Archives For bible reading

Over the last couple of decades in ministry, I have noticed an alarming shift in thinking…or not thinking as the case may be.

Here’s how it goes…As we’ve talked with people about various areas of their life that God is addressing over a wide range of topics…gossip, pre-marital sex, judgment, giving, forgiveness…{insert difficult topic here}, we’ve noticed that 20 years ago people just took the pastor at his word about what the Bible had to say.

That alarmed me way back then because, while hopefully the pastor is accurate, people should dive into the Bible themselves and not put their Christian belief system solely in the hands of a man.

But frequently in this recent generation, I am even more alarmed by people’s response.

Now it seems common that when we, as pastors, let people know about what the Bible has to say, we often hear, “I’m not convinced that the Bible really thinks that’s wrong.”  At first I was impressed…people are actually questioning a pastor’s Biblical authority and finding out for themselves.  But then the conversation always continues the same way…”So, what scriptures do you find that back up your belief system as a Christian?”

And here’s where I start shaking…the answer is always, “Well, I haven’t really read the Bible to find out about what God thinks on this particular topic.”  This is usually followed by a circular conversation that starts with, “A loving God certainly couldn’t REALLY mean….”

I always think to myself, “Well, if your Christian belief system isn’t backed up by the Bible, then it’s not a Biblical Christianity and therefore, it’s not Christian at all.”

I am concerned that we, as a people group, are leaning toward creating a form of “Christianity” that is based on our fleshly logic rather than obedience.

Listen, I don’t like some of God’s standards either.  They are difficult and stretching for me in my faith.  But if instead of knowing and grappling with what the Bible has to say through a repentant heart, I instead create my own belief system, then I am replacing God with ME.

And if I am obedient to my own flesh and not to the all-knowing power of God, then death and destruction are right around the corner.

The bottom line is that true faith has a response connected to it.  That response comes as you drag your wretched corpse to the foot of the cross, get God’s forgiveness, and then go out into the world aiming to be obedient to a God whom we should trust because He just gave us LIFE.  When we leave the foot of the cross and write a gospel that feels good, is convenient, or non-controversial, we will ultimately find ourselves right back to our rotting, dead life.

Bottom line: while we don’t earn our salvation, we are responsible to honor it.

And you honor your faith by KNOWING WHAT IT IS.  You can only really do that by diving into the Bible that He wrote for you and living out the pages even when it is difficult.

So, get a plan.  Listen to your pastor, but then read the Bible to see if what he is saying is true.  Read daily, obey when it’s difficult, and live out the faith that Jesus made look so amazing!

How To Read the Bible

stacynewell —  October 11, 2013 — Leave a comment

We are in the middle of a series called Hunger at church that I am thoroughly enjoying!  Part of it is very simple in the fact that is an attempt to inspire you to pick up the Bible and read.  As we were discussing this with our team a month ago we asked them about their own spiritual disciplines and what works for them.  It may encourage you to know that there were 20 people with 20 different answers to how they approach Bible reading.

The one thing that we agreed on was that regardless of how you approach getting into the Bible, it is fundamentally necessary for a committed Christian.

My story is that I didn’t grow up going to church, so I vividly remember my journey of Bible reading that began when I was about 11.  In fact, I still have the first Bible I was ever given with it’s deeply highlighted pages and a missing cover.  It was just a New Testament, but it included a Bible reading plan, so I started with that.  I really didn’t know that the Old Testament existed for years, so I just kept re-reading the New Testament with the same reading plan.

When I started going to youth group, I got my first complete Bible and my youth pastor told me to read it.  So I read it.  The whole thing in one year!  I will be the first to admit that I didn’t understand much of what I was reading, but something magical happened in the midst of my habits…I became confident in the pages of His Word.  I knew what books were being referenced in church and I could flip to where that book was.  I began to feel like the Bible was a piece of me and found great comfort in my minimal familiarity.  The Bible was no longer far away from my scope, but it was an old friend.

At 18, I went to Bible college so raw in my Biblical knowledge, it was probably hilarious!  I was surrounded by a lot of people who had grown up in Sunday school, and there I was, learning about David and Goliath for the first time.  I went from an A student in high school to getting my first C in Christian Doctrine.  I was swimming just trying to catch up to the timeline of events and main characters, but I was loving it!

It was in my senior year of college that I decided something that would change my life forever….I would never miss a day of Bible reading again.  No matter what was going on or how tired I was, I would ingest the Bible like a good meal.  My framework would be at least one chapter a day, every day.  I have continued that for the last sixteen years, including when I was in labor with my kids and a few days with the flu when I could barely hold my head up.

After 25 years on this journey of understanding the Bible, I will tell you that I still feel so inadequate in my understanding that sometimes it makes me laugh.  However, on the same note, I have a great deal of comfort in the fact that I’ve spent a quarter of a century trying to understand God and all I have to show for it is that I’m really small and He is really big.  I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing to boil down to in this life!

So, here’s my tip for you today…do something.  Just pick up the Bible and look through the Table of Contents.  Get familiar with the 66 different books held within it’s pages and then choose one to read.  Read it whether you understand it or not.  And then tomorrow, do it again.  What you’ll find is this…you’ll begin to change.  Maybe not today or tomorrow, but over a lifetime you will see the Words of God mold and shape you in a profound way.  So face the confusion and jump in!  You can do it!