January Breakdown

Image“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” - C.S. Lewis

Have you thought much about it? Are you going to join me on my Read-venture? Well, assuming you are, (YOU SHOULD!) here is what's in store for the month of January.




Is this list intimidating to you? Let's rationalize this fear by crunching some numbers. Not counting Calvin's tome and reader's guide, there are approximately 884 pg. to read this month. They say the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time (who eats elephants?), it may then prove prudent for us to break this massive chunk down in bite sized pieces.

So far we have established that we will need to read 884 pg. this month. Yikes! But, say we only wanted to read on weekdays: there are 24 wkd. in the month of January. 

884 pg./24 wkd.= 36.8 pg./wkd

See! It's not that bad. If you can read 37 pg. per day using only weekdays then you will have read 6 BOOKS THIS MONTH! 


Ok, I know I'm likely being too ambitious, but is this not part of the Pauline imperative to do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth? What does reading have to do with rightly handling the word of truth, you ask? Let's see...

I remember the first time I read J. Ligon Duncan's sermon on 2 Timothy 4:6-22 entitled Finishing Well. He spent some time exploring Paul's vague instructions for Timothy to, "bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments." Duncan then makes reference to a Spurgeon sermon– Paul-his Cloak and His Books–  a sermon that has forever changed my reading habits. Below you will find Spurgeon's second point from that particular message, but I would strongly encourage you to read the whole of it. 

II. We will LOOK AT HIS BOOKS. We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read.Some of our very ultra Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "Give thyself unto reading." The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master's service. Paul cries, "Bring the books"—join in the cry. (source: http://goo.gl/1M4Z1)

After chewing on this homily I had an epiphany: the Holy Spirit used Paul's extracurricular reading from Epimenides of Crete (probably) and Aratus’s poem Phainomena to help him contextualize the Gospel message for the men of Athen in Acts 17:28. You see? God uses truth (ALL TRUTH) spoken not only from the mouths of prophets, but philosophers, poets, and story tellers to help us understand, explain, and share His Gospel truths with all people. 

All that being said, TAKE UP AND READ!

*I should mention that Calvin's Institutes (as well as the Reader's Guide) will be read over the course of the year. Ergo, you will see it on every month's breakdown. I put the link for the reading schedule alongside the book.