Reading Matters

“Just as art needs no justification—we may rest assured that beauty, goodness, and truth are well able to fend for themselves—so also the shelf life needs no defense.” -Tristan Gylberd

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come, bring with you, and the books, but especially the parchments” – 2 Tim. 4:13. We have no idea what these books were, but we do know that they were very important to Paul.

Charles Spurgeon said of Paul’s request: “He is inspired, yet he wants books! He has been preaching for 30 years, yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He has had a wider experience than most men, yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third Heaven, and heard things it is unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, yet he wants books!

”As I have read and studied about the lives of great Christians, leaders and thinkers; nothing stands out more consistently or monumentally than that they overcame great difficulty and were influenced by great books. Books may serve as a mirror or looking glass, and frequently provide us essential insights and inspiration. How often a good book has been instrumental in developing an identity, choosing a calling, receiving needed correction, or catalyzing one’s big ideas. I believe the desired mortar for life, and necessary materials for building leadership are available on bookshelves near you.

Mark Twain once said, “Travel somehow broadens the mind and softens the heart.” The same could be said of reading. “The image of life as a road (journey) is probably the single most popular image in the world’s literature—all the great epics are true to life by being true to this image”(Peter Kreeft). In books, we have the uncanny ability to observe the mountaintops and valleys of human experience from a safe distance. Close enough to see and feel; yet far enough from the reality (of warfare, storms, successes, sickness, broken hearts or dreams) to learn from and live to tell about it. We can travel anywhere, sit at the feet of anyone and journey through any experience to learn life’s greatest lessons. We simply need to pick up the right book, a good book and read on. Warren Wiersbe said, “Reading is not a matter of having time, but of taking time, of making time. We always make time for the things that are important to us…Readers are Leaders! invest time in reading good books.”

The value of reading is inestimable. “You are what you read.” “Reading is to the mind what (food and) exercise is to the body. As by one, health is preserved, strengthened and invigorated; by the other, virtue-which is the health of the mind-is kept alive, cherished and confirmed” (Joseph Addison). It has been said that the mind grows by what it takes in, and the heart grows by what it gives out. Therefore, a life committed to reading and giving is the most likely to mature and influence.

We should never forget that “the battle for ideas is fought between the covers of books” (G.E. Veith). Also, “you can find all the new ideas in old books; only there you will find them balanced, kept in their place, and sometimes contradicted and overcome by other and better ideas” (G.K. Chesterton). It is certainly true that books and history have a wonderful way of freeing us from ignorance and the cult of the contemporary. Let us remember, that God inspired authorship of a book—the Bible; and both gave us teachers and called us to a life of learning (discipleship).

At 20Twenty, our hope is to inspire you to embrace a life of enrichment –feeding on the treasure stores of wisdom, and growing from the life-lessons only found in human experience. May you delve into these recommended readings; and find yourself reading daily, deeply and intentionally. By doing this, you may win the war for clarity of vision and thought that is so critical to our health, vitality and posterity. Then, as Stu Webber aptly said, you will “see into life—not just look at it! You will look ahead, scan the horizon, anticipate needs and opportunities, spot potential dangers, define, discern, delineate direction, and chart a wise course.”

Happy Reading,
Pastor Chip

“How much richer we would be if we would refuse the books of the hour and discover again the books of the ages” (Robert Murray McCheyne).