Every one of us suffers. We suffer from depression, from confusion, from health problems, and from poverty of body, soul, and spirit. All of us go through times of pain. Most of us go through times of great want: bills stacked up, the need to know an uncertain future, and the search for significance. What if I told you that there is a solution to solve all our problems…no strings attached!
What I am about to say will fly in the face of a humanist, it will challenge our preconceived notions, it will be against all that we know, and there are a million reasons and excuses to not believe. The fact still remains that what I am about to tell you is true! The enemy doesn’t want you to know, your friends and family might not understand, and the “professionals” will most certainly disagree (well, most of them anyway). You see, Truth is truth, whether you believe it or not; truth stands in perfect power independent of whether you recognize her or not…that is the beauty of truth…it never changes and cannot be altered by me, you, or anyone else.
Do I have your curiosity piqued yet? We can feed our minds with books and knowledge and science; we can feed our souls with entertainment in a million-plus ways; and Lord knows we are quite adept at feeding our bodies. But the key is finding the way to feed our spirit. When we hear people toss around the phrase, “You have to change from the inside-out”, we may smile and say, “Amen”, but do we really know what this means and how it works? Or do we just agree with the statement without having experienced it to the fullest. Many of us begin the process but lose our way and never bring the seed of joy to harvest. Again, the whole world system is set against us to bring the seed to harvest.
We can change our mind without ever changing our spirit. We can be emotionally happy without ever changing our spirit. We can decide to change our life, but will fail if we don’t change our spirit. Think of it as layers: the body, the soul (mind, will, emotions), and the spirit. We must understand that outward layers can NEVER affect the inward layers for any substantial amount of time…it always radiates outward, not inward. This is truth and we need to understand it! One more time: the outward layers cannot affect lasting change on the layer under it. So pleasing our body can make our mind and soul change for a little while, so the soul can make the spirit feel uplifted for a little while, and we can fill our minds with “happy thoughts” but it eventually fades away. Can we begin to see that this is true? Just take a moment and consider the outward layers and their ability to satisfy temporarily. And to top it all off, we are ever growing more and more hungry; what used to satiate us can no longer satiate us…we need more and more, never to be ultimately satisfied. The layers are defined in this way: the outward layer is the physical body, the middle layer is the soul (mind, will, emotions), and the inner layer (sanctuary) is the spirit.
The opposite is true as well. If we warp our spirit with pornography, negativity, worry, selfishness, and the like, it can affect our body and soul in very damaging ways. If we have problems in our spirit and fill our spirit with garbage, then it will manifest itself in our soul in the form of depression, anxiety, and stress, and can eventually manifest itself in our physical health. This is just good old-fashioned science. If you don’t believe me, just ask Dr. Phil or Oprah (they are experts…right?) or read about the effects of stress on your body on WebMD! So are we getting the picture? Real and lasting change happens from the inside out…Good OR Bad!
So I’ve pulled you along for a minute now and you’re probably thinking…well here comes the other shoe or ok, what’s the catch, or what are you about to sell me…but that is not the case! The solution is not only simple, but it is probably the most accessible solution we have in America and in the Western world. The solution is the BIBLE.
Now, let me stop your objections before they begin to pour out. I’m almost positive your first thought or impression was, “Awwww, darn…I thought it was better that that!” Why am I almost positive of your reaction? Because that was my first reaction! When I said the Bible, I know you immediately had an avalanche of objections and here are maybe a few you are familiar with:
- Intellectual Objections: the Bible is too big, it is too confusing, I don’t understand it, I don’t know where to start, I’ve “read” it before, people smarter than me say it is just another book, scientists say it is flawed, I’m just not a “reader”.
- Emotional Objections: It won’t work, I feel guilty about not reading it enough, it won’t work, I’m not a religious person, it won’t work, I see Christians all around me that look and act just like me, it won’t work.
- Willful Objections: I don’t have the time, I don’t feel like it, I don’t want to know the truth, God expects too much, this sounds a lot like work, I’d rather just listen or watch something, this is my life and I don’t need to read the Bible.
