Simple Way to Listen Through Scripture

Reading scripture is challenging. It’s an ancient compilation of documents, written by multiple people and communities over centuries of history, reflecting multiple cultures. The Bible is a whole different world from our own. Those barriers can be daunting. Sometime so daunting we leave it to “religious professionals”.

That said, God speaks simply and clearly through scripture despite all these challenges. So simply and clearly that a little child can read it’s stories and know God and be changed. It’s true, the more time we invest and the better we understand the nuances of scripture the more “at home” we feel in the strange world of the Bible.

Here are some tips for simply starting and trust that God can speak simply and clearly to you.

  1. Just start. Like anything, showing up and beginning are critical. Start with a simple prayer: “God if you are real, and if you speak through this word, help me hear you.”
  2. Don’t start alone. Ask someone to give you suggestions about where to start. Ask that same someone if they will read with you. Talk with each other about what you’re reading.
  3. Focus on what you do understand, not what you don’t. You’ll have lots of questions and be confused by many things as you read scripture. But as you read some things will be crystal clear. Focus on what you do understand.

Here are some simple questions to guide you as you start reading:

  1. What did you like or find interesting about what you read?
  2. What troubled you or what questions do you have about what you read?
  3. What do you sense God is asking you to do or to be as a result of reading this text? Obey what you know. Mark Twain famously said, “I ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”
  4. Who should I share this with? For example, you might tell a friend or a loved one: “I was reading this story about loving one another and I thought you might enjoy it too.”

Lent with Bonhoeffer: Prayer and Work


Second Sunday in Lent, February 25, 2018

Praying and working are two different things. Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer. Just as it was God’s will that human beings should work six days and rest and celebrate before the face of God on the seventh, so it is also God’s will that every day should be marked for the Christian by both prayer and work. Prayer also requires its own time. But the longest part of the day belongs to work. The inseparable unity of both will only become clear when work and prayer each receives its own undivided due. Without the burden and labor of the day, prayer is not prayer; and without prayer, work is not work. Only the Christian knows that. Thus it is precisely in the clear distinction between them that their oneness becomes apparent.

-from Life Together, pgs. 74-75

(These reflections from Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be found in a collection entitled A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Daily Meditations from His Letters, Writings, and Sermons. It can be purchased HERE.)

Lent with Bonhoeffer: The Living Jesus

cost of discipleship

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Discipleship is commitment to Christ. Because Christ exists, he must be followed. An idea about Christ, a doctrinal system, a general religious recognition of grace or forgiveness of sins does not require discipleship. In truth, it even excludes discipleship; it is inimical to it. One enters into a relationship with an idea by way of knowledge, enthusiasm, perhaps even by carrying it out, but never by personal obedient discipleship. Christianity without the living Jesus Christ remains necessarily a Christianity without discipleship; and a Christianity without discipleship is always a Christianity without Jesus Christ. It is an idea, a myth. A Christianity in which there is only God the Father, but not Christ as a living Son actually cancels discipleship. In that case there will be trust in God, but not discipleship.

-from The Cost of Discipleship, pg. 59

(These reflections from Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be found in a collection entitled A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Daily Meditations from His Letters, Writings, and Sermons. It can be purchased HERE.)