Inherited Faith, My Bible, The Future


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitAs I close this series of posts I must revisit my childhood faith.

In reflection, just as assuredly as I inherited the color of my skin, my eye color and the rest of my physicals features, I inherited my faith.

Ok, I’ll admit my faith didn’t arrive through DNA but from parents, grandparents, extended family and my tribal church. It was acculturated into my soul.

inherit2My inherited faith came gift wrapped with rich blessings as well as barnacles that tightly grasped the ribbons and bow. In a fallen world that is how acquired faith is passed on.

In addition to their love and accurate teaching, my family and my tribal church held some misguided views they perceived as non-negotiable. Those views came from reading their Bible. As today, the influence of fellow interpreters wrongly shaped how they understood some rather important themes within Holy Scripture.

However, from my inherited faith, I received two huge gifts for which I will always be grateful. I was taught that my Bible was inspired by God and that I should read it as the guide for my walk. Second, I was taught to trust Father God.

inherit5Rooted in those two gifts my current faith grows in the soil of my soul. Inherited faith massaged over a lifetime was foundational to my adult faith. It is a faith I own and a faith the Holy wants to continue to grow in my soul.

It is the very two gifts received from my inherited faith that sustain my current walk. So today I read my Bible with concern for my own understanding and to grow my relationship to the Holy. I no longer read to prove others wrong or to boost my ego by declaration that I am right while others have it wrong.

It is from a consistent encounter with my Bible and the effort—as feeble as it may be—to apply its principles and teaching to my daily walk that I grow step by step in greater trust of God, Jesus and Spirit.

inherit14What about the future?

I find that the way I read my Bible has everything to do with my future.

As I move forward I think of at least seven guidelines I want printed on the lens of my glasses as I read:

1. I want to read my Bible with greater confidence. Confident that little by little the words of Holy Scripture will transform my life in small increments to reflect more Jesus in my walk.

2. I want to read with the realization that my Bible is a conversation between God and me. Our conversation is personal. I read to grow trust and to allow Him to form me and my heart for the next reality.

3. I want to read for service. My faith walk on earth will affect how I treat everyone who crosses my path. So, I want to read my Bible for insight into how I can be used by the Spirit for more effective witness.

inherit004. I want to read my Bible with full awareness that I still have an enormous need for growth. I find that I yet need major Spirit-filled help to see my patience fruit turn from tree-green to a ripe fruit of the Spirit. The over expectation of this baby boomer in an ill-trained public sector is a constant reminder of how far I have to grow.

5. I want to read my Bible with full consciousness of my Adamic-nature. I interpret that to mean I want to read to cultivate humility and more of a non-judgement spirit toward others. Even on my best days I am far from faultless performance. Which moves me to my next point.

6. I want to read my Bible with increased acceptance and expectation of the Holy’s cleansing grace on my behalf. Even after a lifetime, it is still hard to grasp fully that my salvation and daily forgiveness stands on the reality of what Jesus has done. It is a free gift given to me that thrilled heaven when I accepted it.

7. I want to read my Bible with anticipation of the final resurrection. It has never been closer. One of two thing will happen. The finish line of my earth-walk is not too distant. Either, I will cross and wait in timelessness the return of Jesus or He will break into our currently reality and culminate earth into Eternal Holy Presence.

inherit8Has any portion of your faith come by way of inheritance? If so, how does that color the way you read your Bible? Does your present Bible reading challenge both your inherited and your current faith?

What seven themes would you identify to shape how you will read your own Bible from this point forward? I would love to hear your insights.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Inherited Faith, My Bible, The Future

Gary@GodReflection.org        http://www.GodReflection.org    http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

My Bible Is True—But JESUS IS TRUTH


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitNext week I plan to bring this fourteen-post series to a close.

Thanks for reading along with me as I’ve attempted a preliminary look at factors that can cause me to see one of God’s children as an imposter; rather than as one who is in fact my holy sister or brother loved by our Father. We could just be reading our Bible from different perspectives.

When I look at my own church tribe—not to mention when I consider others that claim God as Father and Jesus as Lord—I see a wide variety of views, beliefs and definitions of doctrine.

