How To Overcome Boring Bible Reading

Why is reading the Bible sometimes boring? For most of us reading the Bible begins to get boring when we reach a kind of plateau. We know most of the stories in the Bible, we have a basic understanding of its theology, and we have a few key verses memorized.

But what if God intended us to do more–more than just read the Bible? What if Bible reading was really just the beginning of the meal and not the main course?

For me the Bible moved from old hat to a chest of treasure when I moved from merely reading the Bible to studying the Bible. As I have learned to study the Bible, there has been no end to the depth of riches I can plunder.

But how does someone study the Bible? Isn’t it complicated? It can be. But recently I have come across two  great resources that can help.

The first is a book (which we’re currently using in our summer Sunday School class) entitled, Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s WordThis is a very user friendly book that provides a wealth of information. I’ve seriously been impressed with it, and would recommend it to any one wanting to get more out the Bible.

The second resources is coming out in the Fall. It’s a video teaching series by John Piper called Look at the Book. Here’s what he had to say about it on his website:

 This fall we plan to launch Look at the Book, a new online method of teaching the Bible. Look at the Book is an ongoing series of 5–8 minute video interactions with the Bible in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. You will hear my voice and watch my pen work its way into the meaning of the text. I’ll point and circle and underline in the passage, all the while talking through how I’m seeing what I’m seeing.

Our main aim will be to create habits of mind and ways of seeing the Bible that help you find the riches of Scripture for yourselves. We really believe that serious Christians can see more wonders in God’s word than they ever thought they could. Look at the Book is our effort to bring that belief to life for you.

I honestly expect this to be a great resource. If you’re interested in studying the Bible I would encourage you to keep an eye out for it. Here’s a trailer that might get you a little more excited:

And here’s a sample of a Look at the Book session.

Whether you’ve read the Bible a few times or regularly for many years (or you’re just curious about what the Bible is about), I would encourage you to take advantage of these resources. I would encourage you to move from a person who just reads the Bible to a person who studies the Bible.

If you are willing to prayerfully pursue this with a teachable heart, and a desire to know God, I assure you the Bible will never be boring again.

Reason In The Christian Life

“If I became a Christian, I feel like I’d have to give up my mind.” That’s how one friend put it as he explained to me his struggle to become a follower of Jesus. For him Christianity appeared to be a religion built on faith, where people were expected to just believe certain things without knowing why.

If you’ve walked with Jesus in a healthy church community for any length of time, you likely know that there is more to following Jesus than mere belief. But maybe you’ve struggled to know what is the place of logic and reason in the Christian faith? Or maybe you’ve never even thought about the place of reason, because for you , it is has been easy to just believe what you believe. But is that it o.k?

What does the Bible say about the role reason should play in the Christian life? 

We Are Invited To Reason

Isaiah 1:18 states, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…”.  The Israelites were encouraged by God to use their reason. In the context, God wanted them to use their reason to see their need for repentance. God was calling them to think about their sin, and then to think about what would be the consequences of their sin.  The expectation was, that when the Israelites reasoned about such things, they would repent, and turn to God–the one offering to save them.

In the New Testament God also put a great value on reason. In Romans 1:18-20, we see that the ungodly are without excuse, because “for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” God’s point is, since he has given people the intellectual faculties to perceive his existence from the created order, they ought to know that he not only exists, but that he should be worshiped.  The Bible is clear, God-given reason is a means by which we can come to believe in God and see our need for God.

We Are Called To Use Reason When Asked About Our Faith

1 Peter 3:15 states, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” The Bible calls believers to give reasons for their hope (that is their hope in Christ). In other words when we as Christian are asked questions like, “why do you believe Jesus is alive, ruling, and worth following?” We should be able to say something more than, “I just believe”. Instead we should be able to give logical reasons for our beliefs. And we should be able to provide those reasons with gentleness and respect.   As J.P. Moreland writes, “If we are going to be wise, spiritual people prepared to meet the crises of our age, we must be a studying, learning community that values the life of the mind.” Having good reasons keeps us from having to be defensive or offended when people question our beliefs. When we have well thought out reasons, we can see every question as an opportunity to help others understand why we believe what we believe.

We Grow In Our Faith Through Reason

2 Peter 1:5 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge…” Growing in our faith involves more than just growing as moral people. The Bible calls us to add to our faith, virtue and knowledge. This echos Jesus’ s words to “love God… with all your mind.” (Mark 12:30) God has given us minds,  so that we can worship him with our minds. Therefore a maturing Christian is one who grows in his or her ability to reason and understand the things of God. John Piper explains it this way, “God is not honored by groundless love. In fact, there is no such thing. If we do not know anything about God, there is nothing in our mind to awaken love. If love does not come from knowing God, there is no point in calling it love for God.”  Growing in our knowledge of God will help us grow in our love of God.

It is a real tragedy that some people still see Christianity as a religion that d0esn’t value the mind. The life of the mind and the exercise of reason is a vital part of the Christian life, and the Bible celebrates that. To be a Christian is to pursue reason, to use reason, and grow in our ability to reason.  We do this all as an act of worship to the God who created and reflects reason, and who will, one day,  completely restore all reason.

May we be a people who celebrate reason, and lead others to do the same!

 

What are you favorite ways to love God with your mind? 

 

 

 

_________________________________________
Quotes from:
JP Moreland’s Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul

John Piper’s Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

John Piper on The Essence of Evil

God defines evil this way when he says, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). God pictures himself as a mountain spring of clean, cool, life-giving water. The way to glorify a fountain like this is to enjoy the water, and praise the water, and keep coming back to the water, and  point other people to the water, and get strength for love from the water, and never, never, never prefer any drink in the world over this water. That makes the spring look valuable. That is how we glorify God, the fountain of living water.”… So preferring the pleasures of money or power or fame or sex over the “pleasures . . . at [God’s] right hand” (Ps. 16:11) is not like preferring caramel to hot fudge. It is a great evil. Indeed it is the ultimate meaning of evil. Esteeming God less than anything is the essence of evil.

Advent… A Different Kind of Waiting (Week 3)

It’s week three of Advent.  A week to focus on joy. The joy  that comes from anticipating the arrival of Christ’s birth.

But ironically finding joy in Christ during the Christmas season, is often hard. Especially when there is so much competition for our affections.

So how do we find our joy in Christ,  even in the midst of our market-driven society?

Here’ s three steps that I think can help:

1. WE START BY FORGETTING ABOUT OURSELVES

John Piper writes,

“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”

2.  THEN WE TRUST THAT JESUS IS THE BETTER JOY

St. Augustine, speaking of Jesus, wrote in his Confessions,

“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure.”

 3.  FINALLY WE WORSHIP

As Bishop N.T. Wright put it,

“When we begin to glimpse the reality of God, the natural reaction is to worship him. Not to have that reaction is a fairly sure sign that we haven’t yet really understood who he is or what he’s done.”

So this Christmas season don’t let the commercials, and the stress of buying stuff, steal your joy. Instead give yourself permission to lose yourself in the person of Jesus Christ, thinking about who he is and all  he has done. Allow Jesus to take away your affections for lesser pleasures, and begin to fill your heart with deeper affections for himself. Then worship. Wherever you are, even if you must begin with whispers, praise him for everything you can think of.

Then you will find joy.

 

________________________________________________________________________________

Further resources: