Red Sea Crossing, Part 1

This is an article I wrote which appeared in the February issue of the Lutheran Ambassador.

I have a confession to make. When I first began attending Bible studies as an adult Christian, I wasn’t very interested in the Old Testament. I had studied the Old Testament as history in college, and I knew all the Old Testament stories from my childhood Sunday School classes. What else was there to learn? A lot of Jewish laws that were no longer relevant? No thanks. The New Testament was what I needed to dig into. The Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus, the history of the early church, the letters to the churches — these were the things that would inform and direct my faith life.

In time I discovered how wrong my thinking was. For one thing, the Apostle Paul, in a letter to Timothy, writes:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness …” 2 Timothy 3:16

Since the New Testament didn’t exist at the time, Paul was obviously speaking of the Old Testament. That gave me pause. Then at some point, I signed up for a two-year, through-the-Bible course where we spent a great deal of time on the Old Testament. I began to put those Sunday School stories into chronological order and to see that the Bible is one grand drama with many chapters. The overarching theme is the redemption of the people of God. It became obvious that many events in the Old Testament were a foretaste or hint of what was to come later. As St. Augustine put it:

“The New Testament is in the Old concealed, the Old is by the New revealed.”

To be continued …..

For more about the Old Testament see these posts:

Resurrection in the Old Testament

The Dawning of Redemption by Ian J. Vaillancourt –Book Review

What Stands Out–Nehemiah

What Makes Us Wise?

At church this past Sunday, these verses were in one of the readings:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

It’s pretty clear — the Scriptures are the source of our wisdom. They reveal the foundational truths that lead to saving faith. They are useful for correcting false beliefs. When we have a good grasp of God’s Word, we have a standard which helps us judge the many ideas we hear and read daily. They teach us appropriate behavior. The ten commandments, the parables of Jesus, and many real-life examples show us how to enjoy good relationships with others and with God. The Scriptures also teach us about our spiritual gifts, and the responsibility to use those gifts. When we seek to align our lives with biblical truth, we will be happier, and the world will be a better place.

So, the thrust of this post is — study the Bible. As the verses point out, many of us have owned one since were youngsters. Do you open it daily? Do you use commentaries to help you understand it better? Do you attend a study group? Do you ask your pastor if you have questions? If not, make a plan. You don’t have to do everything at once but begin somewhere.

Wisdom doesn’t just happen. Becoming wise is a process, one in which each of us must participate, if we hope to grow and improve. Listening to a sermon once a week is not enough. Be in the Word daily and apply what you learn. It’s the way to become truly wise.

For more about studying the Scripture see these posts:

Looking for a Bible Study?

The Greatest Bible Study

The CSB Worldview Study Bible

Taking A Break

“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel” 9:3

Fasting is an ancient Christian tradition, but one we seldom use today.  However, it occurs to me that a fast can be a way of “taking a break” or resting from our usual activities.  The point, of course is to use our time of fasting to grow spiritually.

You may think of fasting as giving up food, or certain foods for a set time.  Some Christians choose to fast during Lent, and give up coffee, soda or desserts.  This can certainly have some health benefits, and can serve as a reminder that Lent is a season of repentance.

But there are many other ways to fast.  If you attend a Via de Cristo retreat weekend, you will be asked to put away your phone, and leave other electronic devices at home.  This allows the participants to focus on God and spiritual matters, laying everyday concerns aside for a few days.  Some people also choose to fast from phones and screens for certain hours every day, so that they can pray, meditate or just slow down and be still.

If you’re an avid reader, as I am, you can decide to fast from secular reading for a while.  You can fast from television, video games, or anything else that distracts you from your spiritual life, or tempts you to sin.  You can fast from eating out or recreational shopping and use the time and money you save to volunteer or donate to a worthwhile charity.

Almost any fast you undertake will cause some discomfort– but in another post, I talked about the fact that the times we grow generally are uncomfortable ( Are you Comfortable?)

Christians aren’t called to sit still.  We’re called to go.  Fasting can be a way to see what going somewhere different might look like.  It can be a way of retiring from the rat race for a while and seeing the real race that Paul spoke about in the book of 2 Timothy:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

So, think about this idea.  Take a break from something.  It may change your whole life!


A Mother’s Piety

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”                      2 Timothy:1:5

Not every child is as lucky as Timothy.  We don’t all have pious mothers, and many who don’t still grow up to find Christ.  We can’t inherit our faith.  However, it is true that parents influence us, and I thought Mother’s Day is a good time to remember and celebrate that.

Did you know that when people are asked who had the greatest influence on their faith life the most common answer given is “my mother”?  (I’m sure grandmothers are in the mix as well.)  Children don’t “catch” their mothers’ faith through book learning or Bible reading, even if that goes on.  They catch it from seeing a person who lives her life for Christ;  a woman who practices what the Bible teaches.  I remember reading years ago that children learn in three ways:  by example, by example, and by example.

So to all of us who are mothers and grandmothers, let’s pray every day to be good examples of piety to our children and grandchildren — not the fake, whitewashed piety of the Pharisees, but the real deal;  the kind they will respect and want to imitate.  And if you’re not a parent, don’t worry!  You’re still called to be a role model to younger Christians.  You may be the Sunday School teacher, the Youth leader, the mentor who will always be remembered and cherished for pointing the way to Jesus.

Maybe some of our other authors and readers have stories they would like to share.  Who were the women who modeled true piety in your life?  Was it a mother, grandmother, Sunday School teacher or friend?  I’d like to hear about them.