Why That “Verse of the Day” Is Not Changing Your Life

“Mommy, mommy, mommy, what’s for dinner?”

“When is dinner going to be ready?”

“I’m huuuuuungry!”

“I’m staaaaarving!”

“I’m going to die!”

Tear open the box . . . crank open the can . . . peel back the wrapper . . . just add water . . . microwave on high for 3-5 minutes . . . fix it and forget it . . . freezer to oven . . .work a 20 minute miracle with “cream of” whatever soup . . . use as few pots as possible . . . better yet, no pots sounds good . . .

Yep, no pots (and no clean up!) sounds really good . . .

Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order?

Go, go, go. Busy, busy, busy. Rush, rush, rush. Late to school, late to work, late to practice, late to ballet, late to church.

Pretty much late to life in general.

Swim, swim, swim – gasp for breath. Swim, swim, swim – gasp for breath. Swim, swim, swim – gasp for breath.

Am I the only one who feels that way? If only we could breathe under water! Maybe then our blinds would be dusted and our closets would be organized.

Naaaaah!

Whether we like it or not, the pace of life has made us slaves to convenience, and we don’t have to look any further than what we eat to prove it.

There’s no shortage of medical studies, news reports, documentaries, public service announcements, and articles detailing how processed, sugar and sodium-rich “convenience” foods are literally killing us. I’m talking about facts people. Scientifically proven facts.

And yet I still have enough boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese in my pantry to feed the Duggar family. I could blame a “buy one get one” sale, but the fact is, we love the stuff! In light of my three-year-old’s picky eating, it makes our dinner table a much happier place.

Out of the box/bag/can food is fast, easy, and usually delicious. It’s certainly better than nothing. It’s okay to have once-in-awhile. But it’s not what God intended us to live on. It’s not the “fuel” that makes our bodies function at their highest, most productive capacity.

Quick? Yes. Healthy? No. Worth the time savings? That’s debatable, but probably not.

But this post has nothing to do with food.

It’s not about clean eating. And lest you think I’m one of those “I would rather die than eat something that’s not certified organic and all-natural” food snobs, I happen to love a wide range of processed food and routinely crave just about every kind of fast food known to man. My favorite sandwich on the planet is a Big Mac. Classy, right?  If you see me eating a salad, it has a lot more to do with my desire to fit into my jeans than my passion for clean eating. Just keepin’ it real here.

So what’s the point of all this food talk? I promise it has nothing to do with the fact that I recently watched Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix. Promise. Nothing to do with that. 🙂

Okay, time to get serious. Here’s what’s been heavy on my heart lately: Our fast-paced lives have actually led to something far worse than dependence on processed food.  Our crazy, non-stop,  gasping-for-breath lives have led to dependence on processed truth.

Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about . . .

  • Most “Bible studies” today are glorified book clubs. There’s a lot of talking, a lot of reading, a lot of practical wisdom sharing, but not a lot of actual Bible studying. It’s way too easy to find “Bible studies” these days that don’t even require the use of your Bible. I think reading through a Christ-centered non-fiction book with a group of believers can be a very enriching thing to do. Just don’t call it a “Bible study.” It’s a book club.
  • Most people who write devotionals don’t intend for them to replace the reading of Scripture. But isn’t that what happens? We read a little blurb in a devotional, say a little prayer, and move on with our day. We may or may not open our Bibles. Usually not. By lunch we don’t even remember what the devotion was about!
  • We treat the Bible like it’s a book of quotes or a spiritual encyclopedia. We choose a topic, find a verse that seems to apply (without any regard for the actual context of the verse), Facebook it, Tweet it, blog about it, and come up with “Six Easy Steps” to living it out. Of course, soon enough we find that there’s nothing “easy” about living it out. So we don’t.
  • We package God’s Holy Word as a glorified self-help book, reducing it to one-liners about self-esteem, being the best “you” that you can be, and seeing all your dreams come true. The result is that modern day preachers and Bible teachers sound more like life coaches than faithful expositors of God’s word. If we can’t hang it on our wall, we usually aren’t that interested. I mean, when was the last time you saw James 4:9 on a coffee mug?
  • We are obsessed with Bible study celebrities. If it weren’t for Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer and the resources they provide, we’d be up a creek spiritually, or so we think. We come to our Bibles like a bunch of lost puppies if we don’t have some kind of workbook to guide us. We hardly know how to have small group Bible study without popping in a DVD. Are workbooks and DVD’s bad? Absolutely not! I praise God for resources like that a feel called to provide them! But when they cripple us from being able to study the Bible for ourselves and diminish our belief that God is fully capable of speaking to us without the help of our favorite teachers, there’s a big problem!
  • We filter the Bible through the sieve of cultural relevance and what feels good. We fit God’s Word into the mold of our lives instead of fitting our lives into the mold of God’s Word. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. I’m convinced that’s why we prefer topical studies over in-depth Bible studies. As long as we aren’t going too deep into God’s Word, we can get our divorces, watch our filthy TV shows, hang out at our favorite bars, show off our cleavage, mess around with our boyfriends, waste our money . . .  and never really be confronted about it. Studying the full counsel of God’s Word forces us to see our sin as sin. It calls us to radical repentance. It utterly disrupts our cutesy “God is love. The end.” view of the Christian life. The “you can start living as soon as you take up your cross and die” message of the Bible messes with us. It stings. It crushes parts of us that don’t want to be crushed. So we gobble up the highly processed version of that message, which sadly bears little resemblance to the original. Nor does it have the same power to change our lives.

