Don’t Study the Bible

Don’t study the Bible; let the Bible study you. God’s word is alive and active, sharper than a razor blade, able to separate our soul from our spirit; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). Yet, we come to the Bible to study it, as if it’s a text book. When studying the Bible, we can come away will all kinds of profound insight – “Wow. ScalpelIt’s sharp. Hummmm. It has a pen-like handle on it. You know.? It kind of looks like a scalpel.” Hello! It is a scalpel. We feel so much better when we have discovered what it is – we can even sound devoted to God when we share the intellectual insight we have discovered about God. Studying the Bible can make us feel better about ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we are healed. We must give the scalpel of scripture to the master surgeon and let Him study the inner workings of our lives, revealing our cancerous sin, self-righteous indignation, and brokenness. It’s painful to let the Word of God study us, but it brings healing and improves the quality of life. Don’t study the Bible; let the Bible study you.

Scalpel Comic

Advertisements

Pursuing God’s Will

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.'” (Matthew 6:9-11, NIV)

Why would Jesus instruct us to ask for one of the basic provisions of life immediately following our request for His Father’s will to be done? Could it be that God’s will is so great, risky, on the edge, beyond the physical world, and of the Heavenly Kingdom that it potentially jepordizes our physical wellbeing? Could it be that the closer we move to the center of the Father’s will and embrace the realities of His Kingdom on earth, the more our physical wellbeing is brought into jepardy. Perhaps so. Why? Because the Kingdom of Heaven is adamently opposed to the Kingdom of this world. The conflict of these kingdom’s often presents itself in the core of our being as we long for  heaven on earth while pursuing the perfect will of God in our lives and in this world. This conflict exists in two realms – heaven and earth – each realm affecting the other. Yet, in the midst of this conflict, Jesus is concerned with our physical wellbeing; otherwise, He wouldn’t instruct us to ask for His Father’s provision. Knowing that Jesus cares about our wellbeing, we must ask, “Am I embracing and pursuing the will of His Father?

Father Moment

Sunday morning my oldest daughter (age six) came to sit with me halfway through a morning of worship with our High School Students. As she snuggled next to me, with my hands already raised in worship, I whispered in her ear, “You know how you come to me and raise your hands up to me – to pick you up – to hold you – to receive my love – to give me your love. Well, when we worship God, it is good to raise our hands to Him too. It is one way that we say to Jesus, ‘hold me; I want to receive your love and show you my love.'” My daughter then raised her hands to Jesus. What a great moment as a father – teaching my daughter how to demonstrate her love to the Father.

Listening to Who YOU Are

The spiritual discipline of silence is essential for hearing the whisper of God’s voice telling us the reality of who we are – the value and strength we possess. It is this calling of God that leads us to the outward expression of our true identity. But we must be willing to enter into a consistent place of silence to hear His voice and have the courage to follow what we hear; understanding that what we do can never contain the magnitude of who we are – as we live in the image of our Creator.

For more on this thought read “God’s Calling” or “Let Your Life Speak” by Parker J. Palmer.

let your life speak

The Thriving Church

If only the “pastor” is bringing Jesus to the people, the church will die. The people must bring Jesus to the people – the people at work; the people in their neighborhoods; the people at home; the people in the marketplace; the people at church. When the people bring Jesus to the people, the church will thrive!

God Speak

It was 4:15am when I heard my name spoken in a very loud, bold, and firm manner. No, it wasn’t Stefani or someone standing outside my open window. I awoke as I answered back to the voice in a loud voice, “What.!” Yah, I felt a little silly when I realized I had awoken my self by sleep talking. As I turned over in bed to resume my unconscious state, a strong impression came on me that God wanted to speak. So, I said okay and got out of bed 20 minutes later, went downstairs, and opened my Bible. No strategy to opening it. Just opened it. Isaiah 49 was pearing at me. So I bagan to read and stopped at verse 7. I don’t why I stopped at verse 7, but I did.

I have bolded and italics below what caught my attention in Isaiah 49.

1 Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my birth he has made mention of my name.

2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.

3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”

4 But I said, “I have labored to no purpose;
I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.

Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”

5 And now the LORD says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD
and my God has been my strength-

6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

7 This is what the LORD says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and rise up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Well, that’s about it. What does it all mean? Why did these statements catch my attention? I have some ideas on this. I love it when God speaks like this.

Older Adults/Parents make Great Small Group Leaders

One of the most frustrating comments I can hear from a parent or someone older than 35 is “I don’t want to serve in Student Ministries because the students prefer to have leaders that are young”. I don’t think these students would agree.

Each statement below is written by a different student pertaining to their small group leader – who, by the way, is 35 or older and in many cases the parent of a student who is in junior or senior high. This year my small group leader…

  • really got to know me and helped me along in my walk, and she taught me how to trust God and rely on His plans for me
  • explained all the lessons completely and made everything clear to me.  She was so kind and loving to all of her girls.
  • is amazing, she really encouraged me a lot
  • helped me become saved, encouraged me to be closer to God, taught me more about God
  • has helped me realize how to help show other people the glory of God
  • helped me grow in relationships with God and my friends.  She also taught me how important it was to be consistent and keep praying
  • helped me realize that I needed God!
  • taught me to always look to God
  • helped me with problems at school and at home, taught me ways to act Godly
  • acted as the hands and feet of Jesus, showed us we can trust God with anything
  • helped me to remember that God is always there with open arms, Leslie is awesome!!
  • showed me how to radiate God’s light
  • has been able to give us good advice for our problems, and she has set a good example for us girls.  We really appreciate what she has done.
  • was nice and cared for us, and gave us very good advice.
  • gave me advice and listened and helped me grow in my faith with God.
  • gave me very helpful advice in a very tough situation that I’ve been through.  She has been a very positive role model in my spiritual life and has challenged me more than she knows.
  • has helped me forgive people more quickly
  • helped me through tough times and used God too
  • encouraged us and made our experiences fun!
  • I wasn’t here much at all, but my small group leader sent me letters.
  • was so fun! She helped me with lots of my problems.
  • has helped me to grow in my relationship with God, she has shown me how to live or Christ
  • made me feel loved and was a good person to talk to
  • helped me by digging deep in the Bible more, and having open discussion about the topic
  • challenged me to be nice to people that I didn’t want to be nice to and I had to pray to God for help in doing this
  • challenged my faith in a good way, she gave me suggestions on how to get closer with God
  • has helped me grow in my spiritual walk, has encouraged me to pursue my goals with my gifts and talents, has always been there to talk about whatever
  • has encouraged me in different situations (mainly with friends to do the right thing).  She has really been there for me and someone I can go to for Godly trust.  I love her!
  • has been there for me to talk to and be a spiritual role model and leader in Christ.  She’s not perfect but sure is close!
  • encouraged me in my faith and showed me a great example of a good Christian woman to follow after
  • has encouraged me to grow and helps me look at things out of a Christian point of view, like if I’m going through something at school or home

Youthfulness is a mindset, not an age. We should never let age disqualify us from ministry. Students are simply looking for love. On the other hand, if student ministry isn’t the best place for someone to serve based on their gifts and passions, they should just say it! No excuses necessary.

For more on what God is doing to transform our students’ lives read:

The Best Team of Small Group Leaders in the Country

Stories of Spiritual Formation 

High School Students make Great Small Group Leaders

Note:

For anyone who is offended because I refer to 35 year olds as “older”, relax. I’m 36. Remember youthfulness is a mindset.