A Godly Love for Reading and Learning
May 3, 2017
Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following is excerpted from THE DISCIPLING CHURCH: THE CHURCH THAT WILL STAND UNTIL JESUS COMES. New for March 2017. See end of this report for details.

Churches should challenge the young people to be studious, to be students of the Bible, first, and then students of life in general as God made it.

Everything you learn can enrich your life, marriage, and ministry.

God made man’s amazing mind, and He did not make it to waste on laziness and vanity.

Youth is the best time to learn. Your mind is sharper and your memory better than it will ever be. As you get older, you will gradually lose the mental powers of your youth.

We teach our young people that everything you learn
that is wholesome can enrich your life, ministry, and marriage.

Parents and pastors and teachers should have a passion for learning so they can impart this to the youth.

The English reader has access to the greatest wealth of literature that’s ever been available at any time in history.

Young people need to learn to read and to enjoy reading. It’s been said that the man who does not read is no better than the man who cannot read. I read the equivalent of a couple hundred books a year, and it is an enriching thing both to my personal life and to my family and ministry.

Even secular society recognizes the benefits of reading. For example, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy works to “help parents and children build brighter futures through literacy.” Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of U.S. President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, says,

“When I was growing up, my mother, Barbara Bush, read to me every night. I remember reaching out to turn the pages when I was very small, caught up in the wonder of each story and the vivid pictures that filled my imagination. I was so fortunate to be raised in a household filled with books and—as you might imagine to be the case in the Bush home—plenty of conversation. By filling my days with loving words and ending each one with a bedtime story, my mother not only helped me form wonderful childhood memories, but also cultivated vital language and literacy skills that prepared me for success in school—and in life” (Dorothy Bush Koch, “What my mother Barbara Bush taught me about learning,” Fox News, Jan. 18, 2017).

Parents reading to children is so important to intelligence development that the American Academy of Pediatrics urges doctors and nurses to use pediatric visits to discuss with mothers the importance of reading.

A recent article by Charles Chu, “The Simple Truth Behind Reading 200 Books a Year” on betterhumans.coach.me, gives the following advice:

“Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, ‘Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will...’ ... [I]n these last two years I’ve read over 400 books cover to cover. That decision to start reading was one of the most important decisions in my life. ... Reading 200 books a year isn’t hard at all. ... The average American reads 200-400 words per minute. Typical non-fiction books have 50,000 words. ... 200 books [requires] 417 hours. ... a single American spends 608 hours on social media and 1642 hours on TV. That’s 2250 hours a year on TRASH. If those hours were spent reading instead, you could be reading over 1,000 books a year! ... If you want to read, make sure (1) you remove all distractions from your environment and (2) you make books as easy to access as possible. ... If your goal is to read more, you can’t be picky about where you read or what mediums you use. I read paper books. I read on my phone. I listen to audiobooks. And I do these things everywhere--on park benches, in buses, in the toilet. Wherever I can. Make your reading opportunistic. If you have a chance, take it. If you don’t have a chance, find one.”

Young people need to learn to capture what they read by reading thoughtfully, underlining or highlighting important things, and jotting down thoughts.

Of course, the fundamental thing in learning is know the Bible, God’s Word, well and to test everything by it (1 Th. 5:21). This is the heart of a proper worldview (Heb. 5:14). It is the opposite of the simple person who is gullible and easily misled (Pr. 14:12).

The child of God must use the Word of God to resist the world’s wrong thinking and wrong ways in every area of his life. He must cast down every wrong imagination (2 Co. 10:4-5). He must refuse to allow the world to mold him into its image (Ro. 12:2).

A child or youth who loves to read and is left to his own choices and devices without a good knowledge of God’s Word and a thorough-going biblical worldview is a sheep among wolves.

Once you have the key to learning, which is the Bible, and once you know the Bible well enough to see everything through its lens, then you can learn to study with discrimination.

Parents and churches must teach young people how to choose the right things to study.

Wise Christian parents will carefully oversee their young people’s reading matter to weed out anything that would be a detriment to their spiritual and moral health and will help the young people to develop their own ability to discriminate. We live in a fallen world, and reading and learning is not without its very real dangers.

Of course, God requires that His people separate from every evil thing and keep themselves unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27; 1 John 2:15-16). It is not spiritually profitable to read unwholesome literature and watch unwholesome videos and engage in any type of unwholesome endeavor.

Magic is something that is clearly off bounds (De. 18:10-12), yet many of the most popular juvenile books today delve into magic. These include
Harry Potter, The Finkleton series, Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Tales of Magic, The Dark Is Rising, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Science fiction is another danger-filled genre. It was created in the late 19th and early 20th century as a product of an evolutionary worldview that denies the Almighty Creator. Science fiction takes the reader into a cold, strange world without God. Oh, there might be “a god,” a “force,” but it is definitely not the God of the Bible, and the prominent names in this field are Darwinists and Atheists. Science fiction and the superhero genre have grown ever darker, stranger, more sensual and godless, and many people are living a dark fantasy world because their minds and hearts have been captured by unsound authors. (See the report “Beware of Science Fiction” at www.wayoflife.org.)

In guiding children and young people in their reading, it is important to guide in the way of substance and value.

Fiction, even wholesome fiction, is rarely the best choice. I see at least three problems with fiction. First, it is addictive. Second, rarely is it intellectually challenging. Third, it it rarely provides anything of godly, real substance for one’s life. Living on a diet of fiction is like living on junk food, at best. As a child, I devoured countless works of fiction, such as the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, and Nancy Drew, but it was the reading equivalent of an mindless video game. At the time when my mind and memory were the sharpest, I wasted countless hours on the literary equivalent of marshmallows. A couple of marshmallows are OK; a diet of marshmallows is foolishness.

Not long ago I wrote the following to a grandmother who was discussing gifts for her grandchildren:

I like to focus on non-fiction. Truth is as interesting as fiction, and truth is better for kids, I believe. It is easy to get addicted to fiction. Following are some of the things I have gotten for my grandkids:

Christian Heroes four sets
Heroes of History (Janet and Geoff Benge, age 8 and up) 5 sets of 5 
DK Readers - Thomas Edison
DK Readers - Wright Brothers
DK Readers - George Washington
Moonwalk: First Trip to the Moon (Step 5)
The Titanic (Step 4)
Lives and Signers of the Declaration of Independence
To the Top: Climbing the World’s Highest Mountain (Step 5)
Hellen Keller (Step 4)
Volcanoes (Step 4)
Hungry Plants (Step 4)
Quakes (Step 5)
Michael Faraday by Charles Ludwig (age 12-15)
Sower Series (age 9 and up)
Galileo and the Magic Numbers by Sidney Rosen (12 and up)
Galen and the Gateway to Medicine by Jeanne Bendick (9 and up)
The Story of the Romans illustrated by Helen Guerber (11 and up)
Heroes of the Revolution
Exploring the World of Biology
Building Blocks of Life Science (Gary Parker)
Tools of the Ancient Romans
Complete Book of Maps and Geography
Pioneers Go West (Landmark Books)
Meet Abraham Lincoln (Landmark Books)
Landing of the Pilgrims (Landmark Books)
The Story of Thomas Edison (Landmark Books)
Louise Braille (Margaret Davidson)
Helen Keller (Margaret Davidson)
Wright Brothers (Quentin Reynolds)
Secrets of the Woods (William Long)
Moonwalk: First Trip to the Moon (Step 5)
American History by Noah Webster

The following two titles are historical fiction but they recreate the times pretty well -
The Beggars’s Bible by Louise Vernon (age 9 and up)
The Bible Smuggler by Vernon Will (age 9 and up)

Also the following from Creation Moments:
Bugs Big & Small God Made Them All 
God Made the World & Me-Preschool 
Dinosaur Activity Book
Science Activities for Illustrating Bible Lessons
Creation Curriculum Lessons Grades 1-4 
God’s Design for Life: The World of Plants 
Animals of the Bible
Noah’s Ark-Preschool Activity Book
Mineral Book
Q & A about Weather and the Bible 
Guide to Animals 
Astronomy Book 

When you have a good Bible foundation and have learned to avoid evil and to read and study with spiritual discrimination, then you can wisely and safely study life and learn from every part of life.

