This week Joel Muddamalle who works for Proverbs 31 Ministries as the director of Theology and Research is joining the show this week to teach us how to dive deeper into the word of God. He walks us through how to study it, grow in it, apply it, and live it out.
1) Tell us about you!
My family and I relocated from Chicago to Charlotte, NC three years ago when I joined P31 and Lysa T’s team as Director of Theology and Research. My wife and I have been married over 10 years and we have three little boys under the age of 8 (Liam, Levi, and Lucas) and we are expecting our 4th, a baby girl any day now! In addition to serving at P31 I also serve my local church, Transformation Church on the preaching team with my Pastor Derwin L. Gray.
2) I sat under one of your teachings at She Speaks 2019 and from that, I have so enjoyed following you on social media. I love the way you teach people how to not only read God’s word but you teach the importance of finding what it truly means in the contexts of the time it was written. So, that's where I want to start first with our conversation today. For those just getting their toes wet in the Bible, can you share a good place is to start when reading scripture?
I think for anyone that just gets into the Bible they approach it like any book. You open the first page and start reading. But this gets real confusing real quick when you start in Genesis then you eventually hit Leviticus! I’d recommend starting in one of the Gospels. Personally, I love the Gospel of John and Acts. In the Old Testament, you can start with Genesis and Exodus or Judges.
3) Now that we’ve talked about a good place to start what recourses would you point people to use to give a better understanding of what the text is actually saying! I think this is what trips a lot of people up, we think we know what it means because we look at it through the lens of 2020 and not 2,000 years ago.
I think the crucial first resource is a good study Bible. I love the ESV Study Bible. I also often turn to the Faithlife Study Bible that is free online via an App because of the many infographics and media images that helps us visualize the text and what is taking place. There are some great websites like BibleHub and BlueLetterBible that can get you access to some good commentaries.
4) Now that we know where to start and what good recourses to use, I’d love for you to show us how to actually do this! How would you study John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease”.
Before I get into the text I want to be aware of the context: Historical Social Literary I try to start by Bible Study process with these four steps: Observation Interpretation Application Correlation
5) Now I want to move onto something that stood out to me you spoke on this summer, I wish I could remember your words because they were much more eloquently put, but you shared on why we shouldn’t “cherry-pick” God’s word. At the end of 2019, there was a very controversial circumstance that had Christians feeling at odds with one another. One of the main reasons people felt unsettled was the way the topic was being supported was by one verse in scripture without using any surrounding text around it. Can you share why it’s important for us not to do this as well as why we need to be sure those leading us are looking beyond their views/feelings and actually teach what the word says/means?
I’d love to start this conversation by briefly talking about Humble Theology. Its something that I’m really passionate about. I think when we approach the text we need to approach it from a posture of humility and when possible extend grace to others that are trying to work their way through the text the best they can.
The main challenge and danger of cherry-picking verses is directly connected to a misrepresentation of the Scriptures and coming to conclusions (Interpretation and Application) that are not implicitly or explicitly in the text. When we cherry-pick verses to validate our agenda’s we get into a lot of danger because we are attempting to be masters over the text, and not be mastered by the text.
6) I remember as a very new Christian I didn’t know how to read God’s word but I read it anyway and I believe God honors that pursuit of our hearts as we’re beginning a relationship with Him, but we can’t stay in that place forever. How can people be encouraged to grow from finding a verse that fits them that day to reading God’s word with a heart open to receive what He’s trying to teach us?
I think this comes with dedication, repetition, and conviction.
7) Lukewarm faith, these are scary words for Christians. This is something stirring in my heart, and I think we all have a deep desire to live in a world with less lukewarm Christians. We as His kingdom kid’s have to get serious about what the call of a Christian really is. Most know what it means to accept Christ. But for whatever reason, it seems to stop after the honeymoon season. I think it stems from a few things: lack of community, lack of leadership, they either don’t know the word of God, or they feel intimidated by it. What would you say to someone who feels intimidated by the Bible and how would you encourage them to step out of the shallow waters of lukewarm faith or keep pursuing Christ after the honeymoon phase?
It is maybe helpful to understand where the phrase “Lukewarm” comes from. It’s been popularized by the passage in Revelation 3:16 - If you are Lukewarm you will be spit out. This language comes from the water systems that carried hot water through the Roman empire. But, if the water ran on the pipes too long it would become lukewarm and not useful for it’s intended purpose.
Being Lukewarm seems to indicate a situation where you are stuck. I think you hit it when you talked about community and the lack of corporate engagement amongst the people of God. We are living in a culture that is increasingly pursuing autonomy and individuality. However, the Scriptures point not to individualism but a corporate gathering of believers - the Ekklesia or the church. I really think the local church is the key to this issue.
8) The Living With Less Podcast is all about living with less of the things getting in the way of who Christ is calling us to be. If someone asked you what they needed to begin living with less of in regards to this what would it be and why?
When I read this question I really just thought about myself. And I think that I need to live with less expectations of my own personal wants and desires and submit myself to the authority and kingship of Jesus.
You can find Joel on Instagram at @muddamalle. There you will find so much information that can help you with your walk with The Lord.