Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: What Is the Verse Mapping Method of Bible Study?

Originally published June 19, 2017

What is the “verse mapping” method of Bible study? Do you recommend it? A friend was asking about it and she is a big follower of Proverbs 31 Ministries, which was a red flag for me.

This is an excellent question, because there are lots of different Bible study methods out there, some good, some not. And you want to make sure you’re using a method that will help you correctly understand the text so you can grow in your faith.

I had never heard of verse mapping either, so I did what I usually do when I’ve never heard of something but want to know what it is- I Googled it. And several red flags popped up for me too.

The first hit I got was this article written by someone who thinks Beth Moore is an exemplary Bible teacher and that The Message is a reliable translation. She linked to an article on verse mapping at Proverbs 31, whose author says we need to “listen to God’s voice“. The Proverbs 31 article linked to another blogger – “the one who taught us how to verse map” – who recommended closing your eyes, letting your Bible fall open and pointing to a random verse as one way to choose a verse to map.

The rest of the first two pages of search results all seemed to be from Christian women’s blogs, none of whom I was familiar with. That’s not to say there’s necessarily anything wrong with those women or their blogs, I’m just saying I didn’t see any well known, doctrinally sound ministries recommending verse mapping in the most popular Google results.

I get the impression from these articles that verse mapping methodology can be a bit fluid. The first blogger used a journal and made copious notes (her method appeared to me to be more akin to inductive Bible study). The other two used an index card and wrote very few notes. So it would seem there’s no one set way to do verse mapping, but the general idea is to pick a Bible verse and dissect it (in various ways, depending on which method of verse mapping you’re using) as your daily Bible study format.

Separating the method itself away from the taint of false teachers, some of the recommended techniques in verse mapping are solid and could be very helpful, such as using commentaries, looking words up in the original Greek or Hebrew, writing down what is happening in the verse, and looking at the immediate context of the verse. These are all good principles of biblical hermeneutics, and if you use them as part of a systematic study of a book of the Bible or as part of a study on a biblical topic, your understanding of God’s word will be greatly aided.

The problem is, a) using it as your sole form of Bible study isn’t going to teach you all that studying longer passages of the Bible will, and b) those aforementioned good techniques are mixed in with some bad techniques, so you have to be discerning enough to tell which is which. And, chances are, if you’re discerning enough to do that, you’re probably a good student of the Bible who’s already using the good techniques of verse mapping, so you don’t really need it.

The bad techniques?

1. Choosing random verses to dissect
There’s more to the context of a verse than just the couple of verses that immediately precede and follow it. There’s how the verse fits into its chapter, book, testament, and the overall narrative of Scripture. If you skip through Scripture picking out a verse here and a verse there to analyze you’re going to misunderstand those verses because you’re not going to know the larger context they fit into in their own immediate story and the story arc of redemption. Can you imagine studying any other piece of literature – a Shakespearean sonnet, the Declaration of Independence, a medical journal article – this way, picking out a random sentence or two here and there? Of course not. Then why would we study the Bible this way?

2. Personalizing the verse
One of the techniques verse mapping recommends is to cross out all general referents (you, they, we, etc.) and replace them with your own name. Do not do this.

First and foremost this exhibits utter disdain for the God of the universe who wrote the Bible. If He wanted your name to be in Scripture, it would already be there. You don’t get to change, even temporarily, what He wrote, and to think it’s OK to do so is arrogant and irreverent. These are the very words of God Himself- do you really dare to change them?

Second, it’s an extremely self-centered way to look at Scripture. The Bible isn’t about you and it wasn’t written to you. When those words were penned, there were real, live people – just as important as you – on the other end, and none of them were you because you hadn’t been born yet.

Third, doing this will almost certainly give you a wrong understanding of the verse. “You” doesn’t always mean you personally, Buttercup. Sometimes “you” means Israel. Sometimes “you” means the church. Sometimes “you” means Amos or Cain or Judas or Philemon. Sometimes “you” means God. Sometimes “you” even means Satan. And sticking your name in for one of these “you’s” is going to lead you away from a correct understanding of Scripture, not toward it.

