God told me something about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

At least, I think He was referring to them… This is what He said:

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Titus 3:1-2

Although, I didn’t have the courage to argue with God out loud, my heart said… “Come on, this is America. We don’t have rulers. We the people are the rulers. And I thought to myself, even if I should think of our elected officials as rulers, neither Clinton nor Trump are president yet.” 

But the God repeated a sentence that I still hadn’t caught yet… “speak evil of no one.”

My mind became flooded with all of the things that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said and done that have made me angry. I thought, “what if these candidates ARE evil?”

I’m not sure if God said this next part, but He may have by His Spirit. I was reminded in my soul about whom the rulers were in the days of Paul and Titus. They were Romans… people who enjoyed watching the massacre of innocent people in the Colosseum. People who crucified their enemies. And yet, Paul directed Titus to: “speak evil of no one.”

And friends, I was powerfully convicted. This election season, I have spoken evil of Hillary Clinton. I have spoken evil of Donald Trump. I have even spoken evil of Gary Johnson. I have spoken and talked on social media in ways that were quarrelsome. I have failed to be gentle. I have failed to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

I am a conservative. I love America and I believe in progress that is slow and careful and thoughtful. I care about political theory and history. I deeply desire for my son to grow up in a nation that we can be proud of. And so, this election season… I have struggled soooo much with the temptation to disregard Titus 3:1-2.

So why God? Why have You commanded Your Church to behave so meekly?

He actually answered me on that one. He said:

“For (you) were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing your days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God (your) Savior appeared, he saved (you), not because of works done by (you) in righteousness, but according to (my) own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, who (I) poured out on (you) richly through Jesus Christ (your) savior…”

( I changed the pronouns in order to make a point that I DO think the passage was making, but I recognize I am interpreting in order to do so and could be shown to be in error.)

Why am I commanded to behave meekly towards candidates that may or may not have acted in malice, envy, and hatred?

Because as a Christian, I know that every single sin of Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s has similar roots in my own heart. I may not have sinned to the extent that certain other people have, but that isn’t because I’m righteous. God has graciously kept me from the full consequences of the selfish nature of my heart.

Let me put it this way, Christian brother. What is the difference between us and Donald Trump? Grace. Christian sister, what is the difference between you and Hillary Clinton? Grace.

As Christians we know where our worth is found. We were not saved because we are winners. We were not saved because we are smart. We were not saved because there was anything innately holy or righteous about us. We were saved because God looked with mercy upon our pitiful condition and said, “LIVE.” And we came alive when we first beheld Jesus in our hearts as the Glorious One that He is.

As Christians, we know why we do good to others. We know why we can radically forgive. We know why we can obey even in this difficult command found in Titus 3:1-2. We have been given the Spirit of God! Shall we not be merciful even in our hearts to politicians who are not filled with His Spirit? Should we not be merciful to people whose hope is not rooted in the return of Jesus Christ?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton need our prayers. They are real people who are certain to die one day. They are real people who are certainly dealing with the consequences of their own personal darkness.

The people that we are talking to on facebook need our love. Does love speak the truth? Yes. Believe me, I don’t intend to stay silent on political issues. But I do intend to write with a gentle tone and spirit. I do intend to avoid quarrels. I do intend to be perfectly courteous to even the most offense sarcasm that I may be treated with. I intend to do this because God told me to do it and reminded me that I have nothing good in my own being that was not a gift from Him.

If I fail, will you remind me of Titus 3:1-2? I promise not to be offended. All you’ll need to do is mention the reference.

 

Christian’s can be open-minded too!

There was a young man who loved his wife. He was careful not to look at and consider any woman but his wife. He rejoiced in the culture in which he was raised. Because women in his home country wore the niqab. This is a veil that covers every part of a woman’s face but her eyes. This young man had a very closed mind and he was proud of it.

Another young man loved his wife as well. He believed that since he loved his wife and she loved him, that they ought to have an open relationship. They freely dated and engaged in relationships with other people. Their marriage relationship was simply a place to return to rather than a commitment to protect. If their relationship couldn’t survive such openness and freedom, were they really in love at all? This young man had a very open mind and he was proud of it.

There was a young man named Jimmy who loved his God. He didn’t want to dishonor his God by having a closed mind. He didn’t want to live as if his faith could be shaken by a single book or conversation. He didn’t want to restrict the glory of His God’s truth by his own fear.