The reason we have these objections is too simple to bear sometimes: the WHOLE world is set up against it! We are a product of our circumstances, our education, our experience, and our perception of reality…what is generally considered our worldview. Remember at the beginning of this post when I put forth the idea that we are built on layers of existence? You see, it is hard to penetrate past our objections because all of them have come from the outward layers: i.e. our emotions, our mind, our own self-will. What I want us to see is that having a lasting change requires that we get to the heart of the matter; we must change our spirit first, and the rest will follow. It doesn’t work from the outside-in; it works from the inside-out! I know I am repeating myself, but it is necessary in order to get through…if it weren’t necessary, then we would already know this and be practicing this!
How does it work? I can honestly tell you…I DON’T KNOW. If someone tells you that they know HOW it works…they are a liar, for “the wisdom of man is foolishness to God.” I don’t care who you ask: if you ask Billy Graham, if you ask your preacher, if you ask a psychologist, if you ask anyone and they say they know HOW it works…then run, don’t walk, run from them! They could tell you WHY it works or testify to the fact that it DOES work, but HOW? You see, in all my years of time in the Bible or anyone’s experience of being “in the Bible”, if we are honest with ourselves, we would have to throw our arms up in the air and say, “I honestly don’t know how it works!” It is supernatural, it is “magical”, it is unexplainable, and it is an enigma unto itself. Some intellectuals would say that infusing text like this will “brainwash” you; I set forth the notion that staying in the Word will “spiritwash” you! We read phrases in the Bible of “renewing your mind”, of “being transformed glory to glory”, and that Scripture is “sharp as a two-edged sword, dividing soul from spirit”. We should say to ourselves, “Bring it on!”
We can spend hours at work trying to figure out a problem, we can spend hours watching television, we can spend countless dollars and emotional investment into someone we love, we can spend a lifetime searching for answers, but how long do we spend in our Bible? You have given people in your life many chances, you have maybe tried therapy many times, maybe you have spent months of your life in re-hab, you have tried and tried so many things throughout your life, but have you REALLY given the Bible a chance? I know people who will read countless books on self-help, but can’t bear 5 minutes in the Bible! Why is it so “hidden in plain sight”? Again, the WHOLE world is set up against it! Even your own psyche is set up against it. Are we beginning to see the problem here?
This I can absolutely guarantee: if you are sick, it will heal you; if you are depressed, it will give you joy; if you are confused, it will give you clarity; if you feel unloved, it will show you true love; if you want answers, it will give you answers. Period. I stake my life, soul, and eternal destiny in this statement. But why? Because I have been changed by it, I have experienced the power, and I have been set free! Is it easy? No, it is not easy, but anything worth having requires effort! Does it work immediately? No, it takes a little time. Can it change my life forever? Yes, it can and will.
The fact is this: time in the Word is like a direct download into your spirit. Time in the Word begins to make eternal changes on the inside, the inside of the inside…in essence, the “core” of the matter. When trying to understand the layers of existence, if you change the spirit, it radiates (for lack of a better word) outward and begins to change your soul (mind, emotions, will), and will eventually change your outward appearance. A supernatural force, we will call the Light (it is actually called the Holy Spirit, but I get ahead of myself), grows like a heat (you can actually feel it) and begins to transform the layers outward from it. So lasting, eternal, glorious change happens only from the spirit outward. Oh my God! How many hours, days, months, and years have we spent trying to change the outward layers! We spend countless dollars on making our bodies look good, we spend a lifetime it seems trying to make ourselves happy, and we spend our emotions on seeking “chicken soup for the soul”! It always fails…unless…we get to the root of the problems we humans have. We all desire, whether we know it or not, to know that which is eternal, the “meaning of life”, the significance of existence, and to know our Creator. To coin a popular phrase, “We all have a God-shaped hole in our heart that only He can fill.” We must know that when we spend time in the Word, it supernaturally downloads (to use modern vernacular) into our spirit, which is where it all begins and ends. I don’t know how it works…it just does!
