Tag Archive for 'Reading'

Benefits of Reading Old Books

I’ve been finding that the best books on suffering are books that are about Jesus, or the cross, or God’s character, or general theology. Many modern books on suffering are either about ‘secrets’ to overcoming it, or the better books need to convince us that suffering shouldn’t be a surprise, or that it’s not outside of God’s will.

The older books on theology mention a lot about affliction both because they lived in it, and because it’s mentioned so much in Scripture.

If we only look to the Bible for verses about our own inner needs and psychological comfort, or for physical needs and material things we think we need, we may be missing the broader teachings that will ultimately transform us instead of just inform us.

The problem with reading only contemporary work is that we all sound so contemporary that our talks and sermons soon descend to the level of kitsch. We talk fluently about the importance of self-identity, ecological responsibility, tolerance, becoming a follower of Jesus (but rarely becoming a Christian), how the Bible helps us in our pain and suffering, and conduct seminars on money management and divorce recovery. Not for a moment would I suggest that the Bible fails to address such topics—but the Bible is not primarily about such topics. If we integrate more reading of, say, John Chrysostom, John Calvin, and John Flavel (to pick on three Johns), we might be inclined to devote more attention in our addresses to what it means to be made in the image of God, to the dreadfulness of sin, to the nature of the gospel, to the blessed Trinity, to truth, to discipleship, to the Bible’s insistence that Christians will suffer, to learning how to die well, to the prospect of the new heaven and the new earth, to the glories of the new covenant, to the sheer beauty of Jesus Christ, to confidence in a God who is both sovereign and good, to the non-negotiability of repentance and faith, to the importance of endurance and perseverance, to the beauty of holiness and the importance of the local church. Is the Bible truly authoritative in our lives and ministries when we skirt these and other truly important themes that other generations of Christians rightly found in the Bible?

–D.A. Carson, Too Little Reading, Especially the Reading of Older Commentaries and Theological Works in a Themelios article: Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture in Our Lives

Themelios

Around the Web-2016’s Favorite Books

This is the obligatory roundup of posts about books that people liked from the year, devotional recommendations, and one looking forward to next year. I’ve kept the list short.

If I’m motivated enough, I’d like to put up a post about some of the books that I read.

Top 16 Books of 2016 | Desiring God

My Top Books of 2016 – Tim Challies

Daily Devotionals: Recommendations « The Reformed Reader

12 Christian Books Releasing in 2017 to Keep On Your Radar | Anchored in Christ

Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System-Everything You Need to Know

C.S. Lewis and Sinclair Ferguson both said that they wish they had read the Bible more.

Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System is a popular and intriguing reading plan where one chapter of each of ten ‘Lists’ of the Bible are read each day. So, List 1 is the Gospels, List 2 is the , another is the historical books, the wisdom books, Psalms is by itself, etc. so that you’re reading ten chapters a day. When you’re done with each list, you start that list over. As each section starts over at a different time, you’re reading different parts of the Bible together the next time you cycle through each list.

Instead of writing more about how the system works, I’ll let you read through the excellent article Professor Horner wrote, and then you can read a little about my experience, if that matters to you, along with a list of resources.

Professor Grant Horners Bible Reading System | Scribd – The Facebook page is no longer there.

I kept my eye on this reading plan, or ‘system’, for a few years. In April of 2015, I started praying that God would motivate me to want to start with it. About two days later I thought, “Why not just start now? You know you want to.” So I started then, very slightly modifying it to nine chapters a day, for about 18 months. It didn’t seem like a year and a half. (And it’s taken me this long to write a blog post about it!)

This system is mainly for familiarity with the Bible. Certainly, we should be praying through the Bible, meditating on it, and studying it. Right now I’m meditating and praying through much of the NT with a study Bible, and also slowly praying through the Psalms. I want to get more motivated to do more studying, which I did much more of in the past. I plan on returning to Professor Horner’s system within a year or two. So this isn’t made to be an all inclusive plan for your Bible consumption. Lately, I’ve only been able to do one aspect of Bible reading at a time. I’ve been spending the same amount of time on what I’m doing now as when I was reading nine chapters a day. Since it never seemed burdensome, I thought I’d keep up the discipline and not lose the mental callouses that have been built up.

