Please Write This Down

“When he (the king) takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites.  It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left.”  Deuteronomy 17:18-19

If you go on a Via de Cristo weekend, you will hear a number of talks, some given by pastors, and some by lay people.  When the speaker makes a point that is very important to remember, they will pause and say, “please write this down.” Then they repeat it, slowly, until everyone has had time to add it to their notes. The point is to alert the listeners to pay attention, and remember what is being said.

In the verses above, God tells the kings he expects them to write down his law in their own hand for the same reason.  Writing something down is a way of emphasizing its’ importance.  God wanted every king to take time out of the busy life of a monarch to read His Word in its’ entirety.  He wanted them to remember it, and live by it.  It was worth taking the time to do this.

Sad to say, these days, even we lay people fail to make time for reading the Word of God and writing it down.  After all, if we want a verse, we can just google it (I’m criticizing myself here, because I do this all the time.)  We may be faithful Christians who listen to readings each week in our worship service, but do we build Bible reading into our daily schedule?  Do we write down any of those words?  Do we know the Bible so well, that we can repeat parts of it by heart?

We’re busy people, and we have fancy Bibles and technological tools to “manage” the Scripture.  That’s not a substitute for reading, pondering and even at times, writing it down.  The Bible should be written on our hearts. It’s the only way we’ll have true rest in God. Spend time with God’s Word everyday.  Please write that down!

For more on reading the Bible see these posts:

Martin Luther on Reading the Bible

Spiritual Reading

For more on Lutheran Via de Cristo see these posts:

What is Via de Cristo?

Remembering My Via De Cristo Weekend

Cursillo/ViaDeCristo/3day weekends

 

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A Morning Offering

In Via de Cristo, we talk about having a morning offering, a way to offer your day to God.  In my devotional reading I cam across this quote which explains a good way to do this.

“With his first waking consciousness, he can set himself to take a serious, manly view of the day before him.  He ought to know pretty well on what lines his difficulty is likely to come, whether in being irritable, or domineering, or sharp in his bargains, or self-absorbed, or whatever it be;  and now, in this quiet hour, he can take a good, full look at his enemy, and make up his mind to beat him.  It is a good time, too, for giving his thoughts a range quite beyond himself, beyond even his own moral struggles, — a good time, there in the stillness, for going into the realm of other lives.  His wife– what needs has she for help, for sympathy, that he can meet?  His children–how can he make the day sweeter to them?  This acquaintance, who is having a hard time; this friend, who dropped a word yesterday that you hardly noticed in your hurry, but that  comes up to you now, revealing in him some finer trait, some deeper hunger than you had guessed before,–now you can think this things over.”

G.S. Merrian

Wouldn’t the world be a better place, and wouldn’t we have a greater chance of pleasing and obeying God, if we spent a little time every morning pondering these kinds of things ( and then, or course, asking for God’s help with them)?

 

Celebrating the Best Beginning

This song composed by David Ruis is a celebration of the best new beginning we will ever experience.  We sing it on Via de Cristo retreats.  Listening to it will cause you to long for that day when we dance with Christ on the streets that are golden!

“The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”  Revelation 21:21

 

 

 

Pass It On

I recently sponsored two ladies on a Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat.  The weekend always closes with everyone gathered in a circle, singing Pass It On.  I looked up the history of this well-known Christian song.

Pass it On was written by Mr. Kurt Kaiser, a Christian composer who has received many awards for his music.  Here is his account of how he got the idea for the song.

 “In 1969, Ralph Carmichael and I collaborated on a musical, Tell It Like It Is. It was written to get young people involved in the Church. After reviewing what we had written, we decided there needed to be a closer, a modern ‘Just As I Am’ [a hymn by Charlotte Elliott written in 1835, and a favorite of Evangelicals for altar calls].

 

On a Sunday night I was sitting in our den by the fireplace where there were remnants of a fire, and it occurred to me that it only takes a spark to get a fire going . . . and the rest came very quickly. My wife suggested that I should say something about shouting it from mountain tops, and that ended up in the third verse. It only took about 20 minutes to write the lyrics. Afterwards my wife and I went for a walk, letting the song ruminate in our minds.”

This simple song has influenced many.  Let the words sink into your heart as well.

