Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Hello there, this is Scott Paschal. I am the current Ministry Director of the International Christian Tennis Association, a sports ministry which spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the sport of tennis.
I founded the ICTA in 1999, and have enjoyed watching God bless this tennis ministry indeed. How did I go from an ordinary guy to the founder of a sports ministry? Well, it started when a friend bought me a really sharp looking Bible. I began reading it, and my life began changing.
So,what is the Bible and how do you study it?
Well, God gave His Word through 40 different men over a period of 1500 years. They wrote down what He guided them to write. The Bible is God's words for you and for me. It's His advice for living.
40 guys focused on getting the job done. 40 guys like you and me being used by God for His will. 40 guys guided by Him to prepare the world for Salvation through Jesus.
I find that pretty neat.
He did this in three different languages as well. Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. God preserved the Bible down through the centuries by dedicated copyists who meticulously copied it by hand.
40 guys, 1500 years, 3 languages. Awesome.
And I thought the 2006 US Open this year was impressive.
F.B Meyer wrote… “Read the Bible, not as a newspaper, but as a home letter. If a cluster of heavenly fruit hangs within reach, gather it. If a promise lies upon the page as a blank check, cash it. If a prayer is recorded, appropriate it, and launch it as a feathered arrow from the bow of your desire. If an example of holiness gleams before you, ask God to do as much for you. If the truth is revealed in its entire intrinsic splendor, entreat that its brilliance may ever irradiate the hemisphere of your life.”
That’s a lot to chew on, huh? He starts of pretty easy with the newspaper thing, then gets really cool with the whole… intrinsic… brilliance… irradiate…thing!
As a tennis coach, I know I always work hard when working with my students to make things sound easy for them. When I begin teaching a new technique for their game, we go slowly and I make sure they have a really solid grasp of what we’re going to work on.
Then, we begin adding more and more until the have mastered their new stroke!
Same goes for Bible study…
Let’s start with some mini tennis…
When reading the Bible for study and interpretation, I’d like to give you a few important definitions to think about:
Revelation- God’s disclosing to man things about Himself that man could not know otherwise.
Inspiration- God’s unique “breathing” of His words into the human writers of Scripture.
Illumination- God’s teaching the Christian truths of His Word.
Not too hard to understand, eh?
Although we have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, He cannot guide us if we don’t read God’s Word. Your tennis pro can’t do much if you don’t practice, either. See the connection there.
The Bible is simple enough so all Christians can understand it.
If you want to really be a good tennis player, you pretty much have to practice hitting tennis balls. There is no way around it. In my Christian Tennis & Missionary Academy here in beautiful Palm Coast, Florida, my students hit a large amount of tennis balls in different drills usually twice a day!
Makes sense doesn’t it? Yet, they don’t just practice. They practice with a purpose, smart with perfect technique, focusing intently… and having fun.
Learning to read and study your Bible is just the same. Read it. A lot. Yet, read it with a purpose. The Bible is God’s high performance instruction manual. My life has been completely changed through my focused Bible studies over the last 10 years.
And hey, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed either. When I have to learn something by reading, it can take me a while. Yet, I love a challenge. Joshua J. Marine said, “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” That is so right on.
In Bible study, let me give you a few thoughts as advice…
1. Be persistent
2. Make it personal
3. Let it purify you.
What do these three things mean for you? Well, apply it to tennis to help you understand.
1. Be persistent… work hard… work daily… be consistent… work when others wouldn’t.
That’s what I had to do when I decided to take the International Christian Tennis Association from a far-fetched dream in my heart to a solid international sports ministry which was named a top 100 recognized sports ministry last year by the International Sports Coalition on MSNBC.
2. Make it personal… find the way that works for you… your style… your way.
Listen, this is your relationship with God, not mine or someone else’s. You need to discover what type of Bible study works for you. Everyone who is successful with their Bible study has a plan.
Martin Luther said, “I study my Bible as I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest fruit might fall. then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf.”
At a normal rate of reading it will take the average person 3 hours to read the Gospel of Luke, 4.5 hours to read Psalms, 52 hours to read the Old Testament, and 19 hours to read the New Testament, and less than 72 hours to read the whole Bible.
Do it your own way, but do it in a planned way. Let God seep into your being through His word as you daily allow it to marinate in your life.
3. Let it purify you… like a water filter cleanses water… restructuring the way you view life.
The Bible has a wonderful way of cleansing our minds and motivating us to think like God Himself.
You know, my life has grown deeper and deeper in Him since I became a minister of the Gospel. First, I spent a lot of time in personal ministry with myself as God cared for my old wounds and extended His grace over my life.
Then as I felt stronger I stepped out in faith taking God at His word as written in the Bible.
It worked! Now I’m here writing this to you!
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson
Let God help bring you the right mental attitude through the daily study of His Word.
40 guys, 1500 years, 3 languages! God’s high performance instruction manual designed specifically for you and me.
As I wind down at the end of the day with my herbal green tea, I sign in to faithwriters.com to check for new inspirational postings to find this new article posted today by Scott Paschal, the ICTA Christian Tennis coach. Hello Coach Scotty, I was intrigued by the title of your new article "God's High Performance Instruction Manual." In reading this posting, I find it a concise and inspirational way to study the Bible. I also enjoyed the visual comparisons between tennis training and practice for understanding and mastering the game of tennis with a plan and purpose, to studying the Bible with a game plan and purpose. I feel this article has good continuity throughout, from the introduction of how God preserved His word through the ages so we would have his instruction manual, on down through the article with its inspirational, and easy to follow plan for studying God’s high performance instruction manual. I enjoyed the enlightening and very applicable quotes. My favorite was the opening quote by Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” When I was younger, whenever a Sunday school teacher would say we were going to try and get through the Bible this year, everyone would groan, and talk about how especially hard the Old Testament is to get through. I think approaching the study of the Bible from that standpoint time after time somehow ingrained the thought in my mind that it takes a year to get through the Bible! All these years, I have never really stopped to take a good look at the size of the Bible compared to other books I have read. I appreciated the way you mentioned the possibility of finishing the Bible within 72 hours. Looking at it that way lent to me a whole new perspective on reading the Bible. Of course, if a person stops to ponder over various scriptures and to let certain passages sink in, it may then of course take longer. But it certainly doesn’t need to take a whole year! Also, one could always go back to read and study parts over and over again, like Marin Luther King did in gathering apples as he first shook the whole tree, then the limbs, the branches, then the twigs, and by also looking under the leaves to glean even more precious fruit. I feel this is an inspirational perspective on studying God’s word, and I find that I am challenging myself to renew my own personal Bible study with more enthusiasm in order to glean more of God’s precious instructions so that I may explore, dream, and discover God’s plan and purpose for my life.
amy, scott paschal here. what a tremendous compliment when you write this article has inspired you to read your bible. we do lots of bible studies in my christian tennis academy and christian tennis missionary training center. both rachel and melody snelen, two of icta's staff, even help lead bible studies to the wta pro players on the itf pro tour. i've learned a lot about the importance of bible study during my time in christian tennis ministry. our website has a daily devotional, too. just check out www.christiantennis.net and visit our devotional channel. we're working on videos as well. thanks for your comments