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31/12/14: we need to know the Bible

I now find it difficult to believe that I visited schools for 12 years as an initial teacher trainer with the use of a sat nav only for the last 3.  Particularly, there was one school I liked very much, Winstanley Community College in Leicestershire, which I visited once a year for 4 years.  Whilst the buildings are clearly visible from the outer ring road, the main entrance is tucked away in a housing estate.  I never succeeded in getting there without at least one U turn, normally much more than that.  But with a sat nav, well, once you're used to having this rather stentorian voice - a former colleague christened it Margaret Thatcher and that's how I've thought of it ever since - telling you what to do, life becomes easier.

Well, up to a point it does.  It has occurred to me to worry about going places with no plan B if the sat nav fails for whatever reason.  And I do like to have a sense of overview as to where I'm going, not simply reliant on a large number of very detailed instructions as to what to do.  So, sat navs are great as a tool but ultimatey no substitute for being able to use maps and having a larger picture as to what's going on

So, I finish the year more convinced than ever as to the importance of knowing the Bible well.  And, just as a sat nav is really helpful in finding places, so aids in reading the Bible, particularly commmentaries, can be really helpful in getting to know the text.  But again there's a but.  Commentaries are no substitute for knowing the Bible well in its entirety, seeing the connections and tensions between different parts of the Bible.  So, for example, while Psalm 127 talks about children being a blessing from the Lord, 1 Corinthians 7 talks about singleness being a gift from God.  On the one hand we read 'Ask and it will be given you' on the other that we do not get what we ask for because we ask with wrong motives.  Any one of these passages read in isolation gives a distorted view as to what the Bible is saying.

Having spent some time in the Old Testament, now up to Hosea, one key message which comes through is the holiness of God and the consequences of sin.  So the Babylonian exile and other instances gave rise to huge suffering.  Jesus' death on the cross faces up squarely to these consequences, there is no sugar coating as to what is going on, but a strong sense of a gigantic problem needing a proportionately big response.  No skirting round the issue, no backing down on what had previously been said.  So, from a Christian perspective, we rejoice in our salvation, mindful of the enormous cost involved.

So, as we enter 2015, a call to all Christian readers to recommit to reading the Bible thoroughly and prayerfully this coming year.  If you've not done it before or recently, how about reading the Bible through, 4 chapters a day is about what's needed to get there in a year.  A fantastic new year's resolution, I suggest - state your commitment in the comments box below!  And to all my readers, may you have an excellent new year in store.

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