Where Do I Start?
Introduction to The Bible Series
If we want to live out a fearless faith in God often times the first fear we have to overcome is our fear of the Bible. If you want to grow in your relationship with God you will have to spend time in your Bible for yourself. There are several things those of us who aren’t entirely comfortable reading the Bible on our own do to find spiritual nourishment that will take the place of Bible reading.
The most prominent one is that we simply rely on our pastor’s sermons to provide for us the nourishment we need from the word of God. You cannot rely on your pastor’s sermons on the weekends to supply you with enough spiritual nourishment from the word to last you throughout the week. By Tuesday or Wednesday we usually forget what our pastor preached on anyways. Or we remember the subject matter or the title but very little from the actual sermon. A.W. Tozer said, “If your Christianity depends upon a pastor’s preaching, then you’re a long way from being where you should be.”
Some other ways we try to find spiritual nourishment from the word without actually reading our Bibles include:
- Listening to/watching sermons online or via podcasts
- Christian books
- Or awesome online blogs like this one 😉
These are actually great ways to help us learn the Bible and become more comfortable with reading and studying it for ourselves. In fact, picking up some of these habits if you haven’t already is where I recommend starting if you want to get more comfortable with reading and studying your Bible yourself.
The first thing I often recommend doing is to get you a spiral notebook (or some kind of notebook) and take notes during your pastor’s sermon on Sunday. Carrying notebooks into church and taking notes is not a highly common practice today. So some of us may feel a little uncomfortable taking a notebook to church because there is a high probability we’ll be the only ones with one and stick out like a sore thumb.
Honestly, the only reason I don’t feel uncomfortable taking one into my church is because I’m one of the pastors and a youth leader. Who’s going to look at the pastor funny for bringing a notebook to church? But sometimes when I visit other churches I don’t always feel comfortable with my notebook in there because I’m just another guy there. Here is my recommendation if you think you might feel uncomfortable taking a notebook to church. Invest in a small, journal looking type notebook, with a nice leather cover or something similar that you find attractive. If it’s something that you find attractive you will feel more comfortable taking it to church.
I highly encourage using an actual notebook and not some sort of notepad application on your phone or other handheld electronic devices for several reasons. First of all, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us will put those notes in our phone or whatever device we’re using, and never see them again after we leave church that day. Secondly, trying to take notes with a small (or even large) touch screen device and keep up with the pastor’s sermon can be a hard task. I know often times when I do use my notepad app on my phone I’ll be trying to type in something the pastor just said only to miss what is currently being said while I type in my little note.
It can make it hard to follow along with the pastor’s sermon. Especially considering that most pastors spend a great deal of time throughout the week trying to figure out how to put a decent amount of information into a 30 minute sermon. If you have a good pastor, then he contributes a considerable amount of time from his week to putting his sermons together. Often times we would have to study for years and go to seminary to learn some of the things our pastors teach us on Sundays. Do not take them for granted and honor the efforts they put into preparing a good sermon for you on Sunday. Show up with your notebook, ready to learn and take notes.
Thirdly, you can also use this same notebook for your Bible study and to take notes during your Bible reading time. Having an actual notebook where all your Bible study notes are at will make it so much easier for you to retain the things you are learning. When they are all in one place it will be easy for you to go back and review them. Often times throughout our week we’ll hear or see things that remind us of something our pastor said or something we read in our Bible or somewhere else. But we can’t remember exactly what it was, how it was said, or where it was at in our Bible. That’s when you go, “I bet I got it in my notebook somewhere.” You will be surprised at how much keeping a notes in an actual notebook will boost your confidence and comfortableness with your Bible.
Here are some quick tips on things to focus on when taking notes during your pastor’s sermon that will help you retain the sermon and keep up with your pastor while taking notes:
- Don’t try to take notes as if it were a lecture in college classroom.
- Focus more on the sermon than your note taking.
- Don’t try to write down everything that sticks out to you.
- Focus on writing down just the main points.
- Write down any Scripture references he uses. (Don’t try to write the entire Scripture. Just the address where the Scripture is found in the Bible.)
In addition to starting this process of using a notebook I encourage getting a devotional to read each day. My recommendations is to find one that is short, encouraging, has a short Bible passage for you to look up every day, and includes a short prayer to go with it. There are so many good ones out there that I would say don’t waste your time trying to find the “right” one. Just pick one and stick with it.
Finally, I would say to find you some podcasts to listen to throughout the week. I don’t listen to them as often as I used to but I currently have the Grace to You, Focus on the Family, and OnePlace.com apps on my phone. Some other apps I’ve heard good things about, or used in the past, are: (*These links will take you to the websites, not the apps. You’ll have to look the apps up in itunes or your app store. They are all free.)
- Ligonier Ministries
- Sermon Audio (This one may be the best because it really is a one stop shop for tons of great sermons from a wide variety of good teachers and lots of other resources too.)
- The Gospel Coalition
- John Piper (for Android); or Desiring God (for Apple)
All of these apps have tons of great resources on them in addition to some really awesome sermons.
Now you may be thinking, All of this sounds really great, Joseph, but you haven’t really told me anything about the Bible and I thought this was an Introduction to the Bible series. Remember what I said my goal is:
To introduce the Bible to you in such a way that you will feel more comfortable reading and studying it for yourself and more confident in your ability to understand it.
I warned you that I would be taking a different approach than most Bible teachers would. If you will start doing some of these small things you will begin to see growth in your comfort level with the Bible, and in your confidence in your ability to understand it. As this increases you will eventually wean yourself off of the podcasts all on your own because you will have an increased desire to spend more time in the Bible for yourself. And, while I recommend these things as great ways to help you get started remember what A.W. Tozer said, “If your Christianity depends upon a pastor’s preaching, then you’re a long way from being where you should be.” These things are really only to help us get started.
In the next article in this series I will give you a general overview of the Bible and a short introduction to the gospel of John. As far as actual Bible reading goes. If that is something you are anxious to start doing more of, then start with the gospel of John. Before you start in chapter one though take a look at John 20:30,31. In this verse John tells us why he wrote his gospel: “So that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” So as you are reading through the gospel of John make a mental note that everything John wrote in his gospel he wrote to introduce you to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, so that you my believe in Him and have life in His name. Keep that in the back of your mind as you read through John and we’ll talk more in the next article for this series about why this is important.