of its release. (I admit, I would’ve gotten this book anyway as I really like Viola and the premise of the book is very intriguing, but the free resources compelled me to buy it when I did. And I wasn’t alone, so many addicts like myself were sucked in by his offer that Amazon actually ran out of copies to ship!)
And then there are the dozen or so unread titles that I’ve purchased on impulse, received to review on my blog, or have been given to me by my enabler friends who know I like to read.

But there’s been another, more serious, consequence: I don’t study my Bible as thoroughly as I used to. I’ve become a bibliophile instead of a Bible-phile. I can tell when it gets bad- I’m irritable, I get writer’s block, I lose motivation, I become critical and I stop praying. I recognize when I’m on a bender. I know my books can’t satisfy my soul the way the Bible can, and drawing close to Him through His Word refreshes my prayer life. Yet I keep going back to my quick fix.

I’m trying to cut back. I can’t quit cold-turkey, although I probably should. I declined the current book study I usually do with some of my blogger buddies. I put back on the shelf many of the books that were stacked up in my kitchen that I was planning to read. I’ve boxed others away. I even got rid of a few a while back.

The thing is, I need focus. I can’t read a half-dozen titles at once. I need to learn how to balance reading for recreation, for education, for edification and for devotion. I have too much on my plate that depends on me getting cleaned up and sober.

So I am focusing on a single book for edification, with two others on the wings for education. I’m cracking open my Bible more (but still not enough) for devotion. And I’d like to think I’m being more productive in my writing.

But what’s that, someone on Facebook posted another Kindle deal? I’ll be right back…

How do you balance your recreational reading with devotional Bible study?
Are you able to read more than one title at a time?

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