Make careful choice of the books which you read: let the holy scriptures ever have the pre-eminence, and, next to them, those solid, lively, heavenly treatises which best expound and apply the scriptures, and next, credible histories, especially of the Church . . . but take heed of false teachers who would corrupt your understandings.”  Richard Baxter (1615-1691) Baxter’s Guide to the Value of a Book is at the end of this post.

What a precious gift I received this morning! Thinking about today’s post and what might edify other women who travel around Living Simply Saturdays, my thoughts wandered to the Puritans.

Since reading Pilgrim’s Progress, I have fallen in love with C.H. Spurgeon. It is very refreshing to read the 19th century theologins and trust their teachings, interpretations of Scripture and exhortations for our lives. AND since I also cherish The Valley of Vision; I decided to expore the internet for Puritan writings. To my delight, I found a most wonderful site . . .

I love to read! I have always inhaled books. {Actually, I need to thank my mother for those painful minutes in 2nd grade when she made me read}. The fiction genres I enjoyed, alone, reflects the journey of my faith. I used to read mysteries of all sorts. Themes of witchcraft and vampires fascinated me; along with the horror of Stephen King. I grew out of those but stayed with mysteries, added espionage, and stumbled onto The Outlander Series by Donna Gabaldron.

As my faith grew the list of fictional books that I thought appropriate to read drastically declined. I was so thristy for God that I turned to “Christian” books. I was in full time ministry, everyone in my circle was reading the latest spritual teaching. The authors included Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and John Eldridge. My, how their thoughtful, deep spiritual teachings seem to reach into my heart and capture it.

Capture it, they did. As I shared the “wisdom” from my new teachers; my persistent sister-in-law kept asking a pesky question, “Where does it say that in Scripture?” {Acutally, there were alot more questions she asked that I could not answer}.

The light began to crack the dark walls that were building around my heart and mind
which was cutting me off from the simple truth of God’s Word.

To my surprise, these author’s teachings DID NOT line up with Scripture.
They complicated and confused God’s Truth!

With clarity I now see that their disciplines, pious thoughts, and contemplative suggestions were not centered on God but centered on ME.

We live in a world that itends to be more concerned with the purity of the food we put into our bodies than the purity of thoughts we put into our minds. I continue to read any chance I get but I am now more careful and discerning about my choices.

Baxter’s Guide To The Value Of A Book
While reading ask oneself: 

1. Could I spend this time no better?
2. Are there better books that would edify me more?
3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?
4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

If you would like to spend more time with the Puritans, explore Puritan Sermons.