In 2015, I had the privilege of hearing Pat Berg speak at a women’s retreat. The main thing that stood out to me from that weekend was how well the sessions were grounded in the Word of God. Based on that experience, I knew I wanted Pat to be a part of this Dwelling Richly series!
If you are a mom of littles, make sure you check out Pat’s answer to the last question. Although it’s been many years since Pat had young children at home, she writes with an understanding and encouraging spirit that I know you will find so refreshing as you pursue God more through His Word.
Nearly every morning I get up early, get a cup of coffee, and sit down in a blue chair in the corner of my bedroom. I open my “Daily Reading Bible” and read the four chapters for that day. It is laid out with four chapters from different places in the Bible for each date of the year. It is not an expensive copy of the Bible, and I freely mark with my own color codes anything that catches my “spiritual eye” that day. I become curious about learning more about those topics and will sometimes just grab my Thompson Chain Reference Bible and look up that topic and read all the verses it lists on that topic before I finish my Bible reading for that day.
I also study the Bible in other blocks of time during the day, usually because I am preparing to teach it at school or at a retreat or at my church. Those times of preparation to teach other women are personally life changing for me. The Holy Spirit brings those new truths that I learn back to my mind over and over again until I have incorporated them into my way of looking at life and living my life.
If I were to say that I do anything to personally cultivate a desire to be in the Word, it would be that I make a choice to do it. Studying the Word results in the Holy Spirit’s illumination, and experiencing the Holy Spirit’s illumination is pleasurable. That pleasure keeps me coming back. As He illumines me, He shows me the beauty of His truth, motivates me to live it, and gives me the joy that is His fruit. The more I experience these things, the more I desire to go back to the Word to learn more.
Three other things motivate me to be in the Word:
- I teach it, so I must be learning it in order to be accurate and prepared.
- I disciple and counsel others individually, so I am always studying to find God’s solution to their problems.
- I use it to counsel myself. I have lots of problems in life just like everyone else. God gives me all kinds of things to help me with those problems through His Word.
The thing that more than anything gave me a desire and the tools to dwell in the Word was my education at Bob Jones University. I majored in Bible on the undergraduate level and then got a master’s degree in counseling. The faculty there truly equipped me to study the Word carefully and acquainted me with the tools I needed to do it well. I would highly recommend that kind of education to anyone who has the opportunity to get it. Many of the classes are offered online now.
When I am doing in-depth study, I like to print out the text of the chapter in a 4-inch column down the middle of full-size sheets of paper. This allows me to define the words in the original languages or write the literal meaning of a phrase on the left side of the paper and to outline the passage or write other comments about the flow of the thought on the right side of the paper. I use all different colored highlighters and markers to mark repeated words in the passage or to show contrasts between ideas. I read the chapter over and over again to try to understand the thought process of the writer. I also use commentaries to learn the meanings of parts that I don’t understand and to check my interpretation.
I prefer to memorize chapters, though I do memorize individual verses on various topics. When I memorize whole chapters, I add one new verse each day.
On the first day that I am learning a verse, I read it aloud 25 times;
on the second day, 20 times;
on the third day, 15 times;
on the fourth day, 10 times;
& on the fifth day, 5 times.
After that, I say it at least once a day for 45 days.
When I am memorizing a chapter and add a new verse on the second day, I read the new verse alone 5 times; then I say the two verses together 20 times.
When I add a new verse on the third day, I read the new verse alone 5 times; read verses 2 and 3 five times together; and then read all three 15 times together. Eventually the verses move to the once-a-day group. I say these chapters as I go to sleep at night. They are a great sedative.
As I add a verse each day, I study that new verse in detail so that I understand it. I have an electronic document that I can print out and keep in a notebook to record all these repetitions on. This method is not for the faint at heart, but it really works. When I am working on a whole chapter, it can easily take a half hour to review all the verses I am working on, but it is so rewarding to know that I am treasuring God’s Words in my heart.
I have an 8 ½ by 5 ½-inch loose-leaf notebook that I always carry to church so that I can take notes on every sermon. Even if I do not look back on them, I listen and understand our pastor’s messages better when I am outlining them and writing down the points he makes. I also write down my own personal applications that the Holy Spirit is making in my own heart or my own thoughts about other passages of Scripture that I am reminded of.
When my girls were really little, I had little time for extended Bible study. Before I went to bed at night, I would put my Bible and any other materials I needed on a small table beside my rocking chair so that when I got up in the night to nurse my babies I would have my Bible close at hand to read for a half hour or so while I was nursing. It was the only quiet time I had when I had other toddlers running around during the day.
These days there are resources that we did not have when my children were little. It might work for a young mother to listen to recordings of Scripture while she is doing something else. I think it is important for young mothers to remember that God knows the burden they are under time-wise. He doesn’t expect more than they can do. As He was able to multiply two fishes and five loaves of bread, He can multiply the effect of His Word if we will use the time we have and not get frustrated that we have little time. If we are angry about having little time, we will probably get little out of the reading or study that we can do. And if we are too tired, we can’t get much. Sleep is a spiritual thing when you need it. This time will pass.
Pat Berg holds a degree in Bible and a master’s degree in Biblical Counseling, both from Bob Jones University. She developed classes on the Biblical Role of Women and Counseling Women, both of which she has taught for over ten years. In her classes, Pat emphasizes to her students the importance of knowing God through His Word, learning His plan for them, and growing in obedience to Him. She urges her students to become women of the Word, able to counsel themselves and others who need their help.
She has 3 married daughters & 11 grandchildren and is heavily involved at her local church.