Hmmm. My Logos has been down for two days.
I feel a bit loss without it.
On that software contains all my notes, clippings, sermons, quotes, etc that are tied to certain scripture. On that software is also what I use for my morning disciplines. I’ve become very dependent on that software.
I’m not sure what is wrong. It just won’t open. If it doesn’t right itself soon, I’ll need to call Logos.com and ask for support. They usually are fantastic in customer support.
But what this has done, is it has forced me to get my paper Bible out. I use my huge ESV Study Bible along with my Literary ESV Study Bible. They both offer different capabilities and study notes that I find helpful. I’ve actually had good results doing this–well, I had good results yesterday. This morning I felt ill when I woke up and morning disciplines didn’t happen.
I’ve also had to grab an old journal to use for my writing. I write a lot in the morning. I write a lot period. But writing by hand just doesn’t work for me. My thoughts come WAY faster than my hand can write. Maybe it would serve to slow down my thinking, but honestly I think it would just drive me crazy. Also, there is no way to secure my paper writing. I can’t password it or bury it in my computer or put it on an external hard drive.
And I’ve had a penchant lately for books….real, paper books. Books that look and feel like books, that smell like books, that I can mark up like books. So I’ve enjoyed using my paper Bible. But I also bought……a commentary. A real commentary. You can click on the picture above to see the details of the commentary I bought. I have a couple of used ones that have been given to me, but I’ve never bought myself a real commentary that I remember. I use the few commentaries I have as a part of my software, but I’m super excited about having this new commentary of my very own, on the book of James, to prepare to teach the class this summer.
When I received my commentary, I immediately dug in. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because the first of the commentary covers who James is in the story, who wrote the book of James, and the major themes of James.
But then, as I’m prone to do, I started to examine my motives for using a commentary. Do I want to use one because I want “expert” opinion? Am I looking for content for teaching? What exactly is the purpose of commentaries, anyway? I know that preachers use them for sermon prep, however I don’t know how extensively or in what ways. I imagine that preacher’s use of commentaries is as wide and varied as their are types of preachers. So what am I looking for in the use of a commentary?
I know that I usually do my scripture work without commentary help, except on rare occasions. And after spending some time thinking about this today (looking ahead to when I can go to bed tonight and read more of my commentary), I’ve come to this conclusion.
There is a place for commentaries in my scripture work. However, I have to be willing to do the hard work first. I have to take scripture by itself first and examine it. And the way I do that is approach the scripture in prayer. I first must ask God to reveal to me what He wants me to learn from my scripture work. And then I do the work–looking at the context, looking at each word and how it is used, looking at the meaning. Then, and only then, should I turn to the “commentary” part of the commentary.
I’ve heard some preachers exclaim that sermon preparation becomes something so much more than preparation for a sermon. It becomes something very personal. Something that reaches into their soul and changes them. And it is from that change; that learning; that the overflow becomes possible to produce a sermon that God uses to reach and move the hearers of that sermon.
This is how I want to approach my study of James. I want to learn what the book of James has to teach me, first. Is that selfish? Maybe. It kind of sounds like it, but I don’t mean it to be. Instead, I want to be so changed, so moved by real scripture work and real prayer over this book, that I can’t help but share with others what I’ve learned.
Maybe this is of no interest to anyone but myself. Maybe it is my nerdiness coming out. But I brings up some important questions we all need to ask ourselves:
- Are we each taking time to do real scripture work? Even if it is only on one verse, one passage, one chapter?
- Are we praying that God will teach us individually and corporately what it is that He wants us to learn from scripture?
- Are we seeking resources that will help us in our study (such as commentaries, books, discussions, etc.)
- Are we taking other people’s thoughts and opinions about scripture blindly—even our pastor’s–without questioning it and finding out the truth for ourselves–without looking up scripture and reading it and internalizing it ourselves?
Hopefully, my little foray into this subject will instigate creative thinking in your own mind and soul about scripture and scripture work, and will challenge you to make it a priority in your life. Maybe you’d like to join me in looking at the book of James? I’d love to have your company!