Monday, June 30, 2014

The Truth About Love: The Love God Has Shown Us

     1 John 4:16 tells us that God is love. What does this mean? How much does God love us? These are the questions I will be answering in this article.

     Let's think about it this way: God is love, correct? And we are supposed to be more like God than like man, right? And 1 Corinthians talks about the qualities of love, so doesn't that mean that 1 Corinthians 13 is the basic layout of what we as Christians are to be? According to 1 Corinthians 13, love is:
not envious
not boasting
not arrogant
not rude
not insisting on its own way
rejoicing in truth
all bearing
all believing
and never ending

     These are not only things that love is, but also what God is. Obviously God is insistent on His way, but that is because His will is perfect whereas ours is imperfect. What does all this have to do with God's love for us? Well, just look at this list. God is perfect in all of these things, and I can guarantee that no matter how much we love someone, our love is not perfect.

     God sent His only Son down to earth to teach those who didn't believe Him and eventually brutally tortured Him to the point of murder so that they may or may not in the future be baptized and go to heaven to spend eternity with that very man they just brutally murdered. The love and compassion that Jesus had when He died on the cross is indescribable. Jesus, known as the man of sorrows, had so many problems. He was tempted in every way possible which is something that I don't believe any of us can all say, was constantly persecuted and knew that one day He would be crucified (and even though He was still Jesus, and He still knew what would happen, and He still knew that He was God's Son, He still was scared and He still prayed that it wouldn't have to happen and He still went through with it because of His love for us) and still, as we see in Matthew 9:36 had compassion for everyone. He didn't see the fact that it was our sins that would put Him on that cross, but that He could help us to get to heaven anyway. If that isn't love, then I don't know what is. If Jesus went through all of this and was still patient, kind, not envious, not boasting, not arrogant, or rude, etc. then that shows us, who can't go a week without not being one of those things, just how much love He had. And God, having to watch His Son go through all of this because His creation was sinning against Him and wanted to give us a chance even though He knew the majority wouldn't accept this, that shows us how much love He has.

     Far too often do we think about how others should love us or how horrible our lives are that we forget how much God loves us. We cannot forget the love that God has shown us. Today I would like to encourage you all to dwell on this, and never forget the love that has been shown to us. There are no bounds to the love of God.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Truth About Love: Love Your Enemies

"You have heard that is was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" -Matthew 5:43-44 I am sure we have heard Matthew 5:43-44 quoted many, many, many many many many many times in our lives. That's because it's important. We can also see in John 13:21-23 that Jesus loved His betrayer. The Bible says, "After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in His spirit, and testified, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.' One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table at Jesus' side." Now, this doesn't say which disciple was at Jesus' side, but clearly Jesus loved all of His disciples. It's obvious here that no matter what, Jesus loved His followers. This passage later goes on to say that Judas was going to betray Jesus. Now, if you think you have it bad, imagine leaving your throne in heaven to come down to earth to save those who hate you, and then one of your closest friends ends up selling you out to people who want to brutally torture you to death for several hours, sometimes even a crucifixion would last days, all for a little bit of money. And yet Jesus still loved him. Now that we have an example of someone loving their enemies, I am going to tell you why it is important to love your enemies. You see, people are people. Maybe we have things against them, and maybe they have something against us, but when you think about the big picture of things, we're all just people who each sees a different side of the world than what everyone else sees. When Judgement Day comes, and we are on trial for our sins, do you think that God is going to care about other people? Judgement Day is about you and what you have done. It doesn't matter what anyone else does, but about how you react to those things. In James 2:8-9 it says, "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors." Now, we could stop here and say that this means we have to love everyone equally. However, if we continue reading, in verse 10 it says, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for it all." Based on the context, we can see that this means that we can't just love some people and hate others. We can't just pick and choose who we love, we have to love everyone. Not just some. Lastly, I am going to tell you not only that you should love your enemies, but how to love your enemies. It's easy to say, "Love your enemies" but how is this done? How do we love someone who we just absolutely cannot stand? Well, look over in Ephesians 4:29 the Bible says, "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." If we only talk bad to and about other people, then this will not only have a negative impact on that person, but it will also teach our minds that it's okay to dislike a certain person. If you continue on to verses 31-32 it says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." This verse may not be talking about hate specifically, but once we do what the Bible says, we will be so full of love that there will be no room for hate left. Once we learn to do these things, loving our enemies will become easier and easier as the days go by. It's very important to not only love your neighbor, but to love your enemies as well. I would like to encourage you all to move on past the rough things that happen in life, and to always look to God, who always has the answers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Truth About Love: "Love Is Love" VS "God Is Love"

