Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Reading Diet

Major John Skidmore, one of Oswald Chamber’s closest friends, came to see Chambers, complaining of being drained. Oswald asked what he had been reading, to which Skidmore said, “Only the Bible and books directly associated with it.” “That’s the trouble,” said Oswald. “You have allowed part of your brain to stagnate for want of use.

Reaching a nearby pen and paper, Oswald began listing more than fifty books dealing with philosophy, psychology, theology, and every phase of current life. “When people refer to a man as ‘a man of one book’, meaning the Bible, he is generally found to be a man of multitudinous books, which simply isolates the one Book to its proper grandeur,” said Oswald. “The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.

Oswald Chambers love for books came in part from his sitting at the feet of the Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte, who taught a series of classes that Oswald attended as a young man. Many times, Oswald saw Whyte hold up a battered old book, telling the students, “Sell your beds and buy it.”

Afterward, Oswald never went anywhere without a book. Once, while travelling, he wrote to his sister Florence saying:
My box has at last arrived. My books! I cannot tell you what they mean to me – silent, wealthy, loyal lovers. To look at them, to handle them, and to re-read them! I do thank God for my books with every fiber of my being. Why, I could have almost cried to excess of joy when I got hold of them again. I see them all just at my elbow now – Plato, Wordsworth, Myers, Bradley, Halyburton, St. Augustine, Browning, Tennyson, Amiel, etc. I know them. I wish you could see how they look at me, a quiet, calm look of certain acquaintance*.”

To me, we as Christians – the Bible – is our one and only chief Book that we all need to read, to study daily and to meditate day-by-day. But this doesn’t mean that it is the only book that we need to read. Broaden your mind, enlarge your visions and uplift your spirit by reading other books (too). If I want to get inspirations in my Christian life I read biographies like those of William Carrey, John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, Hudson Taylor, A.W. Tozer, Charles H. Spurgeon, Watchman Nee, etc. If I want to learn about theology I turn to John Piper, John McArthur, J.I. Packer, David Pawson, John Stott, etc. For missions I seek Oswald J. Smith, K.P. Yohannan, J. Oswald Sanders, etc.  If I want to be motivated and learn leadership I read Anthony Robbins, John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, etc. For personal development I read Tony Buzan and Edward de Bono. Psychology… philosophy… I could go on… you get my point, right?

Ruth Bell Graham said, “Read, read, read! Use the Bible as home base,
but vary your diet. I usually have several books going at once,
tucked around here and there for easy access.” Read my friends!
*David McCasland, Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God (Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd., 1993), 156-157, 108-109.
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