Embracing the Bible Anew This Thanksgiving
- David Sanford
- 2002 1 Nov
During the 62nd annual National Bible Week, Nov. 24 through Dec. 1, 2002, all Americans are invited to take a few minutes each day to read God’s Word. This long-standing invitation is well worth heeding. And not just the week of Thanksgiving.
According to pollster George Barna, many currently unchurched American adults dabble in the Bible and other religious media. "[T]hose activities," however, "are not foundational to them. They are interested in religious faith, but are not devoted to integrating faith into their life," Barna says.
George Gallup, Jr. has put it a little more bluntly: "Americans revere the Bible — but, by and large, they don’t read it."
"Let’s change this trend, at least in our own lives," urges Mark Mittelberg, author of Building a Contagious Church. The key, says Mittelberg, is to read God’s Word with our heart and mind. And then to start encouraging others to read it as well.
Shortly before National Bible Week three decades ago, someone gave me a Bible as a gift. I was raised in a non-Christian home, so I had never owned a Bible, let alone read one.
Looking back, I now realize no other gift could have so profoundly changed the course of my life. In faith, I believed what the New Testament said and trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Later, I read the Old Testament and embraced its truths. Over the years, I’ve gone on to read the Bible from cover to cover dozens of times.
During an intense brief series of trials half a dozen years ago, though, I stopped reading. I felt God had let me down. Days went by. I couldn’t bring myself to read. Finally, I opened my Bible, forced myself to read one verse, and then asked myself, "Do I believe what it says?" Thankfully, I could say "yes." So I read another verse, asked the same question, and then read another.
Since then, I’ve discovered that every man, woman and young person faces a profound choice: "Today, am I going to affirm the Bible’s truths, obey the Lord’s commands, and heed the examples of those who have gone before me? Or am I going to close God’s Word, forget what the Lord has said, and go my own stubborn way?"
What strikingly different ways to live — and what startlingly different outcomes.
Former Chicago Tribune reporter Lee Strobel interviewed Charles Templeton, a former roommate and preaching partner of Billy Graham. Fifteen years after his conversion, Templeton had a crisis of faith, closed his Bible, and stopped preaching.
In his best-selling book, The Case for Faith, Strobel reports that Billy Graham also ended up experiencing a crisis of faith. "Billy, you’re 50 years out of date," Templeton argued. "People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do."
Graham still kept reading God’s Word, day after day. Then while on a heavy-hearted late-night walk, Graham fell to his knees, told the Lord his doubts, declared his trust in the Scriptures, and sensed the power of God in a fresh new way.
Fifty years later, Graham still keeps reading — and preaching — God’s Word. One of his only regrets: that he hasn’t read the Bible more.
No matter what ups and downs we have experienced, Graham’s example is well worth heeding.
For more information about National Bible Week, visit www.nationalbible.org or phone (212) 408-1390.
Copyright © 2002 David Sanford, who serves as Vice President of Publishing and Internet Ministries for the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association (www.palau.org). He and his wife, Renée, are co-authors of the 400 pages of devotional application notes featured in Tyndale’s popular Living Faith™ Bible. Permission granted to forward via e-mail or post online in its entirety (including this notice). All other rights reserved.
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