Hear the word preached on Sunday.
It stirs the soul.
Commit to a daily “quiet time”.
Where to start?
Flip somewhere randomly, close your eyes and point?
Start a new book?
Read a whole chapter?
Read until the Spirit speaks?
Read verse by verse monotonously tearing each word apart? Spend an hour on a verse.
“What is God saying to ME?”
“How does this apply to ME?”
“Who does God say I am?”
“What does He say is the purpose for MY life?”
“What can I learn here?”
Forget your commitment. For days. Weeks?
Hear your peer boast about how she hasn’t missed a “daily quiet time” in over 5 years.
Am I lazy? ADD? Too busy?
Does the Lord come first or not? Get it together, self!
Why can’t I be consistent?
Why can’t I focus?
Why can’t I dive deep like my heart longs for?
Days, weeks, months later. Recommit.
Where did I stop last time?
Hear the Word preached on Sunday.
It stirs the soul.
This cycle repeated over and over for me – starting from the time I learned to read until about the age of 32, so, give or take about 25 years. Hey Oh. ((Facepalm.)) Now I look back and think, I wasted 25 years without a fat clue of what to do with the Holy Word of God. Thank the good Lord for His providence – because, at just the right time in my life (when all of my littles were gone for at least partial days to school), He gave me a quick snapshot of how to start giving His Word proper attention through the book Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. (The title makes it sound fluffy; trust me, it’s anything but.)
It was a starting point – and I was nervous, doubtful that I would/could stick with something else. But, I was desperate… so, I began.
Fast forward about a year and a half, I have to restrain myself from neglecting ALL other responsibilities and keeping my head buried in study of the Scriptures. I am in love with this Word. I NEED it every day. Lots of it. It changes me. It settles me. It puts me in my place. It feeds me. It changes my heart, mind, and worldview. I crave it, like a holy addiction.
In her 130ish pages, Wilkin discusses:
- How to approach the Word, with mind AND heart through observation, interpretation, and application.
- Seeking Him in the study, not personal application (though that will be a by-product)… not what it can do for me, not topical study, not like a magic 8-ball. Change your perspective. Do not go to God’s word to find yourself; go there to find Him, Who He is, what He has done and will do.
- Having Bible literacy, versus easy reading… we want knowledge and understanding; not a crossed-through checklist. Look for themes. Look for repetition. Make outlines.
- Knowing the context of the passage and what that meant historically for those listeners.
- Studying with patience…
No, sorry! Reading the Scriptures in this way will not be a nice clean 365 day read-through, a 3-year reading plan, or a 5 minute devotional. No timelines, no expectations. We’re digging our heels in and we are going to study and re-study and read and re-read these texts. And they are going to change us again and again and again. We will learn them, know them, feel them in our bones. And they will continue speaking to us for the rest of our lives!!! Why so thorough? Because He commands it of us. Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Joshua 1:8
- Asking the Holy Spirit to make clear the words on the page… to give us the will, the want, the know-how, and the ears to hear.
- And finally she gives a step-by-step layout (with examples) for how to get started in this approach that changed my life, and will definitely change yours.
The basic premise: pick a book from the Bible and read the book. Then, read it again. Then, print out a double-spaced copy of the text, and go through it. Make sure you know who wrote the book, who it was written to, why it was written, why it was important. Make sure you define your terms – and look up original meanings/references. Then read it again. Then listen to it. Meditate on it. Pray over it.
Clearly, I highly recommend Wilkin’s book and will recommend/share any reading plan, tips, or source that teaches/pushes people in the direction of giving the Word of God actual time, thought, comprehension, and application. I think what many of us want, is for our generation to stop being so passive, apathetic, and weak when it comes to the disciplines of our faith. (Preaching to myself here!) We lack focus, intentionality, and conviction.
By contrast, did you know:
- Faithful followers around the world of another major religion make it a priority to memorize as much of their holy book as possible in their lifetime! Their children start practicing memorization as early as 3 years old and many have learned the entire book before the end of their childhood.
- Many of another faith practice early morning seminary-style lessons in their homes or churches to study their scriptures prior to work and school days. They also have weekly church-mandated evenings where they study together as a family.
I was so convicted upon learning these details.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the great theologians in the last century (1), spent his final years on Earth imprisoned, and his last few months in a concentration camp because of his part in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler (2). As we can imagine, his thorough knowledge with the Scriptures and his devotion to Scripture memorization, served him well in those final months. Bonhoeffer once wrote,
“Because I am Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word, (Nashville: Cowley Publications, 1986), 30-32.)
