Bring the books! 

  I remember reading this verse in my quiet time years ago:

When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers. 2 Tim. 4:13 (NLT)

Do you hear what Paul is saying? "Winter is coming. It is getting cold at night. I need my coat. Don't forget to bring my coat." Could it be that Timothy is a little spacey and is prone to forget such things? "Oh, and whatever else you do, don't forget my books. If you have to forget something, forget the coat, but don't forget my books."

I wrote in the margin of my Bible, "Books have always been important to the people of God."

Indeed. Most of the people I really respect are people with shelves full of books. They operate on the philosophy, "Never be without a book." If you ask them what they are reading, they can tell you without hesitating.

Here are a few of the books I am reading recently

  • Creating Community : 5 Keys to Building a Small Group Culture by Andy Stanley, Bill Willits
  • Reach: A Team Approach To Evangelism And Assimilation by Scott Wilkins
  • The Big Book on Small Groups, by Jeffrey Arnold

Bruce Wilkinson tells the story of one of his seminary professors. As he went to school early in the morning, he would walk by this professor's house and could see the professor poring over a stack of books. Late at night, he would walk home from the library and again see the professor engaged in the books. The professor had been teaching the same Survey class for years. He obviously knew his material, so Bruce asked him one day, "Why do you keep studying so much?"

"I want people to drink from a moving stream."

The great teachers always do. They invite people to drink from a moving stream. They are constantly reading, growing, learning. It is what Jesus called us to do. Disciples are learners. It is one of the 10 Marks of INCREDIBLE Teachers--Never stop learning and growing.

What are you reading these days?

Audible.com

Fully half of what I learned since I graduated from seminary I have not learned from books. I learned from tapes, CDs, and now, MP3s. I think if Paul were writing today, he might say, "Bring my coat, and don't forget my I-pod."

(I don't actually have an I-Pod, I find a 256 meg MP3 player provides ample content for me.)

I made an appeal some time back encouraging churches to make their pastor's sermons available on their church website in MP3 format. It is clearly an idea whose time has come. In recent years, churches provided tapes on a cost-recovery basis. Today, we can put them on the Internet and people can burn them to CDs or listen to them on their MP3. There are many preachers out there that do this and there are lots of sermons available.

One of the best sources of audio books is www.audible.com . It is a secular site and, like any Barnes and Noble, most of their books are secular, but, they have a good supply of Christian books as well. I have been a member for years and have enjoyed dozens and dozens of books. You can purchase individual books, or you can do what I have done, sign up for an annual subscription and get two books a month for one flat, monthly fee. If you sign up for a year, they will give you an MP3 player for free. Here are some samples of some of the titles available:

  • Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
  • Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren
  • Everybody Seems Normal Till You Get to Know Them, John Ortberg
  • The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel
  • Making Small Groups Work, Townsend and Cloud, authors of Boundaries
  • Today Matters, John Maxwell
  • Making Room for Life, Randy Frazee, author of The Connecting Church
  • The Bride, Charles Swindoll

In short, most of the books that are available on CD are also available at www.audible.com A great habit practiced by many of the people I respect is to listen to audio books as you drive. I have been doing so for years and have benefited greatly from doing so. It is another way to let people drink from a moving stream.

I have just discovered a new way.

E-books

I recently purchased a Palm based GPS. (Global Positioning System) I got it mostly for the GPS, as I was constantly getting lost on the road. It is really cool. From any location, I can ask for the closest Chili's, Staples, Barnes and Noble, Lifeway Store, hotel, or Wildwood Baptist Church and it will give me turn by turn audible directions--"Turn left in 1.3 miles." I don't have room for the whole country, but I travel mostly in the south and I was able to load a rectangle from Miami to Wyoming, Baltimore to Tucson.

In addition to the GPS functions, it is a fully functioning Palm OS5 device. So, I can keep my calendar, contacts, and to-do list accessible all the time. Also, I have purchased a number of E-books that I keep with me on the Palm. (I bought a gig card from Sam's for $75 that stores a ton of information.) The selection in E-books is not as good as with audibles, but there are quite a number of books available. Here are a few of the titles I am enjoying:

  • Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby
  • Expanding the Teaching Ministry of the Church, by Lyle Schaller (a bunch of Schaller's books are available.)
  • A Year with C.S. Lewis
  • If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg
  • Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels
  • The One Year Bible, New Living Translation.

I was a little nervous about this e-book thing, because I didn't think I would like reading books on the little screen. To my surprise, I actually like it better. You can highlight and book mark, although, you can't copy and paste material to use in another place. (I assume this is due to copyright issues.) Come to think of it, you can't copy and paste from a regular book either. One great thing is you can read at night with no lights. Missy was up reading last night after I went to bed. Far less intrusive than having a light on.

The really great thing, however, is it is with you all the time. We all have small windows of time here and there where we are waiting on something or someone. Although I often have a book with me, I always have my Palm with me that has a dozen or so books ready for me to read.

Perhaps if Paul were writing today, he might say, "Oh, and don't forget to email over those e-books."

The great people of God have always been lovers of books, lovers of learning, lovers of truth. Today, in addition to reading traditional books, we can also read e-books and listen to audio. What a time to be alive!