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

Seven Reasons to Rejoice: Rekindling


untitledHence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Jesus, The Name above all names, is the best reason for stroking the fires God has placed within each person to speak The Name. And the beauty of living with The Name written on our hearts is when words do not suffice the God-lover, The Name oozes from our pores and fills the room with the sweet aroma of Grace.

painting-1186744__180I have always been bent towards the arts having grown up in Brazil with all its colorful spirit, my family’s love of music and good artwork, and a deep love for The Name and its spread among all peoples.

I have no need of worship aids. I also take seriously the command to not worship any idols, whether personal ideas or visual aids. I have seen firsthand the psychological and emotional devastation of philosophical and material idol-worship; the destruction it does to the teacher and the student.

No need to panic. Even this is character trait is redeemable by approaching the throne of Grace.

painter-4165__180Yet, I don’t apologize for a healthy artistic expression of my own walk with Christ, as I know love for The Name drives one far away from idol worship…at least chances are much lower that one is caught even in “accidental” idol-worship.

In fact, Christ was the first artist/miracle-worker being a part of the formation of the very earth we walk on every day. I seek to imitate Paul as Paul imitates Christ through my artistic soul, being a quiet hand of positivity in a world bent on running away from The Name.

love-1221444__180I seek to kindly show people God’s great love and to not fear The Name, but to run to The Name, asking Him for salvation and wisdom. It is only after grasping the Creator’s deep love for each soul that a healthy fear of God can begin to be apprehended.

Therefore I don’t have to be anyone else’s Holy Spirit. He does his job very well.

lawyer-28782__180I have come to believe today that to force an unnatural fear of God onto a soul who already knows they are condemned is more akin to co-operating with The Accuser of our souls.

I don’t want any hint of this evil spirit in my own soul.

But one may ask, “What about teaching morals?” I believe today more than ever that morals are a foundation, not the ceiling in Christ’s Home. Jesus said that unless our right-ness surpasses the [morality] of the contemporary “perfect” examples of religion and life, we can have no part of His Kingdom. I believe it is important for me to get right morally every day while breathing an air of grace towards all peoples as Christ did.

CaptureIt’s a tall order, but less stressful than it sounds. Why? Because Jesus means what He says when he asks us not to worry. If anything can distract one’s mind away from the very morals one seeks to clothe oneself with, it’s worry. The Word says worrying leads to all kinds of evil and what I think about comes true in my own heart and actions.

So if I curse the outward moral-code breaker in my soul, I too am guilty of inward moral-code breaking. But if I bless, I will become a blessing to others, even on my worst days. Why? I believe it is because Jesus’ Name stands between me and Holy God, finishing what I cannot and kindly correcting me along the way. Jesus is less harsh on me that I am on myself. He is less judgmental than some of my most well-meaning siblings in Christ who have not trained their impulses in the ways of Jesus’ grace.

rick-24127__180As I seek to see things the way God does, I fall immensely short. But one thing I know, unity is crucial for The Name to continue to be spread. I wonder if having the simple, modest and humble symbol of the fish on our places of worship – regardless of architecture – might be a more God-honoring and a Gospel-spreading act than what we see today. Might it be more honoring to the The Name, particularly since there is way too much division over The Name?

jesus-1301894__180What if those who claimed to be a part of The Church learned to love more deeply everyone who claimed The Name for themselves? Isn’t this The Picture of Heaven? No more tears, no more wars and rumors of wars?

What about helping Jesus-lovers rekindle one gift of many that God gives each of His Own for the Name’s Sake?

fire-227291__180In that vein, thank you Gary for helping God rekindle a fire in me for writing. My prayer is that all glory go to Him and any reader be one step closer to salvation in The Name or more encouraged on their journey Heavenward. But I confess, I still need encouragement as I cooperate with God’s warfare in the Heavenlies by bringing more of Heaven to earth that it might swallow up any hellish corners yet to be conquered in this age.

loop-572859__180It is amazing what people of The Name can do when unifying under The Name and walking the Way of Love.

What gifts are needing rekindling among God’s own today?

Just Wondering

It Takes a Family to Raise a Village


denise-croppedA person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

  • – Ecc. 4:12 (NLT)

I have been fortunate. I have a wonderful family unit. I have also been a part of other family-type units I had no control of building.

Because Jesus has filled in every practical and spiritual gap in family, community and church, I can live with a confidence that cannot fully be explained.

