Reading The Bible Slowly

Should you take your time? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I do Bible reading generally in the morning with a chapter in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. I have also started doing Bible reading at night, except at night, I do it differently. I do this at two different times as well.

One time is when my wife is ready to go to sleep. I stay up some, but we pick a book of the Bible and go through it together. For now, we use the NET to go through and follow the paragraphs in there and just read one a night. I find that when I read the Bible out loud and to my wife in the evening, I tend to notice aspects of the text I haven’t noticed before.

The second time I do this is right before I go to bed. This time, it’s not out loud so I don’t wake up the Princess. It’s also shorter and I go by my memory. I pick the text that I am going through and usually read no more than two verses. You can vary this as you see fit. If I was going through the Gospels, I might read one pericope at a time for instance. That could depend on the length. If you wanted to go shorter, it’s your study and that’s up to you. Also, if I am finishing a chapter, I can go and add on a final third verse.

Right now, I am going through Hebrews at night. This is giving me plenty of insights into Hebrews that I never noticed before. What I do is go through the text and try to get it as ingrained on my memory as possible and then go to bed and ask questions about the text and explore what it means. I try to also connect this with the reading that I have done before. This helps keep the passage in its context for me.

I also have a commentary on Hebrews here that I have been going through as well. Having another guide helps me realize things that I might not have noticed on my own. I find this to be an incredibly helpful aid.

This also can give me something else to think about when I try to go to sleep at night. It’s not a perfect success as sometimes anxiety does still pop up, but when I have a text, at least I can think about that instead of any things I regret during the day or any time during the past or any concerns about tomorrow. If I want to pray about something I have found out, I can do that as well.

Going through slowly allows me to take my time and savor over a text as it were instead of being in any sort of rush job. Doing this at night means there is no interruption. Going before I go to sleep means I have something to think about. Again, this is just my suggestion, but I find it helpful for me and you can vary it as you see fit if you want to try it. After all, it’s your study and not mine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Have We Overspiritualized The Christian Walk?

Is there a danger to putting our best foot forward? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is the kind of post that is really hard to write. It’s because I know there are some readers who will be shocked to realize some things about me, but I hope that if they do, it will bring them comfort. I know I am an answer man to many, but there are many times that I have my own struggles and those are often with the Christian walk.

Sometimes I think we overdo how it is. I know many people who have rich and vibrant prayer lives. I don’t deny that for a moment. For me, this is an honest struggle. I have a very hard time with prayer. It could be because of my Aspergers. It’s hard enough to talk to a person. Make that person divine and in fact a being who is tri-personal and it becomes even more difficult. I more often do minute prayers than long extended prayer times. I find it hard to know what it means to wrestle in prayer for someone. If that’s you, excellent. Not knocking you. I am better at brief prayers throughout the day.

Sometimes I see Christians talking about their Bible study and how awesome it is every day. God just shows them something new that they hadn’t seen before. If that’s you, excellent, but I wonder if I’m more like other Christians want to admit. Sometimes, you’re just reading the text. You don’t get anything immediately. Maybe you can make a connection. Honestly, I seem to get more just doing my nightly Bible reading with my wife. I read it out loud for us together and sometimes I do get things that way.

Church services can be outright boring to me. I’ve grown tired of preachers who just give a text and jump straight to an application and Christianity is all about just being a good person. This doesn’t even get to the music. The music part to me seems more like a concert. I don’t really relate and I can’t remember the last time I sang along. It’s all too awkward for me.

Sometimes I think we put forward a position where we shouldn’t struggle in the church and our lives are full of joy abundantly. Excuse me, but I know I’m rarely at that level. Many times when I am in a crisis, I find it hard to follow James and count all things joy. If anything, I can find myself lashing out at God and accusing Him and asking Him if He remembers His promises or if He even cares about the suffering going on.

Yet when I read the Psalms, I wonder if I’m not the odd one out. The Psalmists seemed to do that a lot. It’s strange that the question the Psalmists normally had was not if the people remembered the covenant, but if God remembered it.

We seem to have this attitude in the church that if we put forward an image of our lives being less than perfect, there’s something wrong with us. We’re not fooling anyone. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re free of struggles. Sometimes a good worship service shouldn’t leave you feeling happy. It should leave you feeling miserable with the conviction of sin. (This doesn’t deny that you could have happiness when you realize grace and forgiveness.)

1 in 3 men are said to struggle with pornography in the church, yet how often at a church service do you hear guys sharing that with other guys? It’s almost like we want to treat sin as if it’s not really real. Our messages at church are more self-help and can be found in any episode of Dr. Phil more often. You won’t get the Biblical text from him, but many times the messages are awfully similar.

Maybe also this idea of putting forth this image is damaging. It damages new Christians who think there’s something wrong with them and it bewilders skeptics who think we don’t take life seriously. Christianity is just a feel-good religion to them. I try to tell them sometimes being a good Christian will mean you feel miserable. You feel the evil in the world or you feel the weight of your own sin or anything else.

I fear we can present the Christian life as just one amazing experience after another. I doubt that’s what it’s really like for most people. On the other hand, some could say I am guilty of intellectualizing matters and focusing too much on that area. They could also be right. Could it be like in most other cases, moderation is what is needed? Maybe the middle ground.

I conclude this wondering what your thoughts are. Maybe you’re out there thinking you agree with me and there’s too much show in our personal lives and very little grow. Maybe you think I’m way off base and want to tell why. Comments are always open. Let me know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Elements of Biblical Exegesis

What do I think of Michael Gorman’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Elements of Biblical Exegesis is meant to be a guide for students who are writing exegetical papers, and indeed it will be a helpful one. Gorman works with writers on all levels, including those who know the Biblical languages well and those who have no real knowledge of them. The rules listed in this book can help you if you’re writing an exegetical paper, but they can just as much help you out if you are sitting in a Sunday School class or small group meeting and you’re discussing a passage of Scripture and people are sitting together all talking about what the passage “means to them.”

Of interest from an apologetic nature is the discussion on textual criticism as well as the listing of Bible translations and dealing with the hermeneutic of suspicion where the text is seen as guilty until proven innocent. In fact, Gorman rightly says we should read from all perspectives, not just our own. After all, it is the critics of our position that can often open our eyes the most to the problems that we need to answer for our position. Gorman regularly says that all such reading is going to be beneficial. (Even reading mythicist material as that shows you just how crazy you can go when you don’t really know how to do history.)

Of course, internet atheists I regularly encounter will want nothing to do with a work like this, and sadly too many Christians won’t either who just have this idea that the text should be plain and clear to them. One of the great problems we have in the church is that people no longer work at the text. We go to seminars to learn how to improve our marriage and work at that, and we should! We go to seminars to learn how to be better parents and work on that, and we should! We go to seminars to learn how to better manage our money and work on that, and we should! We go to all of these and while we think we should work at every other area of our life, when it comes to understanding what we say is the greatest facet of our lives (Or we should say it is), we think all the answers should be handed to us.

Also, towards the end of the book, Gorman gives a long list of recommended resources. I am sure that the list is helpful, but if you go straight through a book like I do, then it can be a bit tedious in reading. Still, if you just pop open the book and want to know if a resource is a good one, then that is a helpful tool to have.

Finally, the book concludes with three exegetical papers, two on a NT passage and one on an OT passage. These are helpful examples to have nearby and the reader of the book will be pleased with how simple the final product looks and even without thorough knowledge of the original languages.

This will be a helpful guide to those who really do want to study the text for all that it’s worth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters