Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

05 April 2009

Head and Heart

Earlier this year Jean (her blog "in all honesty" is always worth reading) inspired me to start reading again - something more substantial than parenting and recipe books. I got off to a great start but my good resolve fizzled out.

There are lots of reasons why it all fizzled out:

* not wishing to encroach upon my precious time for reading the Bible,
* a reading list that was too ambitious in length which then overwhelmed me,
* reading choices that were too ambitious in content that overwhelmed my unfit brain,
* being too busy (or is that not enough discipline to make the time to do it??) to fit it in,
* not doing it for 21 days in a row (because apparently it takes 21 uninterrupted days to form a habit).

The centrepiece of my list of excuses includes the admission of an unfit brain. (I have carefully kept it that way to match my unfit body!!) And I am going to think about brain fitness next time (if I can concentrate for long enough!!!)

But on the 23rd March Dr John Piper had this to say on his Desiring God blog:

This is a plea that all of you would build into your lives both personal devotions and purposeful study of God’s word.

Both: Daily prayerful meditation seeking personal application of God’s word to your own heart and life.

And: Regular study in a class or with a book where the (living or dead) teacher has seen more than you have and can give you insight in 30 minutes that might otherwise take you ten years to see.
The reason I plead for both is that without a book or a class about what some part of the Bible means and a teacher who is ahead of you, your devotions will probably flatten out at a low level of insight.

Year after year you will go over the same biblical ground and find it as perplexing as before. There will be little advance in understanding. This will tend to take the heart out of devotional reading, because the lack of growth cannot sustain the joy.

Seek out preaching, books, and classes which take you further in grasping what various books and texts in the Bible mean.

Well, I am encouraged to have another go at doing both - devotional Bible reading and also serious reading about the Bible - which means making a plan to do the purposeful study. Most of the books that were on the previous over ambitious list were about the purposeful study of the Bible. So I think I just need to choose more carefully and keep the list short to begin with.

And there is more encouragement to be had for those who need an extra push. Here are some encouraging ways to get into devotional reading and here is another piece of inspiration to pursue serious reading in a SMALL way - which I was VERY pleased to read - which will ease an unfit brain into tackling print matter again. Because reading IS a joy and I am not actually doing this to punish myself.


Sharon said...

I like this post, Meredith. It is honest about the realities you (and I) face, but also challenges me to make a change. Thank you. I hope you don't mind if I link to it on my blog.

~ Sharon

Meredith said...

Hi Sharon,

I am honoured to have been linked!! Thankyou.

You actually have served as further inspiration for me to get reading because you have a wonderful reading list on your sidebar and the crossings out indicate that you are getting through it all. More amazing to me has been your insightful and lucid commentarty on the GK Chesterton book!! And I figured if you can do that with four children and homeschooling then surely I can find a few minutes each day (or most days at that dangerous to give myself an out??)to some good reading too.

I look forward to seeing how your reading plans unfold.

God bless.
Meredith xx

mattnbec said...

I found that one page/20 minutes a day of reading idea helpful too. And since I tried to spend a few short minutes a day reading something, I am pleased to say I have made my way though a couple of books. But so far, it's only been ones which are a bit easier going. I wonder if it would be harder with books which are very logical and require you to follow the flow of the argument. Nonetheless, anything is better than nothing, which was the point I was at.

Thanks for encouraging us to keep trying to read things.

mattnbec said...

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if any of you do not have them, you are nearsighted and blind, and you have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11 TNIV Bible

This small chunk of the Bible was delivered to my feedreader recently. It's not, of course, directly related to reading more! But as I was considering things it occurred to me that when reading Christian stuff, we're seeking to increase our knowledge of Jesus and in trying to find ways to get better at reading, we're persevering and working at our salvation. So I found these verses unexpectedly encouraging to me to keep aiming to read more.


Meredith said...

Hi Bec,

Thanks for your encouragement with the verses from 2Peter. This reading thing is a small fragment of sanctification, isn't it?

And thanks for the observation about this technique of reading probably only applying to less complex texts. My guess is that the complex texts find themselves on one's reading list in certain seasons of life - and those seasons are probably not characterised by a lack of cerebral fitness.

I feel very much at the beginning of the journey of retrieving the use of my brain and it has come at a wonderful time when I am hungry to fill my mind with the good things of the Lord. Please ask me how it is going from time to time if I fail to post my progress, in order to keep me accountable.

And well done with your own good reading. I pray you are blessed in your reading endeavours too.

~ Meredith