Reading? Who does that anymore?

I’m convinced that one of the great challenges facing the church today is our alliteracy.  We are not illiterate.  We know how to read.  However, we are alliterate.  We know how to read, but we don’t value reading.  If it can’t fit into a caption on Instagram, 140 characters on Twitter, or a post on Facebook, our eyes glaze over.  The stats are in and they are pretty scary about our ever diminishing attention span and continually decreasing reading comprehension.  The reason this is so concerning is because God didn’t reveal Himself through a picture, a tweet or a post.  There is nothing wrong with those things and they can certainly be used to connect with God.  However, God gave us a book.  He inspired authors to write down his words. He commanded this book to be read (or listened to) for any who want to know Him.  Therefore, it really is a crisis that we have an ever diminishing capacity to read (or listen to) books.  To be stunted in our desire to read is to be stunted in our ability to grow in knowing God.  And if we aren’t growing in knowing God then how can we expect to grow in experiencing the joy of loving God?

Reading is like a muscle.  If you don’t use it, over time it will atrophy.  However, the more you do it the better you get at it.  So if you want to grow in your ability to read God’s word, the best thing you can do is just work on reading in general.  Even if a book is not directly about God it can still help you know God, because you are working on your reading muscles.  

If reading is a challenge for you, the summer vacation season is a great opportunity to try to work those muscles out.  Next vacation, take some books with you.  Try to set aside at least 30 minutes every day to read.  If you can do more, great, but that 30 minutes is a good place to start.  Any less and you aren’t going to really make progress, but will only grow frustrated.  Start with a book that is somewhat easier to read.  Be realistic about what you can get through.  The goal is to finish a book, not just read 1 chapter of a book that you will never finish.

Here’s some recommendations to consider:

Fiction (If you like to use your imagination- which I highly recommend doing)

1. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Besides the Bible this is the best selling book of all time.  Not best selling Christian book.  Best selling book. Period.  Ok, technically Mao Tse-Tung’s book is #2, but most people don’t really count that because it was sold by the government and people had to own it or be killed.  Pilgrim’s Progress is a powerful allegory of the Christian life.  If reading is a challenge, I’d recommend starting with the abridged version called Dangerous Journey that also has incredibly vivid art included on each page.  I’m currently reading that version with my kids and have been moved to tears multiple times.

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Another phenomenal allegory.  I have yet to make it through this book without being moved to tears.  Very easy to read and hopefully this will give you a taste to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia which is my favorite book series of all time.

Non Fiction (If you like things a bit more cut and dry)

1.  12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

Pretty easy to read and very helpful in speaking of the good ways that God uses technology as a blessing, but also the dangerous ways that technology can affect us.  This is a must read for any parent.  Your kids are growing up in a world that is very different from the one you did.  You must prepare yourself to help shepherd them through it.  For parents of young kids, you will want to read this now because if you wait until your kids are teenagers you probably will have already lost the war.  Parents of teens, don’t give up.  Read this book with your children and use it as a discussion starter.

2.  Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

This is a book that is all about the snap decisions we make every day.  The first half of the book is about the science behind “trusting our gut” and how over analysis actually leads to significantly poorer decisions.  The second part of the book, though, is about how our quick decisions about people can often be wrong through our unconscious prejudices.  Great mix of solid research, good stories and helpful stuff for everyday life.

Biographies (The Past is a great teacher)

1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes

This tells the tremendous story of a young pastor seeking to grapple with how to apply his faith in a country that was abandoning the gospel, but doing so under a guise of “spirituality”.  A tremendous read anytime, but a timely read for us in America.

2. The Forgotten Spurgeon by Arnold Dalimore

Charles Spurgeon is known as the “Prince of Preachers” and for good reason.  He was one of the most eloquent men who have ever lived.  What this book shows though is how this eloquence came from a place of his own pain, doubts and grapplings with God.  Great book by one of the great Christian biographers.

Christian Theology

1.  Desiring God by John Piper

One of the most formative books of my life.  If you haven’t read this before I guarantee you that it will change the way you think about God, resulting in a change in the way you think about yourself and your life.  

2.  God in the Whirlwind by David Wells

This books takes a common subject, the Love of God, and gives it tremendous depth.  If you want your affections stirred for God, this is a great place to start.

I’ll stop there, because I don’t want to overwhelm you with choices.  Feel free to reach out to me as I love to give book recommendations.  Even if it is just one book, try to read something this summer.  Not only will you benefit from what you read, but again, it will help you grow in your ability to read the most important book of all time.

Enjoy the workout!

Pastor Jeff

Twitter @Pastor_Jeff

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