3. Focus on anything that jumps out at you
Again, this is a very self-centered way to look at Scripture. Just because something jumps out at you doesn’t mean it’s the main point of the verse or that it has significant spiritual import. Certainly, if there’s a word in the verse that you don’t understand you should look it up. Or, if you find some concept in the verse interesting, go ahead and search out the cross-references for clarity. But don’t assume that word you’ve looked up or that concept you find interesting is the meaning of the verse just because it happened to catch your attention. When we study the Bible, we search for what God meant by that verse.

4. Find verses that minister to you
Now I ask you, if you follow that guideline, how often are you going to pick verses out of Leviticus that have nothing to do with your life today? When will you pick verses that step on your toes and convict you of sin? Will you ever examine hard verses that take a lot of historical and cultural understanding? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is a self-centered way to look at Scripture. Yes, the Bible can bring us comfort and reassurance, but the Bible isn’t a bottle of aspirin. You don’t just pop a couple of verses whenever you have a headache. The Bible isn’t there to minister to you. It’s there to equip you to minister to God, the church, your family, the lost. There’s a reason God wants pastors to preach the whole counsel of God – we need all of God’s word, even the parts that don’t “minister” to us.

In conclusion, I would not recommend verse mapping as a whole the way it is presented in the aforementioned articles, but some of the individual techniques I noted can be helpful as part of your regular, systematic study of Scripture.

If you need a little help learning how to study your Bible using good study habits, click the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Holidays (Other)

Top 10 4th of July Twisted Scriptures

Originally published July 7, 2017

Independence day is my favorite of the non-major holidays. Fireworks, picnics, barbecues, and what other holiday has such grand music that nearly the whole country can enjoy and sing together? It’s the one day of the year when we, as Americans, can set aside our political differences and bickering and celebrate our God-given freedom to have political differences and bickering.

It is good to thank God for the blessing of liberty. It is right to be patriotic and celebrate our nation’s founding. It is evangelistic to use Independence Day as a springboard for explaining to people how they can find real freedom in Christ.

And with that freedom – our freedom in Christ and our freedom as American citizens – comes great responsibility. Namely, the responsibility not to throw all of those things into the Cuisinart at once and turn them into an Americhristian smoothie with red, white, and blue sprinkles.

There is a vast difference between American political freedom and the spiritual freedom found only in Christ. But when we lift Bible verses out of their context and stick a flag behind them in celebration of Independence Day, we conflate the two. Weaker brothers and sisters in the faith who already muddle American citizenship with heavenly citizenship are further confirmed in their confusion. We should be making these distinctions clearer, not encouraging their commingling.

Yet this is exactly what happens on Christian web sites, social media, and even in our churches as the 4th of July draws near. Sisters, this should not be so.

None of the verses in the Bible which contain words like “freedom” and “liberty” are referring to American political freedom. None. The verses containing these words are usually speaking of freedom from sin in Christ, freedom from Mosaic Covenant law, or freedom from literal slavery. We must use and understand them in context, or we are doing violence to the text and treating God’s holy Word with apathetic irreverence.

Here are the top 10 Scriptures I observed being twisted on the 4th of July.

1.
Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Most of the memes using this verse omit the first phrase, because even including those six extra words tends to give too much context to the verse for the person trying to make it about American freedom. If you read all of chapter three, or even just verses 12-18, you can see that this verse is about being set free in Christ from the demands of the Mosaic Covenant. Although 2 Corinthians 3:17 was misused by many, the first place I saw it was was from Lysa TerKeurst’s Proverbs 31 Facebook page – emblematic of why Christian women should not receive Bible teaching from anyone associated with this organization.

2.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Most incorrect citations of this verse include only its first phrase. Indeed, Christ has set us free for freedom, but freedom from what? English tyranny? Political oppression? No, as the rest of the verse goes on to say, Christ has set us free from the yoke of slavery to the Law. In Christ, we are free to stop striving to be good enough to earn right standing with Him, and to rest in His finished work on the cross to clothe us in His righteousness. That’s way better than American constitutional freedoms because that kind of freedom is available to anyone, in any country, at any time in history who repents and places her faith in Christ for salvation.

