Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Diving In

As with any skill – swimming, for instance - you can learn a lot by being around a pool: by watching others swim; reading a book on swimming; talking to instructors; and admiring the skills of Olympic racers. But you won’t really learn all that much until you take the plunge and start flapping those arms.

Bible study can be like this. Going to church, talking with others, listening to pastors and reading about the Bible can all be informative and encouraging. But to really benefit, you need to dive in. It may be difficult at first. The language is sometimes complicated, sometimes not. The Bible is filled with wonderful stories about a wide array of men and women and, yes, children. Then there are all those “begats,” unusual rituals, and vague prophecies, too. If you’ll persevere, though, it will get easier and more enjoyable. If we all stopped trying to swim the first time we got water up our nose, few of us would be strokin’ today.

If you’re just starting to have quiet times, teachers recommend you start with the book of John or one of the other gospels that begin the New Testament, basically the second half of the Bible. These books – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – describe events in the life of Jesus. It’s also helpful to read in small “chunks,” just a few verses or one chapter at a time.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about some help you have available for understanding what you read. For now, let’s just get started. Here’s the first verse of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”