In the Wednesday night class I am teaching for the college, I will pose and answer the following question: How should we study the Bible? I plan to discuss important rules such as the principles of Scripture interprets Scripture and our need to understand Scripture contextually (the verses before and after, the theme and thought of the book in which the passage is found, the genre [literary type] of the book, etc.). Before the discussion begins, however, another question must be asked: Why should we study the Bible? The answers my students are bound to share have already landed on my list. They include: (1) It is God’s Word, (2) To help us know more about God, (3) To help us know God more [You see the difference, right?], (4) It can be understood, (5) It is interesting, (6) God uses it to change us, and (7) It protects us from being led astray. My list could continue. If you think of an important reason I failed to mention, please leave a comment below. Thanks. If you have spent any time reading my blog or clicking on the various pages, you easily see my love for the Word of God. I love to read it. I love to study it. In his book How to Study the Bible, (Multnomah, 1982) James Braga writes, “One of the greatest privileges that God has given to His children is the opportunity to study His Word. Most Christians would agree that this, indeed, is a true statement. Yet too many of us today do not give ourselves to real Bible study; we are content instead to be spoon-fed, to receive our spiritual nourishment second hand. We know little of the experience of the prophet who wrote, ‘Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts’ (Jeremiah 15:16 NASB).” At the very least, I hope that my students grow in appreciation of God’s glorious Word and, consequently, begin reading it more. If some actually start studying it, I will be filled with joy. Why? Because they will be filled with joy (see my previous discussion on abiding in Jesus and allowing His words to abide in us)! My friends, when is the last time you ate God’s Word? The Bible: Study it!
PS–For another great comment on this subject, look at the “Quick Takes” page.
As I begin another week of work, I very much want to bear fruit, glorify God and experience genuine joy. In John 15, Jesus reminded me this morning how I can see all three activities become existential realities; how fruit, the glory of God, and joy might be in my life today. What’s the key? Abiding! If I abide in Jesus and allow His words to abide in me, my life will have great purpose today and, consequently, I will have great joy! The same is true for you. As a result, we have to ask ourselves about our abiding. Are we abiding in Jesus? In other words, are we spending time with Him, cultivating our relationship with Him? Did you spend time with Jesus last night or this morning? Are you drawing near to Him as you seek to accomplish your many tasks today? Then, are you allowing His words to abide in you? How would you describe your relationship with God’s Word today? Are you reading it on a regular basis? Are you contemplating the truths? Are you attempting to flesh them out in your life? If you are a Christian, you desire to bear fruit, glorify God and experience genuine joy. Therefore, let’s be abiding: abiding in Jesus and abiding in Jesus’ words. That’s the definition of “Immanuel Living.”
A long Lord’s Day has come to an end (Sunday School–Church [with Children’s Church]–Lunch out as a family–Movie [we enjoyed Disney’s Tangled]–Supper [at home]–An episode of the original Flipper [Remember that great TV series?]–Family devotions). That devotional time included adding our last leaves to this year’s “Thanksgiving Tree.” Each year we put up some sort of tree and–ideally–we gather as a family each night during Thanksgiving week and share something for which we are thankful, write it on a leaf made of construction paper and pray, thanking God specifically for those blessings. Tonight I asked Cascade (2) what she was thankful for. First she said, “God and Jesus” (she kisses up to her parents). Next she said, “People” (she only knows a few), followed by “Yours boat” (your guess is as good as mine) and “Rock” (she was holding one in her hand)! I can tell you one of God’s blessings for which I am thankful–Cascade! She is cuter than Rapunzel! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Mine was fine; somewhat productive and somewhat restful. A busy few weeks lie ahead with activities related to the family, the school and the college. At the conclusion of those, we will once again celebrate the glorious incarnation of God–Christmas. We look forward to that very much. Have a great month of December! Thanks for pausing long enough to read this blog entry! If you were hoping for some genuine spiritual encouragement today, jump over to the “Video Links” (see above). Blessings on ya, Tim
One of my all-time favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 10:31. It reads, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (NASB). That’s my deep desire. My heart’s hope is that of the Apostle Paul when he stated that he wanted Christ to be exalted in his body, whether by life or by death (Phil. 1:20). In the context of 1 Corinthians 10, Paul warned the believers in Corinth not to follow in the footsteps of the nation of Israel in the wilderness. Among the sins they committed during those forty years, Paul listed idolatry (10:7), immorality (10:8), distrust of God (10:9) and grumbling (10:10). His encouragement to them was to not crave evil things (10:6) and to look for the God-provided way of escape amidst every temptation (10:13). As he continued, he exhorted the believers to ensure that they–themselves–were not the source of temptation to others (10:15-30). On the heels of these words, he included verse thirty-one. Everything I do should be done to the glory of God. Why should I avoid the sins of idolatry, immorality, distrust and grumbling? So that God is glorified! Why should I strive to edify (build up) others? So that God is glorified! I close with a little self-examination. If my deep desire truly is to glorify God, I am required to examine my actions. Is my worship pure or am I cherishing anyone or anything more than Jesus? Am I staying pure, guarding my eyes from impure images, taking every thought captive? In my trials, am I genuinely trusting the Lord? Am I doing everything without grumbling and complaining? Saying that I want to exalt God and doing so are two completely different matters! As I mature in the faith, I very much hope that my living more and more matches my proclaiming. If you are a Christian, my guess is that that is your admission as well. We all want our deeds and our declaration to compliment one another. May the mantra of 1 Corinthians 10:31 be our motivation today and always!
