January has gotten away from me. I knew I said I’d be taking a break from blogging, but I didn’t intend to go this long! I promise I’ve been typing behind the scenes.
I’ve been reading a little bit (for me) and writing a lot. I have barely kept my eyes open most nights as I’ve been trudging through paperwork each day at my job. I am not cut out for an office job, but I’m managing. Tis the season to choose an intern, and with that comes applications, transcripts, and recommendation letters. I’m eagerly awaiting February.
I finished reading a book last week that had been recommended by multiple friends and acquaintances. I was so excited to dive in, what with the beautiful cover art, the intriguing title, and praiseworthy reviews. And the verdict?
I was pretty disappointed.
First of all, if I’m reading a book based on the Bible or biblical teachings, I expect it to be validated with Scripture, especially if seemingly new ideas are being introduced. This book did a very poor job of that, and it took away the author’s credibility for me.
My next issue is probably unpopular, but I’m really tired of hearing about “me time”. I’m a fan of naps and hair cuts and pedicures. But I can function without them. A good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, and prayer/Bible study can do a person wonders. 2 Corinthians 4:17 tells us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (NKJV) God renews us. He can restore us to a place of functionality. Do I need occasional breaks from my children and mopping the floor? YES! But spending the morning with my boys doesn’t warrant the need for two hours of shopping in return.
When Jesus went away on His own, He went away to pray. His alone time was necessary because it was God time. If we are to live by Christ’s example, I think we have to take this into consideration when we assess our “needs” as well.
Another concept in the book was saying “no” to things that are taking up too much time in our lives. Another good concept, in theory. Putting down the cell phone? Great! Less TV time? Fantastic! Saying “no” to tasks at work? Hmm… Most of us don’t have that option. Driving to a lake house or beach house when we need an escape from reality? Don’t have that one either. A famous writer or speaker can decide which engagements to accept and still financially support his or her family. For the average Jane and Joe, this just isn’t feasible. I fully believe there are times to take a sabbatical. (Root word: Sabbath. Oh yes, one of the Ten Commandments. Take one of those, too.) Sometimes there is a medical necessity. But a lot of us need to put on our big girl shoes and get the job done.
What I really want to convey here is this: Spending time with ourselves doesn’t make us better, but spending time with God does. This book didn’t teach this. This author got to spend more time with her family, which is wonderful. I think a lot of us need more time involved with our children. But I never got the impression her increase of time led to an increase of Jesus. John 3:30 says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (NKJV) This is how we fulfill our joy! (see verse 29) We will be better people because of Jesus. We will be more patient because we practice and pray for more of it. (Help me, Jesus!) We will exude grace when we fully believe we have received God’s grace. We will be joyful because we choose joy, which only comes when we put our trust in God, which will only come when we give our time to Him.
I beg you to be careful when reading books about the Bible or listening to speakers teaching the Bible. 9 times out of 10, I think they are speaking the Truth. But if something seems off, go to the Word. Go to a fellow believer, preferably someone more mature in the faith who can guide you in the right direction. If someone is speaking of a new concept related to the Bible, I would be very, very wary. If hundreds of years worth of theologians have not produced the same argument, I would be willing to bet, it’s not true. Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (NKJV)
While the Word of God is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), it does not adapt to meet us where we are. It will always encourage us to move closer to Jesus Christ. It will never adjust to the times or allow something previously forbidden. It will allow us to see verses we may not have seen before, or see them in a different light based on our circumstances. One verse may provide the perfect comfort when you highlight it, and make you question what it was about it that stood out when you read it six months later.
Studying the Bible should be just that. We should spend time in it, wrestle with it, talk about it, and know it. The more time you spend in the Word, the more clearly you can recognize when it is and is not taught correctly. You will ace the “true/false” section of the exam. Learn it to know it.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does[a] not slumber.” (2 Peter 2:2 NKJV)