    Okay, so I've talked on the subject of homosexuality once or twice before, but never have I directly taught against it. I mean, I taught against it, but the only time I really did an article on it was when I was talking about how we should remember that we do have to teach everyone in love, and not avoid edifying others because their sins are more shocking to us. After all, the Bible is written for the unjust as we see in 1 Timothy 1:9 which says, "understanding this that the law is not laid down for the just but for the disobedient" and it continues on down the list which includes sinners, murderers, those who despise their fathers and mothers, and of course, the homosexual.

Homosexuality is becoming more and more popular as morals slowly die off from the people who are falling away from the Bible. The farther away a country gets from the Bible, the worse off it gets. This is because the plan that God has for us is perfect, and unfortunately man thinks that his ideas are better, when in reality it's the exact opposite. People seem to also believe that disagreement means hatefulness but really that is not the case. 1 Timothy 1 talks a lot about homosexuality. But before he starts, Paul says something that I find interesting, as if it were meant for this exact time in the 21st century. In 1 Timothy 1:5 it says, "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." Before I get into this, I want to stress that I don't hate anyone. I want to stress that no one should hate, and that even though people think that Christians hate all homosexuals, that doesn't mean that we do.

"It's not that big of a deal." or, "It's not like it's hurting anyone." and, "Love is love." are sentences that I have heard all too much when hearing people speak about homosexuality. However, I want to bring your attention to Jude verse 7 which says, "just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire." I know that this seems a bit harsh, and I won't go too much into it because that's what my next article is going to be on, but I want to encourage you all to  read Romans 1 because it really talks about it a lot. But as we can clearly see in this verse, it really is a big deal.

     Romans 1:27 says, "and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error." I don't want to get into this too much, again, because I don't want to get into my next article and then have nothing to write about. But as you can see in Jude verse 7, Sodom and Gomorrah were absolutely destroyed because of the sexual immorality and issues with homosexuality. These things are too often taken lightly or sometimes even encouraged by Christians more and more as time goes on. In light of this, I would like to direct your attention to Romans 1:32 which says, "Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things [speaking about gossips, slanderers, haters of God, etc. that we see in verse 30] deserve to die, they do not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them." Now, this isn't talking about homosexuality specifically, but clearly based on the context it's talking about sin. People who not only do these sins, but encourage or give approval to those who do those sins are just as much in the wrong as those who are doing the sins. It's not something to be taken lightly.

     Lastly, I will be discussing the very common phrase "Love is love", in saying that it doesn't matter who or how you love, because love is simply that: love. However, I would like to point you all to 1 John 4:16 which says "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." This passage states clearly that God is love, and if God is love then doesn't he get a say in what what love should be? God is love, and yes it's important to love everyone but also to stay in the bounds of what is natural.

Today I would like to encourage you all to not only not hate people, despite their sins, but to teach to them the truth, and to not fall into the so called "wisdom" that the world supposedly has, but to remain faithful and always search the scriptures to find your answers for everything.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Truth About Love: Insisting on Your Own Way

     In my first article in this series, I mentioned how 1 Corinthians 13:5 talks about how we should not insist on our own way, and then I went on to say that love insists on God's way. Today, I will be talking about that.

     In my previous article I talked about brotherly love, and sometimes we have to shake the dust off of our feet and continue on. However, before we give up we have to start, and today I am going to be telling you all about starting because not all friendships have to end. Some friendships can continue on as you teach others and grow along with them. After all, as we can see in 1 Timothy 1:9, the law is not for those who follow it, but who don't. This isn't telling us that those who are Christians don't need to study, but that those who are imperfect do, and honestly I have never met a single person in my entire life who was perfect. We need to spread God's word to those who don't know it.

     There is a big difference between God and man. God is perfect while man is imperfect. God is the Creator, we are the created. As humans, we tend to have a will of our own and what we want to do is what we want to do. Unlike God's, our will is imperfect. What we want to do is selfish and about us, while God is perfect and dwells on love and forgiveness. If we are going to teach and love others, we cannot insist on our way, we have to insist on God's. After all, isn't that what love is? Teaching others about God and helping them reach the heavenly goal? It's okay to be opinionated. It's okay to speak up against someone (in a loving way) and it's okay to tell someone your unpersuadable beliefs because that is exactly what we as Christians ought to do. However, we cannot insist on our way, but on God's. We cannot become opinionated on something just because we like the sound of it, or the effects it has. If it is not in line with what God says, then it is irrelevant. The only thing that we need to be insistent on is God's way. We need to teach others with such enthusiasm that they will listen because no one is going to listen to someone who doesn't care what they are talking about.

     Now, obviously, as women we can't teach men or get up into a pulpit and preach to the mountain tops, but we can talk to our friends. We can always study with someone, or teach at ladies days or at least just invite them to church but if you have a personal connection with someone, it is your job, not the job of your preacher or the elders or your parents, but it is your job as a Christian to help that person towards heaven. Clearly there's nothing wrong with asking for help but when you have a personal connection with someone, are you more likely to listen to them or a perfect stranger? This is also why we need to study: so we can always be prepared to answer any questions someone may have for us, and if we don't have the answer then go home and study it. It's our responsibility as Christians to help those around us reach heaven and to always insist on God's way. It's okay to ask someone not to cuss in front of you because that's not insisting on your way but on God's way. It's okay to tell someone that you can't go to that movie or to that party because you know it's no good because that's not insisting on your way but on God's way. We have to insist on God's way if we want to be a good influence and lead others to heaven.

     Today I would like to encourage all of you to think about your actions, and to always insist on God's way, not your own. Today I would like to encourage you all to stand up for what's right because we cannot insist on our way if we want to help others because our way is imperfect. I would also like to encourage all of you to read and study this on your own, along with anything else you read or hear.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Truth About Love: Brotherly Love

   Today I will be talking about the depressingly under-used verses about brotherly love in Romans 12:9-10. I won't be reading the whole thing all at once, but will take it bit-by-bit, examining each part so we can get a better understanding of what it really means.

     I'll start out by first reading verse 9 to get a better context of verse 10. Verse 9 commands, "Let love be genuine. Abhor to what is evil; hold fast to what is good." I'm sure that there are many of you who have memorized this by now, but have you ever thought about what it really means? "Let love be genuine" basically means to not be fake. Don't just act like you love someone, make it real. Let your love come from the heart. How do we do this? Well, we can start off by always assuming the best in everyone and only seeing the best in everyone. Some synonyms for the word "genuine" are honest, absolute, certain, and legitimate. Our love has to be real. The next part says to abhor what is evil. What does "abhor" mean? To abhor something means to loathe or to hate it. When you hate something, do you typically stay away from it? I'm going to go into that a bit.

     I don't want to go off topic here, but when the Bible says to abhor what is evil, it means that we have to hate it and avoid it at all costs. How can we say that we abhor evil if we say that we are just going to have "a little drink"? "It can't hurt. One little drink won't get me drunk, right?" How can we say that we abhor evil when we go and see a movie even though, yeah, it does have a scene and a ton of cussing, but "that doesn't really bother me." One of the sayings that upsets me greatly is "that doesn't really bother me." Sin should bother us if we abhor it like we are commanded to in this verse. We also have to sometimes avoid people who are bad influences. Just because you love someone, that doesn't mean you have to spend all of your time with them. Sometimes we have to knock the dust off of our feet and move on.

     The next part of this verse talks about how we should hold on to things that are good. I have moved a lot in my life so if there is something that I can find that will stick around and won't change, I want to hold on to it. I want to hold on to anything and everything that won't change, and that is exactly what we need to do with our Christianity. We live in a world of sin, so when we see something good, we need to grab hold of it and cherish it. That is what we need to do with our friends who will help us through life as Christians, we need to cherish the times we get to worship in the assembly, and we need to read and study our Bibles because that is the only perfect thing that we still have in this world: the Word of God. Yes we have baptism but how can we know about it unless we study God's Word? We need to hold fast God's Word and those who we love because those are the things that will get us through life.

     I know this article is getting kind of long so I'll try wrapping it up, but looking in verse 10 now it starts off with "Love one another with brotherly affection." What does this mean, "brotherly affection"? This means that we don't love everyone like a husband or wife, or like the respectful love that we have for God, but a love that is kind, and gentle and compassionate. We ought to love one another in a way that there is no doubt that we are Christians by the way we treat others. This means we cannot gossip, or slander. We cannot call names, but we have to treat others as we would wish to be treated as we see in Matthew 7:12. We have to "Outdo one another in showing honor", the verse ends. We have to love everyone and treat them like we would our own brother. If we all did this, wouldn't the world be such a better place?

     We have to treat everyone with love and respect, and no matter how badly someone treats us, we have to love them because they are, in fact, our brothers and sisters in Christ and need our love. Today I would like to encourage you all to think about this and study it, because it's a very important topic that deserves much time observing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Truth About Love Introduction: What Love Really is/ A 1 Corinthians Kind of Love

I'm going to be honest with you guys here for a second. I almost didn't go through with posting this series because there is so much about love, I'm not sure 11 articles can cover 1 100th of the subject. Plus, the amount of verses on love is absolutely overwhelming. In the back of my Bible I have kind of an index I made for myself about different topics in the Bible, and I have two separate columns for love alone, not to mention things that are related to love, which is pretty much everything else. There is a lot about love in the Bible. But why? Why is love so important? Why? Well, I'll be explaining that. 

     The word "love" is over-used and over-simplified. The world views love as an attraction between two people that leads them to date. Now, I am going to get on a rant about the dating kind of "love". I'm not teaching for or against any kind of dating method. I believe that it is completely dependent on the person, the situation, and age. However, people, especially teens, get "love" and "like" confused. Love is spending time with someone and caring about them. Love is putting someone else above yourself no matter what. "Like" is when you see and treat someone as you want to treat them. You are in that relationship because of your benefits. Like is attraction to a relationship while Love is a love and respect for a person. When you only like someone, you're only in the relationship because you want to get something out of it. But then when one of you realizes that you don't love the other, everything ends. When it comes to relationships, we need to love that person, no matter what (this includes if the dating relationship ends) and respect them, and put God first above all else. Other than those things nothing matters. 

     Now, what is love? I'm sure we have all heard 1 Corinthians 13 a million times when talking about love, so I won't go into that too much. I'm just going to name the characteristics it says love is. Love is patience, kindness, not envious, not boasting, not arrogant, not rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable, not resentful, not rejoicing in wrong doing, rejoicing in truth, bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring all things. Notice how I put "not insistent on its own way" in bold and italics. 

     Many people see this as an excuse to not teach others diligently. They see this as a reason to slack off and give up easily. But love isn't insisting on its own way, it's insistent on God's way. I know this is a rather long article but there is a lot about love in the Bible. I mean, I have been studying for the past 3 hours and have barely scratched the surface on any of it. The reason love is in the Bible so much is because if we all loved with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love 100% perfectly, then we wouldn't sin. Every sin has a negative effect on someone else, whether we realize it or not. Not spreading the word enough: lack of love. Gossip: not enough love for others. Dressing immodestly: not enough respect for the eyes of men. If we loved everyone and considered everything, then that takes care of pretty much every sin. This is why love is so important. I am going to be expanding on this throughout the series, and I really hope that you stay around and read the rest of these articles. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Truth About Hate

     As you may already know, I am going to be having a series about love starting Wednesday and I know I haven't been posting regularly lately but these are on a timer and most of them are already written so I promise that they will be posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Anyway, I'm really excited about this series and I hope that you study the subject on your own as well as read some of the articles because it really is an important topic, and there's a lot about it in the Bible.

