3/28/08

Baby steps to the Bible

Horizons held its first ever Cross-Generation Celebration on March 30, focusing on how the Bible is our light. But maybe for you, when it comes to reading the Bible, the lights are on but nobody's home. If that's the case, let me share some baby steps to get started.

An easy way for adults to get their toes wet in the Word is to join a HOME group at Horizons. A HOME group isn't really a Bible study, but the discussion focuses on how we can apply a certain passage or topic from scripture to our daily lives. This is how a lot of people at Horizons have started getting acquainted with the Bible for the first time in their lives.

Another way to get into a regular routine of reading some scripture is to go to the Upper Room daily devotional. At the top of the page is a link to the scripture for the day. You can also subscribe to have the devotional emailed to you, or you can have booklets sent in the mail bi-monthly.

There are several Bible reading plans available online. If you're not reading the Bible regularly right now, here's one that's not too intimidating. It's from Discipleship Journal called the 5 x 5 x 5 Bible Reading Plan, which means reading five minutes a day, five days a week, and it takes you through the New Testament in a year. I especially like the five simple ways to go deeper.

If you're a little more ambitious, here's a link to a one-year Bible reading plan . It gives you four short passages to look up and read each day, 25 days a month. By not scheduling every day, it provides some days off or days for catching up.

Hit the comment button and let us know if you're thinking about trying one of these options. We'd love to hear from you.

3/20/08

Listening to the song above me

This morning I arrived at the church campus at 6:30 to set up the Maundy Thursday silent come-and-go communion that would start at 7 a.m. It was still dark, and the moon was hanging low and yellowish above the western horizon.

At 7 a.m. I was still the only one in the building, and I began praying the prayers and reading the scriptures in the communion service. Just as I did, I heard a meadowlark singing a serenade above me. Perched at the peak of the roof above the worship center, its call was loud, clear and bold.

Many of you know that I've adopted the song of the meadowlark as a sign of God's presence and affirmation. To me it's a little way God encourages me, saying, "I'm with you. I haven't left. We're still in this together."

So as I prayed and read and meditated, the song kept repeating this reassuring message. I am reluctant to admit that today the meadowlark's message was more powerful to me than the sacrament of communion. Or maybe I could say that the two melded together to bring me into the presence of Christ.

My message for Easter Sunday has been inspired partially by Flora Slosson Wuellner's book, Feed My Shepherds, and in it she says, "Our growing closeness with God was never intended to be a burden or one more task added to all the other tasks. Personal relationship with God was meant to remove the sense of burden and to infuse all tasks with new vitality."

That's just what the meadowlark said.

3/7/08

Was it unfair of God to harden Pharaoh's heart?

We've been going through the first 15 chapters of Exodus on Sunday mornings at Horizons, and in the section on the plagues, sometimes it says that Pharaoh hardened his heart, and other times that the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart. Apparently both of them had a hand in adding to Pharaoh's obstinate attitude, but for God to do it smacks against the whole idea of human free-will.

Pharaoh promised to release the Israelites a few times during the plagues, but once the immediate crisis was over, his moral arteries calcified again. Pharaoh couldn't stand to be pushed into making a decision; it undercut his authority. So while the plagues engendered faith among the Israelites , they brought out stubbornness in Pharaoh.

It reminds me of a saying I heard once. "The same sun that softens butter also hardens clay." The sun is the same. But what the sun causes depends on the thing it shines on.

God’s miracles in Egypt softened some hearts and hardened others.