22 Apr Reasons and Recommendations for Reading
I love reading. I have always loved reading. When I was a kid, I would save up many weeks worth of allowance just so that I could go to the Scholastic Book Fair and buy more than a silly eraser (though I still bought those). I devoured many different series of books as a teenager – Narnia, Animorphs, Goosebumps, The Hardy Boys, The Lord of the Rings. When I became a Christian, the books I read became more theologically based, because they helped me grow spiritually.
However, I know a lot of students don’t share that same affinity to reading. In fact, the very thought of reading puts them into a deep darkness that is comparable to the valley of the shadow of death. Well, for those of you who think this way, let me try to encourage you with two ways reading is good for you, and then some recommendations for what to read.
First, reading is profitable. Of course, the Scriptures are pre-eminent in their importance to read. But other books are profitable to read as well. The Apostle Paul says that working out is of some value, but training in godliness is worthwhile for every aspect of life. Reading books – good, theological books – is profitable. Why? They help you grow in your faith, and your faith in Christ is what shapes all other aspects of your life!
Second, reading is better for your mind than, say, watching Netflix or playing a video game. I know, I sound like an old man or a parent, but it’s true. Reading good, theological books shapes your mind in ways that consuming, mindless shows that require little to no critical thinking do not. They affirm doctrines or help you to discern false doctrines. They help you think about fighting sin in different ways. They give you a greater view of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Not to mention, reading increases your vocabulary, especially in things pertaining to Christianity, so when you’re asked what justification is, you know!
Now I have some book recommendations for you. If you have time – I would encourage you to get into these, as they will be helpful for years to come.
Praying the Bible – Donald Whitney. When people ask me what book I would recommend, I always start with this one. This book changed the way I read my Bible and the way I pray at the same time. Whitney gives very clear and concise ways to pray the Bible, starting with Psalms, and then he tells you to do it. This is a great exercise that every Christian should be doing, so do yourself a favour and get this book.
Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper. This is a book that I give to every single person who graduates out of our youth ministry. John Piper is an absolute theological beast, and in this book, he encourages people to, as the title says, not waste their life. The dream of many is to finish school, work hard for 40-50 years, and then retire. But finishing and retiring is not the goal of the Christian life – glorifying God is. I promise you can’t look at your time the same way when you’re done reading this book. “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Desiring God – John Piper. I know what some of you are thinking – “You’re expecting a teenager to read this? I could barely get through it!” I know, it’s a tough read, and hard to understand, but this book centres on the idea that our chief end, the thing we’re meant to do above all else, is to glorify God. If our students can get that down, and have the rest of their lives to do that, think about how awesome that would be. This book will change the way you view even the smallest task as a way to glorify God.
Gods at War – Kyle Idleman. This book is all about the idols of our hearts competing for our affections. Clearly, one will win, and that is what our heart seeks the most. Take a gander at this book if you want to be encouraged in your war on sin.
Yawning at Tigers – Drew Dyck. This book is all about the fear of the Lord, and how we as a people have largely lost the sense of what that means. We go to the zoo and yawn at tigers, the most ferocious animals, because they are behind bars and sleeping. We view God this way as well, as a tame tiger sleeping and not paying attention, so we can live however we want, when that is not the case, either with the tiger in the cage, or with God. Also, how could I not put a book in here with my favourite animal?
Just Do Something – Kevin DeYoung. One of the most frequently asked questions from not just youth, but all Christians, is, “How do I know what God’s will for my life is?” Some people spend their entire lives waiting for exactly the right sign to act. Others act far too quickly and claim the will of God. Do you want to know how to discern the will of God? Or at least some help with this? Grab this book!
Praying that you are encouraged as you read some of the same books that have massively encouraged me and propelled my faith journey forward.