3.
For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13

This is a great verse that Christians can live out in service to our families, our church families, and even our fellow Americans. But we need to understand that when this verse says we were “called to freedom” it’s not talking about the rallying cry of the American Revolution. The freedom we were called to – as with Galatians 5:1 – is the freedom from striving to obey the Law to obtain righteousness. But just because we’re no longer under the constraints of the Law doesn’t mean we can go out and sin at will, or indulge the flesh by doing whatever we feel like doing. That’s antinomianism. Instead we’re to use our freedom from the Law as an opportunity to deny self and serve others.

4.
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

I’ve written at length on this verse in my article Is 2 Chronicles 7:14 God’s Promise to American Christians Today? The short answer is “no,” it is not about America. Although there’s plenty that Christians can learn from this verse, it is a promise to Israel, as the surrounding context clearly indicates.

5.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36

Even adding just two verses (34-35) to this one gives us enough context to help us understand that Jesus is talking about being freed from slavery to sin through the salvation only He can provide – the salvation that is about to cost Him the agony of scourging and death on a cross. It is appalling that this verse – spoken by our Lord Himself, about the earth-shattering, awe-provoking amazingness that is the forgiveness of sins by the grace of God in Christ – should be so lowered and sullied as to try to make it refer to American freedom.

6.
Live as people who are free,
not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil,
but living as servants of God.
1 Peter 2:16

The context of this verse is similar to Galatians 5:13 (#3 above), but it adds a couple of extra facets. If you read verses 9-17 of 1 Peter 2, you’ll notice the same instruction to live as people who have been set free in Christ and to use that freedom in Christ to serve others. Why? “…So that when [the Gentiles] speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God… For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” (12,15) When we use our freedom in Christ to serve and do good, it is a testimony of the gospel to the lost. This passage also exhorts us to be subject to our government and our political leaders. And if you know anything about the first century Roman Empire, you know its Christian citizens (Peter’s audience) knew nothing of the political freedoms American Christians experience.

7.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
Psalm 33:12

In the immediate context and application of this verse, “nation” and “the people” is referring to Israel. Examining verses 10, 16, and 17 alongside verse 12, it’s a safe assumption that the psalmist had observed some part of Israel’s history that included war against neighboring nations. And, certainly, any Old Testament Scripture referring to the people God “has chosen as His heritage” could only be speaking of Israel. America didn’t even exist at that time, nor has God, at any point in Scripture, said that America is His chosen people or His heritage. If you want to think of a New Testament “nation” or “people” God has blessed and chosen as His “heritage,” that would be the church- the worldwide body of born again believers. While, ostensibly, any nation whose God is the Lord would be blessed, we have only to look back at Old Testament history to see how unlikely it would be for America’s God to be the Lord. Israel was God’s chosen people and heritage. They were “the nation whose God is the Lord”- literally. They were a theocracy – under the direct rule of God Himself – yet they rejected Him in favor of earthly kings and repeated cycles of idol worship. And we think America is capable of becoming “one nation under God”?

8.
And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property
and each of you shall return to his clan.
Leviticus 25:10

It’s pretty easy to see why only the phrase “proclaim liberty throughout the land” is lifted out of this verse. It is obviously talking about Israel’s Year of Jubilee which has never been practiced in America because we are not, and never have been, under the Mosaic Covenant. Even Israel doesn’t observe the Year of Jubilee any more. The use of this verse is simply a case of someone looking for a Scripture to attach to a patriotic meme, doing a concordance search for the word “liberty,” and whittling away everything in the verse that is obviously un-American.

9.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
Luke 4:18

Except for the fact that this verse includes the word “liberty” or “free,” depending on your translation, it’s incomprehensible to me that anyone would see this as a verse to use in the celebration of Independence Day. This verse doesn’t even make any sense when applied to America. It’s not about a country, it’s about a person: Jesus. Jesus spoke these words. He’s quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, which is a prophecy of the Messiah to come. If you read a mere three more verses of Luke 4, you’ll see in verse 21 that Jesus says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Meaning what? Jesus is saying, “You know that Messiah you’ve been waiting on for centuries, Israel? I’m it. I’m here.” And the liberty or freedom He’s talking about? Once again, it’s freedom from sin and freedom from the Law. Because that’s what Jesus came to give us.

