I love to read aloud to people. If you'd like me to read aloud to you, just ask. I'll come right over. I'd love to.
Reading aloud is one of the best parts of having children and grandchildren.
When Ben Worley was growing up, the Harry Potter books were coming out, and I read them aloud to him at bed time. I did all the voices. With a British accent. In fact, when the first Harry Potter movie came out, we went to see it, and Ben leaned over to me halfway through and whispered, "They got the voices right." Priceless!
Now, for all the Harry Potter-haters out there who think J K Rowling is leading our children to the devil, I am about to tell you why you should not be afraid of great stories.
One night I was reading Book 4 (The Goblet of Fire), in which Harry, Ron and Hermione go to the World Cup Quidditch match. For the first time, Harry discovers there are witches and wizards in other countries. As they walk past all the tents, Hermione waves her wand, allowing them to understand the other languages.
"Wouldn't that be cool?" Ben interrupted. "If you could hear people talking in all kinds of language and understand them?"
"That's in the Bible," I said.
"Get OUT!" Ben yelled as he slapped the covers.
I told Ben the story of Pentecost - the rush of wind, the fire and the believers' sudden ability to speak in all the languages and dialects of every Jew who had come to Jerusalem from all over the world for the Festival.
"WHY have I never heard this?" Ben demanded.
Well, I don't know. Rushing wind. Tongues of fire. Miraculous ability to speak other languages. That seems like a great story to tell a 9-year old boy. Why hadn't he ever heard it? Probably because he grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, where we don't know what to do with Pentecost, especially the speaking in tongues, and we really don't know what to make of the Holy Spirit, who seems to have no regard for our wish to be in control. We miss the point of the story completely: that every person from all over the world could hear the good news of Jesus Christ is his own language. And thousands came to believe in Jesus that day.
I was thinking about that night with Ben recently because in my Thursday Bible study, we've been reading the book of Acts, which really should be titled The Adventures of the Holy Spirit. This week we come to the end of the story. It's an adventure story, a wild ride. Speaking in tongues is the least of it. That moment when Jesus leans over and says, "You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you," — boy, is that an understatement. To quote Jurassic Park, hold onto your butts. People are healed when Peter's shadow falls on them, when Paul's handkerchief touches them. There is bravery, bad guys, shouting, riots, shipwrecks, earthquakes, prison and peril. People fall out of windows to their death and come back to life. Others are miraculously rescued from dungeons by angels.
But the true hero of the book is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who opens and closes doors, opens and closes mouths, opens and closes hearts, unleashes the power of the Almighty, whispers comfort and encouragement and leads all the way through the story on an unending quest to bring the good news to the ends of the earth. I am sad to put this book down, to come to the close of the story.
It's a breathtaking story. Why don't we tell it better?
Maybe because we don't love our story. Remember that old hymn?
I love to tell the story of unseen things above—
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story because I know it's true.
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
The world needs Christians who read out loud, who are captivated by this story and know how to tell it for all it's worth. Read it. Read it to your children. Read it to each other.
Call me. I'll come over and read it to you.