Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reading The Bible - Part 1

I love reading good books. My current favorite is the gospel of John. I have been reading through it over the last month, just taking it at face value. I am trying to discern what it says about my life and seek to read it as if I was reading it for the first time.

It just so happens that during this reading of John I also began reading The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne. Shane, is a part of a group of people who are trying,as they say, "to love God. Love People. Follow Jesus." They call their community of faith The Simple Way.

At one point in the book he quotes the words of Danish Philospher Soren Kierkegaard. Speaking about reading the Bible will do to a person he says:

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly.My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Scholarship is the Church's invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."

I don't agree exactly with the statements about the place of Christian Scholarship, because I think it has more of a role than stated above. However, I really resonate with what he says about reading the Bible. I wonder what would happen if we were to start reading the Bible like it was the latest New York Times Best-Seller if we might read something we had never read before? I wonder if it would speak to us with a fresh perspective about how we should live as we pursue Jesus?

For me, there are several texts that concern me. Several times John makes a comment about disciples turning away and not following Jesus because is teaching was hard. And this causes me to it hard for us?

Personally, following Jesus has never been that difficult for me. Raised in a great home, attended a Christian University, I've had positive friendships, have a spouse who is passionately trying to follow Jesus with me. I've never been persecuted or condemned because of what I believe.

It seems so true to me that too often we make Scripture say what we want it to say. For example, Jesus didn't REALLY mean that the Rich Young Ruler had to go and sell all his stuff did he? But he loved God!! This is just one example.

My life is officially ruined because of Jesus. I embrace this you understand, I just don't know what to do with it yet. I think Jesus calls those who follow him to be different from the world. This means that God's authority speaks more loudly than any other. "Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament." Dreadfully beautiful, that is.
May reading the Bible cause us to reorient our lives around God's words to us.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Greatest Blessing

Last Night I received the greatest blessing possible from the senior class in our youth group. Each LifeGroup (our small groups) was asked to do a service project during the Fall semester. Nothing is to be taken from the other LifeGroups because they all did an outstanding job as well. However, the senior class chose to surprise Lana and I with dinner at The Junction, a cool restaurant here in Huntsville. Check out there website and menu here.
The building is an old Plantation home and the floor creaks when you walk through it. For those not in Huntsville-you need to check it out if you ever come through town.
A lot of planning went into the surprise. It turns out that I ask a lot of questions and was making it quite difficult for the whole thing to be pulled off. Phone calls were made, Lana got involved and as difficult as I was I walked into the room and had NO idea! We sat down, enjoyed a great meal and conversation. Several students told stories and they all contributed to a book they gave as a gift. It contained letters from each senior and was creatively decorated by Kinsey Logan.

As I reflect on this senior class it doesn't seem possible that they will graduate in May. When we came to Huntsville they were finishing their 7th grade year. They have been a blessing to my life. Above all, I am excited to see the ways that they are growing deeper into relationship with Jesus as they pursue him.
The greatest part, in my mind of the entire evening was that a group of students took their own time and money and did something for Lana and I. For them to stop and acknowledge me in this way was the greatest blessing they could have given. The letters were sincere and heartfelt and I will cherish them as the years go on. I often wonder if any difference is being made in the lives of students I minister to. Last night gave me a glimpse of lives being influenced, with God's power, and taught me much about the value of relationships. I value student ministry and am thankful to have the greatest job in the world. I may not think this tomorrow, but today I will bask in it.

words seem insufficient as I type this. Please receive it as my way of saying, "THANKS."
Every May, we have a special day to bless the seniors. This year it turns out that they turned the tables and gave the blessing. Thank You.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Coca-Cola Gives Advice on Life

I am becoming a YouTube junkie. I think a person could spend hours of their day, years of their life on looking at videos on their website. In fact I saw the other day that YouTube won "Invention of the Year" from Time magazine. Second place was a vaccine for a cancer causing std. Go figure. The story is here

Anyway, many of you have seen this commercial on TV. While the video itself is an interesting way to sell Coke and the events that unfold are interesting I am particularly interested in the song that is in the background. "You give a little love and it all comes back to you." Sounds a little bit like "love your neighbor as yourself." It seems like if we pay attention that truth can be found all over the place. "....All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God." - 1 Corinthians 3:22-23 Maybe this is what this verse is talking about. If not, the commercial is still good.

Friday, December 1, 2006

A King and a Kingdom

Who's your brother, who's your sister.
You just walked past her I think you missed her.
As we're all migrating to a place where our Father lives
Because we married into a family of immigrants

So my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country or a man
My first allegiance is not democracy or blood

It's to a King and a Kingdom

There are two great lies that I have heard.
The day you eat the fruit of that tree, "you will not surely die"
And that Jesus Christ was a white middle-class Republican,
And if you want to be saved you have to learn to be like him.

So my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country or a man
My first allegiance is not democracy or blood

It's to a King and a Kingdom

My Brother Kyle introduced me to this song. (Check out the link to Kyle's blog on the right side of this page) It's by Derek Webb. I can't get it out of my head. I think it raises a good point. Where is the line that we draw in being a committed American and being a committed follower of Jesus? For me, I think that the former has to give way to the later. Unfortunately, our country doesn't teach us this anymore. I have responsibility because I live in the USA but after that what is my responsiblity? This is not a popular thing to talk about. Popularity always was over-rated.

p.s. Kyle is actually my brother "in-law" but it would seem that if we rethink our relationship to the Kingdom of America then even how we speak about relationships determined by law would change. Guess that means I always had brothers growing up and the whole time I thought I just had three sisters. That's beautiful.