You Are What You Read

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Some years ago, George and Alec Gallup undertook an exhaustive investigation as to what makes some people more successful than others. Using the polling techniques that have made them famous, the brothers researched and wrote a book titled, "The Great American Success Story". One of their conclusions: Successful people read.

George Gallup found that reading was essential because it "makes a person ready to converse…these people have a broad knowledge…and more information with which to make evaluations and decisions."

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Books are minds alive on the shelves. By taking up one of these books, and opening it, we can hear the voices of people far away in time and space. By reading we can hear great people of long ago speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.

If it was announced that Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon or David Livingstone was speaking at a particular church, Christians from all over the world would show up. But we need to remember that when we open up a book by one of those authors, we can hear them speak and learn from them in a greater way than you could if you just heard them at a single meeting.

A man is known by the company he keeps. It is also true that a person's character is to a large extent developed by the books he reads. A man is known by the company his mind keeps. A book is good company.

"The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries." Descartes

"In books lies the soul of the whole past time." Thomas Carlyle

Mark Twain observed: "The man who does not read good books, has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."

Abraham Lincoln commented: "The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who will get me a book I have not read."

Walt Disney said: "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island…and best of all you can enjoy these riches every day of your life."

"In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot, or will not, read…it is not true we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish." S.I. Hayakawa

"If we encounter a man of rare intellect we should ask him what books he reads." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Charles Spurgeon counselled his students: "Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and re-read them…digest them…a student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by 20 books he has merely skimmed."

Daniel Webster recommended that it is better to master a few books than to read indiscriminately. It was his contention that to master a few great writers was preferable to skimming a multitude of lesser works.

C.S. Lewis recommended: "If one must read only the new or only the old, I would advise them to read the old. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow one self another new one until you have read an old one in between."

Inferior books are to be rejected in an age and time when we are courted by whole libraries. No man's life is long enough to read even those which are good and great and famous. Why then should one waste ones time with lesser works when some of the greatest are available?

Francis Bacon wrote: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."

"Read the best books first, or you may not have the chance to read them at all.” Henry David Thoreau

"Many times the reading of a book has made the future of a man." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have laboured hard for." Socrates

"Next to the Holy Scriptures, the greatest aide to the life of faith may be Christian biographies." A.W. Tozer

"The reading of good biography forms an important part of a Christian's education. It provides him with numberless illustrations for use in his own service. He learns to assess the true worth of character, to glimpse a work goal for his own life, to decide how best to attain it, what self denial is needed to curb unworthy aspirations, and all the time he learns how God breaks into the dedicated life to bring about His own purposes." Ransome W. Cooper

"Biography transmits personality…who can gauge the inspiration to the cause of missions of great biographies like those of William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, Charles Studd…" J. Oswald Sanders

"History is but the lengthy shadow of great men." Emerson

Those that love reading have everything within their reach. For a small price one can visit other lands and great periods of history, learn from some of the greatest minds and world shapers, grapple with great issues, learn in a space of a few hours what others grappled with, researched and studied for their whole lives.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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