You and I Read Our Bible Differently


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguaruja“I didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday,” was the way an old elder friend often led into words of wisdom he was about to express.

Since I’ve never seen a turnip truck—much less fallen from one—I’m not sure I completely understand the origin and the complete meaning of his expression. I think that was his way to state what seemed obvious to him.

different4As I begin this series of blog posts I feel as if this is a treatment of the obvious. My Bible doesn’t read like yours. You and I read our Bible differently.

It doesn’t take an overabundance of brain cells to observe the fact that the body of Christ is split into thousands upon thousands of tribal churches. And, within each church exist countless divisions.

I hear all sorts of what seems to me to be unreal explanations. Like one I’ve heard most of my life expressed in one form or another: “If only a reader was honest, she or he could correctly read their Bible the way I read mine.”

Although, I’ve observed—to my mind—some rather screwy interpretations of Scripture, I have to believe a lack of basic honesty is not the problem across the body of Christ.

different8In this set of posts, I want to explore the effect that worldview, background,  church traditions, Bible exposure, feelings, religion, tribal warfare and expectations have upon how each of us encounter Holy Scripture.

Is it possible that the way God divinely and uniquely wired every one of us, when mixed with our imperfections as descendants of the Eden fall, make it impossible to see everything alike—even our Bibles?

Since I’m not wired like you why should I spend time and word count on the obvious?

It is because the heart of Jesus expressed time and again His desire that WE ALL love God and each other. Being the human that I am, I find it is far too easy to withhold love from someone who disagrees with me or does not see Scripture the exact same way I do.

different11If we can’t seem to see things alike then what do I hope to accomplish by highlighting our differences?

It is my hope that a look at the differences we bring to our Bibles will help us grow in unity with the Savior and with each other.

If I can better understand why God’s children read Holy Scripture differently I might just see that a sibling in the Lord is not wrong in their interpretation of the Bible; but their different6unique perspective comes through the use of a valid lens that helps them gain greater eyesight to walk with the risen Christ.

I believe the Bible to be true and the inspired word of God. Yet, I know the infallible Bible is always read by fallible men and women.

Isn’t it more important to follow Jesus—The Truth—in faith and trust then it is to demand from each other a unified interpretation of all sixty-six of the books and letters that make up the thirty-one thousand one hundred three verses of our Bibles?

different9There is an attitude I want to cultivate throughout this series of posts in hopes that it will spill over into my life. It comes from a contrast greater than I can possibly imagine.

It is my affirmation that I am a flawed, limited human being with only a speck of a brain when compared to perfect and unlimited God.

In light of my own humanness, shouldn’t I be willing to give a fellow Christ follower a break when our Bibles don’t seem to read the same?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: You and I Read our Bibles Differently

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

http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

I Believe What You Believe


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret on Unity

garyguarujaI would sometime joke when asked how to raise funds for a Non-Profit Organization: “It’s easy just begin by telling a prospective donor, ‘I believe what you believe.’” Obviously, a person of integrity would never make such an assumption nor believe such an outlandish declaration.

Because each human being is wired and gifted by the Creator as a one-of-a- kind creation and is formed differently through years of unique experiences no two people believe exactly alike.

unity3So how is it possible to live in unity with another person who cannot mirror my belief system—much less attempt unity with millions of individuals who claim to follow a man called Jesus? Especially, when each one differs in the details of the life and worship of a Christ follower.

In Jesus’ last garden prayer, he prayed for the unity of all believers:

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one . . . I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:11&23)

In one sense his prayer was answered, in another sense it was not.

unity17His church stands unified in belief of Creator God. We share unity in our affirmation that Jesus is the Christ.

The church is in agreement that Jesus is the only means of salvation and we his disciples are his ambassadors to all the earth.

The church is united on belief in the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus and the hope found only in him.

