This is a guest post by my friend Keith Ferrin. Though I’ve discontinued guests posts for the most part, I made an exception for him because I love his message and his heart. We actually met years ago (we attended the same college) and re-met at the SCORRE conference last year.
The first twenty years I was a Christian I believed the Bible. I just didn’t like it very much. I didn’t look forward to reading it every day. I knew I should read it more. I should know it better. I should memorize more verses. Should, should, should. Ugh.
But I didn’t like the Bible. I just believed it.
I can trace how and when the tide started turning for me back to a single night, followed by a three-month “season” when I started to truly like the Bible.
Sunday, April 18, 1993. A friend had invited me to the church where he was a youth pastor to watch this guy “perform” the Gospel of Luke. He had memorized it. The whole thing.
I went to support my buddy. I also went to see if someone could really memorize that much of the Bible! My plan was to leave at intermission. I could sit through an hour of someone quoting Scripture. But two?
The time flew by. Absolutely one of the most engaging, eye-opening, fun presentations I had ever seen. I actually laughed. Out loud. Several times. The living Word of God was now a reality. Before that night, it had merely been a phrase for me.
The actor’s name was Bruce Kuhn. (That’s still his name. I checked.) I was so intrigued, I asked him if I could buy him lunch the next day. He agreed. Lunch turned into nine hours. No joke. He challenged me to just “hang out” in a section of the Bible.
I took Bruce’s challenge. During the three summer months of 1993 I hung out in Philippians. I just read it. The whole thing. Every day. I didn’t “study” it until the third month. By then I already knew it. I already understood it. I already liked it. I wanted to study it more deeply.
By the end of the first week, I noticed that I was starting to feel differently about the Bible. I had always known that Philippians was a letter. I had just never read it the way I read letters. After all, if you went to your mailbox and pulled out a four-page, hand-written letter from someone you loved, would you read the first page and save the second page for tomorrow? Not a chance!
For the rest of the summer, my love for Philippians – not just the letter, but also the church, the people, and Paul himself – continued to grow. It was so, well, real.
As I grew in my love for Philippians, I started looking forward to my time in the Word. I started talking with God more about His Word throughout my day. Since I was reading it over and over, I also realized that I had huge chunks of it down – word-for-word – without ever trying to “memorize” it. In fact, I realized that what I had done was “internalize” not memorize. (That’s another post entirely.)
The Word was now a part of me. And I liked it. A lot.
Each day, as I sat down to read the Bible, I noticed that the change that had occurred was primarily internal, not external. I still read at the same time, using the same Bible, and even most of the same “Bible study tools.”
What changed was my mindset.
Before then, I had always studied the Bible informationally. I thought reading the Bible was primarily about knowing about God and His will. Now I was reading the Bible relationally. I was reading to know Him…not just about Him. To be with Him. To hang out with Him. To enjoy Him, learn from Him, and be led by Him, corrected by Him, and comforted by Him.
Once I discovered that the Bible was primarily Jesus-and-me-hanging-out time, instead of study-it-and-learn-stuff time, my joy – in the Word and in Jesus, the Living Word – skyrocketed! As Mary would say, it was an “impossible joy” that God made possible.
The New Book
This Thursday – the 20th anniversary of that night in 1993 – I will be releasing my new book:
10 Tips for Liking the Bible (Because Believing It’s True Is Not Enough).
My goal was to make this book simple, practical, and accessible to anyone. Whether you’re brand new to this Jesus journey, you have known Him for several decades, or you are somewhere in the middle – this is for you.
As a special Week One Celebration, I’m giving away 9 Bonuses to anyone who buys the book in the first week (April 18-24). The Audiobook version of 10 Tips. A Study Guide. The full audio of the Gospel of John. And lots of other stuff. Click here to find out more about the bonuses – and how to get them. (It’s super easy. I promise.)
Keith Ferrin is an author, blogger, conference speaker, and Biblical storyteller. Everything he does stems from a desire to help people come to know that the living Word of God is a reality…not a phrase. You can connect with him on his blog (www.keithferrin.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/keithferrin), Twitter (@KeithFerrin), and Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/keithferrin).