Thursday, October 30, 2014

Digging Deep: Just Ask

I thought I would wrap up this series by asking you, reader friends, if you have any questions. I was prompted to write about Bible reading  after a number of you asked about my own Bible study habits on Instagram. I hope this series offered you some sound wisdom, practical tips for studying the Bible on your own, and encouragement as you seek to know God better through His Word.


But I know I can't cover the topic of personal Bible reading exhaustively in twenty or thirty blog posts, so if you still have questions, please let me know in the comments below. Do you keep running into some kind of roadblock with your study time? Let's talk about it. Are you overwhelmed with choosing a plan? Let's discuss why a certain plan might be best for you. Are you still trying to figure out a spot in your schedule for Bible time since your child wakes up at 5am? Let's troubleshoot. Is there any topic or burning question you have about the Bible or some Bible study method that I didn't cover. I'd love to write more. Really, any questions or topics are up for discussion.

Ask away...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Digging Deep: You Have Time

My professor once shared a bit of truth with our class that has always stuck with me, "You have time for whatever you make time for."

She was doing some research on Facebook games, so she would play a few of the games on and off throughout the day with her husband and some other friends. Knowing she was a busy professor, people would always ask incredulously, "How do you have time for that?!" And she would always answer the same way. She made time because the research was important to her.

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I've personally never been a gamer. Even as a child, I rarely wanted to sit down to play a board game and I only made it past the entry levels of Donkey Kong on our Super Nintendo. But last night, as a tired 32 year old mom, I decided to try out a poker app on Micah's phone. I lost a few hundred {fake} dollars and spent the next hour of my life earning it back. {This is how gambling addictions start, right?}. Don't worry. I eventually won about $2,000, turned off the phone with the nearly dead battery, and went to bed. I'm not proud of it, but yesterday I "made" time to play online poker. In exchange, I gave up an hour of sleep or an hour of reading time in bed. Two things I dearly love.

When we make time for certain activities or priorities, it often means we have to give up something else. We have a finite number of hours each day and an exhaustible amount of energy and focus. Yesterday, I also made time to go on a date with Micah. He got off work early, and my sister-in-law was here to babysit, so we were able to sneak off to the driving range before 5pm for an unexpected weeknight date. In exchange, I gave up my usual afternoon dissertation time during Zianne's nap, but in this instance, getting to invest in my marriage during a rare early evening outing made the exchange worth it.

We do this all the time in life. Sometimes meeting up with a friend takes precedence over showering and you willingly roll out of the house with three day unwashed hair for some relationship time. Sometimes taking a shower trumps all else, and you neglect the laundry and the email and spend 20 minutes in the shower while the baby naps. We are constantly making decisions about how to spend our time. Sometimes we choose between working out or cleaning our house. Sometimes we must choose between catching up on Instagram or sitting down to meal plan for the week. Sometimes there is clearly a good choice {going to sleep} and a poor choice {playing online poker on your husband's phone}. Sometimes both options are good, but you choose the one that makes the most sense at the time or the one that has more value in the long run {dissertation vs. date night}.

This same concept applies to reading your Bible. You might look at your typical day right now and think, "My day is full. I am busy and tired. Where does the Bible fit in?" You have to make a choice. Something in your schedule can be eliminated or demoted to prioritize the Word of God. Something can take second place so studying the Bible can become first place in your schedule. Do you watch any TV shows? That's great... unless you watch TV shows instead of reading God's Word. Do you clean your house? I do too. But every morning I know that the cleansing power of the Bible is more important than the state of my floors, and I ignore the lingering crumbs from last night's dinner and sit down with the Lord instead. Do you reach out to friends on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram? Social media is fun and helpful, but it should never replace our time in Scripture. If we are daily directed by God's Word before we hop online, we can better use our time and influence on social media for His glory.

The truth of the matter is we have time for whatever we make time for. If you truly believe that God's Word is more valuable than gold {Psalm 19:10; 119:72}and that Scripture is living and active and transforms hearts {Hebrews 4:12} then it seems worth it to rearrange your schedule a bit, doesn't it? The Word is better than any TV show. It's better than a funny tweet or a Facebook message. It's even better than folded laundry or working out. Of course your day is busy. Of course cleaning and exercising and cooking and socializing are all good things, but they are not the best thing, so make time for what matters most.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Digging Deep: How the homiletic method works for me

I love the homiletic method because it's so adaptable to any lifestyle. Since it's so easily broken up into small portions, it's easy to press on with studying the Word, even on those crazy, tired mornings after the baby woke up three times in teething pain in the middle of the night.

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On a normal morning, I will spend about 15-20 minutes doing my study. I will read the passage a few times if I'm just starting a new section, or I will write my passage facts for 5-10 verses if I'm in the middle of studying a passage. After I study, I am trying to get better about having a focused time of prayer {often by writing in my prayer journal}.

