age old faith

Kids bookshelf with German and American childr...
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Is it true? Am I really cracking open the cover of yet another book? I have pictures and napkins and bent pages marking so many books still clinging to “in-the-middle-of” status. Yet, the summer stack (in all its glossy newness) is under my window and it catches the light just right in the afternoon.

I know. I have an unhealthy appreciation for the written word. That aside, today I am starting something different and possibly brilliant. I don’t want to judge a book by its first few pages, but if I did I would be searching for a purple ribbon. Kevin DeYoung is an author I admire and follow not just because I read his books and blogs, but because I know someone who knows him and he assures me DeYoung is the real deal.

So, this afternoon, I picked up “The Good News We Almost Forgot” and I’m headed to a coffee shop to meet up with some students. They will probably be reading Cosmo or NYLON or the newest, trendiest vampire thriller. I’ll be there, with my book about the Heidelberg Catchechism like it ain’t no thing.

I hope (for my more than your sake) that this book uncovers some of the roots the saints in previous generations saw clearly.

And so it begins.

Bonhoeffer, Baked Cookies, and Bible study

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - among others - lecturer ...
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What could Bonhoeffer possibly have in common with baked cookies and isn’t the Bible a bit of a stretch?

Well, for starters – the letter B!

They all draw a crowd… they are all misunderstood (Bonhoeffer for his theological views and stubborn opinions on Truth and baked cookies for the way they almost always promise to satisfy a sad heart, but only reach the tummy and the Bible for its claim at absolute that is rejected)… they are all a wonderful addition to any evening, especially with a cup of tea… they are all enjoyed with friends…

If you are still puzzled, let me explain.

Lately, I have been reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. I first read Amazing Grace by Metaxas and, by the end, felt I had walked alongside William Wilberforce as he painstakingly claimed ground for abolition of the slave trade. When I heard he’d written on Bonhoeffer (Cost of Discipleship and Life Together), I couldn’t be more excited to know more about the life of the man who was a scholar, pastor, theologian, spy, and conspirator.

I love it. I can hardly put it down. What I keep finding so amazing is the way the Lord allowed this willing servant to understand so much and be rejected so often, yet remain determined to preach Truth without fear. To read some of Bonhoeffer’s sermons, written on the brink of Hitler’s propaganda-run takeover of Germany, you would be convinced the man had insider information. His background as a scholar and a pastor allowed for his pragmatic presentation of the Gospel Truth (to everyone from impoverished confirmation class ruffians to some of the most influential leaders of the Third Reich), while his pleasant demeanor made it difficult for anyone to find fault with him. Not unlike many of the Old Testament prophets, Bonhoeffer really was a lone voice crying out against the injustices of a nation and pointing to the Truth that exposed it. Also, like many OT prophets, he was rejected by the people. My favorite part is the way God used the people’s rejection to allow for a Confessing Church to emerge and doggedly fight in the midst of a monster that was Nazi Germany from the inside.

Baked cookies
Fresh-baked cookies are infamous for their mesmerizing effect on a person. Most notably as of late, is the effect they have on my students when I bake and bring them to school. No matter what the occasion, at the sight of anything carried in tupperware, a crowd instantly appears (all of whom have not had anything to eat in days). The strangest thing is, after several periods, the very same students who devoured the freshly-baked goods are back snooping around my office for more of the same treatment.

Interesting, I say. Very interesting…

Bible Study
Tonight was the first night two friends and I met for a Bible study (which, in itself is extremely exciting for me to be engaging with peers). As we worked through the first couple lessons in Beth Moore‘s study of David, I realized how much I missed reading the Word in community.

I recently watched a John Piper sermon called “The Sinful Origin of the Son of Man” and I am so thankful for the way it prepared me to see Israel’s demand for a king as sin, but God’s mysterious ways of revealing Himself (even choosing to reveal Himself) by way of man’s “great wickedness.”

I loved examining the Scriptures and returning to the same Scripture in community to really unpack the meaning. There are so many things to digest – from Samuel’s obedience and patience to David’s ruddy and handsome features (at age 12?). If I could write one take-away, I would refuse… and then I’d give in and talk about 2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV)

After God calls Samuel out of his grieving to go and appoint a new king, and after Samuel obeys but assumes wrongly the next king would look the king’s part, and after Samuel finally waits for the “okay” to appoint the most unlikely of candidates… we realize that the heart God has found to be “blameless” (ESV), “completely His” (NASV),  and “loyal” (NKJV) is a heart that will soon have the weight of a nation on its shepherd shoulders.

What blows my mind is that when God searches the earth and finds hearts that are “fully committed” (NIV) to Him, it does not result in a first class ticket to heaven or a get out of jail free card or a receive a life of rest and relaxation pass. God finds those hearts and then gives great responsibility and even allows great burden in their lives. God promises to strengthen, encourage and hold up these hearts. If we are faithful in our full commitment, God will be faithful in equipping and strengthening us for the great tasks that lay ahead.

Bottom line (totally unintentional use of the letter B here)
We (humans) have an appetite. Bonhoeffer’s appetite for Truth led him to a deep love of God and a deep conviction for Truth to be preached without shame or censor. Our insatiable appetite for cookies reveals our deeper desire to be FILLED with something that does satisfy. Bible study is what APPETITE is all about. We are meant to be FILLED with the Word – the Bread of Life. The more we eat, the hungrier we are. That’s the beauty of Truth… it is at the same time the most filling and the most appetizing thing we’ll ever taste.

Mmmm… this Tuesday is tasting SO GOOD!

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY