Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Worthless or worthy reading?

Hello again: As usual i'd like to challenge, convict and encourage you out there with some thoughts that have been stirring in my mind.
Reading books (including all things: articles, blogs, whateva), listening to sermons, and going to conferences for WHAT?
The pursuit of godliness MUST be supreme in all we do, I propose that much of what is done is done without much thought or much evaluation.
I don't know about you but I don't personally feel like i have an abundance of 'free' time, my time is valuable to me (although without hesitation i could say i'm still very lax in my use of what i have).
With that said: Why do you pick a book? Are you just looking for things that will confirm what you already know? Reading only those things that stress the problems you are already seeing?
YET, how much time do you give to reading (or listening to) those things which you presume will convict and nurture you? Do you tend to avoid those books? Are you prone to reading entertaining books or merely intellectual books?
Consider your most favorite books or books you are quick to recommend: ARE THEY FRUITFUL? How exactly did they affect you?
ADVICE? Well i would refer to Macarthur's Q&A at a conference: A young man who was in ministry but had not had opportunity to attend seminary asked Dr. MacArthur what he would recommend to this man so he could continue learning and growing. MacArthur's answer was that this pastor should find godly men he admires and read what they read.
This is what i look for, but not just what they recommend (sometimes that's only the freshest book in their memory) but i listen to what really affected them, or what they quote often. I can't count all the times i heard Puritans quoted and so i sought out the best, or Martyn lloyd-Jones, or this biography or that classic. Take for instance John Piper (a pretty good preacher) who does he most recommend? Well the two that he's often said has the most effect on him are OWEN and EDWARDS: personally I'd rather read from the people that effected these men then to read these men. I like Piper, I like Macarthur but if i was to choose something to read then i'd go to the teachers that they refer to first. Why? Well most books today could be shortened very easily, they tend to much storytelling, not that that is wrong, but it's the norm for today. Yet for most older writers, the great majority of their writings is straight to the point. If you read Owen, Edwards, Watson, (i'd include Lloyd-Jones), Ryle, Pink, Bunyan and many more, to LOOK FOR THE CLIMAX would be futile, it's all climax! I can't tell you the many times i had a highlighter and thought "this is stupid I want to highlight the whole book", or wanting to send a quote and you can't seem to find a paragraph to start it or end it---THAT'S when you KNOW it's GOOD.
I say all this because i'm not a person who just flys through a lot of books (i have spurts where i can read a whole book-but mostly reading parts from several).
If you're like a Al Mohler and read almost everything then this doesn't apply perhaps, but i'm speaking to the normal people (and I don't envy that type of consumption).
Ministers don't just read for quotes in sermons: Your references should be mostly from scripture and quotes from recollection of things that have moved you, not something you googled to make a 'pretty' sermon. I've also heard the advice that if you want to learn to preach well, then read or listen to good preachers; Lloyd Jones had this line of thinking, he felt it was best just to ''show' someone then try to teach them some form. Ministers should also avoid reading things just to make them more intellectual (or intellectual sounding).
Let us read for the glory of God, let us spend much time reading what blesses us and will in turn bless others.
WARNING!!! Let no reading be a substitute for the word, also DON'T read hardly ANYTHING until you have a good grasp on the scriptures, get familiar with the word! Discernment comes from comparing ALL THINGS to the word of God. Forget all the compromising advice of taking it slow, Read large CHUNKS of the word, there should be times where you have BAGS under your eyes from late reading of the word.
GOT THEOLOGY? from where? and from whom? Is what you know ALL been taught to you? Have you wrestled any truths on your own, has anything really been dug out of your time in the scriptures? The best of schools are not sufficient, let none swap minds with you, you ABSOLUTELY have to EXAMINE all things in LIGHT of scripture, not YOUR SYSTEM.
RECOMMEND fruitful books to people, (personally i am extremely annoyed if i read through some book someone recommended and all it contained was about a paragraph of worthwhile writing). especially be careful with biblically ignorant people or new believers don't recommend some popular critique of something, give them a book with meat, a book full of truths in the gospel, a book full of life and searching statements!
By the way i'm not by nature a reader, i never like to read anything before conversion: but because of a MAJOR lack of good teaching, I wondered if anything good was out there, and I found much help in books. There are people that are hard to read, well then what? look for something easier? NO NO NO NO, Plead with the Lord to help you, and just keep trying (thankfully there are a lot of classics that are edited and updated to be more understandable), if anything is worth putting effort into, it's spiritual things, seek to be more disciplined. Keep in mind that some books that were hard to read a couple of months ago, just seem to come alive later on. Be blessed!

2 comments:

Whodat

I'm such an abysmally slow reader that this isn't much of an issue for me. A book has to be very compelling for me to take it on because reading any book requires long-term commitment.

This is also why Ellen Lemke may not get back her copy of "Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur" this side of the Second Coming.

Such a patient woman...

Whodat

I just remembered the other book I read from your "fruitful book" list: Pilgrim's Progress.

...but it was about 30 years ago that I read it. Does that still count?

;)

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