“Okay kids! Now hold your Bible above your head and when I say go, I want you to find John 3:16. The first one of you to find it, stand up, and begin reading will earn an extra credit point on our next Bible test. Ready? Go!”
Ahh the infamous Sword Drills.
If you grew up going to Sunday School, Christian schools, or Awana groups then you probably know what I am talking about. Hands in the air, anticipation and adrenaline brewing, Bibles slamming the desks and the rustle and tearing of thin pages filled with Scripture — all to see who could find Bible verses the fastest.
My competitive drive and desire to be the best drove me to many Sword Drill victories. It was not that I had Scripture well memorized or the content of these verses in my heart, but I made sure I knew the order of the books of the Bible so that I could be the winner.
Sword drills weren’t about a relationship with Jesus or knowledge of Scripture. It was about competition and rules and who could be the best — not exactly a great framework for living the Christian life.
To this day, I have no problem finding any passage in Scripture. However, the tenacity with which I can find a Bible verse does not match the knowledge I have about what the Bible actually contains. Oftentimes the Scripture I do know happens to be like “band aids” for life ailments and self-help.
What would it look like for me to be able to have Sword Drill like knowledge of Scripture itself?
“Stop Calling Me Beautiful” by Phylicia Masonhiemer is one of the first books I have read that has really challenged my perspective of a quiet time, legalism in the church, the importance of theology, and being a biblically sound and knowledgeable woman.
How many times have I Googled “bible verses for anxiety,” “Scripture on love,” or “what does the Bible say about being joyful?” More than I can count. My knowledge of the words of Jesus can be so shallow that I need Google to supplement when I am in a time of crisis. Google and christian books can provide quick fixes, but it is time with Jesus and His Word that I need the most.
*Want more insight on this? Check out Part 1 of “Your Daily Devotions Cannot Save You” from Ana and stay tuned for Part 2 on July 8th.*
Phylicia writes, “Exposing ourselves to God’s Word is not easy. The enemy resists us in every way he can because he knows the power of a gospel-rooted believer. We must recognize this resistance and prepare ourselves for the distractions guaranteed to come our way (pg. 40).”
A hunger for knowing Jesus is not born out of daily quiet time or Google search when needed and it can be suppressed by the lies of the enemy. Hunger for Jesus comes from our desire to know His character more and understand his desire for us. One of the things that Phylicia writes about throughout her latest book is that we make our relationship with Jesus about ourselves. But when we look within, we realize our brokenness and sin and we do not see Jesus, his grace, and the gospel. Our relationship with Jesus should be about Him and our hunger for him only grows when our eyes are fixed on pursuing him.
Instead of asking “what can we get out of a relationship with God?” we should be asking “what can I learn from a relationship with God?” How can I glorify God in my relationship with Him? How can I grow in my knowledge and understanding of His Word? What about his character is God trying to reveal to me?
“Devotional time has become focused on personal fulfillment and less on eternal significance…When we become spiritually imbalanced, we end up spiritually ineffective. Our time spent with God should be focused on learning more about Him, and in doing so, we will learn how to view ourselves (pg. 62).”
If you want to learn more about the importance of studying Scripture and actually knowing what God says about himself and our lives, “Stop Calling Me Beautiful,” is a must read. Phylicia’s writing is simple and easy to follow, and you will fly through this book because it is just that good. Some of the other topics Phylicia covers include grief, anxiety, sexuality, community, and legalism all while explaining how to turn to the word of God for understanding and truth.
Here at CGB we are avid readers and listeners of Phylicia Masonheimer’s work and we highly encourage you to check out her blog and her podcasts: https://phyliciamasonheimer.com.