story starts when my kids were very young. We were Christian
parents and we wanted our children to have the opportunity to learn
about God, Jesus, and the Christian faith, and then be able to decide
for themselves whether they wanted that faith.
wondered how we should go about this as, of course, we hadn't been
down this path before. We listened to others and decided that,
when they were old enough, we would introduce our children to some
form of daily reading from the Bible.
went to our local Christian bookshop, which has a wide variety of
materials, and bought something for children. They were about five
and six when we started this off. We tried various materials
for children but nothing seemed to click for our two.
I wondered if I could produce something very simple for them, myself,
and so laboriously typed out little A5 sized sheets with half a dozen
very simple questions on with spaces for answers to be written in
- in fact 30 of these to cover the next month.
graciously worked with these and by about day 25 I was beginning to
think that I had better steer them back to the "professional
materials" to get myself out of having to keep on producing something.
morning I casually suggested that at the end of the month we ought
to go back to one of the well known sets of materials for children.
"Oh no," they said, "this is much better, can't we
carry on doing these?" The die was set.
the years that followed I produced and produced and produced these
daily sets of questions for the children. The cynics among us
might say my kids only did it because they were my kids. That may
be, but the point is that I was set on a course of Bible study about
twenty years ago that had a particular style and which has continued
a while I developed the notes, more for adults rather than for children.
The style was to ask 6 questions of a short Bible passage to ensure
the reader took in what they were reading, three questions to make
them think about the overall message of the passage, and then a short
commentary to go over the passage explaining it in more detail.
That routine, that was started with the children about twenty years
ago, developed into a daily routine which continues to this day. Over
the years we turned them into proper printed booklets called "Bible
Alive Studies" and they now cover about 70% of the entire Bible
- the studies you'll find on this site.
am I telling this story? Because I want you to understand that any
comments I make about the Bible are well founded on about twenty years
of personal experience.
that period of time I have been doing daily verse by verse detailed
study. Yes, I've read the complete Bible more that once or twice,
but more importantly I've done verse by verse study of it persistently
for a long time. I think I've learnt one or two
things over that period, and I'd like to share them with you.
Most people don't get excited by the Bible because they don't really
have observed that when I just read a passage of the Bible, ask me
about it ten minutes later and I can't tell you much about it.
It's only when you really do read it, study it and take it in that
you realise the wonder of what is there - but that takes commitment!
Most people don't get excited by the Bible because they don't ask
God for help with it.
are times when I open the Book and read it and it does nothing for
me. I stop and realise what I'm doing and then ask God for help and
you'll never guess what - suddenly it goes alive! In fact every
single morning when I pray first and ask God's help with it, the Book
goes alive! Every single morning!
Most people don't get excited by the Bible because they don't let
it touch them.
know that when I treat the Bible as just another book to be read,
I'm untouched by it. When I realise afresh that it is inspired
by God and is therefore the most important book in the world and that
I must pay attention to it, it suddenly starts being very pertinent
and starts impacting in ways previously unknown! The more I
let it touch me the more it comes alive.
Many people say it's full of contradictions, because they don't fully
have bits of the Bible I don't understand but I'm not sure I've found
any bits that are flat contradictions. I realised many years
ago that when you have two or more people recording the same incident,
they'll emphasise the bits that stood out to them - and may even not
mention certain bits that really impacted others. The only problem,
is that it takes time and effort to think through some of these things.
It's easier to give it a surface read and then be critical!
Many people say the God of the Old Testament is harsh, but then they
haven't read much of it.
think my mind was transformed on this issue when I did a verse by
verse study of Jeremiah and the thing that hit me was the number of
times God warns Israel about the way they are living.
Again and again and again and again come the calls from the heart
of God, crying out to Israel , warning about what will happen.
is staggering for Israel, and for us, is God's amazingly longsuffering
heart that goes on and on and on crying out to us to avoid the destruction
that we're bringing on ourselves. Oh no, read it fully
and carefully and you'll see that 'harsh' is the last thing that you
can call God!
