Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week 73: Study - for the Transformation of a Person

Why the Discipline of Study?
The internet defines Study (noun) as ‘the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge on an academic subject esp. by means of books.’ By definitions, many people are not availing themselves in the discipline of study because study for most parts requires time and attention (minus those who have to study by 'force'). As we all know and well aware of, people in the modern day don’t have such luxuries to ‘waste time’ and to ‘give attention’ for study. Yes, we study once in awhile unconsciously acquiring tits-bits, trivial and secondhand information, but how about intentionally or consciously engage in it? May we not settle on these until we had experience it firsthand - study.
In a general level, study is important because acquiring knowledge is vital for personal growth.

Study of book
But for Christian, especially, the discipline of study is more than just ‘to acquiring knowledge’; it for the transformation of a person. We are transformed through the renewal of the mind as what the Apostle Paul writes in Roman 12:2. Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline observed that many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties simply because they do not avail themselves of the Discipline of Study. They may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their religious duties, and still they are not changed. Why? He writes, “They may sing with gusto, pray in the Spirit, live as obediently as they know, even receive divine visions and revelations, and yet the tenor of their lived remained unchanged. Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: study.”
The knowledge of the truth will set us free (John 8:32); not good feeling, not ecstatic experiences, not our worship performance and not positive thinking chanting; I’m free! I’m free! I’m free! that can set us free – It is the knowledge of the truth that will set us free!

Study ‘Books’
There are two ‘books’ to be studied; verbal and nonverbal. Under verbal category, the obvious sources of study are books and other writings. [For Christian, studying the Bible is our first priority; not to gain amass information but to be changed by it.] Reading a book and studying a book is different thing. Reading is not necessary studying. But studying requires reading and more; it involves understanding the book (what is the author saying?), interpreting the book (what does the author mean?), evaluating the book (is the author is right or wrong?). But there are more… more; we need aids of experience (way we can interpret and relate to what we read), other books (such as dictionaries, commentaries, and other interpretative literature) and live discussion (interactions).

Study of nature
Under nonverbal category; the field of study is through observation of reality in things, events, and actions. The easiest place to begin is with nature. Foster writes, “The handiwork of the Creator can speak to us and teach us if we will listen.” Besides that, we can study by observing the ‘book’ relationships that go on between human beings. Hey, many we can learn from this ‘books’… even more than you and I can read from actual physical books.

4 Steps of Study
Richard Foster explained that study involves four steps (summaries mine):
RepetitionRepetition channels the mind in a specific direction regularly, thus forming ingrained habits, and even changing old habits.

ConcentrationConcentration centre the mind and focuses attention. We live in a world that is full of distractions and so it is difficult to focus and concentrate on one thing, but if we do, it will lead us to understanding which is the next step.

ComprehensionComprehension focuses on the knowledge of truth. When we suddenly move from repetition to comprehension it is a lot like a bolt of lightning. That kind of understanding of the truth catapults us to a new level of growth and freedom.

ReflectionUnderstanding leads to insight and discernment, upon which we reflect. This allows us to see things from God's perspective. We may even come to understand ourselves and God's purpose for us more clearly.

THINK BIG Study produces joy. START SMALL Alexander Pope said, “There is no study that is not capable of delighting us after a little application to it.” GO DEEP Study the Bible my friend, you’ll find God waiting to reveal for you the knowledge of the truth that will sets you free!
You might also want to read READING: READ AND GROW RICH. Click title to read.

P.s: I’m in debt to Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth on chapter of the Discipline of Study page 78 [published by Hodder & Stoughton, 1980, 2008]. Credits to Richard Foster for his valuable insights but praise alone to God who revealed it. Thank you.
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