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Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Taking advice

By Andrew Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

How are you at taking advice?

I’ll be honest with you: I’m not the best. I’m great at giving it, but when it comes to acting on the pearls of wisdom that others give me on a regular basis I’m not so hot.

Sometimes it’s not hugely important, but sometimes it has serious effects.

As you’ll know if you’ve been doing the Alpha course with your Life Group, last week we watched a video all about reading the Bible and how important it is.

At the end, in our group, my wife Julie had a very clever idea. She asked everyone in the group how often they read the Bible. We’re a very close-knit group and we made it very clear that there was no judgement whatsoever – it was just a question.

There were a variety of answers and when it came to my turn I said that I liked to read a Bible plan each morning (generally Nicky and Pippa Gumbel’s Bible in One Year) and that I notice it if I don’t. Ultimately what it boils down to is that I don’t feel as close to God.

Then on Saturday I said to Julie that I was feeling a bit down about my business and one or two other things, and a bit removed from God. She said, “Have you read your Bible today?”

I admitted that I hadn’t. She said something to the effect of “Why on earth not? You read it every other day, why wouldn’t you read it on Saturday?”

“I don’t know!” I said. What I didn’t tell her is that I hadn’t been reading it every day for a good few weeks.

I don’t know what had happened. Why I’d stopped. I think I’d fallen into the age-old trap of thinking “I’ve got too much work to do to spend half and hour reading!”

If someone said that to me, I would tell them that they had too much work on NOT to spend half an hour with God. But, as I say, I’m not so hot at taking my own advice.

On this occasion, though, I did. I poured myself a coffee, went upstairs, read my Bible and spent some time praying. Since then I’ve managed to read it every day and I’m glad to report that I’m feeling a whole lot better.

What I’m not saying is that reading the Bible will make your life perfect. But I do know that God wants to have a relationship with us, and that the best and arguably only way to do that is by praying. I also know that He wants to help us and has left us a book to help us with even the thorniest of problems.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

If you struggle with reading the Bible, then I would urge you just to start doing it – at a pace you can manage. I’m onto my second or third reading of the Bible in One Year plan but don’t for one minute think that I ever actually complete it in one year – I read it at my own pace.

If you’re comfortable with reading on your phone or tablet, then there are a variety of plans on the Bible App which take you through the Bible in full. I recommend the Gumbels’ plan because it offers some very helpful explanations, about the Old Testament in particular.

If you’d rather read an actual book, then there are an equally large selection of Bibles available which split the whole books into 365 chunks in a variety of ways. I have one which has a Proverb or a Psalm, two or three Old Testament chapters and several verses from the New Testament each day.

If you’re not keen on the Gumbels’ take, or have read it before and just want a new commentary, there are many others available too. However, I would recommend  a Bible in One Year plan of some description; some of the plans on the Bible app are great but contain very little actual Bible.

So here’s my advice: Read your Bible. It’s really a very good idea and you won’t regret it.

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Andrew Greenhalgh with his wise wife Julie

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