problem: scripture is boring

Posted: January 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

If you’ve ever spent time in protestant/evangelical churches or even just hung around folks of that stripe, you’ve heard that we need to read our Bibles, or as we like to say with church speak, you need to “spend time in the Word.”  Perhaps like me, you’ve heard a long litany of reasons why we need to, of benefits that come from it, of pitfalls that come from not doing so. 

Maybe, though, like many of us, you’ve struggled with the business of spending time in the Word.  Maybe it didn’t hold your attention.  Was boring.  Didn’t make sense.  Didn’t bring the expected wondrous results, even when you pressed through the boredom and senselessness. 

Might I suggest a new approach?

Reading scriptures silently to yourself – just reading them and moving on – probably won’t capture your attention or change your life.  It will probably just make Bible reading what my pastor calls another “church assignment.” 

Reading scriptures aloud, and then just moving on – well, that will have more effect.  It might surprise you, the ways God changes your understanding and moves things in your world, just based on that spoken word. 

But wait!  There’s more! 

If you want to really engage with the scripture – to really begin to understand it, to weave it into your life, to sow it into yourself so deeply that it rewires your brain and sprouts new life in you, I suggest starting with the following process (and more will come to you, after you do this a little while):

Choose a verse or a little section of verses.  Not a huge block.  Read it silently.  Read it aloud.  Read it silently again.

Then work your way through the following questions.  At least work it through in your head.  For better results, write it down.  For even better results than that, write it down and then discuss your findings with someone.

What does this mean? This is the first look – a “surface” treatment.  Your answer to this question will most likely be what you’d give in a classroom setting.  An intellectual understanding.  Defining, rewording.  If this is as far as you go, it will increase your Bible exposure a bit and make you able to talk a lot.  But if you stop here, you are probably giving up huge opportunities for growth, change, and real insight.

Where have I experienced this in my own life, or seen someone else experiencing it? This is the beginning of “life application.”  Where have I seen the positive message in this scripture played out?  Where have I seen the negative consequence of not following it?  Work with this thought until you get it in story form.  

What promise is in there for me?  Do I believe it?  Really? Not every scripture is a promise.  But some are.  Find it.  Now, if you are like most of us, you don’t believe all the promises.  I mean, you can repeat them.  You can explain why they are supposedly true.  You even believe SOME of them.  But in actual practice, you don’t believe them all.  Try something we don’t tend to do in the faith community:  tell the truth about not believing.  Admit it to yourself.  Admit it to God.  He’s not fooled by your pretending that you believe Him.  Tell Him.  Confess it.  Give Him the chance to work it out with you, to work it into you.  Open a door for Him to show you. Stopping the pretense of believing a promise might be the first step on your journey to actually believing.

What other scripture or song or tv episode or movie scene does this remind me of?  Explain.  Seriously.  We have huge volumes of scripts and lyrics stored in our heads.  A whole lot of the things we read in scripture are vividly expressed in our stories and in our media.  If you can tie the scripture to some old movie or some recent tv episode, you might begin to understand it in new ways.  If one scripture reminds you of another scripture, follow that trail.  You never know what He might show you, verse by verse, if you just follow the trail.

Say the scripture aloud so that it is addressed to you (insert your name somewhere in there.)  How do you feel when you say that?  You know, like, stick your name in John 3:16:  “For God so loved (insert your name here) that…).  Don’t just think it.  SAY it.  Aloud.  Let it marinate in you a bit.  How does that make you feel?  Does it make you glad?  Does it surprise you?  Do you doubt it?  Does it make you weep?  

These questions/exercises are just a beginning.  There are tons of other ways to continue sowing scripture into your thoughts and into your spirit.  As you start this process, other ideas will occur to you.

That’s my challenge for you today, especially if scripture feels like a church assignment.  Do all these things with just one verse a day.  See if you experience anything new in the next week. 

You know…or, just keep being bored by scripture and wondering why it has no effect on your life.

Whatever.  🙂

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Comments
  1. Cindy Maynard says:

    I used to be that person who didn’t understand God’s word, who was bored by the history, etc. But I prayed that God would open up his word to me, to help me understand, and I received an appetite for reading his word. I have been going through the Bible for awhile now. I started in Genesis 30something, and I have continued and am in Psalms now. I am writing in a journal something about every chapter I read. It has been a slow process and I am hoping to be done by years end. I decided yesterday that I am really going to limit the amount of TV I watch and begin really pressing into Scripture. I am looking forward to all the ways God will bless our time together! 🙂 I am also going to begin putting into practice your plan. Thanks for sharing!

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