Monday, November 24, 2008

Spending Time with the Good Book

I’ve fallen behind on my Bible reading. At one point I was ahead of my plan, but well…. I’m gonna look at the positive: I’m reading. I’ve gotten much farther and understood much more than any other previous try I’ve made to read through the Bible. I have a greater desire to understand the lessons God has placed throughout the book and so maybe I’ve taken breaks from reading here and there, but there’s no stopping.

And maybe it’s not a one-year reading plan anymore. It’s okay, I’m fine with that. I am currently into the Book of Isaiah [NIV], which is about halfway. I’m doing well. So I suppose it is now a 2-year reading plan. That actually might be better because I am slow!

Or God’s just telling me to take it slow, spend as much time on His word as I need, He will walk me through it.
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I’ve found a couple of things useful for gaining a better understanding of the Bible. One of them is listening to podcasts. The three main podcasts that have helped my understanding [and the ones I try to keep up with] are Renewing Your Mind [R.C. Sproul], Truth for Life [Alistair Begg] and Insight for Living [Chuck Swindoll]. These work for me but maybe a different podcast would work for you, that’s okay. Or one could continue under the guidance of the sermons of one’s pastor, but I find it helps to hear different perspectives on things.

Another thing that helps me understand better is a good Bible study group. In the past I have struggled with finding one that helps me really dig in. The emphasis had been on getting together and socializing. Building relationships with one another is important but for me, if one is going to call it “Bible study,” the Bible should be opened at some point. With the groups I’ve observed in the past, it was okay with them if time ran out and they didn’t get to the lesson at all. That was frustrating to me as I wanted to learn more about God’s Word.

I did finally find a study group with Crusty, a good friend, and Rowena, our discipler. We had a good balance between studying and socializing. We had the desire to know God more. I think we were together for a few months before Rowena and her family moved away, about 9 0r 10 years ago I think.

During those 9 or 10 years of being without a study group, I believe God was preparing my heart and mind…for NOW. God brought me back closer to Him and in a church again where He placed me in contact with getting to know a group of young people. Eventually I felt comfortable enough and ready to join in their BS. They have that good balance of studying and socializing with that desire to know God more. An added incentive with joining this particular group is that they are under the care of a friend of mine who has a graduate degree in Divinity. I know that I will learn something when I go to their study group.

The podcasts and the study group do not coincide with where I am in reading the Bible and that is okay. I’ve remembered certain lessons or insights from podcasts and recognized them when I got to that passage. The study group is structured to alternate between going through the Bible book by book and topical studies. I am ahead of where they are in the Bible and so it is a good review for remembering what I’ve already read, or for going back and thinking “Ah! So that’s the lesson there!” or for having a question I had answered.
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The podcasts and study group are what helps me understand the Bible. I am also reading a daily devotional [although I am imperfect with the ‘daily’ part] by the Blackabys called “Experiencing God Day-By-Day.” The devotional is also helping me on my journey.

I’d like to hear about your Bible reading journey, the things that have helped you along the way in understanding or encouragement, or anything else you would like to share! Please leave a comment, or email me if you have the address, and as a reminder comments may be left anonymously.

Mahalo for reading!

Links:
Truth for Life
Insight for Living
Renewing Your Mind

[or find them all on]:
OnePlace.com