But he also didn’t want to be unfaithful to his God. He didn’t want his heart to belong to any other but the God who sacrificed of Himself to save him. He didn’t want to live his life as if every idea and every source of “truth” was equal to the voice of the God of the Bible. He knew that the God that He worshiped is a jealous God who refused to be cast aside as one among many.

Jimmy decided to write a blog because he wanted to consider with others, just how open minded should a Christian be?

The following passages of scripture are shaping my thoughts surrounding this question:

Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD.”

Proverbs 18:13 “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Matthew 23:3 “…so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”

Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

John 17:15-17 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

It is seems to me that one of the highest virtues in the secular west is to keep an open mind. To be called fair-minded and balanced is a high complement. I feel within my own soul a desire to be open-minded. However, what does that actually mean… to be open-minded?

If I must accept all ideas and thoughts as equally valid to be open minded, then I’m not interested. Jesus demands my first and ultimate loyalty. And by his blood, He has it.

If I must give equal time to Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris that I do to the Bible, then I’m not interested. Addressing doubts is not the same as going looking for some.

If it means that I need reasons outside the Bible to trust it, then I’m not interested. I am compelled to believe by the glory that I see in Jesus, and I have found Him in the Bible.

If it means that I should forever question but never come to any answers, then I’m not interested. Through what God has said to His prophets and apostles and through the Spirit that He has placed inside of me, I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).

However, maybe that is not what it means to be open-minded?

Maybe, it means to listen humbly to other view points? If so, then sign me up. Jesus, Himself listened to Satan before refuting his words with Scripture.

Maybe, it means to listen for Biblical truth that can be found in extra-biblical places? If so, then sign me up. Jesus commanded the disciples to listen to the biblical teaching of the pharisees without mimicking their unbiblical lifestyle.

Maybe, it means to consider the voices and ideas of the prevailing culture in order to more effectively expose friends and loved ones to the superior voice and truth of Jesus? If so, then sign me up. Somehow, Paul seemed to find time to be familiar with the poets of ancient Greece (Acts 17:17-31).

I find myself caught between two different temptations to pride and arrogance. The first is to dismiss the world and its messages all together. It is safer to stay peacefully within my Christian bubble of ideas and thoughts. But this is prideful, because it places my own comfort above the souls of my neighbors and the glory of my God. To cloister myself, is to take a “me first” attitude.

The second temptation to pride and arrogance is equally tempting to me. I love to learn. I love to think new thoughts and to live in the abstract world of ideas. There is a strong temptation to march into the forum of the world’s philosophies armed solely with my own reason and experience. But this is prideful, because my confidence is in myself rather than the Light of His Word. Jesus walked upon the earth, faced demons, pharisees, and pagan unbelievers. But He always did so with a firm trust and confidence in His Father and the Holy Scriptures.

May God grant us humility to be open minded to biblical truth wherever we find it, and close minded to anything that would lead us to disloyalty to the King of Kings.

Why doesn’t the black church care about abortion?

Recently, I was at a large conference and I heard a message by the Rev. Tony Evans. He is one of my favorite speakers. I first heard him when I attended Moody Bible Institute. God has used him in my life more over the past ten years. He said something that struck me. The following is not an exact quote, but the gist of what he said was this: “Most black Christians I know are democrats and most white Christians I know are republicans.”

In this election year, I have at times wanted out of the Republican party. I have been discouraged by the rise of Donald Trump. I have been discouraged by the tenor of the Republican National Convention. It seemed to be one of anger and it seemed to be one that made no call whatsoever to unity.  Now, exactly what I am planning to do in November when I enter the voter’s booth is for another blog on another day. However, one issue (although there are others) that keeps me tethered to the GOP is the issue of abortion.

I understand that there are various reasons to stand against abortion and still vote for the democrat ticket. Thabiti Anyabwile articulates a Godly perspective that would advocate for this position. But, it seems strange that there isn’t more leaders within the black church that speak and write like Vodi Baucham. What seems strange is not that there are black leaders who disagree with people like myself, but that exit polls seem to indicate that Vodi Baucham is in the extreme minority. How can 93% of black people vote in unison for a president who supports abortion unless a large majority of the black Christians feel very different about abortion then I do?