 

Grown-Up Faith

I can’t fairly call this post a book review because I started reading a book called Grown-Up Faith by Kevin Myers and didn’t finish it.  Not because it’s a bad book, but simply because after the first few chapters, I didn’t seem to be learning anything new.  I actually would recommend it for a small group, especially one with newer Christians, to read and discuss together.  At the end of each chapter, there is a summary about “Grown-Up Faith in Action” and some chapters in the Bible to read before tackling the next chapter.  These passages take the reader from Genesis through Revelation, giving a good overview of the Bible and its’ message.

Grown-up Faith: The Big Picture for a Bigger Life by [Myers, Kevin]

I did like the premise explained by the author at the very beginning.  Here it is:

“A grown-up faith requires the involvement of the whole person.  It doesn’t come from half measures.  We can’t be half-in and expect whole results.”

If we want to be mature Christians, we must engage our mind (Biblical knowledge), our heart (spiritual intimacy with God) and our will (holy obedience).  How many of us stop at some point in this process?  Or develop only one in one area, ignoring the others?  This can lead to several problems such as:

  • Intellectualism:  Biblical knowledge without any real relationship with God or obedience to His Word
  • Emotionalism:  A relationship with God without knowledge of the Bible and obedience
  • Legalism:  Obedience to the Bible’s “rules” without an understanding of the full meaning of the gospel or spiritual intimacy with God

Individuals and even denominations can fall into the trap of being less than whole Christians because they neglect some areas, or overemphasize one.  My big take-away is something I’ve heard for years at Via de Cristo retreats:

There is no Christian life without Christian action

And it might be added, that action must spring from a correct motivation — one that flows out of a heart-felt relationship with Christ and a true knowledge of His teachings.

This book gives us all something to think about.  On which area am I (and possibly my church) weak?  I would say the Lutherans with whom I’m most familiar, lean toward intellectualism.  We know our Scripture well, but don’t always have a true hunger for Christ and obedience to His Word.  We know we’re saved by grace, isn’t that enough?  Well, it is and it isn’t.  True grace will lead us into true relationship and true obedience. Wherever you find yourself, go one step further.  Grow up in your faith.

 

 

Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this Place

This song from the 1970’s was written by Lanny Wolfe, an American Christian music songwriter, musician, music publisher, and music teacher.  The song came to Wolfe while he was waiting for a church dedication.  He immediately wrote down the words and melody, taught it to his trio and played it on the spot.  It’s often used on our Lutheran Via de Cristo weekends, and I used it recently as part of a closing devotion with our Fanning the Flame team.  It’s a good reminder that God is with us everywhere.

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”  Genesis 28:16

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing Our Ideal, part 8

People can have an ideal for themselves, for their family, for a group, their country or even mankind.

I work for a hospital.  Our workplace ideal is to be the healthcare provider of choice in our county.  My husband and I have an ideal, as parents, of raising our children to become responsible, productive and contented adults.  A national ideal in the United States is to offer freedom and opportunity to every citizen.

Our ideals can be characterized by our goals.  If a person seeks a certain set of goals, her ideal will be different from someone pursuing other goals.  The person whose primary goal is career advancement will have a different ideal than someone whose goal is to raise and nurture a large family.

We also need the recognize the difference between the ideals we actually hold — our real ideals–and those we like to believe we hold –our apparent ideals.  Too often we tell ourselves we hold a very worthwhile goal, when, in truth, the way we live points to something very different.  I find my teenage daughters are very good at picking up on this tendency.  We recently had a very heated discussion about why I thought they should attend our church youth group meetings.  I saw my ideal as helping them to make Christian friends and grow in their faith.  They felt that since they attend church and already have Christian friends, my true ideal was to look good in the eyes of others, especially my friends, the youth leaders.  Know what?  They were probably right.

The time has come to consider the question, “What is my ideal?”

Compare your life to a boat.  Your ideal — what you are trying to become–is the mast.  Your personality–what you are–is the keel.  These two elements determine what your life will be like.  If the mast is too large, it will swamp the boat, but if it is too small, the boat will not travel as far as it could.

Think about your life.  Where do you direct your thoughts?  How to do you spend your money?  What do you do with your spare time?  The answer to these questions will reveal your true ideal.

Hoping this will raise some questions we can post about this month.  Authors and readers, what is your true ideal?