As we say goodbye to 2013 and look forward to 2014, I find myself resolving to read more in the new year. Hopefully you do, too, for reading is an important discipline that brings many wonderful benefits into the life of a Christian. So, here is a brain dump on the topic which may or may not prove helpful. I present it with the prayer that the former proves true.
I need to read the Bible in 2014. This is a given. I pastor Friendship BIBLE Church. I proclaim loudly from the pulpit that the Bible is the Word of God, shows us the heart of God, and uncovers the will of God and plan of God for life. I need to read it more. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 NKJV) Concerning God's words, the psalmist said More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalms 19:10, 11 NKJV)
- I need to read the Bible systematically in 2014. There are so many reading plans available. I need to pick one and follow it. (You? I can point you to a number of good reading plans. Ask.)
- I need to read the PAPER Bible in 2014. This may seem odd, but let me explain. For the past several years I've done my Bible reading on an iPad. Great. Wonderful tool. Few could claim to be a greater supporter of the technology than me. But I've noticed some things that concern me. I find now that when I do pick up the Bible, I cannot find things as quickly as before. I've lost some of my edge in Sword drills! And I miss the ability to take notes and find them later. Yes, note-taking is built in to the iPad apps I use, but it's simply not the same. I can pick up an old Bible filled with notes from 20 years ago, and I am immediately reminded of things learned previously. And those same notes may someday edify my kids or grandkids. I can leave them a Bible, whereas the electronic notes on my iPad... not so much. So, for 2014 I'm going low tech and will use my good old leather bound Bible for my daily reading. The iPad will still be there, and is unsurpassed for deeper study. But I want the smell of leather and paper along with my coffee in the morning.
In 2014, I need to read more of the books God has preserved. Books are churned out at an astonishing rate these days. Christian authors abound. I've even published a few myself this year. But few... very few, of the books that are popular today will even be in print a few short years from now. Take a trip to Ollie's and look at the book racks. As you walk between the shelves filled with yesterday's best sellers being dumped at Goodwill prices, you'll see what I mean. But there are also many spectacular works that God has singularly blessed and preserved. Some classics never go out of print, for they never cease to be relevant and helpful. Authors like Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan (Have you read Pilgrim's Progress?? Spectacular stuff!!), CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, etc. Timeless. Oh, I'll still read a little of Dever and Mohler and DeYoung. But in 2014, I need to skew my reading toward the things God has chosen to put His stamp of approval on. (You?) After all, the endless attempts by many authors to invent something new and fresh is less than Biblical, anyway. Solomon (an ancient author whose writings God has preserved, I think) wrote that there is nothing new under the sun.
In 2014, I need to read more books that will help me cultivate the gifts God has entrusted to me. Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift that God had given him. I need to read more on preaching and teaching. I have much to learn. I need to read more on how to shepherd the flock of God. I need to read things that will help me keep the gifts of God stirred up. (You? What is/are your gift/gifts?)
In 2014, I need to read more, and watch less. The deeper our society falls into the cesspool of sin and immorality, the clearer it becomes that as a Christian I need to separate myself more and more from television. It becomes harder with each passing year to articulate any positives that come from that medium. Yet it occupies so much time. Reading more will help me watch less. I need that in 2014. (You?)
Well, that's enough on the topic. I hope and pray God helps me read more in 2014, and I pray the same for you.