July 12, 2014 in City

Faith and Values: For a good summer read, rediscover the Bible

Steve Massey
 
About this column

The Faith and Values column appears Saturday and features artist Donald Clegg, of Spokane, retired Methodist minister Paul Graves, of Sandpoint, and Steve Massey, a pastor from Hayden.

The New York Times doesn’t recommend it.

It’s not on Oprah’s summer reading list. Nor does it make the cut for suggested summer reading at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or USA Today.

But it’s a best-seller worldwide and a must-read this summer.

Of course, I’m referring to the Bible. And before you roll your eyes and move on, please consider this: The Bible is the only book you’ll read this summer with the power to feed your soul, perfectly inform your living, and understand your heart.

“How sweet Your words taste to me,” says Psalm 119:103. “They are sweeter than honey.”

For many Christians, the Bible is a sort of sanctified textbook: a collection of ancient documents to be studied academically and discussed on Sundays that is set aside as irrelevant Monday through Saturday.

It’s an age-old irony that an awful lot of us have not one, or two, but several copies of the Bible in our homes … yet we spend far more time carrying them to and from church buildings than we do actually reading them.

The reality is this: The Bible is a personal love letter from God’s heart to yours, a real-life adventure story of our creator’s powerful grace and mercy, a road map sufficient to navigate life’s most complex journeys.

I wonder sometimes if our tendency to view the Bible as merely a “religious book” to be examined in churches robs us of enjoying its potent and personal sweetness.

This summer, I’m setting aside time to read Scripture without pen and paper in hand, suppressing the preacher’s urge to look for a three- or four-point sermon outline in every passage. I’m leaving my smartphone in another room – well, most of the time – so its constant beckoning can’t distract me.

In other words, I’m reading Scripture as I would an urgent letter from someone who loves me, understands me, and desires what is best for me.

After all, that’s what the Bible is.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly reminded of familiar truths that often go unexperienced.

First of all, God’s word is dynamic. It understands my heart and, consequently, is always fresh and relevant.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful,” says Hebrews 4:12. “It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

Secondly, I’ve been struck by the warmth of Scripture, especially the psalms and the gospels. Yes, God uses his word to train us and even sternly warn us, but the prevailing vibe of Scripture is actually love – God’s intense love for sinners like you and me.

Psalm 119 puts it this way: “Surround me with Your tender mercies so I may live, for Your instructions are my delight.”

I’m also freshly astonished that whatever God says to me through Scripture each day somehow will relate to what I’m experiencing that day. His wisdom speaks clearly and with authority to each day’s journey. While I labor to understand Scripture, I do well to remember that the book also understands me.

You know, one of the first Bible verses some church kids memorize is Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Our reading habits give evidence of whether we actually believe those words.

Perhaps a related verse will awaken us again to the reality of God’s desire to guide us daily: “Your statutes are my delight,” says the same psalm. “They are my counselors.”

Christian friends, are you hungry for a good read this summer?

Why not spend some time in the most dynamic, intimate, life-transforming book ever written?

Why not spend some time with your Bible?

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.


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