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the primary source

did you all know i have a degree in history? i haven't exactly used it for anything, but i did earn it just the same. one of the major requirements for this degree were two huge research papers that spanned an entire semester each.

for the first paper, we were required to choose a topic and then read as many secondary resources as we possibly could on the subject. secondary resources are basically books written by historians who have researched and learned about the topic, and then written a book about it. it's their synthesis and interpretation of their research. 

the second paper required that we choose a topic and research all of the primary sources that we could find. we could throw in some secondary resources too, but the main objective was for us to actually practice being a historian ourselves.

i wrote my paper on the development of the city of Coronado, see that fancy photo below? sounds fascinating, right? i basically lived in the Coronado library and historical society for four months straight as i tediously scoured through census records, personal letters, newspapers, maps, real estate advertisements, all from the 1890's. i was looking at what actually took place, and forming my own synthesis and interpretation of piles and piles of information. and wow, what an incredible experience.

don't you love my catchy title? [kidding]

it was hard, it was tedious, it felt almost impossible at times, but my brain had never been so exercised and i had never felt such a sense of accomplishment. i had looked into the details myself and come out with my own unique conclusions.

primary sources versus secondary sources. when it comes to our faith, i wonder which we prefer? we like to listen to sermons and sing worship music and read books and devotionals. but do we open up God's Word and see for ourselves? or are we being largely influenced by someone else's research and hard work and interpretation? do we get so caught up in the secondary resources that we neglect the luxury of opening up and reading our Bibles ?

there was a time when people had no access to a Bible at all. before the printing press was invented in 1452, regular people like you and me did not own books. they were hand-written and one-of-a-kind and terribly e x p e n s i v e. if someone did own a few books, it was rare that they knew how to read them. people had no other choice than to rely on whatever their local bishop taught them, and even then, masses were rarely taught in their native language.

i don't know if it's the same at your house, but i have quite the collection of Bibles:

and those are just the ones that were right in front of me on the bookshelf. i can think of at least four more that are missing from this photo. what a luxury. both historically, and in our world today where 350 million people still do not have any Scripture translated into their language, and billions do not own one Bible.

we are living in a privileged time and place, friends. this is a priceless gift. let's not take it for granted. let's open it up and read it, believe it, memorize it, do what it says.

there's certainly nothing wrong with books, devotionals, sermons, podcasts, music, church... all of those things are good things. i own, read, use, attend all of the above and benefit greatly from them. 


let's ask God to help us understand His Word, if that's the problem. let's ask Him to help us enjoy reading His Word if that's the issue. and finally, let's ask Him to transform us by the power His Word. He has started a work in your life that He intends to complete. let's get on board and dive in head first.


  1. well, that kicked my butt. thanks for sharing what's on your heart friend. xo


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