Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bible Rumination and Digestion: getting the Bible into your heart

Key Practices
  • Thinking
  • Carving out time and space for thinking

According to Webster's, rumination is "The act or process of ruminating, or chewing the cud; the habit of chewing the cud." [1] Rumination is a repeated, intentional process. In the physical process, the cow exercises her will to bring up the cud, re-chew, swallow, re-chew, etc. In the spiritual process, we also exercise our will by bringing a passage to mind, thinking and rethinking, and repeating the process. Rumination is hard work, but it is the only way to send the nutrition of God's word into our hearts where the Spirit can use it to transform us and make us more like Christ. Rumination must also be intentional. As several said yesterday at Collegium, we are always ruminating on something--for good or ill; whatever we ruminate on shapes our hearts. This is a sobering thought.

Digestion is another matter. While we can do things to make proper digestion more likely, the process itself is autonomic--it happens on its own. The most important thing we can do is chewing and rumination; this sends properly prepared food into the digestive tract. We can also carve out time in our day when we set aside the stresses and concerns of everyday life, enter the throne room of God, and worship him.

In rumination and digestion, we cooperate with God in confronting our hearts with his truth and submitting to his will. Do your part; God will most certainly do his.

The course outline and take home practice for Bible Chewing and Beyond is located on the Collegium blog.

Those interested in more detail should read the Wikipedia article: Cud.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bible Chewing and Beyond--getting a handle on the details

Weekly lesson post is available at Sanctify Collegium: Bible Chewing and Beyond

Three Key questions
  • What did the passage meant?
  • What does it mean?
  • How we might respond?
Getting the Details

An important piece of the first question is getting a handle on the details of the passage. The basic reporters' questions (How? Who? What? When? Where? Why?) are a great tool here. Read through the passage several times. As you read, be curious. Pause at each phrase and write down your questions. At this point, do not stop and search for answers (although, do write down any that occur), keep reading and asking. Next, read over your questions and determine which questions are most important for understanding the text. Beginning at the passage (e.g., Revelation 5) and moving on to the book (e.g., Revelation), the testament (e.g., New Testament), and the whole bible, search for answers. Also helpful here are Bible Dictionaries and Introductions. Some online and book resources are listed below.

Online Resources: Answering Questions
Online Resources: The Process of Study
Book Resources

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Why go beyond bible reading?

by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

Why go beyond Bible reading? Because even the structure of the Old Testament tells us that mere reading is not enough. Allow me to explain.

The Old Testament, as arranged in the Christian Bible, is rather like a library (History Poetry, and Prophets), with the prophetic books arranged by size, largest to smallest. In the Jewish Bible, called the TaNaKh (having the same content as the Old Testament), the books are arranged to make a point: success in following God comes through meditating on God’s instructions.

The TaNaKh is arranged in three sections. The first is Torah, meaning “instruction,” the second is Nevi’im, meaning “prophets,” and the third is Ketuvim, meaning “writings.” So far, this may seem very similar. Ah, but wait; there is more. The first book of the Nevi’im is Joshua. Joshua 1:8 says,
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
God tells Joshua that his success in following God is directly tied to his meditating on God’s instructions. The first book of the Ketuvim is Psalms. Psalm 1:2-3 says
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
God says, through the psalmist, that success in following God is directly tied to meditating on God’s instructions.

Now, lest we think this is merely “Old Testament,” let us flip forward to James’ letter to the Dispersion, written around AD 49-50 and one of the first New Testament books written. James 1:25 says
the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
God says, through James, that Christians’ success in following God is directly tied to meditating on God’s instructions.

The message of Scripture is clear: success in following God is a direct result of chewing, ruminating, and digesting God’s Word. Start now. The reward is great and well worth the time and discipline.

“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”