Tag Archives: Reading

The Joy of Books

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 2 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)

Now here is a kindred spirit: Paul is writing his protégé Timothy from prison, and apparently, the younger man is coming for a visit. So Paul tells him that when he does finally hit the road, he should be sure to bring three things: first, a cloak he lent to Carpus (Roman prisons can be cold), books, and then, especially, the parchments.

So, aside from wanting to be warm in prison, Paul wanted something to read.

Ah, books.

As for me, my first love for books was of the comic variety. Sometime after 2nd or 3rd grade I began to purchase comic books at Reeves Drug store in downtown Antioch, Illinois. Action Comics, Superman, Batman, etc. I know that you non-comic readers probably think this a very juvenile appreciation, and I actually was pretty young, but I did read them through high school, and loved them. My dad had been a comic book fan in his day, and while Mom thought they were a waste of money, in contrast Dad would often ask me if he could read them after I was finished. So I can be thankful for Mom trying to teach me thrift, and for Dad…well, just thankful for Dad.

In English class during 6th or 7th grade, I remember being able to order books, along with a cool kids mag called “Dynamite!” Oh, the days when the box of books would arrive and we could take our beloved possessions home. Perhaps it was here that I began to love my books. And it developed quickly. In high school, visiting in my room one day, my good buddy Ed joked that I had a book on every subject imaginable. Not quite…but it would have been nice.

Then I became a Christian in 1982, and I discovered the Great Book. Oh my. A book of God’s words! Could there be anything greater? Answer: No, not at all. And on a lesser but happy note, it was at this same time that I discovered there was actually something called a “Christian book store”. No way. This was glorious. I had passed by “religious book stores” in my pre-Christian days, but they were largely invisible. Now I got it: a whole bookstore devoted to Jesus. And they had Petra and Amy Grant records too. Life was good.

And then God called me to full-time vocational ministry. This was clearly one of his great kindnesses to me. I don’t know if you know this, but a lot of churches give their pastors what is called a book allowance. It’s true here: every year at Edgewood, they give me more money to buy more books. You should be me.

My latest joy in books was discovered 3 or 4 years ago when I happened onto Audible books. I had listened to books before, of course, but never so conveniently with an app on the phone. Now I could literally read almost all the time (bike rides, showering, doing the dishes, etc). My kids were home for Labor Day weekend, and I drove them back to college Monday night. After saying goodbye, it was just me and three hours of highway, during which I enjoyed good time with my latest “listen”: Exodus by Leon Uris, historical fiction about the establishment of a Jewish homeland. No wasted time, just joy.

So all this is to say that I appreciate Paul’s desires, and I would concur. And if you ever hear that I’ve been locked up (hopefully for preaching the gospel and not grand theft auto), and you’re coming for a visit, well you know…don’t come empty handed.


Tomorrow: Thursday, September 10th: Titus 1




Posted by on September 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

Walking with Chuck Colson

When I first read the other day that Chuck Colson was on his deathbed, I started to tear up.  He was a man of God…and to me, maybe even a father in the faith. Colson died April 21st surrounded by his family.

After I became a Christian in 1982, Born Again (Colson’s autobiography) was one of my first reads as a new believer. I was getting my bearings in those days, gaping at this Kingdom of God that I could see for the first time, and Colson was one of my tourguides. He had professed Christ 9 years before me, and despite what some in the media had said, it was clear to me that whatever had happened to me had also happened to him.  He was the real thing.

I remember little of the book, except the basic outlines that you might pick up in any news story, yet it was a delight, and I recall that Colson was impacted by C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.  This fact may have been what moved me to pick up that classic.  I would eventually pass it on to my dad who would be eternally impacted by the Oxford professor.  I followed up Born Again with Life Sentence, Colson’s story of the beginnings of Prison Fellowship.

Navigators teach me a lesson…again

I came to Christ through the ministry of the Navigators at West Point, and then was discipled by the same group at the University of Illinois. Looking back on it, the Navs were a quirky bunch (I fit right in), but they were definitely Bible-saturated, and I was blessed by my association.  One of their quirks, if you will, was an emphasis on “getting all you can” from godly men and women.  So, for instance, when you went to a conference, and one of the Nav leaders from Colorado Springs was speaking, the sharp Nav students would vie to spend some free time with this leader. You know, ask him questions about his “quiet time”, about who he was currently discipling, and what memory verses were in his “current review.”  This emphasis permeated the Navigators, driven, I’m sure, by Proverbs 13:20…

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Pro 13:20 NIV)

I remember being with the Navs on a trip and the group of us getting an audience with J. Oswald Sanders, author of the classic, Spiritual Leadership.  We asked him about his quiet times, and I’ll never forget his answer: He said, “Oh, I could never talk about something so personal.”  What a cool answer, huh?  I figured you had to be extremely godly to answer the old quiet time question that way.

But I digress. Somewhere along the way, I realized that there was more than one way to “walk with the wise”. Sure, seeking out holy men and women had its blessings.  But godly people also write books, and I came to believe that reading a book by such a one filled the bill just as well as an afternoon “walking” with him or her. Maybe, in some ways, it was even better.  Through the years, therefore, I walked with fruitful missionaries, pastors of great faith, and founders of dynamic Spirit-led movements.  And I like to think I have grown wiser as a result.

Seven years ago, I started leading a Bible study in one of our local prisons (Waupun has three), affectionately known as “The Walls”. My buddy Pete was moving out of town and asked me to take over.  Back then, I don’t recall thinking much about Mr. Colson, but I was glad to pick up where Pete left off, and maybe Chuck Colson was in my head.  You see, I never had a single conversation with Nixon’s converted “hatchet-man”, but a long time ago, when my faith was being formed, he talked to me.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: