I Hate To Read…Well, Then, Here’s A Book

Published on January 25, 2010 by CT in Blog, Stories

21

I am a man of habit. If I could eat the same thing every day for the rest of my life, I probably would.  In fact, in some ways, I do.  Which is why I have become a regular at this one Subway over the past few months.

I travel each week for work, and the company I’m consulting for right now is in the great state of Connecticut.  And nearly every night after work, I stop by the local Subway on my way back to the hotel.  There seem to be two primary crews I see while I’m there—one is fairly button-downed and business-like, and the other, while still professional, is much more casual in their interactions with customers.

It’s this latter crew I’ve gotten to know a little bit over time.  There’s one young man in college and another girl who’s finishing her senior year of high school, and they both seem to have a good time while they’re at work.  This Subway is giving away free books as part of a state-wide literacy program—you buy a sandwich and get a book—which works out great because I love books.  I think it’s supposed to be a child-literacy program, but many of the books have been there for weeks, so I just keep digging through their box of books each night I go there.

Two weeks ago, I asked this girl if she ever took any of these books.  She said, “No way.  I hate to read.”  As I am a brand-new author, that caught my attention.  “What do you mean you hate to read?  Books are great.  I actually just wrote a book.”  “Really?” she asked.  “What about?”  “Well, it’s a book about my Christian faith.  It’s actually pretty fun.  If I bring you a copy, will you read it?”  “Sure,” she said.

So I’m giving her a book this week.  And my hope and prayer is that it will introduce her to a God she may not know.

This post is a request for you to pray for this girl—that God would open her heart to the truth of His gospel and that she would see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to her every need.  Please pray, and share, and tweet, and do anything you can to gather a community of people who will pray her into the Kingdom.

I’ll keep you posted.  After all, I have a feeling I’m going to be eating there a lot.

  • http://5minutesplease.wordpress.com/ Krista

    Excellent!

  • Carol J

    I will be praying for her…please keep us posted! Thanks for using your gift of writing in a very authentic way. God bless.

  • Trish

    What a beautiful example to us all, thank you! I will include her in my prayers.

  • http://reesspace.blogspot.com Maria

    Praying for her and hopefully she WILL read the book. I never understood people who say they never read or hate reading. What's to hate. Find what you love and read.

  • http://www.deTheos.com Jeff Patterson

    Praying. You've earned the right to be heard by her … and hopefully be read too. May she crave someone (The One) so much more.

  • Matagalpa2006

    so, has she read the book yet?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      I don't know yet. I didn't make it back this week–hopefully next week. But keep praying please!

  • topray

    May the knocking from the Holy Spirit upon the door of her heart, lead her to Jesus Christ, and may her eye's be opened to the grace, mercy and love of God the Father. Dear Lord, show her the Way the Truth and the Life.

    thanks kind sir, your simple act of love is a great influence.

  • Judah

    That's so great that you reached out to her. I'm wondering, though, if the Calvinism/Reformed Theology that you embrace allows for your act of kindness to make any difference in her salvation at all. I mean, if she's already chosen (or not chosen) what you do is not going to affect that one way or the other.
    I mean this amicably, and with sincere consideration of the matter. I'm interested in your thoughts on this as well. I respect you as a brother in Christ. God bless!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Judah,

      Wonderful question, and I'll do my best to give you an answer. And I can tell you up front it will not be entirely satisfactory, as I myself continue to wrestle with the implications of what I see in Scripture today, knowing that I will continue to grow in understanding as God gives me grace. I'll give you a short answer, and if you would like to dig deeper, I'll try to dig more with you. I'll use a series of statements to help organize my flow of thoughts.

      1. God has chosen and called some, and she may or may not be part of this some.

      “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world…in love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph 1:4-6).

      “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…and those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified” (Rom 8:29-30).

      2. If she is chosen by God’s, or part of God’s flock, she will respond.

      “You (the Pharisees) do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn 10:26-27)

      “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (Jn 6:37).

      3. God’s means of saving people is through the proclamation of the gospel and their response in faith

      “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:13-14, 17).

      “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt 28:19).

      4. So I conclude that people perish apart from the gospel. It is of utmost importance that this girl hear and know the reality of the gospel if she is to be drawn into a right standing before God. God saves, but His appointed means of saving is through the proclamation of the gospel by His people, according to His will, to the praise of His grace. I cannot say my efforts will save her, nor can I say that any lack of effort on my part will result in her not being saved. But I can say that she will only be saved through hearing and responding to the gospel, whether it is through me or another of God’s servants. And my commission is the same in either case: to go and make disciples. So with the grace and strength that God allows, I will share this gospel with the greatest of confidence, knowing that it will not depend on my own skill, cunning, or effort, but that by the simple sharing of this gospel, Jesus’ sheep will hear His voice and follow.

      I’d love any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks for engaging in this way!

      • Adrinee

        Dear brother in Christ,
        Your posing got me thinking. I don't know much about Calvinism or their teachings, but from reading the above, it seems that it teaches that you are saved because God has chosen you to be saved and that because of God's election, you will hear the gospel in your lifetime and accept the Lord. As I was reading this I was reminded of the verse that says "…God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim.2:3-4). So how could it be that God wants all people to be saved, yet He chooses some and not the others. That's why I think of this as not that God

      • Adrinee

        chooses- as in He goes "I like you better than her, so I'll choose you so you can be saved, but let her burn in hell"- but I think of it as rather God "foreknew"- like is says it in the vers you quoted "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…"(Rom.8:29). I think of it as God already knew who would accept Him in their lifetime on earth and who wouldn't, so He calls those the chosen ones because He knew eternity before those who would come to Him and those who wouldn't, and we know that God does not show partiality and He doesn't pick favorites. God loves us all the same way and would have us all come to Him and be saved.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

          Adrinee,

          Yours are deep thoughts and questions, and I'm glad you shared them. As you might imagine, there are volumes that have been written about this subject, so my brief comments will not suffice for addressing all your questions, but they may prove to be a start for a continued discussion.

