From Inherited to Adopted Beliefs


“We d.i.v.e. deeper into God’s Word so He can dive deeper into us.”

I’m a church girl, a preacher’s kid. I grew up in the church, knowing all the things about the church—the lingo, the rules, and the traditions—and my head was spilling over with Jeopardy knowledge. I carried my burgundy NIV to church every Sunday and Wednesday night, said the Christian words, listened to the Christian music, and wore the Christian t-shirts. I clung tightly to my inherited belief system and played the “Jesus-girl” part very, very well.

I should stop right here and define what I mean by an inherited belief system before we move forward.
Inherited beliefs are assumed beliefs. They’re beliefs taught to us by church leaders, parents, friends, and others that we assume to be true, but they aren’t beliefs that we own for ourselves.

Now, don’t get me wrong…inherited beliefs aren’t bad, BUT that belief system can’t be our resting place; it can’t be all that we have. God has placed leadership (Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Ephesians 4:11-12 & 14-15) in our lives to help us grow, but as we clearly see from Ephesians 4:15, “we are to grow up in every way into him…” (English Standard Version, emphasis added).

I found myself in my mid-twenties being challenged to grow up in every way into deeper relationship with Jesus. I was sitting in a lounge chair on the Florida Gulf Coast watching my daughter play in the snow white beach sand. For hours she walked back and forth to the ocean’s edge, filling a yellow pail with water and carrying it back to her beach playground.

“Why aren’t you swimming in the water with your cousins?” I asked. Her reply, “I’m afraid of what’s out there and I don’t know how to swim.”

As I sat watching her, God challenged me to move beyond the shallows of my life of religion and inherited beliefs into the depths of relationship with Him by adopting my faith; it was time for me to overcome my assumed beliefs and develop a belief system that found itself deeply rooted in the Scriptures.

So, I began attending Bible studies at my church. Every Thursday morning I walked into the classroom with a curriculum book full of filled in blanks, a bag full of colored pens, and a cup of coffee in hand, but on the inside I was empty, still longing for more, because I wasn’t getting it. I didn’t understand. I was being asked questions but I wasn’t being equipped to study God’s Word, and that’s what I needed the most.

I reached out to a number of women, “Can you help me? Can you teach me how to study my Bible?” Not one of them sat down with me, open Bible in hand. Not one of them said, “Yes.”

Finally, I realized if I was going to learn how to study God’s Word, Jesus and I were going rogue. And He was going to have to give me simplicity because I’d struggled all my life with reading and reading comprehension and had been labeled as a child as ‘learning disabled’. He was going to have to speak it and show me how to see it and dissect into bite sized pieces that I could chew on without choking.

And thus He did. And every time I sit down to study God’s Word, I’m reminded of the beach and a little girl who was afraid to take a dive.

D.I.V.E. Deeper: From Inheriting to Adopting Through Studying the Bible

d. (define)~write down repeated, long, unfamiliar and unusual words and phrases~use an English Dictionary and/or Strong’s Concordance to define these words

i. (investigate)~ask: who? what? when? where? why? how?~use cross references to investigate what other Scriptures teach about the passage you’re studying~use commentaries to better understand thoughts and concepts that are hard to grasp

v. (visualize)~visualize content by taking a snapshot of the whole chapter by reading through it a number of times so you see the big picture~make an outline or paraphrased summary of the chapter by breaking it down into bite-size pieces

e. (embrace)~embrace learning~enact WOWs (Words of Wisdom): write, draw, paint or create a Word of Wisdom visual from the passage you’ve studied. This could be one verse or several.~ask: “Jesus, what are You challenging me to live more deeply?”

Assumed beliefs leave us in the shallows when God calls us to the deep. God longs for us to d.i.v.e. deeper into His Word and relationship with Him, exchanging our inherited beliefs for adopted beliefs that are deeply rooted in what He’s taught us about Himself.

Jenifer Jernigan is a wife and mom of 3 whose deepest longing is to please Jesus, only Jesus. Growing up as the daughter of a pastor, she knew church but she didn’t know Jesus. After years of rebellion and heartache, Jenifer found freedom and healing through God’s Word. Fighting an uphill battle against those who said her learning disability would hold her back, Jenifer created her own Bible study method, which ultimately led her directly to Jesus’ feet. Now, as founder of Diving Deeper Ministries, her passion is to equip others to d.i.v.e. (define~investigate~visualize~embrace) head first into God’s Word so that they, too, can experience freedom and abundant living.

Jenifer is the author of Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion available now on

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