"Do your best to come to me soon."

Christians regularly make much of 2 Timothy 4:13: "When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments." Paul knew he would soon be executed, but he still asked Timothy to bring him books and parchments (i.e., the Scriptures). God took this simple request and made it Holy Scripture. That means God wants us to see Paul's passion for growth by learning. In an age of entertainment and illiteracy, we need Paul's example.

"Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry."

But what about Paul's request in 2 Timothy 4:11: "Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry." Paul didn't just need books. He didn't just need the Bible. He needed Mark -- a living, breathing, born-again brother in Christ.

Paul talks about his need for books in one letter. He talks about his need for people in most all his letters. All throughout his writings, the apostle emphasizes his dependence on others for his life and ministry. (E.g., Romans 16:1-16, 1 Corinthians 16:17-18, Philippians 2:19-30, Colossians 4:7-14) He was rarely alone. And when he was alone, he felt his need and asked for help (2 Timothy 4:11). This, too, is Paul's example for us.

Since its start, reading has been important to the church's mission. But let's not forget that Paul talks more about people than he talks about books. Let's work together to be together, to be disciples who are "very useful for ministry."