Within my church heritage we gather to worship with different understandings of discipleship, roles of men and women in worship, heaven, hell, sacrifice and money, local church function and communion. Certainly not a complete list. How about a common view of John’s Revelation among us?

truth6If we were to place a random fifty of us in a room we could fill multiple whiteboards with lists of our own counter views drawn from our Bible. I dare say some of our differences would center on what we define as doctrine.

Yet, we hold in common the belief that our Bible is true. We believe that our Bible was designed, preserved and inspired by God.

What is it that could help us extend a greater portion of grace to each other?

I have come to believe that perhaps our search in scripture is for the wrong truth. Maybe we should first look for JESUS THE TRUTH.

truth7Is my truth search for procedure and for the purpose of building my own body of doctrine? Rather, shouldn’t I place at the forefront of my reading the one who assumed the very definition of truth?

Jesus declared—as a matter of fact—“I am the way and the Truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The entirety of the Old Testaments moves toward the introduction of Jesus Messiah. The Gospels record his life, death and resurrection, and the remainder of the New Testament his presence as THE TRUTH empowering the church.

With Christ at center stage of Holy Scripture shouldn’t He be the Truth lens through which I read my Bible?

I can trust Jesus to be true.

Now back to our differences in viewpoint drawn from our Bible.

truth14Were we to look first at Jesus, how can we then deal with such disagreements as the roles of men and women, worship, heaven, hell, sacrifice and giving, local church function and communion?

What if I explored Jesus’ example and instruction found in the Gospels? What is Jesus intent. What happens at each encounter? Is his attempt to teach something significant beyond the literal encounter that is a mere illustration of his point?

Is his concern really how I calendar communion or is his concern that I recognize the cleansing power of his body and blood on my behalf through the symbols of bread and wine? And from that recognition, I am to observe his symbols with consistency and humility.

Is it important to Jesus that I speculate on the specifics of heaven and hell? Isn’t his concern and intent that I set my focus on him and by so doing I will live with him eternally?

Isn’t the reality of eternal separation from the Holy the real deterrent of hell rather than how I might envision its hellish features?

truth1Last evening in a re-read of the late Henri Nowen’s book, In the Name of Jesus, I came across this passage that clearly expresses the core consideration of this post:

But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative (page 32).

If we will only listen to Jesus speak and grow more familiar with his life, priorities and the way he treated people, don’t you think JESUS THE TRUTH will give us more common ground as we read our Bible?

And, as we make the effort to grow in love with Jesus, I suspect our Bible will sound more and more alike. What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: My Bible Is True—But JESUS IS TRUTH

Gary@GodReflection.org    http://www.GodReflection.org       http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

The Great Interpreter Is God—Not Me


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitI live in a big city. Hidden in the city I miss the reminder of God’s grandeur. We city dwellers may find that concrete and bricks limit our daily visuals of All Powerful Creator God.

Day and night, I am either inside a house covered by ceiling or in the streets staring at pavement in an attempt to stay out of the pathway of a gazillion cars flying above speed limits and moving in my direction.

At this point in my walk I find much of my effort is spent on my deteriorating body. almighty7From my pavement focus while driving, to my downward gaze when I walk, my actions are careful to NOT speed up my demise. I try not to skin my knees and my nose by a fall nor end my time on earth in a wrecked automobile.

Often, I find when I read my Bible I am focused on a specific thought or a limited arena of concern. Far too often I read without a consideration of big picture God.

As I hunt and peck at the keys of my keyboard I think back to earlier years. Like a Power Point presentation, I see frames of sleeping bag nights in wait of sleep as I took in the vastness of God’s grand sky. The moon shown bright and stars filled the heavens in numbers too great to be counted.

almighty19Pictures flash before my mind of past views of high mountain ice-cold lakes in the Mountain Ranges of New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Andes of Argentina.

I see beloved images of the rugged vastness of New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert and the beauty of the tall pines in the Sacramento Mountains.

My Power Point continues to run through moments of awe at the enormity of Brazil’s Amazon, the power of her rivers, the beauty of the Pantanal and her exquisitely sculptured beaches.

almighty12Surely, God’s magnificence needs to also penetrate my Bible reading.

Ok, what’s my point?

