Category Archives: Bible as Story

The 40 Day Adventure begins Sept 26th!

circle-fullsizerenderMore than ever, we need to be People of the Book – Learning and living the Good News of Jesus for the flourishing of all people!  Five days a week for 8 weeks together in community – We are reading the New Testament in a unique and powerful new way. I’m convinced that these 40 days will take you miles down the road to Biblical literacy, and set you up to understand and apply the Bible better than the vast majority of Christians in the world. Here is a recent sermon called, “People of the Book.”

Christ Church has joined with hundreds of other churches to immerse ourselves in the Biblical story. It’s called the Covenant ‘Community Bible Experience.’ The resources are amazing and available for both children and adults. The cost is minimal.

Read through this introductory post and its links
to get a grasp of the plan.

Begin with this Introductory 2 min. video – What is CBE and how does it work?

To get the full picture, follow these steps:

1. Be a part of the Christ Church 40 Day Adventure. Go to this link and register. Type in your name,  email and our church (Christ Church) then enter the start date as “Fall” (This is important because you can receive daily emails with 1-2 min video intros to each reading and section. I’ve looked at these and find them to be easy to understand but incredibly profound in giving the big picture!)

2. You will then receive a confirmation email and you’ll be ready to go!

3. Here you will see all of the free resources that I think make this plan even more rich and accessible to all ages and reading levels – with audio for those who find reading difficult. They include:

Receiving a daily email with a short video and the option to listen or read the day’s portion of the Bible. Here is a sample!

Free ebook that you can put into your computer or smart phone book app.

Free audio down loads so you can listen to the day’s reading in your car or at home.

Kids Audio and Transcript with Parent’s Guide that uses the NIVr – more suited to children. Again, there are short videos geared to children for each day that can enhance the family experience.

Small group leader’s guide with an easy to follow discussion format using basic questions that everyone can share in; and weekly short videos that introduce each week’s readings. All these materials are at a reading and interest level for Middle School and up.

All the daily and book intro videos are on You Tube and appear together here in one place for your convenience.


4. SUNDAYS AT CHRIST CHURCH: If you are worshiping with us on Sunday mornings, pick up a paper copy of The Books of the Bible / NT – with a bookmark of the daily readings. (There will be an envelope for the $5 registration, but of course no one will be excluded if money is an issue.)

The sermon on Sept 25th will be an Introduction to The 40 Day Adventure. Then each Sunday after that, the sermon will relate to the books of the Bible that have been read during the previous week. Reading and discussing will enhance the Sunday experience, but a visitor or non-participant will not be hindered. In fact, every week we will invite newcomers to pick up a copy and join us! We will also invite several of you to share your story of how this experience is impacting your life.

5. SMALL COMMUNITY GROUPS: Many of you who are in small groups already will benefit immensely by sharing these 40 days together in community. The personal benefit is significant, but this plan works best in a book club kind of atmosphere sharing with others. We are beginning several new small groups for these 8 weeks. Email me or Linda Anderson for more info.

 

Tell Me Your Story!

Tell-Your-StoryWe love stories! Before we can talk, we hold out our favorite book to be read. We wait for an encore of our favorite songs. The Bible tells The Greatest Story Ever Told!  “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” (2 Cor. 5) Listen to this sermon as we explore not only God’s story, but the power that comes from sharing our stories with one another!  


Here are the 3 practical ways to experience the power of story in your life:

1. Find yourself in God’s Story! Find your true identity in the one who made you and came to restore your full humanity!

2. Pay attention to capture the stories God is writing in your life. God is constantly speaking!

3. Ask the people you touch, “Tell me your story.” Then be ready to tell YOUR story!

Israel’s Story – It’s all about Jesus!

wholegospel_covenantsAct 3 of the Bible’s Epic Drama is about the Covenant-making God calling a people into being – not for their blessing only but so that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed. How? It all points to Jesus. Listen to the teaching here.

Matthew 1 begins the New Testament with titles of Jesus that are telling! “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham…” The anointed one (Messiah) is the fulfillment of the covenant with David (always a son of David on the thrown) and the covenant with Abraham (all the nations will be blessed through you!)

Jesus makes the point explicitly in his post-resurrection “Bible Study:”

…Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself….”These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  (Luke 24:27, 44-45, ESV)

As N. T. Wright summarizes: Jesus mission was “to do for Israel and the world what Israel could not do for itself and the world.”

