Two posts ago I asked for some suggestions about what to write blogs about this month as I try to write something every day. My friend Dustin answered that call and suggested two topics. His first suggestion was about reading fiction and/or non-fiction books, what my thoughts are about that and what my favorites are. Well, here goes.
I like to read a lot and I like to read books of all sorts. There is some debate, whether people will admit it or not, about what Christians should read. Should we read only books about the Bible, Jesus or God? Should we avoid fiction altogether?
Honestly I don’t know what the answers to those questions are. I don’t know what my Pastor would say is the right answer and I am sure I could find many respectable Christians that have a strong opinion on both sides. Well I am hear to give my strong opinion right down the middle. Can you even have a strong opinion in the middle? Either way, that is where I lie, right smack dab in the middle.
I think there is value in fiction and non-fiction. For me I like to read a little of both. I like to read some non-fiction about historical figures and events. Quite frankly any non-fiction that happens to spark my interest at the time is something I will grab. It might be some self-improvement topic, or informational topic about a software program I use, but historical non-fiction are my favorite. These non-fiction books provide me more information about this world and allow me to answer a lot of questions on Jeopardy! Fiction on the other hand allows me to read without having to think too much. It almost allows me to shut off my brain completely while not sleeping. Fiction also allows me to see inside some things I would never have the option to see inside of like the CIA.
Then there is Christian fiction and non-fiction. While I haven’t found a lot of Christian fiction that I enjoy I do like to read a lot of Christian non-fiction. I try to read some sort of Christian non-fiction every day, in addition to the Bible. In fact this year I gave myself a goal to read 14 theology-ish books. Currently I am reading Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey. I like to read these books to help me be as close to Jesus as I possibly can. I take the lead from men and women who are much more intelligent than I.
Here are some of my current favorites
Their Last Suppers:Legends of History and their Final Meals by Caldwell Andrew
any book by Michael Crichton, David Baldacci or Vince Flynn
Hunger Games trilogy
Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley
Buck-Naked Faith: A brutally Honest Look at Stunted Christianity by Eric Sandras
So what was the point of this blog? To inform you that I like to read? To inform you that i read books about a lot of topics? No, the real point of this blog was to show you that there is no right answer about what you should be reading. The only questions you should be asking yourself when choosing a new book to read, in my opinion, are the following:
Is this book pulling me away from time with God, family or anything else God has called me to do?
Is the book instilling non-Biblical thoughts and ideas?
If you can answer no to both of these questions, I say you are good.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment below.
Originally my second book was going to be Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, but after six weeks of reading it and only being through about 30% of it, I decided I needed to find something else and I can come back to that book if I have time at the end of the year.
The next book on my list was Buck Naked Faith: A Brutally Honest Look at Stunted Christianity by Dr. Eric Sandras. I have to admit I was curious to read this book primarily because of the title. I did not know who Eric Sandras was, but I did know I liked his style!
Here is the summary from amazon:
Drop the layers of make-believe nonsense that stunts our spiritual growth. What emerges is a positive alternative to life-crushing counterfeit faiths many of us are trying our best to work through.
To do this, men, women, and teens need the vision and encouragement to take the risk and get dangerously real with God. He exposes the naked truth: We need to dress our lives with a real friendship with God and nothing else.
In keeping with my self-imposed theme of gratitude this month I looked back at my highlights from this book that fit with the theme. I’ll share a few quotes and my thoughts about each.
Often the temporary satisfaction of minimizing my flaws and maximizing my giftedness seemed appealing, but then Pastor Rick’s wisdom would push me further: “Eric, God doesn’t build a man, he breaks him.”
A lot of the times when I think about the bad things that have happened in my life I tend to dwell on the negative outcomes only, like when my dad died I thought about how he never got to see me graduate from college and if I get married he won’t be there or if I have kids he can’t be the amazing grandfather that I know he would have been. Or when I think about the fact that I am a 30-year old single man who has a major desire to be married I could I think about all of my friends getting married (4 this summer alone).
Sometimes, and unfortunately too few and far between I am grateful for these things because of the positives effects on my life. Yes, my dad did die and he won’t get to be a part of those life events, but how about the fact that I got to have a Godly man as my father for 22 years, or all of the life lessons he instilled in me? I know too many people who were not blessed with one good parent and I got two amazing ones! I am grateful.
Yes I am single, but would it have been as easy for me to make the decision to be a missionary in Germany to spread Gods kingdom if I was married? Maybe, but then again maybe not. I am grateful.
That quote at the end could have been written to me, “Jake, God doesn’t build a man, he breaks him.” I have been broken many times and I know I will be broken many more before my time is up. I am grateful.
We followers of Christ have such potential to participate in something much bigger than ourselves.
Too many people live life for themselves and end up filling alone, worthless, tired and they feel as if all that they have done in this world is worth nothing. Isn’t it awesome that what we, as Christians, get to do is beyond us and has eternal consequences. I mean think about that, eternal, forever, unending, for all time. Sink in yet? Yeah, it’s that important and for some reason God has chosen us to play a part. That is pretty darn awesome!
I really liked this book. It compared our faith life to bonsai trees. It talked about how we are often restricting our faith life so we will never grow and how we make it appear as though we have weathered storms, but in reality we couldn’t survive the smallest sprinkle. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a unique take on spiritual growth. I want to leave you all with the following quote. I cannot add to it, so I will leave it as it is.
God’s love is not that narrow; it is wide, so wide that you have never met a person God does not love.
All quotes are from Sandras, Eric (2011-09-09). Buck-Naked Faith: A Brutally Honest Look at Stunted Christianity Navpress. Kindle Edition.