When I look back over my Bible reading walk, I recognize that in earlier years my reading was anemic. My focus was upon how close I followed what I had learned from others. To be fair, I probably read more with brain than heart. I was more concern with my rightness than I was with relationship to the power source.

Yes, I did need to know God’s written word. Yes, I did want to honor it. But, with my eyes lock on city concrete I failed to see the larger grandeur of Jesus the Word. Perhaps I sought truth without awareness that Truth is Jesus since Jesus is Truth.

I was saved but I still believed Pluto was a real planet.

almighty13I learned and believed over my life that Pluto was a planet. It wasn’t until eleven years ago in 2006 that I learned I had believed wrong.

All because a bigger picture came into view and scientist reclassified Pluto. Still a heavenly wonder but little Pluto was removed from the planet list.

I must always read my Bible with an attitude of humility. I will arrive at some wrong interpretations because of my humanity. I suspect that is ok with the ONE who sees across all of the light years of the universe. He knows that my brain is limited in understanding.

almighty6What applies to me applies to others. It’s ok that we don’t read our Bibles alike. The same God that interprets the universe also sees my human ceiling, pavement and sidewalks.

He knows that far too often you and I read our Bible concerned with our present circumstances forgetting to trust the one who see the entire picture and is its perfect interpreter.

If God who is the final and Great Interpreter still accepts me when my limitations that cause me to understand many aspects of my Bible different from others; shouldn’t I allow Him to grant you the same grace when your understanding is different from my own?

And, shouldn’t I too open my heart valve and let some grace flow in your direction?

After all is said and done, all knowing and all-powerful God, who was before the beginning of time, is still the Great Interpreter—not me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: The Great Interpreter Is God—Not Me.

Gary@GodReflection.org       http://www.GodReflection.org    http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

 

 

My Bible Isn’t About Religion


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitReligion drains me. I am tired of religion. I wish it would go away.

We humans tend to create religion. We build systems of belief and interpretation based on our own opinions or acceptance of views from a previous generation.

Before I know what has happened I codify my beliefs and assume they are precisely what Jesus thinks.

religion8Then I begin to judge others relationship validity with the Holy based on whether or not they observe my belief system.

Religion tends to serve the movement rather than the Master. When I’m concerned with my religion I seek laws instead of Jesus’ heart. I can be committed to religion yet find myself far from the heart of Jesus. After a time, my religion can actually oppose Jesus’ values.

Pardon me for my momentary audacity, but may I say what I think Jesus would say should He address our churches?

religion15“Come on people, please wake up and stop the time and effort spent to build and protect your religion.”

I suspect the furthest thought from Jesus mind as he set out on his mission was to start a religion. He came to restore relationship between God and humanity.

As I read my Bible I see Jesus ready to challenge the builders of religion. His confrontation was always provoked by their allegiance to self-imposed rules rather than alignment with the heart of God.

Far more times than I like to admit I find myself among the crowd of the religious builders.

religion10One of the most obvious ways is when I find myself reading my Bible to find support for an idea that I have predetermined to be true or so want to be true.

Such behavior on my part lays another brick in the structure of religion.
To steer clear of participation as a religion builder I think of a few guidelines I want to follow:

1. I want to learn to read my Bible with one eye centered on religion19the page and my other eye focused on Jesus. At the heart of my Bible is the story of what Creator God has done and is doing through Jesus. Jesus is my link to the Holy. Everything in my Bible is to be interpreted through Jesus who mirrored Father God.

2. To avoid transformation into a religion builder I want to remember that my Bible is written for my own transformation and growth. Its purpose is not to support political policies or religious darts hurled at others.

3. I draw myself into the practice of religion when I start to seek Biblical support for a valued tradition or for something that I would like to see changed. The way I read my Bible can transform my traditions into my gospel, rather than the gospel of good news brought by Jesus.

religion174. I want to take care not to read my Bible to take proof texts and change them from their given context to justify my tribal practice.

5. When I read my Bible with the sole intent to make my views right and your interpretations wrong I act as a contractor of Religion.

