Thursday, December 4, 2014

yes, that's the book for me

the B-I-B-L-E (a cooler more rockin' version than I learned in Sunday School)
Lately, I’ve become the type of person I swore I would never be - the type of person who reads multiple books at one time. {I don’t have any problems with book jugglers, I just personally have a hard time finishing books when I don’t go one at a time.}

I don’t really know what changed. Maybe I’m reading too many serious, thought-provoking books - the kind you need to set down and chew on for a couple days - and during the wait I keep picking up new ones. Maybe after four years of juggling multiple textbooks and hundreds of pages each night, my brain can no longer focus on one book at a time. Or just maybe there are simply too many books to read and too little time, so I’m quadrupling up.

Whatever it is, here’s what’s on the queue right now:

But, what I really want to talk about is the book I just {finally} finished - Women of the Word: How to study the Bible with both our hearts and minds by Jen Wilkin.

I started this book about a month ago with a couple of women I meet with regularly for Bible study. But Bible study probably isn’t the best term to use, because only a few pages in, I realized that I really didn’t know how to study the Bible at all.

From a very young age, I’ve heard how important it is to read my Bible every day, and most of the time, I do. But if I’m honest, it’s a lot like reading Shakespeare for English class. I read it. I don’t really understand it. I check it off my to-do list. I move on. As a result, it’s never been something I truly enjoy.

I remember the exact moment I started praying that God would give me a passion for His Word. I was in middle school at Falls Creek summer camp. I’ve been praying for that passion ever since. But just like I’ve never hungered for an Amarillo 72 oz steak, it’s been almost impossible to hunger for something I see as too big and too much to handle.

But thanks to a new perspective and some practical tools, I think I’ve experienced that passion for the first time this week. Here’s some takeaways from Women of the Word that might help you take on that 72 oz steak, too:

1. The Bible is not a book about you. But how often do we read it like that? How many times have I opened to a passage and asked the question, “What does this mean for me?” The Bible is the number one way for us to know God the Father and Jesus our Savior. Every passage points to Him who created us, loves us and has prepared a way for us. When I read Scripture, my first question should be, “What does this passage say about God?”

2. Bible study requires both your heart and mind. Too often I gauge the value of my time in the Word by how it leaves me feeling. I entered into my quiet time stressed, did it bring me peace? I came to the Word feeling worthless, did I finish feeling loved? The problem is two-fold. First, I’m making Scripture about me {see above}. Second, I’m reading with only my heart. The Bible is a complex literary work. Just because it is completely inspired by God, doesn’t mean we need to leave all our literary tools at the table. Using my mind to dig deeper, determine context and work through a difficult passage brings meaning to all study of Scripture, not just the feel-good parts.

3. My study time needs more patience and less dependence. Before reading this book, my main quiet time strategy would look something like this: Read Galatians 1:1-10. Read Galatians 1:1-10 again, this time looking at the notes below in my study Bible. Journal my thoughts. Pray. I left all the hard work of breaking down the passage and truly understanding what it was saying to the commentary in my study Bible {or to my pastor, my Sunday School teacher or whatever devotional I was reading at the moment}. I can’t think of a single time in my life where I’ve really sat down and wrestled with a piece of Scripture on my own. I’m certainly not saying commentaries or devotionals are bad, but they should supplement my own study, not replace it. This week I’ve spent every day looking at Galatians 1:1-10. It’s taken a lot of patience and admitting I simply do not know, but it’s been worth it.

I greatly recommend picking up a copy of Women of the Word. Jen Wilkin goes into much more detail about the importance and process of studying the Word (and more eloquently WITH alliteration). You won’t regret it.

What does your Bible study time look like?

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