Perhaps the most profound influence a person can have in the life of another is to come alongside him and have a one-on-one encounter. Great learning, exhortation and edification can take place in this sort of relationship. Since we don’t have the luxury of having personal disciplers in every discipline, we must go to the books to get the learning, exhortation and edification we need.
Mark Twain famously said that, “the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” When we pick up a book, we are coming alongside for a pseudo one-on-one relationship and an opportunity to learn from someone who has done the research and become an expert in their subject.
The bookshelf should be viewed as a tool crib of sorts. For those in the ministry, books are hammers and saws, our drills and levels. We should never stop purchasing the tools we need for our work. We should never abandon the tools of our trade.
Reading prevents stagnation. Reading encourages our spirits. Reading rebukes our hearts. Reading informs our ignorance. Reading reminds us of our responsibilities. Reading opens up the possibilities. Reading increases our logical capacities.
God expects us to be a word-centered populace. He gave us His Word. He commanded that we know and learn it. A signifincant percent of our world’s population has been labeled as “oral learners,” meaning they learn best by hearing (not reading). There are good reasons to be prepared to evangelize them and to encourage them, but our long-term aim should be to make them literate so they can read the Bible.
In 1647, Massechusetts enacted the Old Deluder Satan Act demanding that towns with populations over 50 persons hire a teacher to teach their children to read and to write so that Satan would not be able to keep them from a knowledge of the truth. Massachusetts was legislating against ingorance!
I fully realize that there is a lot of nonsense and unnecessaries that have been written. It is good, generally, for us to avoid the bulk of garbage, but it’s not always necessary. It’s good to read our opponent’s positions. It promotes well-roundedness to peruse Sporting News. For goodness sake, it’s good to read Calvin and Hobbes!
My strongest warning would be that we avoid slipshod and lazy logic in the books we read. It’s very easy to get a book published (you can publish your own if you wish). A writer can write his book and include lots of true things, but if he uses poor reasoning he will discredit himself and his message.
This week I will start the process of builiding my Tool Crib. It’s a separate tab on this blog devoted to my book recommendations for your betterment. It’s a simple listing of the books that have shaped my life and thinking. Feel free to do what you will this list. Most of you will read it out of curiosity. Some will come looking for their next book.
I would also invite you to add to the list. I will allow comments to the page for you to add your own recommendations. When commenting, please include a sentence or two of reasons why you are recommending the book(s).