If you've been following along on our simple process to becoming a mega-christian superstar(or maybe you're just trying to survive without sinning every 10 minutes), then eventually the question turns to: What do I do with this book? By now you should have gotten a bible (the church you're attending can help you with this if you haven't) and maybe you've thumbed through it a couple times. You may even have decided that you're going to read the whole thing through so you started, like any book, at the beginning, determined to get to the end. I would encourage you to do it a little different.
You see, the bible isn't like any other book you've ever read. In fact, it's a compilation of 66 different books, divided into 2 sections (called testaments), written by different authors and spanning almost 1500 years. Normally I'm not the type of person who reads the end of the book first, but with the Bible you should start in the middle. In fact, start in the book of John (that's in the New Testament, right after Matthew, Mark and Luke). John tells the story of Jesus, the God who became man for you and me. After that, continue on to the end of the bible, reading over the story of the early church in the book of Acts, and then going into a series of letters that were written to encourage the first Christians, 2000 years ago. Pay close attention to these letters because they address a lot of the topics that you might be struggling with. There's some powerful stuff in those letters. And finally, once you've read the ending, go back to the beginning.
There are a few tools you can use to help understand what you're reading in the Bible:
- Devotional: This is a book that takes a portion of the bible and cuts it up into easy to understand sections. A Christian bookstore or your church can help you find one that's on your level.
- Concordance: Some Bibles have these in the back, this is a tool that cross-references all of the words used in the Bible, and allows for easy searching of themes and topics. Ex.: If you wanted to find verses about salvation, you look up the word and it points to verses like these: Acts 4:12, Romans 1:16 and others. If you'd rather look online, Biblegateway.com has a keyword search feature that's really handy.
- Christian Friends: Even among strong Christians, we don't talk about the Bible enough. So ask us questions about it, because it's through dialog that we really grow.