As a blogger who loves books, I guess it is about time that I wrote about my favorite book – the Bible. My love for the Bible began as it often does for MKs (missionary kids) and PKs(preacher’s kids) during a sword drill when I finally won. For those of you not familiar with this favorite teaching technique it involves holding a bible in the air, closing your eyes and finding a verse as quickly as possible once the teacher says go. Putting your thumb at a strategic place in the Bible as you held it up or using a thumb indexed Bible were off limits. My mom was often the teacher in these circumstances and had an annoying habit of wanting to explain these key verses once we found them. At an early age I learned how transformative it was to put my own name in key verses like Romans 3:23 and John 3;16 – “For God so loved David that he sent his only beloved son…”
During our family devotions, my parents used a book called The Living Bible Encyclopedia in Story and Pictures to bring out the stories of the Bible in fresh ways. These amazing books combined the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, stories and narrative accounts from the Know Your Bible Program, and 480 paintings based on Bible themes as well as photographs of scenes and archaeological finds in the Holy Land. My mom and dad used these times to teach us about Bible in ways that satisfied my young and inquisitive mind, especially when the pictures showed the places that the stories actually took place. As I was learning to love the Bible, I was also learning to love to read as my parents often let us children read these passages out loud for the rest of the family to discuss.
In my teen years, my own reading of the Bible often centered on verses in the book of Proverbs from a special edition of the Living Bible that my dad had given me. So often, when my world seemed to be in turmoil, I found wisdom, counsel and guidance in these words that Solomon and others had penned thousands of years ago. At 13, I was given my first “real” Bible as I called it because it was genuine leather and said “Holy Bible” on it. Though the language was the archaic King James version from 1611, I treasured this Bible, wrote notes in it and still have it to this day. One of the most memorable things about it was that it was given to me as a gift from a CLC Christian bookstore manager who cared enough about me to help me find my life verse – Philippians 3:12.
In 1985, as a 17 year old, I got my first study Bible – an NIV Thompson Chain Reference Bible. Learning to study the Bible on my own opened up a whole new world of Biblical inquiry as I learned to get the answers I needed and seeing how all the various parts of the Bible actually tied together. It was in these late teen years that I began to understand the concept of seeking “the whole counsel of God” and not trusting proof texts of verses used out of context to support a particular position or aberrant theology. Probably the greatest thing I learned in these years as I eventually became an adult was that all of the Bible points to one thing and is really part of one big story – the story of Jesus. How amazing it must have been for the men on the road to Emmaus as Jesus himself showed them how all the prophets and books Old Testament pointed to his coming.
As an adult now, I have the joy of sharing this passion for my favorite book with others. When I worked in one of the CLC stores on a day to day basis, nothing thrilled me more than helping someone find the right Bible for their need. Sometimes it was a dad buying a first Bible for his daughter, sometimes it was a new believer looking for a Bible that they could understand and one time it was a woman looking for a Bible to put in the hands of her husband in the coffin as he was buried. In each case, I felt a sacred responsibility in making a recommendation.
This year, our stores are hosting a Bible Trade In event on Labor Day where we will be collecting used Bibles to give to prisoners and people in third world countries. Last year we collected almost 200 hundred Bibles and I hope that we get even more this year. I know that this precious book can change the life of even a hardened criminal because it changed mine. I am so grateful to the people and publishers who allowed and encouraged me to learn to love God’s word and I intend to carry on the legacy of faith that they instilled in me.