Nationals is over. The last speech has been delivered, the last ballot filled out, the last trophy handed over, the last competitor disappointed or cheered. The seniors are moving on to new arenas of life; for the rest, preparation for next season begins afresh.
How can you make sure that you don’t waste your off-season? Over the coming weeks I would like to answer that question in a series of posts. All but the most serious Apologetics overachievers will want to take it easy over the summer, and I understand that. So I am not going to be giving you instructions for an Apologetics intensive where you complete five cards a week and practice for four hours a day! Instead, I will be sharing a few practical tips that will help you make great strides in apologetics during the off-season.
Let’s start with Tip #1: get to know your Bible better. The Bible is obviously the foundation of apologetics. Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-25 (ESV), “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Hearing and obeying Jesus’ words gives a solid foundation to our lives, and by extension to Apologetics. And the words of Jesus are found in the Bible. If we want our Apologetics house to stand firm, we must build it upon the solid rock of Scripture.
For many, summer is a more relaxed time of year. There are fewer activities, fewer places to go, less school to complete, and overall more free time. (For some, this is not the case and summer is even busier than the school year. I can’t help you there.) One great use of this free time is getting to know your Bible better. Ignoring daily Bible reading is never excusable, but during the summer with additional free time we definitely have no excuse! if you have struggled to establish a habit of daily Bible reading, summer is a great time to start. Get acquainted with your Bible so that when competition season comes around, you will be able to use your knowledge in round.
Case in point of what not to do: I was judging a round of Apologetics this past season, and one girl chose the topic of alleged contradictions in the Bible. She gave several examples, including the feedings of the 5,000 and 4,000 recorded in the Gospels. Since so many details are similar, mustn’t we conclude that there was one feeding that two Gospel writers recorded with contradictory numbers?
Her explanation was that the different Gospel writers rounded the number of men to about 5,000 and about 4,000. Something about that struck me as not being quite on target. But it wasn’t until later, when I had a chance to look in the Gospel of Matthew, that I realized just how wrong her answer was. Matthew records Jesus feeding the 5,000 in chapter 14. And Matthew records Jesus feeding the 4,000 just one chapter later in chapter 15. Oh!
So we must go with a different explanation entirely. The reason these accounts are not contradictory is not that “different gospel writers rounded their numbers differently,” but that there were two different feedings, one with 4,000 men and one with 5,000. This is why it is important to know your Bible. You may come to the right conclusion accidentally if you do not know your Bible (like correctly stating that the Bible is not contradictory). But if you have not reasoned correctly in order to reach that conclusion, you are on shaky ground.
So use the summer to get more acquainted with what the Bible says. It’s a wonderful book. It’s the only book God ever wrote! If you’ve never been able to stick to a reading plan, try using your Apologetics cards. Take the list of 100+ topics, choose one each day (or week), then find and study verses about that topic. By the end of the summer, you will know your Bible a lot better—and you’ll have more Apologetics cards!
So that’s my first tip for how to use your off-season profitably: Get to know your Bible better. Next time, Tip #2: Write a card a week.