Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Archive for the category “Bible”

God’s Word, The Beacon Of Truth

Dear children,

The Bible is not a book suitable for fools, for it is the fool who approaches this work of works with the premise already set in his heart that the claimed author doesn’t exist. You must make up your mind about this your own self, but as you make up your mind, do so only after you’ve made up your mind about your own existence.

For one, you exist in time. One of the most profound passages in the Bible is God answering the question put to Him by Moses, “Who shall I say sent me”? The two words “I Am” was his answer, and this is our creator’s signature to His magnificent work. I was told of this passage before I read it, and it put me into an immediate state of awe and wonder. “I am” speaks of existence, but not only of existence, but an existence as it relates to time and space, or perhaps better put, to an existence from the perspective that is outside of both.

It is difficult to think outside of one’s own perspective. I am a westerner now living in the early twenty first century. My mind interprets all things from that perspective. And while I might manage to capture and confine a few of the influences bearing on me from the perspective of my 21st century western experience, I’m convinced that it is a hopeless endeavor to escape the myriad influences sufficiently to evaluate myself and my world from any other perspective. I can never say, “I am”. I can only say that “I am here and now”. Indeed my own history as late as yesterday is already fading from my grasp, and tomorrow is completely unknown.

Yet still, I am aware of a history that preceded even my own existence, but even the study of that is limited by my perspective and made more hazy by the perspectives of those who witnessed it and played their part in conducting it to the present. It is clear to me that man can never “be” in the same sense that the “I am” is. Man is a blind fool wandering around in the annuls of time, seeing his own short history of existence in the light of a dim flickering lamp that creates long shadows which hide truths. And he is completely blind as it regards his future. He is led about by a ring in his nose, that ring being his fleshy desires.

As a result of such contemplations of “time” you will inevitably be led to your origins. On this matter the Bible and your culture are not compatible. Pay no mind to anyone who attempts to reconcile evolution and scripture. If it be concluded for you that your existence is the result of evolution, then reject God and accept the consequences of that faith. But if it be concluded in your heart that the faith required to be an evolutionist is beyond your ability to reason, then reject it. Your father lacks the required faith to believe the tenets of evolution. It is an easier task for this feeble mind to see the “I Am” as the author of man’s existence, and so by extension your father’s existence. Still, I understand those who put their faith in a system of knowledge that denies the a coming day of judgement wherein an account will be required. Man generally prefers to see the world as he wishes it to be rather than how it really is. But know this, in the whole of it reality dangles precariously for any of us on the tiny thread of that portion of the total of truth which we hold to be true.

On the second matter, you exist in space. That is to say that you exist on a slab of land on a planet in a gravitational relationship with two heavenly bodies, all three of which are spinning and churning through the cold nothingness we call space. But more importantly than this, you exist in another sort of place that is multifaceted. You live in a family, a community, a region, a culture and a nation. And just as well, if you are in Christ, and He is in you, you live within a global community of believers who together make up the body of Christ. It is these facets that exert themselves onto your existence. They pull and push you this way and that. In fact the Bible calls it being “blown this way and that by every wind of doctrine.” Without some sort of stabilizing force in your life you will have no recourse but to look inwardly for direction, and in so doing subjecting yourself to feelings and the prevailing thought patterns in which you find yourself emmersed.

God’s word is the only answer for such chronological and spatial disorientation. It is a beacon on the horizon by which you can fix your position in time and space according to the great “I Am”. You will not be lost, your direction and purpose will be sure, and you will endure the course set before you, which, though not beaten, certainly not untrodden by former witnesses either.

I pray that God’s Word would become a lamp unto your feet, a beacon of hope, and a comfort in your trials.  I pray that you would hear and trust the promises of God and that you would set your face like flint in the direction that God has marked for you to go. I pray that you would not falter, that you would rise up as a mighty warrior in Christ’s army, and that where I have failed and fallen, you will succeed. May you in the end hear those blessed words, “Well done my good and faithful servant”. I desire nothing for you more than this.

Your father.

