Monday, December 31, 2012

Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge, 2013

I'm happy to announce that I'll be hosting a reading challenge! The title of this reading challenge comes from Hebrews 12:1-2, which reads "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (KJV) If the KJV isn't quite for you,

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NASB)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)
For an author to qualify for this reading challenge, they must be among "the cloud of witnesses".... in other words, they must be dead. I think it isn't always easy for readers to pick up Christian classics. Perhaps because it isn't always easy to know exactly where to start. Perhaps because people think that they will be difficult to understand--that the language will be too difficult, the style too complicated. Perhaps because people question if a book will still be relevant. I believe that there are some AMAZING, GREAT, WONDERFUL, MUST-MUST-MUST reads out there waiting to be discovered.

Examples of qualifying authors:

  • John Stott (1921-2011)
  • D. James Kennedy (1930-2007)
  • James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000)
  • Loraine Boettner (1901-1990)
  • Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
  • Watchman Nee (1903-1972)
  • C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
  • Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)
  • A.W. Pink (1886-1952)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
  • G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)
  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  • A.B. Simpson (1843-1919)
  • Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
  • E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)
  • Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
  • Alexander Whyte (1836-1921)
  • J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
  • Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
  • Charles Hodge (1797-1878)
  • Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
  • George Whitfield (1714-1770)
  • John Wesley (1703-1791)
  • William Law (1686-1761)
  • Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
  • John Owen (1616-1683)
  • John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
  • John Flavel (1627-1691)
  • Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • Brother Lawrence (1605-1691)
  • Thomas Watson (1620-1686)
  • Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
  • Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
  • Saint Augustine (354-430)
So what "counts" for this challenge? Well, the goal is to get you acquainted with new-to-you authors. So any reading material will count: no matter the length. It can be an article of a few pages; an individual sermon or a collection of sermons; it can be a book of quotes by that person; it can be a biography or autobiography about the person; you might find full-length books available online, or individual sermons online. And of course it doesn't matter if it's a book-book, e-book, or audiobook.

So how many books are required? 

If you're completely new to christian nonfiction (christian living, theology, bible commentaries, bible studies, etc.) then I'd like to challenge you to read ONE or TWO books. If your first attempt is too tough, or proving not-for-you, try again. 

If christian nonfiction is something you're comfortable reading, I'd like to challenge you to read four to six books for this challenge. 

What I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love to see readers recommend books to one another. So while I'd never, ever require participants to write book reviews, if you have a blog, I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here. (Trust me, I'd welcome some relief from spam comments.)

Sign up for the challenge by leaving a comment on the blog. If you want you can suggest an author that I've left off the list.

The dates for the challenge are January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Soozie4Him said...

Becky, I'm really excited to join this challenge! I have a TON of books on my shelves that will fit this Challenge, and most of them are unread! Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, George Mueller (I always mix these two up - don't know why!), Hudson Taylor, Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, and many many more.

You might remember me as the gal who was asking you how you liked Professor Horner's Bible Reading Plan last year in January. Well, I fell off the wagon and ended up not finishing my goal. So this is a new year. I'm just going to try to get the Bible read in a year, and not use a plan. I considered Chronological, but don't think I can wait most of the year to get to Jesus! So I'll probably do my own thing which might look like half of Genesis, then half of Matthew, etc.

moot96 AT aol DOT com

Becky said...

Susan, I'm so glad you're joining the challenge!

I didn't stick with the Professor Horner plan past January myself--it wasn't a good fit for me! Some months I have a plan in place, and others are very free and unstructured. The plan I'm using for January, has me reading from the New Testament each day of the week, and from different parts of the Old Testament Monday through Friday. A different OT genre for each day. I don't think we should have to wait that long for Jesus either :) I think that's probably why some traditional plans just don't work for me!


Annette said...

I'm in. I'm not new to reading Christian non-fiction. But, I will be happy to read books by authors I've not read before.
These are the books/authors I will read in 2013 for this challenge.
1. O. Hallesby's book on Prayer
2. Jonathon Edwards book on True Christianity
3. Approved Unto God with Facing Reality by Oswald Chambers
4. The Confessions of St. Augustine
5. Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall
6. A Chance to Die The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot
7. 50 People Every Christian Should Know Learning From Spiritual Giants of the Faith by Warren W. Wiersbe
8. Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
I have more, several books by Anne Graham Lotz I've not read. I especially want to read her books on Revelation since that's the Bible book I'm reading 12 times this new year.
Also this month for read/review I'm reading God's Final Word by Ray C. Stedman, it's a book on understanding Revelation.
And in my TBR pile: Gospel Deeps, Know What You Believe, The Explicit Gospel, The Seasons of God, and Essential Truths of the Faith.

Jim Black said...

Count me in. Last year I signed up late in the year but did not do a good job of posting on a regular basis. This year I am committed to keeping it up to date.
Thank you for hosting this challenge.

Unknown said...

Awesome, awesome. I love this challenge. This is my passion!

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic! I, too, have a host of books on my shelf (and in LOGOS Bible Software) that fit this category. I'm sure I can add a few to my list for the year. I love C.S. Lewis and Andrew Murray. My favorite aspect of many of the writers you listed is that they took their time articulating their thoughts in writing--none of that 5-steps to this...3-steps to that. I love it. Blessings,

Nanna said...

is there a sign up page for this challenge?

Becky said...

To "sign up" you just have to leave a comment saying you're joining in.

Linda said...


I'm not sure that I signed up on teh correct page—but I'm signing up for #6.

I am presently reading the Bible with N.T. Wright's commentaries for the New Testament and Everyman's Commentaries for the Hebrew Scriptures.

Anonymous said...

I am getting a late start but wanted to jump in and try maybe 3-5 selections. I do not currently have anything but will diligently search them out. I am posting your challenge on my blog and hope to encourage others to join in.