Three Steps to Better Decisions

I have always found it fascinating to watch college students as they begin the process of graduating and moving on to real life.

This period of time can be a real faith struggle as they make big decisions on careers, who they will marry, where they will live, etc. The most common frustration has to do with “the will of God.”

event_126924822I have seen so many college students who sincerely want to do what God wants them to do. They want to marry who God has picked out for them. They want to choose the job God intended for them and the job they can best serve God. And yet they are frustrated because God hasn’t “shown” them what choice to make. It is as if they are waiting for a Harry Potter owl to deliver their letter from God saying: Marry this person. Take this job. Pursue this graduate degree.

And while we more mature and sophisticated adults look at this and say, “Awww, that’s cute” I wonder if we have ever really grown out of this.

Exiting college comes with a whole lot of big life decisions, so the experience is exaggerated. But how many of us pursue “God’s will” waiting for God to tell us exactly what to do when we face a big decision.

Early in my spiritual walk, one of the people I read a lot advocated “conversational intimacy” with God. It was his contention that in every single decision we make, small or large, we should be asking God and waiting for God’s answer.

This drove me crazy because I never experienced this. It left me feeling like an inferior Christian because I didn’t know God’s exact opinion over every single aspect of my life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of “conversational intimacy.” I think we hear from God, just in many different ways. I try my best to pay attention to God in my every day activity.

But it has never been my experience that God speaks to every single decision in my life. God is often “silent.” And I think this is the experience of most people, and assuming God speaks directly to every decision leaves us feeling spiritually inferior.

There is a fear underlying this perspective. It is a well-meaning, good intentioned fear, but it is a fear none the less.

It is the fear of making the wrong decision, the fear of “not getting it right.”

We worry God has some sort of master plan which we will miss out on if we make the wrong choice. Or we worry God has a preference between our options and will be upset if we choose the wrong one.

But look through the story of the Bible. How many of our “faith heroes” made solid choices all the time? In fact, most of the stories of these heroes is God redeeming their bad choices.

This may sound like heresy at first, but I don’t think God is as concerned with our individual decisions as we think.

We are human, we make bad choices. We choose the wrong thing all the time.

Perhaps God is more concerned with the TRAJECTORY of our life than each and every decision.

Because when we make decisions, we are moving forward. And God is concerned much more with our growth than with our “getting it right.”

God gives us reason and intuition and community to help us make sense of our world and make informed decisions.

But here is the thing: If we are searching and praying and discussing our decisions, we are doing so because we want to live into the life God wants for us. By pursuing God in the big decisions, the trajectory of our life is moving toward God, even if we make the “wrong” decision. We are orienting ourselves towards God, and that is what matters in the long run.

Based on this, I think there are three things we can do to make better decisions:

1. Rely on the Spirit. When we face a big decision, we need to leave room for thought, reason, and discussion. We need people speaking into our lives, and we need space to pause, contemplate, and maybe even try out new ways of thinking, living, or being.

2. Make a decision. While the first step is crucial, we can be tempted to let it cripple us. We have to eventually take the leap of faith and make the decision. Even if it is the wrong decision, we step forward and we trust. Which leads us to the third step.

3. Rely on the Spirit. Once we make the decision, we then turn back to trust and reliance on God. We trust God will act when we move forward. We learn to adapt. We learn to be ok if we fail. We allow God to work in the decision we have made and trust that he will mature and grow us because of our desire to move forward.

Making decisions this way does not guarantee we will always make the right choice. But making decisions this way teaches us to trust. It orients us towards God, and helps us be more aware of the trajectory our lives are heading.

There is no way to ensure we make the perfect choice every time. And God does not expect this of us. What God wants is our trust. When we begin to learn the balance of trust and action, we begin to head in the ways of Jesus.

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Ordinary Days: The Comparison

A few weeks ago, Trevor pointed out a phrase Jesus used in Matthew 11: Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. The basic idea is that the wisdom of Jesus is vindicated by the results of doing things his way.

comparison-580Our readings this week lead us to comparisons — weeds and wheat, God and idols, the pain of today and the joy of tomorrow. This is the what our lives are made of: comparisons and choices.

Scripture seems to imply that these comparisons should make our choices obvious. So why do I have difficulty with the choices I make in life? It doesn’t always feel easy.

As we read and pray this week, the comparison becomes even more evident to us. And may the choices we make every day benefit from that clarity.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

“‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”

Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.

“Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

Isaiah 44:6-8

This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies:

“I am the First and the Last;
    there is no other God.
Who is like me?
    Let him step forward and prove to you his power.
Let him do as I have done since ancient times
    when I established a people and explained its future.
Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
    Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
    No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

How foolish are those who manufacture idols.
    These prized objects are really worthless.
The people who worship idols don’t know this,
    so they are all put to shame.

