“Dusty Bible, Dirty Life”. Those words were spoken by a speaker at a men’s conference I attended and they stuck with me. The four words painted a mental picture; one where a Bible is sitting on the shelf buried in dust with cobwebs attached. That picture was emblematic of my early years of life. Having been awarded a Bible by my church upon my graduation of studies during my middle school years, my Bible gathered a great deal of dust on my book shelf during the succeeding 10 years. My memories do not recall a time when I opened it. Thus, God’s word was not a focus in my life and it showed.
It is often said that “ideas have consequences.” Perhaps a more preferred statement would be to say that “decisions have consequences”. Even the postponement or the lack of a decision, is a decision. Time marches on……..each person will make a decision on the priority of God’s word in their life. For Dad, that decision has consequences. Not only for himself but also for his children. For the Dad who is a “man of the Word”, there is great blessing for his children. Psalm 112:1-2
So, how does Dad become a man who has a firm grip on the Word of God? A helpful diagram was given to me several years ago that provided guidance on an approach that would get me started. It was called the “Word Hand” and it was developed by the Navigators. The illustration demonstrates that there are multiple methods of intake into our lives with the Bible. They are listed as follows:
- Hear – we can listen to the word through sermons, audio tapes, CD’s, podcasts, TV, etc. In listening to the word, we retain approximately 5% of what we hear. Romans 10:17
- Read – reading the Bible is generally accomplished through our daily Quiet Time where we spend time reading the word and responding back to God in prayer. We retain about 15% of what we read. Revelation 1:3
- Study – it is noted in Scripture that the Bereans were “men of noble character” because they examined the Scriptures each day. Having spent 19 years in elementary, secondary, undergraduate and graduate education, it has become obvious to me that “study” is required to know a subject. While not an end in itself, study will be needed in order to know the word of God. We are better at retaining what we study! It moves up to 35%. Acts 17:11
- Memorize – the ability to retain God’s word improves significantly for us when we memorize. We achieve 100% retention! Keeping that level of retention, however, will require periodically reviewing what we have memorized in order to sustain the gain. Psalm 119: 9, 11
- Meditate – the capstone is meditation. As we spend time in hearing, reading, studying and memorizing the Word, we focus on the implications, the truth and the applications for what we believe and how we are to live. Psalm 1: 2-3
The apostle Paul in his last letter encouraged his young disciple Timothy to be a workman approved, a man who correctly handled the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15) Reaching that standard requires that we spend time in it. Achieving any standard of competency or excellence requires an investment of time, commitment and practice. Whether one is competing in athletics, business, arts, medicine, or skilled trades; this principle applies. A Man of the Word will be one who has put this principle into practice. He knows the Bible well and lives by it. His Bible will not be dusty nor covered in cobwebs; but will likely show that it has been well used, likely even falling apart. His children will be blessed.
*If you would like a down loadable copy of the Word Hand illustration, you can find it on the Navigator’s website here.