10.
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
Psalm 118:5 

Nope, this one isn’t about American political freedom either. A couple of things to notice: first, this is clearly set in the context of Israel’s Old Testament history, as verses 2-3, with their references to “Israel” and “Aaron”, indicate. Next, look at the personal pronouns, not only in verse 5, but also in verses 6-7: “I,” “me,” “my.” This verse is not about America being set free from England, or even about Israel being set free from one of its enemies. This is a descriptive passage about an individual – the psalmist – being in some sort of distressing situation, and God answering his prayer for deliverance. Have you ever prayed that God would deliver you from a difficult time in your life? If He did, do you think that unique situation is applicable to anyone else, much less an entire country? This passage is kind of the same thing. The psalmist is sharing something God did for him, not commenting on politics or even assuring other individuals that God will do the same for them.

Memorial Day Bonus:
Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

Memorial Day is a solemn and precious day to honor those who have laid down their lives for our freedom as Americans. Every male member of my immediate family has served or is serving in the military, and I know just how blessed I am that they have all returned safe and sound. It takes a special kind of person to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and I certainly don’t want to take anything away from that. But as meaningful as that is, it can’t – and shouldn’t – compare to Christ laying down His life to make sinners His friends. And that’s what this verse is about. For twelve verses, Jesus has talked to His disciples about abiding in Him because He loves them so much. In verse 13, He talks about the proof of His love for them: He’s about to give His life as the atoning sacrifice for their sin. He wants them to love each other the same way – that for Christ’s sake, in Christ’s name – they would be willing to die for the sake of the gospel. Eleven of the twelve of them would go on to do so. When we use this verse in reference to Memorial Day – as deeply consequential as that day is – it tarnishes the infinitely more important sacrifice of Christ by comparing a mere man’s offering of his life for temporal, earthly freedom, to God’s offering of His sinless Son to purchase for eternity the redemption of sinful rebels.

I’m proud and grateful to be an American. I’m thankful for this nation and the freedoms we have as citizens. But for everyone who’s a citizen of the Kingdom of God, our loyalty and reverence must lie with Him first and must surpass all other loyalties – to family, to friends, and even to country. That means we reverence God’s holy Word by being good students of it and handling it correctly, by preserving and standing up for its meaning and intentions, and by refusing to manipulate it for our own lesser purposes- even such a noble purpose as patriotism.


Photo Credits
The references below are for the purpose of photo credits only. I have not examined most of these sites and do not endorse any which contradict my beliefs as cited in the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page.

1. https://www.facebook.com/Prov31Ministries/photos/a.390955286960.162138.99550061960/10154692176801961/?type=1&theater
2. https://stjosephslanc.com/july-5-2015-the-fourteenth-sunday-in-ordinary-time/
3. https://www.facebook.com/ConcernedWomenforAmerica/photos/a.119423980992.123545.77903485992/10155305900670993/?type=3&theater
5. https://twitter.com/robertjeffress/status/746696996208074752
6. http://dailybiblememe.com/tag/1-peter-216/
7. http://simplylkj.blogspot.com/2016/07/happy-4th-of-july.html
8. http://redbubble.com/i/poster/Motivational-Bible-Quote-Liberty-People-4th-of-July-by-mairabay/50664737.LVTDI
9. http://www.klove.com/
10. http://bibleversestogo.com/products/psalm-118-5-freedom
Memorial Day Bonus: http://unitetheusa.org/id165.html

Christian women, Parenting

Throwback Tuesday ~ Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

Originally published May 15, 2015

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 
2 Timothy 3:1-7

If someone were to ask you, “What kind of person do you want to raise your daughter to be?” how would you answer? Caring? Independent? Loyal? Kind?

I’m betting none of us would answer “weak,” “burdened with sins,” “easily led astray by her passions,” or “unable to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” Yet in these last days in which we find ourselves, that’s exactly what many good-hearted Christian mothers with nothing but the best of intentions are raising their daughters to be. It’s not that they want their daughters to grow up to be spiritually weak or led astray by sin or unbiblical teaching, it’s just that they lack the skills and tools necessary for properly training their daughters in the Scriptures and godliness.

