Did I get your attention with the title of this blog post? I hope so! That was my goal. Do you know what the definition of masticate is? If not, let me enlighten you. Masticate means to chew. And, today I want to talk to you about digestion. Digestion starts as soon as you take the first bite of a meal. Chewing is the first step in the digestion process and it is a crucial one. Chewing breaks the food into pieces that are more easily digested, while saliva mixes with the food to begin the process of breaking the food down into a form that your body can absorb and use. In other words, if you want to get the most out of your meals, the most nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, you must thoroughly chew your food before you swallow it.
So, what does chewing and digestion have to do with growing closer to God? A lot. Stay with me here.
As a kid, did your mom tell you to take your time and chew your food? To not gobble it up? Or, just not to eat so fast? If so, you had a smart mom! Per science and research, this is one instance where mom knows best. You should slow down and savor your meals. When you chew slowly and chew at least 32 times—it is better for your overall nutrition, digestion, and for telling our brains we are full so we don’t overeat.
I think we should apply these same principles to reading our Bibles. (Or, as I say, Book of Life.) I have been talking a good bit lately about growing spiritually and having a better relationship with Christ. The two best ways we can do this is by spending time reading our Bible each day and by praying. Today I am focusing on reading our Bibles.
Now, I know what you are thinking, reading the Bible is no easy task. It is a big book. Just looking at it can be intimidating. And, depending on which version you have, well, that can make it tougher. I grew up with the King James Version and all those “thous” and “arts” make it difficult to understand. As a theatre nerd, I liken it to reading Shakespeare. (I love Shakespeare, but it takes me a good deal of time to read and understand his plays. And, having two degrees in theatre, I have studied my fair share of them.)
But, fear not! Living in the 21st century has its perks! There are newer translations of the Bible that are easier to read than the King James Version. I know that there are lot of translations available and that in and of itself can be confusing. I am currently reading and studying a New International Version (NIV) of the Bible that was created specifically for study. I really enjoy it. And, below are some suggestions that I want to share with you that I think are helpful in reading your Bible.
First, take some time one day, go to a book store and pick up and read several translations. Buy the one that you understand the most. Personally, I don’t think God cares which version you read, He just wants you to read it. I think you will find the Holy Spirit in all of them! By reading it, you will be spending top quality time with the most important person in your life!
Once you have a Bible that you are comfortable with, schedule a time to read it each day. If you put it in your schedule, you are more likely to do it. You eat three meals a day (or you should) and those are scheduled at certain times. Think of reading your Bible as eating a daily meal. You need the nourishment from the Bible as much, if not more, than you need to eat food each day. Going to church on Sunday is not enough! Can you imagine only eating one day a week? That would suck! If I go a few hours without eating, my head starts to hurt. There is no way I would last a day without food, much less a week, without being completely miserable.
Then, once you have a set time to read your Bible, take your time with it. Go at your own speed. There are no rules here. No one says that you must read a chapter a day, or get through the whole Bible in a year. Maybe you just read for 10 minutes a day, maybe 30. Do what works best for you. But, I do suggest that whatever time you put into it, make it count. Since the Bible is sustenance for the soul, treat it accordingly. Don’t just pop it into your mouth and sallow it--masticate it slowly, savor it, and really enjoy and digest it. There are life-giving words in this book. Let these words become your life-blood. Let them enter your blood stream and flow to every part of your body. Let them renew your spirit, let them rejuvenate you!
And, because it can still be a hard thing to do, let me give you one last suggestion. There is a great book that was published in 2016 that can help you. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Charles R. Swindoll’s Searching the Scriptures when you buy your Bible. I found this book in my library when it first came out and I realized that I needed to own it. It is fabulous tool that shows you how to dig deep into the scriptures. Plus, it was a 2017 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist in the Christian Living category. (ECPA stands for Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. You can read more about them here.) I think this book and a Bible are the two basic tools you will need to begin to transform your spiritual life.
By spending time with God each day by reading your Bible and in prayer, you will be putting yourself in the perfect position to grow in your spiritual life by leaps and bounds.
This is how you will grow your faith. This is how you will grow up. And, this is how you fight the good fight.
I wanted to share some things with you that have been on my mind lately, no pun intended (see title). And, my purpose in sharing this information is to educate you. So, before we go any further, I need to point out that while I hope this information is useful to everyone, I think it will be especially useful for those of you who “over-think” things.
I am an “over-thinker”—and I hate it. I honestly think sometimes about how nice it would be to be able to “flip a switch” in my brain and turn it off the part of me that cares about things so much. (Hence, the over-thinking.) I know that sounds bad, but, I am just being honest. Or, I think about lobotomies. I had a great-uncle that I never got to meet who had a lobotomy. (At least, I am pretty sure he did.) And, being a theatre nerd, it leads me into thinking about The Glass Menagerie and Laura/Rose. But, I digress.
