Why Read? Why Read Together?

Working for a publisher I often get asked the question: what is it about books and why should we be reading? You might think that for someone doing my job that the answer would be obvious. And maybe on the surface it is. There is an obvious commercial side to publishing that says we want everyone to read. But there are other reasons too.

In the secular world there are reasons that we should be wanting to read books. Reading sharpens your mind, it keeps it active, questioning and processing what you are reading.

Reading can lower our stress levels. Books help distract us as we think about things other than what worries us at any given time. They provide a kind of pressure valve or release point for us.

Books also increase our knowledge. We can expand the range and depth of our knowledge by reading widely across any number of subjects. And if we are reading a good deal, a knock on effect is that we also expand our vocabulary.

And finally research suggests that reading improves our memory, focus and concentration and can boost or enhance our sleep.

But what about Biblically? How does scripture look on reading?

Romans 12 v 1 and 2 sets out an overview of why we might want to read both individually or as part of a group (home group, small group or book club).

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The Bible is a book or a number of books in fact, and God’s word in the Bible together with Christian books can help US renew our minds so that we think in a Godly, not a worldly way. So we can read to know, we can read to grow, we can read to lead and we can read to love.

So reading is a central part of discipleship – reading the Bible (and understanding it) is how we hear God speak to us. We talk to him in Prayer and he talks back to us through his word, The Bible. That’s the conversation we are privileged to be able to have through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

And as Disciples of Christ we need to understand that word and feed on it to sustain and grow our faith. Weekly teaching in church and homegroups can do much of that but we have to take on responsibility to do more ourselves. And the right reading can help us with issues we are facing as individuals, as families or as a church community. It can help us understand what others around us are going through and how we might help and respond to them.

Reading books that are biblically sound, true to scripture and help build understanding of what the Bible is saying to us can only help in our walk of faith. They encourage us, they broaden our knowledge and they equip us to deal better with what life and a morally corrupt culture can throw at us.

And so to help you find Biblical, Relevant, Helpful and Accessible books, the Good Book Company has created an online focused book stall for London Ministry Wives at www.thegoodbook.co.uk/lmw_reading Do have a look at what is there now that might be of help and do keep your eye on that page as we will be updating it on regular basis. To celebrate the launch, we are offering an additional 10% discount on this page on top of the web prices when you use code lmwextra10 for the next month.

To start you off, here are some book highlights to get us going.

Love Your Church – https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/love-your-church

God calls us to be “devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:10). What does this look like for us today? How can we be the kind of church member who makes a real difference?

This timely and engaging book by Tony Merida explores what church is, why being part of it is exciting, and why it’s worthy of our love and commitment. He sets out eight privileges and responsibilities of a church member: to belong, to welcome, to gather, to care, to serve, to honour, to witness and to send.

This is a great book for every churchgoer to read, especially as churches start to meet in person after many months of disruption from Covid-19. Whether you’re new to your local church or have been attending for some time, this book will re-energise you with God’s vision for the local church.

A discussion guide at the end of book makes Love Your Church a great resource for reading with other church members.

Brave By Faith – https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/brave-by-faith

What does it look like to live with joy in a society that does not like what Christians believe, say or do? It’s tempting to grow angry, keep our heads down, retreat or just give up altogether.

But this isn’t the first time that God’s people have had to learn how to live in a pagan world that opposes God’s rule. In this realistic yet positive book, renowned Bible teacher Alistair Begg examines the first seven chapters of Daniel to show us how to live bravely, confidently and obediently in an increasingly secular society.

You will see that God is powerful and God is sovereign, and even in the face of circumstances that appear to be prevailing against his people, we may trust him entirely.

We can be as brave as Daniel if we have faith in Daniel’s God!

You can download a free study guide to dig a bit deeper into the book—either individually or in a group.

Truth on Fire – https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/truth-on-fire

What would it look like to genuinely love God with our head AND our heart? To have a faith marked by right thinking AND right feeling? To know God deeply AND worship him passionately? Too often, Christians act as though these things are at odds with one another. But what if God intends for us to possess a Christianity that is radically committed to biblical truth, in a way that did not diminish the life of the heart, but actually intensified it?

Adam Ramsey invites us to engage both our minds and our emotions in our walk with God as we gaze at him until our hearts sing. He sums it up like this:

“My hope in these following pages is to paint a biblical portrait of what God is actually like, so that we can gaze upon him together until our hearts can’t help but sing. To behold him in such a way that our daily experience is transformed with a deepened awareness of who it is we pray to, who it is that is with us, and who it is that we are loved by. To let God’s truth set our hearts on fire.”

If you yearn for God but desire a clearer biblical picture of this God whom you love, or if you have been walking with God for a while now, but your experience of him has become settled or dry, then this book is for you.

Questions for reflection and application that can be used individually or in group study are found at the end of each chapter

12 Faithful Women – https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/12-faithful-women

Trials have a way of changing us, for better or worse. They can humble us or harden us. They can make us run to God or away from him. Perhaps your trials have resulted in a closer walk with him, or maybe he seems far away. Often, God strengthens our faith through the witness of courageous Christians who’ve gone before us.

Be encouraged and challenged by these 12 portraits of faithful women who steadfastly endured many trials—including physical pain, persecution, infertility, loneliness, and oppression—and who, in their various sufferings, found Christ to be an all-sufficient Lord and Saviour, steadfast, faithful, and true.

Dean Faulkner works for The Good Book Company https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/authors/dean-faulkner

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