The Bible Part III

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So, I really liked parts I and II (The Old and New Testaments),

but do you think it’s time to reopen the canon?

The canon is the collection of writings that have come to be known as The Bible.

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago we closed it up and declared it sufficient.

But then again…

That was before cloning.  Maybe we could use some instruction on that.

It was before technology of any sort, really.

It was before talk of global warming, or gay marriage, or reality television.

Should we commission a supplemental volume —

to clarify what Jesus really meant?

Who would decide what goes in to a Bible Part III?

Would scholars?  Pastors?  You or me? Would we have a 1-800 call in voting system?

I wonder.  Would we come to blows over what constitutes The Word of God?

Probably.

Come to think of it, we already do that with the Bible we have.

Okay then.  No Part III.

No point in adding to the “canon fodder”.

But here’s a thought:

If God had intended the Bible to be the last Word — why give people the gift of writing?

Sure, the Bible may be the most important book on the shelf, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the whole library around you, right?

No, I think God inspires people even today.

From NT Wright to William P. Young (look em up), the written word has the power to enlighten and instruct.

Someone, right now, may be writing words on a page that will one day convey a life-changing insight, one that may cause you or I to revise even the most die-hard opinions we’ve had about The Bible.

I’m going to stay open to that possibility.

I firmly believe that The Good Book points me to a relationship with God, through Christ.  It shows me what salvation means.  It welcomes me into a life of Kingdom-living. It is the foundation by which I try to live my life.

But just the same…

When it comes to something like cloning, or global warming, or even gay marriage…

I’m just glad to remember that God

is still speaking.

Mitch

 

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What’s Your Sanctuary?

At a recent meeting, our church staff was asked to share a place that was a sanctuary to them.

The answers were so lovely, I asked the staff if I could share them.

Here’s my paraphrase of what they said.

Now, don’t just read these.  Take a deep breath, and put yourself in these places:

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“When I was just starting out, training to be a teacher, there was this little chapel I’d go to.  And I told myself, I’m starting out simple, like this chapel. Who knows where this journey will take me.  Sure enough, 8 years later, I found myself back in that chapel, but heading on to new parts of my life.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“On Christmas Eve we’d go from our church, playing bells, to my grandparent’s house, where we sang hymns, and then to my grandparent’s church, where we’d all sit together.  There were so many family members, we filled up an entire row.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“The church where I grew up had a loud, booming preacher.  He would really get everybody’s attention.  I still remember him, when I get stressed out, passionately hollering, ‘SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE!”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“I think about the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. It makes me remember my days of rock climbing.  I think of rock climbing as so spiritual.  You get part of the way up there, and there’s no going back.  You just have to overcome the fear and keep moving.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“Here, at this church, the first time I ever went to a Taize service.  It was so calm and peaceful.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“On my college campus there was a door at the library that I’d never been through.  One day I opened the door and discovered this tiny little chapel.  Just a tiny narrow room with a high ceiling and half-pews.  There was a small window cut into the front wall, and light drifted down onto the altar.  It was this little place of awe in the midst of all the business going on around.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“For me, it’s a campground.  Spot #5 at Melvern lake.  Sometimes I’ll go there and do some work, and then take a break, and maybe swim, and just relax.  Lots of times there’s no one else around.  I’ve already told my kids that’s where I want my ashes sprinkled.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

110 “As a teenager, I was playing music for a Maundy Thursday service at my church.  I was up in the choir loft, playing, looking down as groups of 12 people at a time came into the sanctuary to experience the last supper.  I played these wonderful hymns, and cried as I watched.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“My grandparents had an old grove on their land.  It was where, for some reason, all of our old cars went to die.  There were 57 Chevy’s, T-Birds, all kinds of cool cars.  Me and my cousins would go out there and play hide and seek.  Other times, though, I’d go out there by myself, and read my Bible, and pray.”

What’s Your Sanctuary?

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“Listening to all of these, I feel like someone can worship God anywhere.  For me, I think of a time I was at a Promise Keeper’s rally at Arrowhead.  50,000 men all singing in the pouring rain.  I also think of this path down by the creek on my land, by myself.  And I think of a room full of people going through recovery together.”

Every one of these evoked in me a sense of awe.  Just like it says in Psalm 96:6

Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary

So that’s how a roomful of people at my church answered the question.

How about you?

What’s Your Sanctuary?

And have you made plans to spend some time there?

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

 

 

 

Seeing Double


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Today’s devotion comes largely courtesy of a cool post from themetapicture.com.

