Reading Is A Gift From God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” — John 1:1

I do not take for granted that it is a gracious gift from God that I was born in a first-world country and allowed an education and thus the ability to read. And with that I have been granted access to many things to read and learn from and enjoy. Although we have countless ways to be entertained and informed, the fact that God gives us his revelation through words should not be lost on us. Reading matters.

As I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate reading more. When I was a child, my mother gave me the wonderful gift of reading to me. She read stories from the Ken Taylor Storybook Bible each night before we went to bed. She would let us pick out which story we’d read — my brother and me — and then she’d ask questions after each reading. It’s a sweet memory. It was my first taste of the wonders of books.

To be honest, I am not a huge reader, by volume or pace. I read slowly and am easily distracted. So, for me, to read is an act of discipline and a labor of love. I have to consciously set aside time and then resist the temptation to turn my attention other places. But the reward is great enough that I turn to it again and again.

What do books do for you that you can’t get from a movie or television? They teach you patience and persistence. Is that a good thing? Yes. Reading also teaches you to trust the author. What looks troubling on page 20 can be resolved on page 459. Why not resolve it on page 20? or page 1? you ask. Why waste the reader’s time? You don’t because there is much to learn in the pages between that you would be the lesser for if you didn’t read them. What you become — as a reader of the story — by page 459 you wouldn’t have attained at page 1. That is a gift of the author.

Life works more like books than movies or TV. I am better for having read books. And the patience borne of being a reader teaches you to look at life in the same way. What we are given by God are not everything we want to know, when we want to know it. There are mysteries that come dribbling to us, bit by bit. There are threads in our story that are also threads in a larger story that only the Author has determined. We are just a part of the bigger story.

Is that fair? Fair to whom? We have been given a role in the Story and our every move has been considered and plotted. It is for our good.

So, this new year, if you haven’t already resolved — or considered — to read more you certainly should. And while you’re at it, read more from what the Author Himself has revealed to us. To know Him more is to love Him.

Crossway introduces ESV Study Bible app

While you can still download the ESV Bible app for free, Crossway has now announced that you can get the ESV Bible + app (the ESV Study Bible) for iPad and iPhone (and iPod Touch).  For the next 48 hours, you can get the ESV Bible + app for $9.99, after which it will be at the introductory rate of $12.99 until Aug. 7. After that it will go for $14.99.

While that may seem like a steep price for something you can get for free (the ESV Bible app), you have to remember that the print version of the ESV Study Bible goes for $49.99. The ESV Study Bible is an amazing resource and to be able to carry that around with you in your pocket it amazing.

What is Hitchens thinking? Doug Wilson discusses ‘Collision’ with John Piper

‘Collision’ premiered Friday at the 2009 Desiring God National Conference. If you’re not familiar with it, “Collision” is a documentary on the series of debates between pastor/theologian Doug Wilson and atheist/author Christopher Hitchens on their book “Is Christianity Good for the World?”

After the movie was shown, Wilson sat down with pastor John Piper to answer a few questions about the film:

  • Christopher Hitchens said at the end of the movie that, given the chance, he wouldn’t convert the last theist. Why do you think he said that?
  • What is Hitchens’ best counterpoint to the claim that he is getting his morality for judging Christianity from Christians?
  • What is the relationship between doing apologetics and evangelizing?
  • In the video you speak about having “copiousness.” Describe what that is and whether you think it is important for pastors to cultivate.
  • What is your hope for this film?
  • What about the “s” word at the end of the film? Why do you allow for it here but don’t tolerate it from your children?
  • Why the recent upsurge in the New Atheism?
Click on the image to view the video
Click on the image to view the video

The 2009 Desiring God National Conference is going on this weekend in Minneapolis. The theme of this year’s conference is “With Calvin in the Theater of God.” You can follow along with the conference’s messages and find audio and video here.

Remembering those who pay the price to advance the gospel

Filling Up the Afflictions of ChristTwitter and Facebook, for all that they offer, will never give us anything like the biography and what it offers. What you get is perspective, something that is sorely lacking in the let-me-tell-you-about-me world of social media.

So, it is with great pleasure that I can tell you about the latest round of biographical accounts by John Piper, this time called “Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel the the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton.” The book, the latest in his The Swans Are Not Silent series, is now on sale at Desiring God. Here is how it is described at the site:

The history of Christianity’s expansion proves that God’s strategy for reaching unreached peoples with the gospel includes the sufferings of his frontline heralds—the missionaries who willingly die a thousand daily deaths to advance God’s kingdom.

The price William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton paid to translate the Word of God, pave the way for missionary mobilization around the world, and lead the hostile to Christ was great. Yet their stories show how the gospel advances not only through the faithful proclamation of the truth but through representing the afflictions of Christ in our sufferings.

These aren’t big books, yet there is much to be gained through being introduced to the lives of these men who “the world was not worthy of.”

To read and hear biographical messages on these men, visit the links below.

Why William Tyndale Lived and Died

Suffering and Success in the Life of Adoniram Judson

You Will Be Eaten by Canibals! Lessons in the Life of John G. Paton

What’s the problem with the church?

Why We Love the ChurchKevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, who brought us “Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be), have teamed up for a new book that looks at the local church and its biblical mandate. The book, called “Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion,” is due out July 1 and is described this way by the publisher:

Why We Love the Church presents the case for loving the local church.  It paints a picture of the local church in all its biblical and real life guts, gaffes, and glory in an effort to edify local congregations and entice the disaffected back to the fold.  It also provides a solid biblical mandate to love and be part of the body of Christ and counteract the “leave church” books that trumpet rebellion and individual felt needs. 

DeYoung, in lead up to the book’s release, looks at reasons people are disillusioned with the church. He breaks those reasons into four groups:

  • Missiological — it doesn’t work any more and is making no difference whatsoever
  • The Personal — it’s views are too harsh toward certain groups and unloving and has an “image problem”
  • The Historical — the church is corrupted from its original pristine state
  • The Theological — the modern view of the church is foreign to what Jesus came for in the Bible

Over the coming weeks, DeYoung will post excerpts from the book and address these concerns. I look forward to reading them and the book’s release.

Your family makes a poor god

Matt Chandler, pastor at The Village Church in Texas, is preaching through a series called “The Great Cause.” During this past Sunday’s message, “The Reason,”  he spoke about how we really aren’t good at all, pointing to God loving us way more than we deserve. One part of the message I thought was particularly apt was when he talked about how our sins keep us from God.

In Isaiah 59:2 it says: “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” When we are fallen we try to make secondary things in our lives the primary thing. The excerpt below is stinging in our church culture.

The Great Cause excerpt