Maybe you’re one of those moms. You want to train your daughter to be a wise, godly, discerning woman, but you’re not quite sure how. Hey, we all have those areas of our lives that we need a little help with. As an older mom myself, maybe I can lend a hand.

My daughter is almost twenty, and while she’s nowhere near perfect, by the grace of God, she is a godly young lady. Looking back, there are many things my husband and I did wrong as parents. But God, in His mercy, covered our failures and saw all of us through as He taught us through His word how to raise a biblically strong woman.

6 Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

1. Set an example.

Our daughters learn by watching us. Faithfully study your Bible, pray, attend church, obey God’s word, submit to your husband, repent and ask forgiveness when you sin, and serve others and your church together.

2. Learn, and teach your daughter, good hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is just a fancy word for rightly handling God’s word. Use a reliable Bible translation. Understand Scripture in its immediate and overall context. What was the author’s intended meaning, his audience, genre, and culture? Point your daughter to Christ as you study God’s word together.

3. Find a doctrinally sound church, join it, and attend faithfully as a family.

Study God’s word and compare everything that’s preached and taught to Scripture (in context). Does your church’s teaching line up? Then be committed to attending every single week, not just when you feel like it or when there’s nothing better to do. Instill in your daughter a love for, and a commitment to, the church.

4. Fight the fluff.

Unfortunately, many of the most popular preachers, teachers, and Christian authors (including women’s Bible study authors) teach and write things that may sound good and make us feel good, but are in direct conflict with Scripture. These are the very people Paul was speaking of in 2 Timothy 3. Teach your daughter to follow only trustworthy teachers whose theology is in line with Scripture.

5. Bring prayer and Scripture into every situation.

She can’t find her favorite doll? Kids picking on her at school? She wants to wear clothes that barely cover her? Discuss what the Bible say about these things. Pray together about them. Lead your daughter into prayer and Scripture as part of daily life, and it will teach her that God is to have authority over every aspect of our lives and that we are to obey Him in all things.

6. Teach her how to share the gospel.

If you’re not sure how to properly present the gospel to someone, learn. You can’t lead your daughter to Christ if you can’t share the gospel with her. If your daughter is already saved, make sure she knows how to share the gospel correctly. The Great Commission was the last instruction Christ gave us before leaving earth, and we are all to be about the business of carrying it out until He returns.

The 2 Timothy passage at the beginning of this article is our commission to guard our households against ungodly ways and people – even those who may falsely call themselves Christians – who might creep in and steal our daughters’ hearts and minds away from Christ. He has charged us to train them in godliness, and we must faithfully answer His call to raise wise, discerning, and biblically strong women of God.

What advice would you offer moms who want to raise
biblically strong women?


This article was originally published at Kaylene Yoder’s Blog.

And for all you boy moms, be sure to check out…

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man

Christian women

Throwback Thursday ~ Evangelical Misogyny and the Spiritual Oppression of Christian Women

Originally published September 16, 2016woman-1246571_20160915144847652

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Weak women- always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Captives to false teachers. Led astray by their feelings. There is hardly a better way to describe a significant portion – dare I say, the majority – of evangelical women today.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Satan dresses himself up like a Christian and deceives as many as he can. Women (and men, too) give in to the temptation to seek out false teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. Pastors fail to fight off, and in many cases, welcome with open arms, the false doctrine and false teachers creeping into their churches.  And the false teachers themselves are out to make a fast buck on false doctrine.

And the result of it all is a generation of evangelical women held prisoner by Satan in the gilded cage of biblical illiteracy and feel-good “Christianity.” And most of them don’t even know they’re inmates.

It’s bad enough that evangelical women are largely feeding their souls on the anti-biblical poison churned out by the smorgasbord of divangelistas lining the shelves of most “Christian” bookstores- poison that, at worst, will leave them doomed to an eternity in hell, and, at best, will stunt their growth in Christ. But there’s another insidious aspect of this issue: theololgical misogyny against evangelical women.

