Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Summary of the Bible in Two Verses

This morning I was reading in 1 Samuel. In Chapter 12, Samuel is giving his farewell speech. In that speech, he gives, in my opinion, two key verses as to what everything is all about. One has to do with God's motives, and one has to do with our responsibility.

God's Motives
For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. (1 Samuel 12:22)
The reason God acts for us, is because he has decided not to forsake his people, not for our sake, but for his great name's sake. God will always be faithful to his people, because he is committed to his glory. Since he will never abandon his glory, he will always be committed to us. The best news for us is that he is faithful to his glory!

(For more on this idea, please check out John Piper's message called, "The Pleasure of God in His Name". The text from this message is from 1 Samuel 12:22)

Our Responsibility
Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. (1 Samuel 12:24)
Since we are assured of God's favour because of his commitment to His own glory, we can now respond in faithful service to our God. We need to remember the great things he has done for us. For us who know Christ, we have much to consider. God has done good things for us. Now let is fear him and serve Him faithfully with all our hearts.

I call this post a Summary of the Bible in Two verses because I think if you now look at the rest of the Bible through these lenses: God's commitment to his own glory, and our response to his goodness in obedience, it will help make sense of things, and give you a good framework for living the Christian life.

For myself personally, it would not be an overstatement to say that understanding these two things has changed my life.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Blind Bartimaeus

In Mark 10:46-52 it shares the story of Jesus healing Blind Bartimaeus. As I was reading this passage, a few things stood out to me.

1. Why does Mark record his name? In other passages where healing is recorded, the people being healed are just called "a blind man" or something like that. So as I read this, I wondered why Mark records his name, and his fathers name. This seems strange to me.

2. Why does it say that Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, when he ran to Jesus? If he is blind and sitting by the side of the road, he probably doesn't own much, so why does he lose the cloak? Is this a sign that he gave up all he had to follow Jesus?

3. After healing Bartimaeus, Jesus does not tell him to follow him. In fact, he told him to "go your way".

4. Even though Jesus told him to "go his way", Bartimaeus decides to follow Jesus. This links to point 2. He threw off his cloak and jumped up to Jesus, Jesus heals him, and he follows Jesus.

When I put this all together, this is what I get. Jesus heals Bartimaeus, and although Jesus tells him to go his own way, Bartimaeus follows Jesus. As a result, the disciples, and particularily Peter, got to know Bartimaeus, such that he even got to learn a bit about his family (Bartimaeus was the son of Timaeus according to v. 46). Peter, when recounting this story to Mark some time later mentions this event, and told Mark that Bartimaeus even ditched his cloak, his only cloak to follow Jesus! This impressed Peter! 

What thoughts or answers spring to mind when you think of this story?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Idols bow to the One True God

Today I was reading in 1 Samuel and read about the Ark of the Covenant getting captured by the Philistines. After stealing it, they take it they put it in "the house of Dagon". (Dagon was a pagan God). 

The next morning, the people found that Dagon had fallen on the ground and bowed before the Ark. 

So the attendants set Dagon back up....

But then the next morning, the same thing happened, and this time Dagon's head and hands had fallen off. 

What should we learn from this? 

1. Don't mess with the One True God!
2. Your idols suck, so stop going to them for what you should be going to God with. 

You can read the story on the ESV Study Bible website!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Leadership Thoughts #3 - Who is really leading?

I have been getting a lot out of the book,  Leadership as an Identity, by Crawford Loritts. Today as I read a few quotes struck me. Here is the first:
When a leader gets to a point at which he or she trusts more in skills, abilities, or experiences to accomplish God's assignments, then he has just walked away from the place of God's blessing and His enabling power.
This quote is frightening, because it is just so easy to rely on past experience to fulfill today's challenges. Most often, things in leadership can become urgent, and so the easy and quick thing to do is to just do it, instead of rely on God through prayer and giving your life over to the Spirit's guidance.

Related to this, Joseph Stowell, former President of Moody Bible Institute says that "leaders fall when they stop following". Loritts, the author of the book I am reading comments on this and says:
Think about that. When a leader shifts his focus from dependably following Christ and begins to think that it is his vision, his idea, his mission that must be advanced, then he has ceased to be God's leader. And, frankly, it's dangerous to follow such a person. At this point there is nothing supernatural about what he does; he is merely a strong personality who can get things done by the force of his will. He may try to camouflage it with a few Bible verses and Christian clichés, but pride and self determination are what drive him.
That last line that is in bold (my emphasis) is a killer! I see myself in that line. It is easy to throw in a verse or cliché, but that does not mean it is from God. I want to be a man that leads people only as I am following Jesus.

For you Christian leaders out there, is this something that you struggle with?

How can we grow in making sure we are only leading as we are following Jesus?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Leadership thoughts #2 - I am inadequate

I was reminded from the book that I am reading that I need to feel a sense of inadequacy in leadership. In order for me to be successful, I need to rely on God to lead me. I can have strengths and gifts, but it will always be God that causes the growth.

It seems the longer a person is in leadership, the easier it can get to rely on self, rather than God. "After all, look how long I have done this? I have experience and have seen it all before. I can take care of it." I desire to be a leader for the long haul, and it is important for me to be reminded that the more leadership I get, the more I need to feel inadequate, and rely on God, who is adequate for all things. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Leadership thoughts - I can't do it

I am starting to read a book today called Leadership as an Identity, by Crawford Loritts. I was given this book by my boss as a gift.

A quote from the first chapter stood out to me. The author is talking about the Great Commission, and then comments:
Have you ever considered that you don't have the power to make even one disciple, let alone disciples in all the nations? Have you considered that you can teach someone al the Scripture, help him grow in his faith, and model what it's like to walk with Christ, but you don't have the ability to make that person follow God?
This is critical for me to ask as my whole job revolves around making disciples of Christ. But I have no ability to do that. I cannot do my job. It is a strange thought that causes a few reactions from me:

Scary - I have no ability to cause someone to follow Christ
Relief - God has the ability to do this, and wants to use me to help people follow Christ

What I desire is that God would use me to help change the world by helping students discover Jesus. Because of my inability to do this, I need to rely on God, and constantly ask him to change the hearts of the people I work with. And I need God to work on me, so that daily I become more and more a faithful disciple of Christ.

How do you trust God to help you make disciples?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

What I learned from reading Ruth

Ruth seems to have two main themes, Kindness and Redemption.

  • Ruth is faithful to her mother-in-law even when she does not need to be.
  • Boaz is kind to Ruth, by allowing her to glean from his field, in places where she would be safe
  • Boaz redeems Ruth by purchasing the land that belonged to Ruth's deceased husband. 
Another indirect theme is that the gospel is for all mankind:
  • The author keeps mentioning that Ruth is not from Israel. She is "Ruth the Moabite” as if to emphasis that God is being gracious to her even though she is not an Israelite. 
  • The book of Ruth illustrates that God used people who were not physical descendants of Abraham to be in the line of David, which lead to the messiah.
  • Ruth is the Great-Grandmother of David