One of my hopes for this summer was to use this short season to focus on a few key areas: household organization & meal/cleaning planning (help!!!), photography and other hobby/DIY things I’d been procrastinating on, and also really grasping a means of Bible study that goes beyond a daily reading and allows me to really see God from Genesis through Revelations and that would tie together all these key passages and doctrines that I believe but are often disjointed and not clearly seen interwoven. The Bible is so much more than a manual of rules, doctrines, storylines, characters, and/or concepts! It is a book about God. The months following a birth have always been challenging physically and emotionally for me, and while I have taken definite steps to help with those areas this go-around (eliminating problem foods, stocking the freezer with meals ahead of time, specific vitamins, etc.), I know that above all having my heart needs to be focused on truth.
One of the things about Dwight that stood out to me early on in our relationship was how he really knew his Bible. He loved reading God’s Word and learning – not was others said it was saying, or what he felt it was saying to him – but what it actually said. I wanted that to be true of myself! I had my consistent reading yet really desired more. The Bible is God’s Word, and we are commanded to wield it rightly but I felt incredibly confused and ill-equipped. My brain was fuzzy, my body was weary and sleep-deprived, and when reading and stopping to really delve deep I was lost. I didn’t know how to move beyond and learn more, and was quite certain that it wasn’t just a dangling carrot available only to seminary grads! I became discouraged and doubtful that it would ever happen for me, because it all just seemed to be too overwhelming. I felt like a newbie, and was ashamed that I wasn’t getting it. I desperately want to be able to know God’s word so well that false doctrines or unbiblical teachings or erroneous advice will no longer confuse me because I’ll be grounded in His Truth. I want to know scripture so well that as I interact with my babies that I’m not just telling them what I want them to do or be, but have the wisdom to point them to God and mother in God-honoring ways. I want to be reflecting Christ to my Sweetheart and friends. So I began to pray that God would provide what He knew I needed.
It wasn’t long before He practically plopped tools and resources onto my lap! For instance, our Sunday School started working its way through Jonah, with one of our pastors walking us through the studying process which he has found most helpful, a women’s Bible Study I signed up for had the Authority of Scripture as its first session with loads of practical instruction, reading a simple blog post introduced me to a non-fluffy/non-celebrity study that is challenging (for me!) to go through but is just what I had been hoping for (again… I’m sleep deprived! And quiet time around here is almost non-existent unless I want to wake up at 2), and then a book unexpectedly showed up in my mailbox one day! It was an advanced reader copy of Women of the Word, written by Jen Wilkie, and Crossway was kindly asking that I would simply read it and share a review. Over the next couple of weeks it was eagerly read and even Dwight’s curiosity got the best of him so he picked it up too. :-) God is so gracious to me, giving me gifts like these out of the blue and just what I needed for encouragement and the proverbial much needed shove in the right direction. I still have the strong desire, yet the sheer audacity of the task has been lessened. I love how Jen Wilkie described in her book how she also felt overwhelmed and inadequate, yet found what she called a gloriously simple answer. The answer to how you learn to properly interpret and apply scripture? It’s simply one spoonful at a time.
I hope this book review is helpful and encouraging to you. :-)
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds is written by Jen Wilkin, an author and Bible teacher. It is published by Crossway Books, who generously provided me with the copy free of charge which enabled me to provide this honest review.
In her book, Jen Wilkin begins by introducing the reader to her own personal testimony of learning to study the Bible and invites women, ministry workers, parents, the curious yet brave husband (after all, it is a book written with a female audience in mind ::Grin::), and anyone who desires to learn to study God’s Word themselves to join her in the quest of God-focused Biblical literacy. I couldn’t help but chuckle as she describes some of the many incomplete approaches people can take to Bible reading, having been taught them personally: the Xanax approach (treating the Bible as if it exists to make us feel better), the Pinball approach (which fails to give thought to cultural, historical, or textual context), the Magic 8 Ball approach (the Bible is not intended to tell us what to do, but rather who to be), the Personal Shopper approach aka topical Bible study (helpful in integrating God’s Word practically but fail to give us a foundation understanding and prevent us from the work necessary to truly “own” God’s Word for ourselves as we study from start to finish), the Telephone Game approach (happens when we read books about the Bible instead of reading the actual Bible itself), the Jack Sprat approach (only studying books with characters, plots, or topics that we can easily identify ourselves with rather than recognizing that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and profitable). After identifying with several of these approaches, I was relieved to see that she offered hope! She continues to share a process that has helped her as well as those she teaches though the ministry of The Village Church (in Dallas, TX). The pages addressing why Biblical literacy matters are an essential read!
The process she shares is what she calls the Five P’s of Sound Study: Study with Purpose, Study with Perspective, Study with Patience, Study with Process, and Study with Prayer. (She makes note to clearly state at the onset that these are not strictly linear but rather are equally necessary and interrelated.) I appreciated how she introduced each of these generally, yet transitioned into specific ways of application that made sense as she guides the reader through the book of James. Her goal is for us to be excited about seeing the Big Story of the Bible and how all the parts fit together to show us God’s redeeming plan! If the process shared made sense to me (struggling to not nod off while energetic munchkins bounce around me along with an excitable puppy) they will make sense to anyone! ::Wink:: I’m eager to begin putting these into practice as I study and learn more about God through His Word and heartily recommend this title.
"A well-rounded approach to Bible study addresses a topic as it arises in Scripture, rather than attaching Scripture to a topic." – Jen Wilkie