The Bible knows nothing of women as second class citizens. Throughout recorded history, God, and his obedient children, have been the ones to regard women as precious and valuable people with a crucial role to play in the Kingdom, the family, and society. God elevates women while the world degrades us.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is in an often overlooked phrase in 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn.” The pastors and elders of the first century church – in the midst of a culture that devalued and disregarded women – were to proactively make sure women learned the gospel and sound doctrine. The Holy Spirit goes on in that passage to explain how first century, as well as twenty-first century, women should conduct themselves in a godly way while we’re learning, but there’s no watered down, Barbie doll, “pink is for girls” version of theology that women are to be taught while the real thing – serious Bible study and theology – is reserved for men.

Yet that’s exactly what modern day evangelicalism and Christian retailing are doing. They’re establishing a subtle theological segregation in the name of marketing and meeting felt needs. How? Here’s just one example:

screenshot_2016-09-14-11-39-55_kindlephoto-22263756

This post, from a major Christian retailer, appeared in my Facebook feed recently. They’re holding “Bible art journaling” workshops to teach women how to color in their Bibles- something we usually teach three year olds not to do.

When was the last time you heard of a Christian retailer or an average evangelical church holding a workshop – aimed at women – on biblical hermeneutics, Christology, pneumatology, church history, discernment, evangelism, or any other serious biblical topic?

Never mind how to properly handle and study God’s word, ladies, here’s a coloring book1! It’s insulting to the intelligence, capabilities, and quest for spiritual maturity of Christian women. And it’s sexist, too. Don’t believe me? Think about it:

How many Christian men do you see taking Bible art journaling classes or sharing about it on social media?

Have you ever seen a men’s ministry share a picture like this in order to reassure men of how special and wonderful they are?

woman-570883_1920_kindlephoto-22633156

Over the summer, the hot fad aimed at women was using henna to tell Bible stories. How many men do you think participated in that?

sou-hennabklt-m

Contemporary Christian radio intentionally markets to a specific female demographic, resulting in a playlist that’s overwhelmingly comprised of ooey-gooey, salve my feelings, emasculated songs. That’s their perspective of us. That’s what they think we want and can handle.

And it doesn’t stop there. Walk into your local Christian retailer and compare the fluff and false doctrine in the women’s ghetto department to what’s offered in the general (or men’s) area of the store. Christian retailing has been so successful with their marketing plans that they have fairly brainwashed evangelical women into thinking that:

  • only what’s in the women’s section of the store is for them
  • serious theology isn’t for them (because it’s nowhere to be found in the women’s department)
  • women can’t just pick up the Bible and study it for themselves – they have to buy a “canned” study written by someone else
  • that “someone else” has to be a woman (nearly always a woman who teaches false doctrine)

Take all of that, throw it into your gumbo pot, stir it around a little, and what do you get?

Well…you get weak women who are captivated by false teachers and false doctrine, led astray from the truth of God’s word by their passions and emotions, flitting from study to study and event to event, always “learning” but ever biblically ignorant. And you get a church that not only views Christian women this way, but perpetuates this sexist spiritual oppression.

Christian women, you are better, more valuable, and more capable than that. God has more for you and expects more from you than sitting in a corner coloring in your Bible and playing with a theological Barbie Dream House. Like your first century sisters, He wants you to learn.

Strive for more than evangelicalism expects from you and thinks you’re capable of, ladies. Be a strong, healthy student of God’s Word. There are women out there who desperately need you: lost women who need to hear the gospel properly presented so they might know Christ, saved women who need someone to teach them the truth of God’s Word, women who need biblical hope, comfort, and answers about the trials they’re going through.

Buck the system. Challenge the assumptions. Cast off the shackles, and refuse to be that weak woman any more. Be the full grown, spiritually mature woman God has always wanted you to be.


1Some women are artistically talented and enjoy Bible art journaling as a hobby in their spare time. If that’s you, and you’re already a serious student of God’s word, knock yourself out. But if the majority of your Bible “study” time is spent painting or coloring in your Bible, then this might be a tight, uncomfortable shoe, but the shoe fits.

