Tag Archive for Bible

Reflection on Psalm 1

O Father, how blessed and wonderful are
Your words to us!
Through them You freely share
Your deeds,
Your ways,
Your character, and
Your heart.

As I read, meditate, and pray over them,
You fill my mind and heart with Yourself,
O magnificent Father!
As I turn to You and
trust You day by day,
Your unbounded life courses through me and
keeps me fruitful and alive in You.
Without You, I am chaff –
dry,
lifeless,
worthless,
temporary,
quickly driven away by the winds of time.

With You and
in You
I am nourished by Your Spirit.
I am known and loved
as Your child.

Praise to You, my Father!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Psalm 1
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The Word of God

You are sure to have a Bible at hand. Pick it up.
Do you know what a treasure You are holding?

God’s Word is creative, bringing life and beauty out of nothing (Genesis 1).
God’s Word is perfect, pure, and more precious than gold (Psalm 19).
God’s Word is unimaginably powerful:

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders…
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic…
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
(Psalm 29:3-4, 9, NIV)

God’s Word will be creative, life-giving, precious, and powerful
within you as You read it and trust it.

For thousands of years people have argued about the Bible’s accuracy.
Its teachings clash with our desires.
Its wisdom challenges our understandings.
Its principles sometimes seem to conflict with the world’s latest version of the truth.

But as every other source of “truth” quickly goes out-of-date,
God’s Word continues to speak.
Person after person, generation after generation finds it
beautiful,
pure,
life-giving, and
consistently, completely reliable.
They find it true and satisfying mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
As on the first day of creation, when God speaks, our world is filled with light.

Treasure God’s Word.
Treasure it enough to
read it, trust it,
share it, and live by it. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Word of the Lord
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I Come Seeking You

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
(Psalm 119:105, NIV)

It’s easy to read the Bible merely out of habit, without any thought of why we’re reading or what we’re looking for.

God has prompted me to pray briefly before reading, in order to center my thoughts, my search, and my need on Him.

As I read, I look to Him for understanding. I need Him to meet me and speak to me.

More than specific information, I need to gain His mind, His perspective on my life. I need to know Him.

That’s why I read. I come seeking Him.

Jesus, as I read,
I come seeking You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Come Seeking You
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Can We Reasonably Trust the Bible?

Can we trust everything the Bible says?
Does it contain any errors?
Can a book that is so thoroughly human in its origins reasonably claim to be completely and timelessly accurate?
We claim that it is inspired by God, but does that make it any more accurate than all the other writings that God has, in some sense, inspired?

Without pretending to give complete answers to these questions, let me share these thoughts.

First, I find it meaningful to look to Jesus Christ. John 1 refers to Him as the Word – that is, the Word of God. He also was fully human in every way, yet fully divine. His thoughts, His words, and His life were uniquely, beautifully, flawlessly true.

If we affirm that the Bible is the Word of God, we find confidence that it also can be uniquely, beautifully, flawlessly true. Just as He was one perfect, human-but-divine life among many righteous-but-flawed lives, so we can reasonably believe that the Bible is one perfectly inspired, human-but-divine book among many inspired-but-flawed books.

The perfection of the Bible is thus driven by the same energy that drove the life of Christ: God’s loving desire to be fully known by His people.

We also must take seriously what the Bible says repeatedly about itself, or at least portions of itself:

  • Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB). 
  • All Scripture is inspired [margin: God-breathed] (2 Timothy 3:16, NASB).
  • The law of the Lord is perfect…sure…right…pure…clean…true (Psalm 19:7-9, NASB).
  • The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times (Psalm 12:6, NASB).

I trust the Bible because:

  • Both history and experience have proven it to be completely reliable.
  • Its perfect truthfulness is in keeping with the perfect truthfulness of the life of Christ.
  • Both the written Word of God and the living Word of God flow from the God of perfect wisdom, power, and love who longs to be fully known and understood by His people.

I trust the written record God has given us because I trust Him.

The Power of Influence: Dr. Morris Weigelt

In mid-June, 1975, my wife, my one-year-old son, and I moved to Kansas City, Missouri, so that I could begin my new job as music editor for Lillenas Publishing Company. We immediately began attending a little church in the suburbs, Grandview Church of the Nazarene. That same week, Dr. Morris Weigelt moved to KC to take up his appointment as Professor of New Testament at Nazarene Theological Seminary. He and his family started attending Grandview Church as well.

His influence on me began as I simply heard him preach and teach. Though I had grown up in the church, he opened for me a whole new dimension in Bible teaching. He laid open God’s Word in greater depth than I had ever imagined possible. He taught with warmth, practical relevance, and a sense of bubbling fascination. His considerable intellect was blended with a spirit that was passionate and contagious.

So imagine my surprise when in 1977, he came to me and asked me to team-teach an adult Sunday School class with him. Each Sunday morning for three years we sat side by side on stools and together taught a Bible lesson to a room full of adults. Our only coordination was a brief phone conversation on Saturday night to set general direction. Otherwise, the back and forth between us was completely unscripted. The format was his idea.

