Eat this book – inviting people to chew on God’s Word
I believe one of the most important things we can do as leaders is to help people know how to connect with God themselves. We need to show the attitude that they don’t need us. While God does use people to explain and apply God’s Word, we all need to learn to feed on God for ourselves. The Holy Spirit is just as much at work in their lives as ours (leaders). They can hear from God and learn to recognize God’s voice in their life when we’re not their preaching or guiding them. They can “eat this book” to steal a phrase from Eugene Peterson. The Bible is meant to be chewed on, regurgitated, chewed on some more and lived out.
Recently in a workshop I shared one method that has helped me through the years as I read the Bible for my own transformation. It is also a method I have shared with youth and young adults numerous times and they have said it’s been helpful at getting them started. Everyone is wired a little differently so you/they might need to tweak the tools to find what works well for you, but tools give us a starting place.
I use my journal to write down what comes up as I go through this method for Bible reading. For me using a journal helps me express to God what I need to express and to capture what He highlights to me. Journaling somehow makes the conversation with God be more real, tangible and memorable for me. If journaling doesn’t work for you, find what does. It’s not the method that matters, it is the connecting with God that matters! Experiment and find what works for you. You may also find different methods or routines connect better in different seasons.
For a while I used my phone when reading God’s Word for my personal time with God. However, for me, I found I was too easily distracted and tempted by everything else on my phone. I’d start out in my Bible app but then end up checking Facebook, twitter, the news, my email… I’ve gone back to using my paper Bible, journal and pen.
I see two purposes in writing today’s blog…
- To give leaders a push and tools to teach those they lead to read their Bibles for their own transformation
- To give leaders a push to engage with God’s Word on their own, not for preparing anything, but to sit with their Heavenly Father and hear from Him, respond to Him, share with Him, be with Him. I’m sad to say I know Christian leaders often struggle with this.
This is a simple method, which I find helps because I can remember it and apply it easily.
- Find a spot where I can listen to God & pray “God, speak to me, I’m listening”
Whenever we are establishing a new routine in our lives experts tells us it is helpful to try doing the new thing at the same time and same place each day. It helps us create a new rhythm. So find a spot and time that works for you to read God’s word and allows you to give it the attention it needs. Everyone is different – find what works for you. My spot is a chair in my sun-room, right after breakfast with my coffee in hand.
- Read a short section of Scripture.
More important than getting through a lot of Scripture is that we engage with the Scripture we are reading. Free yourself from thinking you need to get through a huge chunk of Scripture or a whole chapter. Instead read a short section of Scripture and squeeze all the juice out of it. Sometimes I set my watch to beep at me, so rather than worrying about how far I get in Scripture, I read and engage fully with what I can until my watch beeps and then I know I’ve really got to get going for the day.
A reminder when we’re teaching folks to read their Bibles, some in our audience will have no idea how to look up a book, chapter and verse in the Bible, so help them out. Some will not have a Bible app on the phone yet, so help them with that too.
- SOAP – Ask yourself or write down four things (S.O.A.P.):
In my journal I write down the following four things:
S = Scripture – One thing (word, verse, phrase or idea) that stood out to me is…
O = Observation – Why does it stand out? Does it encourage or challenge me? How?
A = Application – One action I can take to apply this to my life is…
P = Prayer – Lord, from this I pray…
If writing in a journal doesn’t work for you, find what does – keeping a note on your Bible app, starting a document on your computer/tablet, saying it out loud, telling someone or thinking it. I know someone that does this while they walk laps. They read, then the first lap the think about the S, the second lap they think about the O, the third lap they think about the A and on the fourth lap they pray.
After presenting this method to a group there are two things I’ve done to challenge groups to start to “eat this book”.
- Get the whole group to do the same plan from YouVersion. There are different length plans and there even is a section specifically for youth devotionals. Basically the write-up on YouVersion helps you with the S and O of SOAP, and then you have to invite God to help you know the Application and Prayer as it applies to your life. There is great encouragement in knowing a whole group of others is also doing the same devo you are and will be talking about it when you are done.
- Eat this Book Challenge – I give each person a copy of a chart to fill in, with SOAP across the top and the sections of Scripture I invite them to read down the left hand side. Each day they are to fill in the chart. Here’s a sample. Feel free to use it.
Eat This Book Challenge
The Challenge: Follow the plan below for 7 days for an overview of the book of Luke. Record something here or in your journal each day. Use the S.O.A.P. model to help you. Do this alone, with a friend or with a group. Note: If you miss a day, that happens, just pick-up where you left off. Some days you’ll have lots to write, some days you’ll hardly write anything at all. That is ok.
PS – If you want more of a challenge read one chapter of the book of Luke each day. You’ll get through the book of Luke in 24 days.
|Day||Read||SCRIPTURE One thing (word, phrase or idea) that stood out to me is…||OBSERVATIONWhy does it stand out? Does it encourage or challenge me?||APPLICATIONOne action I can take to apply this to my life is…||PRAYERLord, from this verse, I pray…|
|Way to go! Party! Celebrate!|
Hope this helps you and others to eat this book. May you find God meeting you in significant ways as you chew on His Word.