Christianity 201

May 29, 2012

Good Old Fashioned Bible Study

I can remember in my younger days attending a youth Bible study in a friend’s basement where we literally wore out our Bibles looking up one scripture, and then another, and answering questions. Some of the study series from Navigators and Inter-Varsity are still like that today; but with modern technology, we get to wear out our mouse buttons instead of our Bibles. (If you missed out on this type of Bible study, today is your day!)

Perry Noble has been doing a series on his blog titled 5 Days in the Word based on the core values of their church. This was actually the final one which deals with the church, but you might want to complete all of them; you might especially like the 4th one which deals with spiritual formation.  (Click through to locate all five parts of this excellent series.)

I Can’t Do Life Alone

#1 – Read Hebrews 10:19-25 and answer the following…

  • Count the number of times the words “us” and “we” are used…with this in mind do you think God intended Christianity to be a solo or a team sport?
  • According to Hebrews 10:25…does God want His people meeting together on a consistant basis?

#2 – Some would argue that church is just not that big of a deal, with that in mind let’s work through the following verses…

  • Read Matthew 16:18…who did Jesus say the church belonged to?  (Follow up…if something belongs to Him is it important?)
  • Read Ephesians 1:22–who is the Head of the Church?  (Follow up…would Jesus really sit at the head of something that is unimportant?)
  • Read Ephesians 3:10–does Jesus want the church to “contain” or “proclaim” His message?
  • Read Ephesians 3:20-21–does Jesus have small or great plans for His church?
  • Read Colossians 1:18–once again, who is the Head of the church?
  • Read Revelation 22:16-21–what is the ONE ORGANIZATION that is still standing when everything else on earth has been destroyed (hint…the answer is in verse 16!)

#3 – In regards to taking this to a personal level…not only do we need church but we need godly men and women in our lives, Christian community, to take a deeper look at this look at the following verses…

  • Read John 13:34-35–how did Jesus say that His followers would be identified?
  • Read Romans 12:10–are we supposed to turn our backs on each other?  (Remember, this was written to people IN THE CHURCH!)
  • Read Ephesians 4:2–how are we supposed to treat one another?  (Once again, this was written to people IN THE CHURCH!)
  • Read Colossians 3:13–how are we supposed to treat others who have sinned against us?
  • Read I Thessalonians 5:11–who comes to mind when you read this verse…and what can you do today to follow through on what this verse commands?
  • Read James 5:16–is there anyone in your life that you feel you could do this with?

#4 – Read Matthew 26:36-39 and answer the following…

  • Did Jesus try to do life alone…or was He honest & vulnerable with those closest to Him?
  • As His followers are we called to do the same?

August 21, 2010

Being Real, Being Transparent

The word ‘transparency’ comes up in more recent worship music once that I know of, in the 1976 hymn, “We Are God’s People,” by Bryan Jeffrey Leach.
“Our cornerstone is Christ alone
And strong in Him we stand
So let us live transparently
And walk, heart to heart and hand in hand.”

But the theme is stronger in scripture, especially the injunction to “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” (Matt. 5:37 echoed in James 5:12) Interestingly enough, that scripture got twisted to form the chorus of a hit song by Brownsville Station about a girl who is teasing a guy who wishes she would just say if she’s interested or not. The song’s a bit off the mark with its sexual suggestiveness, but in a sense, when we don’t live life transparently, we’re just teasing everybody.

When we opened our first bookstore, a well-meaning friend recognized the need for a store like ours to be a denominationally neutral zone, like Switzerland is politically. “People shouldn’t know what you think;” he told me. I took that advice for awhile and then realized, people actually wanted to know what I was thinking. In fact they were looking for someone who, as sports talk show host Jim Rome would say, “had a take” on any given doctrinal or ecclesiastical issue.

Mark gets right at the heart of the issue in Jesus’ ministry in verse 22 of chapter 1; “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” (NIV) Unfortunately, the NIV doesn’t use the word “Forthright” anywhere, which also describe the quality we see here. But authority (which comes from God) is as desirable now as it was when Jesus taught. People are looking for someone who is willing to take a stand. To delineate the issues. To not be concerned about possibly offending a few (or many) in the process.

I admire people who are wiling to stick their neck out to defend their position on various subjects. And it’s simply an added bonus to meet the person and consider that their public persona is not an act. Because in Jesus’ time, as now, there is a lot of acting going on. I just wanna be transparent.

~For the full lyrics and further thoughts on “We Are God’s People,” check out today’s post at Thinking Out Loud.