There have always been enough family and friends to keep my family encouraged throughout my life, even in tough times. In turn my prayer is my family is contributing to the larger villages of community and church as reasonably as God would like.

access-933125__180family-469580__180Community, villages, towns and cities would fail were it not for the basic unit of family.

Are all families perfect and intact?

No.

 

Can God still work?

Yes.

He fills in the gap with Christ’s love and good deeds.

 

person-371015__180For God promised to be the husband of the widow when no suitable mate can be found, including those widowed by divorce. The body of Christ can love on the widowed and their families with words of encouragement and offering hands to help where possible.

He promised the orphan to be their parent through organizations and foster families that minister to their needs.

He promises comfort and friendship for the lonely that they might make the best decisions in their lonely states and still used of God in community and church.

He promises wisdom to leaders of all kinds from family heads to national leaders so that he may bless them and the ones they influence – even when they have not been perfect in every area of their lives.

family-835150__180Family continues to prove its worth over and over again.

Faith is the key.

It requires one to put the seen aside, look at the unseen by faith so that the seen may be built with the integrity that Designer God intended from the beginning of time.

Here’s what I believe today.

The church is modeled after family.

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Isn’t it wonderful that God imbeds himself as parent, comforter, teacher, friend, savior, guide, creator and so much more into each Christ-follower so we don’t have to be fully any of these to each other?

In God’s economy, leaders are equipped through the Holy Scriptures and loving training to stoke the fires of Holy Spirit flame in each member of the local body.

Ministers can run their race unhindered.

Members can move about freely, lovingly and confidently.

jump-493889__180“Unhindered” is the objective so that God’s work might shine more brightly upon the family of man, that more men might naturally choose to spend eternity with God.

Jesus, others and you [me] equals JOY! Imagine the influence we have in our local villages when we work in unity together, first in family always!

Amazing!

The Avalanche of God’s Love That Swallows Human Engineering


denise-cropped

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. – Philippians 2:1-2

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“Organized religion” is a phrase I hear among those who rightly lament over the wrongs they’ve observed Christians do to each other and to the world in the name of Jehovah God.

I think Jesus also had a problem with “organized religion.” I don’t believe Christ had trouble with organization. His Father is orderly, not confused, not a bully. He is a benevolent spiritual father to all who accept His son and gracious to those who don’t.

crowd-295069__180I believe that Jesus liked “church” just the way God created it, to be alive with people and for people to be among people always! Jesus came to set God’s Creation free from the ills that plague us from without such as hurting each other – particularly in His name, isolation, unnecessary ignorance, among a few. He came to set us free from what plagues us from within, un-Godly guilt and shame, discouragement, arrogance, self-pity among a number of things.

Those alive in Christ are controlled by Christ and His love. Those under Christ’s control look to cooperate with others who’ve also come under Christ that the House of God on earth might move Heavenward together, gathering more souls much like an avalanche gathers more snow the faster it moves towards its gravitational pull.

Jesus said that the gates of hell will not hold up against the confession that Christ is the son of God (Matthew 16:16-18)! Though the Scriptures teach that we are living in God’s adversary’s playground, because of Christ I am hopeful and focus more on God’s control over all his creation (Philippians 4:6, James 4:7, Colossians 1:17 & 2:19).

imagesOQGWVS54It swallows evil much like the picture of the snow white avalanche quietly engulfing the dark trees along its path. If you’ve ever walked in the fresh fallen snow, you know how wonderful it can be. Sounds are amplified. So is silence. Yet, it is a place reflecting beauty, purity and peace. Much like the soul when Christ stabilizes it.

Christians gravitate towards God. I am always touched watching the progress, wisdom and service of Christians worldwide. By their fruits we know those who follow Christ.

sea-gull-765490__180No man can organize freedom the way God can, for it is for freedom that we’ve been set free.

Assemblies and church organizations need each other through mutual cooperation. We need less human church-engineering and fortress-mentality isolation from other Christian groups and organizations.

teamwork-training-exercise-615178__180Where in God’s economy can I relinquish more of my desire to engineer circumstances? Where can I project a more authentic offering of Jesus that His Good Spirit might shine more brightly? Where might I work today that all can see Christ’s body unified for good?

Just wondering

Show no Partiality


denise-croppedMy brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. –James 2:1

It isn’t always easy to avoid the destructive political or sociological thinking that instantly caricatures people into stereotypes these days. The news is filled with racial and cultural tensions and I must fight my tendency to draw lines where God has not with regard to others.

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He shows no partiality. But I do when my guard is down.

Let me illustrate.

