How Reading Can Transform Your Health

In How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health, Michael Grothaus says, “Reading doesn’t just improve your knowledge, it can help fight depression, make you more confident, empathetic, and a better decision-maker.”

Grothaus’s life was in a rut…until he read War and Peace. Its 1500 pages took him two months to conquer and immediately became his favorite book because of how it changed him. “It’s  almost impossible to explain why,” he says “but after reading it I felt more confident in myself, less uncertain about my future…As weird as it sounds, reading War and Peace put me back in control of my life—and that’s why it’s my favorite book.”

But Grothaus’s further research into reading revealed that such a transformation through reading wasn’t weird but ‘the norm for people who read a lot—and one of the main benefits of reading that most people don’t know about.” What else did he discover?

  • Reading for pleasure can help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia.
  • Reading can offer richer, broader, and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding.
  • Reading about other characters and situations helps you to look at life’s challenges from a renewed perspective.
  • People who read find it easier to make decisions, plan, and prioritize, because they are more able to recognize that difficulty and setback are unavoidable aspects of human life.
  • People who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers.
  • Being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.
  • People who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.
  • Despite reading being a solitary experience research shows that reading improves empathy and increases social support.
  • A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76% of them said that reading improves their life and helps to make them feel good.

Grothaus goes on to give four tips on how to overcome obstacles to reading in our distracted and over-committed lives (see here).

But if reading secular books can have such life-transforming benefit, how much more will a wide range of good spiritual books transform our lives and even our eternity.

“From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).


Check out

Blogs

The Rewards of Wisdom | Credo Magazine: Tom Schreiner

The Most Important Word in Your Vocabulary (But hardest to say) | Aaron Armstrong

Why We Fail At Family Devotions | Tim Challies

Cognitive Dissonance on Life and Death: Thoughts on Planned Parenthood | The Exchange

Four Promises for our Breakups | Tony Reinke

A Mini-Theology of Technology | Tony Reinke

Kindle Books

Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition by Calvin Miller $1.99. You won’t agree with everything in this book, but it will freshen up your preaching.

God’s Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children by R C Sproul $1.99.

Exalting Jesus in Ezra-Nehemiah by James Hamilton $2.99. And if you scroll down the page on Amazon you’ll find multiple other commentaries in this series for sale, some at $0.99.

Recommended New Book

Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church by Gloria Furman and others

Videos

Two worship-inducing videos of God’s creation

Slow Motion Lightning

The Chase


Forgiveness of Sins is Not Enough

When we think about forgiveness, we usually think about three areas for which we need forgiveness: our thoughts, our words, and our actions. And each of these three areas can be viewed in terms of sins of commission and sins of omission, what we have done and what we have not done, and so on.

But even if God forgave us for all these sins, it’s not enough forgiveness to save us. We need forgiveness not just for what we have or have not done, but for what we are. We need forgiveness not just for our thinking/saying/doing but for our being. Even if I managed never to sin in thought, word, or deed, by omission or by commission, I would still need forgiveness for what I am.

To illustrate, imagine your sinful nature like a witch’s cauldron; a seething, swirling pot of disgusting, poisonous, and noxious mixture. When it heats up, it boils over now and again, and the contents of the cauldron spew out, spill onto the floor, and splatter anyone nearby. That’s what happens when we sin, our sinful nature boils over, and sin breaks out, injuring us and anyone else in the vicinity.

But what about when the cauldron is not boiling over, when sin is not being seen, felt, or smelled by us or others. The cauldron is still there; it’s still there before God; and it’s still offending Him and provoking Him to anger.

One of the things that happens in Christian conversion, is that we come to realize that our biggest problem is not our sins but our sinfulness, not the frequent or infrequent spillovers but the constant presence of a swirling, seething sinful nature in our hearts that revolts and offends a holy God. That’s what the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 7v7-14.

Read the rest of the article at the Christward Collective.


Check out

Blogs

The Place Where Reformed Theology And Life Hang Out and Eat a Burger | Gentle Reformation
A new podcast from Barry York & Co.

One Simple Way to Encourage Your Pastor | Kevin DeYoung
Like Kevin, I can honestly say, I have no complaints on this front. But I know many pastors who could do with a few positive words in their ears and hearts.

Six Important Questions Every Wife Should Ask About Estate Planning & Retirement | Clare De Graaf
Hope my own wife doesn’t ask them.

Have we Made Too Much of Grace? | Joey Cochran
I enjoyed Joey’s testimony about how the Lord has led him into a love for His law.

Honoring Mr President: Learning to Honor the Office | R C Sproul Jr
This is getting harder and harder.

10 Reasons Believers Should Take Care of Themselves Physically | Chuck Lawless

Kindle Books

The Ever-Loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture? by Voddie Baucham $0.99.

I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference by Thom Rainer $0.99.

How to Design TED Worthy Presentation Slides: Presentation Design Principles from the Best TED Talks $0.99.

