Christian Readers Challenge 2017

12 BOOKS. 12 CATEGORIES. 12 MONTHS.  Avid reader, slow reader, new reader, and everyone in between… all are welcomed!  You’re invited to be excited… both to be encouraged and to encourage others as we take up this challenge together!  It’s a corporate journey that we won’t regret.  It will have us rejoicing along the path and at its end. As Frodo Baggins urged his friend Samwise-Gamgee in the adventure of moving forward, “And you will read things out of the Red Book, and keep alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will remember the Great Danger, and so love their beloved land all the more. And that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your part in the Story goes on. ‘Come now, ride with me!”

As a followup application to a past article on the Positive Imprint of Formative Reading, I wanted to invite anyone who might be interested, in what I believe, will be a mutually edifying exercise for cultivating our minds, feeding our souls, equipping our ministries, watering our joy, and exalting our Lord.  The challenge, if you choose to accept, involves the reading of 12 books over 12 different categories over the next 12 months:

  1. January – A book on the “Attributes of God”
  2. February – A “Christian Biography”
  3. March – A book on “Christian Living”
  4. April – A book on “Prayer”
  5. May – A book about a “Current Issue”
  6. June – A book on “History” or “Church History”
  7. July – A book on “Evangelism” or “World Missions”
  8. August – A “Classic Novel”, “Detective Story”, or “Historical Fiction”
  9. September – A book promoting “Local Church Life”
  10. October – A book on “Apologetics”
  11. November – A book on a “Biblical Counseling Issue”
  12. December – A book on “Partnering with Our Pastors”

For example, it might look like the following sample list by the end of the year, whether in part or the whole, depending on each of our preferences, comfort level, and selections:

  1. JanuaryThe Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
  2. FebruarySpurgeon: A Biography by Arnold Dallimore
  3. MarchJust Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
  4. AprilPrayer the Great Adventure by David Jeremiah
  5. May They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East by Mindy Belz
  6. JuneSketches from Church History: An Illustrated Account of 20 Centuries of Christ’s Power by S.M. Houghton
  7. JulyThe Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever
  8. AugustOliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  9. SeptemberThe Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch
  10. OctoberEvery Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth by Richard Pratt
  11. NovemberAddictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Edward Welch
  12. DecemberThe Pastor’s Family by Brian & Cara Croft

To assist all of us in this fellowship that springs from engaging our minds and hearts, with good books, but especially The Book, our Bibles, with a view to honor Christ – Here are the guidelines for the challenge:

  • Choose from the list of each month’s recommended books, one from your own research, or from the advice of others. You may read one individually, or read the same book that month along with others for more enjoyment and accountability. It can be longer, briefer, introductory, intense, etc.
  • Challenge yourself, but discern what you can read. It’s OK to start out with shorter, easier works, especially if you’re not used to reading, or a more patient reader. Then only push yourself later.
  • Create a realistic plan or schedule for reading, whether daily, every other day, broken into parts, or in longer sittings weekly. Think about places, times, a favorite chair, a hot cup of tea, a buddy, etc. You might consider how many pages to read, including examining the book’s layout… for example, some books have short chapters, including ones that span about 30 sections – one for each day of month?
  • Commit to your reading plan! Don’t leave it to good intentions! Make a focused plan, or you won’t do it. Then keep it.  And if you have to adjust along the way, do so to keep it going.  Don’t give up!
  • Carry On if you fall behind or don’t finish a month’s category book. It’s up to you, whether you want to finish the book as you move along, but I suggest that you move forward. It’s best to finish what you start, but better not to stop your journey. Mark your place, then you can always come back to it later.
  • Commune with others about what you’re both reading and what you’re both learning, not to boast, but to bless. A Facebook Page has been set up with articles that I and others will post, and for people to make comments or encouragements, share brief quotes from their month’s reading, offer suggestions for books that were helpful and/or enjoyable, share about book sales or free books, and give encouragements, etc.
  • Celebrate any progress. It’s ultimately not about perfection, but direction. If you want to add more incentive, make a goal in which you can come together at a certain interval or at the end with others in your local church, to celebrate! For Lighthouse OC members, for those who have read at least 80 pages in each kind of category by December 31, 2017, you earn a special end-of-year meal invite!

Recommendations will be shared on our facebook page as the year progresses, but you’re invited to ask pastors and fellow church members for suggested titles, as well as visit an online bookstore for help and reviews. But to start us off – Here are some possible ideas for January – “Attributes of God”

Finding time to read can be difficult, depending on where we are and who we are. Nevertheless, we do have the time to read.  Question is whether we will prioritize it by “putting off” in order to “put on”… by saying “no” to some things, in order to say “yes” to better things. Carl Honore once wrote, “We live in a world of scarce understanding and abundance of information. We complain that we never have any time, yet we seek distraction.”  We can turn off the TV, we don’t have to participate in every extracurricular activity out there, we can stop web surfing, we can renew our minds.  Spurgeon said, “The way to get a mind worth having is to get one stored with things worth keeping.”   Apostle Paul commanded in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

May we stir one another up towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25), partly through a means of fellowship in sharing the blessings of reading good books in love of God and in love of people, to His joy and ours.  As Dr. Albert Mohler recently encouraged, “Books are almost always read alone, but they are seldom truly enjoyed alone.”  Happy reading, dear brothers and sisters.

NOTE: For LBCOC members, for those who have read at least 70 pages in each kind of category by December 31, 2017, you earn a special end-of-year meal invite!