Mining God’s Word

Does “Mining God’s Word” sound like a strange title?

Let me explain.

Mining God’s Word…

     …for His treasures…

          …for ordinary people…

               …to bless us to live loved by God

…so we can also minister to others.

Without the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ, how can we live loved by God? Mining God’s Word is one concrete way to do this together.

Many Christians disqualify themselves from engaging in God’s Word and miss out on much of life. Perhaps they disqualify themselves because of a bad experience in schooling. Perhaps like Eve in Genesis 3, because of pride and a subtle choice to do things their own way. In any case, the loss is catastrophic for them.

God’s design for you is to learn and become a lifelong LIFE-learner and doer! Jesus calls His followers “disciples,” meaning “learners” fashioned in His image. And primarily we learn from His Love-Letter, the Bible.

I’ve designed this webpage to be taught in the first meeting to launch a group with “Zero Week.”

“Zero Week” has no preparation…simply come and see. The group comes together in the inaugural week without any pre-preparation. We interact with this together. Each decides their level of interest in committing the time and effort to begin to shift our learning in order to develop greater intimacy with the Father, Son and Spirit.

And the study of God’s Word is simple.

God designed us for this since it’s a crucial aspect of our connecting relationally with God. So Bible study can be simple, yet not simplistic, within the reach of all, yet not without our disciplined hard work. Yet even for many followers of Jesus today learning is an unpopular word.

WHY such a disconnect with the experience of many Christians?

For an illustration of mining God’s Word, go back in your mind’s eye to the last half of the 1800’s, out in the mountains of the western US. In 1848 before gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, California had a population of about 34,000. With the news of gold, approximately 300,000 people rushed into California from the rest of the United States and abroad. They streamed in from all walks of life, merchants and farmers, lawyers and gamblers, the vast majority with no mining skills.

Why the great sacrifice (why? = the question of motivation)?

What was their intent as they risked everything and subjected themselves to horrendous circumstances where they aged rapidly and risked death from Indians? Why did they swing a pick and shovel and bend over with the backbreaking work of panning from “can see” to “can’t see”?

The gold miners were motivated by earthly riches, although the vast majority went broke. Followers of Jesus are motivated by heavenly treasure. Jesus’ life changes us in life right now and extends into eternity.

I’m inviting you into investing a bit of time and effort to put God’s Word into practice without traveling across the globe. And this could be more life-changing then those who struck the Mother Lode in Sutter’s Mill.

And the good news is that God designed us to engage in mining God’s Word. More like those few who stumbled across the “Mother-Lode.” Gold-laced nuggets lay on the surface, only needing to be picked up. One stroke of the pick loosened another vast reservoir of gold-laced nuggets. And the Mother-Lode in the New Testament never runs dry.

When Jesus rescued me when I was twenty-five, I knew virtually nothing about the New Testament. All I knew how to do was to read through the New Testament…and I stumbled over nuggets of insight wherever I read. It was thrilling! And simple, yet radically life-changing as I put truth into practice, allowing the New Testament to renew my tainted view of life.

Jesus longs to give us these treasures to form deeper relationship. He calls us disciples, learners and has fully outfitted us as competent miners of His treasure. Although it will demand reasoning, persistence and effort, mining nuggets from the Bible move us on to ever increasing levels of spirituality. The treasures we mine are about Jesus! Invest time…

…in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 3:2b-3).

So, it follows, if we can discover His design for learning, we will learn easier and better and be able to influence others since God designed us as learners (the word “disciple”).

Let’s begin by seeing how Jesus learned, our Model for life. Read Luke 2:46-47. Jesus and His family traveled to Jerusalem for a Jewish feast. When they returned to Nazareth, His parents must have thought Jesus was with His cousins. They returned when they noticed Him missing.

What was Jesus doing?

Mark the active responses from the text as Jesus learned in the temple at twelve. Make your learning active by taking time for personal discovery in the following verses. The only way to have “good soil” in our heart so God’s Word can flourish is to become an active, lifelong life-learner and doer.

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” (Luke 2:46-47).

What did you as a learning community note from this passage?

As they sat together in community, Jesus was listening with an open heart and mind, asking honest questions, and answering questions with understanding as an active learner.Jesus was about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).And then Jesus put truth consistently into practice, changed by the doing of God’s Word (Luke 2:52).

And add to this how Jewish children were trained to memorize at least the first five books in the OT. Rabbinic teaching “flips” learning. They require that the students prepare beforehand and interact with a question/answer style of learning that “draws out” with questions. The aim is LifeChange, a follower whose life becomes more like the object of study. Such a simple model for natural learning and teaching is within the reach of each of us.