This is a question that I’ve pondered in my heart and have been afraid to voice. I don’t want to be a racist. I don’t want to be a bigot. But this question is in my heart and I think it is in the hearts of other white Christians like myself. So, has the black church decided that they are firmly pro-choice? Have 93% of black people decided together that they do not care about abortion? I don’t think so.

So what’s the deal? Well, I believe that I and others like me, have failed to understand just how badly many within the black church are suffering and have suffered over the last century. A few thoughts to consider before we as white Christians allow our hearts to reject that statement.

  1. Do you think about the fact that you are white every single day? Black people do.
  2. Are you willing to admit that the lynchings, beatings, and civil rights violations of the 50’s and 60’s were wrong? Please remember that the black person who is writing on your Facebook wall, probably has a grandparent who lived through that time.
  3. Are you sure that black people are not suffering and struggling in your community? You may think that it is only because of their social status, but many of them do not see it that way. Have you asked them why they believe that their suffering is due to their race?
  4. How many black people are in your social circle? Everyone has a black friend. That doesn’t count. My point is this: I am not in a position to criticize an entire community of people until I have taken the time to listen and understand them. I don’t think this is possible just because I might have a black friend. It requires getting to know the culture and values of the black community. May I confess? As of yet, I have not devoted time and energy to really do this. Have you?

For many black Christians, the issue of abortion comes down to this: “Am I more concerned about the baby in my arms then I am the baby in her womb?” I’m not sure that this is a justified dichotomy. But there it is. That is where many black Christians are at. What can we as white Christians do? Should we just forget about the unborn, too? Should we simply focus on racial inequality? Or other social issues?

Well… I’m not going to forget about the unborn. But if the suffering of the black community has played a part in their silence in opposing abortion, then it seems to me that one of the most pro-life things I could do is to begin to fight for and care about the black community.

I don’t think that means I have to like Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem. I don’t think it means that I have to walk around saying that only white people are able to be racist in the world. I don’t have to be a democrat. And I don’t have to think that the answer is more government programs and higher taxes. So… what does it look like for a white republican like me to care about and fight for the black community? The following are some ideas:

  1. Pray! If you are a Christian, then pray for the leaders of the black churches in your area. If you don’t even know their names, then start with finding out who they are!
  2. Take time to learn about and celebrate the history of black people and their heroes.
  3. If you are looking for a new church due to a move, visit some of the black churches. Consider joining them and submitting to their leadership.
  4. If you are already settled in a predominantly white church, make efforts to connect and work with black churches to make a difference in your community. And this is important, humbly submit to their leadership. Your church might have more money. That doesn’t mean it should be in charge.
  5. Support ministries that exist to bring support and help to the inner city like the Morning Center.
  6. We live in the information age. Don’t let your sermon selection be too white. Listen to great black preachers like Tony Evans, Voddie Baucham, Thabiti Anyabwile, John Onwuchekwa, and Kempton Turner.
  7. Get involved and give to the local missions that are seeking to alleviate the suffering of the poorer communities around you. There are three fantastic ministries in Peoria: The Dream Center, Southside Mission, and Peoria Rescue Ministries. While these three ministries are not specifically about supporting the black community, they certainly do support it.

Perhaps, the future of the pro-life movement could be lead by the black church within the Democratic party? Wouldn’t that be amazing? What if there was a strong presence of pro-lifers within the Democratic party again? I am praying towards this end. I believe that the United States has not yet seen the sanctifying power of the black church and that if those of us who are white would humble ourselves and let the black church lead, we will find that God is pleased to glorify His name through us together.

 

 

 

 

3 Reasons to Read- “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God” by Timothy Keller

In December, I went on one of my book buying sprees because I was preparing to talk at a weekend retreat for my church’s youth group. Prayer is hard for me. So, I figured if I was going to teach about it, then I was going to need someone to teach me first. So far, this is the only book on prayer that I’ve finished. To be honest… it’s the only book I’ve finished in a while. However, I absolutely loved it and so I wanted to share with you three ways that I have been helped by this book.

1) This book helped me make connections between the discipline of studying God’s Word and prayer. Keller made a compelling case for listening to the heart of God through the Bible and allowing that to shape my prayer life.

“Nonetheless, if prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice.” Keller, pg. 145

2) This book introduced me to an exciting assortment of resources for further study. Keller filled his pages with helpful teaching on prayer from John Calvin, Martin Luther, Augustine, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards and others. I might be inclined to buy this book just to get my hands on Keller’s annotated bibliography.