Recently I was in my car in line behind a van waiting to pay a parking attendant. A lady in a beautiful floral headdress was driving the van. I was waiting my turn when I turned to get something out of my purse, as there was an unusually long wait. I don’t recall many details except that I accidentally honked my horn. Horrified simply because it’s not like me to honk a horn for such a mundane occurrence, I looked up, smiled and waved a polite wave.

CaptureWhat the lady saw was not a wave, but a pointed index finger looking like I was being disapproving.

You see, I had my money in hand to pay the cashier. That was the hand I chose to wave with, but the only fingers I managed to raise was my single index finger.

van-3676__180Immediately I realized I may be coming across as disapproving to her in some manner, and she might assume my response was racially, politically, culturally or religiously charged. She also may have simply thought I was being impatient and rude as the wait was unusually long. Whatever she thought, she responded with a straight face and drove off.

I learned that my fear of coming across as partial is part of my problem. I am seeking today to be less afraid of coming across as prejudicial and instead to respond lovingly no matter what as Christ calls through the writings of the apostle Paul.

love-sign-950912__180Make love your aim                      – 1 Corinthians 14:1

I realize the context for the Scriptures cited are from a church-plant leader to the congregations he is encouraging; but what I have learned about God’s design of family is that if I practice first with my natural  and spiritual families what I should, it becomes more natural to extend it to others.

Instead of seeing headdresses, fish images, angry bumper stickers, SUVs, econo-cars, red, yellow, black and white, my love-aim is to see living, breathing people, made in God’s image.

police-143041__180children-486968__180crowd-53490__180

On my walk this morning, a car drove by going out of my neighborhood. I had never seen the woman behind the wheel. The woman was of a race different than mine. A race that the world says should make us enemies-the world sometimes talks out of both sides of its mouth while seeming to want to “bring people together.” So I agree with the side of the world’s mouth that sides with God. And God says, no partiality.

So I waved my neighborly wave and then realized I didn’t know this woman. But my wave drew a huge smile from her, and my soul was immediately infused with joy!

Jesus knows reflecting impartiality is a nutrient my spirit needs to grow into his likeness for it brings deep peace.

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Amazing!

Shades of Grayce


denise-cropped

 

I attended a class recently taught by Dianne Craft, MA CNHP. She runs a private consulting firm called Child Diagnostics, Inc.

 

children-766538__180Diane helps right-brained dominant children learn in our current world where most school curriculum is designed for the left-brain dominant. Rather than label children, medicate them and train a child to live in a box not designed for them, she helps a child set themselves free from labels through teaching to their learning abilities and educating parents on preparing a nutritious diet that aids in mind, body and soul development.

Dianne states several differences between the two brain spheres.

kuala-lumpur-398792__180

 

Left-Brain: Black &white, “my-way-or-the-highway”/one way to do all things, like closure, risk averse.

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Right-Brain: Colorful, many ways of doing things/like choices, closure does not bother them, risk takers.

 

Each characteristic above flows from a personal tailor-made design by God, our Creator.

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You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. – Psalm 139:13

 

 

clock-70189__180I believe there are more qualified persons to teach me on the meaning of the Hebrew word “kilyah,” the word which describes our inner parts. Yet, what I glean from my understanding of the word is it physically includes the area of the kidneys, and internally it points to our emotional make-up – could we say our right-brain expressions? – as well as our ability to hold the reins in our lives – or could we say our left-brain governor?

Capture

The Lord knows his own, how he wired us, how we learn, our unique circumstances, what grieves us, how long it takes for us to lament and grow through those times, how we celebrate, what is going to come out of our mouths, and a way out of having stuck our foot into our mouths.

God’s gray areas, or let’s call it grayce, allows for the learning curves in life. As we learn, we become more firm and more real as C.S. Lewis described in his book “The Great Divorce.”

How I deal with the grays in my life have to do with how my heart is bent. Bent towards God and those he loves most, His Son and Holy Spirit, I become amazed that he would consider having me in his family at all. After all, I cannot match the person of Jesus, nor be as powerful and wise as the Holy Spirit. I am nothing compared to this magnificent God. Yet he loves all mankind. Should I be doing any less?

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So instead of comparing my black & white view of the world to another’s gray – and often colorful way of being and doing things, maybe it’s best if I offer others the permission they need to live in their grays until they come to terms with God’s black & white. I am most like Christ when I offer grayce.

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Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. – Romans 14:13

How am I offering more grayce to others today?

Just wondering.