So you may ask, “Where do I start?” or “How do I start over?” In the world we live in today, I would suggest finding a translation that complements your modern language: if you speak and talk in simple terms, then get a modern translation; if you are more educated than most, then get a translation that is closest to the Hebrew and Greek; if you are an intellectual, then buy a parallel Bible that shows the original language with several translations side-by-side with the original. It doesn’t matter which translation as long as you can read it and understand the language. The next question should be, “Where do I start?” From my perspective, which happens to be the only one I have, what worked for me was starting in the New Testament. I suggest the Book of John first. But just starting at the beginning of the New Testament is perfectly easy enough with the Book of Matthew. I suggest reading two books at a time. For example: I will read, say, John for a while and then read Proverbs; I will be reading Acts and at the same time going to Psalms. It’s like changing the channel while watching T.V or switching between two channels. What inevitably happens is that we are supernaturally transformed day-by-day and glory to glory. It is the tool, a gracious gift, to fix ALL of life’s problems. It is the road-map to a spiritual existence. When given a chance, the Holy Scriptures will give you new eyes to see and new ears to hear! Many seek a spiritual life, but the Bible is the Guidebook. Many pursue the supernatural part of existence, but the Bible is the map to the greatest treasure on this tiny planet we call Earth. Christ actually warns of people who want to enter, but fail to enter through Him and His gate…He doesn’t have very nice things to say about those folks!
The last thing I want to say is that you must spend time in the Word. You may ask, “How much time do I need to spend in the Word?” At first, you should set up an hour at a time…uninterrupted. Once a person begins to take this journey, they will find themselves hungering and thirsting for more! I have spent an entire weekend in the Word before; actually, I have spent months at a time in the Word before. What we need to grasp here is that nothing is more important than the solution! So the excuse of not having time is foolish. Because when the solution is the Word, it takes care of all the rest. Why would we spend our time and effort on anything else, when the answers for what we spend the rest of our hours on is found in the Word? You see how obvious this is? When you begin to feel the radiance, when you begin to physically feel the warmth, when your spirit begins to respond, you are forever changed and will desire nothing more than more! When the eyes of your heart begin to open, the world around you changes! I don’t mean some philosophical enlightenment…I mean a “Wow! Where have I been, and what have I been doing all my life” kind of enlightenment. This is a journey of unbelievable proportions. This is the magic bullet! And like I said earlier…it works! It always has and it always will.
If you are new to the Bible, buckle your seatbelt and welcome to eternal life here and now; if you are a burned-out Christian, prepare to be set on fire anew. The problem with being a “churched” Christian is that you hear the Word on Sundays, you toss verses around all the time, so you think all is well…WRONG!!!! Time in the Word, again, is the supernatural download into the spirit. I can’t say it enough; I don’t know how it works…it just does. Nothing, and I mean nothing, takes the place of your PRIVATE time in the Word. Do you want to pray more? Then spend more time in the Word. Do you want to learn to love? Then spend more time in the Word. Do you want to be a victorious Christian? Then spend more time in the Word. What if I know the Bible backwards and forwards? Watch the heck out! Don’t be fooled…spend more time in the Word. What if I read Christian books all the time that quote verses? Again, don’t be fooled, spend more time in the Word! Nothing, and I mean nothing, takes the place of being in God’s presence, and the most accessible way to be in His presence is by being in the Word and prayer. Yes, there is more to it than just this, but it all starts here. And the foundation of your faith is continually being edified and strengthened right here in the Word. Nothing else will make sense in the spiritual world unless it starts in the Word. The Word is the portal, the gate, and the transport system into the spiritual life. I mean, most of us don’t know how to pray correctly, but even that is learned through the Word. It is the key that opens the gateway onto the narrow path that leads to life.
I hope this post has gotten my point across. I know I just drilled this into your head, but I won’t make any apologies! Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I speak is true. We cannot complain any longer, we cannot be discouraged any longer, we cannot feel sorry for ourselves any longer, because the God-given solution is right here at our finger tips. I’m sure you probably know that some would literally kill for a copy of the Bible and many (too many to count) have paid with their very lives to provide access to the Bible in hostile regions. Our Father must just wonder why we are so thick-headed! He says to you and me, “I have given you the solution, I have given my only Son, I have provided the cure for all that ails you…but you still just don’t get it!” He has given us the “user-manual” for the spiritual life and many of us let it collect dust on a shelf and complain of not living a victorious Christian life…Forgive us Father.
In a world full of confusion and a life that is ever more complicated, let us all agree to get back to the spiritual source for satisfying our thirsty souls.