Source: Rejoicing in the Lord: A Study of Philippians by Gary C. Hampton
Source: Rejoicing in the Lord: A Study of Philippians by Gary C. Hampton
If you know me at all, you know I like to read. Other than my daily Bible reading, I try to have two or three books going all the time. [If you want to see a list of all the books I have read so far this year, here’s a link.]
As with anything else, however, it can become easy to read in an “echo chamber.” In other words, we may be reading good material, but, too often, we only read things that we already agree with or that we know are going to make us feel good and uplift us.
Recently, however, I have finished two books that truly shook me. They were on two different subjects but were connected in that they both reminded me of real pain that people have gone through in the past. I simpy want to share them with you today.
The first is a book that I have owned for many years, but I had never read all the way through. Witness to the Holocaust
But I am so glad I read it. It hurt to read. At times, no exaggeration, I was nauseated reading it. A couple of times, I struggled to sleep just because of the images in my head. Why put myself through that? Because I needed to! I needed to be reminded of how that awful event came about, and I needed to be reminded of just how horrific the suffering was. I needed to be reminded of just how depraved sinful mankind really can become.
The second book was far shorter, but just as impactful. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass only takes a couple of hours to read, but it will open your eyes to the harrowing realities of slavery in American history. Douglass (which, by the way, was a name he chose as he started to come out of slavery) was a highly intelligent man, but this book will cause you to realize the price he paid just to know how to read and write.
The descriptions of beatings and other awful acts (some to Douglass and some to other slaves) will, hopefully, make you both angry and sad. What stood out to me as I read this short volume, though, was the constant struggle in the thinking of Douglass of “do I want to be free or is it even worth it?” The owners of these slaves would do just enough to make them question whether or not they wanted to be free, and that psychological back-and-forth is both fascinating and frightening.
I am a Caucasian. I’m sure that, if I went back far enough in my family’s history, I could find someone in some place who suffered as a slave. But to be reminded that, as a nation, we are not that far removed from this awful practice is something I need to be reminded of.
I challenge all of us to read a lot, but I also challenge us all to read things that cause us to think and cause us to remember the depths of evil and sin, so that we do not allow these things to even have a toe-hold on our thinking ever again.
(Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to read something about Philippians. I need some joy in my life!)
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
I don’t know why, but I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with marking in my Bible for a long time. I have the pens. I’ve read articles and had conversations.
But for a long time, I would mark something…then maybe underline something else a few months later. It was like I was afraid of making the “wrong” marks, so I just didn’t do it much.
However, something hit me a few months ago and it has caused me to mark my Bible more and more. I circle. I underline. I write notes.
It was this simple realization that everyone knows, but it took awhile to sink in for this thick-headed preacher: this is my Bible!
I want to turn to a passage and see what “hit me” about that passage one time. I want to know what stood out when I heard some preach or lecture on that section of Scripture. I want to have a simple outline to help me through a more difficult text.
So, in recent months, I have been making more and more notes. Now, when I turn to a passage to read or study, it is coming alive more and more, because I am seeing my own interaction with the text. I love it!
In fact, I have started using a few resources to help me besides just what “hits me” while I’m listening to a sermon or class. If you would like to start marking up your Bible and making it your own, let me share with you three resources that might help “jump start” your study. I know they have mine!
Basic Bible Studies. Eddie Parrish has a great blog, but included in that blog are simple outlines of Bible books. Currently, he is outlining the book of Romans. I have found a great deal of material to include to help me when I read through that book.
Sain Publications’ “Chapter by Chapter.” Just what it says, “Chapter by Chapter” provides a quick overview of each chapter, but my favorite part of these downloadable sheets is that it provides key verses for each. Currently, Paul Sain is producing these on the book of Matthew.
“Bible Marking” on Come Fill Your Cup. Kathy Pollard’s series on CFYC is meant for ladies, but I get so many good Bible marking ideas from them, as well. Logical studies that share key verses for studying a Bible topic.
There are many other sites you could use, but the key is to come to the realization that I did: this is your copy of God’s Word. Make it your own! Don’t be afraid to mark it so that it is helpful to you even more down the road.
So, open up your Bible, get those pens out, and make that copy of the Scriptures your own.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
SOURCE: Good to Great in God’s Eyes by Chip Ingram. (Page 108)
“What was your story about today?” (a father to his child on the way home from worship)
“The character we are going to talk about today in our Bible story is ________.” (a Bible class teacher to her students)
“Turn in your Bible to the story found in ________.” (a preacher of God’s word)
These statements and many others like them have been on my mind a lot lately. I keep hearing the accounts found in the Bible referred to as stories, and the people within those accounts referred to as characters in a story. We even talk about buying a Bible storybook for our children or grandchildren – right along with the fictional storybooks we may also buy for them.
Please forgive me if you think I’m being picky. I really don’t mean to be, but because we live in such an entertainment-saturated world, I want to make a point in this short little post.