3) Sometimes I have struggled with the mechanics of prayer. Sometimes I feel the freedom to just pray out my heart. But other times it feels unnatural and my words seem to be just words with little or no heart or thought behind them. I hate those kinds of prayers. At the end of Keller’s book, he included some very practical models for daily prayer that I have found so refreshing on those days where I want to pray, but I just don’t know where to begin.

Whether you are a prayer warrior or someone who is just learning how to talk with God, I would highly recommend this book.

http://www.amazon.com/Prayer-Experiencing-Awe-Intimacy-God/dp/0525954147/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425764862&sr=1-1&keywords=prayer+by+tim+keller

A blog post from my friend Kayla

http://ceasingtostrive.blogspot.com/2014/12/listen-to-him-why-i-believe-what-bible.html?spref=fb&m=1

Just a couple of thoughts from reading Kayla’s post.

If I could sum up her thoughts:

1) There is a persuasive argument present when the Old Testament prophecies are considered with the New Testament witness to their fulfillment. I hope to study this line of reasoning more and write about it later.

2) There is a very personal aspect to experiencing the faithfulness of God in our own lives. For many, the God of the Bible has not seemed faithful to His promises. But to Kayla and I, we have found the God of the Bible to keep the promises made in the Bible every time. Again… I hope to spend more time talking about this later.

This was a very personal and honest post… not an attempt at a perfect argument, but rather an open witness to the truth as she is able to express it.

Come and See

I want to spend some time over the next few months, writing and thinking about why I trust the Bible to be authoritative in my life.
Some essays will no doubt be somewhat rational, others emotional, some may be slightly apologetic, and others strictly practical. But I will attempt to be personal in each essay. In this way, I hope to honor the command of 1 Peter 3:15 which says,

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

When people ask, “Why do you submit to a book?” this is a valid question of authority. I hope to spend a few months allowing my own heart to wrestle with thoughts, feelings, and arguments concerning this question. My starting point can be found within a story that I’d like to refer to this morning.

In his first chapter, the apostle tells us the story of how a number of Jesus’ disciples met Him. The story has a certain rhythm to it. Again and again, people are confronted with the truth of Jesus, and then are simply invited to “Come and see.” Jesus invites two of John the Baptist’s disciples this way. It is likely that Andrew brought his brother Peter to Jesus with a similar promise. And Philip, too, responds to the skepticism of his friend Nathanael with a very simple, “Come and see.”

My first response to “Why do you trust a book” is simply this: I have come and seen Jesus through reading and contemplating the writings of men. I have come and have seen. And as I have beheld this Jesus, I am convinced no greater character has ever been depicted in any literature that I have ever read. There is no greater hero described in all the histories that I have studied. There is no greater human being that I have ever met in my small spread of twenty-seven years.

The Jesus that I find in the writings of the Bible is more worthy of worship than C.S. Lewis’ Aslan, than J.R.R. Tolkien’s Aragorn, than Superman, Michael Jordan, FDR, Einstein, Lincoln, Washington, or anyone else.

What draws me to the Jesus of the Bible?

1) People longed for His coming for thousands of years

2) He is the perfect example of humility

3) He is the perfect example of strength under pressure

4) His words were always wise and perfect for the situation

5) He is the perfect example of love

6) His commands are truly freeing because they conform with the true nature of reality

7) His promises of life, significance, intimacy, forgiveness, and perseverance over death resonate with the deepest desires of my heart.

8) His recorded actions perfectly reflect His recorded words. The Jesus of the Bible is not “two-faced.” He possesses perfect and utmost integrity.

A worshipper  can go on and on… but that will suffice. I trust the Bible because within it, I found a person worthy of my worship. I have found a god who I believe to be THE God and I have decided to acknowledge Him as MY God.

Is this the greatest argument for the existence of God and truth of Jesus Christ? No. Is it invincible from those who want to mock or take pot shots at what I have said? No. But it is my honest and number one reason for trusting the Bible. The Bible has brought me to a Jesus that I am willing to follow even when it means I must suffer to do so.

If you do not know Jesus Christ, I invite you to simply, “Come and see,” for yourself. You must be willing to spend the time and the energy to read the Bible and to try to hear what the biblical writers are actually trying to communicate. I don’t believe that everyone who does so will walk away a worshipper of Jesus Christ. But one of two things will happen. Christ will either repel you like the smell of death or He will draw you to Himself.

