You may recall playing with the various types of Lego yourself. If not, you have almost certainly seen them in stores. Small children even babies—start with the simple Duplo range, made up of large simple shapes, and progress according to age and skill through increasingly complex sets. The Technic range is the highest-level, and these sets typically contain hundreds if not thousands of small and intricate pieces. The instruction booklets are an inch thick. At every level of Lego, it is essential to engage the imagination in order to get the best value from the toy. At some point, Lego creators hope that you will leave their instruction manuals aside and start to create your own models, discov- ering that there are so many beautiful things to make from your own imagination.
When it comes to developing your faith as a disciple of Jesus, there are several ways to proceed. These are calledpathways, such as service, meditation, worship, hospitality, etc. All of these, however, have their roots in the Bible. Bible study is essential to discipleship. The difficulty for many of us is that we find the Bible hard to study. You pick it up, start to read with the best of intentions, and almost immediately find your mind wandering. You may read through entire chapters and wonder what they were all about. This is why we tend to prefer devotional books—because someone else has put in the time and effort to break the text down and provides a completed model. While those completed models are fun, being able to freestyle and create meaning for yourself is even more amazing.
This is why the Lego metaphor works so well for me. We all need to start at the Duplo level when we first begin to read the Bible. Large chunks of it. Big stories. Big ideas. Main characters. Creation. Flood. Exodus. Nativity. Resurrection. Eventually, over time we grow in our knowledge and understanding and are able to work at the Technic level. Later on, we can become truly creative and develop meaningful inter- pretations and insights on our own. When you read the Bible at a higher level, you notice connections. In the story of Elijah, for instance, you notice that the cave he enters to engage God is the same cave in which Moses met God. When God asks the question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” you realize that in this case God did not call Elijah to the cave. There is something else going on.
It is important to remember that you need to keep both Duplo and Technic (and beyond) in your Bible study. These different levels of discovery will be important to you in different ways throughout your life.
Finding the best method for your faith development first requires honesty. Accept and acknowledge that what you do now is not what you will do for the rest of your life. Commit to being adaptable and be willing to change as needed so that you do not get into a rut. Avoid building the same types of models all the time. Experiment and stretch and challenge yourself. You have to want to discover more about Jesus every day— and He will in turn reveal more to you about your call and purpose in life.
One final thing before I share the list of options for Bible study: I would encourage you, no matter where you are, to start the Daily Walk right away. Joining a wider faith community on the same conversation is a great way to stay engaged with discipleship and to hold each other accountable. You can subscribe online and engage with a connect group or life group or start your own at www.boulder.church/daily. The “How to” guide is really useful, along with the introduction to each new series.
The three-part sermon series “Simply Complex” (September 2017) has used the Duplo/Technic metaphor as a way of looking at faith development.
This is a really a lot of fun, if you want to go through the whole Bible in a year. Ideally, find a partner who is willing to do this with you. Start in Genesis, read four chapters, and text each other one single idea that stood out. It could be a question, an insight, a problem, a praise—just one thought. There will be days when it will be really hard to narrow it down to one single thought, and other days when you will find it hard to generate a thought of any kind. Don’t feel like you need to resolve everything; the purpose of this year is to build a great foundation. You can bea novice or a seasoned follower of Jesus—this exercise is great to repeat with fresh eyes. Highlight in your Bible the texts that speak to you or intrigue you. When there is a puzzle or question, place a question mark by the text (or an exclamation mark if you were surprised). Using a pen/pencil with the text brings another level of engagement that increases your concentration.
This requires concentrated time. Choose one book in the Bible. Select a reliable commentary that helps you understand that book and study it verse by verse. The key is finding the best commentary. Feel free to contact us directly with the book you are interested in and we can recommend a range of commentaries for every book.
This is very provocative. For this type of Bible study, you will approach a subject, an area that you have been thinking about for a long time. How do you find out if the Bible speaks to it, and how do you discover the most complete picture of this subject? This approach can become contentious because it requires you to enter into the large world of application and interpretation rather rapidly. To make sure you are at the best starting point, establish what your hermeneutic principles are. We would recommend you start with www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org as a great resource. You will then want to find Biblical scholars who teach in your subject area. Please contact us and we can recommend some reading which will help you back into the Bible to discover what it teaches.
I do this often. This is a great method of devotional study that allows you to reset yourself in Jesus and remind you of all that you were called to be. Take the book Steps to Christ by Ellen White, and as you read it, every time you come across a scriptural reference, pause, open your Bible and read the passage and its entire context. It will allow you to begin connecting the dots, and help you to see the Bible at the Technic (and beyond) level.
This is for the creatives amongst us. Did you know that often the Bible was read out loud in the past? Find a really great audio version of the Bible—preferably one with various voices and in the same translation as your Bible. As you listen, follow in your text. Pause to make notes on your impressions.
This is by far the most popular method that our church offers and the list of options is vast. From weekly Sabbath School lessons to small group study guides to online Discover Bible School lessons, there are many, many options and topics for study. You can study alone or as part of a group. As a tween, I took every single Voice of Prophecy Bible Study course that my church offered by mail. They were brilliant.
Need a coach? There are some who find starting Bible study (or getting back into it!) alone really difficult. If you want to join a Bible Study class, or would prefer a one-on-one Bible Study with a facili- tator, similar to a personal trainer, we can arrange that. Let us help get you on the right track.Finally, make sure you have a great Bible. This should be an actual physical text, rather than an electronic version. You need a Bible with a wide margins so that you can mark up the text and you need a set of pens that do not bleed through the pages. We can provide specific recommendations. According to 2 Corinthians, the Holy Spirit leads us to Truth, so always pray before you start your study.
Contact Pastor J if you would like learn more about Bible study or if you want to share your ideas or have better models to share. We look forward to studying scripture with you.