What if I attempt to consistently read my Bible with the humility of a listener and the anticipation of a learner? Wouldn’t that act alone keep me from religious construction? Wouldn’t that act alone take the focus from me and place it on the Master Builder where it belongs?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Bible Is Not About Religion

Gary@GodReflection.org      http://www.GodReflection.org     http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

My Bible and Tribal Warfare


gary portraitGodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

It is the fault of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg.

In 1440, he invented the printing press with movable metal type. The fundamentals of his invention served until the late 20th century in making the printed page common as sand.

war14Once he finished the printing press and the movable type to go with it he immersed himself into the project that became his namesake—a printed Bible. Over the years of 1454 and 1455 Gutenberg printed 180 copies of what in now known as the Gutenberg Bible.

He could never have dreamed of the millions upon millions to be impacted—both by his invention and by his Bible.

war3Without a doubt, my favorite class in both my junior and senior years of high school was printing.

From a large type case, we learned to use movable metal type—much like Gutenberg. As the course progressed we move to the next step—the offset printing press.

Yes, this printing thing caught on.

Just three years ago Bible Societies distributed 34 million Bibles to nations of our globe. There are now more bibles than people in our 21st century world. This statement is somewhat misleading as multi-millions across the globe still lack some or all of the Bible in their own language.

Prior to Johannes Gutenberg the church determined doctrine and its priests read portions of the Bible to congregants. In a sense the priests held the Bible as private property confined within the walls of the church.

worldview9However, the printing press moved the Bible from the clergy to the people.

What was unheard of for thousands of years is today’s reality.

As a common citizen I own a complete copy of God’s Holy Word. I don’t have to depend on the clergy to tell me what their Bible says. I have my own copy.

I would argue that the new printing press sparked the growth of literacy. Add to that the internet phenomena of the 21st century and the Bible is set loose in the streets.

war17Just over sixty years after the Gutenberg Bible came off the press the young Martin Luther was teaching at the University of Wittenberg. As Luther read his Bible he identified 95 theses of misalignment between his Bible and his church.

Luther’s 95 theses nailed to the chapel doors on October 31, 1517 spread throughout Germany within two weeks and across Europe within two months.

war19The Protestant Reformation had begun.

Since Luther’s time millions of men and women have read their Bibles and drawn their own conclusions. From that reading we humans wired with conviction, pride and persuasion have created thousands upon thousands of church tribes.

Even those within the same tribe find their Bible reads differently from other adherents of the same group. Pew and pulpit fail to reach one hundred percent agreement.

war7At our worst tribes shoot at other tribes or we are at war with our own subtribes.

At our best, far too many of us practice “cold shoulder” recognition of other Christ followers who read their Bible differently and worship Father, Son and Spirit under a dissimilar church sign.

Perhaps a divided body isn’t all the fault of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg. We fail to realize that none of us are perfect readers and under every church sign is found imperfect interpretations.

Probably, from time to time I should raise a prayer of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for gifting Gutenberg with an inquisitive mind and the tenacity to create an open door for me to have my own Bible that I can read anytime day or night.

And maybe—just maybe—I should be less judgmental and allow others the grace to read their Bible different from me.

war20Possibly, I should treat those who worship under other church signs (who too are disciples of Jesus) as brothers and sisters since we claim the same Lord and Father.

Is it conceivable that God was behind a plan that would involve Gutenberg the German inventor, Luther, the German disciple, and the printing industry to open doors for millions to give their hearts to Father, Son and Spirit?

Perhaps we should lay down our offensive weapons and praise God for all who discover salvation in Jesus through the diverse ways they read their Bible.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Bible and Tribal Warfare

Gary@GodReflection.org   http://www.GodReflection.org   

http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Does My Gender Effect My Bible?


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

Gary 2015It didn’t take too many steps on God’s planet earth to discover that I didn’t understand the opposite sex.

Apparently, I am not the only one without a clue.

In 1992, John Gray’s book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus went viral with eventual sales of over 50 million copies. It’s easy to see that the book struck a nerve.

gender1Over the 286 pages Gray explores differences between males and females in the way they deal with emotions and ways they interpret the world and each other.

Here is what I think. (Excuse my generalities.)

We impose this same contrast of gender viewpoint when we read our Bible.