Notice the results of this free-flowing, interactive question asking/answering around God’s Word. Adult learners engage best when each brings all their interactive faculties to the process with safe, flexible space and structure to release insight and foster freedom in group discovery.This brings God’s truth to encounter life to forge LifeChange by mining God’s Word.

[Jesus] grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).

As a learner, Jesus’ heart was attuned to His Father (Luke 2:49) so He grew in favor with both God and man because He obeyed the Father (Hebrews 5:8). Doing God’s Word is the key to change. Abiding in Jesus as the true Vine is the key to Bible study, just as it is to prayer to become a disciple (John 15:7-8).

One recent study of motivations for adult learning adds to how God designed His people to learn. These four motivations for adult learners describe how God designed us to be disciples, learners from His Word about His character and plans.

1. Relevance

Demonstrating value by relating learning to life.

A desire to find meaning is fundamental to humanity. Adult learners in particular dislike busywork. Adults need to know the reason for learning. We cannot respond very long to God’s Love-Letter and remain unchanged. So, put truth into action to encounter life. Therefore, we will emphasize doing God’s Word.

2. Competence

Experiencing growing competence in skills, values, and/or character powerfully motivates learning.

As image-bearers, God created us to co-rule…that is, to have purpose, to explore, perceive, evaluate, think about and change our surroundings to promote positive effects. Success cultivates expectancy for continued success. Keep the course. You have already progressed so enjoy the journey. Therefore, we will emphasize a healthier learning style by both“flipping” learning, so we prepare before group and rapid & repeated reading that aligns more with how God designed u to learn.

3. Belonging

Connecting with each other accelerates learning.

God fashioned us to connect as social beings. Creating a culture in which both the learners and teachers feel respected by and connected to one another develops a relaxed, stimulating place to maximize learning. This mutual cooperation with a natural give-&-take releases transforming power in community and reflects God’s design. Therefore, we will learn together in an interactive community based more on “draw out” with questions than “put in” with directive teaching (although both are valid).

Doing. Flipped learning. Repeated & rapid reading. Community-based learning. Does this sound similar to how Jesus learned? Yes, it is because they realign us with our creation design.

4. Positive Attitude

Nurturing positive attitudes towards learning.

That leaves one choice… yours. Our attitude predisposes us in a certain direction, positively or negatively. Learning together can release joy and fun. When I was rehabbing my hip replacement, I told my physical therapist, “I hate exercise!” I developed a positive attitude when I changed my approach by saying (and meaning!): “I like the results of exercise.” I’ve been exercising regularly ever since with good results.

Change our mindset and our motives

…about diving into God’s Word from drudgery to delight, we will remain on the outside looking in. We then forfeit much of the grand treasure God has hidden for us in His Word.Otherwise, we will most likely view this Christian journey as difficult. We will remain on the outside looking in. How sad to forfeit any of the grand treasure God has hidden for us in His Word to join Him on His epic adventure.

If you have had a negative view on reading or learning in the past, are you willing to choose to change your inner dialog to: “I enjoy the positive benefits of studying God’s Word!”? You are the gatekeeper of your heart.

What’s your choice?

We become more like what we what we give our ready “yes” to. So focus on God’s perspective. Such responses cultivate the good soil in our hearts, the core of who we are (PDF: “Four Soils,” Mark 4:1-20).

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown (Mark 4:20, emphasis).

Intentionally lean into Jesus to break off what lessens spiritual impact. Jesus’ short story with a powerful meaning asks us to discern the soil of our heart (Four Soils PDF on Mark 4:1-20).

Do you desire to develop a good heart that welcomes and responds to God’s Word, so we retain it?

Of course, we can only do this as we partner with the Spirit of God and with one another (John 14:26). The Spirit is eager to come alongside.

What if we could break off some of the incomplete ideas about learning from our past and see God’s original intent through His eyes?

Another powerful motivation for Mining God’s Word comes into the light when we begin to grasp the benefits behind the word-pictures that God’s Love Letter uses of itself. Following is a sample. When you read the picture below in bold, briefly pause and think of its characteristics and how these relate to us. Active learning changes us from center to circumference!

1. Food to satisfy my hunger. Think about working hard all day and coming home to a party with a banquet table. All your favorites and take all you want. God’s love-Letter is like that.

2. Honey to delight my taste. I enjoy my wife’s home-made rolls with a bit of butter on them. When I add a drizzle of honey, the taste soars to another level.

3. Seed for an abundant harvest. If we expect a harvest, we must sow seed with life in itself. God’s Word has life in itself to bring forth a great harvest in our lives.

4. Sword to protect me from my enemy. When the knights of old rescued the damsel, they drew their sword, both to protect themselves and also to overcome the enemy.

