On Reading

"If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads but what he rereads.” Francois Mauriac

I know people who will only read a book one time. I have certainly read my fair share of books that didn’t deserve to be read even once, but there are some that deserve a second, third or even annual read.

Warren Wiersbe was the person who introduced me to the concept of planned recurring reading. He mentions it in his book “Living with the Giants: The Lives of Great Men of Faith”, a must-read compilation of influential Christians. In it he gives suggestions for reading the material penned by his subjects, and he mentions several titles he reads either yearly or every few years.

This has proven to be a profitable practice for me. I have several books that I try to read every year or so, and each time I am amazed to discover something new, be convicted by something neglected, and refreshed by something familiar. I’ve blogged about the benefit that I have received by using “My Utmost for His Highest” for the last few years and a friend mentioned to me Sunday that she has been using “Streams in the Desert” for more years than she can remember. Like an old friend or a favorite place, returning to something we’ve read before produces a sense of the past coupled with a promise of the future. Who are we now, in this season?

Have we grown in the Lord and the truths He showed us when we first read it? Why or why not? What’s different in our lives since the last reading, and what is the same? In a day when every check of the email brings another ad from another publisher, book club or store for new, new, new, we can neglect the treasure of the tried and true.

Books are not potato chips, devoured almost unthinkingly one right after the other. Good Christian books open up the Word of God, reveal Him, teach and instruct us, encourage and strengthen us and yes, even spank us. And when we are done, we should be different. We should be changed, maybe a little, maybe a lot, but not who we were when we began to read. If it doesn’t reveal who God is and make you more like Jesus, don’t read it again. But if it does, make a point to revisit that place where you heard Him and heeded Him.

My favorites?
Summer: Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss Fall: Christ Indwelling and Enthroned or Sufficient Grace by J. Oswald Sanders Winter: Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss Spring: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Philip Keller

There are others, like Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe and Charlie Campbell’s “One Minute Answers to Skeptics Top 40 Questions.” A healthy dose of Jan Karon is always good for the soul; I reread at least one Elisabeth Elliot book every year. Every now and then I reread one of Alan Redpaths devotional commentaries, Nehemiah is my favorite.

No, I don’t watch much television and yes, my child is grown. But every one has twenty four hours in a day and if you’re going to read, make it His Word, and if there is time, consider revisiting an old friend.


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