So recently there was a big hype about a new book called Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. Honestly, I liked a good bit of the book and it served a purpose in my life to pump me up and do something crazy and outside my comfort zone, like starting this blog, like leading a book study on this book online, where I met new friends. Thank you to the author for using her gifts to serve a world who needs to know they were made for more. But when reading it, I must admit I found myself not so sure about the Gospel sometimes presented in it. Was this the Gospel or Gospel by Rachel Hollis? How do these things presented as truths stand up to THE truth? Nonetheless, I continued reading it and let it serve its purpose. We are indeed made for more. Stop surviving and get to thriving. Stop self-sabotaging yourself with lies. Know your self-worth. Know your chosen to do good works. Get to work. Your dreams don’t come easy. You can do hard things. Lots of good messages like that. But during the study some of the ladies and I were discussing application to our lives of one of the chapters we had read. It made me realize I don’t always stop and allow application to happen. I am notorious to jump to the next book or reading multiple books at one time. In fact, I have hundreds of books. Hi, I am Heather Howell, and I am a book addict. It’s a well-known fact that you can lose me in a book store, my happy place, especially a Christian one, for an entire day. My husband has even threatened to yank Amazon from me before because of my book buying addiction. Ok, not really, but he should. God love him. I have books piled on my night stand, next to my bed, in the bathroom, in my car, in my office, in my office, and more in my office. Everywhere. I recently just went through a purge thanks to my fabulous well-organized sister-in-love who helped me work through the hoarding and the anxiety of having to let some of them go. (Shout-out to Marcie Sheffield Howell and her God given talent of organization. Let her help you! Seriously.) And no, I am not a nook or kindle reader. I want the real thing with real pages to underline, highlight, fold the corners, and take notes in the margin. Here is the thing though – my books are not easy light reading or fun novels. They are ALL self-help and personal development books. They are books that grow you and stretch you. So maybe I am an addict of pain. Isn’t there a name for that? Ok, I digress. All this, all this, made me stop and think, how many times do we turn to a book, an expert, the internet, tv programs, a friend, a blog even…something or someone we earthly follow for the answers to life’s problems. I have a book on every subject you want to know about – marriage, parenting, sex, friendship, difficult relationships, healthy eating, finances, mindset, prayer…prayer…prayer….so many on prayer! Whew. The list goes on and on! But, how many times do I consult the Bible directly for the answers? This does not include going to a book by an author who might be scripturally sound with his/her words but yet still there is their interpretation of it on things. DIRECTLY TO THE BIBLE. Now let me first say – books serve a purpose. I’ve learned so much from reading over my life. Readers are leaders. But, so many times we need to shut down the world and go to Him directly while reading His word and ask him to give us answers and understanding. Ask Him to give us the TRUTH, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Seriously, THE ANSWER IS IN THE BOOK. Some of you might say, “well I don’t understand scripture when I read it always.” Neither do I. That is where we end and He begins. This is where the Holy Spirit, part of the Trinity of God, becomes our guide. He is my “gut guide”. The Holy Spirit is a person. He is not a spooky mysterious spirit that we often call an “it” or avoid at all cost because he sounds too charismatic. He is our helper. He reveals all things. We just need to ask Him to help us and step in and give us revelation. And, this I know. Each time we sit in God’s presence and read His word, the easier the understanding comes. These are some other tips, to gain understanding from God’s word:
- You can get a good study Bible with notes on the bottom of each page to help with understanding. Life Application or NIV have great study Bibles.
- Attend a good Bible teaching church. One that requires you to open the word and read it and encourages you to bring it to church. No Bibles on the phone, a real, old-school Bible. And bring a pen and a highlighter. Make it your own.
- Join a good Bible Study that teaches the Word of God and shows you how to pull out truths and life application. (I even know a few going on locally if you would like a suggestion that fits your schedule.)
- And most of all enter into a time of reading the Bible like entering into corporate worship. Plan it. Get your mind ready for it. You can even worship Him with praise music and read a Psalm to help bring you into the presence of the Lord. Pray and intentionally ask the Lord to show you the truth.
- You can also google a topic you want to know more about and where it is mentioned in scripture. Go directly to the scripture(s) and read the whole entire chapter. I like to read the one preceding and after to get a context. Read the study notes on the bottom. Highlight the key words that stand out to you and seek understanding of the words used. A next step would be to understand those words in the original Greek or Hebrew. But, if just beginning, that is a lesson for another time. It will blow your mind though how much understanding you can get from this one exercise.
- Seek out a friend who you know studies and reads his/her Bible. Ask them to disciple you. It is our calling to do so. They will be honored.
I challenge you next time you are seeking to better yourself in any area of your life that you shut down all the other noise, put aside the other places you might seek help, and first go to God in prayer and open your Bible. Be courageous in your walk with your Maker. He can take your hard questions. He honors those that seek Him. You will be amazed at what all He has to say about the matter. Again, books that are written by authors who stand upon the whole truth are not bad. They just aren’t the BEST. If they are an author who builds their material off the Word of God, even they will tell you that. NOTHING surpasses the glorious truths and promises straight from the Lord, given to us in His word, and studied and accurately applied in our life. It will not come back void (Isaiah 55:11) and it can set you free (John 8:32).
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15