I have been guilty of every single thing that I just listed, so please know I am not pointing fingers. I am not singling out particular churches or Christian authors/speakers. I am not on some kind of soap box right now. I prefer to think I’m sitting across the table from you at Starbucks, pouring my heart out about my desire to see women wholeheartedly embrace everything that God has for them in the Scriptures, and my desire to teach them how.

I suppose you could say that I want to be the spiritual equivalent of Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead in your life. I want to challenge you to stop getting by on over-processed, imitation, man-made, nutrient-deficient “truth”; and start feasting on the real, satisfying, straight-from-the-mouth-of-God, life-changing truth that is gleaned from intently studying the full counsel of God’s Word.

Psalm 119:11, 14-16 says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you . . .I have rejoiced in the way of your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; and shall not forget your word.”

Treasure . . . rejoice . . . meditate . . . regard. . . delight . . . remember!

But if you are not regularly doing those things as you interact with God’s Word, don’t expect your life to change a whole lot. Don’t expect to be kept from sin. Don’t expect to feel peace in the chaos. Don’t expect find joy in suffering. Don’t expect to live a life that matters for eternity. If change does occur, don’t expect it to last very long.

There is nothing wrong with subscribing to a “verse of the day.” I rather like seeing them show up on my news feed. There is power in a single verse, for sure. But growth and godliness demand more.

If you want God’s Word to really change your life from the inside out, you can’t just read snippets of it. You can’t just quote it. You can’t just Tweet or Facebook it. You can’t just decorate with it. You have to “marinate” in it – all of it – until every single part of you is flavored by it and saturated with it.

But Aprile, that’s going to take a long time!

I hear ya girl! Yes, it is. A lifetime, in fact. And that, precious sister, is the beauty of it!

 

Comments

  1. Karen Schoenfeld says:

    Amen Aprile! Very well said and something I must remember to do every chance I get. Absolutley nothing – not church – not devotions – not people – not anything draws me closer to the Lord than His Word and prayer. Thank you for how you are ministering to me. God is using you, sister!

  2. I realize that you cannot see me, but I’m standing in my home office doing big fist-pumps and saying, “Yesss, yesss, yesss!” I’ve been writing the same sort of message on my blog for 5 years now.

    And, my big confession? Christian women drive me absolutely nuts with their laissez faire approach to Scripture.

    We must be like pickles, cucumbers so thoroughly saturated in the Word of God that it transforms us into something else. There’s no way to *unpickle* a pickle.

    • Fist pumps . . . Awesome!!! My next stop, after replying to comments, is to check out your blog. “There’s no way to unpickle a pickle.” Truth, sister! 🙂 Thanks for commenting Jules!

  3. I love this post! Thank you for saying something that desperately needs to be said. How I long to see Christian women marinate in God’s Word and be satisfied with nothing less. I was doing the same big fist-pumps Jules is as I read this!

  4. Standing ovation. A most excellent exhortation, sister!

  5. I would love to see a series of posts which unpack the bullet points above.

    • That’s a GREAT idea Jules! Adding it to my little black book of blog post ideas RIGHT NOW. And if you want to send someone on over to watch my three year old, I can get started on those right away. Hehe. 🙂

  6. kristinnbob says:

    Wow! It’s like you’re in my head! All the things I have wanted to say for so long…right here in this post! THANK YOU for posting this. I only wish you’d have written it last week, because I had to speak to the ladies at my church on Saturday and this is what I was trying to tell them! 😀
    And I’m with Jules (I’m with Jules on a lot of things…I shall call her “mini me”! teehee!) – I would LOVE to see a series of posts on each of those bullet points.
    Thanks again!