Psalm 86:11-17

Teach me your ways, O Lord,
    that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
    so that I may honor you.
With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
    I will give glory to your name forever,
for your love for me is very great.
    You have rescued me from the depths of death.

O God, insolent people rise up against me;
    a violent gang is trying to kill me.
    You mean nothing to them.
But you, O Lord,
    are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
Look down and have mercy on me.
    Give your strength to your servant;
    save me, the son of your servant.
Send me a sign of your favor.
    Then those who hate me will be put to shame,
    for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.

Romans 8:12-25

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

Prayer

O God,
Give me clear eyes to see,
ears to hear,
and a mind that can discern what is right;
so that I may choose well each day
and follow you like I desire.
Amen

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The Slow, Steady Process of Growth

ScarfI was shocked over the last month to see how the sport of soccer caught on in this country. Perhaps you were too as you witnessed the large crowds that gathered in places like Chicago, New York and Seattle to watch each American match. To see the banners waving and to hear their chants. To see passion and intensity.

I mean, did you see the reactions people had when the Americans scored? It was amazing.

I’ve been quietly becoming a fan of soccer for years. Since the World Cup in 1994, I have been captivated by the way it is so global, so beautiful when played at a high level. But I say quietly because in the past it has been almost taboo to be an American who enjoys soccer. No one wants to be painted with the big scarlet “S”, because doggone it, we’re Americans. And there’s no shortage of people who aren’t shy to explain why soccer has struggled to catch on in this country. From the typical to the flat-out ignorant and bigoted.

But the reasons always boil down to this: it’s boring.

At least that’s the way people see it. And you know what? I get it. People have a hard time sitting for 2 hours hoping for those few moments when you can really explode with excitement. Baseball suffers in our modern age for the same reason. We want to be titillated with excitement almost constantly. We need action and scoring. The majority of a soccer match is a slow-building tension that makes every goal a huge moment. The game just struggles to survive our ever-shrinking attention spans.

Which leads me to these agrarian metaphors we see throughout the Bible. I can imagine that these comparisons resonated in the ears of the original audience much more than they do in most of ours. Plants and seeds and dirt was their daily world; mine is filled with cars and cell phones and fast food.

But even though they spring from a world different from my own, they speak to me. They speak a truth that I need to hear: That spiritual growth is slow, steady and gradual.

In an age that demands instant results, this can be an unpopular message. We are used to almost instant gratification for most of our desires, but the process of becoming a new creation in Christ can seem torturously slow.

I am the person I want to be today.
I will not be the person I want to be tomorrow. 

Many give up for this reason. Because even when I do the hard work of cultivating “good soil” in my heart, I rarely see large leaps. Instead I see small changes, hints and whispers of spiritual progress.

But this is the way of all growth. You ever have one of those moments where you suddenly look at your kid or relative in a different light and you suddenly realize how big they are? All at once you realize how much they have grown. There they are, growing right in front of your eyes. Yet you are mostly unaware of what is happening in each moment, all the time.

This is why these biblical metaphors are so important. It’s the same thing I love about the slow burn of soccer and those moments when I realize my kids are growing. In between the “aha” moments of life are all of the ones where momentum is slowly building, when growth is steadily taking root and moving forward. And it’s all those moments in between that make those big ones so special.

small-plants-growing-1Our kids don’t grow 3 inches at a time. We don’t make huge spiritual leaps daily like we may desire. Yet the Spirit is still at work, through sunshine and rain, light and darkness, taking root in our hearts.

It is this slow, steady process of growth that makes the big moments of spiritual realization possible.

The work you are doing to make your heart the “good soil” Jesus describes is worth the effort. Even when you don’t see the immediate results — when you read and pray and give of yourself and share your money and listen to others — it’s all worth it.

Because even when you don’t realize it, through both joy and pain, good times and bad, successes and failures, the Spirit is at work to transform your heart. And one day you can open your eyes to realize that you look more like Jesus than you realized.

That is the slow, steady process of growth.

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about what we bring to the dry places

This past week I had the opportunity to travel with our church’s youth group to Nashville, TN on a mission trip. After years and years of leading these kinds of trips, this was the first one I wasn’t in charge of, and thus had some more time on my hands to simply observe and enjoy. We worked with an organization called Y.E.S. (Youth Encouragment Services) which has three different locations spread throughout the poorer areas of Nashville. The closest thing I could compare it to is a Boys and Girls club, but I think the comparison might do injustice.

YES

Y.E.S. serves kids from ages 4 to seniors in high school. All in the same gym. Now, everything I have ever been taught about working with kids told me a step like this would never work. How on God’s green earth would a four year old be able to effectively interface with a senior in high school? Wouldn’t the senior think playing with a four year old as something stupid and not worth the time?

