Tag Archives: Bible

Help! What Do I Do When I Don’t Understand the Bible?

thumb_41rJJE82O7L_1024Anybody who’s ever read the Bible for any length of time has experienced it. You’re reading along, understanding things well enough. But then, like Han Solo getting hit with a tractor beam aboard the Millennium Falcon, you come across a verse or passage that pulls you up short. “Wait, what did that say?” you ask yourself. Did someone interrupt your regularly scheduled English programming with an alien language? Or maybe it’s an image or metaphor that you simply don’t understand. Or it could be that you comprehend the words just fine, but you can hardly believe that they say what you think they say. In any case, confusion sets in, often soon followed by frustration. And you walk away, less confident in your ability to read the Bible, and less motivated to do so.

Of course all this is understandable. The Bible was written over a period of many centuries, by several different human authors, in three different ancient languages and in a host of different historical contexts. There’s bound to be a few things that trip us up. So what to do when you find yourself in this situation? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

You’re Not Crazy if You Talk to Yourself

If you haven’t yet, go back and listen to Keith’s sermon from this past Sunday. He addressed the distance that we often feel in our relationship with God – the insecurity we feel, the loneliness, the not feeling good enough. And he gave us truth after truth that reminds us of the security we can find in Jesus, no matter what we think or believe in the moment.

It was a good reminder for me because I often tend to wallow in my feelings or in my insecurities, landing there and just sitting in them. In my sin, I often respond to circumstances, to people, or to God in ways that are disconnected from what I confess to believe. Irritation, fear, anxiety, impatience, and discouragement fill my head and stalk my heart. 

What’s Your Plan?

In Dave’s sermon Sunday, he quoted Tim Keller in his book Prayer: “The ordinary way we can experience God is by meditating on Scripture.” If Jesus tells us that listening to his word in Scripture is the one thing we need, and if we’re able to really experience God by being in Scripture, then it seems it would do us well to heed this advice. But sometimes we just need a plan, because without one, we’re lost in the frenzy of our lives, like a blizzard when you can’t quite see where you’re going. So let’s get practical:

  1. Eliminate distractions. What distracts us from keeping our daily appointments to read God’s word and pray? Watching Netflix (another episode of Fixer Upper? Sure!), staying up too late at night, loving sleep too much, keeping up with Facebook, texting, checking email first thing in the morning and getting sucked in… these are all my personal examples. We must say no to the things that are keeping us from the one thing that is necessary, because five minutes of Instagram turns into 20 and my time in the word is cut short, or completely cut out.

The One Necessary Resolution

It’s January 13th, and many Americans are 13 days into their New Year’s resolutions. A Nielson survey showed that “staying fit and healthy” and “losing weight” were the top two resolutions made. No surprise, of course, because those often seem to top our thinking when it comes to making a change for the better. But check out this passage in Luke about what should top our thinking:

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her [italics mine].”’ (Luke 10:39-42)

Martha gets a little rebuke from Jesus here because she was serving him. Jesus was in her home and I’m sure she couldn’t stop thinking of everything she needed to do: make sure Jesus was comfortable, that he had a meal and a hot drink, that she needed to put her house in order, because after all, this company was the best company they had ever had!  

One Simple Way to Get Your Kids in the Bible

IMG_4645Want an easy way to get your younger kids in the Bible on a regular basis? Bible Gateway is a great, easy-to-use website that allows you to search, read, and even listen to the Bible in several quality English translations. Helpfully, they also have an app, through which you can access all the features of the main site, one of which is the Verse of the Day.

Since the Verse of the Day pops right up when you open the app, it could hardly be easier to read and share it in any number of situations: at breakfast or dinner, before bedtime, etc. In my case, I have my oldest son read it aloud to his sister and me as we make the short drive to their school each morning. Here’s my quick, basic game plan when we do:

Engaging the World Around You: Step 1

How does someone become a good “cultural critic,” i.e., someone who can engage both the positive and negative in the world around us? This edition of Point of Focus examines a good first step.

10 Characteristics of Transformed Lives

In the past week, two very different people sent me two very different thank-you letters. Both men wrote to thank me for something that God alone is responsible for. Rather than argue theology with these two guys, I simply rejoiced with them that their lives were solidly on the road to recovery from a lifetime of besetting sin and affirmed my willingness to continue walking with them…as long as it takes, over as many bumps in the road as will undoubtedly occur.

The road to recovery and transformation is long and hard, no matter the details of your particular mess. Anyone who tells you otherwise is deceived. That said, God is rich in mercy, and He sometimes “breaks in” and gives people who are sincerely seeking Him “a leg up” on the recovery process, a rapid boost intended to allow His people to get a glimpse of His power in their lives. He did this for me in July of 1997 when He “all-at-once” removed the desire to drink alcohol and/or take illegal drugs.

Since that epic moment in my own life, I have continued to watch for signs of His mercy in my life and in the lives of others (Psalm 130:6). There have been countless reasons to rejoice, just as there have also been countless times to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11). More on that some other time. For now, here are some mind-blowing excerpts from last week:

The ‘Master Builder’

For a few years now, I have often thought that a potentially-awesome theme for a future Crossing Kids Club – assuming copyright hurdles didn’t exist – would be to build the curriculum around the theme of LEGO. Almost every American parent is immediately familiar with those interlocking, multi-colored plastic building blocks that seem to end up squirreled away under sofa cushions and dropped into heating and air-conditioning ducts. Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, The Lego Group had 2013 revenues of $4.7 billion.

It’s easy to see why. Most kids seem to have an irresistible draw to all things LEGO-themed, as the incredible success of The LEGO Movie – domestic revenues $257M as of this writing – clearly demonstrates. (To no one’s surprise, a sequel is already in the works.) My wife and I purchased the Blu-ray edition the very first day it became available. I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I had the release date noted on both our calendars

Holding Out for God’s Hero

Almost exactly two years ago, my son and I began a nightly ritual of reading through the pages of Scripture. Well, at least a version of Scripture that was immediately-accessible to the interests and attention span of a five-year-old. “Five” has since become seven, soon to be eight.

Since that time, our reading together of The Action Bible has waxed and waned – neither of us are much for taking a legalistic approach – but I am nonetheless thrilled to report that in the intervening two years he and I have gone from Genesis all the way through Revelation at least five times, and we still look forward to starting over again. As of this writing, we are somewhere in 1 Kings; Solomon’s son Rehoboam has foolishly listened to his younger advisors and the mighty kingdom built by his grandfather David has been torn in two. (“Not good.”)