If you didn’t know… the apostle Paul’s ministry largely consisted of writing the majority of the New Testament. And the apostle Paul describes his ministry the following way:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” – 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

So… why not? Grab yourself of a bible and take some time this Christmas season, to “Come and see.”

Should Christians hold signs outside of abortion clinics?

This is a good question. Three years ago, I would have said “no.” Today, I say “yes.” Let me be clear- Christians who speak into the public sphere whether through a picket line or through a newspaper article or any other means, ought to follow the command:

Colossians 4:5 which says,

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

I believe that humble, quiet, and kind communication into the public sphere is not in contradiction with this verse. We are in the middle of a culture that is quickly changing. I believe that we need to speak up- with grace- for the rights of the unborn. We need to be willing to stand up and say to the culture, “Hey! We are still here. Those who take the Word of God seriously are not yet gone.” This is still America. And over the last 200 years things are accomplished here by persuasively communicating into the public sphere. I say let us stand against pro-choice picket signs by holding our own picket signs.

BUT… we need to do that the way Christ would. I believe that Christ would love those who drive into the clinics to abort their unborn. I believe that he would love those doctors who perform those abortions. I believe that he would love those who flipped him the bird as they drove by. He would love them- but Christ like love was NEVER silent. Except when He was attacked personally. Christ was silent when He stood before Pilate and love demanded the silence. Christ spoke against Pharisees because He loved them. Christ spoke truth to the thief hanging on the cross beside Him because He loved Him. Christ spoke a call to repentance to the prostitute in John 9 because He loved her. Christ called Zacchaeus to get down out of the tree and follow Him because He loved him. Christ’s love speaks.

We hold picket signs- not because we hate- but because the love of Christ speaks and we still choose to love with His love and not with love that is defined by the world.

Please consider the letter written by a leader of a pro-life group near my home city of Peoria, IL. I think it demonstrates how love can happen when holding a picket sign.

A Different Kind of Save on October 16th.

On October 16th, our pro-life group, Knox County Right to Life, of Galesburg, IL  was blessed to be able to cover in prayer the abortion facility located in Peoria, about 50 miles from us.  We were signed up in two hour shifts and the day was covered by many dedicated prayer warriors.  One woman was a bit hesitant because of the driving involved but she and her sister decided they needed to be there.

As the day unfolded a young man walked by on his way to applying for a job.  Later he came by again and this time he was struck by the hesitant woman’s sign which said, “Women Regret Their Abortions”.  When he asked her about the sign she was holding, she told him that she had had an abortion, which she greatly regretted, but she had sought forgiveness and found peace.   The young man confided in her that he had recently left Chicago and moved to Peoria because his girlfriend had, against his wishes, aborted their child.  He soon was standing in prayer, holding a sign that said “Men Regret Their Lost Fatherhood”.  A short time later, another young man walked by and saw that sign.  He asked if he could join us in prayer, holding a sign with the same message, because he too had lost a child through abortion.

The two young men stayed for over six hours.  In that time, a priest came by and talked with them about everything from forgiveness to searching for a job. Several prayer warriors exchanged names and phone numbers with the intention of helping to find the recent transplant to Peoria a job.   Another prayer warrior took one of the young men next door to the Women’s Care Center to set-up counseling sessions.

The babies of these two men had already been aborted, but I believe these men experienced a saving on October 16th. It was just a beginning, but their lives were forever changed and they can now begin the process of dealing with their pain and sorrow.  They were saved by the grace of God and by those who answered the call to be in prayer at this abortion facility.  Thank you 40 Days for Life for making this happen.

P.S.  Earlier in the day, a car drove by then circled around, came back and parked.  A woman got out and said, “I just want to thank you for what you are doing.  It is because of people like you that my grandson is alive today.”  Yes, there were tears in her eyes and ours too

Pat Conklin, Knox County Right to Life.

We Fired Our Health Insurance Company

I love my job. If you are facing difficult health care decisions, please consider reading this story to find out about what we do.

michaelplank.org

So many friends—and friends of friends—have contacted us about our choice for health care that we decided it might be easier to write out our story. Hopefully our experience will assist you in making the wisest choice for your family. This will be lengthy but worth it. I promise.

keeping_your_health_insurance_sjpg1340

Emily & I have been blessed by churches who provided a medical insurance plan for us. My salary has been structured so that the medical insurance payment was held out of my paycheck for the pre-tax benefit. But if I received a cost-of-living raise in January, it was undone in July because the existing policy would adjust upwards somewhere between 13-20% annually. Year after year, I was actually making less money.