I don’t understand all of the “whys and wherefores” but I suggest women are more warm and sensitive than men. They just seem equipped for the mission of care and nurture—given they weren’t robbed of their compassion by evil-others.

gender4Their hearts must understand in greater depth the abundance of Bible accounts of women who placed their trust in the Holy.

I suspect my female counterparts read the Bible accounts of barren women of faith with an increased empathy that we males cannot generate.

As residents of a male dominated world and as members of a male dominated church, Christian women read Paul’s words from Ephesians three:

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

My guess is many women see in Paul’s summation greater freedom in Christ than their Christian brothers find comfortable.

grnder7Now for us males.

My observation is that men are more dominant and arrogant than their female counterparts.

Against opponents, males are “sock it to them” and “grind them into the ground” warriors. When men speak everyone must listen.

And so, we open our Bible.

If we are not careful, we guys tend to read our Bible with a spirit of dominance. From far too many of our pulpits and lecterns flow the male proclamations of “see it my way”.

Our Bible sets out to tell the story of God. That alone should call me to respect its incalculable depths. It would surprise every one of us if we could see the myriad of nuanced interpretations taken from our Bible due to gender viewpoints.

Could it be that we forget the Genesis 1:27 account where BOTH male and female were created in the image of God? Perhaps I need to remind myself that men and women are equal and designed by God to complement each other as The Holy’s Creation.

gender2What if I make it a point to listen more closely to the texture brought by feminine voices to enhance my own Biblical interpretation? I suspect my male-gender only viewpoint of my Bible results in less than a complete reading.

Rather than create division over what might at first seem to be a conflict of viewpoints, could it be that we need both gender viewpoints to gain a fuller insight into our Bible?

I would love to hear your own insights into the subject matter of this post—especially from the feminine voice.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Does My Gender Effect My Bible?

Gary@GodReflection.org     http://www.GodReflection.org    http://www.MakeYourVisionGoVital.com

Do My Feelings Cause Me to Read My Bible Differently?


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portrait4When it comes to self-deception we humans are at the top of our game. The “way I feel” fuels the ease with which I can deceive myself.

Unfortunately, there are times when I approach my Bible—fueled by preconceived feelings—in search of what I want to hear.

There are also occasions when I am faced with one of life’s intense challenges and my feelings color everything I do and read—even my Bible.

In some cases, my feelings generate questionable to wrong interpretations of anything I read—Bible included—while in other instances intense feelings may cause me to see more clearly.

feel3Why the difference?

We human types were wired perfectly by the Creator to feel at a Holy level. Humankind experienced perfection with the emotion of feeling. All was good.

Enters Satan.

He messed with God’s electrical work and here I am in Century 21 as I confront each day with multiple attempts to deal with Satan’s consequences.

So, I find my feelings flavored with my biases and the baggage I’ve accumulated over my life-walk and by my current season in life.

Since we are all scorched by the Satanic short-circuit, life’s circumstances cause each of us to approach our Bible with different feelings and with varied degrees of feel24intensity.

Those who encounter trauma, illness and loss often find comfort and insights that fail to appear in the same Bible of those who seem to walk in green meadows and sunshine. 

When my life faces intense stress, the burden of healthcare for a family member or encounters with the valley of death, my feelings associated with each experience shades what I discover in Holy Scripture.

What does all of this have to do with the way I read my Bible?

feel11There is a sense that my Bible was written just for me. Therefore, I should never be afraid to bring any and every emotion I have to the Holy Scripture.

 

Since God understands me better than I understand myself His love for me stands firm no matter how my feelings influence what I take away from my open Bible.

Regardless of the diverse feelings I bring to my Bible, my responsibility remains the same–to seek the heart of the Holy and to demonstrate that very same heart to every person I deal with throughout my day. 

feel8At the same time, I hope to learn to become more tolerant with what others discover in their own Bible as they bring their own ever-changing feelings to its pages. 

Any chance we might all be more tolerant of each other as together we worship and serve the God who lovingly embraces us even with all of our weakness that we express through our feelings? 

 

Stay tuned. 

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Do My Feelings Cause Me to Read my Bible Differently?

 

Gary@GodReflection.org   

www.GodReflection.org   www.MakeYourVisionGoVital.com