Have you ever felt turned around or confused while reading the Bible?
Me too. I’ve skimmed over names I can’t pronounce. I’ve finished entire chunks without a clue as to what I just read. I’ve felt like one truth contradicted another.
Perhaps somewhere along the way we believed asking questions was stupid instead of smart. So instead of asking, we slam the cover closed, shelve the Bible, and go find something we can succeed at, like watching Netflix.
But then Netflix asks if we’re still there and we feel even less alive and satisfied than when we started. Why?
y four-year-old excitedly opened the box containing his new birthday present — a Lego set. His expression gave away his disappointment with the 144 individual pieces laying in front of him. He pointed to the picture on the box wanting to know where "that toy" was.
Perhaps you've opened your own Bible and felt more like you're sitting amongst 144 individual pieces rather than "that toy."
Thanks to technology, we have unprecedented access to the best Biblical teaching through videos, podcasts, and blogs. We get to see and hear a lot of "that toy" but find ourselves frustrated and overwhelmed amongst the individual Lego blocks we come across in our own reading of Scripture.
We have the privilege of receiving what someone else has taken the time to unpack and put back together. What we don't see is their long-time journey with the Word and their own struggle to understand, interpret and apply it. Even the most gifted teacher started with pieces and a set of instructions.
My 20-month old little man is exploding with attempts at communication.
Some are simple to understand like "wuf" (I see a dog), "dada Acco" (daddy's at work), and "ma" (more), while others require more skill in the interpretive department.
At mealtimes, he often makes a panting sound like that of a desperately dehydrated out-of-shape person exercising. I've had people look at me strangely, back to the little panting one, and then ask, "Is he okay?"
I laugh and nod. "That means he wants a drink of water."
Likewise, when studying Scripture, some passages can be a bit more straightforward when it comes to interpreting. For example, at first glance, "Be kind to one another," (Eph. 4:32) seems simpler to interpret than why 70,000 men died because King David ordered a census (2 Sam. 24:1-25).
My littlest man has been feeding himself since he was coordinated enough to get a fist full of food in the general vicinity of his mouth.
Recently, he was getting his hanger (hunger/anger) on, so I quickly buckled him into the seat and warmed up his lunch.
My friend scooped up a bite with his spoon and looked at me with surprise and confusion when he objected by turning his face away and pursing his lips closed.
He wants to do it himself, I told her.
She put his spoon down and only seconds later, he picked it up and happily shovelled his food into his mouth. He's my littlest big boy.
Recently, women I walk with have confessed to me that they don't know how to study the Word for themselves. This past weekend, we attended a conference together where quite literally, ever single session boiled down to, you need to be in the Word.
They know they need to; but they don't know how.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus spoke in parables, and not plainly?
It seems as though plain would be easier to understand, but often, we experience confusion when it comes to matters of faith.
If something isn't plainly obvious, but perhaps painfully mysterious, do you ask? Or do you assume understanding is out of reach?
She threw her head back and laughed, then shaking her head, said, “Mommy, it is God who makes me grow.”
These were the words of wisdom from my 3-year-old daughter when I asked her if she could stop growing up so fast. She already understood that growth was not of human hands. Silly me.
Yes, God makes her grow. But would she grow and develop as intended if she lacked proper nourishment for her mind, body, and soul? The answer is obvious.
Yes, growth happens naturally, but she will not reach her potential without intentional nurture.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wrestled with what is within the realm of my responsibility for spiritual growth, and what am I to relinquish to God? Essentially, what is my job and what is His?
“I’m actually looking forward to this,” he said as we drove toward the mountains.
I tried to conceal my excitement.
Of course we always look forward to a weekend away in the mountains, but what he was referring to this time was Family Life’s “Marriage Weekend Getaway” – a marriage conference, complete with all the feels.
After a decade of marriage, it was the first time the words looking forward could be used in the same sentence as “Mike” and “marriage conference.” And it did not disappoint.
Have you ever ordered the White Chocolate Brownie on Moxie’s dessert menu?
Picture an immense, warm white chocolate brownie hidden beneath two generous scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream, covered by swirls of whipped cream and trails of chocolate sauce. It’s as decadent as it sounds.
Bible study can be a bit like this brownie. We desire Truth and we know we need it, so we order up a Bible study with a dollop of enthusiasm and a drizzle of good intentions. At some point, we find ourselves overwhelmed and we inevitably fall behind.
Summer is a wonderful break in our regular rhythms. It is more relaxed and often spontaneous. For me less structure, can also mean less spiritual food if I'm not intentional. There is often a break in face to face Bible study which leaves a great opportunity for an online Bible study. I know summer is BBQ not slow cooker season, but when it comes to being with God in His Word, it's the long term committment, the slow cooker approach, that will shape us.
Have you ever thought God is sitting on the throne waiting to pounce and punish? It’s our natural tendency to think we’re going to get what we deserve. But the truth is, we don’t get what we deserve because Jesus already did. This is the great scandal of the gospel. God being rich in mercy withheld his wrath from us, and unleashed it on His perfectly holy Son on the cross in our place. It’s not fair. Jesus lived the life we should’ve lived, and died the death we deserved to die. I don’t think we’re able to fully fathom what we deserve because of our sin. In four short verses Paul manages to drive this point home with three mentions of the word grace. In case we still haven’t quite got it, Paul specifies this is not your own doing. Then again, says it’s a gift and then one more time for good measure, states it is not a result of works. Clearly, he was trying to drive home a point.
Why is it so important that we understand this grace gift?