Monday, August 26, 2013

Is the Word working in me?

I hear the statistics about how Christians get divorced and sin just as much as everybody else.  That just doesn't seem to square with my understanding of what a Christian is.  Christians continue to sin, but surely there should be a significant difference between those who truly know that Lord and those who don't.  It makes we wonder who they are counting.  
Well, you can imagine my interest when The World and Everything in It ran a series called "The Bible: Bestselling book, but the least read."  The series made reference to the difference that regular Bible reading made in peoples lifestyles and choices.  I thought now we are getting closer to a comparison between real Christians and the world as opposed to self-identified or nominal Christians who give little if any evidence of God as work in their lives.
Here is a summary of the findings from the Bible Engagement as the Key to Spiritual Growth: A Research Synthesis byArnold Cole, Ed.D. & Pamela Caudill Ovwigho, Ph.D.(August 2012) provided online by the Center for Bible Engagement.

"Key findings include:
  • If a person engages the Bible four or more times a week, their odds of giving in to temptations such as drinking to excess, viewing pornography, lashing out in anger,gossiping, and lying significantly decrease.
  • Receiving, reflecting on, and responding to God’s Word four or more times a week decreases a person’s odds of struggling with issues such as feeling bitter, thinking destructively about self or others, having difficulty forgiving others, and feeling discouraged.
  • Engaging scripture produces a more proactive faith among Christians. Controlling for age, gender, church attendance, and prayer practices, the individual engaged in the Bible has significantly higher odds of giving financially, memorizing scripture, and sharing their faith with others.
  • People’s perceptions of their own spiritual growth are also impacted by how often they hear from God through the Bible. Those who engage scripture most days of the week are less likely to feel spiritually stagnant and to feel that they can’t please God.

In sum, the powerful effects of Bible engagement on spiritual growth have been reliably demonstrated across many studies. In addition, organizations such as the Willow Creek Association and Lifeway Research have reporting similar findings as well.  Together these independent lines of research lead to one simple conclusion: Engaging the Bible most days of the week is critical to grow in the Christian faith. The implications of this conclusion are wide-reaching and profound for Christian pastors and leaders, churches, schools, and evangelistic ministries. Those serious about helping people grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ need to carefully consider where they are investing their energies and if those activities are producing lifelong impacts by getting people engaged in the Word.

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