Let's start our unCASUAL journey with an excerpt from the scripture....about the scripture:
God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one can resist God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.
That is Hebrews 4:12 and for many of us it describes an encounter with God's word that we have never had. In reality, most of us would use the following hashtags to describe our efforts in reading the scripture: #Boring #Confusing #I'mLost #WhereToStart #OopsIfellAsleep #IQuitAgain
But it doesn't have to be that way. And, we're here to help.
3 Pro Tips for Starting Right
ACCESS TO THE BIBLE Lucky for us, we live in the most connected time in human history. And, most of us on this site, live in America...which means you can get your hands (and your eyes) on a Bible in no time flat. Recommendation: Biblegateway.com This is a great spot if you wanna use your web browser to dive in. It has nearly every translation (including the ones we recommend below), A big perk is that you can search for a specific scriptures or topics of interest. #Whatsthebiblesayaboutfear Recommendation: YouVersion Bible App The number one digital bible resource...like, EVER. And it's #1 for a reason. This app is totally FREE. You can read straight scripture or search for a reading plan on a topic that interests you. Trust us, these plans are not corny and they are great for beginners and seasoned readers too. You can also invite friends and share what you're reading, design and share a verse to social media, and more. Oh, you could also read on your browser at Bible.com Recommendation: Your favorite hard copy ...but beware (see Pro Tip #2)
A TRANSLATION YOU CAN CONNECT WITH Thous and Thees aren't for me. You either, I bet. We are blessed to have hundreds of great options that are both accurate and easy to read. No. There isn't just one real version of the Bible. In fact, modern translations are actually even more reliable than some of our old favorites #KJV. From our experience, the number one reason people try to read the Bible and then quit is because it's not speaking their language. This leads to boredom, confusion, frustration, and a general sense that "the Bible's not for me." BUT IT IS. We promise. Recommendation: New Living Translation (NLT) is the translation we teach and preach from most Sunday's at Hope City. It's easy to read and doesn't sacrifice accuracy at all. Recommendation: God's Word Translation (GW) is another good one. It provides a really great reading experience particularly in the "Gospels" (the biographies of Jesus' life) which include the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Recommendation: The Message (MSG) is the most up-to-date in the way it connects with everyday language. In the 90's they called it "street." It's a fun and easy way to journey through the Word.
TALKING TO JESUS FIRST In other words, #prayer. But don't let that classic church word scare you off. We're not talking about reciting some fancy monologue with your eyes closed, heads bowed, and hands folded. It doesn't even have to be out loud. We're taking about an intentional chat with God whether that be out loud, whispering, totally in your heart/mind, or even if you want to belt it out in song form, that's cool too. Jesus doesn't care as much about how you pray...He just want you to connect with Him...and that's called praying. Praying regularly is the key to a healthy relationship with God. That's so mainly because no relationship thrives without good communication. God has promised to speak to you through His word and His spirit and He's given us the invite to talk back...via prayer. Recommendation: Cancel formal and fancy, Jesus isn't interested in how you string your thoughts together. He isn't impressed if it "sounds powerful." He wants to chat, like friends. You don't even have to start or finish your prayer a certain way either...you can jump right in and when you're finished, leave it open ended. P.S. Amen simply means "I agree, let it be." Recommendation: Talk to the Author, because the author of a writing knows the content better than anyone else. 2 Timothy 3:16 says this: There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. In other words, God wrote it...and He wants to help you connect with His purposes for your life. Recommendation: Be honest, because God already knows anyways and He wants you to tell Him. If you you don't understand what you just read, tell Him. Say: Jesus, I'm trying here and I believe you want to honor that and help me...but today didn't connect. Help me grasp it better tomorrow. Repeat. We promise, if you show up to spend time with Jesus...He will show up to spend time with you. And when that time is confusing or if it seems silent like He isn't there or isn't speaking...be honest with Him about that. It won't seem like that for long.
So there you have it. Our 3 Pro Tips for Starting Right.
(shh...we're not pros. We've just seen how Jesus shows up and wanna help you see His faithfulness too).