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Why I Love the Bible. 

This morning I was in the sound booth, as usual, singing along to one of my favorite songs. The chorus explains how He is our rock, our shield, our strength, etc., and I was thinking about what that means to me in my life right now. It means that as a parent, I can lean on Him. As a daughter, I can Open-Bible-1024x683come to Him. As a wife, I can talk to Him. And then I got to thinking about the Bible because all of these thoughts are biblical of course. And I thought back over some of my favorite Bible stories. I thought about how different pieces of the Bible relate to my life in different ways. That’s what we mean when we say that the Bible is the “living” word of God. And wouldn’t you know it? My Dad touched on this in his sermon too.

I had a professor in my first semester of college at Evangel. When I first started his class, I honestly hated it. I thought he was weird. I thought he was one of those crazy literature professors that reads meaning into every little thing even when it isn’t supposed to be profound. He was ancient and talked about how he loved the way his wife moved through the house and the gentle timbre of her voice and other nonsense. But, as often happens, I realized that I was wrong (weird) and I grew to really appreciate him. He had a way of reading poetry that made it come alive. I once even visited he and his wife (who wasn’t nearly as enchanting as he described, but I digress) at his home and we talked about life. I learned a lot from him.

Probably the best thing I learned from him though was to read the Bible like a piece of well written literature. Read the Psalms with a poetic mind. Consider the authors and their worldview to better understand their point. The whole Bible is so rich and beautiful.

Since that class, my view of the Bible is totally changed. I see it as dynamic and I analyze it as I would any good piece of writing. And what’s so cool is that every analysis brings new truth.

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lol medieval art.

I am reminded of a favorite Bible story of mine, about King David, dancing undignified before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). He was accused of nakedness and his wife became angry. But he didn’t care. Cool story that reminds us to care only about the Lord’s opinion. But upon deeper study, we can learn that David actually was not naked, but was wearing a thin, traditional undergarment but the robe had been stained pink with the blood of the sacrifice he offered to God. So what the others thought was shame and nakedness was actually evidence of a grateful celebration to the God who had brought them safely through a battle. Even cooler at that deeper level.

The Bible describes itself as he bread of life. Nourishment. But there is an admonishment in the New Testament about living off of the milk instead of digging deeper into the meat that’s there. (Hebrews 5:12) The Bible is at once milk, made for baby Christians and those with little understanding, and a thick, rich, juicy steak, for the mature and seasoned believers. How can it be that a book – written by forty different authors in three different continents over two centuries – how can it be that this book is consistently challenging to us no matter what season of life we are in?

There is no answer except divine intervention. I love that my favorite verses can bring me to tears even today after over a decade of life as a Christian. I love that as my experience in life changes, so does the understand and beauty of the truths within the pages of an ancient book.

There are times that I neglect reading the Bible because life happens. But I love when I pick it back up because I learn so much every time. I pray that you find yourself as enamored with the truth as I do.

That is all.

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I bet you never thought of it that way.

I recently stumbled upon a collection of quotes by the staunchly nonconformist philosopher Fredric Nietzche. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not pro-Nietzche, I am not about to get all existential on you, and I am not saying that postmodernism is a constructive way of thinking. Honestly, I’m still just a kid, and to tackle these issues would require greater insight than I can provide.

What I do want to discuss though, is this: “We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the way in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.”

I find this to be true. Most of the time, whether or not a message is received has a lot less to do with the content of the message and a lot more to do with the way the message was presented. I think that’s the problem that a lot of people have with the gospel.

This may not seem revolutionary to you, but I think it’s just a good reminder to keep on our toes when presenting the most important message there has ever been. This means that we must be aware of the emotions and receptivity of the people we are presenting to. This does not mean that we need to have “seeker sensitive” services. If coffee bars and pastors with iPads could get people saved, then the church would be in a much better state than it is. The true solution, is the unadulterated, unaltered, untainted Spirit of the living God. Only He can adequately convey the message.

We can do our best to be relevant and sensitive, and we should, but there is no guarantee that we in our fallible and ignorant humanness won’t do or say something to completely turn someone off to our message.

Nietzche’s quote explains to some extent why many people are unreceptive to the gospel. It’s not the fault of the message or the God in the message, but of the people who have foolishly asserted themselves into the message, and made it out to be something that it isn’t.

If we are going to be messengers for the God of the universe, we must be aware that we are not worthy of the message we bring. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we will be able to properly convey the message. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we won’t get in the way of what He is trying to do. Don’t ever let yourself forget that it is only by the grace of God that you are in the position to give and not receive the gospel. And don’t ever let yourself forget that at one time, you were receiving it.

Don’t try to do anything in your own strength. People can see right through you if you do.

That is all.

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I couldn’t help but notice.

I was facebook creeping and I came across this picture. It’s nobody I really know, but you know how it goes… a friend of a friend… anyhow I wanted to share it with all of you.

This guy apparently went on a mission trip to Rwanda. From the little I know about Rwanda, it is one of the places on earth that needs support the most. I think it is amazing and admirable that he took time out of his schedule to go and meet some of the needs of the very desperate Rwandan people. But, of course, I have a couple things to say about this picture.

Now, to clarify, I know that this guy probably did an amazing work while in Rwanda. I don’t pretend to know everything about this trip or this person. I want to just talk about this picture.

