This week Noah and Bjorn spoke with Brad Gray. Brad played basketball throughout high school and during his time at Cornerstone University, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Brad is the founder and executive director of Walking The Text, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people learn, love and live out the Bible based on an understanding of its original context. Walking The Text accomplishes this by creating engaging content and taking study trips to the Bible Lands.
One type of content that Walking The Text produces are free teachings by Brad that are published every other week.
In addition to Walking The Text, Brad is a national speaker, a published author and a former teaching pastor. He also helped create Infusion Bible Conference, which is a groundbreaking three-day conference centered on biblical content.
What Role Does Original Context Play in Understanding the Bible?
“Until you can understand why something was written in the first place it’s very easy to misunderstand what you’re reading because you come at it with your 21st century, western context”--Brad Gray
Brad says that he feels original context is key to understanding what the Bible is truly saying. In his opinion, this is something that most people don’t even realize.
On top of this, for those who do realize the importance of understanding the original context, most of these people have still not been given the proper teaching on how to accomplish this. This is what Walking The Text seeks to fix.
When reading the Bible, a typical tendency is to ask the question “What is this saying to me?” immediately upon finishing the reading. In the episode Brad explains why this question is a good place to end, but not a good place to start.
Brad says that you also aren’t able to truly consider or answer that question unless you have knowledge about the original context of the writing. When you do have this knowledge, you are then able to ask better questions about how to apply it to your life in order to become a more faithful follower of Jesus.
Specifically, Brad feels that geography is the most important aspect of the Bible to understand.
On the podcast Brad talks about why geography is so important and the role that it plays in the writing of the Bible. He also talks about his favorite location to take people when in Israel for study trips and the connection this place has with the everyday lives of these people once they understand the context and history.
Is Communication Developed More by Studying or More by Practicing?
“There’s no substitute for the actual thing. The more you can communicate, the better you become”--Brad Gray
Brad feels that communication is one of the most important, if not the most important, skills that people need to have today - not just leaders. If you have a great idea but can’t communicate it well, then that dream or idea is likely going to die.
During the episode, Brad talks about just how important communication is in the world of social media, where people receive countless messages every day.
Brad says that he feels lucky because he learned about the importance of communication from a young age due to the attention those influential to him placed on communication. However, he is always trying to improve. In the episode he recommends books for anyone looking to improve their communication skills.
Brad feels that it is important to constantly be studying and reading about communication if you want to be a good communicator, but that it is even more important to practice.
While it can appear to people like some leaders have a natural ability to effectively communicate, Brad says this isn’t actually the case. The key is to practice communicating so many times that it feels effortless to you and comes off that way to your audience.
If you have an idea that you think could positively impact the lives of people, you need to learn how to communicate it and practice doing so effectively. If you don’t, you are missing an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and potentially lead them to Christ.
What is God Teaching You?
Brad’s discussion on the importance of the original context of the Bible can serve as a good lesson to us and could potentially open our eyes to the true importance of this if it was something we were previously unaware of.
In the episode Brad uses a puzzle as a metaphor for the Bible. Someone could hand us a picture of a puzzle and the pieces to complete it. Upon completion we then see that while the puzzle looks similar to the picture, it isn’t actually an exact replica.
This is what happens when we read the Bible without a proper understanding of the context of the time and location the different books and Scriptures were written in. Current traditions that we are accustomed to can creep in and blur our understanding of what we read.
When we’re playing whatever sport we might play, we don’t want to only kind of know the rules or kind of have a grasp on the skills we need. We want to have a complete understanding of the rules and develop our skills as much as possible. This is how we succeed and reach our full potential in the sport.
We should have this same level of desire when it comes to our relationship with God. While we can form a relationship with Him and learn His word by reading the Bible in the context of our everyday lives, the relationship will not reach the level that it could if we had an understanding of the context.
It is our job to pursue as deep a relationship with God as possible, and this can’t happen if we don’t spend time learning about the original context of the Bible. Brad’s free teachings are a great tool for this.
Brad also serves as a great example of the importance of communication. By spending time learning and practicing, he has been able to communicate his ideas to people all over the world and make a positive impact on the lives of others.
If we have an idea that we feel could impact others, we need to be able to properly communicate it.
However, it is important for everyone, and not just leaders, to be able to communicate. Even if you feel like you aren’t a leader, you still have influence over people in your life, whether it’s family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else you might know.
If we’re a coach, it’s our job to be able to effectively communicate our ideas to our players to help them improve. As Christians, it is our job and God’s role for us to bring others to Him and make an effort to show them and help them learn about God’s love. We can’t do this, and therefore can’t accomplish our job, if we can’t effectively communicate.
Communication also plays an important role in our relationships with others. We need to be able to effectively communicate when something is bothering us, be able to communicate criticism or advise in an effective and caring way, or any other number of things.
It is not just our job as Christians to be able to effectively communicate, but it is also beneficial to our personal lives and happiness.
Will you spend time learning about the original context of the Bible?
Are you an effective communicator? Do you look for areas to improve in your communication?
To hear the discussion that Brad had with Noah and Bjorn about Walking The Text, the importance of original context, the importance of developing communication skills, his favorite memories from playing sports, and much more, check out “The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” episode 40.