About 7 years ago, we began noticing that BCBS paid for less and less while our copays kept increasing. When we questioned them, the answer was always that it was…

View original post 1,574 more words

No time for the Word… Part 2

Yesterday, I shared a few ideas about how a person could integrate the Bible into their daily lives. The basic principle behind those four ideas is this: Insert the reading of Scriptures into parts of your normal everyday activity.

Before I go on, I’d like to point out that this is a Biblical principle:

Regarding the law, Deuteronomy 6:8-9 says, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

David, describing a man who is truly blessed, says “His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

The four examples (and there could be thousands of better ideas tailored to YOUR life) are ways to keep the Word of God as an active part of your life. And they were all examples that required very little time. Doing those kinds of practices are kind of like planning soul snacks throughout your day. But it is also very important to spend time actually studying God’s Word.

For those of who might read this post who LIKE to read books the following are two that I think are very helpful:

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Applying-Bible-Revised-Expanded/dp/0802490921/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412894103&sr=8-1&keywords=McQuilkin

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802408230/ref=s9_simh_se_p14_d0_i4?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=search-desktop-advertising-no-results-center-1&pf_rd_r=1BDVPPS9GKJ8PTAEP1ZQ&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1912906182&pf_rd_i=Dr.%20Hendrcks

For whatever reason, studying God’s Word is hard for a lot of us. The following are a list of reasons why I think people can really struggle with this discipline:

1) They just read. Most Christians know they are supposed to read the Bible, but not everyone has a good idea about what exactly that might look like. Reading is always better when we actually ENGAGE with the text. Pray. Ask questions. Wrestle. Underline things that jump out. DON’T skip words that you don’t understand. TRY to make connections. The Biblical writers were brilliant men who were inspired by God. There is a reason for every sentence written. If you don’t know why a verse was written, make a note of it and let the question marinate for a while (like more than 30 seconds).

2) They read alone. Don’t misunderstand me. I think it is very important to get alone with God and pray and read and study His Word. But realize, the Church (let alone the people of Israel) has been around for a very long time. You are not the first person to ask whatever question you are contemplating. Find a partner in your Church or a group of people who will study the Bible with you or at least help you answer some of your questions. Read commentaries (if this is intimidating, read one with a leader in your church). Listen to audio sermons regarding certain passages.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/main.asp

http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons

3) They read the same way. The Bible is the greatest book ever written. It is the very Word of God. But sometimes because people approach it in the same way day after day and year after year, it becomes stale to them. In every relationship, creativity should not be minimized. This is no less the case in the way that we approach God. Let me encourage you if you are reading this to read creatively. (This does NOT mean that you are tampering with or free ranging with the meaning of the Word.)

-Spend time studying a Bible character.

-Study one specific book of the Bible.

-Study one specific author of the Bible- like Paul, Moses, or John.

-Spend a month recording every promise you find.

-Spend a moth recording every command you find. (don’t worry, these are usually write before the promises).

-By a systematic theology and study the Bible according to certain theological topics.

http://www.amazon.com/Systematic-Theology-Introduction-Biblical-Doctrine/dp/0310286700/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412895596&sr=1-1&keywords=wayne+grudem

-Ask God to teach you something and then spend a month reading and trust God to begin to show you answers. (i.e. God what does it mean to be a good husband? I’d start with Ephesians)

-Read the Bible in different places: Take your Bible to the top of a hill over looking a river (If you live in Peoria). Just go somewhere beautiful and consider the creator of Beauty as you read.

I am aware that there are many reasons why the Bible can sometimes be hard to read and even harder to study. But while there are many movies and even a concert or two that have caused me to walk away thinking that I wish I could get that time back, I’ve never regretted spending time in God’s Word. Even though the dry times do come, along with times of doubt and frustration, I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I have tasted and seen through His Word. People have died trying to obtain a copy of the Scriptures in their own language. Why is that? Because the Scriptures are God’s means of speaking. I hope you have had the pleasure of Hearing Him. And if you haven’t, I hope you’ll consider dusting off that Bible and trying again.