Book Giveaway: The Curious Christian

bpiperIn case you missed it, last week I reviewed the book The Curious Christian, by Barnabas Piper. It’s a great book—I think you’d benefit by reading it.

I have an extra copy of this book, so I thought I’d give it away! Here are the rules.

  1. I will only mail to the 48 continental United States. Sorry!
  2. Enter only one time per person.
  3. The giveaway will close at 12:00 noon (Eastern) on Saturday, March 18. I’ll choose the winner at random using the Random.org website.
  4. I’ll email the winner for a mailing address, and I’ll delete all other entries. I will use your information for nothing at all unless you win.

Go here to enter the contest. Thanks!

Update: The contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!


Disclosure: the link to Amazon.com in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning that I get a small percentage of any purchase you make on Amazon if you make that purchase after clicking through this link.

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Why Do You Read?

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A few banner commands fly over each Christian’s life. As loved, redeemed children of God, these commands teach us how to act like God’s people.

First, we have the two-part summary of the law courtesy of Jesus. Love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. (See Matthew 22:37–39.)

Most Christians also know this sweeping verse from Paul: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). This wide umbrella covers all our work and all our play, every possible job or hobby.

This, of course, includes our reading.

Must We Only Read Christian Books?

For many, the act of reading is second nature. They don’t ask why. But faithful Christians need to ponder: Does my reading glorify God? What is my motivation to read?

We must avoid simplistic answers. It’s easy to justify reading Christian biographies and books of theology or Christian living. But must we limit ourselves to Christian titles and authors? Can we glorify God as we read “secular” fiction, for example?

Think about the reading pile in your house. Will those books help you love God? Will they help you love your neighbor?

Read for God’s Glory

If forced, readers might explain their hobby in a host of ways. Many would say reading helps them relax. Others want to engage the ideas or culture of our time. Still others want to learn or grow or laugh or think, and they meet these goals by reading.

Can these reasons for reading live in harmony with our duty to read to the glory of God?

Read with the End in Mind

The effect of our reading is more cumulative than immediate. Reading shapes us over time. Hence the phrase “reading diet”—as healthy eating bears good long-term fruit in our lives, so does healthy reading.

But what does “healthy” mean? Certainly the Bible should be at the top of our list. We cannot live without the bread of life, the very words of God.

Also, each person might have “allergies” (to continue the metaphor). Based on your history, station in life, and individual temptations, there are likely books you should not read. There might also be books/blogs/magazines which it would be unwise (though not necessarily sinful) for you to read. If you don’t know your reading allergies, seek counsel from a good friend.

With the negatives out of the way, now think broadly. Trace the connection between the reason you read to the God-glorifying person you want to be.

For example, suppose you read primarily to relax. You should embrace books that help you detach and unwind, because resting glorifies God. (He built rest into creation, after all.) You will love God—along with your family, neighbors, and coworkers—better as a rested person than as someone who doesn’t observe this creation rhythm.

Consecrate Your Reading

This isn’t to say you can justify every possible motive for reading. There are some legitimately bad reasons for reading, such as coveting, procrastination, ignoring others, or seeking distraction and titillation.

But if God has given you a love for reading, embrace it! Think about the reasons behind this passion, and select reading material that resonates with these purposes.

Finally, pray. Seek his wisdom. We honor God when we take our reading to God and ask him to use it for his glory.


Photo Credit: Henryk Niestrój, public domain

Read Like a Reader

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Shortly after I became a Christian, wise friends put good books in my hands.

I was in college, and these volumes of theology and practical Christianity lived next to my textbooks. When reading for class, I paid attention to every detail, stuffing my brain to capacity. I read these new books the same way.

For me, reading was a way to learn and prepare. Books were an academic tool, nothing more.

Don’t Read Like a Student

This strict, make-every-book-count approach drained the fun out of reading. It left no room for fiction, and I started to read fewer books overall. I grew tired of rising to intellectual heights every time I found my bookmark.

But over the next five years I started to notice something. The people I admired most read widely, from all parts of the library.

Reading like a student is limiting. It’s like restricting yourself to one kind of pie. Apple is great, but wouldn’t life be better with cherry or pecan on the menu too?

Instead, I want to read like a reader. This includes reading for information, but it encompasses more. Doug Wilson captures this contrast well.

…we test students right after they read something mostly to ensure that they have in fact read it. From this, many have drawn the erroneous conclusion that the only good that can be extracted from the reading is that which can be displayed on or measured by such a test. This is wildly inaccurate. Most of the good your reading and education has done for you is not something you can recall at all. (Wordsmithy, p.36)

Adjusting my mindset has had at least two implications for me.

1. I read to be shaped.

We emulate the company we keep. This is as true for our literary companions as it is for our literal ones. Books influence us in ways we can’t always pinpoint.

Think of your books as dinner guests. You might invite some for their thoughts on current events and others because they tell great stories. Some friends make us laugh, some challenge our assumptions, and some remind us what’s most important in life. No one wants a house full of smug intellectuals.

Doug Wilson again:

You read widely to be shaped, not so that you might be prepared to regurgitate. (Wordsmithy, p.36)

What freedom! I now select books for a variety of reasons. I read fiction, history, humor, memoir, and biography, and I don’t feel the need to justify every choice with a Christian cliché.

2. I read different books differently.

Each book calls for its own level of attention and engagement. Like a baseball hitter, a reader must identify the pitch before he swings.

A biography is not a novel. A memoir is not systematic theology.

Even instructive books can demand distinct levels of commitment. I usually read these books with a pen in hand, but sometimes I’ll grab a notebook too. Some books so provoke or inspire me that I need to scratch out comments or questions on the spot.

This practice also brings liberty. Not every book is a textbook. Some works are best skimmed, sampled, or (GASP) abandoned.

It’s Okay to Forget

Here’s one last quote from Doug Wilson. He advocates high-volume reading and notes how a student approach can trap us in quicksand.

Read like a reader and not like someone cramming for a test. If you try to wring every book out like it was a washcloth full of information (and nothing but information), all you will do is slow yourself down to a useless pace. Go for total tonnage, and read like someone who will forget most of it. (Wordsmithy, p.34)


Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, you can follow me on Twitter or follow my blog’s RSS feed here.


Disclosure: the links to Amazon.com in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning that I get a small percentage of any purchase you make on Amazon if you make that purchase after clicking through this link.

Photo Credit: Dariusz Sankowski (2015), public domain