Wednesday, 9 May 2012
BOOK LOVER, BOOK GIVER
One man passionately believes in giving away books to impact lives.
“Why have you not kept your promise to bless me? “ Tom (not his real name) fumed vehemently. “You told us to give, and it will be given back to us. But I don’t see it happening. You don’t know how to be God!”
Tom was bitter towards God. Despite giving generously to bless others, he was still in a financial crisis.
But God heard his grumbling. During Sunday worship, a speaker delivered a shocking message to him: “Don’t ever speak to me like that. I may be your Father, but I am also your God.” Tom felt rebuked for trying to arm-twist God. He repented.
For the past ten years, Tom’s burden was to give away good books to impact the lives of Christian leaders. In fact, he has been faithfully giving away RM10,000 to RM20,000 worth of books, CDs and DVDs each year.
Today’s key people are not reading enough, he laments. “It’s because they have no interest in reading, fail to see its value or cannot afford to buy books.” By targeting mature, anointed leaders, Tom feels he can optimise his resources; leaders who read his books can then impact many, many more lives.
To date, Tom says he has given away more than 1,000 copies of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. Another book on his must-read list focuses on the life of Sadhu Sundar Singh. While the former gives life its focus, the latter spurs us on to live with passion. Other books that he feels inspired to give away include Louder than Words by Andy Stanley and Drawing Near by John Bevere.
Tom developed a love for reading after being filled with the Holy Spirit. Later, he had a burden to impact others through books. “All men, including leaders, are in the process of being transformed," says Tom. It thrills him to see them progress spiritually when they are willing to learn from other anointed leaders through books. Conversely, it saddens his heart to see leaders who have no substance, zeal or anointing.
“We need to thirst for God, just as the deer pants for the water brooks, if we want to grow spiritually,” exhorts Tom, referring to Psalms 42:1. “When people are entrapped by life’s routine, they tend to be complacent. That’s when they begin to stagnate in their spiritual growth.”
Can a man outgive God?
Tom can now recall his past folly. He regrets lashing out at God long ago when he was in dire financial straits.
Despite his unbelief, God has blessed him in a mighty way beyond his wildest dreams. The big plot of land that he bought Down Under many years ago has been designated as prime land for the birth of a new town centre. This would, in time, make him incredibly rich. As he prostrated himself on the highway which ran beside his land, he broke out in praise and worship to a faithful God.
Tom believes God wants to teach him some deep lessons. Firstly, God will not forget our good works and secondly, he is able to do so much more than we can ever ask or think (1 Corinthians 15:58, Ephesians 3:20).
Having learnt his lesson from the “arm-twisting” incident, Tom now emphasises giving with the right motive. “Focusing primarily on the blessing when we serve just isn’t right,” he says. “Rather, we should serve God out of gratitude and leave the results to God — when and how He chooses to bless us.”
Now he knows why it’s important to focus on the Giver and not the gifts. He has seen prominent leaders fall, being enticed by the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life.
His philosophy is simple: don’t remember your own good deeds, but never forget the good others do for you. While he learns to be grateful to others, he doesn’t get disappointed if his kindness is not appreciated. Also, he’s not out to gain recognition or please himself when he gives.
“Those who come to know how much God has blessed me might become envious. That’s why I maintain a low profile,” says Tom. In fact, he intends to set up a non-profit foundation to manage the proceeds from the sale of his land, the bulk of which will be used for ministering to others.
Advocating a simple lifestyle, he chooses to drive a simpler Japanese car even though he could afford a luxurious marque. “When we live a simple lifestyle, seeing ourselves as pilgrims passing through this earth, we’ll be able to impact more people with our God-given resources,” he adds.
A lasting legacy
If not for the books we read or the friends we keep, our character will still be the same in five or even 10 years’ time. But with friends like Tom and the books he shares, our lives can hardly be the same again.
We, too, can leave a lasting legacy to those we love by encouraging them to read. So if you’re having problems this Christmas deciding on the best gift for your loved ones, why not give a good book ?
As Sir Francis Bacon says, “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” Let’s aspire to grow to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Tom (not his real name) is a lawyer in private practice.
The above article was first published in Asian Beacon magazine, December 2008, issue 40.6