Spiritual Disciplines: Study

I've noticed that my readership has taken a downward spiral since starting these posts about the spiritual disciplines. I can't change that, but I'm grateful for those of you who stick with me even in the tedious moments when I need to flesh out my thoughts and dialogues on the Christian walk.

The chapter on study in Celebration of Discipline was highly practical, especially the list of some classic Christian literature that should accompany our regular reading of Scripture. I confess, some of those books haven't even made it on my to-read list. I'm more of a fiction girl myself, but I pride myself on reading a wide variety of literature. I should probably give them another chance. Here are today's points from the chapter:

Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free ~John 8:32

Freedom is an amazing aspect of our lives in Christ. Let's be encouraged by His words!

WHAT we study determines the kind of habits that are formed.

We know that the things we read about and study circulate in our minds. If I consistently read about the unrest in Egypt, that's going to be heavy on my heart. In the same vein, we need to focus our study about God so that we can form habits that are life-changing.

We [often] give a critical analysis of a book before we understand what it says.

In this statement, Richard Foster is just encouraging us to read a book with the simultaneous actions of a.) understanding what the author is saying b.)interpreting what the author means and c.) evaluating if the author is right or wrong. I have often been found guilty of judging a book 'by it's cover', if you will. The discipline of study requires us to go a little bit deeper into the text to glean extra meaning.

To read successfully, we need the extrinsic aids of experience, other books, and live discussions.

Just as we cannot do life solo, Foster intimates that we cannot read a book without supplementing to enrich the experience.

God desires various "tarrying" places for all of us where he can teach us in special ways.

Using the example of Paul's vision of clean and unclean things in the book of Acts, Foster suggests that God may not have been able to speak to him had he not been delayed there. It's important that we deliberately tarry, or open up space in our busy lives so that the Lord can grow us.

The key to the Discipline of study is not reading many books, but experiencing what we do read.

When my sister and I were growing up, we always kept a list of the books we read. Melissa was very detailed in her notes, even going so far as to write down the pages for each book. We became very competitive, but it was never a surprise that she read way more than me. Her secret? Drown out the distractions and lose yourself in the story. I was so focused on the goal to read more and more that I forgot to experience the story in all its fullness. Perhaps if I focused less on the task and more on the meaning I would gain more from my study.

One of the principal objects of our study should be ourselves.

We don't just study to gain insight into spiritual matters, but also to gain insight into personal matters. When we study ourselves, what makes us tick, why we see things the way we do, we should be changed people.


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