I found myself to be a spectator on “Black Friday” again this year. As opposed to millions of Americans, my goal was to not purchase anything as our nation celebrates the kick-off of our annual spending binge. Maybe I would act differently if I actually had money to spend, but I doubt it. It really is nice to hang out in our sleepy little town when half of the citizens travel to the big city to find the big deals. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and we are about to consume some of the leftovers. I worked half a day today. I hope you had a great day. If you participated in Black Friday, I hope you found some awesome bargains. As we all rapidly enter the Christmas season, I also hope we can focus upon Christ. Without the person of Christ, there isn’t a Christmas at all! That’s why we really do not have to give or receive a trunkload of gifts. The greatest gift has already been given! I hope you have a wonderful month celebrating Jesus Christ!
PS–I should have at least one reference to football in this entry to justify the usage of “Sights from the Sidelines.” The game between Dallas and New Orleans yesterday was very interesting! I was mildly ill when I actually found myself pulling for the Cowboys!
On the eve of Thanksgiving, I am thankful. God has been exceptionally kind to me. The format of a blog entry is inadequate for me to list all of the reasons for which I am grateful. Topping that list would include Christ and all the benefits connected to Christ. The Word of God would come next, followed by my wife, chidren, family and friends. My journey with Christ began over twenty-five years ago. Many of my early dreams and hopes have been realized (wife, children, college and graduate degrees, etc.) since that saving and transforming experience. Through those years, I have also grown in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). Without a doubt, I am not what I once was. God is continuing to complete the work He began in me (Phil. 1:6). My friends, there is a list of things that I could focus on today which would steal my joy and create in me a complaining spirit. But in my fight of faith today I am choosing, instead, to meditate upon what God has done in me and for me for His great glory and my great good. I would encourage you to do the same. Have a great Thanksgiving!
I used to read a lot. If memory serves me correctly, one year I read 53 books. That’s a bunch of page flipping! I rarely read books cover to cover now (unless you count children’s books or an occasional novel). Rather than that being a decision, it is more of a result. It is the result of having four children as well as being tired at the conclusion of the work and family day. However, I am once again feeling the pull to pick up the books again. I desire to learn. More than that–I desire to read for love. God’s Word reminded me of this concept this morning. Paul wrote, “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (1 Cor. 8:1). The Apostle is not opposed to knowledge; he is correctly called the theologian of the New Testament. But he is very much opposed to a knowledge which results in pride rather than love. His thought–the consistent teaching of all of the Word of God–is that our knowledge ought to lead to love of God and love of others. That is my hope as I begin to discipline myself to read again. I want to read for God. I want to read for you. I want to read for love.
I couldn’t help overhear the confessions of a humble and caffeinated gal this morning at the coffee shop. She was talking with her friends at the next table, admitting her guilt in a recent situation that she could have handled better. It was refreshing to hear someone willing to own their sins and shortcomings. In a world of “you made me do it” and “I had to put her in her place,” it stood out to me as unashamedly biblical. Those are footsteps I want to walk in! I am usually caffeinated, but I very much want to be humble as well. When I mess up, I want to be the first to acknowledge it. I don’t want to live so oblivious to my sin that I need a prophet to show it to me (i.e. Nathan’s ministry to David in 2 Sam. 12). I think that we are nowhere near as good as we think we are and that we are blindsighted to just how bad we truly are. Isn’t that why we need a Savior?! Indeed it is! With the Thanksgiving holiday just two days away, I am grateful for Christ and for a woman who was clearly impacted by Christ.
In an earlier blog, I mentioned that friends of ours lost one of their teenage sons this weekend. I do not believe I ever met Tyler, but I know his parents fairly well. They are wonderful people. Tyler’s father, Chris, helped us remodel our fixer-upper home. Tyler’s step-mom, Heather, has been a great encouragement to me at the academy. Both do all they can to bless the school. My guess is that their ministry stretches far beyond our small school. That would explain why hundreds of people turned out tonight for the visitation. I have never seen such commotion at a funeral home. Cars and people were everywhere. Visitation began at 6PM. As we drove by at 6:30 and at 9:00 tonight, there were still over 100 people in line outside. One individual we met at McDonald’s told us that he left after waiting for 45 minutes outside. A comforting community has turned out to offer its condolences. At times such as this, I am reminded of how nice it is to live in a small town. I am also reminded that there are very tangible blessings for living a life that makes a difference. That is how I want to live. I do want to impact others. I do desire to bless those around me. What can I do tomorrow to become more effective in that mission? What can you do? Think about it.
We just returned from watching the Bryan College Lions defeat another team with an overtime goal. It was the first round of the national championship tournament (NAIA). We were right next to the visitor’s goal when the Bryan player scored the winning goal. Jodi and I–both Bryan alums–were excited about the win. The kids were cold and ready to go home. They did have fun, though. After receiving the sad news described in the previous entry, I made sure that I spent a little bit of extra time today with the little monsters. We watched a movie (the original Superman movie with Christopher Reeve), played the Wii, and walked up the hill to see the Lions win a big game. It was a good day for my family. For that, I praise God. It wasn’t a very good day for our friends. Because of that, I am praying to God. After church tomorrow we will be having a Thanksgiving dinner. I really do have many reasons for which to give thanks. You probably do as well. With bed only minutes away, I am grateful for–among many other things–an overtime goal.