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
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.