Growing up, and throughout my adult years up until just a few years ago, I often saw the Bible as a boring book. When God changed my life in September of 2006 I still held that feeling, especially when it came to The Old Testament.
But I started attending Neighborhood Church in Redding, California, and that has made all the difference…
Bill Giovannetti is the Lead Pastor at NCRedding, and he often uses passages from the Old Testament in his sermons. And the sermons hold my attention. Seriously, if I hadn’t said that myself I’d be inclined not to believe it. The Old Testament not boring? “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
Bill has become one of my best friends. We meet regularly and chat about life, liberty, and the pursuit of… whatever we’re pursuing at the time. When I told Bill, a few years ago, that I thought the Bible was poorly written and somewhat childish, Bill told me he thought I was wrong, loved the Bible, and thought it was beautifully written. Thing is, I have a bullshit detector built in, and it wasn’t going off when he told me that. He meant it.
Author Donald Miller wrote, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Don’s on to something there… because Bill’s obvious love for the Bible ignited a curiosity within me. Bill has a doctorate degree. In addition to being a Pastor, he’s a Professor at the local University. Early in our friendship, when the aforementioned conversation took place, I needed to know why this intelligent man said such things about the Bible. I needed to know why I could look him in the eye and tell he wasn’t just spewing out Christianese when he claimed to love it.
In Bill’s sermons, he takes us to the time and place being discussed. We who listen to him speak hear context. We learn about the culture of the people. We are given an insight as to what the text meant to them… how they understood it. I wanted to know how Bill knew these things, so I asked (that desire for knowledge is actually what led me to the place where I told Craig Gross from XXXChurch that I wanted to enroll in Seminary – which Craig responded to by telling me X3’s Esther Fund would pay for it). I’ve been learning how to study the Bible, and I have to tell you… I get so much more out of it when digging into context and culture than by just reading the words. I’ve read through the New Testament four times so far and I get something new out of it each time.
On a side note here, I’d like to recommend the following book to anyone who has the same desire “to know” burning inside of them: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth – notice the word Its doesn’t contain an apostrophe… that’s because it doesn’t mean “for all IT IS worth”, it means “for all the worth it contains within”.
In the second half of 2009 I picked up the Scholar’s Library: Gold software package from Logos.com. There are literally thousands of resources available within that package. It makes a computer nerd like me very happy to be able to study from the comforts of my easy chair with my laptop warming the tops of my legs. I read three chapters a day and try to do so in the morning before doing anything else. Currently, I’m working through an Old Testament reading plan from YouVersion.com. I start by reading an entire chapter. Once finished with reading the text through, I open up a few different commentaries and read what they have to say. Then I browse other miscellaneous resources that come with the software. I’m always learning something interesting. One recent example: it’s thought that Joshua was a skilled military leader long before taking over for Moses, and likely led the Egyptian army in battles. Maybe it’s my inner nerd, but I find things like that fascinating. It paints a more colorful picture when I read about his conquests leading Israel.
“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Indeed, Mr. Miller, indeed. And so by watching a man love the Bible, and trying to figure out WHY he loves it, I too have discovered a love for the Bible. Sometimes I’m frustrated that I can’t find the words to express this properly. All I can say is, dig into it, and see for yourself.
Question for the Day: What do you think about the Bible? Be honest.
This morning I was reading through Joshua 5 and 6. Earlier today on Google Buzz I wrote the following:Donny Pauling – Buzz – PublicWhen Joshua was trying to figure out how to take the walled city of Jericho without possessing the weapons necessary to do so he was very troubled. He couldn’t figure it out. As the leader, it was his job to do so. But as he was pacing around fretting what he was gonna do he ran into God and was basically told, “Hey, this is my battle. Don’t worry about it. I’m leading this charge. You’re just a soldier following orders here. Let your mind rest ’cause I’ve got this covered.” What a relief, huh? Joshua didn’t need to bear the heavy burden and responsibility of leadership alone. Sometimes I forget that life’s problems are taken care of. I can just be a dependent, rather than needing to worry about things I can’t change…
Donny Pauling – What a thought:
An army is being led into battle. Joshua, as leader, would normally shoulder the responsibilities. But not this time. God made it clear the He was leading the charge. Joshua was standing behind Him this time, not having to carry the weight of the world.Lead, God. Lead. You’re the General in Charge. Take charge of my life…I’ll just listen for your commands.
I got a whole lot out of today’s readings, which also included chapters from Psalms and Genesis… those thoughts are just a few I pondered. Studying the Bible each day just sets a tone for the day, know what I mean?