     The topic I am going to be talking about is hate. Why am I talking about hate? Because I believe that before I talk about love I should talk about hate. What is hate? Hate isn't just hoping that someone, to put it in light terms, doesn't go to heaven. Yes that is part of hatred, but really hatred is just not loving someone. I'm not saying that you have to have a deep loving connection with everyone, there are different kinds of love. When you love someone, you don't gossip about them, or say rude things to them. When you love someone you don't steal from them or hurt them. These acts are often considered hateful acts, and they are. So doesn't it make sense that when you perform hateful acts against someone, then you don't love them, and that you hate them?

     Don't get me wrong, everyone slips up. I'm not saying that just because you said something against someone once then you automatically hate them. I'm talking about when you repeatedly go out of your way to hurt another person. That is hate. Hate is when you only ever think bad about another person and don't even try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Love builds people up while hate tears them down. 

     A lot of girls (including me) have a hard time with always being kind to everyone. I'm not saying that guys don't struggle too, but a lot of women have this knack of saying the exact right thing to make someone else feel bad. I have honestly heard of some people who called this an art, but in reality it's not. Yes it's important to talk to people when you have a problem but purposefully talking badly to or about a person is hateful, and we have to avoid it.

     Today I would like to encourage you to look at your actions and change any and all hateful actions before they become intentionally hateful, and if you are being intentionally hateful to think about it, and think about what you are putting the other person through. It's very important to love your neighbor as yourself, and that includes everyone. Even that one person who you may just really not like. It's always important to love.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Our Words

     Words are quite possibly my favorite things in the entire world. In fact, I love them so much that I am taking an online vocabulary course outside of school. If you use words correctly, you can do some amazing things. However, we need to be cautious when using our words. We can not only build people up with our words, but tear them down as well. 

     James 3 talks a lot about the tongue. In verse 2 it says that if we do not stumble in what we say, we are "a perfect man" because, well, I'll get to that in a second. The tongue is a reflection of our thoughts. If the thought hasn't crossed our mind, then we likely won't be saying it. Likewise, I'm sure that you, as well as I, have said something that you undoubtedly shouldn't have. Maybe it was gossip, or a lie, or not keeping a secret that you probably should have, maybe it was something inappropriate, or maybe you expressed something rather harsh to someone. We have all been there, and we have all said things that we shouldn't have. The tongue is one of the hardest things to tame. The whole verse of John 3:2 says, "For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body." 

     James 3:2 isn't saying that if you don't gossip, you're automatically perfect, but that if you can control what you say, then everything else will seem mild in comparison. But why do we have to control what we say? Why is it important to not talk about that girl behind her back? I mean, she totally started going out with my ex boyfriend and she knows that I'm still not over him! (Okay, not really, I'm just using this as an example.) But let's turn to an incredibly familiar passage in Matthew 7:12 which says, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." It is important to always be loving towards others, even if you don't necessarily get along with them. 

     God gave us our tongues not to tear everyone down, but to build them up, and encourage them. We were given this gift of speech to teach the gospel, not to tell Emily about how horrible of a person Sarah is. It's important that we always think before we speak, so we don't accidentally say the wrong thing and lose a lot of friendships in the process.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Truth About Love: Love in Our Actions

     We are all told to love our neighbors, but what are the actions of love? What does love do? Is love all about walking up to people, hugging them, then telling them that you love them? No. Today I will be talking about the actions of love (although I will try to stray away from 1 Corinthians 13 since I've already done numerous articles on the actions of love that passage illustrates)

     One of the things that love does is it increases. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 says, "and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all as we do for you," If we have a pure love, then it will not decrease over time but increase. That's the thing about relationships; too often do people start out in what they think is love, but that love only decreases. That's not true love. And I'm not saying that all relationships HAVE to continue and once you like someone you can never not like that person, but just because you don't love someone in a relationship kind of way, that doesn't mean that you can't still love them. Our love should only increase throughout our lives, and we should always pray for our love to increase.

