“The Start of My Journey becoming a ‘People of the Book’”

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Date: 03-11-15

The Big Idea: Early on my journey with Jesus, I had a deep hunger for the His Word, His People and His Person.

As I went off to college, I expected to be tempted with drugs, sex and partying. But instead, the Lord began to rock my world at its core. I was rather religious according to the Roman Tradition—indeed, very devoted, but I met someone who had a peace that was promised at then end of each mass that I did not have. He challenged my religion with a relationship with God.

In pursing an answer to this challenge, I began to study and read. I read  many, if not most, of the world’s great Holy Books, some to the point of memorizing them. I pursued eastern mysticism and western materialism and much in between. I was even so audacious as to attempt to create my own religion. But as I began to lay the foundational principles, I kept being drawn back to one particular Holy Book: the Bible.

Somehow its words spoke to a part of me none of the other books could reach.

I might say my pursuit ended on a Fall Friday night, but really it just began—just on a more focused path. That Friday night I ask and answer a simply question: “Lord, I don’t know if I am a Christian or not, but tonight I want to make sure; I would like to become one now.” And then and there I committed myself to the Lord Jesus Christ….

Almost immediately I had a hunger for the His Word, His People and His Person. One instance in my early walk with Him seems to typify this hunger. I had been studying intensely for a couple of hours reading a Political Science text book with very, very fine print. My eyes were sore and aching. “I think I’d better take a break,” I decided. So I set down my highlighters, bookmarked my place, and laid down on my dorm room bed. “Maybe I’ll read my Bible for a little bit.” What? Continue reading? It wasn’t until weeks later I realized the irony. And, in fact, I read for almost another hour. And the interesting thing is: My eyes appeared to be just fine and I was most definitely refreshed.

I am reminded of the time when Jesus was hungry and asked the woman at the well for some water. When His disciples came back offering Him some found that they had gather, He said,  “I have food to eat that you know nothing about…. My food … is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” To me, His Word was that food for my soul and rest for my weary eyes… Fascinating, no?

This was the beginning of my journey as a People of the Book. Do you have a story you’d like to share about becoming a People of the Book?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 8:2-3— 2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh accomplishes nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.— John 6:63 (ISV)

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” —Matthew 4:4 (NIV84)

I arise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.— Psalm 119:147148 (NASB95)

Coach Mike

“Lists, Lists, Lists”

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Date: 03-07-15

The Big Idea: Lists confirm status and standing.

My Thoughts: Lists, lists, lists. Clipboards, sign-up sheets, membership drives, waiting lists. There are all sorts of lists. Some are good like the No-Call lists and some are sad like blacklists. But when it comes to the Bible, almost all of us skip these lists, like the one in Nehemiah 7, especially because of the difficult to pronounce names. We feel it is like a required course in school, “Why do I need to take this? I’m not going to be using it in the ‘real world’!”

These lists, however, are very important, especially when they appear in the Bible. Not only do they present a sense of belonging and connectedness, they also confirm status and standing. Much like a waiting list or membership list, these lists establish where our standing is with the larger group (e.g. this family signed up before yours), and who has valid status, as demonstrated later in Chapter 7 of Nehemiah with several families who were not on the list, as it were (see vv. 61-65).

Lifestyle worshiper, do you balk at lists and sign-up sheets and clipboards? I understand. But don’t you think this passage is telling us that membership really does have its privileges? What are your thoughts?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 7:5-7— 5 So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there: 6 These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, 7 in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum and Baanah): The list of the men of Israel: …”  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,— Genesis 25:13 (NIV84)

Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in Your record? —Psalm 56:8 (NIV84)

A widow may be put on the widows’ list if she is at least sixty years old and has been the wife of one husband. She must be well known for her good actions as a woman who has raised children, welcomed strangers, washed the saints’ feet, helped the suffering, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But do not include younger widows on your list. For whenever their natural desires cause them to lose their devotion to the Messiah, they want to remarry.— 1 Timothy 5:9-11 (ISV)

  Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” Amen. —Matthew 6:9b-12 [NKJV emphasis added]

Coach Mike