Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In Case of Ingestion . . .

Inductive is one of those funny words that just makes me laugh. It makes me think of the instructions on certain poisonous substances: "induce (or do not induce) vomiting." You know, the ones you stuck your "Mr. Yuck" stickers on when you were kids! Sorry, but I just had to stick that in there.

For the last few years, I've been trying to read the Bible inductively. I don't mean inductive study, although I've done one or two of them on my own. Just a different way of reading the Bible. So what does inductive reading look like? This is how it goes for me:

  • I rarely read a chapter just once. If I'm reading a longer book of the Bible (more than I can read at one or two sittings), I'll read the first 2 chapters the first day, the next day I'll read those chapters again, and possibly chapter 3 if time. Then chapters 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and so on. Each day reviewing a portion of what I read previously.I've been known to linger over the same chapter for several days or even an entire week.
  • Reading slowly helps me be more attentive to details. I try to picture being out in the boat in the middle of the storm or imagine the temple when Jesus chased out the money changers.
  • Sometimes, I'll try to view the same story from the perspectives of the different characters. For instance, what was going through Mary's mind while Jesus was chiding her sister Martha? What did the money changers think as they watched Jesus upend their profitable setup?
  • I try to approach each book with a question or two in mind, and then focus on finding the answers through my readings. Sometimes the questions don't form until I've read a short book through once, or several chapters of a longer book. This helps me set aside the feeling that I've got to "master" the book, while still doing more than just casually reading. I can always come back for more.
  • Sometimes when a passage stands out to me, I'll read it from different online versions.
  • I resist the urge to stop and check out a lot of commentaries and other study tools online. I can get very sidetracked, especially when it comes to Biblical history, geography and customs. I might check it out briefly and if it really interests me, I'll make a note to come back and read more later.
  • I don't worry if I don't see a natural application every day. I just want to get a good picture of whatever book I'm reading. Usually the 2nd or third time I read something, it starts to be clear what God's tryng to teach me.
  • Right now I'm reading the book of Mark, one of my favorite books. (Hmm, could this be due to the many times we see Jesus getting away for some R&R?) This time, I'm focusing on the questions Jesus asks in his ministry. Each time I come across one, I'm just highlighting it or maybe jotting it down in my journal. In one chapter alone, he asks at least eight questions!
For so many years, I started in Genesis and gave up in Leviticus. Or I pressed on, sometimes drooling over the pages as I nodded off, just so I could check that day's reading off my list. Sad to say, the Bible meant so little to me then. I can honestly say since I've changed my reading habits, I look forward to my time spent in the Bible now. I approach it expectantly and I'm never disappointed.

Psalm 119: 24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.


Katrina said...

Thanks for sharing this, Dianne. I'm getting to the end of my current study, which I've really been enjoying and have been wondering what and how I will study next. I really appreciate the glimpse into your approach. I gave up a while ago on the "Bible in a Year" thing -- I always got so caught up in the "obligation" that I missed the treasures that were there waiting for me to discover them.

Eileen said...

I love these tips! Especially the one about rereading part of what you read the previous day. Right now I am doing a casual reading of the whole Bible, cover to cover, from the Message Bible. I just made it past Leviticus. :-) I'd like to take a book of the Bible at the same time and use some of your tips to study it, using my NIV. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer said...

Wonderful tips, and your title made me giggle.

TaunaLen said...

Thank you so much for this. I have needed some way to focus my Bible reading, and let go of high expectations to finish what I start. I forgot that I can always come back later, and read a book again, with a new perspective, etc. Now if I can just make myself choose where to start. I really have trouble not getting bogged down in the planning -- I need to 'just do it'.


Anonymous said...

I am visiting from Snapshot. I recently began studying my Bible inductively as well. Although I have been studying the Bible my whole life, I am noticing so much more than I did with a cursory read. Thanks for sharing. I hope you don't mind if I visit again!