     The second action of love is comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:4 talking about God, says "who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." A lot of times I will go through something and it's hard at the time, but then a few months later a friend of mine will be going through that very thing and it makes it much easier to help them knowing that I know exactly what to say. It also helps me to be patient with them because I understand exactly where they're coming from. Yes sometimes life stinks but if we let our hard times go towards helping those who we love, then it's much better than going through those difficult times without giving them a purpose.

    Thirdly, love prays. Matthew 5:44 says "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." This isn't saying to pray that you hate someone less, although that is important, but we also have to pray for their souls. Our enemies should be our enemies because they have sinned against God in sinning against us, otherwise it's anger without reason which according to Matthew 5:22 anyone who is, is in danger of hell fire. When we pray for our enemies, we should pray for three things: That we be less angry with them if we are, that God be with them and help them to see their wrongdoings and change, and to always look for the good in them because that is the fourth thing I will be talking about.

     The fourth thing and last that I will be talking about right now is that love looks. Love looks for the best in others, and nothing else. Love does not talk about others imperfections but those things about them that are good. Ephesians 4:29 tells us to let no corrupt talk come out of your mouth, but "only such as is good for building up as fits the occasion, that it may give the gift of grace to all who hear." We not only have to see the good things in other, but also talk about the good thing about others. In order to speak only good about others, we first have to see it.

     Obviously there are more actions of love that I couldn't get to in this article, but I would like to encourage you to study this. There is so much about love that I cannot even begin to scrape the surface of this incredibly amazing subject. There is so much about love that I couldn't possibly form into words the love that God has shown for us. I'd like to encourage you all to study this on your own and to teach as many people as you can in this small number of days that we are given.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How Do I Study?

     The other day I posted about how we should study our Bibles often. So often do I hear this, but rarely is it that I hear people teaching about how to study. I mean, we aren't born with the knowledge of how to study things. You can't just hand someone a book, say, "Study this" and then expect them to know what do. And honestly, I know you're probably thinking, "UGH! MORE STUDYING!" But as a person who hates studying with a fiery passion of a thousand burning suns, studying the Bible has to be one of the most fun and interesting things I have ever done. There are so many connections that you would have never thought of before you started studying. There's no passage that you can't get a bucket-load of information out of. So today I am going to be talking about 3 of the many different ways to study your Bible.

     The first way to study the scripture is to do a scripture study. This is where you choose a scripture that speaks out to you, or one that you just picked out randomly and read it, and the surrounding verses. Once you're done reading that verse, analyze it. Analyze the words, the context, the statement, who's writing it, everything. Pick apart the verse and find out what it really means (it's VERY IMPORTANT to not only have an accurate translation when studying, but also to have a correct understanding of the context when studying) and then find another verse that's related to it (most Bibles will have a small list of related verses on the side, although again you have to be careful with this because of context context) and continue to do it that way. Pretty soon you will have several verses, ideas, etc. that all match up in ways you never thought they would.

     The second way to study is by doing a word study. A word study is where you choose a word and find all the places in the Bible where that word is listed (sometimes this takes longer than others) and find the connections. One of my favorites of these is the word "love". This one is interesting because there is so much about love that it's connected everywhere. Anyway, word studies are probably one of the most fun kinds of studying. It's always interesting, and even if there is no connection, you're still studying and that's what's important.

     The third way of studying is by books. Now this one if very tricky because a lot of books teach false doctrine in them, so it's very important to get your books from a trusted source. Apologetic Press is a company that I highly recommend, they sell tons of great books, DVD's, etc. Of course, books are great tools but it's also to do some studying on your own.

    A couple other tricks are to write in the margins of your Bibles. That's okay. It's actually really good to do! You can get these amazing pens called "micron pens" by Pigma. They leave a really small, fine line so you can write in margins, and they don't bleed through like regular pens. Another thing is to color-code. In the front of my Bible, in one of those blank pages I have a log of what each color means, and instead of using highlighters that will bleed through, I use colored pencils, and they're much softer looking and less bright and painful than highlighters. They also won't smudge, and they're so much cheaper than highlighters. One last thing is use the blank pages in the back of your Bible! In the back of mine I have a key of several different subjects and verses under them, and as time goes on I fill them out, add more subjects, etc. You could also do several other things, but that's something that has really helped me a lot in my studies.

