Sunday, February 03, 2008

Q and A: About Your Favorite Books List

QUESTION: "As a relatively new believer, I now read ... exclusively books written by Christian authors. I have seen the list of books you recommend, and many of those books are not written by people who believe. How do you select these books for you? How do you keep from being affected by views of people who may not know the truth? I know it is essential for you, being an author, to develop your skills through reading other authors, but how do you decide which book to take into your hands, and which book to stop reading if it goes too far, and how do you detach yourself from the content of it?"

ANSWER: The single most important way I protect myself is through the daily intake of the Word of God by means of the man I believe is my right pastor teacher. My pastor studies the Bible daily and deeply, then teaches (almost daily) based on his understanding of the original languages, the historical and cultural setting at the time of writing and how other pertinent scriptures in the Bible compare to the one being looked at.

After becoming saved, the new believer is challenged "to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ." "God is spirit and we must worship Him in Spirit (the Filling of the Holy Spirit) and in truth (knowledge, belief and application of the word of God)." We are to "present our bodies a living sacrifice" (bring them to where they can hear the word being taught) so that our minds might be renewed or, more accurately, renovated. God's ways and thoughts are not our ways. There is a complete worldly/human way of thinking that is totally different from God's viewpoint. We must set ourselves to learn His viewpoint and make it ours.

In any subject we care to master (tennis, bridge, computer games, a foreign language, math) the more we study and practice it, the faster and better we learn it. Daily practice is the best. So why not apply that obvious principle to the most important thing of all: our spiritual lives and relationship with God? Through the daily study of God's word I come to learn what is truth and what is false.

It's not just knowledge of the word of God, however, that helps me choose my reading material. I also rely on the filling of the Holy Spirit to guide me. If I start a book and don't like the things I'm reading... I quit.

I suggest you do likewise. If you don't feel led to read a book at all, don't. If you read something by an author that you see is very much against the Word but is being presented as fine and even good or normal, stop and don't read any more by that author. I have a couple of authors whose past work I've loved but who are moving in directions I don't care for. Life is short. You don't have to finish every book you start and you certainly don't have to read all the books you think you might like to or that people tell you you should. (Also, if I'm not completely caught by a book in the first chapter or so, I often skim through to find out where it's going, how it ends. If I don't like it, I set it aside, which is just what I did -- standing in the store -- with Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy .)

You're right to be concerned about all this. We are to take care what we hear and see and read...

Tomorrow, Part 2: A few things that help me to select and enjoy secular books.