One of the questions last night was: "Do you really believe the Bible is the Word of God?" All of the students in the group answered yes. An answer we pretty much expected (even if not everyone actually believes that). Then one of the students asked: "Why do you believe that?" Silence.
It's a good question. One that anyone who calls themselves a follower must address and answer. Why do you believe that? Unfortunately, no one in the group really had any kind of an answer. I'm not sure that they had been challenged like that before. To really think, and defend why they believe certain things isn't something most people deal with.
1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Scripture clearly tells us that we need to be ready to talk about such difficult questions. Why do we believe this or that? What about this or that? No one is saying that we have to have all the answers, but we should be reading/studying His Word to get a better understanding of what it is we believe/follow.
If we are called to Follow Christ, to be His disciples then we must know what He taught and how He lived. The only way to do that is to be in the Word. To read daily and to read communally in the larger body of believers. Not only having "quiet times" but getting together with other followers to read and talk through Scriptures. It wouldn't hurt to have some people not of our faith push us too!
My prayer for our students and families is that we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through His word, that we allow it to change who we are, that we realize that it is living and active, and that we begin to live it out. And the ONLY way to do so, is to be IN the word.
So the question remains: "Why do you believe the Bible is God's Word?" What's your answer?
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I look at the church and I notice something amazing... I see a whole generation of followers that realize that their faith isn't tied to a building. Their faith isn't something that rests on a Sunday morning service, a Bible study, or a worship style. It rests in the fact that their faith propels them to take action locally and globally. They see that if they are following Jesus, they must take the words of Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 4:18-21 seriously. One is very much tied into the idea that serving those on the outside of society is intertwined with our faith and even salvation and the other is Jesus claiming a passage in Isaiah. Both speak to serving the poor and disadvantaged. Scripture screams that we must not love with just words, but with action and in truth. The book of James even says that faith without action is dead!
I see people serving the homeless in St. Louis, driving to New Orleans to rebuild homes, spending weeks in Haiti at medical clinics, and serving at summer camps for the underprivileged. And that's just from people at my home church, that doesn't include the many other churches that send thousands of people all over the place!
I believe that when the Church sees the fact that our faith is tied to the "least of these" that we'll see an awakening like nothing ever witnessed. That when we realize that our brothers and sisters are suffering, it's our call to either ease that suffering or willfully participate in that suffering with them.
Last night, our students saw that they are called to serve. They saw that they are called to be different. They are called to love the least.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Last night we had a prayer/worship service for our teens. We spent an hour praising and praying to our Creator. We went through eight different stations dealing with things from self image to lying to over indulgence to vanity. At each station, we were challenged to take a scoop of sand from a bucket if we struggled with that thing. After a while, our bags began to grow heavy. Our struggles and sins began to become a physical burden to carry. Our eyes were opened to the fact that we carry way too much in our lives. That in the hustle and bustle of trying to do Christianity, we have forgotten what it mean to BE a follower.
We spent some time just listening. Waiting.
Then we left the bags, filled w/ our struggles, in a pile at the front of the room. Does that mean we won't struggle with those things? Hardly. In fact, we might struggle more. The point of the whole night was to not go through some feeble exercise, naively thinking it was really taking our struggles away. No, more importantly, we took the time to listen.
We see in 1 Kings 19, that God speaks to Elijah while he was in a dark place in his life. God tells Elijah to come out of the cave he's hiding in, because the Lord was going to pass by. It says that a wind tore through, but that God wasn't in that. Next an earthquake, but God wasn't in that either. And last a fire came, but God wasn't there as well. Then, a gentle whisper. In Scripture all of these natural occurrences can be seen as a precursor to the coming of God. But not here. That fact has tremendous importance to us.
So what's the lesson that God spoke in a gentle whisper and not the miraculous or spectacular? That when God speaks to us, more often than not, He speaks to His people. Reformations, and awakenings all at the hearing of that gentle whisper.
In the passage above, it says that when Elijah heard it he covered his face and went out to see the Lord. It might take a while for us to hear that whisper. We might have to take some time to look over our lives, to get rid of some clutter to hear him, but when we do hear it- how will we respond?
I would challenge you to take a moment right now, to go somewhere quiet and listen. You never know what you might hear.