Should I take the time and the space to do so, I’m sure I could compile a rather long list to demonstrate the unity and “oneness” we now experience as a fulfillment of Jesus’ John chapter seventeen prayer.

unity26However, we sin when we divide his body into rival church tribes, apply the war paint and throw spears and Satanic missiles at other Christ followers.

When I catch myself in this posture I stand as a roadblock to Jesus’ prayer.

It concerns me when I find myself as a participant in disunity through my own likes, dislikes and prejudices. I am ashamed when I promote a lack of Christ-like behavior by a commitment to my own unbiblical opinions.

unity22I would like to think I am making progress in being less of a disharmonizing person.

It continues to be an enigma to me how on the one hand I know we are all wired differently and think differently and then on the other hand expect others to embrace my opinions as their own.

Could it be that one purpose God has for our walk on earth is to help us gain wisdom in failures; and gain joy in our successes when we see Jesus’ garden prayer being fulfilled in small ways?

Could it be that a primary purpose of my walk on earth is to learn how to, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) so that I can look forward to my next life when unity is the natural Holy-state of all eternity?

unity8I have a current role within God’s revealed secret of His desire for unity. I am to LEARN and to LEAN on His Spirit to be a man of peace.

In my struggle to do so, I am to share with my fellow travelers the secret of peace and unity found in Jesus. A secret learned and expressed through compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

And, all of that because He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and unity16blameless in his sight . . . God did what He had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan He had already decided to complete by means of Christ.

This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head (Ephesians 1).

And, Jesus’ garden prayer will be answered in full.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret of Unity

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

By Faith We Bless and Worship


GodReflection: Faith Certainties

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff (Hebrews 11:21).

garyguarujaThis is a year when I’ve thought a lot about the older folks who “leaned on the top of their staff” as God received their worship and I their blessing.

Were they still on their earth walk the four people who most spoke into my formative years would respectively be celebrating their 97th, 99th, 126th, and 141st birthdays.

staff0They all lived by faith.

What a little word to describe the world’s richest treasure.

Faith incorporates both worship and blessing. For out of the fountain of faith God is worshipped and others are blessed.

Yes, faith is a small word.

Perhaps there is no other word in the English Language that carries such significance. Within faith is the story of God. Inside faith boundaries live Father, Son and Spirit. Within faith is the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Christ. 

certain2Faith includes creation, restoration, the new and eternal heaven and earth. The truth of God’s forgiveness and saving grace fit squarely within the faith.

The totality of Jesus’ instruction and the fruit of the Spirit are all encompassed within faith. Jesus return to judge the world and to care eternally for His brothers and sisters who have placed their walk under the Lordship of the Holy will come about within the faith.

It is almost too good to be true to imagine that through Jesus I can hold faith in common with Jacob. It is a rich image to envision Jacob as he blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

staff2

In stark contrast, rather than blessing others, I find very little in current 21st century North American society that is not stained heavily with influences from the “me generation” promoted and marketed through cultural noise.

 

The thought for the good of others and care of “one another” is rather difficult to find outside of God’s reign.

Perhaps selfish Jacob of youth who grows into the Jacob who blesses is a story I need to examine anew. staff3Jacob’s leaning on his staff to bless and worship powered by faith should grab my attention and emulation. 

It was because of his confidence and assurance fed by faith that Jacob had a blessing to give.

It was because of his confidence and assurance fed by faith that Jacob could only respond to God by worship.

Jacob trusted God to carry out the blessing he bequeathed upon his two grandsons.

staff4So here I am on the last stretch of my life’s trail.

Through the years I trust that my faith has morphed with confidence and assurance to the point where leaning on my staff as I worship Creator God is more of a 24/7 lifestyle than a “Sundays Only” appointment.

The story reminds me how much I need to consciously and actively ask the question of who am I allowing God to bless through me as I lean on the top of my cane? 

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells 

A GodReflection on By Faith We Bless and Worship

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

By Faith We Please God


GodReflection: Faith Certainties

And without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

garyguarujaHe is God and even among the voices that shout around Him, there is not one that will take away His supremacy as King of all kings and Ruler of all rulers.