Part of the goal of this system, as the article above says, is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. This happens more as we learn more of the Bible. For me, there was much more interpretation going on than I expected. But it wasn’t just Scripture interpreting Scripture. For sure, God was giving me insight into His Word. But I think he was doing that through the discipline of reading a lot of it. It was surprising, because as Professor Horner says, you need to just get through the text and not stop to look things up. The goal is to get to know Scripture better. It is Scripture that changes us in so many ways, and ingesting large doses of it may be helpful in ways we might not realize if we’re not usually spending as much time with it as this requires.

The best way to learn Biblical theology, the best way to get you out of the world’s way of thinking and into the Bible’s is to study the Bible itself. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. Read the Bible. A lot.

–James M. Hamilton Jr., What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and Patterns

If your Bible is falling apart, you probably aren’t.

–John MacArthur, as told to Grant Horner after looking at his tattered Bible (as found in the article above)

There’s a lot more I could write about, but I’ll stop there. I haven’t seen a list of apps anywhere, so I hope these are helpful.

Android Apps
YouVersion – This stops after one year, unfortunately. I didn’t want to start over; I wanted to keep going with the lists where I was.

Bookmarks – Complete Bible Reading Tool – Each of the ten lists are separate, so you could read each of the ten sections at separate paces if you would want to, and also pick up where you left off if you used YouVerion.

Pocket Bible – This has a ‘year 2’. I used both of these after year one of the YouVersion app.

Online
Prof. Horner's Bible Reading System

Traditional (paper) Bookmarks
New Bookmarks: Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System | Nathan W. Bingham

My wife used these and usually read about five chapters a day.

Lists for Printouts
At Scribd, you can sign up for a free month if you haven’t already. Then you can download the documents, as far as I can tell.

Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading Plan Checklist

Grant Horner Bible Reading System – Spreadsheet

Also see:
Quotes On Reading the Bible | Scripture Zealot blog

Photo of a Bible

First five books of the Bible.

Luther and Spurgeon on Books

After using Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System for a year and a half, while also having a dry spell for reading books at the same time, I’ve realized the importance of Scripture and have been less into reading books. I’m praying that my ambition for outside reading will return, but God has been using this period in my life to show me some things.

Scripture is what changes us and shows us who God is. Some of us really love our books, but I have to be sure to keep the right priorities. I hate to admit that it wasn’t until last year that I was able to spend much more time with the Bible than with books.

“In time,” Luther opined, “my books will lie forgotten in the dust.” This was no lament on the Reformer’s part. In fact, Luther found much “consolation” in the possibility — or rather likelihood — that his literary efforts would soon fade into oblivion. The dim view he apparently took of his own writings was intimately related to the high view he took of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, his high view of Scripture resulted in a rather dim view of all other writings, not just his own. “Through this practice [namely, writing and collecting books],” he wrote, “not only is precious time lost which could be used for studying the Scripture, but in the end the pure knowledge of the divine Word is also lost, so that the Bible lies forgotten in the dust under the bench.” Making the same point in more colorful terms, Luther complained of the “countless mass of books” written over time which, “like a crawling swarm of vermin,” had served to supplant the place which should belong to “the Bible” in the life of the Church and her people. In sum, Luther judged that folk would be better off reading and hearing the Bible than reading and hearing anything which he or anyone else had written, and the last thing he wanted to be found guilty of was producing words which distracted anyone from the Word.

–Aaron Denlinger, Reformation 21 blog

All other books might be heaped together in one pile and burned with less loss to the world than would be occasioned by the obliteration of a single page of the sacred volume [Scripture]. At their best, all other books are but as gold leaf, requiring acres to find one ounce of the precious metal. But the Bible is solid gold. It contains blocks of gold, mines, and whole caverns of priceless treasure. In the mental wealth of the wisest men there are no jewels like the truths of revelation. The thoughts of men are vanity, low, and groveling at their best. but he who has given us this book has said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Let it be to you and to me a settled matter that the word of the Lord shall be honored in our minds and enshrined in our hearts. Let others speak as they may. We could sooner part with all that is sublime and beautiful, or cheering and profitable, in human literature than lose a single syllable from the mouth of God.

–C.H. Spurgeon, from the sermon “Holy Longings,” as quoted in Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke, pp. 27-28

Photo of a Bible

Reading Is Good, Even If You Forget It

The full title should be that reading is good for you, even if you don’t remember most or all of what you read.

