We are already on our seventh interview of the Dwelling Richly series! Today’s special guest is Kristie Anyabwile. I first heard of Kristie while listening to an insightful panel discussion entitled Teaching Our Children About Jesus and another one on Hospitality.
On the day I received Kristie’s answers to the interview questions, I was in need of spiritual encouragement but didn’t even realize it. God used her gracious and Biblical answers to minister to my heart in a deep way. I’m so grateful for the ministry of the body of Christ – and how it’s possible to receive this ministry even if you never meet a person face to face!
This interview will be a special blessing and help to you if you ever struggle with a desire to be in the Word. I love Kristie’s practical thoughts regarding this issue and know you will be encouraged just as I have been.
DESIRE – now that’s a loaded word. There are many seasons in my life when I have had the desire but not enough motivation to actually carry it out.
What usually keeps that desire from turning to action can be a myriad of things, but in my life it is often one of the following:
- Physical or emotional fatigue
- Personal sin
- Difficult life circumstances
- Social media
- Lack of exercise
- Staying up too late
This is the quick list! And they often snowball with one another. For example, if I stay up too late on social media, then I’ll be physically and emotionally tired the next day. But, because I feel behind because I didn’t use my time well the night before, I’ll busy myself with urgent but not important tasks (Gotta wash those clothes RIGHT NOW even though they’ve been sitting in the laundry basket all week without a care, rather than spending 45 minutes in the Word and prayer).
In reality, all these things are distractions that when I allow them to rule my heart and actions, can snuff out my time in the Word and prayer. So my practical solutions or combatting these quiet time stealers is to:
- rest before I get tired (got that one from my hubby)
- work at being faithful rather than merely “fruitful”. Trust that God produces fruit through my faithfulness not my busyness.
- confess sin
- cast my cares on the Lord
- limit social media
- use my time well
- go to bed early
Other ways that I try to cultivate desire for the Word is by listening to worship music and hymns, memorizing Scripture or recalling Scriptures I’ve already committed to memory, spending time with people who seem to be on fire for the Lord, asking others to pray for me, and studying the Bible with someone. And all this is when I do have a desire for the Word but just don’t seem to be making the time.
There are also times when I have no desire for the Word. In those times, I pray for desire. I ask God to help me want to have desire for the Word. I also try to speak truth to myself, warning myself of the danger and emptiness of having no desire for the Word. Ultimately my lack of desire for the Word is a lack of desire for God and this is a huge problem.
If I have no desire for God, I need to rehearse the good news of the Gospel and re-affirm it in my own heart, examining myself to see if I am indeed in the faith, and using the test of Scripture to fuel desire and joy and assurance of faith (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 3:19-20).
As a new Christian almost 20 years ago, I never had anyone walk with me through the Bible to teach me how to understand its individual parts. I did not know how each verse, chapter and book fits within the broader metanarrative of Scripture. So over the years, the Lord has been gracious in giving me tools to help decipher the meaning of Scripture so that it’s not merely rote exercise but true fellowship with the Lord.
First, I had to get a version of the Bible that was both readable and reliable in its translation. Then I got some study aids that helped me decipher unfamiliar words and concepts. A good dictionary and concordance can help with this. Early on, I realized I had questions about the text that my concordance could not help with, so I also picked up a couple of commentaries to read along with the book of the Bible I was reading. Even with these tools, as I began to lead Bible studies, I felt very unconfident about how I was approaching Scripture in my preparation and not sure if I was getting across the main point of the passage. Learning the inductive Bible study approach and then honing my teaching skills through Simeon Trust has been immensely helpful.
