The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reading to Change Your Life



You are a reader. You read because you want to change in some way. I offer you an additional way of reading that does not require too much extra time. I assume that you have a main book that you are reading. You may have several main books (I do). By your main reading I mean that you are regularly working from beginning to end through a book. Not that you necessarily read every word, but you are dipping into the book enough to grasp the main idea and core principles related to that idea. You may be reading your main book for personal growth, understanding of a concept, or primarily for entertainment. All reading can be entertaining but much of your reading is for purposes beyond mere entertainment. Reading for mere entertainment (like going to the movies) is more of a dessert than a main course. Dessert is good but too much of it and your brain will decrease while your waist-line increases.

A practical way of additional reading is to read short sections of helpful books, journals, blog posts, and magazines related to a particular topic that you are pursuing. Here is an example from one of my recent reading experiences: I was reading Psalm 119 one morning. The writer of that Psalm is concerned to walk in the way of God and to avoid wrong. He writes in verse 11, "I have stored your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Reading those words stirred up within me a desire to learn more about how to avoid sin. Here is what I did:

1. Read portions from Psalm 119 and engaged in a bit of artwork. I took a sheet of paper and wrote in the center of a circle, "avoiding sin." I then connected lines to the circle and wrote on them principles from Psalm 119 that, if applied, will help me to avoid sin. (The kind of artwork that I used is often referred to as mind mapping.)

2. I searched my library for 4-5 books that deal with the subject of sin and temptation. I chose, The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices by Thomas Brooks, Temptation by John Owen, and The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning.

3. I did a quick scan through the chapter titles in each of the books, made a selection, and then read one page from that section. I simply added four additional pages of reading to the main books that I was reading that day. It took about 5 minutes. Because I chose excellent books, I found each one of the four pages rich with insight that helped me to learn more about how to battle against sin and temptation.

It is my goal to trust God, to do what is right, and to avoid the wrong path for my life. I could simply try to wish such a goal into reality but that would not help me to be successful. I could only pray and ask God to help me to do right. However, I must not only pray; I must put forth maximum effort in my pursuit of doing what is right. Each day brings numerous temptations to take an exit ramp off of the right road and to follow allurements that exit signs offer. Every day is a battle. And just as no Commanding Officer would send his troops into battle without preparation, skill, and weapons; so no Christian should travel down the road of life, unprepared. 

I want to start my day prepared. Reading is essential in preparing my heart and mind, and in equipping me with the strategic weapons that will be required to fight off temptation. Do some additional reading in an area that you are in need of particular help. You can do it in 5 or 10 extra reading minutes per day. You will be helped. I think you will be changed. Take the challenge and send me a note, I would love to hear from you.

Ray Rhodes, Jr. is President of Nourished in the Word Ministries (NITW). He is a conference speaker and author. To learn more about Ray or to schedule him to speak to your group, contact him here: .Contact