I was reading a blog post on why it’s beneficial to learn greek and Hebrew even if you lose it. I went through beginning Greek and am now purposely not ‘keeping it’. I would rather spend my time memorizing Scripture instead of trying to keep up my Greek vocabulary. However, I learned enough to basically know what commentators are talking about when they write about Greek, and I can read a commentary on the Greek of a book like Colossians, which is very helpful.

But back to reading–there is a quote below from the article that reminds me of how I feel about reading. And you get to read about it (yay). I’ve always felt that when reading Christian books, even if I don’t take notes and/or remember what I read, it still influences me. When things are repeated, they get learned. And most of all, reading for me is a great way to worship God.

I only like to read books that are going to affect my life with God directly in some way. All are subjects that cause me to wonder, ponder, learn and grow closer to God or show me my sin or something about myself God would like to point out. And if I forget it, part of what I read is stuck in my brain and spirit, and I know for sure that God will and has used it as he would like. He can also call it back to mind (John 14:26).

Reading has become a very important part of my life. The Bible always gets read every day; I made a commitment to that. But when I don’t also read outside of the Bible, I miss it because it’s spiritually therapeutic, at the risk of sounding like I have a self-help gospel complex. I can’t imagine not reading the Bible.

The article linked above included this quote.

Most of what is shaping you in the course of your reading, you will not be able to remember. The most formative years of my life were the first five, and if those years were to be evaluated on the basis of my ability to pass a test on them, the conclusion would be that nothing important happened then, which would be false. The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them.

–Douglas Wilson

Part of the reason I’ve been blogging less is because I don’t want to give up more of my reading time. I’m trying to find a balance.

One other thing I’m thinking about if you’re still reading this is how much note-taking I should do. It takes more time and causes less reading, but the things written above doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to retain more of what we read. Some people retain more than others, and for me, I remember a lot of some books and others, I can hardly remember the title. I started using Evernote for that purpose, but I’ve purposely tried backing off on that a little. I’m always saving quotes though. If you take notes (or don’t), I’m always open for feedback.

Also see:
What I’ve Been Reading–Goodreads

‘Must Read’ Blog Post

I don’t know if I’ve ever written ‘must read’ other than I feel that the book Knowing God is a must read for every Christian, especially those somewhat new (advanced beginner?), as far as I’m concerned.

I found a blog post titled Bible Ignorance at Reformation21 Blog to be one of the best posts I’ve ever read. It’s aimed largely at ministers and students of theology. I’m not pointing it out for ministers; I think this applies to any student of theology, which is all of us.

You can just stop reading here and go there if you’d like.

A few years ago I made a commitment to make sure I read the Bible every single day.* What’s being said in this article makes that seem like nothing, not that I’m minimizing the importance of it. It’s nothing new; nothing we probably haven’t read before, but it really hit me this time. Matthew Henry says to pray using the language of the Bible. D.A. Carson urges us to imitate Paul in our praying. Comparing my worldly prayers to Paul’s really changed how and what I pray for. This can’t happen without knowing the Bible.

Scripture is so deep and multi-faceted, not just because of what’s written, but because the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to more and more of it the more we read and understand it (Ephesians 1:17, Hebrews 4:12). If we’re born again and the Holy Spirit resides in us, we should be glad to spend time in Scripture. If we don’t feel that way, we can pray for God to enable us, and he will do that for us–this being his will for us (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:9-11), as we strive to spend more time (Matthew 21:22, Psalm 37:4, 1 John 5:14, Philippians 2:12b).

I often think about how much time I spend reading the Bible versus how much time I spend reading books and articles. It’s difficult to know how to balance it because the books all help to know God better through better understanding of Scripture.

*If I should forget a day for some strange reason, which I’ve done a few times in the past, God is in no way displeased with me and I don’t feel guilty–just a little silly to forget something so important. I don’t read twice as much the next day to make up for it, unless I’m on a reading plan. This doesn’t happen anymore. Just thought I’d point that out so that it doesn’t sound like a legalistic or works oriented thing.

The Best Book for New Christians

OK, so I haven’t read every book in the world that are supposed to be for new Christians. The one mentioned below is by far the best one that I have read. If you’re short on time, skip to the last paragraph and the quote below it; otherwise, you can read about a few other helpful books too.