Scripture translations, dictionaries, concordances, commentaries:
- Women’s Devotional Bible by Crossway
Understanding the storyline of Scripture and basics of the faith:
- God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts
- The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses by Chris Bruno
- Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem & Elliot Grudem
To find a good commentary for a book of the Bible you’re studying:
Books on Bible study:
- Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word by Kathleen Nielson
- Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible With Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin
- How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word by Kay Arthur
For a number of years, I was a part of a group of ladies who joined the 5 O’clock Club. We would wake up at 5am and call each other as a form of accountability in having our regular quiet time. This was the time we all agreed we could have solid, uninterrupted time in the Word before the busyness of the day set in.
Right now, I have women I am accountable to in the form of Bible study. We meet regularly and study the Bible inductively. We give homework assignments and discuss the fruit of our studies as we meet. It is a joy to work through the Word with someone, and even when my daily devotions languish, I know I’ve spent some time preparing for my next Bible study. Studying with someone also stretches me to wrestle with questions I’d be tempted to ignore on my own. It helps me to slow down in my reading and come to Scripture with fresh eyes, ears and heart to know and love Christ more.
I’ve only memorized one book of the Bible. I shouldn’t say “only,” I know. I have memorized one whole book of the Bible!
I chose a nice, short book that I could see myself committing to memory in a reasonable time frame, just so I could prove to myself that I could do it! I like the idea of Andy Davis’s method of memorizing one verse a day, each day adding a verse and reviewing the verses from days before. I’ve modified it a little, as I’ve found it easier to memorize a complete thought at a time. Verses often stop in the middle of a thought, so I generally memorize in blocks. Sometimes that may be one verse. Sometimes three verses.
I spend a lot of time on the road daily (about 3 solid hours a day), so I used about a third of that time daily to work on my verses. I downloaded an audio version of the book and started listening to the whole book for context. Once I understood the flow of the book, I started with chapter one and memorized small chunks at a time. I would rewind and repeat until I could recite it repeatedly without pausing, then move on to another chunk. I did not memorize verse numbers precisely, but focused on which chapter and section a passage falls in. Even though I didn’t set out to memorize specific verses, I think repetition has given me a pretty good grasp of where verses are found within the book.
In choosing a book to memorize, I wanted a book that made the gospel very clear and succinct, so I could have that passage ready when I needed to share the gospel with someone. I also chose a book that I found personally convicting and encouraging and one in which I would enjoy following the train of thought of the author. So, I have committed the book of Titus to memory. I’m working on Colossians, but I haven’t gotten very far.
It’s always helpful if I know the passage to be preached so I can read it throughout the week or Saturday evening.
I also enjoy reviewing the service with my husband or with lunch guests after church.
When my children were smaller, I got more out of the church gathering when I had a plan for my children during the service to keep them somewhat attentive (even 10 minute chunks, gives me enough time to get at least a point or two of the sermon). Their favorite activity, which I still use with my 9 year old at times, is to make tally marks every time they hear the preacher say certain words or phrases. So if the sermon is on the resurrection, he would have to make a tally mark every time they heard the words resurrection, or heaven, or immortality, etc. I would even throw in a gimme word like “God” and it would keep them pretty occupied, somewhat attentive, and give me a chance to catch up on the sermon. [Brilliant!!!]
A few years ago, I was so frustrated by running interference between my kids, hushing them and telling them to stop doodling and to pay attention. Little did I know that one daughter was not merely doodling but drawing what she was hearing, and they were not just chatting, but asking questions about things they were reading in the Bible. After that, I committed to focusing on worshipping with the saints and let up on policing my kids during the service.
Now you see why I found this interview so helpful! I love Kristie’s practical suggestions & the plethora of resources she shared to further our knowledge of Bible study, don’t you?
Kristie, thank you so much for sharing your time and heart with us so that we can become better students of the Word!
Kristie Anyabwile is a pastor’s wife and the mother of Afiya, Eden, and Titus. She joyfully supports her husband, Thabiti, as he pastors Anacostia River Church in Southeast Washington, DC. Kristie enjoys spending time with family, cooking, and discipling women, as well as speaking and writing about marriage, motherhood, and ministry.
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