Paul Dazet is Senior Pastor of Sandy Hook United Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana. Paul has a Bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Cincinnati, a Master’s degree in ministry from Golden State School of Theology, and is ordained in the Church of the Nazarene. Paul and his wife Stacy have been married since 1992 and have three children: Rebecca (and Jacob), Jake, and Micah. Paul loves coffee, books, and conversations.
This past year was crazy for everyone. For my family, we are dealing with the loss of our first grandchild, God calling us to a new church in a new denomination in a new city, and now we are providing care for a close family member who is in a fight against cancer. And personally, I struggle with depression and anxiety. It was 2020, enough said. I’m sure you have your own stories of suffering and hardship during this difficult year. We all do. We have all experienced the storm called “2020”. No one seems to be exempt.
People in our congregation have asked, “What has brought you through this year? What has kept you grounded during the struggles of life? When the storm came, what kept you from being blown away?”
My answer: Scripture. But let me clarify, it is the habit of reading and studying Scripture in a particular way. We are creatures of habit. We have good habits and bad habits that either form us or deform us as human beings. The habit of reading the Bible in this way has grounded me. This habit keeps me going when all I want to do is stop. This habit is what gets me out of bed when I just want to turn over and sleep the day away. This habit has changed my life in ways that I cannot express in words.
The Intersection Bible Study Method
Intersections. We pass through them multiple times each day. Intersections are where pathways or roads converge.
What if we imagined our Bibles kind of like this? If we divided our Bibles into four sections, we could imagine them all coming together at an intersection. At the point where they converge or intersect, there is the truth. Not just any truth, but Holy Spirit-inspired, character-shaping truth.
Suppose we divided our Bibles into:
The Gospels (the life and times of Jesus)
New Testament (“epistles” or letters)
Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible)
Now suppose we placed each of these categories on a course to intersect with each other. In other words, what if in our bible study, we read a selection of verses from each of the above categories and took special note of where the main ideas of these verses “intersected”?
On Mondays we read a passage from the Gospels; on Tuesdays: the New Testament; on Wednesdays: the Old Testament; on Thursdays: the Psalms. And on Friday, we “find the intersection”, finding the themes, threads, the intersections that run through the four passages.
That is how we read the Bible at Sandy Hook UMC. We encourage everyone to share their “intersections” with others through the week. Then on Sunday, our worship service and sermons are inspired by the four passages that we all read throughout the week. It is powerful to gather together for worship and sense the Holy Spirit bringing all these passages to life that we have been dwelling on all week.
As we all read the Bible this way, the Holy Spirit changes us from the inside-out. We are being transformed to become more and more like Jesus as we study the Bible together and see how the Bible as a whole is applied to our lives.
The habit of reading the Scriptures daily grounds me, digging my roots deeper and deeper. When the storm comes, and it surely has, I will not be blown over by the winds and the rain.
Matthew 7:24 “Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock. 26 But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed.”
Jesus told us we would be grounded by His Word if we hear it and put it into practice (habit). I have discovered that He is right, especially during the storm of 2020. Surveys also tell us that Jesus is right:
“Nothing has a greater impact on spiritual growth than reflection on Scripture. If churches could do only one thing to help people at all levels of spiritual maturity grow in their relationship with Christ, their choice is clear. They would inspire, encourage, and equip their people to read the Bible – specifically, to reflect on Scripture for meaning in their lives. Bible engagement is the single most spiritually catalytic activity a person can engage in.” (Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson – landmark study: 250,000 people in 1000 churches).
May you find a habit to build that will ground you in the midst of the storms of life. Please let me know if you have any questions about this Bible study method.
Pastor Paul Dazet