Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Reading the Bible

I'm a reader by nature. I really enjoy nothing more than sitting down with a good book and getting away from the worries and concerns of real life. The scary thing is that for people like me reading lots of books can become an idol that gets in the way of actually reading the Word. Isn't it funny how the enemy can even deceive you into thinking that reading a lot of books about the Bible is close enough to reading the Bible?

Not so. The text has to be read and absorbed in its context. Our cookie cutter approach to reading the text is devastating to our biblical literacy. We would never sit down with John Grisham and start reading in chapter 3, paragraph 2, sentence 4. If we did that, we would most likely not understand the characters very well that the author had been developing. We would not understand the references to earlier parts of the story that we had not read. And we would definitely not catch the subtle clues that were pointing us toward the resolution of the story. How, then, do we expect to read the Bible this way? I use to say that the problem with believers in our churches was their lack of application of the text. I have always said that people know that David killed Goliath, but they don't know what difference that makes in their lives. This is still true, but the real tragedy is that not that people are missing the application, but that they are really missing the meaning. The David and Goliath narrative sits in the middle of a long narrative about the life of David (and even larger than that, the narrative about the kingdom of Israel and the throne). What is the author of 1 and 2 Samuel doing with the David and Goliath story and how does this effect our interpretation of it?

We have got to begin to read whole books at a time if we are going to begin to understand what God is saying to us through the plot structure of the Scripture. For readers of lots of things other than the Bible, this will be a difficult task. Let's get busy reading God's Word and less busy reading about it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Highest View of God

I think that A.W. Tozer said it best in his book The Knowledge of the Holy when he wrote that the church of Jesus Christ will never rise above its view of God. This is because the fuel that burns the fires in mens' souls for the spread of the gospel around the globe is the unrivaled supremacy and value of God. Idolatry is not bowing down to some golden statue or saying words of praise to a wooden pole. No, idolatry is the common action of the heart to value something other than God as supreme. Whenever we exalt something higher than God in our lives, we are committing the ultimate sin - loving supremely that which is not supremely lovely. If the church is to catch a passion for evangelism, discipleship, and missions, it must begin with a recapturing of the doctrine of God.

How is it that the mysterious body of Christ has forgotten to teach the wonderful attributes and nature of God? What else do we have to offer a world ravaged by sin other than the person of God? And yet, week after week, the supreme value of man is preached from our pulpits. Apparently, God did everything because of our amazing value to Him. How have we allowed the pure gospel of God to be corrupted by the selfish, man-centered consumerism of this age? God redeemed humanity for the praise of His own glory, to demonstrate to all ages the surpassing greatness of his grace and mercy. Let us again as the church of Christ rise to the call to proclaim the wonder of the doctrine of God. We cannot afford to get this one wrong.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Priceless Wife...

The writer of Proverbs comments that there is no value comparison for a wife that fears the Lord. She is to be more treasured than any jewels that can be found on the earth. She could be the climactic element of the MasterCard commercial: engagment ring, $1000; wedding, $5000; honeymoon, $3000; wife of noble character: priceless. The wife who fears the Lord is one who cares for the needs of her family above her own. She is a servant above all things, selflessly giving without calling for others to satisfy her needs. She is a woman of honor, constantly bringing praise to her home and her family because of the way she treats the people around her. She is hospitable, always opening her home and her table to take care of the travelor. She will go out of her way to speak words of kindness to someone who is hurting because she is gifted with compassion and mercy of God. She invests all her energy in her children, never balking at the commitment that it takes to raise up young men and women of God. She is a helper to her spouse, always giving of herself to assist him and enoucrage him and challenge him. She is intimate with the Lord God and faithful to her family. She is amazing and rare.

I am married to a priceless wife ... her name is Barie.