I've taught the Bible since 1988. I was a home fellowship leader, and I even taught studies at my church on Wednesday evenings. Occasionally I am asked to teach on special topics. I thought that I knew the Bible pretty well, until...
For a long time I've been intrigued by the account of Noah, the flood and the Ark. I was convinced that if I studied diligently, I could find enough clues to have a good idea of where the Ark might be today. I finally decided that I knew the rough location, and I worked towards getting a permit to climb Mt. Ararat in Turkey. Although I never received their permission, and never got to climb Ararat, through my enthusiasm and study I became the "Noah's Ark" guy. And I kind of liked that.
A few years back I was asked to do a special topic on the account of Noah, and to go over some of the things I'd discovered as I was preparing to find the Ark. I went over some of the modern attempts to find the Ark, and showed some interesting things that others had found. There is a particular geological formation that is generally referred to as "the boat-shaped object." This interesting formation is about the right size to be the Ark, it's boat-shaped, and it's only a few miles from the base of Mt. Ararat. Based on my studies of where the Ark likely came to rest, I dismissed this object as a candidate to be the Ark.
As usual, after my talk I like to entertain questions. From years of studying and teaching about Noah's Ark, I rarely get any questions that I haven't heard already. But this night was to be a turning point.
A very elderly gentleman approached me and asked why I didn't think the "boat-shaped object" could be the Ark. I explained the passage that described that Noah didn't see land, and since Greater Ararat was 17,000 ft, and right next to that was Lesser Ararat (14,000 ft), I concluded that the Ark came to rest somewhere above the 14,000 level on Greater Ararat.
He looked at me and said, "Ahhh, I see the problem. You think that the 'windows' of the Ark were like these windows... for looking out." He was pointing to some of the glass windows around us.
As a look of confusion was coming to my face, he continued to explain that the windows of the Ark were for ventilation, which is why Noah had to release birds later in the account to see if it was time to leave the Ark. He went into lots more detail, revealing many things that were clearly correct, but somehow escaped my study.
I couldn't get over the feeling that I had studied that part of Scripture for years, trying to glean even the smallest details in my pursuit of the Ark... yet this guy - who had no idea what I was going to teach on that evening - was able to show me that some of my basic premises were wrong. How was that possible?
He told me that he'd been reading the Bible every day for 80 years, and that the most difficult thing is to read a familiar section of Scripture because the natural man will read into it what he already believes. I learned that night that I had pre-suppositions that I wasn't even aware of. Instead of reading what the Bible was saying, as I read I was playing back all of my pre-conceived notions instead. So even though I thought I was studying diligently, I was actually self-reinforcing what I already believed!
Our mission became to pass this revelation on to others so that they wouldn't make the same mistakes I did. There are many people out there who want to tell you what to think. Our mission is to teach you how to think, and to give you the tools and the awareness to seek for yourself so that you'll know what you believe and why you believe it.