newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Category: Bible

Sometimes bad application is the best application.

This week feels like it has been the set-up to a bad post-apocalyptic movie. As an English teacher, my profession spends a good amount of time reading literature about dystopia, never expecting to end up in one. I should have paid attention.

I have a morning routine when I arrive to my classroom: “Bible before email.” When it comes to study of the Bible, there are nuanced rules towards accomplishing good exegesis of a passage. Some days, though, the takeaway from the passage when ignoring the rules is the one you should get.

Thursday morning, I read Colossians 2. I am reading it out of the NIV. For the first half of the week, there had been a general sense that something was building and people were beginning to act irrational. In the midst of all of it, I read the following:

They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow” (2:19).

I bolded the phrase from the verse for emphasis because that is what jumped out at me and got my brain thinking. While the “head” referred to in the passage is not talking about “common sense” or “control of emotions,” that phrase stuck me in just that sense. As I went through the rest of the day and school week, I kept reminding myself “Don’t be a they” in order to keep my perspective.

It helped.

So, to you, I say: Don’t be a they. Keep your head.

Dangerous questions.

The young man said to him (Jesus), “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I still lack?”  -Matthew 19:20 (NET)

Perhaps the most dangerous questions are the ones, driven by pride, we ask when we are trying to prove to others that they are wrong because we are convinced we are right.

The young man in this story is not right.

Before Jesus even answers the question, the young man has already reflected that he is still lacking something. And that something is a change of heart. A changed heart not driven by materialism or pride would perhaps have prevented the young man from setting himself up to have his ego deflated. And Jesus does deflate the young man.

However, he does not answer the young man directly, but tells him instead to do some things which show the young man that he actually lacks much (Matthew 19:21-22).

So what’s the lesson? If someone challenges you on something, and you feel a rise in the cackles which could lead you to saying something foolish, understand before speaking that this may be a moment revealing something going on that you may not be prepared to deal with. And then after the moment passes, deal with it.

And you deal with that by praying, “Jesus, I feel as if I am lacking in ______________________. How can I close that gap?” Sometimes that makes all the difference.

An ambitious project.

“Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.”  -Romans 10:17

 

Two years ago, I read over 80 books in one year. Last year, I read more than 50 books. So far this year, I have finished two books.

But as I am writing these words, we are 25 days into the year and I have listened through 47 books of the Bible.

This year, I am also participating in a one-year Bible reading plan, and I am reading each day’s portion of the Bible out loud.

I am reading it at a whisper, as I read at 5:30 A.M. and I do not want to wake up my wife or daughter, but it is still out loud.

I have come to see that if we are not just reading the Bible, but also hearing it read, then we are missing out on a layer of the text. We miss out on the rhythm of the poetic texts. We miss out on the rhetoric in speeches. Jesus is a lot snappier and whittier when you hear his words out loud. YouTube has a vast assortment of different translations in audio/video format. Find one that works for you; I recommend the NIV Dramatized AudioBible playlist uploaded by The Bible-smith Project.