Tell me, why would a Bible scholar and expert teacher in the prime of his career approach a 27-year-old kid with such a proposal? I had never taught the Bible to adults—I had never even considered it before he approached me. But I’ve never stopped teaching the Bible since, both in person and in writing.

He has continued to be a guide, mentor, and encourager to me over the years. For more of his wise counsel, see Saturate Yourself with the Truth and Don’t Pick the Fruit Too Soon.

Most importantly, Morris’ example turned me on to creative communication of biblical truth. That passion is still alive and well in me and burns behind everything I do. He showed me that God’s Word could be taught with greater depth, warmth, and relevance than I had ever dreamed.

The Lord turned my life toward doing that same thing through hymns. Congregational music can be much more than a temporary emotional experience. The truth about Jesus Christ demands that it be more. Hymns can help nurture our eternal relationship with the Living God.

Dr. Morris Weigelt helped open my eyes to this possibility, and I thank the Lord God for his influence in my life. The Lord has used him to help me fulfill His calling.

A Love Letter

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
(Psalm 119:97, NIV)

Why do I find the Bible so intriguing?
Why do I never tire of reading it,
though many see it only as so much history and poetry—
dry, strange, and irrelevant?

Because I read it as a love letter from You to me, Lord God.
It speaks to me about You in all Your mystery.
It shows me how You work and react.
It expresses Your love for me on every page.
It tells me how my life can be blessed by You.

Thus I find Your Word encouraging, enlightening, and heartwarming.
I find it satisfying mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Every time I read it, I hear more of Your passion.
I grasp more of Your amazing plan for us.

Lord, how wonderful it is to learn of You!

Saturate Yourself with the Truth

To nurture your creativity and your life in Christ, be a passionate, lifelong student of the Bible.

When I was in my late twenties, my mentor, Dr. Morris Weigelt, gave me a line paraphrased from Henry David Thoreau*:

Saturate yourself with the truth,
and the truth will exhale from you naturally.

That statement stuck with me, and it has proven so very true. God’s Word is the truth about reality. But more importantly, it helps us know God as a Living Being. You’ve probably experienced how rewarding it can be to get to know a human being, whether a spouse or a close friend. The process for getting to know God is very similar, but infinitely more fascinating and rewarding.

Realize that everything He does is aimed at one goal: to share Himself with us. Son and Spirit, creation and redemption, need and abundance, life here and hereafter, His entire agenda is to give Himself to us and draw us into Him. He wants you to know Him.

Simply cooperate with His loving desire for you. Seek Him for His own sake, not for your own ends. Marinate your mind in Him and in His Word, and He will reshape not only your thoughts, but your imagination, your heart, and the person you are in your daily life. Remember the old saying:

Sow a thought, reap an act.
Sow an act, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Psalm 119 is a wonderful meditation on this very idea. For years as I regularly read through the Psalms, I dreaded coming to Psalm 119. It seemed to drone on and on, saying the same thing over and over again. But as my heart grew to sincerely desire God’s Word, the Psalm became precious to me:

I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.

I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free.

Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.

Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.

(Psalm 119:14, 18, 32, 36, 111, NIV)

Saturating myself in God’s Word has proven vital, not only in the big picture of life, but in my daily writing as well. When I’m writing a hymn, for example, I don’t laboriously go through my research notes and try to construct every idea into verse. Instead, it’s more like eating. I ingest the food. I take in the truths until they are personally, emotionally meaningful to me. I saturate myself. Then through processes I can’t see or fully control, the words are born.

Communicators, creators, believers, saturate yourself with the truth. Then experience the amazing and varied ways God causes that truth to exhale through you.

 

*For the full context, see The Journal of Henry D. Thoreau, Autumn, Nov. 1, 1851.

The Bible

I love the Bible. I’m passionate about it! There are many other books I enjoy and find stimulating (C.S. Lewis is my favorite author), but none compare to the Bible. It is satisfying intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. It has depth. It has a powerful clarity, yet a richness and mystery that have to be tasted and experienced.

One of the reasons we should read books written in other ages is that they expand our perspective and challenge our presuppositions. One author wrote that the chains that bind us the most are the ones we feel the least. Writers from other ages help us feel those ideas that chain us, and perhaps lead us to throw off a few.

But the Bible is the one book that rises above the limited perspective of every age. For that reason, it sometimes seems hopelessly out-of-step. In our arrogance, we call it naïve and unenlightened. We patronize it as we would a doddering old man who stubbornly clings to the “old ways”. We fearfully battle each other over the term “inerrancy”. But for me, forget the labels. I trust the Bible. I trust it completely. It speaks, I listen. It’s that simple.

If you want to know the Living God better, read the Bible. It shows Him interacting with people over a period of 1500 years or more. All kinds of personalities, cultures, and situations, but one unchanging God. He treats individuals individually, but He’s always consistent with Himself.

The Bible will enflame your love for Him. It will embolden your trust in Him. It will nourish your creativity like nothing else can.

In an age of relativity, marinate your mind in unchanging truth. Anchor yourself in an unchanging God.

Listen…and sing if you want!

The Word of the Lord

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