I Love My Bible: Blueprints & Buzzer Beaters

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The Bible is full of a lot of cool stuff. A LOT of it can be pretty tough to wrap your mind and heart around sometimes. But it’s worth the effort to try. Why? Because the Bible is our single greatest source of information about God, and it’s His single greatest method for speaking to us.

When you need to know tax code, you get a book on tax law; when you need to learn how to potty train a puppy, you read up on dog training tips; and, when you need (which is always) to both know more about and more of God you read the Bible. But it is way more than just a book. It’s a bullseye from Heaven’s throne. It’s a guaranteed three point basket. It’s an instruction manual.

Like all instruction manuals it was written in a variety of languages. So you will have to discover the one that you best understand if you hope to put its instruction to a good use. However, if you are willing to put in the effort to figure it out you will live a life full of the timely instruction of God.

God speaks to us through His Word. The words on the pages paint a picture of an eternal drama that is forever unfolding around us. It is remarkable. And like all good instruction manuals it unfolds a blue print for the way to make things work. And the biggest truth it has to deliver is that the only way things ever truly work is when they work through God.

The Word of God, full of timeless truth, is also full of truth that sometimes arrives just on time. Sometimes we forget what the blueprints say and we, or someone else, messes up the plans for our lives. Well, God’s Word generally has something to say about that too. I often find that when I’m at my wits end is when his Word is the most personal. His Word is a blueprint for me to live and love by, but sometimes it’s also a buzzer beater that comes just when I need it most.

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I Love My Bible: Why I Don’t App

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The Bible is awesome. It is insightful, inspired, and many other things—including sometimes confusing, scary, and sad. However, above all it is a collection of stories, poetry, prophecy, and correspondence that paints a picture of a singular narrative…

God’s redemptive love.

I love it. And can’t stop diving into it on a regular basis. But lately my bible reading has taken a new turn. I don’t read on any of my bible Apps anymore.

It’s not that I don’t like them. They are absolutely amazing tools. In fact, we live in an age when access to the Word of God is more abundant than ever before. Digital resources are off the charts amazing. These days I have access to more information on my iPhone than my pastor had in his entire library when I was growing up in the 90s.

But that was not always the case. There was a time when the bible didn’t exist in English. There was a time when incredibly courageous men of faith gave their very lives to ensure the bible was translated, copied, printed, and distributed. They were martyred for the Word of God.

It is an entirely personal choice that is in no way whatsoever theologically driven. I have no compulsion to push my preferences on anyone else. But I have stopped doing my daily reading through an app. I’m not knocking them. I still suggest my favorites to people. I still even use them at church or on the go.

But for my personal time with God I have elected to hold the actual book in my hands. To feel it’s leather covering and crisp pages. To write in the margins. To make notes. Outline sermons. And appreciate the effort it took a great many people, inventors, and heroes to make it available to me.

Apps are awesome, and INSANELY useful, but for me there is just something almost degrading and impersonal about reading God’s Word on the same device I use to make my grocery list or read last night’s boxing highlights.

You see, I really Love My Bible. And that’s why I don’t app anymore.

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Attitude Matters

I Love My Bible: Attitude Matters

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I am 34. I have been reading the Bible pretty much every day for over 22 years. But I didn’t always read it the way that I read it now.

My dad is a high school art teacher—so growing up he, myself, and my kid brother all rode to and from school together every day. It was a cherished routine chocked full of memories. One of the constants from that season of life was a nearly daily stop at an automotive parts store managed by my uncle.

My brother and I would grab a stool and settle in for what was sure to be a long stop, my dad loves to talk. And my wonderful aunt who often helped around the store would inevitably strike up conversation with my brother and I. The talk almost always turned quickly to the Word of God.

“Nathan, you been reading your bible?” She would ask in her dearest friendly voice.

“Yes ma’am!” I would fire right back. But I hadn’t been. At least not like she meant. She wanted to know if I had actually been trying to read and understand it on a regular basis.

True enough I had a bible. It was an old school style King James Bible complete with all of the thee’s, thou’s, shouldests, and such. It also had a handy zipper and nifty little portrait of some Caucasian guy (presumably Christ) holding a sheep on the cover.