The accounts found in my Bible are not stories, and the people who lived through those accounts are not characters in a book.
When I open the pages of my Bible I read about real flesh and blood people who lived hundreds of years ago and encountered some events in their lives which I’m not sure I could have handled. Noah and his family come to my mind, along with Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Esther, Ruth, Daniel, Paul, Jesus and this list could go on and on.
They lived through events in their lives which we only read about. If we aren’t careful, we will begin to think of them as fictional characters and not as real flesh and blood people. We may begin to think about the happenings in their lives as fiction and not true accounts of real events. We won’t identify with the reality of what they encountered or suffered through as they maintained their belief in the one true God. We won’t recognize the mistakes many of them made (which serve as examples for us) if our view is that they are characters in a story.
Many are caught up in a world of fictional people and events via books, magazines, comics, TV, movies, video games, etc. Satan delights when people spend countless hours in this type of entertainment because they are filling their minds with many things that move their thinking away from reality.
Be careful how you refer to what or whom you are reading or teaching about from your Bible. They aren’t characters in a story. They are the people and the accounts which the men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote about so that we could know our way to God.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
AUTHOR: Donna Faughn
Spring has sprung in Alabama. Flowers are blooming. Trees are budding. Pollen is overwhelming.
It really is a beautiful time of the year as life is seen all around.
It is the time of year to stop and enjoy beauty. As flowers open up, it is gorgeous.
But have you ever considered how differently flowers can be treated, and how it relates to the different ways some treat the Bible?
Here are three ways we can view flowers that are similar to how some people view Scripture.
This is usually me as it pertains to flowers. I do not know much about flowers, but I like the beauty of them when they bloom in the springtime. So, because I like that beauty, I just look from flower to flower, visually jumping here and there, but not really concentrating on any one flower.
How many people treat the Bible the same way? They jump from passage to passage (and, quite often, the same few passages), but never think about the context or the larger picture of what is going on? They are not allowing the full picture of Scripture to be their focus, just the “pretty” parts they personally like.
You take a botanist to a flower garden and you can learn some stuff! That scientist will be able to tell you more about a flower than you thought was possible to know. Often, though, it is just academic stuff, maybe the latin name or how the systems inside the flower work. All of it is interesting, but it may not help you appreciate the flower itself very much.
Again, many people treat the Bible this way. Certainly, there are intellectual matters to consider as it pertains to Scripture. We must be thinking as we come to the Bible.
But if it is all “academic,” we are missing the point! Yes, our minds need to be renewed (cf. Romans 12:2), but that renewal must lead to a changed life. To put it in terms we often hear in Bible study, there must be interpretation, but there must also be application.
You and I may appreciate a flower for its beauty this time of year, but a bee takes it to another level, doesn’t it? That bee sits down in the flower and takes in the pollen. The very life of this bee is dependent upon the flower and regular interaction with it.
That must be our attitude toward Scripture! We need to dig deeply into the Bible and find that our life seems incomplete without it. We need to hunger for the righteousness it gives (Matthew 5:6), and get our life from it (see Psalm 119:25).
So, how do you treat Scripture? Are you just a tourist, just floating here and there, but never taking in the full picture? Are you the botanist, learning all the academic jargon, but not letting it change you fundamentally? Or are you the bee, making certain that Scripture sustains your life?
If you are serious about digging deeper into the Word of God, here are some resources I have used, both in the past and some I continue to use, that help me in my Bible study, especially as it pertains to marking notes in my Bible. Maybe you can find something here to help you drink more deeply from the Scriptures.
Study Guide to Greater Bible Knowledge [Book by Wayne Jackson. Amazon carries this book, but it is very expensive. I would call a local Christian bookstore and ask about it, or contact ChristianCourier.com.]
Grasping God’s Word [Textbook by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays. Note: The link is to the latest update (2012), but if you can find the 2001 version at a used book store, many say it is better than the update. It is the one I use.]
Notes from the Margin of My Bible [Book by Wayne Jackson. Again, Amazon only carries expensive used copies. Ask a local Christian bookstore for this wonderful volume. I treasure mine!]
ChristianCourier “Notes” search. [Wayne Jackson has released many of his “notes from the margin of my Bible” on the Christian Courier webpage. The link takes you to a search result for all of them.]
“Bible Marking Topics” [Series of blog posts by Kathy Pollard on Come Fill Your Cup]
Pigma Micron pens [The best pens for marking your Bible. Archive quality, and they do not bleed through the pages. I keep one on my Bible at all times, ready to make a note!]
Crayola Twistables [I have not used these yet, but am getting ready to. They replace a highlighter and do not bleed through pages as much.]
The 66 Podcast [Drew Kizer and Andrew Kingsley walk through the Bible. Great material for Bible study and you will find yourself taking some notes along with them.]
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
Source: Dr. Meg Meeker, Boys Should be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons, page 224