The KJV translators were great scholars because they were great students. John Bois could read the whole Bible in Hebrew at age five. His godly father and mother taught him to love education. His mother Mirable read the Bible 12 times and the unabridged Foxes Book of Martyrs twice. As a student at Oxford, Bois studied in the library from 4am to 8pm. In the pursuit of perfecting his linguistic skills, he read 60 grammars. He studied in his horse cart on the daily trips from Boxworth to Cambridge, letting his horse find the way. Even in old age, John Bois spent eight hours a day in study.

Carolus Linnaeus, who classified living things, was so poor as a young man that he had to stuff paper in his shoes when they wore out, but when he won a scholarship, he spent the money on lectures rather than clothes.

Michael Faraday, one of the fathers of modern physics and a strong Christian, was totally self-educated. He had a passion for learning, so his boss let him use his personal library, and Michael would read into the night after working all day. This is a reminder that we must learn how to find answers to questions and not depend on others. Once when I sent out an ad for my book on the house church, a man emailed me and asked what is a house church. He wanted me to find someone who would give him a private summary instead of making the effort to read the book and study for himself, even though the eBook was free.

In learning to be studious, young people need to take their school studies seriously.

Don’t be intimated by the ignorant crowd. Use this important time of your life wisely instead of following empty people. I have often regretted how that I wasted my youth, and a large reason that I did so was peer pressure from the foolish crowd that I ran with who encouraged me
not to excel. Dumb was cool!

But go beyond your required studies. Use your youthful mind to learn good things that will enrich your personal life, your ministry to others, and your service to Christ. Recently I talked with a young man who told me that he took nearly every optional course he could take in high school beyond the required courses, because he enjoyed learning. As a result, he is an unusually well-informed young man who can hold an intelligent conversation on many subjects.

The hours that most young people waste on video games or empty talk or vain social media pastimes should be used instead to learn and perfect skills on one or more musical instruments or any number of other profitable things.

One adult gave the following testimony about why he ordered a children’s textbook
The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World: “As a life-long learner, when I want to learn a new subject I begin with children’s books because they assume no prior knowledge of the subject. I will enjoy working my way through the activities as a base for this new subject of study.” This comment was posted at Amazon’s web site, and it is a good example of how to pursue learning throughout one’s life.

Learn to study subjects correctly as opposed to the shallow way of the Internet age. It has encouraged “bits and pieces” research, just reading a few bits and pieces of information rather than entire books or at least entire reports. That’s like reading a few verses of the Bible instead reading by chapter and book. By this habit, it is impossible to understand the information in context. The Internet age has encouraged haste and shallowness, just glancing quickly at
Wikipedia or the top ten Google returns instead of pursuing serious research.

Excerpted from THE DISCIPLING CHURCH: THE CHURCH THAT WILL STAND UNTIL JESUS COMES. New for March 2017. This church planting manual aims to establish churches on a solid biblical foundation of a regenerate church membership, one mind in doctrine and practice, serious discipleship, thorough-going discipline, and a large vision for world evangelism. We examine the New Testament pattern of a discipling church, and we trace the history of Baptist churches over the past 200 years to document the apostasy away from the biblical pattern to a mixed multitude philosophy. We also document the history of “sinner’s prayer” evangelism which has affected the reality of a regenerate church membership. The book deals with biblical salvation with evidence, care in receiving church members, the church’s essential first love for Christ, the right kind of church leaders, the right kind of preaching, training church members to be Bible students, the many facets of church discipline, building strong families, youth ministry, training preachers, charity, reproof, educating the church for spiritual protection, maintaining standards for workers, the church’s prayer life, the church’s separation, spiritual revival, the church’s music, and many other things. The last chapter documents some of the cultural factors that have weakened churches over the past 100 years, including the theological liberalism, public school system, materialism and working mothers, the rock & roll pop culture, pop psychology, the feminist movement, New Evangelicalism, television, and the Internet. There is also a list of recommended materials for a discipling church. 513 pages.

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Way of Life Literature

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