I recently confessed to my Christian Doctrine professor (Dr. Russell Hobbs), that I was beginning to grow weary from dissecting the Bible while working through my seminary classes. Essentially, I have started suffering from a form of burnout, I believe. He responded with grace and mercy, which was encouraging. I always feel like less of a Christian when admitting something like this, and his response was very helpful. He wrote 5 suggestions for reading the Bible without burning out. They are as follows:
1. Pray the Scriptures back to God, especially the Psalms. Everywhere you can, simply repeat the verses as a prayer to God. Where necessary, modify the wording to make it appropriate as a prayer. The goal is to worship through the Bible. The Psalms and Isaiah are some of the best books to start on for this. Hebrews is also good, as are parts of Revelation.
2: Use a different Bible for devotional time than for study time. The devotional Bible might best be an unmarked Bible (not a study Bible or anything with notes), and one with a format that de-emphasizes the verse and chapter numbers. Avoid thinking of how you could use various verses for preaching or solving theological debates.
3. Place Jesus at the center of the Bible. The OT is about him; find him there on almost every page. The Jesus you love, who has redeemed you and to whom you have dedicated yourself, is there waiting to be discovered, worshipped and followed. The Gospels are the centerpiece of the revelation of the Son. Set aside the academic aspects of the Gospels and find hope and food there. Nothing surpasses the very words of the Son of God recorded there. What you find there in his teachings and life you can follow and love with your whole heart--unreservedly. The rest of the NT books are footnotes to the Gospels. Jesus is the center.
4: As you minister to others, use the Bible as ointment for their wounds. Lead them to see the beauty of Jesus revealed there. Also, listen to how they find hope in the Bible. Learn from them.
5. Recognize that there are times when God asks us to show him that we will love and serve him, even without the consolations of our feelings.
These ideas, which I've only been using for a few days, have already been working marvelously! You will want to give them a try. For those who have lost the awesome mystery of the Bible, and want it back, take Dr. Hobbs' ideas and apply them to your life. Or, if you have other ideas, please list them below for the rest of us to reference!
So true. I learned the same thing at seminary. Studying ABOUT God/Scripture is not the same as worshiping God.
I have gone through phases of digesting the Word in my 52 years as a believer. At first I found it dry as bread, then as satisfying as milk to a newborn, which soon gave way to the more difficult doctrines that needed to be chewed more slowly like meat. But with a steady diet and increasing portions, somewhere along the line it became as sweet as honey, "more necessary than my daily food," to quote Job. Some have a goal of reading through the Bible in a year.... that would be a famine to me now. The motto of Watchman Nee became my own many years ago, "No Bible, no breakfast." It's the fuel for the day that whets my appetite for more!
I use The Message paraphrase by Peterson for my devotional study time.
The everyday language and lack of chapter and verse references help me read it the way the Holy Spirit wrote it.
Here is something from today...
So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever. We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven - God-made, not handmade - and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move - and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less. That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that's what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we'll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what's coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad. 2 Cor 4:16-5:10
Here's a link to The Message:
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