Digging in Deeper: 2 Peter 1:3-4

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

For the last few weeks, I have been taking my congregation (and you as well) on a journey to understand how to read the Bible a little better than they did before. This has mostly been Christianity 101 type of stuff, and the next two parts of the series will be no different. I had been planning on this series for a few months and was pretty excited about it. Engaging with the Scriptures and encouraging followers of Jesus to do that in their own lives is something I’m pretty passionate about. But personally, I don’t always practice that passion as well as I feel it. As I fell asleep last night and when I was lying in bed for a bit this morning before getting up, I was thinking about what I would be writing about today. Leaving for the office a little later, I still didn’t know. Then God did what God has a knack for doing and gave it to me in a rush. We’re going to spend a little bit of time this morning engaging with the Scriptures together and seeing in action why doing it can make such a difference in our lives.

Read the rest…

What Is the Bible Anyway?

This week we kick off a brand-new teaching series. For the next four weeks, we are going to be talking about how to read the Bible. We’re going to talk about how to read it, why to read it, and what it even is in the first place. If you have ever felt like you didn’t really know what you were doing when it came to trying to read or study it, this is going to be a great series for you. Listen and share it with a friend who’s asking the same questions. You’ll be glad you did.

What Is the Bible Anyway?

If you are someone who’s been around the church for a little while, have you ever been told before that you should read your Bible? If you’re someone who hasn’t been around the church for all that long, do you remember ever being told by a well-meaning believer that you should read your Bible? Okay, here’s a follow-up question for both groups of people: Did you go from there and heed that counsel? I did. The reason I engage with the Scriptures on a daily basis today is because when I was about 13-years-old, two volunteers with my church youth group (who were both men in their late-50s or early-60s—if you find yourself in or near that category and you are not volunteering with our students, you are missing out on the opportunity to change someone’s life forever; case in point: I probably wouldn’t be a pastor today unless I had started reading my Bible all those years ago because those two men told me I should) told me that I should be reading my Bible every day and that if I did it for 21 days in a row, it would become a habit. I did and…it did. If you were another one of those folks who took that advice and started reading your Bible, did you know what you were doing when you got started? I didn’t, and I suspect there’s a pretty good chance that you didn’t either. 

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Psalms 119:27

“Help me understand the meaning of your precepts so that I can meditate on your wonders.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Granting you’re doing at least a little bit of this right now, but when was the last time you made a good faith effort to engage with the Scriptures? Notice, I didn’t say, “read your Bible.” We usually think in terms of the latter, but the first is more helpful. Either way, if you’re like most people who give the notion of following Jesus some part of the time of day, it’s probably something you’ve tried at least once or twice. And if you’re like most people who fit into that category, you probably got started pretty well, but then gradually fell off the wagon. The odds are better than average that the reason you eventually quit is that you ran into something you didn’t understand. Engaging with the Scriptures can be tough. What the writer of Psalm 119 – which is entirely dedicated to extolling the virtues and worth of God’s word – offers us here is a strategy for staying engaged even when it’s hard. Let’s talk about it.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Proverbs 11:4-6

“Wealth is not profitable on a day of wrath, but righteousness rescues from death. The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness. The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What benefit is there in being right with God? If you’re a follower of Jesus, before you jump all over yourself offering a litany of answers to that question, pause for just a minute and think on it. What benefit is there in being right with God? Let me ask that another way. What benefit is there in righteousness? It’s amazing how changing just a couple of words there puts a whole different spin on that question. Righteousness is a theological word. Being right with God and being righteous are generally two different concepts in our minds. Let me add one more element to this: What benefit is there in being right with people? Now, that’s a totally different question. Except it isn’t. I have been journeying through the book of Proverbs with my deacons for the past few weeks. This morning I want to reflect with you for just a minute on something that caught my attention in our passage for this week. Let’s talk about the benefits godly living.

Read the rest…

Morning Musing: Ephesians 1:4

“For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you remember Magic Eye books? They had a brief surge of popularity when I was growing up. Each picture looked like some kind of a random, repeating pattern of shapes and images when you just glanced at it. But if you looked at it just right, all of a sudden, there was something else there. I remember getting a book when I was little and spending hours trying to master the technique of seeing the hidden image. The standard approach is to hold the image right up to your nose and pull it away slowly while trying to look through it. When you got to just the right distance, your eyes would begin to perceive the depth of the 3D image hiding beneath the pattern. I finally figured out my own technique which is to cross my eyes and then slowly uncross them. What got me thinking about Magic Eye images this morning is what Paul wrote here in his opening comments in his letter to the Ephesian church. Most folks who look at it see one thing, but as I was spending some time with it recently, I saw in it something just a bit deeper. Let me share with you what I saw.

Read the rest…