Tag Archives: learning

Connecting Your Story to God’s Story

Monday April 17, 1978 “was extremely windy and cold.” At work “the wind blew me off a ladder” and we were finally forced to quit and go home. In 1978 I was staying with my younger brother, sleeping on his couch. I was a twenty-one year-old depressed high school drop out and confused carpenter.

The economy was in shambles and getting worse. The Denver building boom was about to bust. Life looked and felt as bleak as the spring weather, except that I had started dating this young red-headed college girl who loved God with all her heart. I know this because Monday April 17 was the day I first began journaling, recording in a yellow notebook my thoughts and feelings and experiences.

“All in all this has been a good day,” I wrote at the end of my second day’s entry.  “Jesus has been on my mind quite a bit. I hope He is there more tomorrow.”

Looking back on those first entries, I can see Jesus was not only in my mind but always there with me tomorrow and the next day and next day for more than thirty years now. I now know Jesus was always ahead of me writing the next part of the story, the next chapter of my life. My challenge has been to faithfullyu live that story and then record it.

For me journaling is a spiritual discipline that helps me know myself and connect with God. David too practiced this spiritual discipline.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Isaiah 60:1-62:5

Philippians 1:27-2:18

Psalm 72:1-20

Proverbs 24:11-12

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Philippians 1:27-2:18: This section of Paul’s letter holds one of the most beautiful lyrics and profound pieces of theology in all the New Testament. Chapter 2:6-11 is probably an ancient hymn or creed of the early church that proclaims the central truth of Christ’s incarnation, death, resurrection, and exaltation.

All four aspects of the truth of Christ’s life are woven together and one cannot exist without the other. Though many focus on the cross as God’s ultimate act of salvation, Christ’s death would not have been possible without his making himself nothing and coming to earth. Nor was his crucifixion extraordinary with out the resurrection. And his life overall was unremarkable without his death, resurrection and exaltation.

This means Christmas, Easter, and Ascension are equally holy, mysterious and powerful in God’s plan of salvation for each of us.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

David, King of Israel, journaled also, obviously more poetic, profound, and inspired than my efforts. Psalm 72 ends saying, “This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.” The first seventy-two psalms, almost half the book, therefore, are primarily David’s poems, songs, thoughts, questions, struggles, answers, and epiphanies.

I have often imagined David sitting under a purple sky caring for his sheep and pouring out his heart to God in poetry. Or pacing his throne room muttering his complaints against God. Then finally in his bed chamber refining his ancient journal entries and, with God’s hand on his quill, turning his life’s story into a poem that millions would read and be touched and encouraged by. In them we learn about his view of and love for God, his failing family, his leadership, his adultery, repentance, and through it all, his dependence on God. In these journal entries we see real life, lived with a real God. Before God touched us through David’s journal, I can imagine David, in a difficult day, rereading some of his entries and being given new strength, new insight, new courage through his own story.

I’m glad I recorded some of the raw and real things I did over the last thirty years. I’m not so sure I’m as brave as David to let anyone else read them. I wrote about my doubts, my lust, my faithfulness, my fears (lots of those), my friends, family, failures, my slow, sometimes painful, growth and my red-headed wife always showing me how better to love God.

My old journals carry my story and show how it connects to God’s: how God has walked beside me in it all. Just as God did with David.

Though the Psalms are beautiful, like my journal they are not sanitized. David’s psalms tell us we too can be real with God. And that when we are real with him we open ourselves up to his touch.

Journaling is not just a literary practice. It lets us tell our stories and lets us know our stories are connected to God’s story.

  1. Which passage spoke most to you?
  2. What did the four have in common?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Quick, Define Forgiveness

When I was eight or nine I would stretch out in front of our record player with my chin cupped in my hands and listen over and over to a story about a courageous boy who saves a horse he loves from being gored by a bull in a bull fight.

I can still hear the terrified squeal of the horse, the roar of the crowd suddenly sputter and die, the pounding of hooves, the strong, rich voice of the narrator describing the young Spanish boy, sombrero askew, red scarf flying,  gripping the mane of the horse as he flies from certain death over the gate of the bull fighting arena and to freedom.

I listened to that record until I wore the stereo needle and my mother out.

I can’t remember the name of the tale, or the boy, nor many of its details.  I can, however, remember how I felt as if I were that boy: fearless, selfless, making my little life count for something much bigger than anyone around me thought I could.

That story taught me the meaning of bravery and sacrifice like no dictionary definition ever could.  Stories do that.

What is God saying to you through today’s stories?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Samuel 19:11-20:13

John 21:1-25

Psalm 120:1-7

Proverbs 16:16-17

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Samuel 19:11-20:13: One could spend hours trying to understand the how and why of the betrayal and intrigue just in this section of Scripture alone. And doing so might yield some fruit. It might also make one miss the salient point of the story: How much are we each like Shimei, Abishai, and Joab in our betrayal of and double dealing with God? And how much is God like David fearlessly pouring undeserved grace on each of us?

John 16:1-33: Notice the details in this narrative. It’s early in the morning, Peter is unclothed, Jesus builds a fire, they catch 153 fish, Jesus has appeared to them three times. What do these details add to the story? What do they mean? At the very least they mean the author, John, was present and these details spoke to him. What do they speak to you?

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

How much help do you believe the following definition would be to someone who had just been lied to, hurt, or betrayed by a loved one?

Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary says to forgive is “to grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc.” or “to cease to feel resentment against” someone.

It’s a precise, accurate propositional statement. Good for reminding yourself of what you may not be doing or for reciting in a test, but it’s flat and lacks life, is virtually powerless to produce what it so well defines.

Imagine if when informing us of David regaining the throne, the author of 1 Samuel 19-20 simply wrote, “David granted pardon and ceased to feel resentment against” those who had joined Absalom in betraying him. The Old Testament would be a lot shorter and  profoundly less difficult, complicated, meaningful, and memorable.

So too with how in John 21 John recounts Jesus forgiving Peter. John could merely have listed the facts:

  • Previously Peter denied Jesus three times.
  • Jesus comes to the shore of the lake.
  • Peter swims ashore.
  • Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times.
  • Peter answers yes three times.
  • Jesus cooks some fish.
  • Everyone is happy.

If you recited those facts for a quiz about this section of Scripture you would earn an A, or close to it. But would you know, feel, and understand what forgiveness is? I doubt it.

Therefore, God instead had John show us forgiveness in the story of how Jesus interacted with Peter.

I can see Peter standing in the boat embarrassed, not over being physically naked but emotionally so. I can hear Jesus strong, rich voice asking, “Do you love me?” I, like Peter, hear Jesus’ unspoken, “I love you.” The question and Jesus’ unspoken affirmation are filled with the warmth of love, like the fire Jesus is tending. And in that moment I am Peter. I draw near Jesus’ warmth and I remember how much I hurt him and how much he loves me. I look in his dark eyes and I feel his grace fill me. I weep. Like Peter, I am forgiven.

God’s stories do that.

  1. What details of these stories spoke to you?
  2. Do you learn better by memorizing facts or hearing a story?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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