My books are my tools.
They also serve as my counsel, and my comfort.
They are my friends and my delights.
C.H. Spurgeon (1834 -1892)
I know, I know . . . this is a visual and video age. Television trumps Mark Twain and Wii is more popular than B.B. Warfield. Movies make money. Bookstores lose it. These days it seems we are reading less, and what we read has to be simple, short, and sexy or our attention-deficit brains lose interest and run to something else.
Apparently Spurgeon was not afflicted with this kind of ADD.
Charles Spurgeon was a 19th century Baptist minister. Considered the Prince of Preachers, he was also a prolific writer. He authored 135 volumes, edited 28 more, and produced many pamphlets. At the time of his death his library numbered 12,000 volumes.1 Spurgeon had a passion for the printed page!
The Apostle Paul shared the prince's passion. Paul was a first-century bibliophile. Languishing in a nasty prison with few amenities to comfort, few friends to console, but many thoughts of imminent execution, Paul wrote to Timothy his spiritual protege. Interestingly, he asks for books!
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 2 Timothy 4:9-13 ESV
Ours is a day of soft couches, soft bellies, and soft minds. Many opt for the vicarious thrill of the movie theater or the casual and carefree endless summer of electronic surfing rather than crack a book or pick up a Kindle. This is sad. Jesus tells us we are to "love God with our minds" (Matthew 22:37).
One way we love God with our minds is by giving it a workout. Books help. They are a bargain at almost any price. For a few bucks you get years of wisdom, hours of research, and adventures untold. You get counsel, comfort, friendship, and delight.
Saturday I dropped by Bookwise, one of the largest used book stores in South Florida and for a few coins I picked up:
- It Worked For Me In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell
- A retired four star wants to sit down and share with me a lifetime of leadership savvy. That's amazing!
- The Virtues of Aging by Jimmy Carter
- When Carter left the White House in `81, he could have sat back and served himself. Instead, he picked up a hammer and served others. I want to learn from that kind of guy.
- Now & Then: A Memoir of Vocation by Frederick Buechner
- Buechner is the man who said, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” He is an 87-year-old Presbyterian minister who has walked with God for longer than I have been alive. Why would I not want to pull up a chair and listen to what he has to say?
This past year I conquered the air with the Wright brothers, sat courtside with Phil Jackson, and watched Abraham Lincoln pull our country through the Civil War. Then sadly, I watched him die. This year I am having coffee with Tim Keller. Captain David Marquet is going to show me how he turned followers into leaders, and Ulysses S. Grant is reliving 25 years of his life with me on my morning walks. I am not without entertainment. Brad Thor is taking me on a wild adventure. I picked up his first novel, The Lions of Lucerne, in part because he is showing me what can happen when someone devotes two hours a day to his craft.
Mortimer Adlerpurportedly said, “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” I suspect this was the way Paul and Spurgeon approached their reading. As they picked up their tools, they helped others, but as they worked through the pages and the pages worked through them -- they helped themselves.
Today, you can follow the example of Spurgeon and Paul and pick up a book . . . or you can play a video game.
Love God with your mind!
What's in your tool chest? Why not drop a note in the comments section below and let me know about a good book you've read or are planning to read.
Note: W.Y. Fullerton, Charles Hadden Spurgeon: A Biography, Book Talk (Chapter 15). www.spurgeon.org (Accessed September 1, 2010).