Maybe you need to ignore the rules in the Bible.

FI Ancient Rules

From time to time you’ll hear some preacher hold forth on the state of our country. He’ll (It’s almost always a man) point out the terrible ills in society and the ever increasing immorality. With waving arms, he’ll decry Biblical illiteracy. He’ll say if only there was more Bible reading, more Bible believing, more following of rules in the Bible, the tide would be reversed.

His prescription, however, won’t make a difference.

I spent fifteen years working with high school students who had grown up in a particular conservative Christian denomination. Most had been in Bible classes since they could sit still. They had been memorizing scripture their whole lives. I have never met before or since a group of kids with so much exposure to the Bible.

Yet they were generally not any more spiritual than other kids I’ve met. Many of them didn’t have any sense of a relationship with God. As this cohort of students grew up and started their adult lives, I watched a large swath leave the church of their childhood. Quite a number left Christianity altogether. Even though they knew the Bible like the back of their hands!

Or maybe they left, exactly because they knew their Bible so well. They had been taught the Bible. They had memorized Bible verses. They sat through sermon after sermon. But what they heard, for many of them, made no difference. Why?

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No Answers? Jesus Blesses You.

FI No Answer

Some days Easter is hard to take.

Easter has passed. For a few days my Facebook and Twitter feeds were a cascade of happy, enthusiastic pictures. Choirs with arms raised high. Pastors declaring the end of death and offer of salvation. I saw just about all the stock pictures of tombs with the stone rolled away that there are.

I’m not faulting the enthusiasm of Christians over Easter. I mean, if what we believe is true, then this holiday commemorates the moment that changed everything. Sin and Death are dead! We don’t have to be bound by judgement or shame or fear. We can live in this world with an optimism that surpasses our circumstances. That’s an incredibly hopeful story.

But I know that the pastel happiness of Easter isn’t always welcome—even for people who believe in Jesus’ resurrection. What if, in this season, your personal story isn’t all that hopeful? The wave of Christian happiness can overwhelm. You’re trying to hold onto your belief in God’s power of the resurrection while sadness or disappointment threatens to drag you back out into the deep.

Being told, one more time, that you ought to just trust God, that you ought to just put all your worries “at the foot of the cross…” Well, you nod in agreement  but inside you feel wobbly, weak, worried.

Honestly, you want the bright colors and glory rays of Easter to flood your life. But in this moment, that’s just not the color palate of your heart.

You’ve got questions. Maybe you’ve been dealing with a death or a loss, perhaps of a dream, a person, hope. Maybe you’re grieving. Even though you believe in God-made-man come among us, even though you believe in the powerful cross and the even more important empty tomb, (even though!) You still find yourself with hard questions.

Easter is good theology, but there are days when it’s really hard to practice.

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The Best Bible for you? (How to find a Good Bible, Part 3)

FI Good Bible 3

To be an apprentice of Jesus means to learn from Jesus how to see ourselves, how to see God and how to live. Often our first tool, one one of the most important in that journey is the Bible. (Here’s the 1st post in a series that unpacks the idea of being an Apprentice to Jesus.)

In part 1 of this series I told you that you needed to get yourself a “good Bible.” I also suggested that the defining characteristic of a “good Bible,” was one you would actually read. In part 2 I gave you some background on Bible translations and versions, so you could make an intelligent choice for yourself. Today, I answer the one remaining question.
Taking all of this together, what is the best translation?

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Untangling Versions. (How to Find a Good Bible, Part 2)

FI Good Bible 2

As we learn how to follow Jesus, we explore and experiment. Every spiritual journey is unique, because every one of our lives is unique. Yet, through this varied process we remain tethered to truth by the Bible.

The Bible can become a trusted and precious companion in our apprenticeship to Jesus. But simply having a Bible on the shelf won’t make a difference. In the last post I suggested that you need to have a Good Bible. What is that? It’s a translation you will actually read.

That brings us, of course, to the question of translations. Which translation is the right one? Which translation is the most accurate? This is a long-standing and heated debate. Today, I’m going to tell you a bit about translations and versions.

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You Need a GOOD Bible. (How to Find a Good Bible, Part 1)

FI Good Bible 1

I’m a follower of Jesus. My own journey (and what I teach) is shaped by my experience with the Bible, as influenced by Christian theology and spirituality. Over the years this has narrowed like a laser to one focal point: Jesus.

I purpose to be not just a believer, but an apprentice of Jesus. Saved by Jesus? Yes. But there’s more! As apprentices to Jesus we learn how to see God, ourselves, and all of life through the lens of Jesus. We learn from his teachings, his actions, his relationships, and even in a mysterious way, from his current presence through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the one who teaches us what we need to know, bringing freedom and purpose. But like a kite, without the tether of the kite string, this flying freedom can quickly crash as the winds of circumstance, personality, and self-justification blow us in every direction.

The kite string that allows our flight is the Bible. The Bible connects us to the story of God working through people for the past 4000 years. It provides the creative tension that keeps us moving, examining, growing. It anchors us to the historic life of Jesus, the things he said, and the community that sprang into existance around him. When we come to the Bible with seeking hearts, God meets us there. Then we experience it as the living word of God. God uses this complicated and messy collection of writings to shape us and help us come to know Jesus. That makes the Bible of upmost importance in our journey.

In much of the world the Bible is ubiquitous. Some estimates say that there are over 5 billion printed copies of the thing in existence. Chances are high you’ve got one on your shelf right now. It’s possible the Bible you have is precious to you, underlined and full of notes. It’s also possible that the Bible on your shelf is a roadblock in your spiritual growth.

The Bible is vital. But not just any Bible. You need to have a good Bible.

(Hold on before you click out of this post… what I’m about to say is probably not what you are expecting.)

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