This is part FIVE of a seven post blog – HELPFUL HINTS. Check back each Monday for new submission

Honestly, I was not much of ‘reader’ while growing up. I’m sure I read my share of books but back in the day you could add “d” in front of read because I DREAD to read as a child.

Today, is a different story. I enjoy reading various articles and with the internet, social media and other outlets I guess its safe to say I am reading more than ever. However, I must confess reading can still be a challenge for me. Writing and speaking I could do in my sleep (almost) but my focus fails me at times.

It is good to be “well read” because it allows us to communicate and have a discourse with others. About five years ago I sat next to G. Gordon Liddy on a flight from Washington, DC to Atlanta. He’s known nationally for his affiliation with the Nixon Administration and Watergate scandal. Ironically, my father’s first paid job was in construction before serving in the U.S. Army while fighting in the Vietnam War. Dad helped build the Watergate Hotel (no joke).

Mr. Liddy was en route to taping a show at CNN in Atlanta and I witnessed him firsthand read everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) he could get his hands on. He not only consumed it but read with a fierce passion. After he digested his onboard library I loaned him my TIME magazine and Sports Illustrated. Once that was devoured for dessert I even loaned him the instructions on the back of the FAA safety card in case we went down 🙂

I recall hearing that Dr Billy Graham would read a couple major newspapers daily to stay abreast of the issues of the day. He read international, national and local newspapers and always bounced them off what Scripture said. It is hard to speak with authority and communicate clearly if you are not sure what folks are facing. My wife, Ruth reminds me more than ever with the privilege but responsibility to speak on various media outlets (radio, tv & print) that I should read even more. It’s one thing to ask “repeat the question” its another thing to look like a deer in the headlights on national television.

Honestly, this may be the shortest of the HELPFUL HINTS post but clearly one of the most important. Outside of God’s grace and my parents upbringing if I could summarize any secret to success in my life it is found here. Are you ready? Are you sitting down, buckle up……..READING the Bible daily has made all the difference.

In over 32 years of following Jesus I can count less than one month (31 days) that I didn’t read the Bible. God gave me such a hunger for reading God’s Word that I began to dig deep into it when my home church – Brandywine Bible Church gave me a Bible the day I got baptized in 1982. I ran home and read the first 31 chapters of Genesis in one night (10 years old). Something drove me to read the Bible early in the morning even as a student in middle school. Someone shared with me that if I started the day in prayer and read the Bible the rest of the day would take care of itself.

Some suggest don’t eat breakfast until you chew (read) on God’s Word. No physical food until you nourished your body with Spiritual food. I’m talking SOUL FOOD! Yes, I read the entire Bible by eighth grade but I confess its been READING me ever since. Folks who suggest that God or the Bible is boring know neither.

The Bible is unlike any other book. For starters, it is ALIVE! It is God’s Word in print – His Love Letter to YOU! Its the Number One seller of ALL TIME and its not copyrighted. Many books are game changers but only The Book is life changing! When I was a student in middle school I never thought what books I had under my arm (Hot Rod magazine, math book, etc) but if I had my Bible I ALWAYS felt different. One, I was not alone (when the Word is in you keep in mind you NEVER walk by yourself). Second, I felt like everyone in the world knew I had it (Bible under my arm) and for those that didn’t once they did it would change everything. I knew that I could get teased by some, the respect of others but either way I had tested it and found it to be true. What God thinks is more important than what others think. We need to be more concerned about our Creator’s approval than acceptance from creatures or critics. No other book was as real then or relevant now than God’s Holy Bible and once you get in the Book (Bible) and it gets in you truly it changes EVERYthing!

ILLUSTRATION: A man visited his girlfriend’s apartment for the first time after their fourth date. He was whisked into her library and it was covered with books. To his surprise one of the books he authored was on her shelf. Unbeknownst to her she had no clue that he was an author much less the author of one of the books on her shelf. With a smile he asked while picking up the book: “Did you enjoy in this book?” She responded: “No, I never finished it. I couldn’t get into it!”

He laughed and as he placed it back on the shelf he replied: “I wrote it.” Her mouth dropped and she grabbed the book off the shelf for further examination and sure enough bore his name. She was embarassed but impressed. After their date that evening as he headed home she ran back to the library and began to read that book. Ironically, now she couldn’t put it down! She read it in one sitting and two decades later they have been married for 18 years!

APPLICATION: What made the difference? She fell in love with the author and appreciated his book. Christianity is no different. The same folks that make fun or mock God’s Word at the time are mocking God Himself because He is the Word and dwealt among us and in us! I have always found it interesting that folks debate frequently against issues or individuals they’re not familiar with. Ignorance may be bliss but doesn’t change the Truth but the Truth can still change cynics!

Once we know intimately Jesus, The Author the Book (Bible) takes on a whole new meaning. We can’t put it down and more than any other book we read it again and again. The Bible like few things in life gets better with age, it drips with wisdom and our appreciation for the Author deepens as we mature.

INVITATION: Today, I encourage you, challenge you and invite you to READ the Bible. For many it may be the first time that you give God a chance. Today, is a new day and since tomorrow is not guaranteed now is the time. A mother wrote in the inside flap of her son’s Bible as he departed for college: “This Book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this Book. Baby, READ the Bible.”

Just because you are sitting on the premises doesn’t mean you are STANDING ON THE PROMISES. Websters couldn’t define what reading the Bible has done in my life nor could libraries around the globe contain the stories of testimonies in the lives of millions. Reading the Bible has allowed me to know God, live a life worth living, gave me hope when I was hurt, faith to walk in the night and a joy in my journey because I know Jesus the author. The Bible allowed me to stand alone when few stood by me. It paved the Way when the other route seemed more appealing, easier and crowded with critics and cynics. It taught me by kneeling before God I could stand before man and books may teach ‘smarts’ but wisdom came from READING the Bible.

We’ve talked about rebounds. Positioning is good but knowing the Person of Jesus is not only great but the first step to intimacy with God. Respect is awesome but failing to respect and recognize the value of a relationship with Jesus is missing it all. I have been able to appreciate and implement all the aspects because of digging deep and trusting the treaure of gleaning from God, soaking up the Sciptures and found firsthand the beauty of the Bible when I READ about my Redeemer. The Bible says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I have found a feast not only in my faith but partaking of The Bread of Life and drinking The Living Water.

FACT: Since childhood, I longed to make a mark and let God be the difference in my life. Without question, I can’t IMPACT the world if I’m not reading God’s Word. Bible means: BASIC INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LEAVING EARTH.

Ray Boltz version – “The Anchor Holds” has blessed me in my victories and valleys. It got me through tough times in college and more than ever today. The Bible not only provides but protects and promotes! I love an old church classic I sang as a kid: “You can go to church twice on a Sunday, make the Wed service too. You don’t even need a song book to sing hymn 142. When you sing STANDING ON THE PROMISES and repeat the last four bars but you can’t stand on promises IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. You can listen to a thousand sermons but you’ve never really heard that the only way your life will change is to get into (read) God’s Word – you can try to walk on water but you’ll never get too far you can’t stand on promises if you don’t know what they are!

Friends, I don’t read the Bible because I am worthy but because He is worthy and its worthy of my time. Don’t let your past or Satan in the present tell you that you can’t start now to read the Bible. Have you ever felt worth-less? Like you don’t measure up? I have GOOD NEWS – Jesus loves you. Prove it? I hear you. All the seminaries and scholars of the world could’t say it better than the old children classic: “Jesus Loves Me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Don’t just take my word for it. Take His (after all, Jesus is The Living Word). #WordUp