Friday, April 29, 2011

10 simple tips can help you get the most out of "the Word"

This article has been written by Joy T. Bennett (some aspects have been edited)

IT'S 66 BOOKS IN ONE. It contains sweeping epics, riveting love stories, great poetry and deep kernels of wisdom. It's a "whodunit" mystery complete with a surprise ending. It has insight into the great questions of life. It discusses slavery and freedom. It is the alpha and the omega. It is the Bible.

However, reading the Bible might seem intimidating at first for the novice. But it's not just for scholars, pastors and preachers. It's for all people of faith. EBONY magazine asked noted pastors and Bible scholars for a primer, "Bible Reading 101," for those who want to strengthen their spiritual walk by reading what has been called "the Good Book."

1. Set aside a regular time and quiet place that is relatively free from distractions to read the Bible. "Read it every single day," says Pastor Marvin L. Winans of Detroit's Perfecting Church. "The most fascinating is that it's almost like you're reading that happened in daily news."

2. There are different versions of the Bible Several pastors recommend the Contemporary English version for beginners.

3. Approach the Bible with prayer and anticipation. "Expect God to speak through God's Word, if you are a believer," says the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., senior pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. "If you are a critic and a doubter, your reading of the Bible will be nothing more than an intellectual exercise. You will take nothing to the text and you will get nothing from the text!"

4. Find a Bible friend with whom you can discuss and share your readings.

5. Don't be afraid to underline or highlight passages in the Bible. Keep a pen and notebook, and write down things you discover and questions that arise.

6. Always ask the "W" questions! Ask who, what, when, where and why. "The reader needs to understand who wrote the Book, what the Book is saying, why the Book was written, when the Book was written and where the Book intended to go," Wright says. "The Book of Revelation, for instance, was addressed to Christians under persecution in the 1st and 2nd centuries--Christians under Roman persecution. It was not addressed to the exiles of the Babylonian Diaspora. Those two events are separated by 600 years!"

7. Join an Bible study group. "The Word of God is best understood in the context of a Christian community," says the Rev. Dr. Suzan (Dr. Sujay) Johnson Cook, founder and senior pastor of New York City's Bronx Christian Fellowship Church. "Unite with a church, even if it's only to attend its Bible study group. Many churches welcome new persons into their Bible study," she says.

8. Several pastors suggest that beginning Bible readers start with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because those books tell the story of Jesus Christ in a narrative or story form. These books are found in the New Testament. Elder Cathy W. Moffitt, president and founder of Heartfelt International Ministries in Ft. Worth, Texas, particularly recommends St. John's gospel because, "This particular book offers helpful insight into the life and walk of Jesus Christ."

9. There are also several reference books designed to enhance Bible study. The most common ones are concordances, Bible dictionaries and commentaries, and these references can be found in any bookstore as well as online.

10, Sign up to have daily Bible verses or other inspirational messages sent to your computer, a friend of Kylie's writes Daily or use our "Kick-start your bible reading" eCourse FREE at

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three Cs of Engagement

This article has been taken from Sermon Central by Paul Camini

These barriers (discussed in previous blog) to engagement are not inconsequential. But I believe they can be overcome by focusing on the three Cs of engagement:

The complete Bible . . .For starters, we need to clear away some of the clutter that’s collected around the Bible. Study notes, cross-references, and verse numbers have a role to play, but let’s be honest about the fact that they encourage us to read in fragments rather than whole books. We need a panoramic view of the entire story.

Understood in context . . .Before we can ask (much less answer) the question, “What does this passage mean to me?” we need to ask, “What did it mean to the original audience?” We need to go back in time and step into the world of the Bible’s writers and recipients.

Experienced in community. . .Recovery movements understand what many of us in the church have missed: Great undertakings are far more likely to succeed when they are group efforts. Smokers, for example, are six times more likely to quit if they are part of a support group.

Bible engagement is no easy task, so individuals shouldn’t be left to go it alone. Our Bible experiences will be richer and more meaningful when we share them with the whole community of faith.

This article has been taken from Sermon Central by Paul Camini

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Around the walls of a nursing home

Tonight was Lily’s turn to lead ‘Super Family Bible Night’ and after last week’s episode of army men mime – I was a little concerned. Lily flicked through her bible and chose her story because she like the pictures, interesting because the story she chose was ‘A wall falls down – Jericho’.

This week was drama week,  Lily played the part of Joshua, Daddy & Toby the 2 men sent to check out Jericho, mummy was narrator/Rahab and whoever else was needed along the way. As we read the story we acted it out along the way – although Toby was quite disappointed that he was able to really hid in the roof like the 2 spies did in the story, and disappointed he had to settle for sitting on a table.

For those who don’t know we are currently house sitting a large nursing home, (for about 6 months so - with no residents) so you can imagine the fun and noise we had when it was time to walk (we ran) around the walls of Jericho. Firstly once every day (6 times), then 7 times on the 7th day. All the while shouting and playing our pretend instruments along the way. There are a lot of walls to run around in our mini city and we were exhausted by the end of it and collapsed on the ground to listen to the end of the story and pray.

This week was certainly a week to remember, we had a lot of fun and Lily especially loved being in charge and playing the part of Joshua. Mmm... think there may be a leader in the making there.