I have seen lists of books for new Christians written by bloggers. I think they almost always overshoot. They recommend fantastic books like Knowing God by J.I. Packer, which is one of the best popular level, contemporary books on God ever written (again I realize I haven’t read all of them), but I know from experience that there are Christians who’ve been saved for decades who still need milk and can’t handle this book. (That’s another subject.) I think many Christians, especially those who are well read, forget what it’s like to be new. This is that ‘one book’ that I think every Christian, or certainly everyone in the early stages, should read. But how many times have you read that? Everybody has their opinion.

At one time I was on the lookout for books that fit this category. I looked at The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson, which is a great book aimed at newer Christians. See posts where this book is mentioned. I read this recently and learned a lot from it, but I think it might get to be too much for new Christians. He’ll start out explaining what the gospels are, but then goes on and gets a little ‘thick’. It’s really a great book though for an ‘advanced beginner’. He starts out writing a lot about Genesis, then goes to John, then to Revelation (but not everything in-between). I’m not sure if he is one to write a book for new Christians. He knows like 39 languages and can quote book, chapter and section from Calvin’s Institutes like he wrote it himself. As a tangent–sometimes I tend to exaggerate a little. I think he only knows about 29 languages, or maybe 7.

I also looked at Basic Christianity by John Stott. The book is true to its title, but I don’t know if the content, including the tiny typeface of the edition I have, is quite suitable for most new Christians these days. Maybe it was when he first wrote it 50 years ago.

Then I remembered the one I read when I was a new Christian. It’s upstairs among some really old books that I don’t have on my regular bookshelf. Turns out that the book with the red cover and yellow title has been reprinted over and over in that span of 30 years and now has a nice new cover. You can’t go wrong in buying The Fight: A Practical Handbook for Christian Living by John White, for a new Christian. I’m not sure why I haven’t seen it mentioned. Maybe the title is off-putting. But people are obviously buying and reading it, and for good reason.

Here is a guide through the basic areas of Christian living we wrestle with throughout our lives: faith, prayer, temptation, evangelism, guidance, Bible study, fellowship, work. In this very personal book he offers new Christians sound first steps and older Christians refreshing insights into the struggles and the joys of freedom in Christ.

The Fight by John White for Young Christians

Do you have any suggestions?

Also see:

Good Book-Can’t Remember What It Said Though

Here is an excellent post about doing more than just reading a book:
5 reasons you should write in your books

I wanted to write about what I’ve started doing. I like to use Evernote for all kinds of things. I started a notebook called Books. Very clever title, I know. I’m pretty creative that way. In that notebook I have a note for each book I read. The most important thing is to write down the main things that I learned, or “takeaways”, as some people call them. Especially if it’s God’s opening my eyes up to something about Him, Scripture, myself–like sin, or whatever. I will write a post on what I ‘took away’ from Seeking the Face of God by Martin Lloyd-Jones.

I like to collect the quotes I liked. Sometimes just highlighting them in the book is enough, and later on you can flip through the book and revisit some gems. But putting them in Evernote makes them searchable, and you can put key words with them that might not be in the quote. If they are longer quotes, I’ll scan them into the computer and at the very least save it as an image and attach it there. I can also use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to make it editable text so that I can include it in a blog post. If you don’t have a scanner but have a camera, smart phone, or a tablet, you can do it that way too. There are apps for that, but they can be cumbersome.

I have other notebooks that I use too. If I came across a good description of a subject, like obedience of Christ or original sin (I need help on that one), I write it at the top of the page. But that obviously doesn’t do much good without something like Evernote. So I just write down the book and page number in a notebook called Subjects in Commentaries and Books, and if I need information on that subject, I can easily look them up. I also have a notebook for Scripture Subjects, which is like a personal concordance, and one for those funky scholar terms like or for example.

What I’m going to do from now on, starting with the last book I finished, it to re-read the quotes that I highlighted or saved and look at the notes that I took. That will help me to remember the things I learned from it for a longer period of time. Some life-changing books are hard to forget, but for most of us, we forget the majority of what we read (which is OK, because for me, much of the time, I worship when I’m reading) and could use help in retaining at least the main points.

Everything is saved in the cloud, wherever that is (will this information be in heaven?), so that everything is automatically backed up, and you can access Evernote from any computer.

Are there things you like to do when you read books or ways you like to organize information? I haven’t mentioned things like Goodreads for organizing my library of ebooks and paper books, Calibre for converting ebooks and organizing them on my computer, etc.

