by Marlee Walters


If you know me, you know I am a binary, analytical person. I don’t just like to feel things, I like to understand why, how it works, and everything about it. I approach my faith in a similar way. While faith is not something that has neat explanations or fits into a box, studying the Bible in a thorough way is an approach that has helped me grow and embrace the mysteriousness of it. The Bible is unlike any other book, but it can be studied like you would study a book. I majored in English in college - my degree is in studying books. Why I never applied this same study to the Bible, when it felt natural to me with other books, I don’t know. But I discovered How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth on the shelves at the Forefront office, and it has been a great introduction to studying the Bible in terms of its genres and historical and hermeneutical contexts. The book breaks down different types of writing in the Bible, with a chapter on studying the Epistles, the Gospels, the Old Testament narratives, and unique books like Psalms and Acts. It gives a brief historical context and refers to other historical scholarship. It also suggests ways to think about what you are reading that are deeper than “How is this for me?” referring to the “big picture” nature of the Bible as a whole and its Spirit-inspired essence.


I am an introvert. I am an introvert living in a world that often does not allow me the time and space I need to be alone and recharge. This year I got to attend the Orchard Group retreat, where Chris Travis of Everyday Christian Church in Inwood spoke about rest. Not only was I allowed to go for a walk by myself, but I was encouraged to do so. The principles Chris taught us about rest were drawn from Peter Scazerro’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, a book we’ve recommended before. Embracing the practice of rest and of Sabbath is difficult, but in being purposeful about it, I have grown. I find I have more time to spend with Seeking God’s Face in the morning, or reading another devotional, or just meditating and listening. I don’t actually have more hours in the day, but the feeling that I have to “schedule in” Sabbath is gone. It doesn’t even need to go on my priority to do list because it is so ingrained and important to my day-to-day life. Sabbath was created for people. [Chris taught on rest at Everyday last year and you can listen here. I really encourage you to do so.] [Rhesa also spoke on rest during our Theology Of____ series.]


In a blog format it’s easier to just give you a list of books I’ve read this year that were impactful. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to read books this year - I started grad school. (See: previous paragraph on rest.) I also started working for Forefront. Previous to being on staff, I was involved with Kidstuf as a volunteer and as a part of a small group. In my new role as a staff member, I’ve been spending a lot of time with these guys:


Having conversations, especially with the team in Manhattan, has had a huge impact on me and my faith. Honest faith conversations were not part of the previous churches I attended, and at Forefront I’ve found acceptance, challenge, and support. This community has helped me to grow more than any single book I’ve read this year. So how do I outlink this one? Get involved in a small group, a guild, or a ministry team. Open yourself up to deeper relationships and conversations within those groups. This is a great community to grow in your faith within.