Monthly Archives: March 2016

Why You Should Read 1,167 Pages (in the Next 57 Weeks)

Question: Why did God create the universe?

  • A. Because he was lonely
  • B. Because he wanted to share his love
  • C. Because he was bored
  • D. Because he wanted to glorify himself

(Hint: there is more than one correct answer.)

Settled on an answer yet?

The correct answer choices are B and D.

Now, some of you (hopefully most of you) are celebrating: “Yeah! I got it right!”

Others of you are asking, “Really? Why are A and C wrong?”

By the end of this post, you’ll know why.

For a long time, I’ve been concerned about the theological depth (or lack thereof) in Apologetics.

Too many speeches are surface-level explanations of profound topics, delivered without insight and exposition.

And that’s the best-case scenario.

The worst case? Outright…

(choosing my words carefully here)

Near-blasphemy.

I won’t say blasphemy without a qualifier, even though I want to.

Does this occur often? Hopefully not. I don’t view enough rounds to offer statistical analysis.

But anecdotally, I know it does occur.

At a tournament a few years back, my dad judged an Apologetics round. One speaker touched on the topic of why God created the world.

The reason this speaker gave?

Because he was lonely.

So he made people, who are totally awesome.

Riiiight.

Nope-timon.gif

God lonely? GOD? LONELY?

What are we going to do in heaven for all eternity? Enjoy ourselves, with God thanking us for being there so he isn’t lonely any longer?

Me genoito! (“Absolutely not!” in Greek, e.g. Romans 6:2.)

No way!

Eternal life is not about us. Eternal life is about God. Jesus said so: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3 ESV).

And what about eternity past? You really think that God was lonely for all eternity, then suddenly realized that he could create people?

I better pause here to clarify my tone of voice. Paul had the same problem in letter-writing: “I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you” (Galatians 4:20 ESV).

Sounding harsh is not my intent. If you’ve thought (or said) that God created the world because he was lonely, I don’t think you’re automatically a heretic or an unbeliever. You may simply be poorly taught.

God was not lonely in eternity past. Before the foundation of the world, God was delighting in himself. The Father loved the Son in the Spirit: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24 ESV).

God created humankind (and the whole universe) for his glory: “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (Isaiah 43:7 ESV).

John Piper (my favorite pastor) has a fantastic sermon on this if you want to learn more. Here’s a quick quote: “So, why did God create the universe? Resounding through the whole Bible — from eternity to eternity — like rolling thunder is: God created the world for his glory.”

God created the world to share his love, so that we might respond to it in kind and glorify him for his majesty and mercy.

Why do I know this? Because I’m so smart?

No. Because I’ve been well taught for many years. (AKA 20 years, 15 if you count from when I could actually retain information.)

I sit under fantastic preaching every week, straight from the text of Scripture. My parents have always taught me truths about God, and they instilled the habit of daily Bible reading when I was just a boy.

You may or may not have the same background.

But it’s never too late to start.

And now we finally get to explain the title of this post:

Why You Should Read 1,167 Pages (in the Next 57 Weeks)

Guess what book is 1,167 pages long?

No, not the Bible (although you might be able to find a version exactly that length).

Of course you should read that. But I’m talking about another book. And if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you can probably guess it:

Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.

My dad has always said that Systematic Theology is required reading before I leave the house.

Well, LORD willing, I’m heading off to seminary in August. So I realized that I really need to get reading.

A friend from church and I meet every Wednesday morning to discuss a chapter or two. We’ve been at it for about 6 months now, and we’re probably 3/5 of the way through.

Reading Systematic Theology has been personally beneficial. I consider myself to be fairly theologically astute, but I’ve learned much from the book. Moreover, Grudem writes devotionally. I am often led to worship by his explanations of key truths.

Will you join me?

Grab the book, grab a friend, and start meeting. Discuss one chapter each week and you’ll be done in 57 weeks. If you read about 40 pages a week instead of one chapter, you’ll finish in half that time.

The result: you will know your Bible better.

You will know the truth it contains better.

You will know your God better.

And your Apologetics speeches will sparkle.

So tolle lege. Take up and read!

You’re Not Smart Enough to Do Apologetics, Part 2

Warning: This is long and it’s personal. And you probably won’t read it all…

Last time, all you readers were horribly offended by my insulting your intelligence.

Here’s what I wrote:

Theologizing about books aside, reading will enhance your Apologetics speeches.

Why?

Because you’re not that smart.

No offense! I’m not either. That is, I’m not smart enough to figure out all of theology on my own. I need help.

Thankfully, lots of really smart people have written really awesome books. And we can read them for just a few dollars!

After you forgave me for my horrible manners, we discussed why Apologists should read—plus what you should read.

But now comes an even more difficult question.

WHO HAS TIME!?!

Who has time to read?

Life flashes by these days.

It’s Friday, then before you know it Monday is here.

Or worse, next Friday is here.

How does reading fit into such packed schedules?

Today we answer that question.

When can you read?

But I do need to begin with a caveat: some of you don’t have this problem.

Yes, there are a lucky few who are not busy.

If you wouldn’t describe your life as “busy”…

ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS!

