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
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.