False Freedoms And Freedom Indeed

Dear children,

You will hear words like “liberty” and “freedom” bandied about.  But these words more times than not are sorely misunderstood in this age.  They imply something that is impossible, which is that man can be free.  But man is not free.  Life itself binds us.  So we are left to choose one set of freedoms over others, all of them coming with their own set of snares and constraints.

Kris Kristofferson penned the now famous words, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” some years ago, and yes, the freedom he was referring to is a kind of freedom.  Having nothing to lose, nothing to claim as your own, nobody to love, or to love you, or no material possessions that can be used as leverage to control you does provide for a sort of freedom.  A homeless panhandler, for example, might have that kind of freedom.  What can anyone do to him?  But he’s not free to go home, or to know the joy of providing for a family, just to name a couple of the things he’s not free to do.

Marxism offers a concept of freedom for others.  This is the freedom that comes with being a ward of someone or something much more powerful than one’s self.  So big all-encompassing governments are empowered and charged with making sure that all have food, clothes and shelter, and that no one has more material wealth than anyone else.  In short they are charged with making everything fair.  But in order to achieve such a world heavy handed laws must be enacted and enforced with an iron fist.  Man is then freed from the necessity of effort.  He need not apply himself to anything, for doing so will reap him nothing more or less in return.  For many this is a coveted freedom.  Those who long for this freedom are easily recognized because they worship an ideological concept: equality.  But with all the words spoken, and the millions murdered in order to achieve such “freedom”, no equality has ever been achieved,  only misery, poverty and captivity.

For some hedonism is liberty.  Our bodies want to sleep, be comfortable, and most of all to experience pleasure.  But to run after these things without constraint is self destructive.  Our bodies, or as the Bible puts it, our flesh, is by its nature self destructive.  It can never be satisfied.  It can never get enough of what it craves constantly.   At some point our bodies want to sedate themselves with drugs and alcohol, to take away the pain brought on by self destruction, which causes even more self destruction.  It’s a downward spiral.  Yes, there is a freedom in casting off all restraint, but in the end it leads to death.

For others still, lots of money is freedom.  They cast off the restraint of slothfulness that the body attempts to impose, and they work really hard in hopes of great reward.  They are then free to have nice things.  But they are not free to be satisfied with those nice things, or to stay home from work.

There are so many freedoms that we can go chasing after.  But in the end there is no freedom.  In the end we will live out what Solomon called, “vanity of vanities”.

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun? ” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 )

All freedoms have merit.  Who doesn’t want to be comfortable?  Who desires to toil day and night only to be exploited by the lords of the market place?  Who wants to be poor?  But all of these “freedoms” involve submission to masters, none of which are righteous.  But there is a righteous master to whom we can submit.  His name is Jesus.  And He is a ruler, make no mistake about that.

The Bible tells us that this ruler came to set the captives free.  This ruler tells us that in Him there is freedom to be found.  And when we find that freedom, we will be free indeed.  So the question is, what is this freedom that Jesus offers?  To answer, why don’t we first take the scriptures on their face value.  They too tell us that we are not “free”.

I’ll show you two examples.

In the first one Jesus asks us to throw off the heavy yoke.  We must understand that that word, “yoke” is a word that points to a master to whom our will must bend.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus is pointing to a freedom here, but not freedom in the sense that man normally thinks of it.  He is not saying that we are able to cast off everything that constrains, for that would be impossible in this fallen world.  He offers us an exchange.  Beware therefore of anyone who ever implies total freedom, for such does not exist, and an awful snare awaits those who believe such things.

The second passage points to another kind of master, the shepheard:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  (John 10:21)

Jesus is our shepherd, which means He is our authority.  We are free to graze in His pastor, but we are not free to graze wherever our flesh demands.  But Jesus does speak of freedom, and even a “freedom indeed”.  So what is that freedom?  If Jesus came to “set the captives free”, then what are we captive to?  The answer is “sin”.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (Jn 8:35-36)

Jesus here is in a discourse on the subject of slavery.  Those who opposed him were claiming to be free.  They rejected Jesus’ assertion that they were in fact slaves.  But the slavery of which Jesus spoke was worse than simply being a slave to an earthly master.  One might hope to eventually break such bonds as those.  But no man can break the bonds of sin.  He is a slave to it for life except that he surrender to the good master, his very creator, who alone has the keys to unlock those chains.