     I know this is a rather long article and it's not really about the Bible, but I do believe that studying on your own is better than reading articles that someone else wrote. I'd like to encourage you all to study often, and to use some of these studying tactics. The Bible is one of the two most important thing that we were ever given, and it was written so that anyone can understand it. I'd like to encourage you all to mark in your Bibles, make notes, add colors, do whatever makes study better. You never know what will help.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Context and Study

     Before I talk about this subject, I'd just like to mention that starting the 18th of this month, and ending on the 11th of July I am going to be doing a series called, "The Truth About Love", to celebrate my 2 year anniversary for this blog (which is actually on July 20th) and I really hope you all make sure and keep an eye out for it. I enjoy doing series a whole lot, especially this one, and thank you all for reading all my articles, it really means a lot to me.
     If you really wanted to, you could make the Bible say anything. You could justify murder, lying, homosexuality, gossiping, and so much more just by taking things out of context. You can turn to Luke 10:37 any time we want to do something and see, "You go, and do likewise." and think to yourself, "Oh, obviously this wouldn't be in the Bible if it could be so easily taken out of context. This clearly means that I should do whatever I want to." As crazy as that sounds, people do that all the time. We have to be careful about what context we use. This is why it's important to study.

     When you are in school, your primary way of thinking isn't critical thinking. We are told in society to eat what's on our plate and don't ask questions. However, we need to learn how to think critically. Not that I'm saying we should absolutely question everything anyone says. But we also shouldn't rely wholly on the teachings of others. We need to do studies of our own so that when someone does take something out of context, we can know and not be led astray, and help them understand it better. Also we need to study so that we ourselves don't accidentally take things out of context. The best way to have a full understanding of a verse of passage in the Bible is to read that entire chapter. Or even better the entire book. We need to always be reading and studying so that we can come to a verse, and understand exactly the context that it's in.

    Now, I've been doing a lot of algebra lately so I'm going to do some math here so I can finally make some use of all this frustration and hard work. The average life span is around 70-75 years. There are 31,103 verses in the Bible, and 1,189 chapters, averaging to about 26 verses in a chapter. So I went through the Bible and found a chapter that had 26 verses in it and it took about 1 minute, 30 seconds to read. But for convenience sake I'm going to round that up to 2 minutes because of course some chapters take a long time to read, and who knows, maybe I'm a fast reader. Now, there are 60 minutes in an hour, so I'm going to divide that by 2 because that's how many minutes it takes to read a chapter, and that's about 30 chapters you can read in a 60 minute period of time. Since there are 24 hours in a day, that's about 720 chapters in a 24 hour period, but we all need about 8 hours of sleep, and breaks throughout the day for things like eating and such, so I'll take off 10 hours for that. That gives us 420 chapters in a day, 2,940 in a week, and 153,300 chapters in a year. Divide that by how many chapters there are in the bible, and you get about 128 times in the year that you can read through the Bible if that's all you do is eat, sleep, and read the Bible. Which means that if you live about 75 years, counting the fact that most people can't read until they're a bout 5, that gives you about 9,025 times to read the Bible in the average lifespan if all we do is eat, sleep, and read. Obviously this is impractical because we all have to have jobs to put food on the table, and most people have active social lives, but it really makes you think about how much time we really spend reading the Bible.

     How many times have you actually read the Bible? Now, I'm guilty of this too, I'm not completely sure I've ever actually read through the Bible because I'll start a Bible reading plan and then next thing I know I've read Hebrews 11 times and I still haven't even touched Numbers yet because it's quite a difficult read. But I would like to encourage you all to not just read the Bible, but to study it. There are absolutely no excuses for not reading your Bible. Well, if you're in a coma I guess you kinda can't. And if you're a constantly busy person, or have a hard time reading, we live in a wonderful time full of electronics that can read the Bible to us. It's always important to read and study your Bibles every day, because we were born not to die, but to make sure that we live eternally.