Thursday, January 10, 2008

How to Read the Bible

We kicked off a new sermon series at NCC on Sunday: How. We are exploring different spiritual growth disciplines/activities and striving to be painfully practical about how to do them. Pastor Mark kicked off the series last week with How to Set Goals. Goal-setting is an exercise of faith when those goals are set in prayer and with a mind towards worship.

This week, I'm continuing with How to Read the Bible. Last year, I talked about 4 different ways to approach the Bible- devotional reading, inductive study, meditation, and memorization. This year, think I'm going to focus more on 5-8 principles for how to read the Bible that are applicable across the board.

I also really want to inspire people to read their Bibles; I think that's probably the most important thing I can do. I think we take it for granted so much here and we need to hear stories about people who walk for 7 days to the closest village to obtain a copy of the Bible. We need to rediscover an appreciation for the Word of God and cultivate a hunger for it.


At 2:41 PM, Blogger Paul Stewart said...


We are in the middle of a pretty aggressive Bible Reading campaign at our church. Last week we kicked it off by introducing the "Bible as Story."

When I was about thirteen years old my dad told me to read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. He said it was one of his favorite books growing up. Based on the cover it looked like an old and very dull book meant to entertain people without TV’s or video games, but for some reason I gave it a try. The first chapter started slow, but I’ll never forget my amazement as the story quickly sucked me in and took me on an adventure with pirates, tropical islands, and buried treasure. The story expanded my imagination in ways nothing else ever could (I know I sound like a librarian right now).

Have you ever thought about the power of stories? Stories have the power to take us on a journey. They show us new places and introduce us to new people. They draw us in and we become a part of their adventure.

The best stories give us a glimpse of ourselves; they show us who we are and who we could be.

God’s story is like this. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the Bible is story.

For thousands of years, stories were the key means for Jewish and Christian people to learn and experience God. The Biblical texts were recorded with the intent that they would be read aloud and passed down to each family.

Right and wrong were not taught in bullet points but through the tools of story.

That’s why the Bible not just a set of doctrines, self-help tips, or instructions for living… it is primarily the beautiful narrative of God loving, pursuing, and ultimately redeeming his people. It stretches from the beginning of time, across our lives and into the future.

Christianity was hurt badly by the Modern Era, the age we just passed through, where truth was thought to be found best in principles and propositions. The mind became central, not the heart, and we lost God’s great story for a handful of rules and regulations.

While these can be helpful, they are not real life. Life is a story, after all. That’s how it comes to us. But like a movie we’ve arrived at forty minutes late, life doesn’t make sense until we understand the rest of the Story.

By reading the Bible as story you have a unique opportunity to take a look at how God used some very ordinary and even messed up people in his grand narrative of redemption. These are stories filled with heroes and villains, love and betrayal, compassion and war. They have the power to show us things about ourselves, about God, and about His story.

Chesterton wrote that if we experience life as a story, there must be a story-teller.

God, the great story-teller, continues to write His story and desires us to find ourselves in it, discovering who we are and why we are here. "What is my role in this story?" This is one of the most important questions we could ever ask. Finding that is finding the secret to your life!

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Awesome topic! I think each of us needs a deeper appreciation for God's Word and how powerful and life-giving it is. I know I too often take for granted that I have NUMEROUS copies and translations of the Bible accessible to me at any time.

Knock it out the park!

At 4:14 PM, Blogger Heather Z said...

Good stuff, Paul. We actually offer a 3-week small group every year called The Story to help people understand the Bible in that way. We encourage people to see their lives against the backdrop of Scripture.

Hey Chris- I hear ya!

At 1:00 AM, Blogger pornaddict said...

I agree, this isa great topic. Just to add my two cents from the prospective of one coming to Christianity with fresh eyes through the lense of recovery. I think a great topic to weave into "How to read the Bible," is "how to read the Bible with out flogging oneself!"


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