Growing Up, Part 3

When Terry and I joined the congregation, I didn’t have any experience at being an active, adult member. As a child, a family friend took me to church, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. As a teenager and young adult, I attended services sporadically. Then after Terry and I got married, we decided to join a church, but basically, we just sat in the pew on Sunday morning. I thought that’s what belonging to a church was all about, but I was wrong. When we joined Peace In Christ, there were maybe 50 or 60 members, and God must have known just what I needed, because it’s hard to hide in a group that size. In fact, I was elected Recording Secretary at the first congregational meeting I attended. What a shock! I didn’t realize that in a small church agreeing to serve meant you got the job. Soon the pastor found out I liked to write and he suggested I get involved in helping with the newsletter and writing articles about the church for the local newspaper. I really enjoyed that, but I still wasn’t studying the Bible. After all, I knew all those stories from Sunday School class, and had even taken some courses about the Bible as literature in college. I didn’t think I needed any more.

Life has a way of moving along and changing, though, and pretty soon our first child was born. Before I knew it, she was two years old, and the nice people at church were asking if she could stay for Sunday School. Of course, that meant that Terry and I joined the adult class–what else was there to do for that hour? There I got another surprise–I discovered that the Bible is more than history or literature, it’s a guide for living life. In 1 Timothy 3:16-17 we read:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I got to know other Christians — the ones in the Bible, and the ones in class–most of whom were more mature in the faith than I was at the time. I saw how, despite their flaws and mistakes they had a living faith–vibrant and growing. Here were people who prayed before making a decision–I had never done that. They loved and served some of the most unlovable people. They had a purpose in life. I admired them and I began to want to be more like them.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow …..

For more posts about Bible study see:

The Greatest Bible Study

Study Resources for Ladies

A Prayer Before Study

What’s the Difference?

According to Martin Luther, there’s a big difference between the Word of God and the word of man:.

We must make a great difference between God’s Word and the word of man. A man’s word is a little sound that flies into the air and soon vanishes, but the Word of God is greater than heaven and earth, year, greater than death and hell, for it forms part of the power of God and endures everlastingly.

Martin Luther

Maybe this is why the Bible is the most read book in the world. When writer James Chapman created a list of the most popular books of the last fifty years, based on the number of copies sold, the Bible was the runaway winner. It sold 3.9 billion copies. The next closed contenders were “Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-Tung” (820 million copies) and “Harry Potter”(400 million copies).

For more about the Bible see:

Is the Bible Your Companion?

Martin Luther on Reading the Bible

The Will of God is the Word of God by James MacDonald–Book Review

Do you worry about discovering God’s will for your life? Are you convinced that there is one right choice when it comes to selecting a spouse, a career, a vocation? If so, you will find this book very reassuring. According to author James MacDonald, God’s will is not about the details of our lives, it’s about who we are. It’s about our sanctification (word for the day): that refining process through which we become more and more like Christ.

The Will of God is the Word of God

God’s sovereign will, his plan for the universe and all of human history, cannot be thwarted. It doesn’t depend upon the choices we make. God’s moral will, or His word, is revealed in the Bible. This is God’s desire for our personal behavior, and is what we should concern ourselves with. If we live according to God’s moral will, we can be assured that the choices we make will be wise ones.

The author does give some guidelines for making God-pleasing decisions such as:

*Will this choice bring glory to God?

*Is this a decision Jesus would make?

*Will I be proud of this decision at the judgement seat of Christ?

*Would I want this done to me?

*Will this choice cause a brother or sister in Christ to struggle spiritually?

*Will this choice bring me under the power of something?

*Can I do this with confidence that it’s right?

*Am I breaking any previous committments?

This book was an easy read, and I certainly agree that any decision we make should be evaluated according to Biblical principles. However, I don’t think we need to totally reject the idea that God speaks to us in other ways at times.

VERDICT: 4 STARS A helpful guide to anyone struggling with an important decision.

For more on God’s will see:

Fanning the Flame #6–Seeking God’s Will

The Will of God by Leslie D. Weatherhead –Book Review

Martin Luther on God’s Word

R. C. Sproul on God’s Word

Do you study God’s Word, the Bible? God chose to communicate with us through words, and we won’t grow in our faith if we never bother to read them R C Sproul addresses the question of why we don’t study the Word of God this way:

“Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” – Knowing Scripture, 1977

I’m sure, like me, you find the time to study the things that are really important to you. Sports fans memorize statistics about their favorite teams and players, employees take courses so they can advance their careers, teenagers (and many others) comb the internet to find out what’s going on in the life of that special celebrity. We all have our passions, but these things are all temporary. Make sure you also study the only subject that’s permanent. In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35

So, don’t be lazy. Study the Word.

For more about R. C. Sproul see:

The Holiness of God–R.C. Sproul–Book Review

Flee to the Scripture– A Quote by R.C. Sproul

A Quote From R.C. Sproul

Billy Graham on Hope

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

Billy Graham

For more quotes about hope see:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Hope

Martin Luther on Hope

 

 

New Month/New Theme

I’m posting this for one of our authors, Martha, who is having some “technical difficulties” with the blog today.

