Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Unstuck, Part 2b

Yesterday I advocated switching up what you're reading if you find yourself spiritually stuck.  I was particularly referencing books about faith, Christian living, etc.  Today's post is about switching up what you're reading in the Bible.

When I first fell in love with reading the Bible, I read the book of Philippians.  And it's been my favorite ever since.  Philippians was understandable, accessible, and it helped me begin re-orienting my life.  Verses from Philippians pop in my head easily and often, and I can recite whole chunks to you.  I can even do a little of it in Greek.  If I just read whatever  I wanted in the Bible, then I would read the book of Philippians several times a year.  

I'm okay with re-reading Philippians every year or so.  But that cannot be the entirety of my Bible reading.  If I only read Philippians, then I will be stuck.

So, here are a few approaches that have helped me.  No, I'm not advocating a read-through-the Bible plan.  My husband can do that, and does do that, regularly.  It works for him.  It doesn't really work for me.

About this time last year, I read the book of Hebrews.  (I've done this with other books, too.)  I wasn't very familiar with the book.  I hadn't learned much about it in seminary.  I needed a challenge, something new, to get me unstuck.  It now rivals Philippians as my favorite book.  I go back to it regularly to re-read passages that are now foundational for my life as a Christ follower.  

Early in my endeavor to read Hebrews, I was puzzled by the Christology (the theology of who Jesus was) in this letter.  So, I did some research.  I'm not talking about reading the footnotes in the Bible kind of research; I'm talking about some serious digging in commentaries and academic texts.  And it was fascinating, and it got me unstuck.  I didn't camp out in the commentaries and read them cover-to-cover (like my husband does), but spending time in significant research was what I needed to do to love God with all my mind.

The other approach to the Bible that has been huge for me in the last year or two is word and phrase studies.  I'll get captivated by a word like "incarnation" or "remember" or a phrase like "with you," and I'll go on a hunt.  I'll look for where the word and/or idea shows up elsewhere in Scripture.  I look up lots of references and make lots of notes.  Then I attempt to consolidate what I've learned, often in a poem.  Last week I went on a journey through the idea that God was "with us," God is "with us," and God will be "with us."  I took some other people on the journey with me.  (You can see the sermon at www.pccwiredlive.net.)  Personal study like that sucks me in, captivates my mind, and eats up my time without my even knowing it.  I'm absolutely NOT stuck when I'm doing a study like that.

So, switch up what you're reading.  Try something new.  Tackle a new book of the Bible, one that may require a little research.  Try a different approach to reading the Bible.  

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