“You need to read more than just Famous Five,” Mum and Dad insisted as we sat down in the loungeroom near the library box of borrowed books, the flickering fire warming the room.
“But I read Nancy Drew too, other books are boring. . . ”
After refusing to learn to read for several years, and causing Mum to sit under my desk and cry, my parents had enrolled me in the MS Read A Thon and inspired by the monetary reward incentive, I became a bookworm. At age 8 I’d already begun a library of books complete with old fashioned file cards to keep track of the one or two borrowers I had. (By 12 I had an 8 page newsletter that I used my pocket money to print and send to 50 ‘subscribers’)
“Well we are going to pray that God helps you to be interested in other books too.” Dad said and they simply prayed that I would develop an appetite for books that would bring me wisdom.
I think the first biography I read was Gifted Hands by Ben Carson and from then on I was hooked. (With plenty of Christian romance thrown in to boot)
After my first mission trip to PNG at 14 where I met the Holy Spirit, and started hearing God’s voice, I began digging into whatever theology books I found in Mum’s bookshelf; Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and Lisa Bevere to name a few.
And those books profoundly shaped me. As a teenager while Mum read to us during our ‘circle’ homeschool time, I would either iron, build with lego or be ‘scrapbooking’ my way through Lisa Bevere’s Fight Like a Girl.
This book is powerful for cultivating a gentle yet strong spirit.
Sometimes you don’t realise how profoundly a book has shaped you until years later, when you don’t have to deal with lies from the enemy in that area.
The quotes scattered throughout that book really cemented who I was a young woman and dealt with issues before they grew into anything substantial. Her book ‘Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry,’ helped me to understand my sexuality and the way God saw it; foundational stuff for young women these days.
I still read voraciously when I can with two young children, and books are about one of my favourite presents to receive, like this stack I got for Christmas.
While I wrote about how important it is to be organic and authentic Christians by not relying on ‘pre-cooked meals’ (instead of studying the Bible ourselves), good Christian books are of great value, as we hear the testimonies of others and our thoughts and attitudes are challenged.
I loved reading God in the ICU by Dave Walker that really challenged some wrong attitudes I was unaware of and expanded my thinking on how God works through sickness and prayer even when the recipient of all that prayer may not change or regain their health.
The Bible says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, (Rev 12:11) and one way we hear testimony is through reading books, like Psalm 91 by Peggy Joyce Ruth which is absolutely packed with faith building stories.
Hearing from an older mature Christian through their book is like an incredible mentoring session that you don’t have to leave your house for, and I read somewhere recently that our brain interacts differently with a book than it does a short article or blog post.
I seem to have powered through a whole bunch of books this month, not sure why, but it sure is inspiring the writing. I read in an interview with Ann Voskamp the other day that when she sits down to write, if she has no words, it’s a sign that she isn’t reading enough and I agree! (This must be a little known secret to removing writer’s block, I think.)
This statement has so helped me because I usually feel most inspired to write, right after I read, and I always felt that I was just regurgitating someone else’s inspiration, and I should get my own or not write. I was amazed to read, that author Randy Alcorn, read 150 books in the research stage of writing his book, Heaven, and it certainly reminds me to make time for reading deep books.
I remember when I was reading Ann’s book, A Thousand Gifts, for the first time, I would often wake in the morning with the most profound thoughts in my mind, and I think should go buy another copy of that book because mine seems to have sprouted wings and flown away. (The very next day I found a copy at a garage sale!)
I think reading starts our mind processing and it draws out what we think on a topic, or it causes us to pray about how we see a topic, which then in turn, possibly draws out revelation as we then write about these thoughts parallel to our lives.
The Scripture in Proverbs 20:5 has been coming to mind lately.
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. (NIV)
I was also inspired to read that author Randy Alcorn read through 150 books to draw on before he wrote his book ‘Heaven’.
Hearing someone’s thoughts on a topic, quite often draws out our own thoughts, and our own words if we are writers. My favourite question to ask friends is, ‘what have you been reading lately?’
So these are some books I’ve read recently that I found in the op-shop, and I’ve commented on each, not just about the book, but how it has inspired my own life, and words.
- The Half Stitched Amish Quilting Club by Wanda E. Brunstetter
I often find Amish books all very similar but Wanda just has knack for giving them all a bit of spice, and this one was brilliant. An Amish widow giving quilting classes in her home to the general community and I actually never guessed where it was all going, and for once I didn’t read the end first, because it wasn’t so drawn out that the middle was boring and dry. I really loved how she drew all the characters together and yet switched between so many voices.
I’ve mentioned before that I would like to have a go at this in a fiction piece I’ve been dreaming up for years and I’m really hoping to get into that now that I’ve seen a good example of this sort of writing, and after my little quote from Ann Voskamp above, now I’m not afraid to use words to inspire my own. And after looking up the photo of the book to use on the blog, I just discovered that this is now a trilogy, not just a single novel, so definitely looking forward to finding the next two soon.
- Smith Wigglesworth – The Secret of His Power by Albert Hibbert
Someone left this book on the table in the kitchen at church after a Bible Study so I decided to read it. Wow, what an interesting and inspiring life Smith Wigglesworth lived, written by one of his right hand men, and yet what stood out to me was how closely Smith listened to God for solutions to problems, how much of God’s Word he had living in Him to speak wisdom into others and how much love was in his heart even though his actions could be perceived as cruel at times.
I once made a stupid statement that as Christians we all needed more Fear of the Lord and we were all just bogged down in love, and God has been proving me wrong on that one, so I’m really asking for a love revelation.
The other thing that stood out to me from this book was that even though we can be inspired by great men of faith, and we should be full of the word and love of God, we need to seek God for our destiny with Him, because we aren’t all the same.
- Umerited Favour by Joseph Prince
God is having me lay good theology foundations in this season and this is another book He is using to do this. The title wouldn’t normally make me pick up this book, because it could make you think of something wishy washy but it is packed full of well studied Scripture, and I believed titled as it is to make it more appealing to pick up for people who would otherwise steer well away from anything theological.
This book discusses how God defines success and not in the same way we do, and what Jesus actually accomplished on the cross and how to live in that knowledge. It’s over 300 pages so I’m gradually working my way through it, and it takes a while to chew on each chapter. To be honest I think I should be writing out little gems from it in my journal and probably re-reading it.
What are the books by your bedside?
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