Dear children, I would that you not go chasing after the things of this world which make empty promises, but that you would chase after your Heavenly Father.  It is my desire for you that you seek the face of God, and that eternity would ever be in your sights.  I pray that you would put Jesus’ yoke on you, and that you would answer to His commands so that you might experience joy in this life that cannot be taken away or stolen by circumstances.  I pray that you would fix your eyes, not on what is seen but on what is unseen, for what is seen with your eyes is all temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal; they will not pass away!

In our hearts, we want freedom.  And I pray for you dear children that you would find the kind of freedom that will make you free indeed, that we may enjoy it forever.  Amen.

Your father.

God Is Love, And Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Dear children

You, being human beings, have a propensity to see what you want to see, and to not see what you don’t want to see.  We all have this fault to one degree or another.  I know I do.  The singer Paul Simon wrote a popular song many years ago with the lyrics: “All lies and jests, Still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”  I think Paul got this one right.  But also, like most of our faults, we can more easily see this in others than in ourselves.  But see it in ourselves we must, by looking beyond our assumptions to find truth; which is easier said than done.  In fact, much more than that, we must ask God, indeed earnestly beseech Him, to show us truth.

So why do I say such things?  We, being human, also have a propensity to see God the way we want to see Him, and to disregard those things about Him that we don’t want to see.  We in fact must resist turning the God of the scriptures into a god of our own making.  We’d sure rather have a god that we don’t need to fear more so than one that strikes fear in us.  But our desires don’t dictate reality.  If the Bible says over and over again that we ought to fear God, ignoring all those verses by misinterpreting one verse that would, on the surface, seem to suggest that we need not fear God, would not be wise; as in, “The-fear-of- the-Lord-is-the-beginning-of-wisdom” not wise.  (Prov 9:10)

To help us ignore most of what the Bible tells us about fearing God, there is a go-to verse that we often hear quoted.  “Perfect love casts out fear”.  Here is the passage from which it is taken in its entirety:

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1st John 4)

This raises a couple of questions.  First, are we suppose to fear God or not?  Second, why do we need to fear a loving God?

The answer is yes, we are supposed to fear God.  And second, yes, we need to fear Him because He is Loving.  We fear Him, not because of His love, but because of our lack of it, as this passage beautifully points out.  So let us look more closely.

As it turns out, the Bible has a lot to say about love and fear.  The word Love is mentioned often in the Bible, and more often than not–actually most often–it refers to us loving God, and us loving our fellow man.  Read the passage above and you’ll see a microcosm of how the word “love” is used throughout the entire Bible.  Out of all the times it’s used, only one is a proclamation of God’s love for those who are His.( verse 10)

Also, in a passage like this with such a rich emphasis on love, it would behoove us to understand what is meant by that word.  That, in itself, will be a life long project for you.  Grasping the love of God is no small feat.  But this passage gives us a good hint, as is similar to most others that proclaim God’s love.  Right next to the proclamation of God’s love for us is an allusion to the cross.  (…and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.)  It is a rare thing actually to see God’s love proclaimed in the New Testament without an allusion to the cross nearby.

So, if we can look past our biases and assumptions we can see that this passage is about two things: 1)our love for God, 2) and mainly, our love for our fellow man.  But key to understanding the point I’m trying to make using this passage is the word “perfect”, for that word has caused many a soul to set this verse against what the entire rest of the Bible teaches.  In verse 12 we see the first use of the word “perfect, which has to do with our love for others brought about by His love abiding in us.  The second use (perfected) is in verse 17, and again it refers to our love, not Gods.  And in the next verse we see it (perfected) for the third time.  “Perfect love casts out fear“.  After the semicolon the same point is restated, “…whoever fears has not been perfected in love”.  The “whoever”, by the way, is not referring to God, but us.  So this ought to raise a question.  Do you love God perfectly?  Are you perfected in love?  If you can answer yes, then you need not fear God, and the entire rest of the Bible can be ignored by you because you have already been perfected.  I, on the other hand, still fear God, and until I am removed from this sinful body, and stand before the judgement seat of Christ clothed in His righteousness, I don’t see that changing.