    • Kristin, I am SO excited to hear that God has His girls everywhere encouraging women to make His Word central in their lives. Keep it up, sister! Thank you for your comment! Oh, and it may take a awhile, but I agree that a post on each of the bullet points is a great idea.

  7. Ashley Gauthier says:

    Aprile,

    Thanks for the reminder that spending time in God’s Word is not just another item to check off of our to-do lists. It is so easy and tempting sometimes to read that quick devotional and consider that our quiet time. Let’s not be satisfied with that though!!

    • Ashley, I LOVE seeing your name show up in these comments!!! Yes, it is SOOOOOO easy to make it check list thing, and then it becomes ALL duty. And while duty (sticking to it even when I don’t feel it) is often what gets me to a place of delight, I can’t stay there forever! I’m with you – I want to always want MORE!

      We need to meet for lunch agian soon! Love you!

  8. Kara Farr says:

    Thanks for reminding me that I am not living in a cloud! That is exactly how I feel all the time! I wake up and I am in a marathon for my life. My way to cope lately has been working on my yard but please pray that my number 1 priority will be to read His word to cope.

    • Glad you are enjoying some gardening! You are right, it shouldn’t REPLACE God and His Word as our source of strength and rest. But it sure it nice to have something you enjoy doing to make that “marathon” a little less exhausting. I wish I enjoyed yard work more. Mine needs help! 🙂

  9. Thank you for that piercing reminder and wake up call. I needed it. It would be easy to think that this was a great blog for ‘all those Christian ladies out there’, but we all, I would venture to say are sometimes guilty of treating our Bibles as secondary to a lot of the other options you wrote about. I confess I get sucked in all too easily. Thanks, Aprile for ‘keepin’ it real’ for us!

    • Rhonda, I am soooo guilty of looking at things from the perspectvie ‘all those Christian ladies out there.’ The reality is, there’s not a shred of biblical truth that I don’t need to take to heart and apply MYSELF! Always my pleasure to “keep it real.” 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  10. Kim Jackson says:

    Oh yeah (high tone to deep bass)! Aprile, the hammer hit that great big nail square on the head today. Everything you said is true. Today’s “spirituality” blinds us to what life in Christ really is. Oo, I better stop now. I just found your soapbox in my office, and I really should stay off of it. But I will say: I praise God almighty for his wonderful Word, ALL of it, and the beauty of a life shaped and fashioned by it. I’m still a wet, lumpy blob of clay, but I’m feeling him mold me and shape me into something I could not ask or imagine as he works and pulls and tugs and spins me with His Word. All that said, AMEN and AMEN! Keep it up Aprile!

    • Thank you Kim! Your FB post a couple of weeks ago got all of this stuff rolling around in my mind more than usual. I kept thinking about the question you wrote: What if God’s Word was reduced to a quote on Facebook, would it change your life (quoting losely here :)). NO, it wouldn’t! The thing that keeps me off the “soapbox” is my own struggle to get in the word every day, to “marnate” it in like I should. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to do in our fast paced lives, but it reaps some of the greatest rewards we can experience this side of heaven!

      So, from one wet, lumpy blob of clay too another, thank you. Your words of encouragement are treasured. And any time you want to inspire another blog post, go right ahead. 🙂

  11. You’ll have to laugh, and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but when I looked at the hand-out Tuesday on I Corinthians, I was sort of disappointed to see no fill-in-the-blanks. That is, until I got to the last day of Day 1 and realized that the study was going to do me a whole lot more good than just filling in blanks. I also realized I had read way more scripture than i had in any ither study by going through the verses so many times. Thank you! This was a wake up call.

    • Liz, The second printing of the workbook will have fill-in-the-blank sheet for the teaching sessions. I wasn’t able to prepare all the outlines before it went to print the first time around. I love having blanks to fill in more than anyone! 🙂 SO glad I get to see you on Tuesdays!

  12. Tabitha Davis says:

    The nail was hit on the head!
    Love the perspective!
    Neil and I teach youth Sunday School and this year we decided to throughout the books and “STUDY the bible”. Get to know HIM and every little detail about all of the different books in His Holy WORD.
    I know we will never have enough time to go through every single word with each student because soon they will graduate and move on. Our desire is to help them learn how to dig in for themselves in a way that is like SALT, causing them to desire MORE and MORE and MORE!
    Oh SALT how I love you…
    I really think the kids might be getting tired of me referring to it lol

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