I live in a boys’ dorm.
It’s true. A year ago, my pastor-husband and I left a ministry in southern California to serve at our alma mater — Ozark Christian College — in southern Missouri. Today, Andy and I, along with our three kids, live in an apartment attached to the lobby of a men’s dorm — with nearly 100 college sons.
It’s exactly what you’d imagine: lots of sports, lots of noise, lots of wrestling. Lots of smells, and lots of Febreze.
Most of our sons are training for ministry, so we also enjoy lots of talks about church work and scripture and the Lord. I couldn’t be prouder of their hearts, and of how they seek God’s glory in all they say and do.
With all this in mind, last week in an all-dorm devotion, I encouraged the boys to use soap — and to use it regularly.
Not soap like Dial — although some of them could probably stand to be reminded of that occasionally. Soap like, S.O.A.P. Like the acronym I learned from pastor and author Wayne Cordeiro. Cordeiro teaches S.O.A.P. as a simple method of journaling through the Bible — of reading God’s Word devotionally.
S Stands for Scripture
As I read a passage, I take note of a verse or segment — maybe even just a phrase — that jumps out at me. I write it in my journal and begin to consider what the Lord is saying.
O is for Observation
“What is God saying in this scripture?” “What is scripture teaching me about God here?” Again, I write the scripture, but this time as a paraphrase in my own words.
A Means Application
Now it’s time to personalize His truth. How does this scripture apply to my life? Where can I glean instruction, wisdom or correction? I write the ways I’ll apply this passage.
P is for Prayer
Here, I talk it over with the Lord. We discuss what He’s teaching me in His Word. Some days, I thank Him for what He has spoken, but sometimes, I argue with Him about His points of correction. I write out a prayer, remembering to listen as well as speak.
Using S.O.A.P. sounds simple enough, but its impact on me has been profound. I told the boys last week, then — my smelly, loud, ornery but wonderful college boys — to always use S.O.A.P., because even at Bible college, it’s possible to stop reading scripture devotionally and transformationally. It’s possible to let the Bible become a textbook, and to know so much about the Word that we lose sight of the Word that became flesh. In ministry, too, the Bible can become nothing more than a tool for planning lessons and messages, rather than a double-edged sword to judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. And even in our daily lives as Christian women — even when we commit to regular Bible study and prayer — God’s Word can become an item to check off a to-do list, rather than life and breath to us.
It’s a challenge for every believer — for women and men, for preachers and church members, for college boys and dorms moms alike. To know God better, to be transformed by His living and active Word and to look more like the Christ we claim to believe … always use soap.