In the end, pulling a Bible verse from the context of the rest of the Bible, and then using it for the purpose of–in the words of Paul Simon–disregarding the rest,  is unwise.  If you study this passage you will see that it is in complete agreement with the rest of scripture’s command to fear God, so we should, therefore, fear God.  We ought not, by the command of scripture, create a god in our minds that need not be feared.

I pray for you my dear children, that you would understand who God is, and that you would love and fear him, for that is right.  I pray that you would worship Him in spirit and truth, the true Him, and not a made-up version of Him that you find more appealing.  May our Father in heaven bring this about in your minds and hearts as you grow in revelation and love for your Father and Savior.

Your father

 

Legalism, God’s Law, And Confusion

Dear children,

I do so desire that confusion not plague your lives in Christ.  And one thing that seems to have wrought a fair amount of confusion in this current age is a misunderstanding of legalism.  The confusion revolving around legalism is twofold and  involves both an increasingly doctrine-adverse Church and a culture that is becoming thoroughly intolerant of moral absolutes.  Each seems to feed off the other as God’s law becomes ever increasingly hated in the culture and shunned within church congregations and among their leaders under the guise of avoiding legalism.  And while legalism is a bad thing, the definition of it is being turned on its head with the effect of more and more people in and out of the Church living according to what is right in their own eyes.  To point to God’s Word and suggest that God has a law designed to restrain evil is now met with charges of legalism.  But it’s not legalism.  God has already determined what is right and wrong, so we don’t get to now change that.  Also, appealing to God’s law to determine right from wrong, and legalism are two different things.

So first let us start with my first premise by pointing to a fundamental doctrine.  Good doctrine, by the way, helps us to steer clear of error and confusion so it’s always a good starting point when confronting confusion.  So, in order to work through reconciling “God’s law” with “God’s grace” let us start with the doctrine of “God’s sovereignty” which teaches that there is absolutely nothing that man can do to save himself.  Legalism, on the other hand says that there is not only something that man can do, but there is something he must do, to be saved.  But the Bible does not teach that no more than it teaches that grace is a licence to abandon God’s law.  The doctrine of God’s sovereignty teaches that our salvation is totally God’s doing.   Paul gave us the reason for this.  It was so that “no man may boast”.

So to help us think through this let us ponder a little question.  “Why should God let you into heaven when you die”?  The answer to that question cannot use the word “I”, not even once, because to use the word “I” means that did something.  And if did something, even a tiny little itty bitty thing, then have reason to boast before my fellow man and before God.  And God will not have that.  If the evangelist knocks on your door, for example, and presents the Gospel to you, and you understand it and repent, and after he leaves your house he goes to your neighbor’s house and presents him with the same message, and he rejects it, what is the difference between you and your neighbor?  Were you smarter than him?  Wiser?  More open-minded?  If so, you have a reason to boast.  But scripture is clear that  no man has reason to boast.  This truth is our starting point for everything.  Our salvation is a work of God, begun while we were still living in rebellion.

Secondly, it only stands to reason that if there was anything at all, no matter how small, that you could do to receive the Gospel, then there is also something that you could do to lose the Gospel.  Again, not possible.  It is by God’s will that you are saved, and not by your own will, not even a molecule-sized piece of it.  So if there is nothing you could have done to gain your salvation, then there is no law that you could break once you’re saved to lose your salvation.  So three things to consider here: 1) To earn your salvation through your own works is legalism. 2) To keep your salvation through obeying God’s law is also legalism. 3) God’s law still exists.

Even though we know that no righteousness on our part can earn us salvation, it’s still a good thing to desire to live righteously, and the Bible teaches as much.  And to desire to live righteously requires a desire to know what righteousness is.  That knowledge comes from God’s law, without which righteousness would become subjective and worldly.  It would simply mean doing what is right in our own eyes.  We are experiencing that all around in this age.  Keep in mind also that any righteousness we attain comes from the indwelling Spirit of Christ, which is a free gift from God.  It is not you, but Christ in you.  We can thank God for that, and indeed thankfulness and praise is the only appropriate response.