So this post is not a campaign on His behalf. God doesn’t need my vote.

It is rather a rehearsal, a review, or a personal reflection on what I understand pleasing faith to mean for my walk through life. I am sure that my definition of faith has grown over seven decades of life.

It is a rather drastic declaration made by the Hebrew writer to state, without faith it is impossible to please God,” as he begins his chapter eleven list of eighteen people known to history. It is even more sobering to read that he also includes a summery description of pleasing faith demonstrate by the unknown others of whom “the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11: 38).

In admiration I read the description of the not worthy:

. . . quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; tortured . . . faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about . . . destitute, persecuted and mistreated—living in caves and in holes in the ground.

Thankfully—and hopefully—I don’t have to duplicate their practically unfathomable experiences to possess faith that pleases God.

However, for me my attempt to express pleasing faith is as follows:

confident-aBack to where I started these few posts on Faith Certainties. I began with the assertion from Hebrews 11:1 that with the very nature of faith comes confidence and assurance of God, Son, and Spirit.

At some point my faith became rooted in confidence and assurance of the unseen. As I think back that probably started in seed form at a very early age in my faith walk.

From the start I felt certain God was real even though His form was unseen. For me that was the easy part.

Much more difficult was to grow my confidence and assurance that I could trust Him no matter what I encountered. I probably believed in His “go and do commands” more than in His presence and care.

Yet, as He has tested me and I have tested Him for seventy years I now stand convicted of both aspects. God is a constant presence and watches after me throughout my earthly walk.

pleasing-faith1I find it difficult to write an all-inclusive description of faith. I do know that it can only come from a heart that grows in rhythm with His.

Pleasing faith takes on adjective, noun, and verb form. It is descriptive of a life-walk. In its noun form it is a solid visual commodity. In its verb form it is action.

It is a conviction that God is real. He is who He claims to be. He loves me because He said He loves me. Pleasing faith is the eye-opening conclusion that God gave and gives me daily the gift of His grace.

There is no reciprocity involved. God does not lack anything. He desires my love and allegiance because it benefits me as he desires my ultimate good.

From a deep sense of gratitude, I can only react in thankfulness and do all within the way God wired me to share His nature with those who cross my path.

I suspect God smiles and is pleased when my faith smiles in kindness toward others and they smile from being treated in a small manner as God treats me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on By Faith We Please God

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

God Rewards Faith


GodReflection: Faith Certainties

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

garyguarujaIn Hebrews chapter eleven as the roll call of the great cloud of witnesses begins, the writer lists eighteen people who knew that God always answers His promises. They reached a point in their lives where certainty was a solid descriptor of their faith.

One of the eighteen was Enoch. A short vignette in a Genesis five linage list is all we know about him:

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Genesis 5:22-24).

The story is highlighted in Hebrews eleven:reward3

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:5-6).

To have faith is to please God and from that very faith overflows confidence and certainty of expectation that God rewards hearts that connect with Him.

Enoch passed into the presence of God without the death experience. Unless Jesus returns during the short life I have left I too will pass through death—unlike Enoch. Yet, like Enoch faith assures me I too will reside in the presence of God.

I have always believed in heaven. To tell the truth throughout most of my life I didn’t have a visual picture that was clear. I’m not sure how spirits can sing without voices and how an eternal song service is all that desirous. But, maybe spirits will sing on the right key.

Sure, God will be present but that still sort of left me with the spirits of angels, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and we humans floating around.

reward1Three years ago all of that changed. My reward took on new and visual meaning. When I read a couple of times a book by Randy Alcorn with the title Heaven, I realized that up until then my theology of heaven lacked examination.

The basic premise of the book was to begin with Genesis and track the realities and implication of creation, and the restoration after the fall, through thenew heavens and a new earth” of Isiah 65:17, and on through Jesus teaching of eternal life, until the “I am making everything new” of Revelation 21:5.

