Hello, Old Friend

"If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads but what he rereads.” Francois Mauriac

I know people who will only read a book one time. I have certainly read my fair share of books that didn't deserve to be read even once, but there are some that deserve a second, third or even annual read.

Warren Wiersbe was the person who introduced me to the concept of planned recurring reading. He mentions it in his book 50 People Every Christian Should Know, a must-read compilation of influential Christians. I know, it's not on the 2015 retreat list, but has been in the past, so it counts. 50 People is two of his previous books combined, Victorious Christian You Should Know and Living With the Giants, along with two new biographies. In every chapter he gives suggestions for reading the material penned by the particular person he is profiling, and he mentions several titles he reads either yearly or every few years.

This has proven to be a profitable practice for me. I have several books that I try to read every year or so, and each time I am amazed to discover something new, be convicted by something neglected, and refreshed by something familiar. I've blogged about the benefit that I have received by using My Utmost for His Highest for a number of years and a friend told that she has been using Streams in the Desert for more years than she can remember. Like an old friend or a favorite place, returning to something we've read before produces a sense of the past coupled with a promise of the future. And, it begs a few questions.

Who are we now, in this season? Have we grown in the Lord and the truths He showed us when we first read it? Why or why not? What’s different in our lives since the last reading, and what is the same? In a day when every check of the email brings another ad from another publisher, book club or store for new, new, new, we can neglect the treasure of the tried and true.

Books are not french fries, devoured almost unthinkingly one right after the other. Good Christian books open up the Word of God, reveal Him, teach and instruct us, encourage and strengthen us and yes, even spank us. And when we are done, we should be different. We should be changed, maybe a little, maybe a lot, but not who we were when we began to read. If it doesn't reveal who God is and make you more like Jesus, don’t read it again. But if it does, make a point to revisit that place where you heard Him and heeded Him.

My favorites?

Fiction is usually a summer read, and Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss gets a pretty regular look. The fictional diary of an 19th century girl that begins when she is 16, we peek into the thoughts and events of her life from teen crushes to the winter of life in old age. Jan Karon's Mitford series is a huge favorite, full of southern characters that will make you laugh out loud and somebody gets saved in every book. Anything by Jane Austin. Non fiction favs include Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, a book that challenges Christian women to see if the way they live really lines up with what they say they believe.

There are others, like Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe, which is my very favorite and extremely balanced and biblical book on spiritual warfare. Charlie Campbell’s One Minute Answers to Skeptics Top 40 Questions reminds me of fundamental truths about God and Christianity in a concise way that refreshes my faith every time I read it. I reread at least one Elisabeth Elliot book every year, but I won't tell you what it was this year because it's out of print and I don't want to frustrate you. Every now and then I reread one of Alan Redpaths devotional commentaries, Victorious Christian Service on Nehemiah is my favorite.

No, I don’t watch much television and yes, my child is grown. But every one has twenty four hours in a day and if you’re going to read, make it His Word, and if there is time, consider revisiting an something you've read before. Who are some of your old friends?