January 1, 2020

Happy New Year 2020!  Actually, I will also say, Happy New Decade!  Most people make new year’s resolutions.  I usually do, too.  I have read many times through the years that the most often made new year’s resolution is to lose weight.  I made that one myself many times, but never lived up to that resolution until last year when I lost 100 pounds.  And that was hard to do. Losing weight is hard for most people. So I want to suggest a resolution for all my readers to make.  A resolution easier to keep than losing weight, and also very good for you physically, mentally and spiritually.

The resolution I suggest you make for 2020 and promise to do for the rest of your life is to read more.  Sound stupid?  Let me explain why it is not stupid.

Reading is good mental exercise for your brain, especially as one gets older.  And, at your choosing, you can read for pleasure or with the purpose of learning something.  All students know about the latter. I think the ability to read is a gift from God, along with the invention of printing presses, writing and other things we communicate through.

I will paraphrase a quote from Mark Twain to make it shorter. He said, “A person who can read, but won’t read, is no better off than a person who can’t read.”

When I first started preaching over 50 years ago, I wanted to learn all I could about ministry.  Ministry to the whole person, not just his spiritual needs.

In my studying, (and this was on my own, way before I had any seminary) I stumbled across the writings of Karl Barth.  Barth lived between 1886 to 1968.  He was born in Switzerland and became a Swiss Protestant theologian, as well as being a teacher and writer. I have often quoted, what, to me anyway, was one of Barth’s most useful teachings to me.

I didn’t know that I was misquoting his exact words until I did research on it for this post.  I would quote him as saying, “A good preacher has to preach with his Bible in one hand and a newspaper in his other hand.”

My quote captured the meaning of Barth’s actual quote, but what he actually said was, “Take your Bible, and take your newspaper and read both.  But interpret the newspaper from your Bible.”  Isn’t that a great lesson?

The Apostle Paul,  in his letters to Timothy, told him to give attendance to reading and to meditate upon those things.  And to study to show himself approved… ( 1 Tim. and 2 Tim.)

So according to Paul and Barth, it’s essential to read the Bible and newspapers.

Reading the Bible is obviously good for our souls, training, instruction, inspiration, etc.  But what’s so important about reading the newspapers (and of course other forms of news media today)?

If you are reading this, I’m sure you know the importance of keeping up with the news, not only locally, but also nationally and internationally.

If you don’t read, how will you learn the things that are really important for you to know?  For example, how would you know who to vote for from city mayor all the way up to president? We must read to be pleasing to God. But you may be thinking “I just don’t have time to read.”

Consider this for a moment, please. We all have the same amount of time every day, 24 hours each.  So we MUST learn how to prioritize our time so we can do those things which are most important for us, our families and God.

This will make many of you angry at me, but you must admit that it’s true. Many people waste much valuable time frivolously.

How much time do you spend every day watching television, on social media, looking at your smart phones?   So much of what we spend our time on is wasted.  I haven’t watched a sporting event in person or on television in many years.  I used to love sports, but MY priorities just don’t allow for me to watch sports.  That’s just one example for ME. (Hey, they’re just games.)

If you’ll be honest with yourself, you can find examples of wasted time in your life.  Time you could use to read your Bible, time to pray, and time to read your newspaper.

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Are you wasting God-given, valuable time doing childish things?  You be the judge.  Just last week, I was talking to a 36 year old man who had bought himself many new video games for Christmas.  The examples are endless.

Don’t waste your time doing foolish things.  Make time to read.  It will improve your WHOLE life.

God Bless You,
Spencer Plumley