Reading to Grow

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“Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.”

2 Timothy 4:13

As I sit in my office/mancave it is nice to know that I have a place to go in the winter months to enjoy a time of reading, study, and prayer. Like most of us I enjoy my creature comforts, especially while watching a snowstorm take place just outside my window. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy playing in the snow, even at my age. But I also know how great it is to be back inside after being out for a while.

Most of us who live in the northeast are used to the snow, the storms that catch us off guard, and the poor predictions by the local weather people (no offense, but we know it is true). If you are my age and retired, I suppose you might have the choice to ride out winter further south, but for many of us this is not an option. And truth be told, many of us really don’t mind the changing of the season and we find ways to enjoy winter, regardless how much snow we receive.

One of my favorite ways of dealing with winter is taking the opportunity to read more. I have many topics that I read up on over the course of the winter. And yes, much has to do with my spiritual life but I also enjoy reading novels, subjects that have to do with bicycles, motorcycles, and travel to name a few. I like all sorts of gadgets and really enjoy reading about the latest technology dealing with them. But for the most part, I am looking for books that will challenge my walk with Christ, books that will encourage me to grow and to finish my spiritual life strong.

As I read the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, I get the distinct impression that he too wanted to finish strong and although he knew his end was near, it didn’t stop him from his “want” to read and study that which would give him courage, steadfastness, and focus. At the end of his second letter to his beloved son in the faith Timothy, Paul made it very clear that there were a few things that were important to him. One, he wanted fellowship. He tells Timothy, “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.” Paul must have felt abandoned by his brothers at a time when he needed their company the most. Fellowship was not an option for Paul, it was a necessary ingredient to his spiritual life. Second only to fellowship, was the necessity of having warm clothing for winter. He knew if he lived long enough, the winter months would be upon him soon. But then he asked for books and parchments. The ESV Study Bible notes say, “Books refers to scrolls made of papyrus, while parchments would be vellums sheets made of animal skins. The papyrus scrolls may have included writing materials, official documents, or Paul’s personal correspondence. It seems most likely that the parchments would have been books of some kind, quite possibly a copy of the OT in Greek.” In any case, we can see these documents, which probably contained a certain amount of Scripture were very important to Paul’s spiritual life, even as part of his gateway to heaven as he awaited execution.

READING AND DOING LIFE—As we do life, it is easy to neglect that which will help us grow in courage, steadfastness, and focus. I believe with all my heart and head, that reading books that challenge us to grow in these areas are not options, but like the Apostle Paul believed, are essential to moving forward in our walk in Christ.

When it comes to snow, I like it fluffy and light, but when it comes to my reading… not so much. I am looking for an author that will not only cause me to challenge myself spiritually, but to help me stand with courage, steadfastness, and stand with eyes focused on the One who saved me.

I would like to make a suggestion. At the moment I am reading a book that you may be familiar with, but up to a few weeks ago, I wasn’t. The title is; “The Valley of Vision.” It is a small book of prayers largely drawn from forgotten Puritan writers. The writings of this book were formed largely from the authors meditations on the Scriptures, as they aspired to live a holy and pure life. Their influence on Christian men and women through the centuries has been great, even influencing the spiritual tempo of Charles H. Spurgeon.

All of us are looking forward to spring and summer. Yet, I don’t believe any of us would wish away any part of our life just to get to the warmer seasons. The fact is, when those months hit, we will be inundated by many outdoor distractions. Between lawn and garden activities, there will be all sorts of things to usher us away from the things that are vital to our spiritual stability. So, why not take the downtime (at least for some of us, but certainly not all of us) that comes with winter and put it to good use? Take the winter months to read in order to grow spiritually. Instead of turning on the TV at night (which most of us do, be honest with yourself), make the concerted effort to read a book that will challenge your waning courage, give you a better foothold so you can be more steadfast, and better focus where vision may be impaired by the trials of life.

This Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you Joy in Jesus!