You need to make peace with the fact that you will never keep the law. It can no more be done than being the perfect child, or the perfect father.  But the desire to be good children, or good parents, is not thwarted by our failures, nor does it change the fact that we are children and parents.

For now I love you and I am praying that you will continue to fix your eyes on Jesus, casting off every sin that entangles you, and running with perseverance the race before you.

Your father

Love God

Dear children

I  can sum up every thing I want to say to you in these letters by simply repeating the greatest command: Love God.  Those two words, as simple as they are on the surface, will require your entire life to unpack, and perhaps even an eternity for all I know.  So here are a few things to think about concerning this simple challenge.

1. Don’t get things turned around.  Jesus said if you love me you will follow my commandments.  Some get this turned around and hear “you love me because you follow my commandments”.  Love God first, then following God’s commandments will flow from the Spirit.  If you simply attempt to will yourself to follow rules and rudiments, splitting hairs on what you can do in order to not cross a line into what you can’t, then you will be acting in the flesh.  Studying the law in order to live a hair’s width inside of it is not loving God, and it doesn’t lead to following God’s commands either.  When this is your mindset, you are not keeping the greatest commandment.

2. Pray.  Ask God to put in your heart ever more love for Him.  Loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength is not a natural thing, and so we are not, in our fleshy selves, inclined to do it.  Loving God is a spiritual thing, and God is capable of giving  you love for himself based on His grace.  Once you love Him, living your life free from sin will be easier, though not easy.  But don’t let the “not easy” dissuade you.  No direction that you take in your life will be an easy one, even if you decide to reject God and live in rebellion.  If it looks easy, or it promises ease, you can know that Satan is involved somewhere.

3. Read the scriptures.  As God, by His grace, puts a love for Himself in your heart, you will also love the scriptures.  As you love the scriptures you will find that they will increasingly become an anchor for you in a world that seems bent on going mad.  You will find, as your knowledge of God through the scriptures increases, that your Biblical worldview will at the same time grow stronger.  This will make you wise beyond your years, and it will guide you in avoiding much anguish and many tears, though not all anguish and tears.

4. Fight.  Paul, an apostle, and the one who physically penned much of the New Testament, said at the end of his life “I have fought the good fight”.  The love of God is worth fighting for, and your foe will be your own self and your carnal desires which lead to death.  What ever it takes therefor dear children, fight the good fight and love God.

5. Choose friends wisely.  They will help you fight the good fight, and you will help them.  The love of God is contagious.  Time spent among a body of believers that loves God will encourage you to love God all the more, and you will likewise encourage others.  But those in your inner circle will in many ways determine who you become.  Choose friends who challenge you, in how they live, and who also love you enough to challenge you personally by holding you accountable.

6. Be discerning.  As you know, I love doctrine.  I think doctrine is important to the extreme.  But I don’t like doctrine worship.  I am not drawn to those whose love for God has grown cold, but they can cite doctrine like a lawyer.  More likely than not, however, in this current culture you will encounter the other side of that extreme.  There are those who know a few verses, which by themselves can appeal to the man-centered heart, but who are otherwise ignorant of God and His Word.  You will know these because they will be repulsed by the teaching of doctrine and drawn to emotional experiences.  The love of self in these is confused with the love of God.  God is “loved” because He sees “what a special person I am, and He promises to give me lots of stuff and heal me when I am sick.”  Often these people’s lives will be in a perpetual state of turmoil because they lack discernment and wisdom because they lack proper doctrine.

7. Love others.  Everyone, you will find, is living somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes.  Do the best you can to love them all and to help them where they are weak as they help you.  Pray to your Father in Heaven and ask Him to give you discernment.  You will need it!

8.  And finally, seek to understand deeply the meaning of that word “love”.  It does not mean what this world says it means.  Search the scriptures so that you might gain clarity concerning this word.

