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 Rich’s story 

To the guys at Highpoint Church, this place was heaven on a weekday morning.  They met at a local diner that opened early enough to get everybody off to work in good time.  It was one of those places where the menu was a breakfast Britannica.  Where the three egg omelets were served on heavy plates with cheap silverware, and the syrup never left the table. 

“I don’t get it,” said Rich.  He and Andy were not in a hurry and so they had warmed up their coffee one more time after the group officially broke up. 

“What?” smirked Andy, “How your Bucks could lose in the first round of the playoffs?  How your golf swing could still be so very bad after all these years?” 

“That too.  But I was thinking of something else just now.”  Rich was smiling but serious.  “We all read the same Bible passage, but you always get more out of it.  It’s like you see more!  If you’re cheating, I want to know how you do it so I can cheat too!” 

“Well . . .” Andy started, but was immediately interrupted. 

“And another thing,” continued Rich, “whenever the guys have differing opinion about what the verse means, you’re able to provide actual reasons for a certain understanding.  It’s not just that old tired ‘what it means to me is . . . .’” 

Andy laughed.  “Any cheats I’ve got, I’m more than happy to share with you.  In fact, I can get you off to a good start before you even finish that cup of coffee.  It begins with learning to observe as opposed to just seeing.” 

The look on Rich’s face said enough for Andy to know he had to go on.  “Okay, last Friday when we went to your son’s basketball game—I saw it, and enjoyed it.  But you observed it.  Remember when we talked about the game afterward?” 

“Sure, I remember,” replied Rich.  “I wasn’t sure whether you’d seen it or not!  You didn’t even see how they were killing us when they switched from zone to man defense!” 

“No, I saw, but I didn’t observe.  You watched the game on an entirely different level than I did.  We watched the same game, and yet we didn’t.  Sound familiar?” 

“Observe instead of just see,” Rich said, as much to himself as to anybody.  “I think I get what you’re saying!  But how?!” 

“It’s both art and science—and it takes practice,” answered Andy.  “But I know you can do it.  My first recommendation?  Read with a pencil in your hand.” 

Again, the blank stare, So Andy continued:  “When you read the passage the night before our study, do it with a pencil in your hand.  That usually works as a trigger that signals you to start noticing things.  You can mark in your Bible or start jotting things down on paper.  In fact, you jot down 10 observations about the passage next week and I’ll buy your cinnamon roll.” 

The story of us all:

The Bible is God’s message, requiring diligence to grasp what he intended to say.  When we study the Bible, we pay careful attention to what he says about himself, what’s really real in life’s experience, and to find guidance for our daily lives. 

One important Scripture:

Psalms 119:18 (ESV) 18 Open my eyes, that I may beholdwondrous things out of your law. 

Your own story:  You’ve heard Rich’s story, you know the story of us all.  Now, let’s talk! 

  • Is Bible study for everyone, or “best left to the professionals?”
  • What do you think the expectation is here—do you feel responsible for hours each week in Bible study?
  • Can you remember ever having a great “aha” moment when you were reading the Bible for yourself?
  • Who is someone who has opened up the Bible to you as a great Bible teacher?
  • What are some of the obstacles you have encountered to being a regular student of the Bible?
  • Is there a Bible study tip that has really been helpful to you?
  • Are there some particular Bible study tools that you find useful?
  • Have you ever had a class in how to study the Bible?


Rachel Miller about 1 year ago

I like to listen to the Bible. I’ve gone through the Bible a number of times that way using a number of different translations. I feel like I have a great “big picture” view of the Bible from doing that. But there is a time and a place for deeper study. This is where I have struggled in the past. I get distracted easily. I knew exactly what the story was talking about with the difference of seeing Vs observing. I have really liked listening in on the study times with the teens at Camp connect where we have made observations and then responded to them. Taking into account context of the passage, who it was written to, things like that. It’s quite simple really but so important. It’s a life journey. That’s for sure.

Mark Miller about 1 year ago

Continuing with the basketball game analogy, no one can sit down for the first time and “observe” the game without first having some level of teaching that lays the foundation for going beyond just “seeing”. We must sit under the instruction of others first in order to gain an understanding of the mechanics. And then, we must put those lessons into practice in order to become good at it. For myself, I too often fail in terms of practice. It is very easy to be content with just listening to others share and teach. Obviously this can be dangerous if you don’t have sufficient discernment to recognize if what you are hearing is solid or not. Furthermore, with the vast amount of information constantly available now, I wonder if we spend more time on the defensive and miss hearing what God has to say.

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