I feel like this well meaning man has embodied everything that is wrong with our current ideas about missions. I look at this and I say to myself, “look at that rich white man coming to a poor nation to bless the little people with his greatness.” It looks to me like this guy finds this poor child amusing.

Shouldn’t we be getting down on their level? To me, when you go to someone’s nation, you need to get to where they’re at before you start trying to help them, otherwise you risk forcing these people into submission to your western prosperity. These people don’t need button up shirts and khaki pants. They need friendship. They need love. They need someone who understands them. We need to be sure that when we practice service and ministry we aren’t acting as almighty providers but as friends who are sharing with others.

Again, I am sure this guy probably did all of those things. I just want to be sure that we understand our position and responsibility. Jesus served by getting on the same plane as the people. He ate with publicans and sinners. He stooped on the ground to pick up the adulterous woman. He let the children sit on his lap. He did not go to a poor nation dressed like a preacher and tell them all how blessed he is. He got dirty. He did things that religious people snubbed their noses at.

Be challenged that we are all the same. That Rwandan child needs redemption just like we do. Christ died for our ugliness and depravity just like he did for the tribes in South America who sacrifice their own children. We need help just like the Cambodian orphans. Don’t ever let yourself forget that.

That is all.

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It’s too bad, really.

Just finished watching this movie. The Soloist. of course, it’s one of those dramatic movies that makes you think about life. Of course I have things to say about it. I just have to. But really, I don’t want to write about the incredible friendship or the moving plot. I don’t want to discuss how I was moved to tears by the grace and compassion that was showcased. I want to write about what made me mad.

The real Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr.

You see, this movie was so good. It had all of the elements of the perfect movie: great actors, terrific plot line, cultural relevance, themes of redemption… It’s even based on a true story. But ultimately I couldn’t fall in love with it. Why, you ask? Because, of course, there was one character that ruined everything. The pious Christian. Throughout this whole movie, goodness prevails. An unlikely bond is formed and our protagonist, Steve Lopez, does everything he can to help a man in need. Without giving away too much of the story, Steve hires a professional to privately tutor Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted musician who has, through a series of events, become homeless. This tutor, in false humility, offers insulting advice and is basically a self-righteous know-it-all.

This of course, is far from being the only character of its kind. I watch movies and tv shows all the time that characterize the Christian as the idiot, the hypocrite, or even the hateful enemy. I just don’t understand why it has to be this way. Now, in defense of the movie, there was a pretty significant jab at atheists too. But that’s pretty rare.

Why do people think that Christians are such terrible people? Because too often, they have seen Christians that truly are terrible. I believe our challenge should be to show so much Jesus that people forget the bad impressions they have.

Maybe if we do, people will stop polluting movies with unnecessary hidden agendas.

That is all.

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How to be a Christian.

I think a lot of us are missing the mark here. And, I say “us”, because I’m included. I feel like we, as Christians, don’t really know what we’re doing. I think maybe we don’t understand what it really means to be a “Christ follower”.

Over the summer I’ve been learning a lot. I’m beginning to see that most of us that claim Jesus hardly know what all that entails. Sure, we go to church and do the Jesus thing. We know the right things to say, and hey. We’re even good, model citizens. Great. But Jesus didn’t die for us to be nice people.

I’m reading this book, The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus, and so much of what he says just resonates so true in my heart. He explains that Jesus was a crazy man, defying convention and living on the edge. And we, as Christ Followers, should be doing the same.

You see, Christians are supposed to be the most dynamic, exciting and powerful people on this earth. Why shouldn’t we be? We have access to the most high God who created everything we see and everything we don’t. We are children of the God who raises the dead and heals all diseases. But instead of acting like it, we have become a cult of tamed, nice people who listen to Christian radio and say “God bless you”. That is not what Jesus Suffered for.

Mark 16:17-18 says this:And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (NIV, emphasis added)

That doesn’t sound like a suggestion to me. It sounds like those of us who have made Jesus our Lord and savior should be operating in the power of God’s authority.

Hebrews 6:1-3 says this: Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” (NIV)

So basically, we should already be well versed in all these things, which, you’ll notice, includes resurrection of the dead. Not to mention that the author of Hebrews suggests we should not be struggling with repentance from sins. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say… We are not living up to this.

The reason that most of us don’t ever live up to our potential as Christians though, I believe, is because it takes severe discipline. Mark 9:49 tells a story of how the disciples tried to cast out a demon from a man, but could not. Jesus came onto the scene and immediately drove out the demon with a quick word. The disciples asked him “why could we not cast it out?” Jesus replied “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting”(NKJV). I don’t pretend to know what Jesus is talking about when he says “this kind” but I do know that Jesus power was unleashed because he had practiced the discipline of prayer and fasting. (which, fasting is another soapbox entirely… but that is for another day.)

Jesus didn’t neglect getting on his knees and seeking the face of His father. On the contrary, Jesus prioritized it above all else. How then can we expect to have power if we neglect the source? We are supposed to be wild and crazy and unashamed. We are supposed to be fearless and bold and full of power. John 14:12 says “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Even greater than the miracles that Jesus himself performed! Imagine that! And yet we settle into the mundane.

I truly believe that a Christian living up to their potential will never doubt God, will seldom stumble, and never, ever be bored with Christianity. It’s not supposed to be boring. Following after the messiah is supposed to be the most exciting adventure of your life.  Let’s get on our faces and start living up to our potential.

That is all.