Well, as you might think – I was wrong. I am a lot, actually. Immediately, we were struck by the simplicity and beauty of this organization. The main leader, David simply had to blow his whistle once and all of the kids lined up and got quiet to hear him share what they were going to do today. Really. 80 kids got quiet at the sound of one whistle. And, it isn’t what you think. This guy wasn’t a drill sergeant or an intimidator. Those kids simply respected and trusted him.

This was a top-down thing, actually. I believe the reason these little kids trusted and respected the leader so much was because the oldest kids in the room trusted him first. The high school students stopped and listened when he blew the whistle. So, the little kids did too. Really, I had never seen anything like it.

Many of these kids had complete crap for a home life. Outside of this place, there was chaos. But here, they had someone to trust and respect. At Y.E.S. there was food, shelter, safety, fun, relationships. Inside those walls, the chaos from the outside had no place.

When reading through the passages for this week (which by the way have been my favorite in a while), the last section of Psalms 65 got me thinking about my Nashville experience:

You take care of the earth and water it,
making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for you have ordered it so.
You drench the plowed ground with rain,
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy.
The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!

My hometown is Wichita Falls, TX – which has made national news due to an extended drought which has all but drained their water supply. It is a barren and thirsty place that is screaming for what is written in these scriptures. So, naturally when I read this I think about my hometown.

cracked land

But, I also think about places like Y.E.S. and their impact on communities. My question is, what if Y.E.S. was not in that neighborhood? Would it survive? Probably. But, think about what life would look like for that community if there were not places actively seeking ways to bring the light of Jesus in? I think about places like Y.E.S. bringing the kind of life that is talked about in this passage.

This is what Jesus brings to the dry and barren places of our world. When followers of Jesus gather and serve in His name, it is like a hard rain on a parched land. Where there was once cracked earth comes a lush pasture. Hardened earth becomes soft and yields a bountiful harvest.

5194905-a-view-of-the-river-derwent-passing-through-lush-green-countryside-near-rosthwaite-england

So, the question is – are you part of something like this? Is your community bringing these things into the barren areas in your scope of influence? Is your community trustworthy, known as people to respect, or even a place of refuge from hardship? From the top-down, can people see the fingerprints of Christ?

Let’s talk, folks. I want to hear what you think about this. Comment responsibly below!

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Ordinary Days: Scattered Seeds and Produced Fruit

These agrarian metaphors are sometimes lost on a city boy like me.

Hands-carrying-SoilBut you see these constant metaphors as you read through Scripture: seeds, soil, fruit, pruning, growth. Surely those who spent their lives working the ground to produce food understood these on a deeper level than I.

Our readings this week bring us these metaphors to us again. These comparisons are still strong — and maybe ones we need to hear in our world that is so fast-paced and flooded with technology.

Let’s get our hands in the dirt this week (metaphorically). Let’s dive into these passages and examine how the Spirit works in our lives to produce something we could not produce on our own.

Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Isaiah 55:10-13

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

Psalm 65:1-13

What mighty praise, O God,
belongs to you in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to you,
for you answer our prayers.
All of us must come to you.
Though we are overwhelmed by our sins,
you forgive them all.
What joy for those you choose to bring near,
those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us
inside your holy Temple.
You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas.
You formed the mountains by your power
and armed yourself with mighty strength.
You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations.
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.
You take care of the earth and water it,
making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for you have ordered it so.
You drench the plowed ground with rain,
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy.
The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!

Rom 8:1-11

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Prayer

Father, let your Spirit work in me.
May it work in my mind
so that my thoughts may be holy.
May it work in my heart
so that I may love more deeply.
May it strengthen me
so that I may defend those who are in need.
May it work in my soul
so that I may be receive knowledge and wisdom.
And may the Spirit’s work
be evident in my life by the fruit that it produces.
Amen

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A Promise for the Tired

I am tired.

Tired of houses that don’t sell. Tired of houses that break. Tired of plumbing that backs up and ruins my floors. Tired of fighting with insurance. Tired of paying money for things I will never see a return on. Tired of feeling like my possessions possess me.

I am tired.

Tired of children who fight me at every turn. Tired of losing my patience. Tired of saying the same thing over and over and over again. Tired of being ignored no matter how many times I say things. Tired of feeling like I’m just not the parent I want to be.

I am tired.

Tired of feeling like I’m spinning my wheels. Tired of talking to a generation that has a very difficult time listening. Tired of feeling that no matter what I say, it falls on deaf ears. Tired of speaking lessons that I should be living out instead. Tired of talking, talking…always talking…and rarely living up to the expectations I put on others.

tired_kidI am tired.

And my guess is that so are you. We are too often tired and stretched out and worn by kids or jobs or houses or school or religion. We are a tired people.

