When I was a seminarian my Bible Study Methods professor was Howard Hendricks. Professor Hendricks would say, “You can impress people from afar, but you can only impact them up close.” Hendricks was one of my favorite teachers, because he inspired me to read the Scriptures.
Hendricks taught us the inductive Bible study method. That’s not the only way to read the Bible. But Hendricks offered us four questions to apply to the reading of any text that have helped me ever since:
What does it say? (Observation)
What does it mean? (Interpretation)
How does it work? (Application)
Where does it fit? (Correlation)
Our first assignment was to read Acts 1:8 and come back to class with twenty five observations.
Our second assignment was to return to Acts 1:8 and make twenty five more observations.
A later assignment asked us to focus on Proverbs 24:30-34. It says:
I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
This passage has been on my mind lately. I’ve been thinking, “The Bible is a major collection, filled with numerous stories. Proverbs alone contains countless sayings. Why did Professor Hendricks assign this text?”
As a student entering ministry leadership, it was a reminder to be diligent, to avoid the way of a sluggard.
But a second lesson may have been even more important: wisdom can be found anywhere, illustrations are abundant, and the heart must be applied to what is seen.
I’m finished Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and C. Stephen Evans’ Kierkegaard and Spirituality: Accountability and the Meaning of Human Existence. I finished a novel called City of Thieves by David Benioff and Jay Farrar’s Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs: Portraits from a Musical Life.
Still working on David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. I also picked up Thomas Sowell’s Knowledge and Decisions. I purchased Tim Keller’s new book, Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter.
Sights and Sounds
The March 2021 tunes list posted.
Movies: Frederick Wiseman’s High School, John Wick (again), Ocean’s 8, and Redemption.
I haven’t sent a newsletter in a couple of weeks. Since my last update, I’ve written about holding tight to good thoughts, my son’s goals at 100, a forgiveness grammar, a warning against “potted” theology, why I like tie-dye, God’s big and small kingdom, Pi Day, making globes, and a different way to conduct a church business meeting.
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Be well this week. Bless others.
P. S. - J practices soccer from time to time at Robinson High School. Go Rockets.