Christianity 201

September 15, 2013

His Word: Our Sustenance

CEB Ps. 119:11 I keep your word close, in my heart,
so that I won’t sin against you.


NCV Ps. 5:3 Lord, every morning you hear my voice.
Every morning, I tell you what I need,
and I wait for your answer. (emphasis added)


NIV Ex. 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.


NLT Luke 11:3 Give us each day the food we need

Despite the fact I prepare these readings each day, I am also acutely aware of my need to find something that constitutes my own feeding from God’s word; and although I spend most of the entire day immersed in the consideration of Christian resources and doctrinal matters, I am becoming increasingly aware of the times I have omitted to include some personal time in God’s word.

Daily BreadThe graphic at right turned up this week on the Facebook page of a local church. It reminded me of an earlier time in my life when I would run to the Bible in the face of crisis. I remember one time when our family learned of the sudden, untimely death of the daughter of a family friend. As my parents drove to offer them some comfort, I found myself alone basically choking down chapter after chapter of my Bible, trying to find some meaning or peace in the face of tragedy.

But you can’t successfully negotiate a book with which you have little familiarity.

The other type of sporadic Bible readers are those who only turn to the book on Sundays. I was thinking of this today when I looked down at my Bible and realized that if anyone asked, I only use this Bible at church. But the reason is that I have at least a dozen other Bibles which I use during the week, but I only take this one  to church because it has larger print and I can read it without glasses. (My vanity Bible, I guess!) However, it gave me some insight into what it must be like for people who don’t touch a Bible during the week, or worse, people who only read from a Bible at Easter or Christmas. 

This is why I feel it’s appropriate to consider Bible reading as an application of the story of the manna in the wilderness.  In light of verse 20, I was tempted to title this, “When God’s word starts to stink.” But as offensive as that might have been to some readers, it does express what happens if we try to live on yesterday’s input from God. The Word is powerful, and will show itself to be real to you over and over again, but you need a fresh word for each day.

…The above quotation from Psalm 5 reminds us that hearing from God is one half of the ongoing conversation we are encouraged to have. Prayer and Bible reading go hand-in-hand. Here I have to be brutally honest; I spend more than a passing measure of time each day in prayer, and I endeavor to spend more than a token amount of time reading the Bible each day, but in truth, the two disciplines are rather separated. I confess that my Bible reading time and my prayer time are not integrated, and even as I write this, I realize this is a deficiency on my part.

One of the best writers in this area of spiritual disciplines is Richard Foster. On a Wikipedia page about him, someone has identified these practices as:

inward disciplines of

  • prayer,
  • fasting,
  • meditation, and
  • study in the Christian life;

the outward disciplines of

  • simplicity,
  • solitude,
  • submission, and
  • service;

and the corporate disciplines of

  • confession,
  • worship,
  • guidance, and
  • celebration

Today we’ve looked at the inward disciplines, but I believe they are foundational, and there is a reason why the list appears in this order.

Questions:

  1. Do you feel the time you spend overall in prayer is adequate?
  2. Do you feel the time you spend in prayer is consistent on a daily basis?
  3. Do you feel the time you spend overall reading your Bible is adequate?
  4. Do you feel the time you spend reading your Bible is consistent on a daily basis?
  5. Is your prayer time and your Bible time integrated or are they somewhat divorced from each other?

February 3, 2013

It’s All In Your Perspective

Last week Pete Wilson reported on an insight he had while up in my part of the world, so even though this is shorter, I kinda had to include it here!! Click here to read at Pete’s blog where this was titled, A Breath of Fresh Air.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

A couple months ago I was in Toronto, Canada to speak at a conference. The driver who picked me up from the airport was a middle aged man named Lucas. He was from the Philippines. It’s funny how you can learn so much about a guy by just spending a few minutes in a car with him.

Pete Wilson on Cross Point LiveIn route to the arena we began talking about life and family. He had four children, but was the youngest of 11 brothers and sisters himself. He spoke a little bit about how he made it to Toronto and how much he loved living in Canada.

During the commute we hit a stretch of road where traffic almost came to a complete stop. As we got closer to the bottleneck I realized it was a construction project. While in the middle of small talk with Lucas I couldn’t help but think…. “Stupid traffic. Stupid construction. Will they ever finish all these projects.” However, as we drove through the construction Lucas chimed in with…“Sure is wonderful that the government here has the resources to fix up the roads like this. In the Philippines we didn’t have these kind of resources and the roads are virtually impassable throughout most of the country.”

This is just one of the many scenarios God has used in my life recently to remind me that gratitude really is a choice.

Gratitude is not based on how good your situation is but on how good you see your situation to be.

That’s why someone with half of what you have can be so much more thankful than you.

It is simply true that the person who has chosen to make gratitude his or her mind-set and lifestyle can view anything–anything–anything through the eyes of thankfulness. The whole world looks different when we do. And a grateful man or woman will be a breath of fresh air in a world contaminated by bitterness, cynicism, and discontentment.

~Pete Wilson


And now here’s an exclusive bonus item that appeared exactly a year ago at Thinking Out Loud. You may have noticed that the link to Pete Wilson’s article today begins with “Without Wax.” Here’s the 411 on the blog’s original name which doesn’t appear there anymore:

The word sincere comes from the Latin phrase sine cera,which means without wax. The phrase comes from a practice where people would hide the cracks in cheap pottery with wax in order to pass the pottery off as being worth more than it actually was. Quality products were often stamped with the words sine cera to show that it had not been doctored, that it was in fact authentic.

I can’t think of a better name for a blog that is, above all, authentic and transparent. If Pete Wilson is not in your blog reading routine, check out the pastor of Nashville’s Cross Point Church’s blog.