Click on the link below and you’ll get to look at pictures of famous landmarks — taken from two wildly different perspectives.

Take a look and then come back here!

http://themetapicture.com/famous-photos-from-a-different-angle/

Beautiful and fascinating, right?

(I love all of the images, although the Roman Pantheon shot through the doors of a McDonalds made me cringe.)

Wouldn’t it be cool to see everything with both kinds of perspective?

An up close, vivid shot, perfectly framed,
and a distant wide angle shot that sets things into their proper context?

Think about how much more accurately we would perceive the world around us.
As if one eye were a microscope and the other were a telescope!

We’d be much more in tune with the world around us, and our place in it.
We’d be equal parts subjective and objective.

Most of all, we’d perceive the beauty of life with much greater clarity.

It’s entirely possible to do this!

In fact, this is a gift given us through faith.

If we look at life through the lens of faith we develop a kind of double vision.

We tap into a spiritual kind of eyesight beyond our own physical seeing.
We learn to see through God’s eyes as well as our own.

Like any skill, faith-seeing is something we must develop.

We practice through prayer, centering, and desiring to be part of the Kingdom of God.
As we progress, we begin to see the Big Picture, the world as God may see it.

We begin to see how beauty extends beyond the end of our noses.
How each small piece of life connects with the other pieces.

Shadows become more 3-dimensional.  Colors become more diverse.  The scope of life widens.

Our definition of beauty deepens.

. . .

Seeing double is how we see beyond ourselves.  How we catch the vision for the whole of God’s Kingdom.

Seeing double is how we innovate, how we become spiritual entrepreneurs, how we know our task as disciples.

You can do this.  See for yourself.

All it takes is a little faith…

and a little perspective.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

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“COME AT ME!”

 

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I had a strange dream, night before last.

I was standing in my house, looking towards the guest bedroom down at the end of the hall.

The light was off, and I could just see the shadow of a chair in there. But there was something else.

Something evil.

I knew something was in that room.  Something invisible and dangerous.

And it was about to spring.

As this invisible evil thing rushed at me, I did the most surprising thing.

I planted my feet, stood my ground, and yelled, “COME AT ME! COME AT ME!”

And it did.

It was like 1000 volts of evil rushing through my body.  There was no avoiding it.

But I faced it head on.

And then Jan was shaking me awake.

I had called out “COME AT ME!” in my sleep.

You know, after you have a nightmare, that weird creeping feeling you get where you’re too scared to move, kind of frozen in place?

I didn’t feel that.

I woke up feeling an adrenaline rush.  I felt triumphant!

I had stared evil in the face, and lived to tell about it.

. . .

There are 11 times in the book of Deuteronomy that some version of the following phrase is uttered:

So you shall purge the evil from your midst”

Apparently, purging evil was a big deal back then.

Unfortunately, purging evil involved stoning people to death for things like being a stubborn son or committing adultery.

Hardly what we would call “hanging offenses”.

Our definition of evil might be different from folks back then, but I believe evil exists.

Most of the time, when I’m aware of evil, it’s been caused by human sinfulness.  Things like racism or poverty.

I don’t personally believe in a red horned, pitchfork-carrying guy named Satan, but I do believe that evil can take on a life and power of its own.

How have you encountered evil?

A person or group spewing hate?   Your own twisted thoughts?  A chaotic world?  A sudden, intense, negative feeling or emotion?

I’ve certainly experienced each of those.

Most of the time, when I catch a whiff of evil, I run away as fast as I can, like a kid running up the stairs from the scary basement.

Or, I’ll pretend like it doesn’t exist.  Do my best to put it out of my mind.  Focus on more wholesome thoughts.

. . .

But maybe there’s some value from standing to face evil head on.

To stare evil right in the eye and say,

“DO YOUR BEST, EVIL.  I’M NOT BUDGING.”

Now don’t get me wrong.  It will probably hurt like hell.

An encounter with evil can shake you to your roots.

But you are a child of God.

A child of Grace.

The same Grace that turned Jesus’ defeat into victory,

His crucifixion into resurrection.

. . .

Grace can purge evil in your life, too,

especially when you’re willing to face your demons head on.

We give evil more power when we turn in fear, or let it fester and mutate.

Try doing what Jesus did.

He never turned away.  Not even on the cross.

He held his arms out,

and stared evil in the eyes,

and I bet he even shouted,

“COME AT ME!”

 

Have a triumphant week,

 

Mitch

 

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