Mike this is a great challenge. Lately I have been sensing my church of 30 years is just a glorified Country Club. Yes they use the Bible still, but worship is mostly from a “professional band”, and very often sing just the Hillsong or Bethel praise lines. No flashing light yet; but I have avoided the 5 o’clock service. Focus is two fold…1)how do you serve (which is great idea), but it’s mostly cultural context community service with very little gospel sown in; 2)pay your dues and I mean $$$, annual pledges, offering, (luckily no seed sowing), but almost constant reminders to give more or we are behind budget, Never teaching verse by verse through whole books, mostly just topical preaching, where luckily at least one pastor still teaches though most of the verses in the passage they are using as a source text. It could be much worse.
Anything spiritually oriented is focused on the teaching of some popular leader or writer/teacher….outside the church. And you know the issues they can have. Or lately, even worst…they invited a group in to run paid classes at our church on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Aspects of spiritual formation have long been in the background of the church since the days of Richard Foster. But this is wide in the open, though I doubt many are attending.
The tiny reformation doctrine class I’ve been leading is never promoted, surprisingly none of the pastors, elders or deacons have every attended. And in the years I’ve been leading it we probably have only trained a handful of church members and none of the leaders, though the WCF is primary text affirmed in addition to the Bible.
Anyway I’d love to lead a study of the mediations of Calvin or Knox or even John Gill or John Bunyan….they don’t have to be Presbyterian…Henry Blackaby, or the Celtic cult or Lectio Divina would more likely appeal to them. I just can’t go there.
On the good side the Church does encourage everyone though to be in their Bibles daily, Satan tries to knock that off our schedule. We will be coming up to a new year quickly, 2020 would be a good time to renew a commitment to read through the Bible, lots of good ways to do that. Or pick up an old way. About 5 years ago I actually, switched to the KJV, few would consider that, but I actually found benefits in the way they translated the Greek and Hebrew words. I see echos of major themes like righteousness and judgment regularity flowing through the text. And for me even reading the old English words they used in the 1600’s engages my mind to think about what is being said. I actually don’t find it distracting. The small Reformed Church I some times visit when I need a break from the Country Club teaches from the NKJV. I came to the Lord via the RSV, NIV, NASB and ESV and you can check my highlights in those versions….I didn’t wear them out but on a scale I think they would weigh more than when published. Of course that can happen just by them collecting dust on the shelf also!
Any of the good translations are useful, if they are read. But I appreciate you encouraging us to go beyond just reading, that is a challenge!
“I’m talking about getting into the Word of God, praying and worshipping Him. Fast and pray whenever possible.”
It only happens if we make it a priority.
by Mike Ratliff
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 (NASB)
God’s truth is knowable. Also, His truth is as His attributes and character. He is immutable. His truth is never changing. He is Holy. His truth is Holy, separate from the corruption of the world. His truth, the Word of God, is precise. It supernaturally divides man’s “truth”…
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