Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nine ways to study the bible

1.     Textual – Read the words for knowledge
2.     Historical – Compare historical significance
3.     Literary -  Prose and poetry
4.     Exegetical – word study what do the words mean in the original language.
5.     Theological – Do the study of God in the scriptures
6.     Devotional – Spiritual inspiration
7.     Theme – Ideas in different books of the bible
8.     Topical – Study by Subject matter

9.     Biographical -  Study the people of the bible

Friday, August 16, 2013

Worship Attendance ???

As a youth in Lamesa, Texas I remember attending First Christian Church every Sunday. That was a time when church attendance was high as that is what you did on Sunday morning. Most of our membership was in worship on any given Sunday. Today church attendance has declined all across America. Even the very large congregations only have about fifty percent in attendance.

There are a lot of reasons for this decline in average attendance. For one in the fifties and sixties nothing else was happening on Sunday morning or Wednesday night. Nothing was planned because no one would attend as we were all at church. Today soccer practice is held on Sunday morning and kids and parents skip worship for that. Lots of other choices are offered on Sunday morning and many just choose to sleep in. You can forget about Wednesday night as many congregations have given up trying to have worship on that night. The culture we live in has changed and church is not the only game in town.

In an interesting way those who do attend worship are there because they really want to be in worship. It is an important event in their lives to gather with others to worship God. There is a significant value that comes with consciously choosing God over all the glitz of our modern culture. It is not just what you do on Sunday morning as it was in the fifties but a gathering of people who love God and remember what God has done for them. The core of the church can be stronger because of their commitment.

It has been noted that in many congregations older people make up most of the congregation. Perhaps that is true because when you reach a certain age you begin to realize that the day of accounting is getting closer and it is time to cram for your final exam. This is really true for all of us because young or old we never know when that day will come. Where are you when worship hour is on for your church?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Making the Bible into an Idol

A few days ago I was talking with a man about the Bible and talked about the process for choosing which books went into the Bible we have now.  He almost put his fingers in his ears! He actually said to me; “God gave us the Bible exactly as it is in the King James Authorized Bible. How can you preach the Word of God if you don’t believe that?” He did not want to hear anything else. His faith is so weak that any change in his preconceptions would shatter it.

It is scandalous for Christians if we remain content about our own ignorance and understanding of the Bible. This includes the history of how the Bible came to us and the movement of people in the Holy Land. The more I learn and understand about the scriptures the more powerful they become for me. This even includes all the human frailties that produced it. We must understand that God did not dictate word for word the Bible we have today.

For well over two thousand years over forty-four authors told their stores about their relationship with God. Some of it was passed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next before it was written down. When it was written it was in at least three different languages and has been translated into hundreds.

To accept what that man believes about the Bible is to make an idol out of the book.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Super Saint

One of the problems with being a retired preacher is that when I listen to sermons by other preachers I can get distracted by thoughts of others ways I could have preached on that scripture. I also hear a word or phrase in the sermon that has me thinking about its meaning. Today Pastor Mike was preaching about the prodigal son from Luke. So I was really distracted and it is so hard to preach on such a familiar parable and give it a new twist. There are so many themes in that story and I have preached most of them over the years.

Today Pastor Mike honed in on the oldest son who claimed to be the perfect son who worked so hard and never disobeyed. Mike referred to him as a “Super Saint” and that set my mind to racing. I have known a lot of super saints in the churches I have served.  One was Molly a formidable woman who wielded a lot of power behind the scenes in the congregation. She would often tout the fact that she never sinned.

One Sunday the scripture was from I John1:10
“If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”

I read that scripture several times during the sermon and Molly was fit to be tied. Her husband almost died laughing. Molly quit saying that she never sinned and for a long time she was not too happy with me. Her husband on the other hand was very happy.

Until today I had not thought of Molly the super saint in a long time.