Your mother and I remind each other daily of our number one desire for you.  It is a desire that surpasses every other  including your education and how well you make it in your life financially, both of which are prevailing idols of this age.  We desire more than anything else that you would love God with all of your heart mind soul and strength.  We have desired it also for ourselves and before we were even married set that goal, as much as we were able, as the foundation of what our lives would be about.  As you have noticed, we have failed, but the goal is still there.  Pray for us dear children as we pray for you that indeed our God would become the love of our lives in ever deeper ways.

Your father

 

 

Surviving Spiritual Vertigo

Dear children

When I was training to be a pilot one of the things I had to learn was to fly the airplane by sole reference to instruments.  It was difficult for me to imagine, before experiencing it, the sensation of it not being readily apparent which way is up.  But inside of a cloud, with the way that forces are exerted, it can be impossible to know that very thing.  When you first enter it is easy.  But that easiness is short lived as your orientation quickly becomes confused.  You find yourself staring at your instruments because there is no helpful information outside the window.  The only life saving information available is those six little gauges.

Instrument panel

This is all well and good, but then you begin to develop a phenomenon known as vertigo as your inner sensations begin to disagree with what your instruments are telling you.  Couple that with a fear instilled into you in a training program that revolves around recognizing bad instruments so that an instrument failure will not cost you your life, and the fear is very real and intense.

So there you are, alone in a cloud, you can’t trust your senses, and on top of that you are skeptical of your instruments too as your life hangs in the balance.  Your heart races.  You are fighting panic.  You realize that your life depends on thinking straight, ignoring your feelings and crosschecking your instruments.  Yes, these are the sensations in the beginning, but that all changes as experience is gained.  With the passing of time vertigo became a novelty for me; a thing to experience with amusement, but which is now easily ignored.

I have found that these truths concerning instrument flying have easily transfer over to my spiritual life.  As a young Christian I loved my new life.  But then I would hear things that would threaten my new beliefs.  I can remember watching a television show on PBS about the Bible.  It, of course, was from a secular humanist’s perspective, and it almost shipwrecked my faith as a new believer.  There were also questions that I would encounter, specifically designed in hell for someone with a not-so-renewed mind.  All of these gave me that same feeling spiritually as vertigo gave me physically… not knowing which way was up.

You will discover, if you indeed have a reference point, that the culture you are living in is spinning out of control.  The “pilots” have destroyed their instruments and are flying by “the seat of their pants”, doing what “seems right to them” (Pr 14:12) at the time.  Their reference point is the inside of their “airplane”, that is, the airplane could be up side down, and they are satisfied that “up” is toward the ceiling.  But you don’t have to live that way.  The scriptures tell us that “His word is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path“.  But we must trust His word; trust it with our very lives, and as if eternity itself were hanging in the balance, because it is.  I can tell you that it won’t always be easy, especially in your young lives.  But I can also tell you that the older you get, the more everything will make sense, and “flying” by the scriptures will easily deliver you safely to your destination.

I pray that you learn to love the scriptures, and that you would trust them.  I also pray that you would grow up into maturity that easily sees right through the nonsense that is currently passing itself off as wisdom, and that you would teach your own children from their youngest years to do the same.

Your father.

How To Read Your Bible

Dear Children,

Here is a list of ways that I read my Bible.  I’ve written them as a lists of Do’s and Don’ts, but please don’t confuse that with the rules of interpreting your Bible.  That would be hermeneutics, and hermeneutics is not different for different people.  Even though I have them listed as do’s and don’ts, it would probably be better stated as: “I suggest that you…”, and “I suggest that you not…”.

Do’s

Make it a goal to read your entire Bible.  Once you have read it, make it a goal to read the entire thing again in time.

Ask God to reveal Himself to you before you read.

Pick a book, any book.  Try to grasp the book as a whole.  Ask yourself what is the overarching message or theme of the book or what is the central message that God is telling His people? Is there a theme?

Once you’ve gotten a better feel for that book, consider it in the context of the rest of the Bible.  How does it fit?  How does it complement the Bible in its entirety?

Divide your time between the Old and New Testaments by perhaps alternating between OT and NT books.  You will note that Jesus, in the Gospels, and also the Apostles, referred to the Old Testament and so should you.

Keep in mind, when you are reading the New Testament that it was written to people who did not have a “New Testament” Bible to study.