I have always loved books and movies that clearly depict the battle of good vs. evil, where good succeeds ( The Narnia Chronicles, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.). But there is one book that excels all others for telling the story of how Good wins the victory over evil: the Bible.
Our theme for April is God’s victory over evil. This is relevant to our current circumstances, for in faith we trust that God will bring us through the COVID-19 crisis and that we will be able to return to the routines of our daily lives, in God’s good time. The virus is an evil, but God will triumph.
The theme also applies to God’s ultimate victory over evil, which was achieved through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his glorious resurrection on the third day. The fact that we will still be in quarantine for Good Friday and Resurrection Day this year reduces not at all the solemn realization that Christ died for our sins and the glorious good news that Christ is risen indeed!
Rejoice!  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5). In our isolation this Easter we should all the more celebrate what God has done, for we know that we are the people of the Living God, and he is present with us always – and  no one will take away our joy (John 16:22)!
Be safe. Be well. Be blessed. And remember, if the days seem dark, that the day of Resurrection celebration is near and our salvation is certain.
God loves you, and so do I.

God’s Word, Our Light

 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

Nothing enlightens and directs us more clearly than God’s Word in the Holy Bible.  This song written by Amy Grant and Michael Smith is often used on Lutheran Via De Cristo weekends to introduce the talk on Study.  It’s a good reminder of the blessings we receive from studying the Word and allowing it to influence our daily lives.

For more music by Amy Grant, go to this post:

Mary, a Servant

Is God Still Speaking?

I love reading!!!God speaks to us in many ways.  Some people see God in nature;  others in art;  still others in the lives of great saints.  As for me, I’m a word person and God most often speaks to me through words, and the things I am reading.  I don’t think that’s odd.  After all, didn’t God “speak” the world into existence with words?

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”  Hebrews  11:3

Isn’t Jesus called “the Word”?

  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1

Isn’t the Bible, our primary resource for knowing God, His Word?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

This is not to say that there is plenty of unedifying reading material out there.  We have to use discernment in what we select;  but there are a plethora of good choices.  There are Christian writers of every ilk;  there are classics that educate us;  devotionals that feed our souls.  History and historical fiction can inform us; biographies inspire us;  poetry lifts our spirits.

So compose your own reading list.  Ask for suggestions from your Pastor and other Christians.  Take a look at books we’ve reviewed on our blog.  When you find a writer who speaks to you, see what else they’ve written.  Dive into some of those literary classics that bored you in high school or college.  And, of course, don’t forget your Bible.  Try different versions;  buy a commentary or a study Bible, attend Bible study.  God made us creatures who learn, and above all, He wants us to learn about Him.  Don’t miss the opportunities that are out there for you!

Be A Love Letter

I’ve heard people call the Bible God’s love letter to us, and it is.  However, did you realize that each one of us is a love letter to the world from God?  Listen to what Paul tells the church in Corinth:

“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.  And you show you are a letter from Christ delivered by us written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

See the source image

If you haven’t noticed, all the Greek words for love that we’ve been pondering this month deal with relationships with people.  When we love our families, our neighbors, our friends, our fellow church members, or complete strangers we are simply instruments, used by God, to deliver His love to the world.  That’s quite a responsibility.  God’s love may be perceived and experienced through us.  Everyone you meet won’t read the Bible, but they will read about God through your life.

What kind of letter will you be?

 

Eat This Book

“I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll;  and he said to me, ‘Take it and eat;  it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’  And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it;  it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.”  Rev. 10:  9-10

If you’ve never read anything by Eugene Peterson, you should.  Peterson is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Reagent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.  He is author of the popular modern paraphrase of the Bible, The Message.  

Eat This Book, has been sitting on our bookshelf for some time and I decided that as it went along with our November theme, now was the time to delve into it.  As usual, I’m not disappointed with Peterson’s work.  It deals with the topic of “spiritual reading.”  According to Peterson we need to read the Bible not just for information;  not just for inspiration and comfort; not just as a guide for ethical living.  We need to “eat” the Bible –digest it, and take it into our lives so that it nourishes us and affects us on a very basic level.  Most of the time, we use the Bible to help us in our life;  we need to take the Bible in so that it uses us — instead of making the Bible part of our lives, we need to become part of its’ life and narrative.

In the quote above from Revelations, an angel gives John a scroll to eat;  first it is sweet, but it becomes bitter.  According to Peterson, when we become Christians, our first taste of Scripture is wondrously tasty — however, as we continue in the Word, we find that there are many things that are hard to digest, understand and accept.

“We are fond of saying that the Bible has all the answers.  And that is certainly correct.  ….But the Bible also has all the questions, many of them that we would just as soon were never asked of us, and some of which we will spend the rest of our lives doing our best to dodge. …you can’t domesticate this book to what you are comfortable with.”  from Eat This Book

I hope some other authors and readers will take a look at Peterson’s book this month.  You’ll be challenged to a whole new level of reading the Scriptures.