Reading in the Christian Home

 

GUEST ARTICLE

Reading in the Christian Home

Part 1

Introduction

 

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jer 15:16). To some extent, you are exactly what you are except for the books you read, the people you meet, the places you go, and what the Holy Spirit does in your life. Think about it. Reading as a good habit is on the decline; it is being replaced by television, movies, surfing the net, computer games, social networking, and cell phones.

 

Readers are leaders. They are generally far better equipped in life and in the service of the Lord as effective teachers, mature saints, and disciples. Readers of good books are greatly helped by the experiences of others (i.e., good authors), as they share deep trials during difficult times, because they receive a clearer view of how God deals with His people when He sees them through to victory in life’s trials. The Word of God well read is an anchor in a godly life and in the church (Psa 119:105).

The Benefits of Disciplined Reading

It has been said that disciplined and avid readers generally have these advantages:

 

1.    Know more, write better, communicate more effectively, and concentrate better.

2.    Better appreciate and understand a wide variety of themes and subjects.

3.    Process new information well; make better decisions, and better solve-problems.

4.    Command the language through vocabulary and expression in writing, speech, and conversation.

5.    Have wider interests, are more focused to achieve their goals, and are better accomplished.

6.    Understand people and events better.

7.    Sift through information faster and discern how key facts fit into a whole.

8.    Be more flexible and agile in mental capacity, and be more creative.

 

Growing a Personal Library

I enjoy reading good edifying books and have a personal library of about 4,000 books; my wife has many books of her own as well. This did not happen overnight! I will often invest in a good Christian book for the nourishment of the soul, just as we do in good food for the nourishment of our bodies. We must encourage children and youths to read more too; the best way is by example. They should read valuable books, not romantic stories or unedifying books.

I like to give good relevant Christian books to family and friends for their birthdays and special occasions. I always pray that it will be a blessing to their souls as they read and apply truth to their lives. Perhaps one day they will be teaching others also. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezr 7:10). This is my life verse since 1992.

How to Develop a Good Reading Habit

How then can you develop a good reading habit?

 

1. Have a disciplined and industrious spirit. A lot of what goes on in a Christian life is diligence, discipline, and determination. You must learn to be disciplined in the way you manage your time in order to get the best things done in your life. A wise and growing Christian will read about an hour a day, if not more. Good planning on what and when you will read, and when you want to complete each book, also yields much fruit.

 

2. Have a healthy appetite for spiritual things. Strive to be inquisitive and grow in the practical application of the Scriptures to all of life (1Ti 4:7-8). I have read quite a few books on church history because I am interested to know what has happened in the past and how it has affected the church. I will also read books on the covenants, Old and New Testaments, apologetics, biblical counseling, salvation, and holiness because these practical doctrinal themes are vital to all of life. Cul­tivate a healthy sense of curiosity for spiritual things. Search and dig deeply to find gems of teaching out of God’s Holy Word and good books.

Tips for Effective Reading

 

Consider the following to read more profitably.

 

1. Consider the place, pace, and time of day that suits you best, such as the number of pages per day to aim for, morning or evening, etc.

 

2. Pray first for a clear mind to read and think carefully. Let good Christian books give you food for thought. Assess critically what you read and analyze the content. Think and muse over it in your spare moments. Is it true and relevant or is there something to avoid? Write down your thoughts when you learn a new phase, fact, or word—and use it in conversation the next time you can. This will reinforce what you have learned to improve your vocabulary and wisdom.

 

3. Read and talk about it. Share with others the impressions that you have about the book and make recommendations of books verbally to others. Let them share with you their thoughts as well. This will greatly enrich edifying spiritual conversation and it is one of the best ways to test and share your knowledge. Some enjoy gathering a “reading group,” where several friends will read the same book concurrently, and share what they are learning. Today, this can be done easily with friends even in other places via blogs and email.

 

4. Read and write about it and be challenged. Write a review or summary of the book; give credit to the author when credit is due. Share the summary you write with someone who blogs, so it may be posted for others to learn from. Perhaps [they will] read the book also. Send a section to your local newspaper as a “letter to the editor.”

 

5. Read systematically and widely. Read many genres of books so that your knowledge is balanced and well rounded. Read a full range of vital topics in theology, church history, OT and NT commentaries, apologetics, Christian ethics, prayer, worship, economics, world events, marriage, family, and child-rearing, etc. Let a good Christian biography like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, or David Brainerd encourage and motivate you. Read sound doctrinal books to understand God better. Let a devotional book stir self-examination and a greater con­se­cra­tion and service to Christ.

 

6. Read always with a pen or pencil to underline, make observations, and note key points and lessons learned. Short notes are better than long memories. Have a good book with you when you are “on the go” and anticipate some waiting times. However little time you may have to spare in any week, try to read even if it is only a few pages. Once formed, the reading habit will stay with you throughout your life, with constant discipline and practice (1Ti 4:13).

 

7. Your first priority throughout life is to read, meditate upon, and apply God’s Word. Other book reading must never displace Bible reading. Only the Word is infallible and authoritative; all other books are good only as they promote biblical understanding, sound application, and knowledge of the truth (2Ti 2:15).

 

8. Ensure your children are developing this habit. Give them specific books to read and have them write a book report for each one. Use it to give feedback to them on sound doctrine, worldview, English grammar, vocabulary, composition, and writing style.

 

Reading is a spiritual and mental discipline. Let us resolve to read the bible daily and to read at least one Christian book each one to three months. With just half an hour a day, you will finish reading a book very soon and be blessed by its content. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev 1:3).

 

–Jack Sin

Used with permission

(Mt. Zion Bible Church/Chapel Library; Ministries Update—Fall, 2013)

Chapellibrary.org

[Although it may be good to read biographies occasionally, there are also negatives. Many of these life stories may be of men and women who technically may be called false teachers or at least compromisers. Thus, we counsel you to beware. Especially beware of taking accounts of devotion and sacrifice as indicators of one’s relationship with the Lord and devotion to His cause.]

 

 

Comments are closed.