I read a great number of Christian biographies – ones of men and women from by-gone centuries – D.L. Moody, Charles Finney, Smith Wigglesworth, Norman Grubb…
I read a lot of Christian biographies of believers who are of our generation – Kirk Cameron, Johnny Cash, Jim Bakker, Charles Colson…
I also admit to reading a lot of biographies of people who are not or may not be believers – Sidney Poitier, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, Michael J. Fox, Eric Hansen (went through the Borneo rain forest on foot), Aron Ralston (cut his own arm off as it kept him stuck between two rocks after a climbing accident) …
I may as well confess up – I am a book-a-holic.
Just read “The Secret River” by Kate Grenville (about the British convicts that settled Australia and their fight against the elements and the original inhabitants of the country) and am currently reading “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill (a Canadian) about a young girl in the 1800’s taken as a slave to the new world and her jouney from North Carolina to New Brunswick and then back to her homeland and on to England to help remove the slave trade from the British Empire.
Yes, I read Christian books as well. Texts, Bible commentaries and some of the current books on the market – but only some, as a lot of Christian non-fiction books are simply fluff and fill with little substance and little correct biblical teaching. Books being written for the sake of books being written and to help grease the machine called “my ministry”.
As believers we need to read widely – and work intentionally to stay out of the Christian book ghetto. Too often we immerse ourselves in Christian books – texts, Bible study books, commentaries, and even Christian novels. It would be good, once in a while, to read what the world you are trying to reach is reading. It helps you to stay in touch with the “real world” as much as we, at times, wish we didn’t have to. It helps us to know what people are thinking, what the trends are, where society is going, what the next movies will be about (as many films were once books first – like “The Kite Runner” on life in Afganistan – a great read).
It is not hard to read a book or two (or three or four) a week. Set out the book you want to read the following week on Saturday. Sit down and see how long the book is and find out if it has any natural breaks. Then, divide the book into 7 parts (as equal as possible) based either on the natural divisions or the number of chapters. Then, starting on Sunday (the first day of the week) read 1/7 of the book. By the next Saturday you will have read a book.
Now, it’s a little more complicated than that. You will have to set this task as one of your top priorities and make time to read. It might mean turning off the television more often. It might mean saying no to being with others as frequently – and avoiding those coffee shop conversations that often are long on talk and short on substance and somewhat repetitive.
Always carry the book with you (or another one) as you will find you have a few minutes “to kill” while waiting for someone or stuck in traffic. Why waste or ‘kill’ time when you can invest it and become much wiser as a result. The bathroom will gain you 5 minutes … the BBQ, if you put the controls to minimum, will gain you 20 minutes as you cook the meat for supper … take it as you walk the dog and stop half-way (especially if you walk a few miles each time you walk the dog as I do) and read a chapter while you sit under a tree and enjoy summer … Be creative and it won’t be long before you are reading several books a week! More if you are not a fairly slow reader as I am.
While reading – watch for things you are learning and mark the book up. Some of the things I mark (and go back to computerize) include:
1> Something that spoke to me personally (journalling)
2> A new word I did not know (personal dictionary)
3> A reference to a book I, of course, then need to buy (Chapters or Amazon Wishbook)
4> A good illustration for a sermon or teaching -Okay, I’m a preacher – give me a break! (story file)
5> Something I can share with others (you know, at the next dull party or social I attend)
6> A quote that you found hit home
A quote I discovered the other day …
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that he didn’t trust me so much.” Mother Teresa
I wrote that one in the back of my Bible under – “things to think on when overwhelmed!”