In the early 1990s, George Barna spoke at a gathering of ministry leaders sponsored by the International Bible Society. In his speech, he pointed out, to this group of people dedicated to getting the Bible into the hands of people, that easy access to well-translated Bibles isn’t enough. “Bibles are everywhere in this country,” he said, “but the research shows an alarming disconnection problem. People find the Bible to be a difficult book, don’t understand it, and in fact, are abandoning it in droves.”
In the audience was a man named Glenn Paauw. Right then and there he made a commitment: “I don’t know how long I’ll work here, but for as long as I do I will not be content to just sell or distribute Bibles. I am going to work on understanding this disconnection problem….thirty years from now I don’t want to hear the same story.”
That commitment turned into a book, Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read and Live the Bible Well. In it, he argues that at the heart of disconnection from the Bible is understanding, quite simply, how to read it. So, unsurprisingly, that book birthed a reader’s edition of the Bible, The Books of the Bible.
Which leads to why we are starting a sermon series called The Whole Story. In part, this series is further fruit from that talk in the early 1990s, and the burden God put on Glenn Paauw’s heart, along with my own. The majority of my life is bound up in a passion for the Bible, and by an extension, the God of the Bible. And now at forty-eight years old, I understand the disconnection problem between people and the Bible. And I agree with Glenn — a great deal of that is because we simply don’t know how to read and enjoy and revel in the story God tells in the Bible.
So on Sunday, January 7th, we will begin a year and a half exploration of the whole story of the whole Bible. We will savor it through single sermons unpacking whole books of the Bible. And we will see it is not, actually a difficult book. That it can be understood. And that it is worth our attention, meditation, and, lo and behold, our enjoyment! We will learn how to read it, and how to live it. And we will do so by God’s active involvement in the process through the gracious work of his Holy Spirit.
And all along the way we will celebrate the One whom the story is about, for the Bible is one big unified story that points us to Jesus.
Eager to begin the journey with you,
on behalf of the elders and pastors of Calvary
We are now making our way into the “Prophets Before the Exile” section of The Whole Story. I really like the way our Read Scripture plan breaks a bit here from the order of the books of the Old Testament in our common English translation of the bible. For the Read Scripture plan is more in line with how the story actually unfolded.
On Easter Sunday, the Calvary family got to witness God working in the lives of two men who publicly affirmed their faith through baptism. It was a joy to see!
As the Bible is an ancient text, it makes sense that much of it is a recording of history. But to respond by merely reading it as a textbook would be a mistake, for this is history written with a very particular purpose. Namely, it is a theological history — its authors, under the inspiration of God, make theological arguments by the way they tell the stories, and what they include in them.
King of My Heart (Samuel part two)
It’s a little hard to believe that we are already twelve sermons into our adventure through the Bible called The Whole Story. I have been very encouraged to hear from many of you how this pace of moving through the Scriptures week-by-week, book-by-book has helped you see things you’ve never seen before, and appreciate our Father and his Son, Jesus, so much more. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed preaching as much as I have this year, discovering how, as our friends at The Bible Project say it, “The Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.”
Eight Acts of Service on Easter
We’ve arrived once again to the glory of Holy Week. And as Easter Sunday draws closer, it is good to remind ourselves of ways we can bless those who don’t normally attend Calvary on this highest attended service of the year.
Samuel Part One
As Douglas Wilson has observed, these are fragile times. And when a nation finds itself in the kind of mess we find ourselves in, there is a kind of widespread longing for a leader who has the qualities, vision, and ability to show the way out. That makes sense. Who doesn’t want to find their way out of a mess? But it’s a dangerous spot to be in. It can leave one vulnerable to charlatans and pipe dreams.
Two weeks ago, we spent our Sunday morning gathering in the book of the Judges. It describes a time in the nation of Israel of great darkness, disobedience, destruction, and dystopia. It was a time, states the last sentence in the story, when “there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). It was very disturbing.