Are you making this applicable by asking yourself which one impacts you the most at the moment?

5. Lamp & light to guide my pathway (Psalm 119:105). In OT times, a small lamp was fastened to their feet as they walked at night. It illuminated only the next step. God’s Word is a lamp that lights up our next step of obedience, no more. After responding in faith, God flashes one step more of illumination. The Bible is also a light that guides my path, like a beacon at my destination.

6. Fire to burn useless chaff in me and a hammer to shatter my resistance to His very best (Jeremiah 23:29). The prophetic side of this double picture speaks to those things that need to be purged from our lives. Take the portions of Scripture seriously where we feel uncomfortable, and they cut into our self-life.

7. Scalpel for cutting to the heart of a matter (Hebrews 4:12). The Word is like a sharp scalpel that a skillful surgeon uses to cut out cancer that destroys health. The surgeon is precise and cuts only enough for long-term health, yet in the short-term it’s painful.

8. Mirror for reflecting reality (James 1:23-24). Don’t just read the Bible. Let the Bible read you. The Word reveals what is real and true so we can make appropriate changes. Don’t be like the man who looks in the mirror in the morning at a smudge on his face, but then ignores it, leaving it there for all to observe.

Would you be game to experiment to learn this way together?

Of course, this is no straitjacket. However, learning any discipline, whether an occupation or a hobby, good training first lays the basics. Once these are deeply ingrained as a healthy pattern of life, then we adapt it to your uniqueness as necessary. The only time we cannot’t learn is when we forfeit our listening hearts as lifelong life-learners.

  1. How do I structure such a time? The free PDF T-P-P, Time, Place, Plan is a simple way to begin to structure your time. Then modify to fit the unique person you are.
  2. Where to I find the time? The free PDF 10 Ways to Free 10 Minutesprovides some simple tips to make time since we already have all 24-hours of our days filled.

I call this type of learning that aligns with God’s design natural learning.

And the best way I have found to learn the Bible is BIG-small-BIG learning in community with a bias towards doing. We will learn these skills gradually but let me give you a quick sip now (see free PDF for an expanded version of BIG-small-Big).

  • BIG: Survey (grasping the panoramic view of the interconnected whole through rapid, repeated reading).
  • small: Analyze (understanding the nuances of the individual parts, especially the “flow” of the passage).
  • BIG: Synthesize (re-connecting individual parts into the dynamic whole through rapid, repeated reading).

If you have more time in this “zero week” meeting (no pre-preparation; come and decide if it’s for you), then go through 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 together as a short practice exercise for repeated reading. This church was only 3-weeks old in Christ when their founder, Paul, had to leave. He wrote this back shortly after he left. Ask them to read it two or three times. List what they see as describing this young faith-community.

Where Do I Go from Here?

I’ve designed this “tree” of web pages under Mining God’s Word with your self-learning in mind, either alone or preferably in a group. The cascading sub-webpages offer a number of ways for you to go, depending on your desire. This flexibility helps you learn how you learn best, chasing down what stirred you the most.

  1. At the bottom of each page, I normally offer a hyperlink to a free PDF of the current webpage if you want to reflect more on it. Here is a free PDF of much of this page.
  2. I also embed hyperlinks to free PDF’s on specific topics. For me, these are important at some time for a deeper dive. They are embedded because I don’t want to break the flow of the page. As we weave these thoughts together, they better reveal God’s creation design for learning. Here is one from this page, “Four Soils,” Mark 4:1-20, BIG-small-BIG, Developing a Plan: T-T-P, 10 Ways to Free 10 Minutes, Developing a Habit, T-P-P.
  3. We are changed through the doing (especially in community), not only through our studying. Study however is a necessary preparation for doing. Best I can, these cascaded webpages with the free PDF’s lead us through a simple (not simplistic) yet powerful way to become lifelong life-learners in God’s Love-Letter.
  4. The best way to learn, though, is to dive in and begin to engage the Bible through natural learning. If you have just read this page as an individual, gather a good friend or two or four with a desire to grow around God’s Word like you desire to learn. Bring them through this, then proceed with # 5 below.
  5. Only ONE in all the universe can stop you. Your attitude towards engaging in God’s Word with a bias towards doing. Your attitude predisposes you either positively or negatively.

If you are leading a group…

  1. …teach each this page interactively by highlighting in your own words what I have shared on the passage. I call this “zero week” because there’s no commitment for those invited. Just come!
  2. For those who are game to experiment to learn this way together, they really do need to pre-prepare for maximum return. Emphasize this to “flip” learning. Ask them to read the sub-webpage under this one, Rapid Reading of ONE Bible Book.” Bring back with them next week what they want to share interactively with the group.

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