Thursday, September 27, 2012

When we talk to God

God, Jesus, Bible
When a child goes away to college or gets married and moves out of their parents home, the need for communication does not stop.  Parents always want and need to hear from their children about how things are going and if  Mom and Dad can help.  We are God’s children and this also applies to our relationship with Him.  God wants to hear from us everyday.  The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing.

Unfortunately our lives move so quickly that many of our prayers are simply cries for help: help me get through this traffic light, let me get this raise, make the rain stop so we can barbeque.  God does help us, but frequently He sees a bigger picture that helps us even more.  Remember Jesus words as He prepared for the cross, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Luke 22:42

I have included a poem by Frances R. Havergal that I believe makes a wonderful prayer when we can’t think of what else to say.
“Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.  Amen.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Learn More Than You Thought You Could

Bible study word search
I am wondering how many people are out there like me, who endure Bible studies rather than anxiously look forward to them each week.  At least in the Bible studies I have attended over the years it seems that the leader, whether pastor or lay person, does and says pretty much the same thing week after week.  A Bible passage is selected, the leader tells the story, explains it and asks for comments.  A few people, usually men, may respond but very seldom does any real dialogue happen.  Then everyone leaves telling themselves they have learned something, even though they have repeated that same Bible passage in the same way many times.

I have found a Bible study that I am truly excited about.  It can be used alone or for some really energetic dialogue with a small group.  Titled “Bible Word Search” and written by Charles Christopher Martin it presents a very new way to approach Bible study.

Instead of focusing on a Bible passage and studying that passage in depth, Mr. Martin chooses a topic and researches that topic.  Let’s choose one of the topics, “Characteristics of a Believer”.  The reader is given a list of Bible passages to look at and find a word or words in each passage that identifies the characteristics of a believer.  I must insert here that I found characteristics I didn’t know existed.  These new ideas invite discussion, because some will agree, some will be amazed they never saw that before, and some will question the new idea.

After this list is compiled the reader can then take it to a word search grid and do a normal word search, just for fun.  There is a small Bible dictionary included, just in case someone encounters a word they do not recognize and of course, the usual answer key.

I found this to be a much more exciting way of approaching Bible study.  Too often we get into a rut and do things the same way time and time again.  In using this approach one notices ideas and concepts that are looked over when doing Bible study in the traditional way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why We Experience Evil

When the earth was new it was God's intention that all people and animals should live together in peace and harmony with God.  This meant that no one would ever experience pain or cruelty.  God created a special place called the Garden of Eden where his children and animals were to live.  There were many trees in the garden, including two that were very special; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.  God also placed Adam and eve and all the animals in the garden.  Adam and Eve recognized God and spoke to Him and He spoke to them  Everything was perfect.  Adam and Eve were allowed to eat the fruit from all of the trees except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.

Evil must have existed outside of the garden, because one day a serpent came to Eve.  He challenged her to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He told her that God knew that if she ate this fruit she would be just like God and know the difference between good and evil.  Eve wanted to be wise and so she ate some of the fruit and gave some to Adam.  He also ate the fruit.

When God realized that Adam and Eve had disobeyed him and that they now knew the difference between good and evil, He became worried that they would eat from the tree of life and live forever.  To prevent this from happening God clothed Adam and Eve and sent them away from the Garden of Eden.  They were now separated from God and experienced the evil that they now knew existed.

Churches often refer to this as original sin.  This story explains how people today came to experience all of the hardship that exists.  For further information about this story go to your Bible and read Genesis 3.

Some people say that this story has to be fiction.  There was nothing written down until thousands of years after the story took place.  Everything was by word of mouth, which, over time, can become confused.  This is true, however, this story can be found in many other cultures, not just Christianity.  The names are different but the content is the same.  We know from our legal system that the more witnesses that agree about what they saw, the more credible the story becomes.  The same is true here.  The fact that many cultures record the same story says that it must be correct.  Many witnesses saying the same thing mean it's true.  Check it out.