I would unzip it and thumb through its pages on occasion, but not with any real desire or intentionality. But my aunt kept asking, and I kept pretty much lying about it.

…until…

I started feeling bad about it. I mean even an 11 year old knows you shouldn’t lie about reading the Bible. So I stopped lying about it. My answer didn’t change. I still told my aunt that I had been reading, but from that point on it was the truth.

What began as an attempt to assuage my guilt and dodge a difficult question transformed into a daily habit which has since directed the course of my entire adult life.

The Bible is more than book (actually it’s a library.) It is bigger than the sum of our collective moral posturing. It is more powerful than the poets, prophets, statesmen, and martyrs who penned its many truths. It is not to be worshipped, though it is meant to be a spotlight that shines on the recipient of all our adoration.

And you will get out of it in direct proportion to the attitude accompanying your heart when at last you arrive at the border of its pages and paragraphs.

Because it is full of information but it also full of so much more.


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Why I Don’t App

Rescued

“They are your people still, your inheritance whom you powerfully and sovereignly rescued.” (Deuteronomy 9:29 MSG)

Moses is talking to God in this passage. Recounting a series of moments in which he interceded for the wayward Israelites. And this final verse of the chapter paints such a clear picture of God’s work. The powerful and sovereign work of God didn’t stop with the Israelites in the Old Testament.

God rescues! He is the rescuer. He comes into our mess.
Our trouble.
Our problems.
Our pains.
Our selfishness.
Our often self-inflicted upheaval.
Our personal slavery of the soul.
And He rescues.

It may not feel that way or seem that way. Especially when life is beating you up. But God rescues. He does it powerfully. In a demonstration that declares he alone has the ability to do it. He does it sovereignly. With the dignity and veracity of the King of All.

He brings anyone who would come to him into himself. An inheritance. A part of the family.

Yeah, sign me up for that.

December 23 – The Free Gift

Romans 6:15-23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

Either by willful commission or apathetic omission each of us sin. We do the wrong things, or we choose not to do the right thing. But our sin is not the central message of the Bible.

If sin were the main theme of the Bible it would be a book primarily focused on morality. And while I do believe that the answers to all moral dilemmas are found within its pages, I don’t believe it is because morality/sin are its chief issue. Jesus is the central focus of the Bible.

Every book points ahead to Christ. Every book of the Old Testament is a Spirit-inspired wrapping—just as every book of the New Testament is a joyful declaration of the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus is the Good News. Jesus is the hope of the world. Jesus is the central figure of human history, the main idea of the Bible, and the Free Gift of God.

September 28 – Peter & Jesus

Luke 22:55-62

And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:62 ESV)

Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times and Peter refused to believe it. Jesus also told Judas that he was the betrayer and Judas knew it to be true. What was the incredible difference between these two followers of Christ? I believe that the most significant difference between Judas and Peter rests in their response to their sin against Jesus.

Judas hung himself before Jesus was even crucified. He knew his guilt. And he felt trapped by it. Peter wept at the realization that he had sinned so greatly by denying Christ. The difference in these two responses is incredible. It’s a point I have written about often but I believe we cannot look at it too closely. Judas regretted his actions and killed himself. Peter showed genuine remorse, and sought forgiveness.

Peter betrayed Jesus. He knew that he had done it. He felt horrible. But he also recognized that there was a way back. No, not immediately, but he did take his sin to Jesus. Jesus reminded him that he knew about it before it had even happened. He forgave him.

Peter and Jesus had a unique relationship in terms of teacher and disciple. But all Christians share a similar experience with the two. In the connection between redeemer and redeemed we are all Peter, and we all need Jesus.

September 27 – Prophecy: Haters

Promise: Isa. 53:3
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:39-44

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3 ESV)

In approximately 700 B.C. the prophet Isaiah declared that the Jewish Messiah would be hated and rejected. Jesus was hated and rejected. Numerous examples of his rejections pepper the Gospel accounts.

First he was rejected by the religious elite. Eventually even the common people turned on him as he was paraded in front of them as an apparently powerless failed liberator. He did not match their preconceived ideas for what the Messiah would and should be.

I am continually amazed by the uncanny accuracy of the Old Testament prophets concerning Jesus. Again and again they nailed it. This is a testimony to the power and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.