Bible Study

Throwback Thursday on Wednesday! ~ Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Family stuff, church stuff, a hurricane in the Gulf, and a speaking engagement this coming weekend, means I needed a little flexibility in the blog schedule, so I’m flip-flopping Wednesday and Thursday this week. Today, I hope you’ll enjoy this Throwback Thursday article, and, Lord willing, Lesson 10  of Ezekiel will be coming your way tomorrow.

Originally published August 19, 2014

12 dos donts

Bible study. As Christians we want to do it, we know we’re supposed to do it, but have you ever stopped to think that there are right ways and wrong ways to do it? Let’s take a look at a few do’s and don’ts of “rightly dividing God’s word” in Bible study.

Do use a good translation, not a paraphrase. You want to get as close to the original wording as possible. There are a number of easy to read, accurate translations out there. The English Standard Version (ESV) and New American Standard Bible (NASB) are two of the best. Try some translations on for size at BibleGateway.com.

Do read the entire Bible from cover to cover at least every few years. It will give you a better understanding of the “big picture” of the Bible and how all the little pieces inside it fit together. (I highly recommend a chronological reading plan since the books of the Bible aren’t always arranged chronologically.)

Don’t neglect the textual context. Every Bible verse has what I call a “micro-context” (how it fits in with the verses immediately before and after it) a larger context (how it fits in with the chapter and book it’s in) and a “macro-context” (how it fits in with the big picture of the Bible). When we fail to take verses in context, we are mishandling and misappropriating God’s precious and holy word.

Do consider the cultural context. Who wrote the passage, and what do we know about him and his perspective? To whom was the passage written- Jews or Gentiles? Those under the Law or those under grace? Men or women? Pastors or lay people? How did the culture at the time view the topic the passage is about, God, Judaism, the church, etc.? At what period in history, in which country, and in what language was the passage written? A good study Bible or study Bible app can be a tremendous help here.

Don’t confuse descriptive texts (passages that describe something that happened to somebody) with prescriptive texts (a command we’re to obey). Just because you read that Noah built an ark or that Judas went out and hanged himself, doesn’t mean that God is telling you to do the same (thank goodness!). Those are descriptive passages. God is simply telling the story of what happened to someone else because it somehow fits into His bigger story of redemption.

Do consider the type of literature and literary devices you’re reading. Is this book of the Bible history? Poetry? Law? Prophecy? Epistle? Is the particular passage a song, metaphor, hyperbole, comparison, allegory, parable? The Bible uses various vehicles to drive truth home, and they must all be understood in different ways.

Don’t feel like you HAVE to use a Bible study or devotional book or workbook. It really is OK to just pick up the actual Bible and study it. God made His word understandable, made you smart enough to understand it, and gave you the indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine your understanding.

Do, if you decide to use one, choose a Bible study book or workbook that treats Scripture as the “swimming pool” you dive into and swim around in, not the “diving board” the author springs off of into a pool filled only with her own personal stories, anecdotes, and opinions.

Do read the Bible in orderly chunks, not in single verses. Think about the way you would read a magazine. Do you pick it up each day and read a random sentence or paragraph? Do you read the third page of an article before you read the first page of it? You’ll best understand a book of the Bible if you start at the beginning and read the chapters in order to the end.

Don’t give in to the temptation to read yourself into Scripture. The Bible isn’t our story. Approach every passage remembering that the Bible is God’s story of redemption through Christ from His perspective, and we study it to learn about and draw closer to Him.

Don’t underestimate how helpful your Bible’s cross-references to related verses can be. Reading several different passages on a particular topic you’re studying can give you a broader understanding of what the Bible has to say about it.

Do let clear passages interpret unclear passages. This is another reason cross-references are so handy. If you come across a passage you just don’t get, try reading related passages that are clearer, and understand the unclear passage in light of the clearer ones.

Lengthy tomes have been written on the topic of biblical hermeneutics and Bible study methods, so I’m sure I could go on at length, but it’s your turn:

Have you ever found it difficult or daunting to study the Bible?
What are some of the benefits of rightly handling God’s word?
How has a right understanding of Scripture helped you to grow
in your walk with the Lord?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.