Friday, September 30, 2011


"What do I need to do to grow as a Christian?" This is a commonly asked question by sincere followers of Christ. And the response? Often is something to the effect of "read your bible and pray." On the surface this sounds like a solid answer. After all, who could go wrong with reading their bible or praying. Interestingly though, how many times does the bible actually tell us to "read" it...? We're hard pressed to find any reference that instructs us to do so (at least in the context of what "read" means to a western mindset). On the contrary, Scripture encourages us to study, reflect and deeply meditate.

Exploring Scripture through Study is more of an art form than a science. Scripture is simply amazing!

The Puritan writers said that, “the Bible is so shallow that babes cannot drown, yet, so deep that even the most asute of theologians cannot touch the bottom, yet.

The rabbis spoke of the text being like a gem with seventy faces, and each time you turn the gem, the light refracts differently, giving you a reflection you haven’t seen before. And so they would turn the text again and again because they kept seeing things they missed the time before.

The following are a few ways practice the exploration of study.
  • Pray, asking God to teach you.
  • Discover the context - this is very important to accurate interpretation.
  • Look for the obvious - facts about people, places, events.  Often these will be repeated making them easy to see.  This provides a framework for the text.
  • Be objective - let scripture speak for itself. Don't try to make it say what you've always thought it said.  Ask God to make His truth obvious to you and then adjust your life accordingly.
  • Read asking questions of the text.
Approach the Scripture as a detective looking for clues to a mystery.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
-Proverbs 25:2

Here are some questions to consider when studying Scripture:
  • Who wrote it?
  • Who did he write it to?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What are the main events?
  • What is the meaning of the message?
  • What are these people like?
  • What is his purpose in saying this?
  • When was it written?
  • When did this event happen?
  • When will this take place?
  • When did he do or say this?
  • Where was this done?
  • Where was this written?
  • Where will it happen?
  • Why was this written (Why did God want me to know this?)
  • Why did the author say so much, or so little about this?
  • Why should they do such and such?
  • How did it happen?
  • How did they do it?
  • How do I do that?
Record your answer in a notebook. 

You will be amazed at how much you learn that you did not realize was there.

It may also be helpful if you use a Bible that you are willing to mark in.

I often photo copy a passage I'm studying on a 11 x 17 sheet of paper and use the margin to take notes, connect thoughts and ask questions...

I also find it helpful to create a Word .doc. I copy/paste the text at hand and as I study out the words/phrase/passage, I enter in findings, questions, insights, etc underneath the verse in the document.
  • Identify key words.
Marking key words consistently throughout the text will help you quickly identify common themes.

A couple of resources for growing in the practice of studying Scripture:

to be continued...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


There are a number of ways of engaging Scripture...

One is to engage it through the Lens of His-Story.

To look at engaging Scripture through the Lens of His-Story

Stories are powerful. They shape how we see the world.

All of human life is shaped by some story.

I can only answer the question
“What am I to do?”
if I can answer the prior question
“Of what story do I find myself a part?”

(Alasdaire MacIntyre)

The way we understand human life
depends on what conception we have of the human story.
What is the real story of which my life story is a part?

(Lesslie Newbigin)

Scripture is the most powerful story ever recorded.

It is literally, HIS-STORY. It is the Story of God’s pursuit of humanity. In fact, you can take the first 3 chapters of Genesis and the last 3 chapters of Revelation and you have pretty much the complete story in and of it self. Now much happens, we know in between…

If Scripture were a Drama or a Play, it could be broken up into 6 Acts.

Scripture as a 6 Act Drama
  1. Creation: God Establishes His Kingdom
  2. Crime/Crisis/Fall: Rebellion in the Kingdom
  3. Israel: The King Chooses Israel
    1. Scene I: A People for the King
    2. Scene II: A Land for His People
Interlude: Intertestamental Period 

       4. Jesus: The Coming of the King - Redemption
       5. NT & the People of God
             Scene I:  New Testament and the Early Church – Jerusalem to Rome
             Scene II:  the ongoing story of the Church – To the ends of the Earth

       6.   Restoration of all Creation: The Return of the King

Helpful tips for engaging Scripture through the lens of His-Story.
  1. Begin to see Scripture as more than a collection of stories in which we can extract morals and principles from. It is useful for this, as well as for establishing doctrine and teaching. But, all of that needs to be framed in the context of the over-arching narrative of Scripture.

  2. Begin simply by reading through the Bible.(systematically // chronologically).
    • Bible Reading Plans.

  3. The following are some books and resources I've found helpful in this area:


Pretty stoked about the new series we're kicking off at New Community tonight.

Four weeks dealing with a few central Spiritual Practices....

Friday, September 09, 2011

Images of the Cross

Often the phrase "Jesus died on the cross for my sins" is used to explain the purpose of Jesus' death. This is true, but it seems that this pat-answer is a bit flattened for what really transpired. Interestingly, the writers of the New Testament utilized a number of images, words and metaphors to communicate what happened on the cross. It's almost as if in each instance there were saying, "the cross... it's like this.... and it's like this... and it's like this" Each time pulling from another sector of life, culture and understanding. The following are a few of the images of the cross and what transpired that are found in the New Testament.