November 4, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XXX: Devotional Reading


The Head-Heart Split

I rely heavily on reading of the Bible and interpretation of it to help guide my life. It steers me even in situations where I am at odds with people mature in the faith. There is a proclivity for mature believers to begin to rely on themselves to assure their holiness of their walk and sometimes I believe some of them walk rogue of the reading they need to do to stay grounded in the word and rely too much on gut instincts they claim are from the Holy Spirit but when these instincts are spurred to action they sometimes manifest in borderline biblical behaviors that are more human sourced than divine. I realize I will upset some of my stoic leaning friends with the following statements but I will also probably irritate some of my more emotive leaning friends too. I believe there are many that either rely too much on head knowledge and think through the spiritual to get them through in spiritual situations. Sometimes this centers a person too much on human intellect which precludes God. On the flip side many rely too much on how they feel and their emotions in the same give situation and this too is highly man-centered and is often precluding God in many cases. People feel that because they either exclusively think things or feel things, those thoughts of feeling are often the pure indicators or signs that God is trying to work actively with them. This is dangerous. Emotions in isolation are not necessarily absolute indicators of anything except emotionalism. Spiritual is not exclusively felt anymore than it is intellectually assented to and thought. I believe it is a combination of both in balance. Too much of one or the other sends the ship off balance and careening into a  whirlpool or side eddy of confusion and a Devil's playgound of spiritual turbulence where it is then hard to get an anchor or correct bearing.

When we approach God in love we are to approach Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It is to be a complete balanced and systemic approach to God's presence. God wants all of us not a portion of us. He didn't say we were to approach with just our minds or just our strength. He didn't say the disciples could be disciples and keep their day jobs. There is no greater command. God commands things. Why? It is an attempt to make us more holy so we can dwell in His presence.

Moving From The Pages of Scripture Into The World

God has moved from being a matter of belief to a real and lived experience the moment that I realized the Bible was not a book of lists, rules, laws and theology and realized it was a living breathing link to a living God that has chosen to reveal Himself through the Bible. He didn’t choose to do it through the Qur’an or other so-called holy writ…only the Bible. No other book has a basis in historical fact/evidences and events that occurred in history that are independantly verifiable through thousands of known manuscripts and event mentioned by hostile external historicans like Josephus and others

The Way I Read

I read in volume and I read voraciously or as one person put it: I read till my eyes bleed (hyperbole). To think that I used to hate reading is laughable but when I left high school...I hated reading. Now, there is always a Bible (and sometimes other books) sitting on either my nightstand, in my messenger bag or in my vehicle. To be without my Bible at this point in my life would be like going out in public with shoes on or pants on. I would be incomplete. It has become so much a part of who God is trying to make me, I’ve begun to internalize it and occasionally manifest it in my actions ;).

Reading Scripture Influences Reading Habits Overall

My reading habits are primarily dictated by my shortcomings and weaknesses understanding the things in the Bible. What I do not understand, I work to learn. Enormous portions of my library are reserved or occupied by commentaries that are anywhere from 2 to 200 years old. There are also Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, lexicons and dictionaries. Occasionally, when I am completely blind in and area I will even read devotional material by people like MacArthur, Piper, R.C. Sproul and the like. What I do not read are the religious motivational speaker/authors like Osteen, Joyce Meyers and a majority of what passes itself off as Christian on networks like TBN. As I can already hear the criticism for this comment racing towards me through the internet, let me please let me make a very clear statement. If a network that labels itself Christian is so littered or peppered with bad teaching that it is hard to discern whether of not what someone is saying on it is biblically true or aligned to the Bible...it might be a good idea to avoid it unless a person is gifted at discerning/discernment.

Grasping What Is Read

I do not hurry through my reading. I believe if I read something and didn't understand it I have completely wasted my time. I read until I understand. This means that sometimes I need to break things down word by word and reconstruct ideas from the base up. This is especially true when dealing with Scripture and reference material that helps me fully understand the implications of the portion of Scripture that I have read. Every word in Scripture is with taking the time to comb over thoroughly and just take my time absorbing. What’s the hurry? God wanted me to read the things I have at the times I did. He has His reasons and His timing for me is perfect. I will trust that He knows what is best for me and the people I love. At least that is what I have come to believe having read the Bible :)

The Lord's Voice on Volume +10

The Scriptures are the primary voice of God for me. Some people say that God talks to them. I can’t say this is my case. I have read and studied Scripture and God has impressed upon me certain things as I do. I also may recall certain pieces of Scripture (in context of course) when I run into troublesome situations. Sometimes I recall multiple pieces of text and I begin to form a picture in my mind of what is an appropriate action to take or what to think in a given situation. These impressions that I get usually help and are helpful.

The Divine Presence

My greatest joy is turning something over in the text that I have never seen before and the commentaries do not speak to it the way that I have uncovered or encountered it. It is in these times I know the bridge of communication through the text and through the centuries has been built. It is built between me and the author and it certainly assures me that the presence of Christ is there…right in front of me.

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