Reflections of 2017

A year ago I set out to blog through the Bible again, this time with an emphasis on deeper understanding and a desire to leave a legacy for my girls. It started when I was looking at some material I had sitting around: the Old Testament Challenge. That seemed like enough structure to get started, so the journey began. At some point in the year I invited you to join in the adventure, to read along with me, and walk through Scripture together.

I know it’s kinda weird publishing a journal in public. Yes, there are things I might say if this were written completely in private, but we are not islands, we are a community of believers. We are doing life together, making mistakes and holding onto each other as we work our way through pain and sorrow, joy and excitement.

After reading A.D. 30 and A.D. 33 by Ted Dekker, I walked away with a fresh perspective on studying the Bible. Dekker’s portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth in these books helped me rethink how I approach Scripture. In 2018, I hope to publish a video that evokes the imagery I started to write about in Why Study the Bible? It’s important to read and study, to learn about our heritage, mistakes made, successes achieved, to discern the voice of God, but the Bible is not to be idolized and worshipped. It really is the highlight reel, enough words to help us make the leap of faith.

The Bible gives us a set of core principles and beliefs, a common lexicon. Without it, we would all be starting our own religions–something The Tempter would love! I’m absolutely NOT advocating we avoid Bible studies, far from it! I’m merely suggesting we look at why and how we study the Bible.

Jesus did not say, go lock yourself in academic halls and study the scrolls. What He did say was to go and make disciples.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

I hope 2018 will reinvigorate your Bible study approach, that it would infect those around you, those you are discipling and others who are just curious!

My approach to the church is changing as well. For years I’ve looked for a place to gather on Sundays to celebrate the joy and struggles of the previous week of working in the fields, trying to advance the Gospel, helping the poor, etc. For the most part, church has become the focus of the week. Church staffs around this country invest most of their efforts on the Sunday production because, “this Sunday could be that Sunday” for someone. That Sunday when the people come to hear words that bring them to redemption. I hope that happens, truly I do, but to spread the thought that you come to a building at a prescribed time in order to be saved is ridiculous.

Our lives should be centered on making disciples, of being Christ to all we meet, and teaching others to do the same. When we do that, the Sunday gathering will become a wonderful celebration of kindred spirits, of brothers and sisters coming together to embrace, to laugh, to cry, to sing unrestrained, to hear a message, to share communion, to pray for each other. Sunday’s might not be so organized and polished because we would be too busy during the week meeting with others to talk about Jesus, to bear each others burdens, praying with our neighbors, having coffee on a whim, or taking kids to school for a friend. Our pretty production schedules might just get messed up when Sunday is not the focus of the week, but the Gospel might get preached by every minister, every believer, everyone, if we stopped insisting that Sunday was the focal point.

In 2018, please join me in praying that we become the church Jesus intended for us to become. As Healthy Growing Churches and Healthy Growing Leaders embraces those who’ve been given a vision, I pray we will spur on others to make a difference for Christ and for His church.

The 139 Collaborative begins in 2018. We’re still building the structure, but the foundation is on Psalm 139, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. We will praise God through serving others in many ways. It’ll be messy as two creatives work together to love on our community, but it is our prayer that it will be helpful to Anderson, South Carolina as a place to start. What happens beyond that is completely a God-thing. Our focus is here at home. Nothing too lofty. We will remember Psalm 131. Pray for insightful music, challenging videos, thought-provoking writing, and mostly that disciples would be multiplied in 2018 through this collaborative.

Thanks for joining me on the journey. I hope and pray that some words were useful.

We’re not done yet! Not too surprising, but I found that I can’t just fly through the Bible on a schedule. In 2018, we’ll finish blogging through the Bible, then who knows, maybe we’ll just start again!

Rest in peace 2017.

Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself.

–dave

 

 

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