Tag Archives: soul

Do We Know too Much, See too Much, and Trust too Little?

Mt Sopris

Leaves rustle behind me. A field mouse burrows under the long, golden grass that is my seat. A crow croaks above, his wings send a windy squeak into the stillness. If clouds made noise as they scraped over the high mountain peaks, today I would hear it. It’s that quiet. Stillness. Peace. This day my world consists of the shifting sounds and changing colors of wilderness. The aspens stand on their milky trunks with their gray branches reaching for eternity. A doe and fawn skitter through the meadow, never realizing we are there. I can go only where I can walk, see only to the next ridge, talk only to my friend next to me. For a moment life has narrowed, simple. Glorious.

All this as somewhere war ravages, terrorists plan more cowardice, politicians puff up like self-important peacocks, philosophical debates rage, earthquakes rumble, economies tumble, hunger ravages, homelessness decimates, and world events vast as the sky mount. I know these things because the information age is upon me. Information technology speaks loudly and carries a big stick. But not here. Here I’m journaling about field mice, aspen trees, and crows. Would that our worlds could become this small and contained again.

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: 33:13-36:22

Galatians 5:13-26

Psalm 64:1-10

Proverbs 23:23

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Isaiah: 33:13-36:22: This section of Isaiah describes small, powerless humans in contrast to a vast, fearful world, governed by a powerful seemingly distant, angry God. Rightly we tremble. But is God against us? Are we as vulnerable as we feel? No. “Be strong, do not fear; you God will come,” Isaiah tells us.

Psalm 64:1-10: Again this reading asks us about fear and faith and our place in God’s worlds and heart. Let us take refuge in God not in our own accomplishments and strength.

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

Sitting in this meadow I slowly realize, once again, I lack what it takes to fight AIDS in Africa, prevent earthquakes in Pakistan, support the correct U.S. Supreme Court nominee in DC, house the homeless in Denver, adopt baby girls from China, save the environment, stop war, care for my family, stay fit, love my wife, read a good book, be a friend, love God, and figure out global warming all at the same time. I need it narrowed down. I can’t be global. I don’t have enough mind, heart, and soul to wrap around it all. Technology may have shrunk the globe to a village. But it’s still too big for me. In his book “SoulTsunami” Leonard Sweet writes, “Technology is outrunning our theology and ethics, leaving us panting, helpless anachronisms.” Anachronism I am.

Despite their enormity, at one time most human beings would never have heard about the tsunami and Gulf Coast tragedies, much less be given an opportunity to help. The sun would have risen and set on a day containing worries enough of its own. Each day we are bombarded by more information than we can assimilate or even care about. One of my professors put the dilemma this way: we are camel-age creatures living jet-age lives. Call God shortsighted if you like. We seem to have been designed to function best with narrower boundaries. Sometimes it feels as if a terrible wind has torn down the walls and ripped off the roof of life and we stand naked and exposed to every storm the world dreams up.

Obviously technology is not all bad. I have a nephew who would not be alive without modern communications and medical technology. And hot showers are remarkable. But there is the law of unintended consequences to deal with. The question is, how?

For me these retreats into the wilderness—back in time—help. Through them God enlarges my mind, heart, and soul. When I am hunting I sleept in a tent, have no cell phone access, no cable TV, no high speed Internet, and no idea what was going on in the world. But I am not out of touch. When the enormous worries of the world shove in, I lifted my eyes to the hills and asked, where does my help come from? In response I heard God whisper and even roar in the treetops: I Am here. Time slowed down as golden sunlight chased shadows across the green sage valley for the umpteenth time: I Am timeless, God said. I glimpsed the glistening eyes of my hunting partner: I see and love, God winked. Snow covered Mount Sopris towered, gleaming in the morning sun: I Am almighty, God assured. The weight of the world is on God’s shoulders. Maybe if I let God carry the weight, I can focus on and care about those things I can affect. Thanks God, for whispering louder than a myriad of modern, screaming voices. Thanks for holding the world in your hands. Thanks for narrowing the world down, if for just a moment.   

  1. What do these for passages share in common?
  2. How is God your refuge?
  3. What does your freedom in Christ look like?

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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Are You a Christian Atheist?

I grew up in a family that didn’t believe in God. But we weren’t atheists. That’s not what I mean by the word “believe.” We simply never talked or thought about God. If we had talked about God, I imagine all of us would have said there was such a thing as God. I know I would have.

But, again, God never came up. Instead we rode our horses on Saturdays and Sundays (Boy, was that fun. I remember going to worship twice. Boy, that was not fun) and the rest of the week my mom and dad worked, we went to school, played, tried to avoid chores and homework, and paid less attention to God than the air we breathed. Is that what it means to believe?