For your day is coming.

In all seriousness, a less-than-overwhelming schedule is a blessing. If you don’t have any trouble finding time to do what you want to do, you can skip this post.

Or, since you have so much time, you could read it anyway!

But this post is dedicated to those of us who need a little help.

“I don’t have time to read!”

Join the club.

Asking my friends “How’s life?”, I most commonly get told, “Busy.”

My family is busy.

My friends are busy.

My coworkers are busy.

Everyone’s busy.

Are we cursed or something?

In a sense, yes.

But you know that curses are sometimes blessings in disguise, right?

Busyness is like that.

See, our world is filled with opportunity.

You can do almost anything you dream of, if you’re willing to work long and hard enough.

Because of this, your desires will likely exceed your time available.

And that’s okay.

If your bucket list is a million items long, and you only complete 3 before you die, guess what?

You have all eternity to do the other 999,997!

In this age, our job is not to do everything. It’s to do every most-important-thing.

That’s where priorities come in.

Among your other priorities, book-reading should be present.

Don’t ignore your responsibilities and read books all day.

But neither should you ignore books and elevate other priorities.

(If you need justification for this point, go see last week’s post on why to read.)

Sadly, I’m speaking from personal experience here.

It came to a head at the end of January.

I felt totally overwhelmed.

Job and internship I had handled. But my personal time was in shambles.

My to-do list kept increasing, and I couldn’t stay on top of it.

So I decided to stop something.

See, time is like closet space. At some point, you can’t fit any more clothes in.

But because time isn’t physical, we like to imagine that we can fit infinite “time clothes” into our finite time closet.

How do you get more room in your closet? You throw clothes away.

How do you get more room in your time closet? You throw time-consumers away.

So I decided to stop attending a Thursday night get-together and seize that night back.

After testing the idea in February, I believe it has been a success. I’ve enjoyed spending my Thursday nights with my family or reading by myself.

And I don’t feel bad about quitting.

I follow an internet marketing copywriter named Ian Stanley. Recently he sent an email out, defending quitting. In it he listed some of his personal goals, then wrote:

Those were the primary goals outside of income.
And guess what. I didn’t hit any of ‘em.
You know why?
I QUIT. I quit for a reason.
Now let me be clear. There’s a difference between QUITTING and GIVING UP.
Quitting means you didn’t want the goal anymore.
Giving up means you wanted the end goal but weren’t willing to do what it took to get it.

Feel free to quit.

If something is occupying too much of your time—or doesn’t belong there at all—quit it.

Quit it purposefully.

Not because you don’t have the guts to achieve it.

Because you don’t want the goal anymore.

I’ve just realized that my outline is rather lacking for this post.

So I’m going to retroactively make the last few large chunks of this post…

Time Tactic #1: Quit

And then move immediately on to…

Time Tactic #2: Think Long-Term

Pull up from the trenches and take a look around.

What will you really enjoy doing tonight?

How can you act so that, tomorrow morning, you wake up and say: “I’m proud of myself for choosing to do _______ last night!”

Maybe this is just me…

(so if it doesn’t apply to you just ignore it)

…but I generally feel unsatisfied after wasting a few hours on the internet.

Spending a few hours on a good book?

Tiring, but satisfying.

Writing my last post, I was happy that day because I read A.W. Tozer the day before.

Never have I been happy today because I wasted time on the internet yesterday.

And I’ll bet 1,000 Monopoly dollars that neither have you.

It’s an issue of long-term difficult pleasures vs. short-term easy pleasures.

Think long-term.

What will make you happiest?

Time Tactic #3: Seize the Gaps

We all have little gaps in our day. Maybe you have 15 minutes between two events, or half an hour after dinner.

Seize the gaps! Use them to read.

One major gap for lots of people is commute time.

Do you have a part-time job? (Around here every single homeschooler works at Chick-fil-A.) If so, you probably have to drive at least 20 minutes round-trip every time you work. Use that time to read!

Not read with your eyes. That’s dangerous. (And probably illegal, though I haven’t checked the laws.)

Read with your ears! Listen to audiobooks.

You can get a lot of good ones for cheap. Go sign up for Audible.com‘s free trial and get an audiobook. Or go to ChristianAudio.com and get a free Christian audiobook every single month.

I listen to audiobooks or sermons first thing in the morning when I get up. My morning routine—from getting up to finishing breakfast—takes 30 minutes, so I can get through an entire audiobook in just a week or two!

When my brother and I owned a lawncare business a few years back, I would listen to books while mowing lawns.

Anytime your task doesn’t require intense mental focus, you can be reading…er, listening.

If you seize the gaps, you’ll get a lot more reading done.

Time Tactic #4: Schedule Your Reading

Sometimes I find myself thinking:

“Once I get everything else done, I’ll go hole away and read for 10 hours.”

The problem?

Everything else never gets done.

So at the end of the day…

If you want to read…

Find a time to read…

And do it.

Block it out on your calendar.

Tell people you’re already busy (because you are).

Tell them you have an appointment (with yourself).

Go curl up with a book.

And read.

You’ll be smarter because of it.

And your Apologetics speeches will sparkle.