"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Good stuff from Colossians

I have started reading Tullian Tchividjian's book, "Jesus + Nothing = Everything." At the same time, I am listening to Matt Chandler preach through Colossians. Kind of a double whammy, since Tullian takes a lot of what he says from Colossians. Anyway, here are some thoughts/quotes from the first 3 sermons by Matt.

  • You can't love God and hate the church. (But that doesn't mean you have to agree with everything that is going on in current Evangelical churches either).
  • According to the Bible, it is not just your badness that falls short, it is your goodness too. (So just showing up for church doesn't give me any brownie points? What about all the pain I am going through! Has God heard my preacher?)
  • We don't do good works to fall in love with God, we fall in love and then do good works. (Just like obeying the speed limit really doesn't make me love that cop sitting behind that sign.)
I obey the speed limit because I don't want a ticket. If that is all there is to my religion, I fear that I am just wasting my time. If I don't see God as beautiful, I would feel just as out of place in heaven as I do when my wife hosts a Pampered Chef party. And I don't think that is any way to spend eternity. Do you?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reasons 5-8

I want to finish up my post on the 8 reasons to read your Bible, as shared by our pastor.

My original post is here.

5.  So I can get the most out of life. (Josh 1:8)
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Sounds like a verse that Joel Osteen would quote. It is not that I do not believe God's promises, it is our interpretation of them I struggle with. Instead of Joel, how would John the Baptist interpret this verse? Remember him? The one about whom Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Mt 11:11) This man was the ultimate prophet, yet he was imprisoned and his life sold for a lap dance. I think it is a matter of perspective. I think that John did get the most out of life. I just think that most people would not interpret this statement in that manner. I have heard my pastor preach, and I don't think he would either.

6.  So I can know what is true. (Acts 17:11)
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

There is no greater tool for truth than God's word. If only we didn't let our preconceptions get in the way so often.

7.  So I can be close to God and learn from Him.(Heb 10:22)
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

I love this verse, but not sure how this snippet of a much larger section is appropriate here. Read the entire paragraph! He is talking about a life style here, not just 10-20 minutes of reading and a journal entry on the "zinger" verse. He is talking about the confidence we can now have because of what Christ has done for us, and how that confidence should change us and the way we treat others. Perhaps more appropriate would be Deut. 5:6 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." which conveys the very essence of our faith. Yet I remember a man who knew this verse and quoted it to Jesus and was then told that he was close to the kingdom of God. I find that one of the saddest verses in the Bible, because while we were told that he was close, we never know if he made it. I want to be more than close.

8.  So I will have hope. (Rom 15:4)
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Read the entire paragraph here. It is not that reading the Scriptures shouldn't give us hope, it is just that the hope should not end on us, but rather it has the purpose of changing us so that we might glorify God by how we live and treat others.

So I will end with this...Read your Bible, whether it be on a plan or not. A lover of God should want to know all that he or she can about the object of their love. In fact, if all you do is attend church, tithe, and even do read your Bible, but do it in a sense that you are fulfilling your obligation to God, then I think you need to question your love for Him and maybe even question your salvation. (You won't hear that coming out of our pulpit on a Sunday.) Selah.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Reasons 3 & 4

I want to quickly touch on numbers 3 and 4 of our pastor's reasons to read the Bible.

3.  So I will not sin. (Ps 119:11)
"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."

Bible reading is a great place to start when it comes to not sinning against God. Knowing God and His ways, and seeing Him for who He truly is should keep us from sinning against Him, shouldn't it? So how come it didn't work out that way for David when it came to Bathsheba? I think the answer lies in Ps 119:10:
"With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!"
Verse 11 must be understood in light of verse 10. It is not just storing up God's Word that keeps us from sin, it is storing up His Word because of our great love for Him. Without that part, it is just a legalistic trap that will only make us think more of ourselves than we ought.

4.  So I can find comfort. (Ps 119:52)
"When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD."

Yes, there are times when I find comfort in reading the word of God. And yet, there are times when I find it down right uncomfortable too. Especially some of those red-letter words of Christ. I find comfort in a Savior who loves me and gave Himself for me. But I get a bit squeemish when He calls me to carry my cross and die to myself. Rules I can live with. But if reading the Bible doesn't make me a bit uncomfortable at times, I question if I am reading it right.

Reason 2

As I continue to blog about our pastor's 8 reasons to read the Bible, we come to #2.

Reason #2: So my decisions will be wise. (Ps 32:8)

Ps 32:8 
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Reading the Bible to become wiser is an admirable goal. I think I might have used He 4:12 or James 1:5 or James 3:17 as a proof text, but perhaps that is being picky.

Wisdom is an admirable thing. Unfortunately, wisdom is not guaranteed just because one reads the Bible. When I think of wisdom, I think of Solomon. When given the chance to have anything his heart desired, he asked for wisdom. Yet even Solomon made his share of mistakes. I think the counsel that I get from here is that with wisdom comes responsibility. We preach about change, and how we can achieve it, but change does not come just from the desire for change. Our President should be able to tell you that. Change is a desirable message, but without a new heart, change is only surface and will not last.

Our Youth Pastor confirmed this yesterday as he preached. He concluded with an impassioned plea to get on board with the reading program. Yet he also confessed his previous experiences with such plans and how they always fizzled out after a period of time.

Reading the Bible to achieve wisdom is admirable. But perhaps even more admirable is to first lay yourself at the foot of the cross. I have always liked the way the Message Bible translates Proverbs 1:7,

Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reason 1

I want to address the 8 reasons our church's pastor has given as to why one should read the Bible.

Reason 1: So my prayers will be answered. (Jn 15:7)

John 15:7 reads... "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

So is what Jesus was saying here is, "If you read my word, your prayers will be answered?" Or is He speaking of something much more demanding. He is not talking about reading the Bible, He is talking about abiding in Him and His word. ABIDING. Living, dwelling, growing in these things. Doing them, and not just reading about them.

Again I want to emphasize that I am not against reading the Bible, and some people do well with reading plans. Good for them. And some people just read.

I think it is a mistake to think that because we read the Bible, God will do a better job of answering our prayers. I believe it borders on prosperity theology. And it is selfish.

This verse belongs on a coffee cup, and it probably is on some. But it is not a proof text for Bible reading.

At least that is my opinion.

Added 1/2: I kept thinking about the Lord's Prayer after I posted this. "Thy will be done." If we always pray with an attitude of thy will be done, will our prayers ever go unanswered? So perhaps instead of praying to get our prayers answered, we should read the Bible to get a better understanding of prayer and how to pray.