Posts Tagged inspiration

Thankful Thursday – Linda Jarriel

On this Thankful Thursday I am grateful for the gifts that Linda Jarriel brings to my life. Linda sings in the choir at First Baptist Church of Charleston and has served on the diaconate. She performed beautifully as its secretary for multiple terms. During the extended illness of her late husband, George, she was a tower of strength. After his death she has continued to demonstrate great strength and courage. She is always friendly and encouraging. She returned to full time work at the Medical University of South Carolina. Through her unwavering faith she has been an example for all of us who know her. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful that Linda Jarriel is a part of my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad you did.


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How to Read the Bible – Guest Post

Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville

Here are some suggestions inspired by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart’s book, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Zondervan Press, 1981).

  1. Start with a good translation of the Bible.  My personal preference is the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), which strives to be as inclusive as possible while maintaining a faithfulness to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic languages.  The HarperCollins Study Bible has almost as many notes as it has text, providing ready answers to most of my questions.  Fee and Stuart also recommend Today’s New International Version (TNIV). 
  2. Get ready to read.  Sit at a desk or table where you can spread out a little, where you can open the Bible and also take notes.  Make sure you have adequate lighting and reading glasses if you need them (I seem to need them more and more).  Let’s say you’re working on Luke 4:14-30 (just as an example): take some time to read the introduction to Luke in your study Bible; find out who Luke was, when he wrote, and what he was trying to accomplish; find out how a Gospel is different from other kinds of literature in the Bible (history, poetry, prophecy, epistles, etc.) and think about why it makes a difference. 
  3. Say a prayer for illumination.  If it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the biblical authors to write (and it was), it will be the Holy Spirit who helps us understand what they wrote.  Ask the Spirit to open your mind, heart, and soul to the truth of God’s word, and to teach you through the words of the text.  The meaning of a passage is often found not in the words themselves, but in that space between the words and the reader where the Spirit does its best work.
  4. Read the text.  Read it several times, slowly.  Let it sink in.  Make sure you don’t add anything that isn’t there or subtract anything that is.  I talked to someone recently who said he was amazed at how Jesus just “disappeared” at the end of this reading from Luke 4.  “Disappeared?” I asked.  “Yeah!  He just–poof!–disappeared!”  Fortunately I had my Bible with me, and when we looked at the text it said that Jesus “passed through the midst of them and went on his way” (Luke 4:30).  That’s not really the same thing as “disappearing,” is it?
  5. Write down your questions.  If you are reading for understanding (and not just inspiration) you will have questions: What was that synagogue in Nazareth like?  Did they have other scrolls, or just the scroll of Isaiah?  Why did Jesus sit down to teach?  Where was his mother when all this happened?  Why did the people try to throw him off a cliff?  Write down all the questions you have.  Don’t hold back.  The Bible can take it (smile).
  6. Look up the answers.  This is when you consult a good Bible dictionary or a commentary.  Not before you’ve written down your questions—after.  Otherwise you will read answers to questions you have never asked, and yawn your way through the commentaries.  If you are looking for answers to your own questions, however, it can be like going on a treasure hunt—exciting!  I keep the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible on my shelves and try to keep a commentary on each book of the Bible written by the foremost scholar on that book.  Bible dictionaries and commentaries are always available in your church library, and many of them are excellent. I would recommend the New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible as one of the best commentary sets.

Only when you have done this kind of careful exegesis are you ready to do hermeneutics: to bring the meaning of the text from “then and there” to “here and now.”  One of the real problems with so much “interpretation” of scripture is that people try to do hermeneutics before they’ve done exegesis.  They try to apply a text to the here and now without ever knowing what it meant there and then.  Fee and Stuart warn us that, “A text can never mean what it never meant.”  That’s another way of saying you have to do your homework.  You have to know what a text meant in its original context before you can understand what it might mean for us today.

This is a different way to read the Bible than the devotional reading I do during my “quiet time.”  This is serious study.  But if you read the Bible in this way from time to time I think you will find it richly rewarding.  Like the people in Nehemiah 8, you may go your way “to eat and drink…and make great rejoicing,” because you have understood the words of the Bible.

Dr. James Green Somerville is the 16th Senior Pastor in the 228-year history of First Baptist Church of Richmond, VA. I am grateful to Dr. Somerville for permission to use this article. I read it first at, “Talk with the Preacher,” the blog of Rev. Amy Butler, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC.

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Rest – Key 42

            The body and mind need quiet time. The body needs rest. The need for rest has been recognized since the beginning of time. Realize that there is a time to rest. Even the finest machine cannot perform at maximum output indefinitely. You are no exception. Rest your mind and your body. Turn off everything that makes noise. Sit and enjoy the quiet. We live hectic lives. We need time to pull away even if it is for just a few minutes. You will be amazed at the results. Quiet time is a gift you give yourself. It delivers both inspiration and healing. It helps us center ourselves. It renews our energy for what comes next.

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