I had the opportunity to have a few conversations this weekend with some new Christians. I was reminded something that I believe we’ve all experienced at some point or another: not understanding the Bible. I know for many of us, when we finally start to get serious about our faith and begin to read the Bible it can be a daunting task. According to a 2011 survey, a mere 11% of Canadians who identify as Christians actually read the Bible daily… Instead of becoming like the majority who use their Bibles as shelf ornaments and flower presses, I suggested a few possibilities for these individuals who struggled with the Bible.
Firstly I would get a Bible Commentary. I’ve been using the Jon Courson Bible commentary and it’s great. His down to earth writing style and sense of humour is a refreshing break from most other commentaries that, well… don’t have that. What you get in this commentary is a three volume collection of chapter by chapter, book by book breakdown of what is going on as well as how everything ties into the big story. Additionally, you’ll have testimony sections where Courson describes how a certain Bible truth has personally affected him, he’s got quite the story. If nothing else, check out this guys powerful story here, in his sermon It’s Only a Test.
Secondly (and possibly most importantly) find a mentor. We have blind spots. And guess what, they’re called blind spots for a reason: we can’t see them ourselves! That’s where mentors come in, they help us understand what we can’t see, and they push us towards what we didn’t know we could do. There’s plenty of reasons to get a mentor, if you’re not convinced that you need people in your life to sharpen you and coach you then watch this: Men and Mentors. When looking for a mentor, a good rule is to look for someone who is at least ten years older than you and way ahead of you in terms of the results that you’re looking for. There is something great that happens when we start to hang out with people that are far more advanced than we are: it stretches us. So as you go about starting to read the Bible, a mentor will help you to answer the questions you have as well as push you to do more. This is a very good thing. I know my own faith life sky rocketed after high school as I got involved in a new church and joined a three-month internship program. I was forced to read 3 chapters a day, one from the Old Testament, one from the new and one from the books of Wisdom (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes). This was incredibly simple and incredibly profound, and it would not be a stretch or a lie to say that this simple act changed my life.
Finally, get hungry for more. You only get out of life what you put into it, the same could be said about the Bible in a sense. The Bible says that we should pursue whatever is good, honorable and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8), this means going after what we know is good. Notice that it does not talk about feelings. The Christian life is not so much about feelings and emotions as much as it is about going after Truth no matter what. This being said, there is always a next step to take, and if you’ve found a mentor as I’ve suggested, they will surely point those out. A few of these would be connecting with your church, most churches have a basic training program for those new to the faith. Getting plugged into some sort of discipleship program is also a very good idea. Discipleship International is one of these discipleship programs that is excellent in equipping Christians as they begin their journey. They meet weekly and train people over the course of several years how to cultivate a healthy Christian lifestyle. What you would expect to learn after having gone through is how to read your Bible devotionally, how to pray, how to memorize the promises of God, knowing the core Christian doctrine as well as how to communicate your faith to others among many other things.
Finally a few other resources that you might want to check out…
- 3 simple steps
- Jon Courson thru-the-Bible
- The Value of memorizing Scripture – John Piper
- Where should I start? – Matthew Kelly
Hopefully, this helps any who might be searching for that next step!