On crazy mornings when I have less than ten minutes to be in the Word {and sometimes less than five}, I will simply re-read the ten verses I'm studying once or twice. Even if I'm technically on one of the later steps such as application, I will pause for the day, re-read the section, and simply take a grace day to meditate further on the passage instead of forcing myself to continue with the detailed writing part of the study. 

If I'm going on a short trip, I often slow down my studying while I'm away from the house. Instead of packing my huge Bible, notebook, and pen when I travel, I simply bring my small Bible {or just use my phone} and reread the passage I'm currently studying each day that I'm gone. If I'm going on a longer trip I will bring all my supplies, but if I'm just traveling for a weekend, I'll use the time to meditate on the passage by reading it over and over again.

And then of course there are the fabulous mornings where I wake up extra early or the baby sleeps late, and I find myself with an hour to be in the Word. On these mornings I might write out all my passage facts, my three main points, and my passage summary all in one sitting. If I'm in the application stage. I might write out a prayer or journal a bit, and perhaps even write a blog post about what I'm learning or share some of my notes on Instagram. Sometimes, I'll even add onto my study process. For example, once I finished all of Romans 8, I wrote out three main takeaways for the entire chapter because my brain and heart needed a good conclusion after studying such a powerful passage of the Bible. When I was studying Galatians 5, I decided to do a word study {using Strong's Concordance online} to better understand the Fruit of the Spirit.{For example, did you know the fruit of "faithfulness" doesn't have to do with our faith in God, but instead means that we are reliable and trustworthy to those around us?}

It is all grace, dear friend. On the days when we are gifted an extra long time to be in the Word, it is grace. On the chaotic mornings when we can only glance at a verse or two, it is grace. What matters is your obedience. We are commanded to study Scripture, but every day and every season might look a bit different. There is no one right way to do it, but the homiletic method has helped me to press on with studying the Bible deeply and has increased my love for the Author of the Book.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Digging Deep: Homiletic Method {Part V - Wrap Up}

Here is one more example of the homiletic method from a different passage of the Bible. I've included every step in one post this time, so hopefully it's easier for you to get a sense of the process. For more details, see previous Digging Deep posts.

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Romans 8:18-25

Content List: Put each verse into your own words. These are your "passage facts."

18. Our present suffering, though real, is not worth comparing to our future glory.
19. Creation waits for its redemption too.
20. Creation was subjected to decay by man's sin.
21. Creation will be set free from corruption when men are glorified by God.
22. Creation groans in expectation of this.
23. Although we've received the Spirit, believers still groan inwardly for glorification.
24. Part of being saved means hoping for our future redeemed bodies.
25. We wait patiently for God's salvation promises that we cannot yet see.

Content Divided: Three main points from the passage.

1. Our present suffering is minuscule when compared to the future glory promised to us by God.
2. Creation waits for redemption too, and one day the earth will be a more beautiful, productive place.
3. As believers, we should eagerly await the redemption of our bodies.

Content Summarized: A one sentence summary of the entire passage

*Although man and creation suffer and decay now, both eagerly await the day they will be fully redeemed and glorified by the Lord.

Content Principle: An overall piece of truth gleaned from the passage

*Even in the face of hardship or suffering, we have great hope in Christ.

Content Application: Thought-provoking questions to aid you in examining your heart and life

1. How can I "set my mind" on future glory during tribulation? 

 - Offer a prayer of thanksgiving
 - Memorize Scripture on my future glory
 - Harness my tongue from speaking out loud; instead, preach gospel truth to myself inwardly

2. How can I bring hope to others when they face trial or conviction?
 - Assure them of their identity in Christ if they are believers
 - OR share the Gospel with them if they don't know Jesus
 - Intentionally speak encouragement... tell them there is hope and why there is hope

Application Meditation: A prayer, journaling, art, or some other form of worship to help you meditate on the truth you learned in the passage

Father,
Help me apply these truths. Teach me how to set my mind on the Spirit when I am tempted, tired, or in trial. Harness my tongue and teach my mind to dwell on the hope I have in Jesus and the promises of Your Word. As these truths seep into my heart and mind, let me use my hope to encourage others. May the hope I have in Christ spill over in the form of gentle words that bring healing, peace, joy, and strength to others.
In Jesus' name,
Amen

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Snippets

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This is not an official "Digging Deep" post, but I'm intentionally sharing a bunch of great posts and articles on Bible reading below. I hope you enjoy the links and I'll be back next week to wrap up the Digging Deep series.

Jesus said to "leave her alone..."

Your music tastes might reveal how smart {or dumb} you are...

The best birth story I've ever read...

Great tips for Bible reading...

When dad doesn't disciple the kids...

9 tricks to put a spark in your Bible reading time...

Just open your Bible...

An interesting read on baby blankets and hospital births...

It's supposed to be over 90 degrees today, but I'm craving fall in the form of tunic sweatshirts like this one and this one...
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