On June 4th, 2012 my wife Lindsay and I celebrated our one year anniversary! Sign up below in the comments section for marital counseling if you’d like to soak in the inordinate amount wisdom we’ve acquired in our now seasoned relationship …or not.
And on this glorious day, Lindsay and I celebrated in opulence and style like one year rock-stars should. We woke up. I gave my queen a kiss. Made us some Folgers. We got dressed. Hopped in the 2012 Lamborghini Reventon 99 Toyota Avalon. And made our way to the Sears Outlet store. At Sears, we found an exquisite deal on a washer and dryer combo (with front-loading doors and an Eco-Friendly option). Then proceeded to walk up the red-carpet into the Louisville Public Library, where we registered for our free year-long membership (VIP membership, of course). Then we went home.
That’s right. You heard me. On our anniversary, Lindsay and I bought a washer and dryer, registered for library cards, and then went home.
On our way home, worn out from all the glitz and glimmer of our glass-raising day of jubilation, I looked over in the passenger seat at my beautiful bride, and we couldn’t help but laugh. We were growing up. What we needed now, isn’t necessarily what we wanted a couple years ago. What we enjoy now, isn’t necessarily what we spent our time doing a couple years ago. Life comes at you fast.
(Quick side note for all concerned female readers: don’t worry, I took Lindsay on a nice little anniversary vacation a week early! And we went to Olive Garden that night for dinner!!! I even let her get a Coke! So get off my case!!! I’m not that cheap!)
This past week at my church, NECC, we saw many people take the next step in their walk with Jesus by asking God to clean them up through the waters of baptism. Countless people walked down the aisles, met Bob and I in some rental hot-tubs up front, and went for a life-changing dip. In essence, we got to see them grow up today, in ways that some won’t realize for months, maybe years.
If you were one of those people, allow me to congratulate you! But also allow me to give you fair warning – this is only the first step of many in which God desires you grow toward maturity and completion… for the rest of your life.
And with maturity will come an inner thirst to know, do, and be more. So what feeds you spiritually now, may not be what can feed you spiritually next August 26th. What interests you now, may not be what can keep you interested next August 26th. What you do with your time now, may not be what you should be doing with your time next August 26th.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is a GOOD thing. As a matter of fact, I hope and pray this is the case for all of you! I hope you are an entirely new person 365 days from now! I hope that your faith takes you to places in this world that you never thought you’d go. Because it can. And it should.
But all this takes effort. It takes time. And it takes a radical transformation in the way you think about God, others, and yourself.
So allow me to offer you, what I consider to be, the best piece of advice I think I can give you at this point. And then I’ll unpack this advice. For several days. Right here. On this blog. So be sure to keep tuning in.
Are you ready for the advice, because here it goes: Dust off your Bible (or purchase one… or ask us for one at the church). Read it. Allow yourself to enter the story. And then live it. This is absolutely one of the most essential things you can do to become the person God wants you to be.
Now I do realize this can be a daunting task, so below I offer you a “How to Read the Bible 101” crash-course that can hopefully get you off on the right foot. The info here is adapted from years of study and thought, as well as two fantastic articles penned by a mentor of mine, Dr. Jon Weatherly, that can be found if you click here and then here.
By the very nature of all the things that need to be said here, this will be a several-part entry. I’ll post a new piece every couple days this week and next around 5pm.
How to Read the Bible – Part One
First: Don’t be scared!
To develop Bible study habits that are enriching and transformative, you don’t need the skillz that characterize the ivory tower of academia. In layman’s terms, you don’t need a PhD in Biblical Studies. Bible study does not have to be Hebrew, Greek, and all that stuff. Certainly we should press forward over time to develop skills that will allow us to soak deeper in the text, but it’s quite delirious to expect everyone to approach the Bible with such formidable expertise.
Fortunately, the Bible has a simplicity to it that allows young and novice alike to access its truth. But it also has a bottomless profundity that will forever push even the most intellectually elite to go further.
Old Testament scholar Dr. John Walton gets at the heart of how I feel when he writes, “It is relieving to recognize that the basics of God’s revelation of himself [the Bible] are easily skimmed off the surface, but it is not surprising that God’s Word contains infinite depth and that it should require constant attention to study with all the tools we have available. God is not superficial, and we should expect that knowledge of him and his Word would be mined rather than simply absorbed. This means that all of us will be dependent on others with particular skills to help us succeed in the enterprise of interpretation. This is not elitism; it is the interdependence of the people of God as they work together in community to serve one another with the gifts they have.”
(Another side note: this proves that God is the best author ever. Boom!)
So don’t be scared! As a matter of fact, there have been many who have walked before you that have translated, exegeted, interpreted, preached, taught, and studied. And so their time and efforts will make this process much easier for you than you ever could’ve imagined. They are now handing a written tradition down to you that is nearly 2,000 years in the works. And it is your job to take it, absorb it, live it, and hand it off to the next generation.
Oh yeah, and by the way, the divine truth available in this book is will change your life like nothing else. And that’s something to be excited about.
DISCLAIMER: None of this Bible reading stuff matters if you don’t do it.
To be continued…