The first discussion topic of the new year was “Deepening your relationship with God”.
So, how does one get to know God better? Seems like a simple enough question. To answer this we made a pretty mundane parallel — How does one get to know an ordinary person better?
- Have conversations with them and listen to what they have to say
- Talk to people who have known them and hear stories about them
- Be able to know what they would and wouldn’t do
- Find out and understand what is important to them
These are only a couple of things, and yet these are all things are applicable to God as well (in a sense).
- Prayer is a way to speak with God — it’s a way to easily connect and to start a personal dialogue at any time or place
- Church leaders and Pastors often know God very well and can share stories about how God has spoken to them. They can also share passages and stories from the Bible that can often allow us to see different sides of God
- And Christ set a perfect example for us to understand what He is like — WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?
- The Bible gives us our best source of information to help us understand what is and isn’t important to Him
To start, we decided to focus on the Bible. This led to the question, “How do I effectively study the Bible?”
Here’s a rough summary of some ideas that might help, in no particular order.
- What is the historical context? Is there something about the time and place that help make sense of the situation?
- Consider what parts may be intended to be literal or metaphorical or allegorical.
- Pick out the facts of a passage. Does it say who is speaking? Where it takes place? Who was present?
- Write out questions while you read. Why is this being mentioned? What is the significance of this story?
- As you review questions, feel free to consult other sources. This could include reading articles on the internet, or asking your pastor. Be aware of the source, however, as lots of dissenting views are often available.
- Outline a section to try to identify the overarching point or theme, and keep note of the structure of the writing and possible parallels.
- If possible, try to see if you can summarize what you’ve read into a single sentence or primary message.
- Look for the theological principle behind the passage you read. What is it saying about God, or about God’s desire for us?
- Think about how what you’ve read can apply in real life circumstances. Does the message now influence how I can live my life?
- If you run into problems, don’t get too caught up in the academics or scholasticism of things. Sometimes you need to keep reading forward to understand retrospectively. Sometimes a new experience or an unexpected conversation can bring things into focus.
- Instead of reading from front to back, consider jumping around a little. Maybe start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and then bounce backwards to the Old Testament. Anything goes!
- Consider using specialized versions. There are Bibles for all types. There are Study Bibles, Bibles for Mothers, Picture Bibles, Children’s Bibles, etc etc. Take a look, maybe one version will speak to you more effectively than another.
So, there you have it — a rough summary of the discussion. Hopefully some of these ideas work for you. Maybe you have suggestions that we haven’t mentioned. If so, leave a comment!
Take care and God bless.