So three years later here I am. Perhaps it’s influence by age but I find more so than any time in my life I now look forward with faith-confidence to the reward of resurrection.

I was made for the next reality.

I can hardly wait to live again in a perfect body with a sinless spirit to enjoy a brand new earth under new heavens with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God’s people from all of history.

It will be an earth like God created in perfection prior to Satan’s destructive action.

confident2And we will all experience the Holy Wonder that results from faith that pleased God, while loving Him and from assured belief that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

I would love to set a coffee time with you in the next reality. That would just add to my reward.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on God Rewards Faith

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

By Faith We Sacrifice


GodReflection: Faith Certainties

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

garyguarujaIt is the second sin recorded in Scripture—the first after the garden exit.

The text doesn’t say if the brother’s encountered God prior to the sacrifice story. However, I suspect they were not in the dark as to God’s expectations and hope for the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture.

sacrifice2By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead (Hebrews 11:4).

In the context of Hebrews eleven I would argue that Abel selected and prepared his sacrifice with confidence, assurance and a faithful heart attuned to God.

Genesis chapter four tells us Abel brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering.

sacrifice1In contrast we read Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But on Cain and his offering He [Jehovah God] did not look with favor.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

I doubt the story is recorded to illustrate content and procedure for the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Rather, my guess is that the incident was included to make a statement as to the right kind of heart from which the sacrifice originates.

The Abel and Cain sacrifice story is the first introduction of a sacrificial system that can be trace through all but seven of the thirty-nine Old Testament books and treated by every New Testament author with the exception of James.

nature9The system culminates with Jesus the Son of God offered as a sacrificial lamb for all sin.

So here I am a resident of the 21st century who asks the question, “how is it that Abel’s faith still speaks to me even though he is dead?

How can I sacrifice with an Abel like faith to bring God a better offering than Cain did?

sacrifice3As one who follows Jesus he designed my time on earth to be a walk of transformation—as expressed by Paul—into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Abel’s faith by definition grows out of his confidence and assurance of a gift prepared for Holy God. It was that faith that made it possible to live under the umbrella of righteousness.

It is that faith that speaks to me as a resident of the 21st century. I too want to grow in the act of sacrificial gifts that flow from a heart that is confident and sure of God’s Holiness.

I want to hear Abel speak and react by imitation of him in the sacrifice by faith as I continue my walk.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on By Faith We Sacrifice

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

By Faith We Understand


GodReflection: Faith Certainties

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

garyguarujaAfter the Hebrew writer defines faith as confidence and assurance he follows with a rather lengthy list of actions and truths based upon the certainty of faith.

The first truth is:

 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible (Hebrews 11:3).

I haven’t a clue about the specifics that happened when God gave the formation command. I take the writer at face value. I understand it as a certainty that God made the universe from the invisible. He is God.

universe4I’m not a scientist. However, I see science as a friend. As a disciple of Jesus I have nothing to fear from science.

Mr. Webster defines science as the study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.

Most every convenience I enjoy in life results from someone who created a product based on facts learned through experiments and observations of the natural world.

universe8The product from the rubber tree used in experiments and observation provides tires and a gazillion other objects.

To understand the natural world and how to use it for the benefit of the human race it is necessary to test theories as to their validity. Thus by its very nature science works with theories.

When a theory proves wrong it is discarded and science moves on to test a new hypothesis.

universe2Scientists have their theories as to the beginning of the universe. Probably the most popular theory is the Big Bang Theory that suggests it all began as an explosion 13.8 billion years ago. It is a theory.

I have no problem with their continued study of the origin. Whatever might or might not be proven will not invalidate the Hebrews 11:3 statement.

I find it a faith builder to think that the God I attempt to serve is so powerful that He isn’t limited by time or matter. He can take the unseen or the non-existent and from it make something that is visible and so complex that only He can comprehend it.

Over the next several post I will look at other certainties that a God who can make something from nothing makes available to me as I embrace the walk by faith.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on By Faith We Understand

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com