Monday, November 27, 2006

So Many Books, So Little Time

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
(Ecc 12:12)

When it comes to reading, why is it that you never really appreciate the time you have to read as a child until you grow up? As a “grown-up” husband, father of six, and computer professional, I have an enormous desire to read all I can of excellent literature and spiritual subjects. Yet, now I have to choose carefully on what I spend my time reading. I have practically given up all fiction, unless it can be shown that it is very historically accurate. I’ve found that fiction works that are based on true history can be a very entertaining way to learn about the past. However, I have to be careful that the history is accurate. My recent blog entry on the Crown and Covenant series showcases my positive impression with them. I’ve also heard very good things about G.A. Henty novels, of which I hope to read someday! This standard is what has kept me from spending the necessary time to read “Christian” fiction such as the “Chronicles of Narnia” or “Lord of the Rings.”

It seems that at any given time I am in the middle of about 4-5 books. Some are read much faster than others depending upon other things that are going on in my life. Currently, I have just finished up reading (previewing actually) Harvey Newcomb’s book, How to Be a Man. This is a good book describing expectations of a man in society and Christendom. It is targeted more toward very young men (most likely “teenagers” before they were ever called this). It was written in the 1850’s, so a couple of notes of advice are a little outdated, such as the admonishment to always “leave the door open when it is hot outside” for the comfort of your family. However, in spite of some of the antiquated advice (like not allowing your servants/slaves to do all your work, noting that Southern young men routinely have this temptation in front of them), I have found it to be a good resource, and I will be having my sons read it.

I am currently in the middle of “The Confessions of St. Augustine.” I strongly desire to read Augustine’s “City of God.” However, I think I should read his Confessions first. In my opinion, Augustine is an author that every Christian should read, and I feel a sense of embarrassment that I have not yet completed his works.

For my study of the War of Northern Aggression, I am somewhere in the middle of Dabney’s biography of Stonewall Jackson. I am also in the middle of Volume 1 of Jefferson Davis’ “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.”

I have read several essays, but would like to complete reading the entire book known as “The Church Effeminate” by John Robbins. This book is about 3-4 inches thick, and I’m about ½ inch into it.

I’ve found a terrific resource known as the “Chapel Library.” It is a ministry of Mt. Zion School of Ministry, managed by Jeff Pollard. I get their “Free Grace Broadcaster” on a quarterly basis, as well as A.W. Pink’s “Studies in the Scriptures.” All of the information there is so good, I can’t pass it up.

Speaking of A.W. Pink I recently reached for his book, “Sovereignty of God” to see his opinion on a particular scripture related to the age old Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate. I’ve listened to this book in its entirety from, but I’d like to read the text as well, so I begin reading on it last night from the beginning.

Also, as I’ve explained in another blog entry, I’ve been wrapped up in the Jamestown 400 Vision Forum contest. Because of this, I’ve taken quite a bit of interest in reading history from the late 1500’s through the late 1700’s. I’ve currently began reading Captain John Smith’s 2 volume set, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & The Summer Isles Together with The True Travels, Adventures and Observations, and A Sea Grammar. I found this wonderful work available for free from the National Archives. I downloaded the text page by page, and printed it out very small in order to save paper.

In addition to reading, I listen to audio messages while driving. One of my favorite speakers is Joe Morecraft. The only problem I have with him is that oftentimes when expounding on his subject he’ll say something like this, “Let me recommend a book to you…” Of course, I always desire to look up those books.

One idea that popped into my mind one day when reading John G. Paton’s autobiography was that if an author I enjoy mentions a book that he enjoys, then I want to read that book as well. John G. Paton’s book mentions that his father met his wife while reading Ralph Erskine’s “Gospel Sonnets” aloud in a garden. This set me on a quest to find my own copy. Though out of print, I did procure one on Ebay. I have read it, and I’m now in the middle of recording it in audio book format.

Finally, I never want my “extra” reading to supplant my study of the scriptures. So, each day I follow my plan to read the Bible through in one year. Additionally, as a family, we read two to three chapters of the Bible each night in our family worship time. Also, if it is my turn to teach during our Lord’s Day service at church, I will spend extra time in the Word in preparation for that.

What amazes me is that never before in the history of the world has so much information been so readily available if one simply has the desire to read it. Yet, in general, people today seem to be so ignorant compared with Christians of old. I feel so ignorant in spite of having all these resources. If I would only expend the effort, I could learn Hebrew and Greek with the aid of software packages, and computerized Bible programs. Yet, I can’t seem to squeeze it into my busy schedule. Our forefathers, though, managed to learn these languages well using only their books as their aid. I rarely even use a Bible concordance anymore, because it’s easier just to “search” for the phrase in my Bible software. I sometimes think that for all our technology, we have just become lazier and lazier.

May we all learn to be diligent in applying ourselves to learning everything we can about the scriptures. Let us constantly renew our minds by the washing of the water of the Word. Let the things we read be doctrinally sound and/or historically accurate. Reject the temptation to seek worldly “entertainment.” There simply is just not enough time for it. Redeem the time. Carpe Diem!

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