Also see:
5 Awesome Ways Evernote Makes A Pastor’s Life Easier | FaithVillage

a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, asâscepterâ for âsovereignty,â or âthe bottleâ for âstrong drink,â or âcountheads (or noses)â for âcount people.â
performance beyond call of duty: the performance of work beyond what is required or expected

Quote of the Day: Footprints

As the brook hides the footprints which are imprinted on its soft ooze, so are God’s footprints hidden. We cannot detect his great and wonderful secrets. He marches through the ages with steps we cannot track.

–F. B. Meyer, as seen in The One Year Book of Psalms on Psalm 77

Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
Psalm 77:19

I prefer this type of quote to the Footprints In The Sand poem. I went to a site of someone claiming to be the author (which is still in dispute, apparently), just to take a look at the poem and was very disappointed to find out it’s mainly about the author’s fight for getting the copyright. I was hoping to find out about the author’s life as a Christian, but that didn’t seem to be an important enough to even mention. It’s interesting how the popular bits of “Christian” culture like this and the Prayer of Jabez can be so vacuous. I’ve heard first hand that the book below–which is a parody in addition to being educational–is excellent.

book-mantra-of-jabez

I’ve read that one possible reason that Christians, or those on the fringe of Christianity often like bad Christian books, is because it impacts them in some significant way (see the Marturo blog). It may be a new way of seeing God, or a feeling of comfort. But when somebody reads The Shack, how likely are they then to keep reading other Christian books, and more importantly, keep wanting to know God better by reading [more] Scripture? In my limited experience, this is not the norm, and it breaks my heart. I’m very thankful that there are those who do go on from there. God uses those deeply flawed media, but those impactful experiences often fall on bad soil. (Matthew 13:3-23)

The latest popular thing was the TV series The Bible. I wonder how much will come out of that, or if it will become a classic? In any case, Jesus sure is good looking! I never realized he was used as the cover model of so many romance novels. And that slightly English accent sounds so theatrical.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Psalm 84:1-2

On Reading Calvin’s Institutes and Other Matters

  • Calvin’s Institutes are “a distilled readers’ guide to the main teachings of the Scripture and how they fit together.”
    –Timothy Keller, The Counterintuitive Calvin – a great read on his experience and observations in reading the Institutes

  • 8 Things Wesleyans Need to Learn from Neo-Calvinism // Asbury Seedbed – It may not be as appropriate for a Calvinist (me) to post this as would a Wesleyan/Arminian, but at least it’s written by a Wesleyan and I don’t think there’s anything to argue about.
  • Spurgeon, Impressions, and Prophecy | the Cripplegate

  • “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
    –Apostle Paul

    I love this verse. It really says a lot. It also makes me feel like he’s a kindred spirit. Wouldn’t the first thing you ask for be the whole Bible and your books?

    HT: Thanks to T.C. on FB for the reminder

Finished Three Year Plan

I finally finished my three year plan. It took me 5 1/2 years. That’s because I took two years out to spend on the Old Testament, which was only going to be one year, but there was surgery in the middle and too many books to read.

This post sounds a little arrogant to me. If it does to you, I apologize. This is what God has been doing in me. I didn’t start this on my own initiative. I hope you can be thankful with me.

I’ve written about this before, but nobody would remember with all of the blogs out there, so I will again. If you get bored, please move on to the Three Year Plan below or to something more important. Don’t worry that I start with my testimony (the world’s shortest).

I became a Christian by reading the book of John. Over two weeks, the Holy Spirit came in and opened my eyes and I believed. (That was it–if you blinked, go back.) I was part of the Navigators on campus and got a great start with spiritual disciplines. I memorized Scripture like crazy and was absolutely “on fire”, whatever that means. Everything came, and still does come easy.

But I languished for quite a few years and did my “verse a day (devotional) to keep the devil away” or however that saying goes, along with praying, and reviewing memorized Scripture. I had spurts of book and more extensive Bible reading, was almost always part of a group study, cared very much about my relationship with God, but didn’t really get very far.

Group study with evangelicals sometimes has a lot of cliches and ‘teachings’ that may or may not be Biblical, of which I was as much a part of as any, which partly started to lead me to want to check these things out.