So read all of Scripture seeking Jesus – He’s everywhere!

God’s ‘Epic’ Good News!

wholegospelLOGOwholegospel_WEBHave you wanted to better understand what the Bible is all about?  We are being led this Lent and Easter season into an ambitious teaching series called Whole Gospel: The Bible’s Epic Drama. It comes with several exciting parts to it:

+ Sunday teachings will explore the “Six Act Drama” of the Bible’s really Good News – the whole Gospel for the whole world! I have been using this six act framework for several years in my Biblical Thought course at URI. It is essential for getting a grasp on the Big Picture, that in Christ, God is bringing restoration and reconciliation to His world. He wants us to truly Flourish!

Drama book+ I encourage you to read the The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, the main text I’ve used in my URI course…it is in Kindle ebook form also. There is a chapter on each of the 6 Acts that you can read following each of the sermons: (Creation, the Fall, Covenants w. Israel, Jesus, Church, and New Creation.)

+ We will provide opportunities for more indepth study: reflections through the days of Lent; podcasts; questions for personal and small group study; Sunday morning class, and more.

+ During Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Easter) we will host a wonderful new experience we’re calling an Easter Celebration of the Arts! Check here for details about the events and how to submit art, poetry, music, photography, etc. Invite your world to come and see!


(My sermon, For the Sake of the Gospel from 2/8/15 gives some helpful background to the importance of better understanding the “Whole Gospel” in today’s culture.)

Transformation and Hope – learning from an icon

TRANSF ICON
Theophanes, 15th cent. Tretykaov Gallery, Moscow

The transfiguration of the Christ, described in Mark 9, Luke 9 and Matthew 17, is depicted in this icon from the 16th cent. There is so much of the biblical story and so much powerful theology packed into it. An iconographic picture truly “worth a thousand words!”

Many have asked about the meaning and use of icons. I want to point you to this article by Patrick Comerford, that compares icons of the Transfiguration from several places and time periods. He explains each detail and the meaning behind the forms and colors. This will be helpful if you listen to the sermon which used the icon: More Than Meets The Eye.

The ancient hymn that goes along with the Transfiguration is also instructive:

You were transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, and Your disciples beheld Your glory,
as far as they could comprehend it.
Thus, when they would behold You crucified,
they would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
and would proclaim to the world
that You are truly the radiance of the Father.

Are we cooperating with the Holy Spirit so that Christ can “paint us” – transform us – into his glorious image! (2 Cor. 3:18)

 

A must read to understand the O.T.

scrollIn my Biblical Thought course today, I taught on the meaning of the Law (Torah = teaching or guidance from God.) We distinguish between the Moral Law of the Ten Commandments (which reflect the character and values of God) and the Civil and Ceremonial Law in the 5 books of Moses.

Our tendency is to ignore or pass over the laws in Leviticus and other books as irrelevant or hard to understand. I want to recommend a wonderful article I shared today by Christopher Wright from a recent issue of Christianity Today called, Learning to Love Leviticus. Here is an excerpt. I encourage you to read the whole article. It’s the best thing I’ve ever read on principles for interpreting this part of the Old Testament.

Before we get the Ten Commandments, we get the story of Creation, the brokenness of our sin and rebellion, and the wonder of God’s redemption, displayed in the Exodus of the Israelites. So the law was given to a people who not only knew that story, and knew the God who stands behind it, but who had lived it as well. God gave his law to people who had already experienced his grace, his love and faithfulness, his great act of salvation. Obeying the law was never a way to earn God’s salvation, but the right way for redeemed people to respond to God’s salvation when they had experienced it (Ex. 19:3–6; Deut. 6:20–25).

And God gave Israel his law in order to shape them into a society that would reflect God’s character and values in the midst of the nations—what we might call a missional motivation (Lev. 18:3–4; Deut. 4:6–8). The Israelites were to be distinctive by living in God’s way, the ways of personal integrity, economic and social justice, and community compassion. The law was not a set of arbitrary rules to keep God happy. It was a way of life, a way of being human, a culture in a particular time and place, to show what a redeemed people under God looks like.

To imagine that “living biblically” means trying to keep as many ancient rules as possible just because they are in the Bible misses the point of the law in the first place. Old Testament law was not just about rules but also about relationship with God, founded on God’s grace and redemption, and motivated by the mission of living as the people of God in the world, so that the world should come to know the living God.

