We Christians are people of The Book. God has revealed Himself and His will to us in the Word. And having the Bible in our own language is an amazing blessing; we ought to read and study and meditate on it with joy and thanksgiving! How we view and treat God’s Word is a good way to gauge our hearts: a healthy, growing Christian life is nourished and sustained by regular consumption of Holy Scripture (see Matthew 4:4; John 6:35). May God awaken us to the glory of His Word!
That concept of waking up to the reality of God’s glory was brought home to me recently as I joined a group of men to study a book which looks at Christ’s parables (Glory Veiled and Unveiled by Gerald Bilkes). And this highlights how useful good, godly books can be as we think and discuss what the Christian life looks like in our daily lives. We MUST exercise wisdom and discernment in what we read because there are shelves full of books that are at best unhelpful and at worst actually dangerous to our spiritual wellbeing. (For those interested in pursuing this line of thought, I would commend The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies.) But we certainly should take advantage of the many good books that are so readily accessible to us.
Summer often allows us additional time to read – perhaps at the beach or in a mountain cabin. But rather than give you a book list, I wanted to recommend some other kinds of reading that you might benefit from even as I have. Yes, I love books, but I have also been blessed by several thought-provoking blogs (sent to my email daily), by a couple of magazines, and by something our entire family loves – audiobooks. It is easy to be overwhelmed with all that’s being published and promoted these days, so I’ll limit my suggestions to just two. If you will take a few minutes to check out the following resources, you may find yourself delighted with reading that goes beyond the summer vacation.
A blog, according to Dictionary.com is “a web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other web sites.” Someone can subscribe to a blog and have it emailed to you daily; it would be similar to receiving the newspaper every morning. Two blogs that I have consistently found helpful are (1) from the Gospel Coalition (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/), and (2) from Tim Challis (http://www.challies.com/). Both blogs keep me abreast of current events and help me think through the issues from a Biblical perspective. Not every article or link will intrigue you, but if you take thirty seconds to skim the headlines, I’m sure you’ll find something to nibble on! The websites above give lots of information on the “Who, What, Why” questions you may have.
Magazines have been around for a very long time, and some have speculated that the internet and blogs might make magazines a thing of the past. But I certainly enjoy being able to roll one up and take it with me wherever I go! Two wonderful options to check out if you haven’t looked at them before are (1) World Magazine, and (2) ByFaith. World is a biweekly publication whose mission statement accurately describes what they do: “To report, interpret, and illustrate the news in a timely, accurate, enjoyable, and arresting fashion from a perspective committed to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.” I have thoroughly enjoyed their quotes and cartoons as well as the in-depth reporting and reviews of music, movies, and books. A big bonus for our family is that they also publish age and grade specific magazines which our kids are thrilled to read (visit www.GWNews.com for more information). World has also entered the digital age with their own website (www.worldmag.com) and a podcast. ByFaith has the distinction of offering FREE subscriptions as well as being our denominational magazine. They have very good articles and insights and I would really encourage you to pick up a copy from the narthex next time you come to church.
Last, but not least, are all the wonderful audiobooks that are now available. We have found them to be especially great for long car trips! My first recommendation is not a specific book, but an organization that produces top quality dramatizations: Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. We have been mesmerized by C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. Their production of Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is second to none. My second recommendation is simply to make use of your local public library! I have found several of Tim Keller’s books on CD at our local branch. That way you can listen to great Christian stories or teaching without having to spend a dime!
May God bless you as you invest time perusing these and other timely Christian resources. And may you enjoy your summer!