Craig Groeschel, the pastor of the church (Lifechurch.tv) my oldest daughter is involved in, explores that very question in his book “The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist.” Today we’ll ask the same question: what does it mean to believe?

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 Chronicles 17-18:34

Romans 9:25-10:13

Psalm 20:1-9

Proverbs 20:2-3

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Chronicles 17-18:34: Ahab asks 400 prophets if he should go to war. Somehow Jehosaphat knows they are not telling the truth but only saying what Ahab wants them to say. Michiah says he will only say what God tells him and then, presumably in fear for his life, backs down and says what Ahab wants to hear. But Ahab knows he is lying.

Most of the time we know the hard truths God wants us to live by. We just hope others will tell us the opposite in order to ease our minds.

Proverbs 20:2-3: In the time the book of Proverbs was written–and more so–the time in which proverbs were developed–few people were able to read or write. It was a time of oral communication. Therefore, these “wisdom sayings” that were to be applied to everyday life, were formulated in such a way that those who were not literate could memorize them and readily use them. They were to be carried in our minds and hearts constantly.

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

Is believing in God more than intellectual assent? More than knowing certain ideas about God? Paul, in this section of his letter to the believers in Rome, seems to indicate so. “For it is with your heart you believe and are justified,” he writes.

Yes, intellectually understanding that Jesus was crucified, dead, buried and resurrected is an essential ingredient to belief. But Paul says that we believe this information with more than our minds. Our hearts are crucial.

In Paul’s day reference to the heart, however, did not indicate emotions only. “Follow your heart,” we say today. By which we mean, “Follow your gut feelings. Don’t let your mind talk you out of it.”

Heart meant center. The center of ancient Greek cities was called the cardia, the heart. The Cardia is where people gathered, where the theater, the temple, the market, the government, and the businesses were located. All life emanated from this center.

Thus, Paul expects belief in Jesus to emanate from the center of each of us. The heart in this ancient understanding then is the place where intellect, emotion, and volition combine. Paul thinks belief in Jesus comes from, and moreover impacts, a combination of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Like the cardia in those ancient cities, our heart belief in Jesus should influence our relationships, entertainment, spirituality, shopping, politics, and work.

Sadly modern belief in God is largely relegated to intellectual assent. Around 90% of Americans say they believe in God, which means, like the family of my childhood, they think there is such a thing as God. But this idea of a God has little significance in life.

This anemic definition of “belief” is not restricted to God, however. People say they “believe” in UFOs, ghosts, chocolate, and life after death. Yet, for most, these beliefs change nothing, unless you glimpse a strange light in the sky, are alone in a dark, creaking house, or live next to a Chocolate Factory. But God is more than a ghost or ticket to the afterlife.

I must confess I often exist as if God doesn’t. And it’s my job to believe. Still I worry, thinking it (whatever it is) all depends on me; fear too often rules my mind and heart; I can spend an entire day and rarely let the thought of Jesus cross my mind. Yet, I yearn for a relationship with Jesus that is as real as I have with my wife, children, and friends. By God’s grace that kind of belief/relationship does come. When it does, it is because my whole self believes: mind, heart, and soul. In these times, Jesus ceases to be an idea to think about, or a historical figure to argue over, and becomes One living in me and walking alongside me. Then my worries and fears flea. And I find myself, like some crazy man, talking to Someone no one else can see. And I smile, because suddenly I know I believe.

  1. Have you ever acted like a Christian Atheist? If so how?
  2. How do these four reading connect?

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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A Lesson From The Farmer

Once upon a time, a young man who grew up in the city inherited a large sum of money from a distant relative.

“This is a dream come true!” he exclaimed. Literally. Inspired by the movie Field of Dreams, he had long-dreamed of someday living on a farm in rural Iowa. So he sold his house in the city and moved his family to his “Field of Dreams.”

After settling into his new surroundings, the man began dreaming about the kind of farmer he’d like to be. I want to be the best corn farmer in the area, he decided. So, with his remaining money, he bought the best equipment available and the highest quality seed.

On the first day of the corn harvest, he hopped on his combine and drove out to his fields. Where’s my corn? he asked himself. All I can see are weeds. And it was true.

Too proud to ask anyone for advice, the man slowly drove home.

The next Spring on a sunny morning, the man drove his shiny new tractor to his fields to examine his young crop of corn. But again, he was disappointed. Where are the seedlings? he asked, his voice trembling. His dream was quickly becoming a nightmare. Slowly he drove home without saying a word to anyone.

Come harvest, he drove to his fields one last time, expecting the inevitable. And it was: an utter and complete crop failure.

Finally, after coming to the end of himself, he asked a retired farmer whom he greatly admired to meet with him.

