Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good Stuff In, Bad Stuff Out

"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:21

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if the people who wrote the Bible were living today, and writing the Bible now? Imagine what James would say about the moral filth and evil...well, maybe I can't imagine, because as a Christian today it can be very, very difficult to avoid moral filth altogether. A book that can appear perfectly harmless can plant seeds of filth without us even realizing it. There are so many of those today- some of the most popular books out there today, while they appear to be just fun and harmless stories, may not be so much, and may be planting seeds of iniquity, and other undesirable things that we don't realize at the time. So what is a person to do today? Should we shut out the world completely and live in ignorance? It's a careful balance, and I think the solution lies within our Bibles.

I read a lot of books. A lot! Lately it's been a lot of period fiction, I love reading about Kings and Queens and revolutions, and often times, those come with a side order of some things I'd rather not read about much. I've done a fiction fast before, a fast where I read nothing but my Bible, and that was a great fast, I learned so much and accomplished so much more Bible reading than normal. At the conclusion of that fast, I was so excited to pick up a fictional book again, and I determined that I could find a balance of reading for fun, and reading for edification. The balance being that I needed to spend more time reading my Bible than anything else. That grew to include other books of a spiritual matter as well. I need to stay aware of what it is exactly that I am reading- and that's easy to gauge by considering my thoughts.

What am I thinking about all day long? Am I thinking on whatsoever things are lovely? As in God's glorious creation? Or am I spending my time dwelling on a particular intrigue in my books. Am I spending time thinking about how I wish I could be more like that fictional heroine? Or am I spending time thinking about how I could be more like Deborah or Lydia? Am I daydreaming about using the force to move objects with my mind? Or am I daydreaming about healing someone in Jesus' name? My thoughts will tell me if I need to make a change. Admittedly, right now, I think I am slightly out of balance. With it being summer, I spend much more time curled up with a good book, I just need to make more of an effort to make that good book THE good book.

Which brings me back to the idea of picking and choosing exactly what it is I am going to read when I'm not reading my Bible. To be completely honest, good, Christian period authors are hard to come by- and I think I've read most of them at this point. So many times my reading is not of a particularly Christian nature, and then I need to check my filters when I'm reading. There are several popular series of books out there that I have purposely chosen not to read, because they may be wonderful stories, but the undercurrent is most definitely from the world of darkness. Regardless of the spin taken within, a book that is written with the intent to convince people that evil isn't really evil is just not something I need to be reading. I need to keep my discernment at a heightened level- I don't need to read a book that encourages me to think that witchcraft is okay if it's used for good. Witchcraft just isn't good-ever- it's a tool of the devil, no matter how you spin it.

In the same vein, I wouldn't spend my time reading books that encourage me to think that murder is good, that adultery is good, that combining the two could ever be good. Every time we read something (or watch, for that matter) that skews our view of good and evil, we need to be on our guard- and we need to spend time in The Word, balancing out what we're taking in. We need to see the truth, that murder is never justified, that adultery is always, always wrong and against God's plan for men and women. For some people, that means that they need to avoid taking in that stuff altogether. For other people, they can enjoy some of that stuff, while realizing that it is completely fictional, knowing where they stand and where God stands.

As a parent, I think it's ever more important to be discerning of my reading material. When my kids see me choose to read my Bible instead of the book on the side table, it says volumes to them- that reading my Bible is much more than just something I do in Sunday School. When we start our school days by reading God's Word, I'm telling them that the Bible is the most important thing that we can study during our day- despite all the wonderful adventures yet to happen with our school day.

I guess I'm just posting a reminder today, really. A reminder that above all, spending time reading my Bible is most important, but that it is okay to read other things. I don't need to feel bad when I take a book along to the pool and read while the kids play. But when my day is done, and I think back on the things I read, and I'm meditating on them, I need to make sure that the words I am meditating on are the words of the Lord, and not the words of a fictional author. God wrote the best book ever, and it sets a standard by which all the others need to be accountable.

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