As I spent more time on the Internet, I decided I should be spending some of this time on Christian stuff. At the same time, my mental and physical health started going downhill very fast. I got interested in reading more. I read widely, partly because I didn’t know who to read. Contrary to what it looks like on this blog–because I became a Calvinist soon after I started it–I’m always writing about Calvinists. But beforehand, I read people like N.T. Wright, Philip Yancey, Watchman Nee, Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard (cuckoo), Catholic scholars (very good) and many others–mostly library books, and later on, commentaries by Pentecostals like Fee and Keener. I read a lot about the (real) historical Jesus, one of my favorite subjects, and the Gospels.

Now it was time to get serious. By now I desperately wanted and needed to get to know God better. I started a small book budget. As suffering increased and motivation for other things I usually enjoyed decreased, wanting to know God and live a godly life increased an amazing amount. I wish it didn’t work exactly this way, but God works through suffering.

The Three Year Plan

I decided I wanted to comb through the New Testament along with reading through a whole commentary for each book and see both what “teachings” are biblical and if there are any passages where I have gross, obvious misinterpretations. I also became like a Berean and looked up everything I heard and read about, outside of trusted people backing up what they teach. If people would just quote the Bible appropriately, there wouldn’t be so much of a problem, but nowadays most Christians are Biblically illiterate and don’t have the ability except for the cliches and sayings.

I read a book of the Bible, starting with Romans because I had spent so much time on the Gospels with library books, then the commentary, then the book of the Bible again. So I was getting each one three times, usually with the commentator’s unique translation. Then I would read a ‘regular’ book in-between on something basic like suffering, prayer, the cross, intro to Calvinism etc. I planned on this all taking about three years.

This may not be the best way to catechize myself, but it was more valuable than I thought it would be. When I started out, I was Arminian, although I didn’t know the term, and sometime soon after Romans I was Calvinist/Reformed already. I had never really looked into it or known what it was. Most of the people I was with are Arminian/Semi-Pelagian Evangelicals and that’s all I knew. When I first read about Reformed theology in Thomas Schreiner’s commentary on Romans, it was rather shocking. It didn’t seem fair or logical. My sense of logic and fairness isn’t God’s. But then over time I started seeing that extent of God’s sovereignty in all things all over Scripture, not just the usual proof texts. I then looked into Arminianism again just to make sure I got both sides basically correct and understand my Arminian friends better.

I found things like how the Philippians gave generously “out of their need” and how Paul praised them for that. God would then meet their needs (Phil. 4:19). But there is no command in the NT to “tithe” out of our poverty as some pastors would have us think.

One highlight was reading Keener’s explanation of Revelation 3:15-17 in The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation as was the whole commentary. It was perfect for me. Another highlight was Cole’s concise but detailed commentary on Mark, which is fitting for that Gospel.

Just about every commentary was a winner. The two that I can remember that I didn’t like were Longenecker’s commentary on Galatians, which was too technical and tedious for me, and Bock’s on Acts, which was like a commentary on commentaries, with so much quoting. I should have just read one of the ones he quoted a lot, like Bruce’s or even Witherington’s. The last one was the only one where I skimmed parts of it, mainly the narrative parts, where he pretty much narrated the narratives. Otherwise I very carefully read all of them, including the 800-900+ page ones like Matthew, Luke, Romans and both Corinthians. Obviously I was mainly reading, not really studying for the most part, but trying to get a good overview for later. I wish I would have taken more time to blog on a lot of it like I did earlier on, but that would have taken time away from reading. A Catch-22.

Now I will relax a little and read a bunch of ‘regular’ books. I also need to do what I probably should have done before reading the commentaries, which is reading very basic books like D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There. I realize that I will forget most of what I read in the commentaries, and that’s not how they’re normally used, but I learned a lot in addition to worshiping as I read. Then later on this year or next year I have to read Calvin’s Institutes. Later on after that I want to study Colossians as thoroughly as I know how and have the energy for. If possible, I’d like to write a Bible study for it. I’m also thinking about another reading plan for the whole Bible. I started to make my own but it’s too hard for what I wanted to do.

I’m still plodding along with Greek too. I’m using the more inductive Dodson, which is great, after getting a good base with Black.

This post is too long already. Maybe someday I’ll list all of the commentaries or create an Amazon store (so I can get my Affiliate commission of course), but Goodreads basically shows them along with the OT commentaries. Thanks for reading. Thank God for what he does for us.

