J.M.V. Reading Club!

Reading: Guidelines and Principles

What shall we Read?

"Our reading shapes, to a greater or less extent, our ideals and our actions. Our reading must be purposeful, it must be planned to give us conceptions of life that are elevating and inspiring. Certainly at the head of all books stands the great library of the Bible, wherein are to be found vivid narrative, sententious precept, fervent exhortation, lucid reasoning, grand description, beautiful meditation, transcendent rhapsody. To live much of one's reading time with the Bible is to insure culture of the highest order.

"But it is not sufficient to read merely. We must think. We must meditate upon what we read, that we may intelligently apply to our own lives the precepts and the examples that we read. That is why the memorizing of Bible passages is valuable, because it permits the words of Scripture to come to the mind during the day's business, when the hands are engaged but the mind seeks employment. Then to think of story and proverb and promise and praise, that is a process of culture. And it will do much to give us the right views of life, which are necessary to the right use of the story.

"I do not say that fictional stories may not convey lessons, and lessons of right thinking and right living. There are all sorts of fiction, high class and low class, moral and immoral. But the way almost all fiction readers use the fiction is productive only of damage. They do not think, they do not analyze, they do not weigh motives and make decisions. They read only to narcotize their minds, to get away from the humdrumness of their lives, to have dreams of happiness, or to get excitement. The more they read, the less they know, because they do not think.

"You can not read stories exclusively, whether factual or fictional, and have a strong mind. It is quite possible, both for children and for adults, to read too much of true stories. But the reading of fiction is doubly dangerous, because, being highly spiced, it more greatly tempts to unthinking reading. The fiction addict is a mental drunkard." A W Spalding. 1928

God did not form our eyes, ears and mind to be used for selfish purposes. We are designed to learn about Jesus and seek to work as He did to help others. Just like a fish is happy swimming in the water, and a bird flying in the air, we will be happiest doing and learned the things God made us for. He designed us to be members of the royal Family of Heaven. Let us learn to avoid the trash of this sin-sick old world!

One of the best guidelines for selecting reading material and can be applied to many other things in life, is this concise summary by the Apostle Paul to the Philippians: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8. It is good for all to memorize this excellent tool and use it often! Let's take a closer look:

 1: True: This gets rid of most books and movies right there. Fiction, novels, comics and cartoons, foolish and silly songs, stories, verses or jokes. There is a class of stories, though not 'true' in the purest sense of the word are true because of the lesson they convey. Parables and Allegories are in this class. Also some nature stories are worthwhile, where the author wishes to convey the details of the life of an animal and uses an individual animal, giving it a name, and tells its history, staying true to reality.

2: Honest or Honorable: this would eliminate foolish or disgusting accounts.

3: Just or proper and righteous: Stories of the lives of wicked men or crime accounts, or details of horrible events, while they may be true, are not acceptable reading or watching material.

4: Pure: it is a sad fact that most modern movies and books, whatever the subject, include impure scenes, but because this is nearly always fiction anyway, we already discarded them at #1. Still we need to be watchful to discard materials that contain impure subjects or hints.

5: Lovely or acceptable: you may not have been able to miss the fact that these days so many books, pictures and even toys are ugly, depict violence and show nasty snarling faces and brutality. Rather we should search out beautiful and inspiring things to feed our minds with.

6: Good Report or well-spoken of: when others who are upright and true recommend a book as worthwhile, chances are it is a good choice. When a worldly person recommends one, usually it is nota good choice.

7: Virtue or worth-while: Is there some benefit to me learning this material  and can it improve my character or my usefulness.

8: Praise or commendable: This would be material that if I shared it with others of good character they too would see value in it.

A Snake Among Books

Not long ago, I read of an army officer in India, who one day went to his library to get a book, which he found wedged in between two large books. In moving one of these, he felt a slight pain, like a pinprick, in one of his fingers.

As the officer turned the book around to examine it, a small snake was dislodged from its hiding place. With one dash of his army boot, the snake was killed, and the incident was forgotten until, a few hours later, he felt a slight pain in his arm, and noticed that his finger was beginning to swell. In two days he was dead.

There are many snakes among books. They are coiled within the leaves of many storybooks. They are lurking in books for girls, for boys, and for older people. At first, one may not realize that he has taken poison into his mind; but it will make itself felt.

Do not think that because a book has an interesting title or a pretty cover, or it is popular, it will do you no harm. Too often a poisonous snake lies coiled within, ready to sting.

The serpents of infidelity, discontent, disobedience, Sabbath breaking, and many others, lie coiled between the covers of fiction books. There are many more good books than you can ever read. Then why waste the time given you in reading that which will finally destroy both soul and body? Mrs. Marietta Carpenter.


Whatever you think, never think what you feel
You would blush, in the presence of God, to reveal;
Whatever you speak, in a whisper or clear,
Say nothing you would not like Jesus to hear.

Whatever you read though the page may allure,
Read nothing of which you are perfectly sure
Consternation at once would be seen in your look
If God should say solemnly, "Show me that book."

Whatever you write, though in haste or in heed,
Write nothing you would not like Jesus to read;
Whatever you sing, in the midst of your glees
Sing nothing His listening ear would displease.

Whenever you go, never go where you fear
Lest the great God should ask you, "How camest thou here?"
Turn away from each pleasure you'd shrink from pursuing
If God should look down and say, "What are you doing?"

Whatever you wear, can you be very sure
That the feelings it quickens are blameless and pure?
Would your face be unblushing and conscience be clear
Should your wardrobe be opened and Jesus appear?

When you think, when you speak, when you read, when you write,
When you sing, when you walk, when you seek for delight,
To be kept from all wrong when at home or abroad,
Live always as under the eyes of the Lord.

Comparing Reading; Listening; Watching

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