Saturday, January 24, 2009

Information Overload

I consider it a great blessing to work at a Christian bookstore. The vast amount of material at my fingertips is really unbelievable even to me. I rarely have to pay for any book I want to read. I usually have a huge stack of CD's without enough time to listen to them. I own at least 20 Bibles all brand new leather bound the latest and greatest versions with the best perks the Bible industry has to offer. I usually end up with such a surplus of great stuff that I make my friends take some of it when they leave my house.

But sometimes I get envious of people that don't know so much about the "business of christianity." They cherish the latest book on forgiveness. They wear out the newest CD. Getting a new Bible is like a major life changing exciting event.

I've just felt this week that I don't appreciate what I have to help me grow in my faith. I have so much "stuff" that I read a few chapters in the newest books and toss them or donate them, I listen to a few songs maybe once or twice and throw the CD away (demos have to be destroyed), and I use a different Bible all the time and get a brand new $90 bible at least twice a year totally for free.

I'm not complaining at all, but right now I have 25 + fiction books on my nightstand, an electronic reader totally stuffed with books I haven't even started, every new Christian Living author's brand new book (Lucado, Stanley, Swindoll, Ortberg. . . .you name it, I have an advanced copy), literally hundreds of CD's I'm supposed to be reviewing, a complete audio bible of the message edition (so cool), the new Chronological Bible and the new ESV study bible, and at least 10 audio books still in their cases, and a bunch of DVD's. I don't appreciate the truths hidden in these wonderful tools because I have WAY too many of them.

And you don't have to have that many things to be overwhelmed with information. I crave simplicity. I love Brennen Manning and Robert Benson and Henri Nouwen and those great people of faith that can take a single scripture and meditate on it for a year or more and find it life changing. I love when a simple single truth lights up my soul from the inside and I know I'll never be the same. We are blessed to live in an era when we can find complete libraries on everything from fasting to Gethsemane, but bottom line is we don't need it. I believe in tools that enhance our faith, but we need to find the ones that God is bringing to us and disregard the rest.

One of my friends is reading Ruthless Trust by Brennen Manning and I'm jealous of her. That book changed my life each of the 5 times I read it. God led me to that book and I have watched him change the lives of many people in my life through that book. Of the hundreds of books I have read I can only say that about a handfull of them. Lately I've only been listening to Andrew Peterson's Music. His lyrics take me right to the throne of God and my faith is renewed. And I've gone back to the comfort of an old Bible that the pages are coffee stained and the Psalms are tear soaked. It's not the prettiest or newest Bible I own by any means, but it is the Bible where I found God to be faithful and true. It was with that Bible that I learned to take God at His word. There are notes throughout that make me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I'm not in love with the word of God because it's on italian fine crafted paper with a genuine leather sculpted cover, I'm in love with it because the Author loves me and wrote that for me and for you. And more than anything I need to spend time with the Author and Perfector of my faith.

Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful for tools and resources that help us to study and learn and grow in our walk with the Lord. I'm so thankful for the experiences and discoveries of those who have gone before us and paved their own way with the Lord. I'm so thankful that when God leads me in a study of forgiveness or eternity or pride or love that there are amazing tools at my disposal. BUT, I want to make sure these are tools in the Master's Hand and not in Brenda's hand. The enemy seeks to overwhelm and confuse and get us to disregard what God is trying to teach us. I don't want that to happen. I want to be intentional in the ways that I spend time with Him.

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