Please Don’t Read My Book

Please don’t read my book...

There’s something I strongly encourage you to do first. Here’s the back story:

Many years ago I heard it said that the two factors that most influence our character and attitude are the books we read and the 3 people we spend the most time with. I’ve paid close attention to this and I believe it to be true.

I want to focus on the book piece, but first, a short word about the company we keep. The truth about how others influence us is not a hint to dump friends who are dragging us down.  It’s a recommendation to look at our relationships and be thoughtful about who is influencing whom and in what direction. Is it toward love and compassion? Or towards shallowness, selfishness, and cynicism? ‘Nuff said.

Regarding books, the mind is a powerful thing. What goes into it greatly influences our attitudes, how we see the world, how we process current events, and whether we experience joy regardless of circumstances.

The apostle Paul said that we can be transformed if we renew our minds instead of being influenced by the popular culture. For us today that means protecting our minds from the pervasive messaging of Wall Street, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue. 90% of the messages from those sources cause materialism, triviality, selfishness, fear, hate, and worry to fester in our hearts.

Paul explains how to fend this off in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” He tells us why, in the next verse: “…so the God of peace will be with you.”

A modern proponent of these truths was the great John Wooden, winner of 13 NCAA basketball titles at UCLA. One of his 7 rules of good living was “Drink deeply from great books. Especially the Bible.”

Here’s how we can apply these concepts in a relevant way given the election of our new President:  If you’re basking in right wing media preening about in self-righteous vindication — or you’re wallowing in left wing media stoking your indignation and grinding your axe — you’re soaking in a deadly cocktail of arrogance, fear, and “I-Told-You-So’s.”  Don’t drink your truth from either punch bowl!

All of this leads me to the punch line of this post: There are 10 books that have most influenced my life and my joy — one of which I just finished on Friday: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. It’s a bona fide classic of modern Christian writing that has been around for 26 years. I don’t know of another book that makes the confusing concept of grace so easy to understand.

I implore you to read it.  I pray it shifts the trajectory of your heart in a way that leads to great joy.  I pray it blesses your socks off as it did mine.

If you still want to read my book The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance, then great. People are being positively impacted by it, too. You can buy it here.

If you’ve already read it, I would sincerely appreciate your taking 60 seconds to tap out a 2-3 sentence review on Amazon here.

Here’s to joy!

Jeff Spadafora