Blessings to you and your family!
For more information on bible engagement or Milk to Meat resources please go to

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Daniel and the army men

This week was Toby’s turn to lead ‘Super Family Bible Night’ and he was desperate to use his new Toy Story Army Men, so regardless of what story he chose those men were going to play a major role.  So with army men set and ready we all sat down for the night and ready for the night to begin. Toby chose to create a ‘show’ for us – illustrating the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den using a bucket and his army men. What was most interesting and intriguing was that he decided it was going to be a silent show, kind of a mime but using army men which have no facial expressions!
That created a challenge and Lily was totally confused because she had no idea what Toby was on about. I think Toby got the idea from a recent circus incursion at school which had the kids performing mime – however it should be noted that mime does not translate well when using mini army men. But he had fun and we all got to have a ‘turn’ playing out the story of Daniel and in more than one ‘turn’ the story changed and poor Daniel (army man) was eaten alive by the vicious lions (which were Might Beanz --- mmm they are very ferocious).

Summary – sometimes you just have to let the night go where the kids want to take it – they (eventually) got to understand the story and it’s importance but on the way there we had a lot of fun together and hopefully mime with army men won’t be an option again.

Blessings to you and your family.
For more information on bible engagement or Milk to Meat resources please go to

Three Barriers to Bible Engagement

This article has been taken from Sermon Central by Paul Camini

Today, it’s safe to say that our congregants’ Bible experience isn’t always everything it could be. What’s getting in the way of meaningful engagement? I propose the existence of three barriers:

1. Too many of us read Scripture in fragments.

From topical reference Bibles to verse-of-the-day emails, we tend to parcel Scripture into bite-sized fragments. Even the modern verse divisions in our Bibles—which weren’t added until the mid-1500s—encourage fragmented reading. We’ve made the Bible feel more like a reference book than a story.
For the most part, biblical books were meant to be read as whole units, from beginning to end. Yet if we engage the Bible at all, we’re more likely to do so in a verse here or a chapter there. We’ve refashioned God’s Word in the image of our sound-bite culture; as a result, readers can lose sight of the bigger story.

2. Too many of us read Scripture without a sense of context.

We all know the Bible is an ancient book written by ancient scribes. We all know it’s the product of a world vastly different from our own. But if we are to discover the Bible’s implications for our lives today, we have to bridge the gap between its world and ours.

Let’s face it—that’s easier said than done. More often than not, we’ve soft-pedaled the Bible’s foreignness. We haven’t fully come to grips with the reality that the Bible was written for us, but not directly to us. In the words of N.T. Wright, we have to learn to read it “with first-century eyes.”

3. Too many of us read Scripture in isolation.

Many treat Bible reading mainly as a private discipline. We have private devotions and personal quiet times. We’ve been taught to ask questions like, “How does this verse apply to me?”

Personal Bible study is a wonderful thing. But in prioritizing individual experience over that within the community, we may have been unwittingly influenced by our Western, me-centric culture—more so than we care to admit.

The Bible was originally the product of a very different mindset. Its books were written, first and foremost, to whole communities. They were composed, for the most part, to be read during public gatherings. Think of the many times Israel assembled to listen to the Law—or when Paul instructed that his letters be read aloud to the entire local church.

We need a Bible experience that doesn’t just begin and end with “me.”

This article has been taken from Sermon Central by Paul Camini

What Bible experiences have you had that are bigger than "me"?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bibles, Bibles everywhere

This article has been taken from Sermon Central by Paul Camini

Americans buy 25 million new Bibles every year—and that’s not counting the millions that are given away by churches, Bible societies, and other ministries.  The Bible is not only the best-selling book of all time; it’s the best-selling book every single year!

Yet we all know that the incidence of Bible reading is going down, not up. In the last few decades, one in five Bible readers has given up on Scripture. Today, twice as many people think the Bible is a fairy tale as did when I started in ministry.

The problem isn’t just outside the church, either. Willow Creek’s groundbreaking REVEAL study uncovered a surprising hunger for God’s Word among our congregations: 87 percent of churchgoers identified in-depth Bible study as “very” or “critically” important. No other spiritual need scored this highly.

But the REVEAL study also contained more sobering news: Only one in five churchgoers says their church offers in-depth Bible engagement. 

For me, there is a compelling sense of opportunity and urgency in these numbers. As the authors of the REVEAL study concluded, “The Bible is the most powerful catalyst for spiritual growth. [Its] power to advance spiritual growth is unrivaled by anything else we’ve discovered.”

But how many of us have figured out how to unleash this power in ourchurch communities? And if we don’t find a way to better Bible engagement, how much longer before our parishioners start looking outside the church for spiritual direction?

This question prompted a two-year journey at Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). For more than two centuries now, we’ve translated and distributed Bibles all over the world. We’ve been privileged to serve as stewards of the NIV, the most widely read contemporary English version of the Bible.

But we’ve come to realize that translating, publishing, and distributing Bibles—while important—isn’t enough. It’s not good enough to ask, “Do people have the Bible?” We also have to ask, “What kind of experience are they having with the Bible?”

This article has been taken from Sermon Central by Paul Camini

What kind of experience are you having with the Bible personally? we'd love to hear your comments below