Bible Study Tip: Summarize Your Bible Reading

What did you read in the Bible yesterday or today? What did your pastor preach on last Sunday? I know, those are hard questions. It’s not that you weren’t paying attention but we all struggle to remember things we hear and even learn. We listen to sermons and read the Bible and often move on without doing something to help it “stick.”

My point in this post is straightforward. To improve how you reflect on (meditation) and respond to (application) the Bible, try writing out your own short summary of what you just read. Or on Sundays, do this with the sermon and text your pastor preached on.

Continue reading Bible Study Tip: Summarize Your Bible Reading

A Word on Self-Denial and Fasting

With the start of Lent this week, here are a few quick thoughts on self-denial and fasting.

Like almost any discipline, fasting and self-denial can be misused in various ways.[1]  They can be done without discernment or wisdom, such as fasting from food when you’re not physically healthy. They can be done merely out of ritual and without meaning. They can be viewed legalistically where we use our performance to get something we want from God. All good things are prone to misunderstanding and misuse. Our hope in this guide is that any self-denial through fasting is done meaningfully, purposely, wisely, and graciously.

Continue reading A Word on Self-Denial and Fasting

What is Lent?

“Each year the season of Lent asks us to embrace a spiritual gravity, a downward movement of soul, a turning from our soul-sufficiency and sinfulness. In such quiet turning, we are humbled and thus made ready to receive from God a fresh and joyous grace.” Bobby Gross[1]

Lent, not to be confused with lint (that fluffy stuff in your dryer vent or jean pockets), is a season within the Church calendar preparing our hearts for Easter. Similar to how Advent each December allows us to meditate on the incarnation leading up to Christmas Day, Lent gives us six weeks to consider Christ’s humility in the wilderness temptation and his human trials as we move towards Good Friday and Easter. During this season, the Christian follows Jesus by pursuing humility in our own life, believing he must come before us. As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Continue reading What is Lent?

Wendell Berry and the Gift of Remembrance

“[Tol Proudfoot] had become an elder of the community, and had recognized his memories, the good ones anyhow, as gifts, to himself and to the rest of us.”[1]

Maybe it’s my small-town upbringing, but I feel at home when reading Wendell Berry’s fictional stories. His characters aren’t larger-than-life heroes or villains but they capture the ordinary, beautiful, flesh-and-blood people I’ve encountered in life. His plots aren’t moved along by intense action, but in their familiarity as true to life stories you might hear at your own family gathering.

Continue reading Wendell Berry and the Gift of Remembrance

What Makes Going Deep in the Bible Hard for You?

“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen

As believers, all of us desire to be in the Bible more often than we are and with greater depth and intimacy than we do. But we don’t all struggle with the same challenges with our Bible reading.

For one person, their biggest obstacle might be not knowing how to read, interpret, or understand the Bible. They’ve never been equipped to do so, which results in regular frustrations of putting the Bible back down without having a clue what they read. For others, it might be distractions from a phone blowing up with emails and text messages. Each of us have unique circumstances, varying levels of maturity, and our stages of life might differ. This is important because if we want to go deeper in God’s Word, we have to diagnose what’s personally keeping us back. We need to ask, “What are my biggest obstacles to more consistent and more meaningful times reading God’s Word?”

Continue reading What Makes Going Deep in the Bible Hard for You?

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN STUDYING THE BIBLE

A key part of understanding what we read is to read the Bible reflectively. The questions below are not exhaustive, but they provide a framework of Look, Understand, Apply, and Pray to guide your reading. Find ways that help you study and apply God’s Word. Take notes; write down thoughts and prayers; ask questions; chew on or meditate on what you see; and ask a friend or use a good Study Bible or commentary if something doesn’t make sense.

Continue reading QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN STUDYING THE BIBLE

Ways to Meditate on Scripture

“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen

Continuing the series of posts on Bible meditation, I wanted to list some practical ideas for how to do it. While meditation can be a result of reflecting on something in creation, life experiences, conversations, our future in eternity, or other things, we’ll focus on meditating on Scripture.

Continue reading Ways to Meditate on Scripture

9 Things to Know about Bible Meditation

First, let’s define Bible meditation.

“Meditation is a serious intention of the mind whereby we come to search out the truth, and settle it effectually upon the heart.” Thomas Hooker

“Deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.” Don Whitney

I define bible meditation as reflecting on biblical truths so they burrow themselves into our minds and affections. Meditation means absorbing God’s truths and promises through a purposeful reflection on them.

Continue reading 9 Things to Know about Bible Meditation

Savoring Scripture

“A Christian without meditation is like a soldier without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation, the truths of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory slippery, and without meditation all is lost.” Thomas Watson

Starting on September 9th, I’ll teach a four-week class on Bible meditation. I’ve taught classes on Bible study–which are important–but I believe a missing link between reading the Bible and it landing on us with staying power is meditation.

Continue reading Savoring Scripture

Persistence in Prayer

“Prayer is not helpful. Prayer is not supplemental. Prayer is essential.” Ray Ortlund

(Below is the transcript of a recent sermon preached as part of a morning prayer service. It’s shorter in length and is part of our series on Desperation.) 

Luke 18:1-8—Prayer: The Voice of Desperation

Continue reading Persistence in Prayer