“John,” he began. “I don’t understand why I’m not getting any crops. I moved to a farm. I bought the latest farming equipment. I purchased the highest quality seed. What’s my problem?”

“Glen,” the old farmer replied. “You have to plant seed in the soil if you want a harvest.”

Do You Resemble The Farmer?

Do you ever feel like your spiritual life is an utter and complete crop failure? Or do you feel low-level dissatisfaction in your relationship with God?

Perhaps you’ve been hoping for a harvest but you aren’t planting enough seeds. Your soul is like the rich, Iowa soil in this story. And the seed is the word of God.

When we consistently plant seeds of the word of God into the soil of our souls, we will reap a harvest. It may not be immediate, but it will take place.

What does the harvest look like? It can take a variety of appearances:

  • Godly character
  • Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Love for people
  • Love for God
  • Strength to overcome sinful habits.
  • Ability to sense God’s presence

Obviously, reading the Bible isn’t a guarantee for a life without problems or an end to the struggle with our dark sides. But it WILL make a difference.

“For the word of God is living and active,” Hebrews 4:12 tells us. Something happens in our souls when we take regular doses of the word of God. It brings life. Spiritual life.

You’re Invited

On January 1, we’re going to begin our journey together reading through the Bible in one year. Please join me. For more information on our format, click here.

If you miss a day or two, you can catch up by reading past posts to the blog. If you’d like to visit every now and then for some spiritual food, that’s fine, too.

But most importantly…feed your soul.

Michael J. Klassen

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

–Galatians 6:9

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The Most Important 20 Minutes Of Your Day

What can you do in 20 minutes?

You can catch up on your emails…

Check the news on your favorite Internet news sites…

Take a nap…

Waste time channel surfing…

Regardless of how busy your life is, most–if not all–of us can find an extra 20 minutes in our day to do what’s important.

But you can also spend that extra 20 minutes feeding your soul.

Invest In Your Soul

This time last year, I decided to take on a personal challenge that has profoundly impacted my life. I decided to replace 20 minutes a day of mindless surfing on the web to invest in my soul. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but as the year progressed, I began building momentum. This Fall has been the most spiritually vibrant season of my life.

I can’t guarantee that your experience will imitate mine, but I do know this: feeding your soul every day will profoundly impact your life.

I’m confident of that!

In fact, as the year has progressed, I’ve longed for a community of people to join me in these daily feedings–so we could share with each other how these feedings have impacted our lives.

Then the thought occurred to me: why not build a community of people who will read and feed together–and then give them a forum to share their experiences?

Food For Your Soul

So what is the source of this spiritual food?

It sounds almost too simple. Quite honestly, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it because by acknowledging it, you may  want to place me in a category where I don’t belong.

Nevertheless, I’m so convinced it will change your life that I’ll go ahead and tell you.

The source of this spiritual food is the Holy Bible.

Most people feel overwhelmed when they open their Bible. Where do they start? How can they understand such an old book? Who can explain it? And where can they offer their thoughts?

Hopefully my new blog http://www.bibleconversation.com will answer those questions.

Here’s The Plan–And It Only Takes 20 Minutes!

Beginning January 1, 2010, I’m going to guide people on a spiritual journey in reading through the Bible in one year. To do that, you only need 20 minutes a day. Twenty minutes a day that will impact your life!

Here’s the format: Every morning when you wake up, you’ll be given a link to http://www.BibleGateway.com with your daily online Bible reading. If you’d like to use your own Bible, that’s fine, too. For this first year, I’d like to use the New International Version translation of the Bible, because it’s a fairly accurate translation that’s easy to understand.

Then, you’ll be supplied with a few notes that will help you understand that day’s reading.

Next, I’ll offer some thoughts about how God spoke to me through the reading.

And then you’ll be invited to interact with my thoughts–and hopefully offer some thoughts of your own.

If you like, you can subscribe to this online community through email. Just sign up through the sidebar of this blog.

The focus of this blog isn’t Bible information, it’s spiritual transformation. How is God speaking to you through the Bible? Reading for information makes minimal impact on a person’s soul. But taking a moment to listen, meditate, marinate in God’s word will forever change you. And everyone needs an outlet to share and listen to others.

It’s that simple!

A Word To Any Well-Intentioned Doubters And Skeptics

Please allow me to to add one additional thought: Perhaps you’ve never looked at a Bible, or even consider yourself a deeply spiritual person. That’s okay! We’re all pilgrims on a unique spiritual journey. I’m not going to try to make you change your beliefs so they resemble mine. However, this is an opportunity for you to join a safe community of people who will journey together on this voyage of discovery and life-change.

Will you join me?

Michael J. Klassen

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