Many people say that the Old Testament is irrelevant to modern day
living, but they've never read it.
I've found so staggering is that writings of three thousand years
ago can be SO relevant to life today. Take the book of
Ecclesiastes for instance. This is a book that many people find dry.
It's a book written by King Solomon near the end of his life, probably
after he's disobeyed God's wisdom and had taken many foreign wives
who lead him into much foreign idolatrous worship of pagan gods.
words in the book are "under the sun" meaning it's written
from an earthly standpoint. Solomon has been there and
got the tee shirt six times over. You name it and he's done it and
at the end he says it's all pointless. An amazing book by one
of the richest men the world has ever known. And he realised
that without God in your life, it's all pointless. A primer
for modern management trainees that book!
Many people say the Bible is sexist, but then they're the ones who
have only read the odd verse.
people jump up and down about the apostle Paul in the New Testament
who, as modern scientists are beginning to recognise, merely acknowledges
that men and women are made differently and function differently,
and that's not just physically! Study the genealogy
of Jesus in the beginning of Matthew's Gospel sometime.
This is a family tree about Jews, written by Jews who placed men in
the key place of honour, and what you find between verses 3 and 6
are four women mentioned! Tamar had sex with her father to carry
on the family tree, Rahab was a prostitute, Ruth was a foreigner,
a non-Jew, and Uriah's wife had her husband murdered by a king and
was then taken to be his wife. This is the family tree
of Jesus! It says that God cares about women in His economy,
and it doesn't matter where they come in the social strata, they're
important. No, Jesus came to bring equality to women
in a way that was contrary to both his own nationality and that of
many other nations.
Most people who say the Bible is boring haven't ever really troubled
book, like no other book in the world, describes the human condition
as it really is. It tells it exactly as it is and pulls no punches.
But it doesn't leave it there; it provides hope for the lost, release
for the captives and healing for the sick. Millions can testify
to it's life-changing power. As I read it, as I've described above,
this book lives. It explains why life is as it is, it explains why
I am as I am, and then it gives me hope. Boring?
Most people who think you have to be perfect to be loved by God, clearly
haven't read the Bible
have been absolutely staggered as I have read of God's grace, especially
in the stories of some of the Old Testament saints. The thing
to realise is that they weren't saints to start with. Abraham
who is considered the father of faith, the father of Israel, the father
of Islam, shows us a man whose early life was a catalogue of blunders.
Yes, there was faith interweaved with it, but if I was God, I would
have written Abraham off very early on. When you look at his
grandson, Jacob, it's even more true. The staggering thing is
the length of time that God worked with these individuals before they
could anyway be considered for "man of the year" awards!
If God could take that time over them, He surely will with me and
Many people who haven't read the Bible think God was only concerned
with religious men, or kings or prophets.
God did have dealings with all these sorts of people, but actually
they are only a small proportion of the characters you find in the
Bible. Look at the people that Jesus gathered around himself,
for instance, and you see the sort of people that God is interested
in: the poorly educated, underdogs of society, those disliked by the
rich and well off, those despised by the religious elite. As
I read my Bible I am excited by the wonder of God's love that reaches
out to all and sundry - and that must include you and me.
so you've probably read enough. Perhaps you've never given
much thought to the Bible, or you found it boring at school, or you've
simply taken on board someone else's prejudiced ideas. Perhaps it's
time to find out for yourself. Get a modern version of the Bible and
start reading at the beginning of the New Testament - oh, and don't
forget to ask God for help (He won't mind if it's the first time you've
ever asked Him for anything!). So why not, as suggested above,
simply start a daily reading pattern of your own in the Bible, and
who knows what you might find happening. Instead of having to
read the lessons above that I've learnt, you'll be able to say yourself,
"You know, I just didn't realise how incredible this book is.
Isn't God wonderful!"