          To address a few of your comments to start:

          A. It's OK to not know much about Calvinism at this point; there is great merit to studying the works and teachings of great saints throughout Church history, and Calvin is one of these great thinkers, but not the only one. So long as men faithfully interpret Scripture, we should welcome the chance to learn from them, all the while realizing that our faith is discipleship to Jesus above all else.

          B. Your summary of my comments–specifically that individual salvation is God's sovereign choice rather than man's–is an accurate depiction of a Calvinistic understanding of Scripture.

          C. “Foreknowledge” or “knowledge” in Scripture is often equated with God’s active choosing (Romans 11:1-2—“God has not rejected His people (that He chose through Abraham) whom He foreknew;” Amos 3:1-2—“You [Israel] only have I known of all the families of the earth;” Genesis 18:17-19—“The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? No, for I have chosen (literally “known”) him…so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised”). Here, “foreknowledge” reflects the same principle as we see in Ephesians 1:4 (“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world”). Otherwise, Paul would need to say, “For those whom He foreknew (would choose faith in Jesus), he also predestined…”). Another interesting note is that use of the word “whom.” There are “people” whom He foreknew—not their actions (i.e. putting their faith in Jesus).

          D. Rather than viewing election as God choosing that He likes one person more than another, it may be helpful to think of election in two ways: 1) anyone He saves is undeserving; we all deserve Hell, so those He does choose to save are getting a marvelous gift of grace, which tends to make us think less about what God thinks about us and more about what God thinks about His Son; 2) God’s choosing is according to the perfect counsel and wisdom of His will and doesn’t have anything to do with our likeability; we don’t know why He does many of the things He does, but we trust Him because we know He is good.

          Now for a few thoughts in response:

          1. The Bible states that God desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and we both would affirm that this is so because we hold to the authority of Scripture.

          2. If God desires that all men be saved, but not all men are saved, then one of two things are possible: either God has the power to save all but chooses not to do so, or He does not have the power to save them. In the first case, we would say that God desires, in one sense, that all men be saved, but in another sense, He desires that they not be saved (because in that case He would have the power to save them, thus fulfilling His desire). In the second case, God desires salvation for men but is impotent to save them, which imperils all of us.

          3. Christians will reject the latter and embrace the former, although there is disagreement as to the reason this the former is the way it is. Some say God chooses not to save some because He has chosen to save others; others say God chooses not to save some because He respects their ability to choose Him or not choose Him.

          4. Proponents of either case still must embrace the fact that God desires at least two things: in the Calvinistic understanding of salvation, God desires, in one sense, that all men be saved, but He desires something else more: to make known the glory of His mercy and his wrath by choosing to save some, although none deserve this grace. In a free-will understanding of salvation, God desires, in one sense, that all men be saved, but He desires something else more: to preserve man’s self-determining right of freedom. In either case, there’s more than meets the eye to God’s desire for all men to be saved.

          Hopefully you’ve made it this far =)—if so, this should bring us to a pause in the conversation where we could go in multiple directions. If you want to dive in any deeper, let me know. Thanks for writing and for reading!

  • Adrinee

    And it's an awesome thing you did to give her the book and put efforts into sharing with her about the Lord. What I found from my own experience is that whenever I try to witness to people, there's always something that gets in the way, or it doesn't come out the way I expected, but a couple of weeks ago the Lord showed me that He doesn't want me to witness to people or tell people about Him. He wants to use me and tell people about Himself through me. Big difference. When I did it by myself, it wasn't by the leading of the Holy Spirit. It was human strength, human determination, human will. But God's shown me to pray every morning before I go to work and ask Him 'to use me to tell people about Him.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      I love your morning prayer–I will try to emulate your example!

  • Adrinee

    To do what He wants to do through me'- and the things God has done and the ways He's used me and HOW MUCH He's used me is like—wow!!!
    Glory to God!!!! But I just wanted to share with you what the Lord has shown me, since you have a heart for sharing the gospel with people, as all disciples of Jesus should. I cheer you on and may the Lord use you even more and bless you even more. May the Lord also bring that girl to know Him because it is His heart's desire for her to know Him because she was created in His image, for Him, for His glory and may she come and bring glory to Jesus through her new life in Jesus.

  • http://www.deTheos.com Jeff Patterson

    Nice response, Chris (theologically-informed while humble and thoughtful too). Both here and to the first comment.

  • http://www.cherylblemine.wordpress.com Cheryl B. Lemine

    I call this a ministry moment. It encourages me to take advantage more of the moments God places in my daily path.

  • http://randallrice.blogspot.com Randy Rice

    Chris, your post inspires me as an author. I write technical books and when I sign one, I almost always inscribe "I Thess 5:21" at the end – "Test everything. Hold on to the good." (It's a book about software testing.) Most of the people who buy the book are other software testers and I have no idea who is and who isn't a believer already, but I have had some cool stories come back to me. Now, I am praying about writing a spiritual book. Thanks.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Randy, the stories that come back, as you mentioned, are pretty interesting. Blessings on your next book if God moves you in that direction.

    • http://lauradroege.wordpress.com lauradroege

      Randy, I love what you're doing when you sign your book! What a perfect verse for a software testing. I bet there are people that read that inscription, wonder "what on earth does that have to do with this book?" and look it up. Maybe it might get them reading the passages around that verse, or even the whole book of I Thessalonians, or maybe even the whole Bible. Very cool.
      My recent post The sting of rejection &amp words of encouragement