Trump: The Art of the Deal $4.59. If you’re going to vote for him, you might as well find out a bit about him. This is actually a fascinating book that gives an entertaining insight into the man and his methods. Some helpful common grace insights into admin, management, leadership. But read it through the lens of Scripture to filter out the unbiblical worldview and unethical tactics.

Recommended New Book

The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World by Owen Strachan. A new biography of Charles Colson.

Videos

Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts

Be warned, this is one of the most disturbing videos I have ever seen. You can read more about it here.


Nothing In, Nothing Out

When I was in the UK last week, my family and I took an open-top bus tour of London. One of our guides was obsessed with telling us the value of properties. The week before, a parking space in London had sold for almost $350,000. A parking space!

He told us that many wealthy people bought multi-million dollar properties in Park Lane and Belgravia but never lived in them. They just wanted the prestigious address for the top of their notepaper. Then there were the luxury hotels with rows of Ferraris, Porsches, and Lamborghinis parked outside.

Finally we viewed the awesome landmark office buildings like the Gherkin, the Shard, and the Walkie-Talkie. My younger brother works in the Gherkin, so we were privileged to get a trip to the viewing gallery. We were quite the embarassing contrast to the power-dressing executives and supermodel secretaries. But we got a fantastic view of the modern financial district as well as the more ancient landmarks like the Tower of London.

I couldn’t help thinking of all that power and wealth when I was preparing a sermon on 1 Timothy 6 late last week. There, in verse 7, we come across a label that God puts on every car, every house, every office, every dollar, ever title, every position, everything: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Nothing in, Nothing out

This is a label for all things, for all people, and for all times of life.

When you are having a baby: What does that baby come in with? Nothing. What shall it leave with? Nothing. As Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). We all enter and exit the same way. Nothing in, nothing out.

When you are deciding on a career: Don’t make money, salary, and benefits the only consideration. Put this label at the top of every job offer.

When you want something too much: When covetousness and greed get a grip of your heart, loosen its deadly hands by putting this label on the object of your desire. “Nothing in, Nothing out.”

When you get something you’ve always wanted: Don’t make an idol of it. Don’t get too attached to it. It is certain we shall carry nothing out.

When you lose something valuable: It may be a well-paying job, an inheritance, a house, or many of your possessions are destroyed in a fire or taken in a robbery. It just got taken from us a few years earlier than expected. Nothing in, nothing out.

When you are tempted to do wrong to get more money: Is it worth it? For something you are going to have to leave in a few short years anyway?

When you are deciding what to give to the Lord’s cause: Why not give more of it to the Lord before it’s taken by the Lord?

When you are complaining about how little you have: We all leave with the same amount. Nothing.

When you are planning your latter years: When thinking about retirement, pensions, trust funds, inheritances, etc. think on this verse. Yes, it’s appropriate to plan, but if you stick “Nothing in, nothing out” on everything, it will make your decisions much easier and much better.

When you are thinking of the judgment:  We check everything at the grave. When the multi-billionaire John D. Rockefeller died, his assistant was asked, “How much did he leave?” “Everything,” he replied.

Why not print this verse and stick it on everything you have or want: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

And while you’re at it, maybe put another label beside it: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”


Check out

Blogs

Raising Real Kids Not Fakers | Nicholas Macdonald
I’m looking forward to reading Nicholas’s new book, Faker.

No Platform High Enough | Tim Challies
“When it is platform you crave, when it is the size or the popularity of your following that you use as the measure of your success, you will inevitably and eventually find that there is no platform high enough.”

When do you stop counseling?
Six factors to consider.

The Key to the Christian’s Joy
Well, I think for the first time I disagree with R C Sproul on a minor point admittedly! I don’t accept that because the culture has hijacked the word “happy” that we should give it up. Rather I think we should reclaim this biblical word and refill it with biblical content. Having said that, this is a fine article with many good points in it. And while we’re talking about it here’s the first in a new series of videos on Christian joy by John Piper.

We Will Not Bow
John Macarthur recently preached a sermon in which he said that “the two biggest acts of terror our country have faced are both from our Supreme Court: the legalization of abortion, and now the legalization of SSM. How are those two connected? Well, the first attacks mothers, and second attacks families. The first means moms without kids, and the second means kids without moms.” Also see The Bible and Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Common but Mistaken Claims.

Should we Pray for God to Punish our Enemies?
This is an excellent article discussing when it is appropriate to use the imprecatory psalms in our culture.

Interview with John Fesko on The Westminster Standards
John Fesko discusses his recent book on the Westminster Standards. An on the subject of interviews, here’s one with me on The Happy Christian.

Kindle Books

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Garner Wallace $1.99.

Pleasing God: Discovering the Meaning and Importance of Sanctification by R C Sproul $0.99.

No Ordinary Marriage: Together for God’s Glory by Tim Savage $3.99. See also When Sinners Say “I Do” for $1.99.

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada.

Recommended Book

Faker: How to live for real when you’re tempted to fake it by Nicholas Macdonald

Video

A Hymn of the Tabernacle

Scott Cameron emailed me last week to say he had been inspired by my book on the Tabernacle, God’s Mobile Home, to write the following hymn, sung to the tune Nearer my God to Thee.