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If It Ain't On Paper, It Didn't Happen. Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
I was talking to some people the other day about reading the Bible and you should have seen the look on their faces when I told them I no longer read the Bible.

You see I have taken to heart some advice I received in both the Marine Corps and in the police academy and reading the Bible is no longer good enough. I was told long, long ago that if you don't document every bit of intelligence or evidence you encounter, you never encountered it. In other words, "if it ain't on paper, it never happened."

There is a little bit more that I learned about that topic during my battle ridden journey through life, so if you are interested in finding out just what I have replaced my Bible Reading with, read on McDuff, read on.


That is what I was told by the "intel guys" before I went on patrol in Vietnam and that is what I was told by my field training officer on many occasions during my initial training in law enforcement. That advice has served me well during my lifetime and I have found many, many venues in which to apply that same advice. When I think back over my professional, academic and spiritual journeys, I find that I can more easily recognize the true meaning of that simple advice.

You see I grew up loving to read and hating to write. I would read for hours on end absorbing huge amounts of data, but, I was only really involved in what I was reading during the time I was actively engaged in the reading. I could escape the cares of my world by becoming a part of what I was reading. Often I would find myself identifying with one or several different characters, even to the point of subconsciously arguing with the author over their actions or inactions. I discovered I had pretty good comprehension and as I matured, for a time that skill did serve me quite well. However, until I learned how to organize and catalog the data I was accumulating I really was only storing data to use, and usually use out of context.

That is what happens when many of us read the Bible. We are enthralled or at least we should be while we are reading, but when we stop, we stop and go on to the next part of our daily routine. We can, generally speaking, only remember a small percentage of what we read. We will compile and retain data (Knowledge) for longer and longer periods of time if we are conscientious about our reading, (how many of us are?) but we will generally still use only selected parts of what we read and then, most likely, it will be out of context and only to bolster our own arguments or points of view.

As I matured I learned that merely reading material would be an insufficient means by which to reach my goals in higher education. For that journey I would need to drop back and take that military and law enforcement advice about note taking. So I began to STUDY. That's right... Study. You see, to study means to read, ponder, analyze, and then document the ideas, precepts, concepts and principles that were discussed, explained, examined and presented. When you study, you are organizing and implementing methods to internalize and apply those factors to your own life. You will need to be an analytical, complex and creative thinker with the appropriate filters in place in order to properly assimilate only the most positive data. God provides the inspiration and you need to provide the perspiration. The Holy Spirit will provide you with His own filtering system to insure the proper messages get through to help you (and I) edify our own character and press on in the journey to become more Christlike.

As you endeavor to grow as a Christian, you need to remember that you will never corner the market on knowledge, so don't try and be a know it all. The actual term for a know it all is "Omniscient" and that only describes God! Your life will be impacted by what you learn, by experience, by observation and by failure. You see a man who never experiences failure (sin) never experiences victory (grace). A mature human being will use their experiences and knowledge to not only benefit themselves, but others as well. Therefore, striving to attain a higher and more complete level of character and knowledge, especially "Scriptural Knowledge", is a worthy and attainable goal.

You will never know all there is to know about law, however, your knowledge of it will increase the more time you spend studying it. Notice I did not say just reading it. In the chaos of combat, things will go wrong, accidents will occur and some people will die. I will ignore for now the things that go wrong intentionally, as these are factors in a different battle of the same war of good Vs. evil. A war that began in Heaven a very long time ago. The errors occurring in modern warfare can be minimized by higher quality training and better educated leaders and followers who possess an honorable and self-sacrificing character. These are people of the "We" generation and not the "Me" generation.

The church is also in need of both Christian leaders and Christian soldiers who are more thoroughly committed and highly motivated in making use of the training provided in the Scriptures. If the discipleship within the church, which is its form of basic training, does not improve we are going to suffer a lot of spiritual casualties now and in the future. We are pretty faithful to the recruiting challenge, but, I am sorry to say, we don't always follow through with the basic training requirements. Unlike becoming a Marine or a Cop, becoming a Christian is not always preceded by the appropriate preparation. If that old adage my USMC DI used to scream at me is true, then I really feel we need to break a bit more of a sweat in our biblical training so we will bleed less in the war we face each day.

I have known law enforcement officers and military personal of all kinds who have accepted the challenges of attempting to further enhance their knowledge base, sometimes on their own and at great cost. When they go back to school, as many of them do, they are routinely re-introduced to the art of studying. Just reading textbooks will not get them through their tests. Neither will just reading the Bible get you through your tests as a Christian. I want to reassure you that I still read the Bible, but I don't let it end there. I try my best to sit and document the results of the reading, research, investigation and often even the application in light of its intended relevancy. You do realize that ALL SCRIPTURE is relevant to our lives today don't you?

I have learned that many Christian scholars refer to this copious note taking and documentation process as "Journaling." I find that journaling makes me assess and apply the material covered in my daily reading to my own life, beliefs, actions, faith and relationship with The Lord. I highly recommend that you stop reading the Bible... and start studying it. The way you view the world we operate in will surely take on a new perspective. There are a great many books out there that can help you get a handle on journaling, just to name a couple: "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster and "Disciplines of A Godly Man" by R. Kent Hughes.

I also feel strongly that if you are in law enforcement you need a group of law enforcement Christians to meet and study with regularly and if you are in the military, you need a small group of military Christians with whom to meet and study the Word. The Bible points out that "Iron Sharpens Iron". Well I believe that is a reference also to those folks in specialized professions with unique pressures and stresses being the best Iron to sharpen each other. It is my recommendation that your groups have between 3 and 7 or 8 folks in them and when they are regularly attended by all members, or if they get larger, plant several groups so the discussion continues and involves all the members.

Well I guess its time for shift change and I really need to pack for the Law Enforcement Retreat and Conference in Glorieta NM Next week.

I'll be gone for a couple of weeks for training, meditation and vacation.

God Bless you all and keep you safe and well

Captain Fairman

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