At the beginning of the year I set a goal to read 15 “theology” books (check out more about my goal here and here). While it looks like I will only finish 11 of the 15 (the one today is number 10, but number 11 is almost finished) I am still happy with what I’ve done and decided to make a new goal for next year of 13 books with two in depth Bible studies in addition.
Today is all about the book Life with God: Reading for Spiritual Transformation by Richard Foster.
If you are like me, you have read the Bible and know the stories pretty well. Even if you don’t know the stories too well, reading the Bible isn’t always the easiest, especially when reading through Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Numbers, they aren’t exactly page turners! Even the more readily understood books like the Gospels can often be skimmed over and nothing gained from reading them. Another thing I have noticed is that “knowing” the Bible does not equate to being changed by the Bible and that is why I initially chose to read this book.
Those two things are what I want to highlight from this book today. I want to share Mr. Foster’s point of view and insight into these two topics.
It is not surprising, then, that study that focuses on knowledge alone does not lead to life transformation, which is the real human need.
The second common objective people often have for studying the Bible is to find some formula that will solve the pressing need of the moment. Thus we seek out lists of specific passages that speak to particular needs rather than seeking whole-life discipleship to Jesus.
When we read the Bible we need to do it with the mindset of being transformed by God’s Word and not just reading it to check off our list of things to do.
So how do we know if we have been transformed by reading the Bible? Mr. Foster says:
the test of whether or not we have really gotten the point of the Bible would then be the quality of love that we show.
The outpouring of love on others, whether we know them or even like them, is the true test of whether we have been changed. And how do we do that? Mr. Foster says we need to work on the spiritual disciplines in our lives which include:
fasting and prayer, study and service, submission and solitude, confession and worship, meditation and silence, simplicity, frugality, secrecy, sacrifice, celebration, and the like.
A Spiritual Discipline is an intentionally directed action by which we do what we can do in order to receive from God the ability (or power) to do what we cannot do by direct effort.
We need to do what we can in order to do what we cannot by the power of God. Studying the Bible for knowledge is good, but studying it to be transformed is better!