Withness.

Everything changed when Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered sin, death and Satan. And then He told His followers:

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

He not only sent them out — go do this! — He was to go with them. How did the Father send the Son? He went with Him. How are we ‘sent’ by Jesus. With Him, in relationship with Him, to live His life, a resurrected life that will never end. He is with us. One could call this “withness.”

There’s a famous quote from William Carey, an ambitious believer who was a key shaper of the modern missions movement. In what came to be called the “Deathless sermon,” Carey said:

“Expect great things from God;
attempt great things for God!”

I think Carey would agree: we don’t do things ‘for’ God. In Christ we get to do things with Him. Withness.

Grateful for the reminder from Pastor Matt Kottman in his Easter 2011 sermon on John 20:19-23, “So I Send You.”

For all you goldfish lovers.

Since Chris Nye is at a hip and cool conference this week, he won’t have time to tell me not to post his words. Plus, he emailed them to me. Plus plus, below is part of a story about a goldfish.

This Sunday Chris will teach our middle schoolers on the Resurrection of Jesus (John 20:1-23).

Chris wrote a little preview for us:

I can remember when my first goldfish, Bowser, died. I had bought Bowser on sale at the local pet store after begging my dad for 25 cents. He was trying to talk me out of it, telling me that I wouldn’t feed it, that cleaning the bowl would be difficult, but I insisted over and over again that I would take care of him and love him forever.

It would be only three weeks before Bowser died. But I would like to take this time to defend myself: I fed Bowser, I cleaned his bowl, and I even gave him a nice spot in the shade on the counter in the kitchen. Even though I followed all the directions perfectly, Bowser still died.
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What's Your Type? Wired to engage the Bible.

We all talk about the things we are excited and confident to speak about. I’ve noticed many men need both of those elements (enthusiasm and confidence) to open up, whereas women are more apt to speak on themes and topics they are excited about, and ask questions when we lack confidence. So, while I rejoice that women around the globe are diligently studying the Scriptures, I lament that us men tend to let others seek God for us and we’ll just sit here and watch. We’re missing out.

Yesterday I borrowed from the May/June 2011 Bible Study Magazine feature, Breaking Down Your Bible Study Type. The author listed five types of people who engage the Bible: the Newbie, the Perpetual Planner, the Nonconformist, the Extreme Extrovert, and the Ascetic. I confessed I am a mix between the ascetic and the nonconformist, which isn’t always help since I lead people and its often helpful for a pastor to set the pace and pattern and not deviate from it. Thus I’ve learned to color between the lines and trade color crayons with other people too.

Are their others? I think so. Today I want to expand the list of “types” to include many of those I interact with weekly.

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What's Your Type? Breaking down how you engage the Bible.

I’m a sucker for good content wrapped in stellar design. So, when a publisher like Logos takes an interest (Bible study) and wraps it in a magazine with great typography, apt use of white space, and plenty of well-made charts, I have a hard time setting it aside.  The magazine passes what I call the ‘six foot test’ — from six feet away do you want to move closer and read it? Yep. Things like that don’t get thrown away; they have some alluring quality making you want to hold onto them.

Bible Study Magazine is a great monthly read. And it’s not just for Bible nerds. Anyone from a novice to the curious to theo-dorks and everyone in between would benefit from BSM.

Their May/June 2011 issue has a special section “9 Ideas for Better Bible Study.” One of the nine is #2: Breaking Down Your Bible Study Type. An intro from author and BSM associate editor Rebecca Kruyswijk:

What’s your Bible study “type”? Are you the newbie or the planner? The nonconformist or the extrovert extreme? We don’t like to think we fit into categories, but we certainly need to examine the habits that keep us from interacting with the Bible.

Recognizing who we are, and how we’re wired, will help us launch into meaningful and life-transforming devotions before God. Kruyswijk gives five categories or labels for people who seek to study the Bible:
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So beautiful it hardly seems real.

Video of the Milky Way galaxy in a timelapse which grasps only a fraction of its vast beauty:

The One God created all this. He spoke it into being. How great and beautiful this Creator must be!

Just as Nehemiah described as he prayed:

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
—Nehemiah 9:6

A transforming moral imperative. (It's more fun to obey.)

“Christians today will understand that biblically authentic Christianity is never merely a matter of rules and regulations, of public liturgy and private morality. Biblical Christianity results in transformed men and women—men and women who, because of the power of the Spirit of God, enjoy regenerated natures. We want to please God, we want to be holy, we want to confess Jesus is Lord. In short, because of the grace secured by Christ’s cross, we ourselves experience something of a transforming moral imperative: the sins we once loved we learn to fear and hate, the obedience and holiness we once despised we now hunger for. God help us, we are woefully inconsistent in all this, but we have already tasted enough of the powers of the age to come that we know what a transforming moral imperative feels like in our lives, and we long for its perfection at the final triumph of Christ.
—Don (D.A.) Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, pp. 31-32.