Read the Bible in the same way as you would take a leisurely drive down a country road, with lots of time to kill.  When you see an interesting looking barn, feel free to pull over and admire it and/or study it, or whatever.  Camp out there for a while even.  Take some pictures.  Try to draw pictures of it when you get home.  In the same way, as you are reading your Bibles, feel free to stop when you see something that grabs your attention.  Ask your Father in Heaven questions about it.  Read it over a few times to get the jest of it in your mind so you can continue to meditate on it during the day, or days ahead.  Study its context, both locally and globally; that is to say, consider how it fits in the rest of the book, and how it fits in the rest of the Bible?  Dig deep.  God may very well be teaching you.  Keep it in mind as you continue to read.

Try to have a good quality Bible that you will keep for many years.  Prefer, if you can, to read from that Bible.  While you may not remember exactly where that “old barn” was, you will remember that it was, say, on the top right side of the left hand page.  This will make it easier for you to find the places that you have stopped to “take a look”.

Make marks in your Bible if you want to.  Write notes to yourself, and cross references.

Memorize, memorize, memorize, word for word, verses, chapters, even books, as much as you possibly can.

Learn your Bible brick by brick.  If you look at a brick wall it would seem silly to note that the top layer of bricks would not be up there if the bottom layer of bricks were not down there holding them up. The same can be said about things you learn while reading your Bible. Some things that you might have “driven right past without notice” before may be brought to your attention later.  It might well be that that passage you read without noticing, or without understanding yesterday, will help you to understand the one you have in your hand today.  Isaiah had this to say about such things:

Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.”
(Isa 28:9-10)

Don’ts

Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought.  Sometimes it may be that you feel that you have discovered something in your Bible that no one else has ever discovered.  Be very careful!!  This book has been poured over by great minds for 2000 years.  In that 2000 years there have been countless heresies and cults, both on large and small scales, that were started with a “new revelation”.  What we learn should be very similar to what others throughout the 2000 year history of the church have learned.  God is directing and superintending His Son’s bride, and He is big enough for the task.  His bride is the goal.  The Word is for her washing, so you, my children, be washed by the water of His word.

Don’t read your Bible in search of proof texts.  That is not reading your Bible.  That is forging for ammo.  The world is at war with God.  Many of the world’s warriors go by the name “Christian” in these doctrine starved days.  You may find yourself looking for particular scriptures to defend the faith against such, but that is not “Bible reading”.  Be careful!

Don’t judge God as you read, but rather let His words judge you.  Don’t skip over passages that bother you.  In fact, I would suggest spending some time and prayer on those passages in particular.   However, if you have to, feel free to set such passages aside for a time.  Perhaps they are bricks meant for a higher place on the wall than the layer that you are laying now.  I, for many years, hated Romans 9.  I had to pretend that it was not in my Bible for those years because it made me question the goodness of God.  Yet one day I realized that I am a mere sinful  man who was judging my creator according to my own standards, which are corrupt.  In time I have grown to love that passage.

Don’t feel as if you must fit your Bible reading plan into a wooden structure.  If it helps, then by all means do.  The goal is to get God’s Word into your heart and mind.  It must be your foundation.  It must be the lense through which you see and interpret your world and experiences.

Don’t build on the sand.  Spend a few minutes before you read in reflection.  Consider the bigness of God.  Can Jehovah speak a billion universes into existence?  Can he ensure that the words you are reading have come to you, not by the hand of man, but by His loving providence?  Is he subject to what man thinks he knows?   Is He big enough to send a delusion?

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  (2 Thess 2:9-12)

Don’t think yourself stronger than God, and so strong in fact that you will outwit him should He decide that you are one of the ones who will receive His delusion.  Pray instead that your Father in Heaven will have mercy on you.  Pray that often.  Be humble before your God!

I pray, dear children, that God would have mercy on you, as I pray that he would have mercy on me also.  I even now am praying that He would have mercy on your wife and husband should he give you the days to marry.  I pray that he would have mercy on your children, and your children’s children, and I pray that He would give you the wisdom to pray likewise.

Your father

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