And later in the same book,
“Therefore, it is never sufficient simply to have read God’s Word. It must penetrate deep within us, dwell in us, like the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary, so that we do not sin in thought, word or deed.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word, 127-128.)
Deep within us.
Dwell in us.
Do you know what that says to me? It’s time we buck up. It’s time we join with the saints of former days in their devout study and understanding of this Word. If there’s going to be a shift in our wussified culture, it’s going to start with us. It’s time we get serious about studying Scripture, teaching it to our children (or else they will end up in this very spot we are). It’s time we pray these Holy Words into our hearts and minds. It’s time we memorize, recite, and meditate on God’s marvelous revelation. (Clearly, so many of the disciplines we so often completely neglect are tightly woven within one another!)
Do you know what the Bible says… about itself?
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 COMPLETE,
equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Y’all. This book that we hold in our hands – new and crisp, or ragged and worn – it’s pages, alive… it was breathed out by our Creator. Let’s take one quick second to stand in awe of what that means as we trace the breath of God through a few places in Scripture…
The stars were breathed out; our God is the star breather. Psalm 33:6
The breath of God turns the dust of the ground to a living (37.2 trillion cells working perfectly in sync), breathing creature – body AND soul AND spirit. Genesis 1:7
God’s breath gives meaning to this life. Job 33:4
His breath lifts dead bones up from the grave and causes skin to fold back over them; a dead people once cut off, now filled with hope, an inheritance, and a future. Ezekiel 37:4-14
A blast from His nostrils separate the dry land from the rushing waves; and the waves apart from themselves. 2 Samuel 22:16; Exodus 15:10
With His exhale, He slays the life of the wicked. Job 4:9; Isaiah 11:4
That power. That breath. IN. OUR. HANDS. In our hearts. In our minds. Lord, let it be so.
Now what? Where do we go from here? How do we even start??
Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait for all the details to align. Don’t wait for your copy of Women of the Word to arrive in your mailbox. Pick up your Bible, select a book, Old Testament or New, and start reading. Go all the way through, get a bird’s eye view, and then go back and start again.
Make sure you’re in (or able to be regularly taught from) a Bible believing, Bible teaching, Bible preaching church.
And if you have run out of local options, allow modern technology to meet you where you are. (Praise!)
If I may, I’d love to suggest the Emmaus Church sermons. Weekly, we go verse by verse through a book of the Bible – skipping nothing, covering the hard, the (seemingly) boring, the well-known – in context, fully, and completely. In 3 weeks (September 9th), we begin a brand new book – verse by verse through Exodus!!!! And I’m immediately covered in chills as we prepare for what’s to come. Find the Emmaus podcast here.
Get involved in an exegetical Bible study.
No more “5 Keys to Motherhood”. No more, “What does the Bible say about Hospitality?” No more self-help guides to “Living Your Best Life”. No more. Sure, there’s a place for these kinds of discussions… but if that and the Instagram Bible (5) are your main ways to encounter the Word, you will find yourself, many years down the road, mourning the time lost, as I have. Find people to read with, discuss with, struggle with, learn from, hold one another accountable, and pray over.
As I end this discussion, I find no better way to prompt us to move, than to share the final words from the aforementioned work (that dives so much deeper than I ever could) from Jen Wilkin:
“We become what we behold. Do you believe that?… There are really only two possibilities in this life: be conformed to the image of God or be conformed to the pattern of this world. No doubt, you want the former. But be warned: The Word is living and active. It will conform you by dividing you. And in the dividing, miracle of miracles, it will render you whole. We become what we behold… So make a faithful study of the One you want to imitate, as a dearly loved child… Study well the contours of his face. Let gazing on his loveliness touch mind and heart. And be transformed.” (Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word, (Illinois: Crossway, 2014), 151-152.)
Lindsey is a self-proclaimed walking disaster. You will find her photo next to the urban dictionary definition of “hot mess” (do NOT look that up). She has been married to her high school sweetie pie for 13 years; add in 3 bio babes, + 1 Indian adoption + 2 home-based businesses + starting projects on the daily (rarely if ever completing) + crafting + constant brainstorming + art-ing + 3 new books begun weekly (none ever finished) + the lack of even a single domestic bone in her body – and the “walking disaster” part starts to make total sense.
She loves bacon, cowboy boots, rainbow hair, sharing her mess with the world, hispanic culture, INDIA!, spontaneous adventuring sans plans, pickles, travel, religious studies, trying to figure out this whole mama thing, making fun of herself, fighting for people, and being really, reeeally blunt.
You can laugh AT her on Instagram at @rowdylinds