____________________

The best way to derive principles from the Old Testament law is to ask questions. All laws in all human societies are made for a purpose. Laws happen because people want to change society, to achieve some social goal, to foster certain interests, or to prevent some social evil. So when we look at any particular law or group of biblical laws, we can ask, “What could be the purpose behind this law?” To be more specific:

● What kind of situation was this law intended to promote or to prevent?

● What change in society would this law achieve if it were followed?

● What kind of situation made this law necessary or desirable?

● What kind of person would benefit from this law, by assistance or protection?

● What kind of person would be restrained or restricted by this law, and why?

● What values are given priority in this law? Whose needs or rights are upheld?

● In what way does this law reflect what we know from elsewhere in the Bible about the character of God and his plans for human life?

● What principle or principles does this law embody…?

Now we won’t always be able to answer these questions with much detail or insight. Some laws are just plain puzzling. But asking questions like these leads us to a much broader and deeper grasp of what Old Testament laws were all about: forming the kind of society God wanted to create.

Then, having done that homework as best we can, we step out of the Old Testament world and back into our own. Ask the same kind of questions about the society we live in and the kind of people we need to be, and the kind of personal and societal objectives we need to aim for in order to be in any sense “biblical.”

In this way, biblical law can function sharply as a paradigm or model for our personal and social ethics in all kinds of areas: economic, familial, political, judicial, sexual, and so on. We are not “keeping it” in a literalist way like a list of rules. But more important, we are not ignoring it in defiance of what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16–17. We are studying and using it as guidance, light for the path, in the joyful way of Psalms 1, 19, and 119.    READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE.

Discipleship in Mark’s Gospel – 2 Great Resources

MY THANKS TO CHERYL LAVORNIA FOR THESE HELPFUL REVIEWS

Have you ever read a book that captured your imagination in a new way…that makes you change the way you interact with life? What if you found a book that did just that AND it somehow helped you read and understand the Bible better? This past spring, I found two such books. This fall we will be working through two sermon series that will help us understand how to become better followers (disciples) of  Jesus…and as better disciples (followers), we can become a more engaged church. These two books can be chosen as small group material or can be read alone. The Mark book would be a great read for families as well. Below, I’ve given a review of each book.

Card - markMark: The Gospel of Passion (The Biblical Imagination Series) by Michael Card.

Because I’ve read this gospel multiple times, finding a new way to read it was very appealing. The Gospel of Mark (in the Bible) is a book of action and passion with events happening one after the other, describing the life of Jesus in vivid detail with a sense of urgency and immediacy. This gospel was written by Mark, a young man who was a friend and interpreter for the Apostle Peter. He gives first hand glimpses of what was going on during Jesus’ ministry. Even though this is the shortest gospel, it was written to give the early Christians encouragement in all their sufferings. Michael Card wrote this book, as well as the series, not as a devotional or as a commentary, but with both in mind. He uses the most current resources and historical materials to comment on each section, but does it with a sense of imagination. He calls this informed way of reading “biblical imagination.” What this means is that as you read each section, the characters and settings come to life. It is a must read if you want to renew your passion for Jesus and your love and awe of how He works in and through all of us (1st century or 21st century)!

Keller - KingJesus the King by Tim Keller.

Timothy Keller, New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and the man Newsweek called a “C. S. Lewis for the twenty-first century,” unlocks new insights into the life of Jesus Christ as he explores how Jesus came as a king, but a king who had to bear the greatest burden anyone ever has. Jesus the King is Keller’s revelatory look at the life of Christ as told in the Gospel of Mark. In it, Keller shows how the story of Jesus is at once cosmic, historical, and personal, calling each of us to look anew at our relationship with God. It is an unforgettable look at Jesus Christ, and one that will leave an indelible imprint on every reader. Jesus the King is an excellent book for personal growth in discipleship or small group use for moving forward toward ‘the full stature of Christlikeness.’

These books will be available at the Christ Church Welcome Center or you can order them from Amazon or Kindle.

Tools to help you share the Good News

bestkeptsecretEvangelism is a good word (“Announcing the Good News!”)  but it has a bad rap in our culture at present – for some good reasons of course! When people feel tele-marketed or coerced, it betrays the love orientation that God demonstrates in Christ. The Gospel is good news because God, in Jesus is reconciling and restoring the world to relationship with himself!

