Dust seems inescapable.
It’s all around us. Tiny particles floating in the air looking for a place to rest.
Ironically, while dust is a sign of stagnancy, it often settles on objects that once represented so much life and meaning, such as:
- Photographs of people we loved.
- Souvenirs of trips we took.
- Trophies of tournaments we won.
- Certificates of things we accomplished.
The physical dust we see with our eyes speaks for the proverbial dust we feel in our hearts.
What Is Fresh Becomes Familiar
I experienced this phenomenon when I served as a missionary in the South Pacific more than a decade ago. While the purpose of the mission was the people, the bonus of the mission was the place. The anticipation made it hard to sleep the night before I left my home and family in Portland, Oregon. I got off the airplane with camera in hand, ready to soak in every detail. I wanted to explore the island, eat the mangoes, swim in the ocean, smell the flowers, watch the sunsets and stargaze at a new hemisphere.
It was the experience of a lifetime.
When my family came to visit me in Samoa one year later, it was then I realized that I’d been taking this tropical paradise for granted. Now they were the tourists and I was the “local.” And what was fresh in their eyes was familiar in mine.
This change is a fact of life.
- It happens with husbands and wives in their marriages.
- It happens with children and their pets.
- It happens with citizens and their freedom.
- It even happens with Christians and their faith.
The Greatest Dust-Magnet of All
There are people who have read fewer verses of the Bible than I own versions of the Bible.
In fact, the number of people who are still waiting for one verse of the Bible to be translated into their language exceeds the population of the United States of America. This is Bible poverty.
And yet we take the Bible for granted.
According to the Center for Bible Engagement, 66% of American Christians rarely — or never — read their Bibles.
No other book has sold more copies or collected more dust than the Bible. When we don’t engage with God’s Word, we, too, experience Bible poverty.
Why We Need the Bible
In 1998, James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe wrote a book called, What If the Bible Had Never Been Written? The table of contents lists chapters addressing morality, society, law, politics, science, literature and exploration. Truly, our world today would not be the same without the powerful impact of the Bible.
The Bible offers:
- A worldview that explains where we come from, what’s gone wrong, and what can be done about it.
- Revelation of who God is and how we can have a friendship with Him.
- Wisdom for making decisions and growing spiritually.
- Guidance that applies to everyday life including marriage, work, money and tragedy.
- Insight regarding the afterlife.
It’s no wonder Jesus emphasized Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
We need what the Bible has to offer.
10 Experiments in Blowing the Dust Off Your Bible
It was in Samoa, at the age of 19, that I finished reading the Bible for the first time. As I checked that box off my “Bucket List,” I soon developed the wrong attitude of “been there, done that.” And I let my Bible collect a lot of dust.
It took me awhile to realize the truth of what James Kennedy puts so well, “The Bible is living because the Holy Spirit is present as the individual reads the Scriptures. That is how a passage can have a different meaning to us at different times. Not because the Word changes, but because we change and because the Holy Spirit knows us intimately.”
What’s helped me stay in the Word over the years is experimenting with fresh ways to read it. I’ve put together a list of ideas for your consideration. Though some of these ideas may not be new ideas if you’ve heard them before, but they may be new ideas if you’ve not experimented with them before.
- Listen to the Bible: The Bible is available in audio format in most versions, whether on cassette tape, CD, or MP3. I especially enjoy the dramatized versions. With YouVersion or Bible.is, you can even listen to it for FREE online or on your smartphone.
- Watch the Bible: To really engage your imagination, there are some great movies out there that depict various Bible stories. In fact, there are even some movies with word-for-word scripts straight from the Scriptures. Watch the “JESUS” film based on the Gospel of Luke. (It’s produced by The Seed Company’s partner, The Jesus Film Project.) Three others I know of are Matthew, John, and Acts.
- Pray the Bible: Try praying passages of Scripture into your life. This involves talking to God about what you’re reading, with prayers of thanksgiving, praise, confession and requests. To learn more about this approach, check out Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word.
- Handwrite the Bible: I got this idea from Randy Alcorn’s book, Safely Home, in which he describes the persecuted Christians writing out the Bible by hand so as to avoid getting their Bible confiscated. This is the experiment I’m doing now.
- Express the Bible: Another way to connect with God’s Word is to express it through art. Just match your way of expression to one of your favorite passages. This could mean writing a song or poem, creating a collage or painting, or even choreographing a dance or performing a skit.
- Study the Bible: There are a lot of excellent resources out there to help you dig deeper in your understanding of God’s Word. A great place to start is Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods. Also, don’t rule out the possibility of taking a Bible course. If you don’t live near a seminary, look into their correspondence courses. Or you can study on your own with books or software like Logos Bible Software.
- Explore the Bible: It’s on my “Bucket List” to visit the Holy Land someday. I’d love to see with my own eyes the places Jesus walked. In the meantime, or for those without the means, there are resources for this too. For example, check out the Faith Lessons Series, by Ray Vander Laan. The 12 volumes will take you to the Holy Land and teach you about the customs and culture of their times and offer application to our time.
- Question the Bible: I’m not just talking about writing down the questions you have from your Bible reading, but actually finding a question in every verse. That’s what I’ve done in my book, Question Everything. I wrote nearly 8,000 questions, one for every verse in the New Testament. When read hand-in-hand with the Bible, it offers a fresh approach to engaging God’s Word and considering its application.
- Share the Bible: It’s my opinion that the meaning of God’s Word never sinks in deeper than when you try to pass it on. Consider taking notes as you read the Bible. Then find someone to talk to over a cup of coffee. You’ll be amazed at the way God’s Word gets written on your heart.
- Sponsor the Bible: Just as exposure to poverty helps us appreciate the resources we have, exposure to Bible poverty helps us appreciate the revelation we have. Through OneVerse and The Seed Company, you can learn about Bible poverty, and how you can sponsor the translation of verses just as one would sponsor a child in poverty. This experience can’t help but draw you closer to God through His living Word.
Now go grab your Bible. Take a deep breath. Blow off the dust. And experiment!
Leave a Comment
- What keeps you from reading the Bible?
- Are there any experiments you’d add to the list?
Tyler Ellis serves on staff with Newark Church of Christ as a Campus Minister at the University of Delaware. He’s also an advocate in the cause of ending Bible poverty. Through his upcoming book Question Everything, he will donate 10 percent of the royalties to OneVerse, a program of The Seed Company. Hear more from Tyler on his blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Image by: ~forgottenx