Welcome back to the End Average Fundamentals series! If you are new to this, please begin reading the series from the beginning by clicking HERE. Although the messages work on their own, there will be more context for you if you follow them in sequence. Make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter and I’ll send these directly to you so you never miss a new post. You can sign up right on the EndAverage.com homepage. Now let’s get right to it!
Why do I feel like there should be more?
I was newly married, we were going to a great church every Sunday, and I was enjoying my career in the Army. Everything was normal. Right? On paper it looked like we had it all together and everything was right on track. So why did I feel a constant nagging in my mind that there should be more to life? I mean, was this just a first-world problem of contentment or was there really something missing?
In the last session (click here if you need to go back to read it) I talked about my realization that faith was the missing key to this sense of value that I craved. Fortunately, because of my upbringing, I was able to recognize that active faith was what I was missing. My problem was that I had no real idea of what that would look like in my life. Was that really something I wanted? I mean, we had a good thing going, why change it? But most of all – what the heck do I need to do to get faith?
What do I need to do to grow faith?
So, growing up in church you’ll hear it 1000 times, “make your walk with God personal” and, “speak to Him and really listen” or, “seek God’s will”. That’s where this religion stuff all broke down for me. Even in young adulthood, I just didn’t get it. Sure, I’d pray when I was in trouble financially, or needed something. But a lot of those prayers were coming from a point of “well, it can’t hurt to send this upstairs just in case God is listening”. A very small part of me believed these prayers would be answered, but they were never part of an ongoing conversation I had with God.
So I was starting my faith from a place of nominal belief, an identity I’d grown up with, but nothing more. I believed God loved me and died for my sins, check. When I was 5 years old I’d prayed the magic prayer that “gets” me salvation, check. I believed the Bible was God’s word, check. I legitimately wanted to improve my thoughts and behavior because I knew I wasn’t being a “good christian”. So now what?
The answer to my question was simple, and it really was a classic Sunday School answer that you all see coming already.
Just pick up the Bible and start reading it!
You know when you tell your buddy something like, “dude, just call her and say you’re sorry” or, “hey, if you fix that shattered cell phone screen it’ll stop cutting your finger”? These are common sense answers to basic problems, right? So why do we drag our feet for so long instead of just doing the right thing? What on Earth is our problem? I think the answer to that is that we aren’t very good, as a species, about setting priorities in our lives.
My doctor and I were talking about fitness one day and he said, “we make time to eat and poop every day, these are necessities for life. Stretching and movement are also necessities of life, but a lot of people only realize it once it’s too late”. I see our Bible reading habits the same way. I didn’t see the importance of it. I figured out that my Bible reading habit needed to go from not urgent, to urgent.
As soon as I started, I saw positive change
I don’t understand everything in the Book. But I’m learning more all the time. As soon as I picked up the habit of reading God’s word, I started finding little pieces of information that made other things start to make sense. Very practical things. I found lessons about money, about my relationship with my wife, and about raising kids. These are things I’d always heard preachers and pastors talk about, but reading them for myself made it stick a little bit better in my brain. I’ve always prayed for wisdom and understanding (especially as a newlywed!) and I hadn’t realized that the answer to my prayers had been sitting on the bookshelf all along.
Here are a few concepts I realized I’d been missing:
1- You can’t trust something you don’t know. Pastor John Piper says: “Know Him by reading His Word. You can’t have genuine faith in something you don’t understand.”
2- As I learn Jesus’ views on things, through His parables or the historical accounts of what He did or said, I get to filter current events through constructive lenses instead of my own biased and uneducated views.
3- My priorities are screwed up and selfish. 2 Tim 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
4- There’s no magic “wisdom wand” that God will zap you with if you ask for it enough. The wisdom I’ve always prayed for came from the application of the head knowledge I was getting from the Bible and Bible studies. So unless you’re King Solomon, you’d better start reading.
There are more new discoveries, of course, but you get the point. I was growing and my perspective on almost all areas of life was maturing and becoming more Biblically formed.
I want you to stop making excuses and I want you to try it
It changed my life. I’m not going to drag out statistics, apologetics, or any argument other than this: it worked for me and I didn’t see my budding faith bloom until I made Bible reading a habit.
If you are impatient and want to understand what you’re reading more, like I am, then you join a Bible study. I see my Bible reading like a chance to flip all the puzzle pieces to be face-up before starting a puzzle. Sermons, studies, and history lessons will help you put those puzzle pieces together. If you don’t have the pieces on the table to begin with then you will never get the whole picture. That’s called ignorance. Proverbs 2:1-5 holds a beautiful invitation and promise, “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
Make the time, go little-by-little, ask questions when you don’t understand something, surround yourself with people who are further along than you in their faith walk, and read the Bible cover to cover. Even a chapter a day and you’ll get there. I believe in you and I encourage you to try it!
Let’s end ignorant living that is influenced solely by flawed people and the media. Let’s get our wisdom from the Source.
Let’s end average together.