Monday, 4 April 2016

Read, Read, Read.....

"All the secrets of the world are contained in books....." - Unknown

Reading has always been a big part of Christian life, to have a good relationship with God it is vital that you read the bible as through the bible we hear him speak to us and we learn more about him and ourselves. But not only has it been important to read the bible as a christian it is also important to read widely on as many different subjects within the christian faith as you can. According to older Christians than I, fifty or so years ago reading was encouraged as a big part of christian life, it was seen as a tool to help you grow closer to God and to grow in wisdom. However I find now in my generation of Christians it doesn't seem to be encouraged as much. But not only has the reading of Christian literature gone out of fashion but also that of reading in general. In todays world we are bombarded with words from our phones, to our laptops, to our tablets. From the time we get up and check our phones, to the time we turn the tele off before bed most of us will have had very little time away from a screen. We are forever reading things on screens and it has meant the slow decline of picking up an actual book. People, myself included, are too tired when they get home to do anything other than stare mindlessly at a tv screen or a laptop.

People seem to have lost their love for reading and forgotten the enjoyment and relaxation it can bring never mind the knowledge. For me in particular reading is such a key part of my life now. I have always loved reading but as I got older and began getting interested in blogs and youtube and all sorts of things I found myself not making the time to read. At one point I went 8 months without picking up a real book. About a year ago I decided that a life of screens wasn't all I wanted and since then have made a conscious effort to read a couple of books a month. However it wasn't until this summer when I was at Keswick convention that I realised how important reading christian books was to my spiritual growth.

If you watch my youtube channel you have probably heard me ranting and raving about my love for the book Gods Smuggler by Brother Andrew (if you haven't read it yet what are you doing with your life?!) but that book had a huge impact on me. I realised that all over the world people didn't have access to bibles or christian literature and risked life and death to get a hold of some and I couldn't even be bothered to read my bible sometimes due to the fact I was "too tired". I realised I had so many useful and helpful books available at my fingertips and I wasn't using them. So I made a pact with myself that I would try to read one Christian book a month.

Its been about 6 months since I made that decision and I have to admit that I have only managed to read three in that time (something I am trying to rectify) but the difference it has made to my life is still huge. I have learnt things about God, Christianity and myself that I had no idea about, I have changed my views and opinions, I have become interested in new topics and my relationship with God has improved with each book I read. Every time I read a Christian book be it fictional or nonfictional it points me to God and helps me learn more about him as well as giving me a hunger to learn even more. Nearly every time I finish a book I find myself opening the bible to find answers to the questions and topics buzzing around in my head and that in turn brings me into a deeper relationship with Him.

It has honestly been one of the best goals I've set myself and although I've only managed one every two months or so I feel the habit is starting to stick. A habit I know will make such a difference to my spiritual growth for the rest of my life. I cannot emphasise or encourage you enough to read read read. Go to your library or your church or the kindle store and find yourself some Christian books, even if you are not what people call a "reader" (whatever that means), even if you've never read any christian books in your life or you've read every one on the shelf in your library go and get some more. If you enjoy a certain book pass it on to friends and tell them to read it, if it has helped you in your growth I am sure it will help some one else. Get stuck in and see what God teaches you through it. I have already learnt things that have improved my mental health, my decision making process, my relationship and future marriage and I have dealt with some very difficult feelings from my past and all because I have read a book that makes me think and gives me new perspectives and insights into life.

Let me know in the comments below any book recommendations and if a book has changed your life! 

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