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Cliff Notes

All my life I have been a bookworm! I would spend my extra time at the library and then would get excited when the Book Mobile would come to town. Of course, I always got the limit and I still do today. I also remember my first trip to Barnes and Noble and Christian Book Outlet; talk about excitement! I had never seen so many study guides and reference books in my entire life!

As a teacher of literature and history, I wanted my students to dig deep and see the whole picture when studying. I hated Shakespeare and Moby Dick until I had good teachers who brought the stories to life. I wanted that for my students. Alas, CliffsNotes appeared on the horizon. A way that cut down study time, gave you a brief outline, and a path to “passing”. If you told the parent it was your preference for them to read the entire book, they would often say, “At least they are reading something with the CliffsNotes”.

Time has not changed us, because some still dive into the Bible with passion and zeal; and others prefer to have the Word in small doses, delivered without effort on their part. God's Word in a condensed version; I often wonder how far that gets you when the winds blow, tragedy comes and your house falls apart? There are Christians who read only what they like or what their Pastor teaches in their denomination. Yes, you need the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, Psalm23, etc., but you are missing so much more. Don't forget the New Testament, it opens up the understanding process for many people. I have been reading the Message Bible lately, and to me, the beauty of the Word is missing- give me King James.

I am in the process of reading 2 Samuel and I have arrived at chapter 11 entitled, “David, Bathsheba, and Uriah”. Yes, I know the story but this time it is different! The CliffsNotes version would give you the who, what, where, and when, but miss the humanity lesson. One chapter should be read by people who want to know how a man of God can become involved with sin. It's a sad and shameful time in the life of King David, but what about Bathsheba, Uriah, and the baby? How does God forgive the murder and how does Grace play its part? CliffsNotes does not have that answer and often preaching isn't able to cover the entire story.

As mortals, we tend to be self- absorbed and near sighted even when it comes to God's Word. We refuse to go beyond the teachings of denominations. For years Catholics did not read the Bible; for years, Baptists didn't receive a full teaching on the Holy Spirit; some people are still found in cults and follow what “man” says. Yes, it is necessary to stay under a steady dose of teaching from the pulpit. It helps us to grow and shows us how to run the race. It keeps us plugged in and gives us a pastoral covering. But we need to read the Word for ourselves, follow the Holy Spirit, search out His promises, and the revelations.

Sharon White

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