Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bible Bowl

I don't know how I come to a place to forget about this, but I do it more often than I'd care to admit. Even though I do read the Bible all the time...every day, in is done not for my own nourishment but for others'. I am always thinking of a lesson, a class, a thought, a sermon, or something else to come down the road. The nature of being a minister seems to force me into this mode of reading scripture.

In spite of this, I have recommitted to read through the Bible again this year so that I can find the nourishment I need to minister more effectively in the kingdom of God. The plan I am following this year takes different sections of scripture for each day. Each week I get to read from the epistles, law, history, psalms, poetry, prophecy, and the gospels. The variety is refreshing.

A Chinese friend of mine taught me a Chinese proverb that comes to mind. "In order to give a drink, you need a bowl to draw from." One point of this proverb that I take home is that you need to have plenty of Bible nourishment in the bowl before you can offer even a small drink of Bible to someone else in a class or a sermon or a conversation.

How is your bowl of Bible doing?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

God Encouraging His People

In this morning's sermon I broached the subject of how to deal with change and transition. The following are some of the thoughts I mentioned.

"As a congregation we find ourselves in an interesting period. Granted, we are not facing the enormity of change that Moses felt when helping lead Israel out of Egypt or the enormity of seeing uncircumcised Gentiles coming into the sheepfold for Peter. The change we face is actually pretty small in comparison…but not insignificant!

"Bob is transitioning, we are transitioning, SHARE groups are still new and we press on to expand the kingdom with them, a new generation of leaders continues to cycle in and out…elders…ministers…deacons. These are significant changes that we face as a people of God.

"But, when I look at these two stories of God in the Bible, there are five admonitions I find to help us during our transition."

We need to...
1) Position ourselves to hear God
2) Decide who is in control
3) Repent of selfishness
4) Work with each other
5) Take one step at a time

I hope that these things are helpful for us as we begin this transition this year. May God's word continue to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. God is a God who exists. I AM is the one who works with us at this especially! Amen!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

God Provides

I have always noticed the way in which God provides immediately after the fall of man in Genesis 3. Right after God curses the serpent, the woman, and the man he turns and provides for his creation. "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." Genesis 3:21.

You wouldn't think that God would have it in him. You would think that God should let them live with the consequences of their sin forever. In some ways he did do that. They could no longer be in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23). But in other ways he continued to provide for them. And notice that God provided for them before he banished them from the garden.

Do we see that God is the provider first or the banisher?

I stumbled upon something as I read through this account again. Adam and Eve continued to believe that God was their provider. How do I know this? I see it in their eldest son, Cain. He always gets the bad rap for killing his brother, Abel. And rightly so. But, after God announces Cain's curse, I notice what he says...or rather I notice what is assumed in his statement.

"Cain said to the Lord, 'My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.'"

Cain knows, despite the evil in his heart, that God provides life. He is terrified of what will happen apart from God's presence; he will certainly die! If he didn't learn anything else, he did have it right that God is the one who provides. Cain must have gotten this lesson from his parents. They knew God provided for them and passed this on to their children. Remember they did bring offerings to the Lord (Genesis 4:3-4).

I know God provides, but how do I arrange my life so as to recognize that he does just that? I think about my offerings. I think about my heart. I think about my life. God provides.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Streams of Water

Psalm 1:

"Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
which yield its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish."

If there are any commitments I make for this year, it would be to explore the depths of this Psalm. Understanding this Psalm only goes as deep as you are willing to try it out.

I have been wanting to write a practical spiritual guide to help college students get through two semesters at school with all the ebbs and flows on a college campus. It is kindof like a devotional book for college students. The idea stems from Psalm 1.

All of us, however, need to spend time asking how are we like a tree planted by streams of water? From what are we drawing our nourishment? What is our delight?