Thursday's Thoughts ...
I love to read. My parents inspired me and I was fortunate to have some early elementary teachers who encouraged this love. My mom and dad always had 2 or 3 books going and laying around the house. They would often sit together in the evening and read, each in their own book and then talk about what they were reading. They often gave me books for my birthday or christmas as I grew up. They were smart enough not to just give me books, but there was usually a book that I was interested in among the gifts. They didn't criticize me when in upper elementary and junior high school I read almost nothing but stories about sports. Instead they gave me books about sports. At one time I think I had the whole "Chip Hilton" series of books. Chip was a good athlete who grew up in a single parent home, had to work part-time all through school and was a star athlete. He and his friends also helped solve a few crimes along the way as well. I loved those books. Sometime after I left for college, or when I got married, my mom gave the whole set to one of my nephews. Boy do I wish I had those books now. One they might be worth some money, but more importantly maybe my grandkids would enjoy them.
I still read today, it was a great habit for life and especially for ministry. Early in my time as a pastor I got criticized by some pastor friends who said I was spending too much time reading. They didn't understand how I could read so many books and still get all my other stuff done. I remember calling my dad and asking him about this, and his answer has stuck with me. He said, "I imagine that those guys rarely use a quote or thought from anyone else in their sermons. Keep reading for your sake and the sake of your congregation." So I have kept reading.
Currently I have 3 books that I am in the stages of reading. One of them is "3 Seconds" by Les Parrot, the subtitle is "The Power of Thinking Twice". This one has really captured my attention and imagination, I am sure it will get finished before the other two. It is based on research that shows how can get programmed in our thinking that we don't give other options a second thought, but if we would pause for 3 seconds and let another idea pop up we often will see a solution and avoid some difficult stuff. 3 seconds is longer than you think, every advertiser knows they have 3 seconds to grab your attention or you will not give their ad, or product, a second thought. Every newspaper editor knows they have 3 seconds to grab your attention or you won't read the rest of the article and on it goes. I am fascinated by this so far.
Another book is "The Deity Formerly Known as God" by Jarrett Stevens. It is about the images we often create of God and how they can distort the truth and cause us to make bad decisions. It is somewhat of a rewrite of a classic by J.B. Phillips entitled "Your God is Too Small". I am furtherest along in this one compared to the other two. It is very good and each chapter sort of stands alone so it is a great book to read and put down for a while because when you come back you don't have to try and remember all the stuff you have already read.
The third book is "The Three Hardest Words" by Leonard Sweet. (I didn't think about it until now that 2 of the books have the number 3 in the title. Wonder what that says about me? Maybe there is a book that will tell me...) Leonard Sweet is one of my favorite authors. He always challenged me, prompts me to really think and examine some part of my life. He really breaks down the phrase "I love you" and ties it to many areas of your life. The "I" he writes is "receiving a new identity". The "Love" is "receiving a new integrity". The "You" is "receiving a new intimacy". I got this one initially to do some research for a future sermon series, but has become much more than research.
I also some of a newspaper nearly every day, as well as some online news stuff and some sports magazines every week. Did I mention that I love to read?
Here's hoping you find something that captures your attention and imagination and read it this week. Here's hoping I have inspired some others to read a little more. Here's hoping I can keep reading for however long I am around. Here's hoping that your most precious book is God's Word, the Bible.