Encouragement From The Word

A lesson from (near) Las Vegas

Last week, I wrote about the constant noise that surrounds a trip to Las Vegas.  This week, I thought I’d share a bit about what happened when we were outside Las Vegas – a very different experience!

Thanks to the genius of Sir Sanford Fleming and his time zones, we knew that we’d wake up on our first morning in Vegas on Eastern Time, so we thought we’d take advantage of that fact by renting a car when we left the airport, and driving outside the city to see two incredible sights:  the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.

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It’s an ambitious drive all in one day, but we did it, and boy, was it worthwhile.  Being up by 5:00 a.m. local time on the day after our arrival, we were able to be up and out of the hotel to be at the Hoover Dam before 7, when almost no one was there.  We took our time, poked around, and saw this feat of human engineering in all its imposing glory.  The concrete is so thick on that dam, it’s still curing, more than 80 years later!

As remarkable as feats of human engineering can be, though, a few hours’ drive later, we were met face-to-face with an even greater feat, one of divine engineering.  The Grand Canyon must be seen in real life, for photography does it little justice.  It’s a mighty deep hole, and it goes on forever!  While we didn’t stay too long, or see the Canyon in its vastness, we both felt like we needed simply to stand there and take it in.

Of course, there have been countless years of weather and erosion and who-knows-what sort of geological activities that have made it what it is today, but the Grand Canyon is sort of the anti-mountain: instead of going up, it goes down – way down! – but it inspires an almost equal awe in me.  I can’t look at a phenomenon like the Grand Canyon and not believe in a benevolent Creator.  It’s part of “general revelation”, the sights of the world that draw one to understand the existence of God.

Mountains capture my heart, geologically speaking, but the Grand Canyon came a close second (well, maybe third, after walking the dusty paths of Galilee when on pilgrimage to the Holy Land).  I know that there are people who will say that this stuff just happened, but I think that takes as much faith as it takes to say that God made it.  And I’d rather side with him, given the choice.

It was a stark contrast to the bells and lights and concrete of the Las Vegas strip, and a welcome one.  And it made me ask myself, Do I make a habit of noticing God’s hand at work in creation?

How about you?  Do you make a habit of noticing God’s hand at work in creation?  Mountains, valleys, and flat places are all gifts from the Lord.  Rejoice in them.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship” (Psalm 19.1, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

Does the Bible read you?

I imagine you’d expect me, as a pastor, to ask you if you read the Bible. And, as a follower of Jesus, I, likewise, would expect that you do. But let me ask you this little twist:   Does the Bible read you?

Often enough, we read Scripture because we should. Our devotion can be motivated more by guilt than by desire, more by ‘should’ than by ‘love’. Frankly, that’s not all bad, because a routine of reading the Bible is a healthy one, and it can serve us well when we are in times of crisis.

Do you ever wonder why soldiers are so disciplined, even when they’re on their own bases in peace time? It’s simple: they are so regimented in knowing what to do, that when they are in battle, and under stress, what they learned in peace time comes naturally; it’s reflexive.

Our faith life can be that way, too, though we have to be on our guard to keep it from being mindless. It’s easy to have a routine through which we go every day in Scripture reading, and find that when it’s all done, we couldn’t tell another person a single thing about what we read – it was not absorbed, because the mind wasn’t in it.

Engaging the mind in Scripture reading is important. So is engaging the spirit.

When we engage our spirits in reading the Bible, we can read the Bible, yes, but we also can let the Bible read us. God’s Word is timelessly relevant, and even a passage in the most obscure part of the Old Testament can jump to life in us if God wants to speak to our hearts through it. When we let the Holy Spirit speak through the Word, we may be reading the Bible, but even more importantly, the Bible is reading us. And through that experience, we can learn more about ourselves, and what God desires from us as his disciples.

So…does the Bible read you?

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart” (Psalm 19.7-8, NIV).