I was in college when I read a book that captivated me. It was an apologetics book where a theology professor was writing letters back-and-forth with his atheist father, and he carefully and winsomely explained his Christian views. The problem was, some of those views were radical reinterpretations of what the Bible teaches. Because of this book there were a number of significant doctrines that I misunderstood for years. Since then, I have grown more discerning and careful about evaluating what I read and listen.
We are all called to be careful readers and listeners, to be on guard against false teachers. Sometimes it might come off as spiritual superiority (“I know better than they do, I’m not falling for it!”) or spiritual arrogance (“I can’t believe you’d read that book”). We need to remain humble even as we grow in our spiritual discernment, but one of my great concerns for Christians today is a lack of spiritual discernment.
There are authors and musicians (yes, our Christian music can easily spread false teaching) who are on the Christian best seller’s list, but they’re false teachers who should be avoided. Sure, maybe their books are really fun to read, their personalities are engaging, and some of their stuff is helpful. But the Bible calls Christians to be spiritually discerning, because there are false teachers who can lead well-intentioned believers astray.
Do false teachers concern you? Do you ask theological questions about the books you read, music you listen to, shows you watch, or teachers you learn from? Sadly, we cannot simply trust anyone who talks about Jesus and quotes the Bible.
Mature Christians are readers. It is more difficult to become a mature believer if you do not (or cannot) read… because God revealed himself through a book. The Bible is the Word of God, his self-revelation to humanity so that we would know who is he, what he’s done, how we can be made right before him, and where we’re heading.
Not all books are created equal, and you simply cannot read everything out there.
Join me in having a reading plan: whether it’s a yearly or quarterly focus. Here are some tips I’ve learned about reading, and questions I’m working through as I develop my reading plan for 2017.
It’s the final week of 2016 so I figure it’s time to share some of best books I’ve read year. Some of these were published this year, some were not.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t read books. Blogs are enough to keep up with, but books are too long,” then let me encourage you to stop reading this blog if it means you start reading good books again. Seriously, books are that valuable.
Mature Christians should be readers, for God made his Word available to us through the written word. Good books are are worth the investment… and this is why these type of lists are helpful (to keep you away from books that aren’t worth the time).
The Christian who doesn’t read will always struggle to hear God speak. Because God has chosen to give us his Word in written form through the Holy Bible. And as Mark Twain is supposedly said, “He who does not read has no advantage over he who cannot read.”
While it’s helpful to remember that God speaks through his Word, I have a feeling that many Christians open their Bible, read the passage, and then think, “Ok… now what?” So then they re-read a few verses, pray, and then close their Bible after wondering if they just failed at reading their Bible.
Fellow pastors, we need to stop telling people what to do without equipping them how to do it!
As a youth pastor, for many years I was far more guilty of this very thing than I’d like to admit. Over the last few years I’ve started prioritizing teaching students how to read the Bible, not just convincing them that they should read it. So whether you’re a teenager or retired, I trust the following could help you grow in your ability to read and understand the Bible in your personal life. Continue reading