John 17:3
This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.

revelation-commentary

Reading Is Worship

For me it is anyway. In fact it’s the best way I worship, other than praising and thanking God in prayer. Whether it’s the Bible or books about the Bible or at least subjects closely tied to it, I’m worshiping when I read. After the last surgery, I went a day or two without much reading at all and realized how much I need it. It’s also therapeutic in keeping my mind (partly) off of my conditions. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. The more I learn, the better I know and trust God’s character and love Him, which I believe is one of the keys to dealing with suffering. As suffering has increased, so has my desire to know God, which is a great gift. I feel sad that so many people miss out on this. I wish I could give it to everybody. (The gift of wanting to read and learn and worship and love God, not the suffering.) There are gifts I wish I could get from others, but we are all gifted differently. I suppose that’s how a body works.

If I want to love God more, I have to know Him more deeply. The more I search the Scriptures and focus my mind’s attention on who God is and what He does, the more my soul breaks out in flames.

–R.C. Sproul

Reading Psalms

After reading four introductions to the Psalms I think I’m ready to actually start reading them. I used the first volume of Goldingay’s Psalms commentary (given to me by a very generous pastor), the NLT Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible and The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms. I’d like to read one Psalm a day and read the latter mentioned book along with it and the commentary for any questions I have for the first 49 psalms.

For some reason I’ve never been a big fan and I want to be. I seem to be a big fan of nearly everything else. I pray this time around I’ll get to like them better. I think it’s strange that I can’t get enough of Proverbs and I’ve never really been into most of the Psalms, which seems to be many people’s favorite. If anyone has been in my position and it changed, I’d like to read about it.

I may do a post every now and then. I have one coming up on David’s possible authorship of many of the Psalms “of David”.

I’m in the middle of If God Is Good right now, which is very comprehensive, and then plan on reading a commentary on Genesis. Then I have some other ‘regular’ books on OT topics which I look forward to.

Men, Vacations and Reading

You know how a lot of men are? Needing to check stuff off the list? Maybe not enjoying the ride?

You know how when they’re on vacation they like to have an agenda and get everything done and seen in record time?

I seem to be the same way with books. I keep talking about how I’m going to write a post on spending less time on the internet (and I will). Part of the reason is so I can read more. Which really is a good thing. But I have these plans and goals and things like surgery and bouts of certain kinds of stuff keep coming up and messin’ with my plans. Then I want to get back at it and read as much as I can.

I need to learn to relax and just let things happen. I’m not too over the edge. I know I have the rest of my life, however long that is. But I still get a little anxious (like wanting to get things done fast) about checking things off the list.

Right now I’m reading If God Is Good. And it’s really Good. It’s a quote machine. I need to take my time, take notes, highlight, let things sink in.

You know what I’m saying? Are you women like this?

(This was my fastest post ever. I’m not even going to edit it. Need to get back to reading and checking things off the list.)

Bad Books

Why do Christians tend to be enamored by very popular but very vacuous books? We have centuries of great teachers, preachers, scholars, and theologians that people don’t take advantage of. (The latter of which we all are. It’s just a matter of how well we know God.) There are thousands of great books out there. With an electronic eReader you could even get so many good ones for free.

But many of the sheeple just notice what’s popular and read them on occasion. Books on prophecy and the economy have gotten popular, or maybe I’m just noticing it. I didn’t realize that prophecy can predict things like what’s going to happen to the economy. (I’m not referring to my FB friend Kathy on this.) I’m leaving names out on the negative side but I think many reading this know who and what I’m talking about. I’m not going to give him any more publicity. I suppose one of the reasons could be this:

2 Timothy 4:3 NLT
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

Now there’s some prophecy. I think that “itching ears” can also be gossip-like and/or people addicted to drama.

How can we encourage others to read books with sound doctrine? Many just get a 45 minute sermon–that they’re too tired at that point in time to listen to anyway–and that’s all the teaching they get. Or maybe reading a one page devotional each day in addition to praying, which is much better than nothing even if it’s a snail’s pace. This is pretty much what I did for many years in addition to reviewing memorized Scripture. So I can’t leave myself out of this.

I’m so thankful  for these authors and the desire to read them, along with more of the Bible, when because of other chronic difficulties, I’ve lost interest for many things in my  life.

Maybe I should write a post on how to recognize and find good books.