Continuing the Work of Jesus: Simply, Part 1–2020

This month I begin a series on the Simply component of one of the banner statements of the Church of the Brethren: Contnuing the Work of Jesus…peacefully, simply, together.

In today’s blog I’m going to invite you meditate on a scripture and then ask you to consider a question. The goal of this activity is to set your heart and mind in the right direction for the week—a good exercise for a Monday morning…don’t you think?

So here’s the text: (and I’m using The Message unapologetically so that you could read the text with fresh eyes)

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:27-33, The Message).”

Here’s what I saw:

I looked at the text with my American 21st century eyes. Is that where you start?

Tomorrow, lets look at the text with the eyes and ears of those who were living with and listening to Jesus.

Book Review: The Message 100 Devotional Bible

Book review. Message 100.jpg

Each time a new Bible is printed, the question that typically gets asked is, “Why?” Do we really need another Bible?

In our Twitter crazed, cut to the chase world, it’s not easy to convince people to take or make the time to study a book that’s centuries old. They struggle just maintain a 30 second devotion—how will they ever commit to 30 minutes?

Enter The Message 100 Devotional. Readers are invited to partake of a story: the Story of God. The point, of this devotional, according to the introduction, is to draw the reader in, right into the unfolding Story of God.

At the beginning of each reading there is an intro or explanation. They are inviting and encouraging. They seemed conversational and I liked them.

Many are looking for a new and fresh way to read scripture, and The Message 100 provides both. Reading out of the traditionally presented order is challenging. It’s enough of a jolt to push the typical Bible reader out of their familiar rut.

People often resolve at the start of the year to read the Bible all the way through, but burn out by the end of March. The beauty of this format is that readers will be almost done at the end of three months. A double accomplishment! Not only will they have realized a goal, but they will also gain knowledge and growth in their faith.

That’s a win-win in my book!

I highly recommend this Bible devotion.

I was given a copy of the The Message 100 in return for an honest review.

 

Procrastinating With Questions

WP Lent 2

We’re getting close to Easter. Can you feel it? Do you feel more “ready” for it than you have before? Are you moving beyond the familiar to SEE Jesus in new ways, different places?

Take John 3:16, for example. It’s quoted, tattooed, worn on t-shirts, and seen at every major sporting event…but can you put it in context? Do you know any of the verses surrounding it?

WP J 3 16

I turned to chapter three of John’s gospel and read it in the message and a new phrase leaped off the page at me. As the conversation unfolds, Jesus tells Nicodemus what he must do, but Nicodemus is full of questions–very pharisee-like. Finally, Jesus tells him: Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. (John 3:11, The Message)

Ouch. This habit of questioning may have been used by the Pharisees a lot…but they don’t have a corner on the market. The longer I can keep someone engaged in dialog or conversation, the more I act like I “don’t get it”–the longer I have before I have to DO it. If you can’t recognize this in yourself, maybe you recall how your children could come up with a hundred questions to avoid doing their homework or cleaning their room.

WP Too many Q

Here’s a quote that might help us put this in perspective: “If you ask too many questions, you will find no answers, only more questions.” (Monica Fairview)

I know the danger here. Someone is going to think I’m saying, “Don’t ask questions.” I’m not. God is able  to handle our questions and curiosity. But we know when we cross the line and venture into “Procrastination Land.”  That’s what God’s message is for us: Don’t go there.

And we’re not procrastinating to avoid making our bed or finishing our math. No, the stakes are higher. We’re avoiding change. We’re clinging desperately to the familiar to keep from having to release control. Just like with Nicodemus, God is calling us to action or deeper surrender, growth or faith.

So today, let’s determine to leave the security of our questions and trust God to really love us. That is what it says in John 3:16, after all.

WP For God so loved

PRAYER: God, thank you for loving us…so much, that you gave. Help us to move beyond our questions and procrastination so that we too can give…give our lives to you more fully, deeply, completely. Amen.