Which must be why I hear these words of Jesus so much. I hear them repeated often because we long for them to be true.

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

It’s that promise that sounds so attractive. You will find rest for your souls. This is the promise for the tired. The vow for the exhausted and worn out.

Trevor did a good job yesterday of pointing out what Jesus was saying here. Here is what he was not saying:

He was not promising you houses that are maintenance-free and will sell quickly.
He was not promising you financial security.
He was not promising you a magical gift of parental patience or wisdom.
He was not promising that people will suddenly start listening to you.
He was not promising you health, wealth or success in your business.
He was not promising you a life lacking in religious frustration.
He was not promising you a life free from uncertainty or doubt or fear or aggravation.

 What Jesus is promising is a chance to see.

An opportunity to see life through the eyes of someone who created all of this. To understand life for what it is instead of pining for what it is not. To see that following him is not about jumping through religious hoops in the hope that through these activities we can earn an easier way through life.

Because even though your problems will not suddenly disappear, through the eyes of Jesus we can see that our troubles are not as deep as they appear, our flaws do not hold us back as much as we believe and our burdens are not as heavy as we think because we don’t have to carry them on our own.

This is the way of Jesus. It is a lighter yoke and an smoother path. It is the way not to live a problem-free existence, but a better life. It is the way of rest.

And it’s a wonderful promise for the tired.

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Why I Believe the Bible

bible-with-question-markAfter my post last week, a friend of mine asked a few hard questions about the nature of the Bible and God. I have been wrestling with it all week. I encourage you to read the post, look at his questions and look at Allen’s response. They are really good things to think about and work through.

As I was wrestling with these ideas, I came across a podcast (because that is what I do) which helped me put some of this into perspective.

We often have extremely poor arguments for why we believe the Bible. We argue Scripture’s authenticity based on what Scripture itself says. Many have the opinion that “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” as if culture, context, and a few thousand years of human development have no affect on the words we read.

Engaging how we view and use Scripture is an extremely complicated issue, and we need to wrestle with it more.

But I think this week’s words from Jesus point us in the right direction.

I love this phrase: wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

Jesus is speaking here to two groups of people: The religious elite who had put all of these rules and regulations and heavy burdens on people who were trying to follow God. And the people who were weary and tired of these rules and regulations.

When Jesus speaks of “yoke” and “burden” he is speaking of how one interprets Scripture. The religious leaders of the day had their own ways of interpreting and using Scripture and to enter into their schools of thought was to take on their yoke.

Like many people today, the “yokes” and ways of viewing Scripture and theology and church had grown wearisome and became more about not ticking God off than living a full life.

People were worn out with the religious arguments and hoop jumping.

Maybe you are too.

So here is what Jesus says:

Try my way of doing things. 

Look at my life. Look at my teaching. 

Try it out. See what happens.

Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

If someone were to ask me why I believe the Bible here would be my simplest response:

Because every time I put the words and life of Jesus into practice, it leads me into a better way of living.

It is often difficult, there is pain that goes along with it. But it always leads me into something deeper and more beautiful and into better ways of being human.

The words and life of Jesus do not let me down. The wisdom of Jesus is vindicated by the results.

The ways of Jesus lead me toward peace.

The rest of the Bible is tough. I struggle with it. I have doubts and questions and sections I refuse to read and authors I don’t particularly care for.

But Jesus I get. Jesus I like. Jesus is the one who proves that all of this stuff can be trusted.

When we take on Jesus’ yoke, and we learn to read Scripture in light of Jesus, the burdens become much less heavy.

Not because Jesus’ words are easy, but because it drops so much of the baggage we attach to the Bible.

I have often discovered my issues with the Bible are often a result of how I have viewed the Bible my entire life.

I need new eyes and fresh ways of seeing things. I need the yoke of Jesus.

May we continue to be a people who struggle and wrestle with what the Bible is and says, but may we do so under the instruction, care, yoke, and peace of Jesus.

 

If you are interested in studying some of this deeper, here are a few resources I recommend:

Rob Bell did a series over the Bible that I thought was really good. This is Part 1. (His book Velvet Elvis is also the place I first encountered the idea of “yoke” as well.)

Steve Chalke also has a document and a movement called “Restoring Confidence in the Bible” which is an excellent resource as well (and much shorter than Rob’s. He’s also not Rob Bell so that might be a plus for some of you.). Allen is teaching a class on this at his church. So ask him all your hard questions.

In terms of reading Scripture through the lens of Jesus, these two posts provide an excellent little diagram and explanation which I find to be extremely helpful. In the past, I have seen Greg add another circle for the Bible between the cross and dogma to talk about viewing all of Scripture through the lens of Christ. Greg is a great place to start when you have tough questions about the Bible.

 

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