The first part of this 3-part series, “Get Your Own Tape”, Part 1, reminded us that, after a while, Christians need to get the point where we should no longer have to rely solely on others feeding us spiritually.
In addition, our intake of spiritual food should increase. Like an athlete in training, or a teenager in a growth spurt, we need to take in enough spiritual “food” to develop and grow in a healthy manner.
I don’t think that you’ll find any preacher (at least among those who have stood and taught others for a reasonable amount of time), who will tell you that a Sunday morning sermon is enough to grow sufficiently as a Christian. There are those who regularly deliver deep, expository sermons (and our special thanks to those who do this faithfully, whether every week, or as part of a blended mix of other sermon types); however, 20, 30, or even 60 minutes of a lesson every week is probably not enough for Christians who have moved beyond the 100- and 200-level content of the Bible.
So, we’re going to have to feed ourselves, too. If listening to a pastor speak on Sunday morning is “going to church”, then our involvement starts with “read the Bible” and “praying”. In some ways, these latter two Christian disciplines are overlapping parts of the same kind of discipline:
- When we read the Bible, we learn about God. Some parts of the Bible tells us directly what God is like, while other passages tell us how to make good decisions. Still other portions of the Bible show us what not to do, often by illustrating the consequences resulting from bad choices made by others. We also have the opportunity to seek out answers to questions, by looking up what God has to say about specific topics.
- When we pray, we get the chance to tell God both what is going on – our thoughts, our concerns, our frustrations – and, to listen to His reply. Sometimes, God talks to us through the Bible, and other times He talks to us directly (whether a strong pull on our heart, or sometimes hearing Him audibly), or through circumstances.
But, we can’t just learn that we should do these things, or listen to someone tell us that it is important. We need to act upon them.
If you aren’t reading the Bible and talking with God regularly, I’m confident that you will benefit from giving this a try. If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest finding a Bible, and trying to read a chapter of the gospels each day. (The “gospels” are four accounts of Jesus’ ministry, contained in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Most Bibles come with an index to locate these.)
For some more suggestions, see also the article, Devotions. However, don’t limit yourself to this site – talk with trusted Christian friends about what parts of the Bible have been the most beneficial for them to read.
In addition to the gospels, the Psalms are a favorite of many. In Psalm 119, the author talks a lot about how much he values God’s Word (the portions that he had access so in his day), like in verses 11-16:
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
I praise you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.
I have recited aloud
all the regulations you have given us.
I have rejoiced in your laws
as much as in riches.
I will study your commandments
and reflect on your ways.
I will delight in your decrees
and not forget your word.
Psalms 119:11-16 NLT
I don’t know where you are on your journey today – whether you primarily count on someone else to help you grow, whether you are leading others, or whether you are somewhere in-between. However, wherever you are, I hope that you will work towards “getting your own tape”. And, regardless of your situation, know that you’re not alone: many (most?) Christians, including myself, are working to develop these skills over time, and to do their part in feeding their own Christian growth.
The next article in this series, “Get Your Own Tape”, Part 3, looks at some ways to go deeper into God’s Word.