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CHURCH CORNER: It’s a fine time for a revolution
It’s the new year already! And new year’s resolutions are a popular topic of discussion.
I’m tempted to call them New Year’s revolutions. A reality of life is that most of us need to make changes as we move along – little changes for our immediate future that will have positive impact on the rest of our life as well. These little changes will mean a personal revolution of how we do something and that little change will often take more than just a little effort, and will cause just a little pain as we exercise muscles we’ve let get soft. I’m not so on top of my personal habits that I don’t need to make any changes and, as painful as change can be, I still need to endure a little pain to see some positive change in my life.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I was doing some Bible study and ran across some commentary material that just didn’t make sense…to me. Now, I’m not saying I’m the end authority on the question of what spiritual/Biblical material is reasonable, but it does have to make sense to me in order for it to be usable information for me. So I studied the stuff out, consulted several different translations of the Bible and made my personal conclusion on the issue.
That little process led me to make a rather important decision for myself and for my church family – I’m switching the translation of the Bible I use as my devotional and study Bible for the new year and I’m switching our pew Bibles at church as well. This means my process of revolution is spilling over into our church family, because I’m officially inviting them along with me on my adventure as I study and teach in this coming year.
Why would I make this change? Let me explain. First of all, I approach my study of the Bible from a rather literal perspective – i.e. I believe this book is a divinely-inspired writing, meant for my literal application to my life as I follow Jesus. Therefore, I need to hear a reasonable voice from the writer as I read, so I can develop a reasonable understanding of his communication and make a reasonable application to my life. Yes, I’m fully aware that interpretation of this holy book is highly subjective and I’m not ignorant of the fact that I read and interpret and apply in a highly subject manner as well. I also believe the Holy Spirit is capable of helping me make a more spiritually subjective application, if I’ll only open my heart to hear from him as I read and study. If I expect this process to work well, I need to take steps to give him the best tools I can find, so he can do a better-than-average job of working in my life and facilitating the change I need.
I’m not saying God can’t work in my life if I don’t use certain tools. Some of the stories in the Old Testament make it clear that God is not limited in what he can use. I am saying that it seems clear that the more open we are to God working in our life, and the more diligent we are in facilitating his working, the more effective his process will be in our life. So, I want to facilitate him. This new translation isn’t going to be a magic potion in my process, but it will provide a different angle that I find refreshing.
I’ve initiated part of my revolution in the purchase of a new Bible and perhaps the most important segment of my process will be initiating more devotional reading of that Bible on a consistent basis. While it’s part of my job to read and study and prepare for teaching, that doesn’t fill the personal need to simply read and study for personal enrichment and spiritual growth. Yes, I’m challenged by my study for teaching purposes, but I find the personal devotional reading time has more intimate effect in my life than just relying on my professional study alone. And my experience is that it doesn’t take gobs of reading time to make a big spiritual difference. Just a few minutes a day can make all the difference in the world in my growth process.
I have my new Bible and I’m targeting coffee time with God to hear what he has to say to me through it. Can I invite you along on my journey? Grab your Bible and a cup of coffee and see what God has to say to you. And if you’re not spending quiet time with God right now, target just a few minutes a day for that purpose. If you are spending that few minutes a day already, target spending just a few more, or target making those moments more focused, with intent that God would initiate change in your life that you need.
It’s a good journey!
Happy New Year!
Pastor Dale Pratt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.