Let me suggest two resources for authentic evangelism: one is the book by John Dickson that is a wonderful corrective to the false models and misconceptions about evangelism. It’s called The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 1.05.22 PMThe other is a tool from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship based on material from True Story by James Choung. It is an APP for smart phones or tablets that can be used to help share the Good News in language for today.

It’s called Big Story and uses the story of Scripture that humankind is: Designed for Good; Damaged by Evil; Restored through Christ; and Sent together to Heal.
Check it out at Intervarsity’s Evangelism site.

I’m not keen on “canned” tools for sharing Christ, but this is flexible and follows the “Six Act Drama” of Scripture that I so often use when seeking to explain more about what it means to follow Christ and use as the basis for my class, Biblical Thought, at URI.

NOTE: two sermons by myself and Nathan Albert can be accessed here.

LET ME KNOW what you think of these resources.

Minding the Bible ‘Gap’

mindthegapI won’t bug you with the stats! We talk in the Christian world  like we revere the Scriptures and live by every word of God. (Matthew 4:4) Our ‘walk’ is often much different! We are all too often rivaling the biblical ignorance of our society, and arguing about the Bible more than applying it.

Our Mind the Gap Series is a practical challenge for our church community this summer to face the disparity between what we know in our heads and what we DO. [The first week we looked at KNOWING God, as distinct from knowing ABOUT God.]

For those who are hungry to do some ‘gap minding’ in relation to the Bible, here are some tools and resources,  including some of my favorites. DISCLAIMER: Tools unused are of little help!

SO, here are some SUGGESTIONS for increasing your serious Rumination on the Word of God:

The Bible App – free online and mobile app that has exploded world-wide. There are dozens of reading programs built in also.

Bible Gateway – my go-to site when I’m on my computer. Also a new app is available for mobile devices.

ESV app – This is the translation I use and the app is resident on my smart phone so I don’t need to be online. It’s a well done format with cross-references and good search function, etc. NOTE: If you use a different translation – do a search and you’ll probably find an app for it or it will be likely included in the other sites/apps listed here. There is also an ESV Study Bible in all formats that is one of several good study resources.

NET Bible – A fairly new translation that has a lot of notes and language tools to go deeper into the text.

Community Bible Experience – This site has downloadable audio that includes great introductions to the sections of Scripture and readings without chapter references to get the big story of the Bible. The New Testament is ready and can be used in a group. Sign up for a sample and you get the whole NT with intros in ebook format.

How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth – is an introduction to the books of the Bible (with interpretation points) that has stood the test of time and has been updated in recent years. NOTE: as I write this, Amazon has the Kindle ebook version for $1.99!

Obviously, we are overflowing with access to God’s written word in ways unimaginable in the past. So saturate yourself with the Scriptures! Be a life-long learner of the Book of Books. Not as an end in itself, but as the means of knowing Christ, the living Word, and being transformed by the Holy Spirit who inspired and illuminates the Scriptures.

One more challenge. Don’t just read books ABOUT the Bible. Get into the Word for yourself – The Spirit will turn the light on to help you see and learn Christ!

What is Your Game Plan?

This is our major teaching series at Christ Church this winter and spring.  It’s about creating what Christians for centuries have called a “Rule of Life.”  Click here for the sermon downloads.  The first two are, I trust, helpful introductions. Read on to better understand how to  prayerfully work through a personal plan for more intentional discipleship. At the end are numerous linked resources to help you.

_____________________

What is a RULE OF LIFE?
Serious Christ-followers have always sought to become “Spiritual Athletes” who, like the Apostle Paul, seek to ‘train themselves in godliness.”

We don’t want to confuse Rule with rules!  ‘Rule’ comes from the root word, Regula, which meant a measuring stick or signpost.  A rule of life lays out spiritual expectations which give structure and form to our spiritual lives, identifies our successes and failures, and provides us with goals to attain, not on our own but with God’s power and the support of the community.

Think of “rule” as a plan for discipline; a “rhythm of life;” a “Curriculum in Christlikeness” (Dallas Willard); or as John Ortberg calls it, a “Game Plan for Morphing” or being transformed!   Continue reading What is Your Game Plan?