There are three phrases I hear at church that can drive anticipation into my heart.
I’ve written about the first two but have refused to write about the last one until today. The reason I haven’t wanted to is simple – I am one of the fastest verse finders on the East Coast of the United States of America.
Go ahead, laugh at that statement. While you’re chuckling, I’ll be in James 5:10 or Psalm 119:4 or Matthew 4:2. You don’t know where I’m headed. I’m like a hurricane of fingers and verses and underlining. It’s a thing of beauty really. The moment the minister tells us to turn to a particular verse, I’m like a cheetah shot out of a canon from the backseat of a Ferrari. I’m that fast.
But today, against the wishes of the STG (Speed Turner’s Guild) I am going to give you the secrets to consistently winning the “please turn to” Bible race. Because yes, although reading the Bible is about learning from God, it’s also about beating the person you are sitting with. God hates silver medals. I think that’s somewhere in the Bible. I digress. Without further ado, let’s begin:
1. The Mint Approach
Once you practice a little, it becomes pretty easy to tell when a minister is about to say those magical words, “please turn to.” Once you start recognizing when it’s about to happen you can start slowing down the people around you. A great way is to simply ask for a mint or a piece of gum right before the minister gives the command. While they’re fumbling with Maui Melon Mint Orbit gum, you’ll already be well on your way to finding the verse.
2. The Question Approach
Right before the minister says anything, ask the person next to you to find that verse in Proverbs about wisdom. There are roughly 965 verses about wisdom in Proverbs. No one will turn down a request to look up a verse either. While they languish in Proverbs looking for your vague verse, you can relax with your first place finish.
3. The Message Approach
This one is a little more deceptive but such is the life of a speed turner. Replace your friend’s Bible with a copy of the Message the night before. It doesn’t have any verse numbers listed. It just says John 10, not John 10:10. They might beat you to the chapter, but once they do, they will find themselves lost in a swamp of modern translation without a specific address. Victory!
4. The Stockpile Approach
You have to be subtle about this one. In the minutes leading up to the “please turn to” moment, ask if you can borrow your friend’s Bible. Then, when they are not looking, put it under your chair. Now ask to borrow someone else’s and repeat the same steps. Hopefully, you can clear a two or three person radius of Bibles in a matter of minutes.
5. The Recon Approach
Most churches will list the verses of the day in the bulletin. Look them all up and hide pens and pencils on the pages you need. Then when the minister asks you to turn there you can instantly go to the right spot and pretend it all happened naturally.
6. The Knockdown Approach
Juvenile? Perhaps. Effective? Without a doubt. This move is simple. Just slap the Bible out of the hands of the person next to you. This one is frowned on because it doesn’t win you a lot of honor but then neither does asking for a piece of gum as a distraction tactic. The question is, do you want to win or do you want to love your neighbor? Oh, you want to love your neighbor? Then don’t do this one.
There are other methods, but I have to keep a few secrets for myself. And putting the verse up on the video screens does kind of make this a dying art. Oh well, the last thing I’ll say is that if your minister is doing a year long sermon series on the book of Acts, don’t bother playing the “please turn to” game. Everyone knows where the passages are, it’s no challenge. It’s like dunking a basketball on a little kid. There’s no pride in that. None at all.
p.s. I wrote about the Keyser Soze of the Bible today.