By: Brian Borgman
New Years is a great time to reset your resolve and set your sights on spiritual pursuits. We are commanded to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:16). Reading is an important part of the growth process. Let me give you some unasked for advice about reading.
If you struggle with reading, start by reading Gene Veith’s booklet, Why God Gave Us a Book (available in the bookroom). God speaks to us through His Word. If we are not in His Word daily, then who are we really listening to? Our own hearts? (Scary!) The media? Our favorite pundit?
We need to hear from God. We hear from Him when the Word is taught and preached. We hear from Him when we read His Word, meditate on it and hide it in our hearts. Here is my annual plug for a reading plan. Why a reading plan? Because reading plans (1) keep us disciplined and (2) they help us to read the Word widely. If left to ourselves, to just read wherever “we feel led” we will be led to sporadic reading and that in a rather disconnected way. Choose a plan that is suitable for you. There are many to choose from and we provide some for you every year.
So our first and foremost priority needs to be reading God’s Word. We should be people of the book. But we should also be reading books that supplement our understanding and edify us. The Reformation got people reading. In the Puritan era, people became readers. Reading Christian books is a part of our wonderful heritage.
If you struggle finding time to read, be creative in redeeming the time to read. If we are proactive and accustomed to taking a book with us when we are out and about, we will find 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. Also, keep a reading project strategically located in key locations. Keep a devotional book with your Bible so that you can get a few minutes every day.
But also choose books that will feed your soul. I am currently loving both Ichthus: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior by Sinclair Ferguson and Derek Thomas and Knowing Christ by Mark Jones. Both titles are published by Banner of Truth. Both books are a delight because they focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. They are devotionally written. Of course, there are other reading projects that we should take up. If I were to create a “Christian’s Must Read” list, it would look something like this:
- J.I. Packer, Knowing God
- J.C. Ryle, Holiness
- John Owen, Sin and Temptation
- John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
- Calvin’s Institutes
- John Piper, Desiring God and The Pleasures of God
- Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections
- Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness and Trusting God
- And an assortment of Christian biographies (I give a big bibliography in Feelings and Faith).
Be careful and don’t waste time reading books that won’t edify. Generally, avoid Christian books that are on best-sellers list. Generally, fluff and/or heresy. Spend your time on proven books and proven authors. If a certain author writes a new book, I will buy it out of principle, because of their track record (that list is pretty short for me: D.A. Carson, Tom Schreiner, Doug Moo, John Piper, J.I. Packer, Sinclair Ferguson, John Frame to name a few. I also keep my eyes out for reprints of classic works and new Greek grammars!).
So this new year, set your sights on some reading goals. Make them modest. Prioritize the Bible. Select a good book and stick with it. May 2016 be a year filled with hearing from God and learning more about Him and His ways.