This is Pastor Tim’s article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, Jan 24
As I am sure this is no surprise to any of you, I spend a lot of time reading the Bible. I love many parts of my job, but studying the Bible is one of my favorite parts. I am an introvert by nature, which means I like to contemplate inside my mind. I spent a lot of time thinking about things. Many of you have seen me running outside when the weather is warmer (I hate treadmills) and as my body is working to stay moving, my mind is busy. Many sermons that happen down at Wayne Street were conceived on the Tow Path.
Every year, I read the Bible clear through. I have a Bible called the Through the Bible in a Year. I have been reading through that book every year for decades. I can’t say I read every word every year because some of the genealogies I go through rather quickly and there are large sections of verbatim repeated content from the books of Chronicles and Kings, but I do spend time every day in the Bible. I can remember my preaching professor in Seminary who gave me advice I still use to this day. He told us to never allow the Bible to become a place where we go just to get sermons. Dr. McCabe, you would be happy to know I have followed your advice, and it has been one of the greatest parts of my life.
Truth be told, I read a lot of books. I also read articles, journals, and websites. I believe it is part of my job to stay informed. People want someone they know personally to be able to comment on all of the madness going on in the world. But nothing has even close to the effect on me as reading the Bible does. Why might that be?
To go with the obvious answer, because it is the Word of God that I am reading. I am a simple speck in the universe, yet I am able to hold in my hands a book that has the fingerprints of Almighty God on it. That is pretty impressive. Many other books can claim to be good, and some of them can claim to be great. They can even claim to also be inspired by God. Yet none of them have the effect of the Bible. I may be absorbed in a good story in the other books or I could gain some new and valuable insight that may help me be a better person, but I am not nurtured the same as I am from the Bible.
That isn’t to say I like all the parts of the Bible. If I had the chance, I would tear Psalm 137 out of every Bible on earth and burn it. There is also a story in 2 Samuel 3:14-16 where King David broke up a marriage between a man named Palti and his wife, Michal. King David, later described as a man after God’s own heart, took Michal away from a man who clearly loved her and then David treated her terribly. Palti begs to have her back and weeps for her but David tells him to get lost. I don’t like that story either.
I don’t respect the Bible because I like every story in it, and I am not undergirded by the Bible because every story inspires me. For every David vs. Goliath, there is a Jephthah who sacrifices his own daughter. I struggle with these stories, but what the Bible does by containing these stories I hate is it makes the Bible real. Even though it has the fingerprints of God on it, it was also written in this world where awful things happen. If the Bible was sterile and politically correct and sounded like it would appeal only to a 2023 audience, then it would be just like most of the other books I read.
But the Bible isn’t like any other book. It is the real Word of God written to a world that struggles to comprehend it. Even after spending most of my life reading it, the Bible is still shaping me. It is teaching me what is truly despicable in our world. What should I dislike? The breaking up of families and the weak being threatened? The Bible teaches me to disprove of that, and I do. The Bible also teaches me to rejoice with a widow who found her coin and a shepherd who found a lost sheep. But I would learn neither lesson if the Bible did not offend me at times. It has helped me grow and develop over the years so that I am a better man today because I have a Bible that I have had to tape the cover back on multiple times. In fact, the Bible I read every morning has a duct tape cover because of how much I have held it in my hands through the years.
What I realized is that while I thought I was holding the Bible, in truth, it was holding me all of this time. To any of you who are lost or looking for direction, particularly you young men out there, reading the Bible is not a fix all, but it is a positive first step. It will push you, pull you, and grow you into the person you were created to be. That is the power of God’s word, and I would recommend it to any of you looking for a way to improve your life.