I guess I just like the idea of being able to turn off my thoughts when I need to. I am learning, or trying to learn, to love myself just as I am. I mean, after all, this is the way God made me. And, the Bible tells us that BEFORE God formed us in the womb, He knew us and that we were set apart. (See Jeremiah 1:5) Plus, I also know from the Bible and experience that, through God, we are made strong in our weakness.
So, how about you? Are you an over-thinker like me? Do you pick things apart and go over them a million times? Do you obsess about people or things and wish you could change them? If so, I am here to tell you that you are not alone and there is help. Isn’t that great news??
I am part of a book club. I call it the Bible book club, as it is through a church and we read books by Christian authors to help us grow spiritually. (Side note, it is one of my favorite activities!) We recently finished reading the book The Mind Connection by Joyce Meyer and it has truly been a God-send. The secondary title of the book is How The Thoughts YOU Choose Affect Your Mood, Behavior, And Decisions (emphasis mine). Our book club not only reads books, but we work on the study guides that go along with the books we read. And, The Mind Connection has a great study guide for you to use. It helps you think about the topics more deeply and get more out of the whole experience.
I just love Joyce Meyer! If you have never ready any of her books, I strongly urge you to pick one up. Joyce writes from her heart and she writes in way that is easy to understand and follow. And, once you know her history, she will become an inspiration to you. But, this book in particular has been so helpful to me. I have already decided that I am going to re-read it again soon. And, it is one of those books that I now carry around with me, so I can quickly go back to certain sections when I need to.
For whatever reason, many people believe that they have no control over their thoughts, but it is not true! The main point of this book is for you to realize that YOU are the only person who can control your thoughts. Joyce points out that what you think about is reflected in your words, actions, decisions, and emotions. With God’s help, you can control what you think about. With God’s help, you can renew your mind and your thoughts. You can get better!
There is a question that Joyce asks in an earlier part of the book, that really struck a chord me with. She says, “I wonder how many blessings and provisions we miss in life because we simply have the wrong attitude. How often is God merely waiting to see how we respond to difficulty before He moves to help us?” My bet is A LOT! What do you think?
So, if you are like me, and over-think everything all the time, you need to read this book. You need to take all the great advice and recommendations in it to heart. It may take some time to wrap your head around it and to act upon the information in it. But, if you want to see changes in your life--if you truly want to change, with God’s help, you can! I know this is true because it is working for me right now.
Thanks to Joyce and her book, I am changing the way I think about things. And, I am NOT focusing on things or people like I used to. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am making progress. It is all about baby steps for me. I am handing off most of the stuff that I can’t deal with to God. And I am adjusting my thoughts to the good and positive things in my life. And, I plan on staying the course. Read this book and join me, won’t you?
The Bible is called by many names: The Word, Word of Life, Holy Scriptures, Holy Writ, Good Book, and Book of Books. (These are just the ones that come to me at the moment. I am sure there are some I forgot.) While these are all accurate descriptions of the Bible, my favorite is Book of Life. Why? I guess because in the simplest terms a) it is a book and b) it gives me life. I honestly think that it is the most important book you can ever read. It is often referred to as living and breathing. And, I truly believe that it is! (Which is just another reason to refer to it as the Book of Life!) And, as a Christian who longs to grow up in Christ, it is vital to take time each day to read this Book of Life. Read it over and over and over again. Each time you do, you will gain new insight and wisdom that you missed before. It may sound crazy, but it is true.
Have you ever watched a funny movie and then re-watched it later and realized that you missed a funny part? Maybe you were laughing too much from something that happened earlier. Maybe it was just a quick visual joke. Maybe you were too busy digging that popcorn kernel out of your teeth. Whatever the reason, you got something out of it the second time around that you didn’t get the first time around. The Bible works the same way! The only difference is that after watching the same movie over and over, you eventually run out of things to discover. The Bible is so dense and packed with nutrients that your spirit needs, you can NEVER run out of the hidden gems it contains. I believe that this is yet another reason people refer to as living and breathing.
The book of Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12 tells us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.“ In other words, for those who read it and believe it, this Book of Life gives you all of the tools and resources you could ever need to live your life successfully in and for God.
Commentator Matthew Henry wrote of the Bible that it “convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to.” Pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it?
In today’s world, you don’t have to carry around a Bible to get the benefits from it. If you have a cell phone, that is all you need. You can either read the Bible from an app on your phone, or you can listen to it being read to you. Or, you can be a nerd like me and lug around your Bible in a tote bag. I like to keep it handy. You never know when you will get an opportunity to open it up and glean some fresh understanding, or share it with others.
So, I hope that you will take some time out of your day and read your Book of Life. Get into the habit of reading it each and every day. It could be just the refreshment that your weary soul needs. (How do I know you are weary? Well, aren’t we all??) And, I will leave you with a link to my current favorite song, “Word of Life” by Jeremy Camp. It is an energetic song with compelling lyrics about the Bible. You’re welcome! :)
I am a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.