Yesterday, my wife and I took a half day trip up to Estes Park, Colorado to enjoy some fresh snowfall and a day around the quaint mountain town. We had a nice meal with family and friends and enjoyed some of the communities’ festiveness with their celebration of Halloween. We had coffee, caramel apples, chili, and a handful of candy.
After the fun times, we had to start thinking about driving down the mountain canyon back to our home an hour away.
Usually, when I am driving up or down this area I become a little annoyed with how people drive. Estes Park is a very tourist-y place so people often go up to the town without knowing much of how to drive in the mountains. This can really annoy me, because well, I struggle with a self-righteous bent from time-to-time.
I think that the phrase that Christianity isn’t a religion but a relationship has reached peak cliche status. To the point that it means almost nothing given the contexts the phrase is used in.
There is one fundamental area where it does shine drastic insight. This area is the nature of our relationship with God. The nature of how we relate to God.
In this video, Paul Vanderklay lines out two ideas about God. One is an idea of God as being an entity but not really a person. This god as an idea is handy in rationalizing the world in which we live. The second is the idea of God as a personal agent. This video actually discusses some philosophical areas that I don’t want to get into here. But, it explains two concepts that are often held about God and thus our relationship to the two concepts.
I have really enjoyed the last few months. I am newly married and it seems that we are really in stride at this point. There are some things that could work a little smoother, but everything is actually awesome.
I was thinking about the relationship I have with my wife and I wondered if there were lessons that would transfer to my Devotion to God. Like, little things that I have noticed in general life that I can apply to my spiritual life. We are physical creatures (but not merely physical), so sometimes we learn best by seeing something play out in life before we really know how it works.
For me, this really struck a chord. My walking in faith has been well the last few months but I was looking for a broader perspective. I had a feeling that my scope of who God was and how I should relate to Him had been un-growing. Which is fine, but really I needed to make headway. Recapture some of that awe.
The mature Christian’s faith is built on a foundation that is not complicated. This foundation just takes time and care. Bible Study, Memorization, Church Attendance, Prayer, Service; these are all pillars of our growing faith.
How do we, when we feel like we know so little, then get started with all of this? The Bible is a huge book. The church is thousands of years old. There is just so much to grab onto, read through, and learn.
Well, let’s start by taking our devotional life seriously as it will be the foundation for a hundred other habits. Let’s see what a devotional Bible Study is.
Devotion and Devotional Bible Study
So, what is devotion, first of all?
Devotion is loyalty and commitment towards one that is expressed through enthusiasm and excitement.
Let’s start out by asking this, is that definition of devotion happening when you are thinking about pulling out the Bible?
Often times, when we first get started really getting interested in studying the Bible we are hit with feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Here is some encouragement:Bible Study isn’t a performance task. You aren’t judged, from ‘on high’, about how well you are studying and comprehending every single word. It is more like building a solid friendship over time– just with your creator.
Humility is one of those traits that is so out there on the spectrum of human emotion and character. It goes against so much of what we have come to know about being a growing, successful person. Especially when we look at culture, humility seems to only be used as a tool to look better, which is one of the greatest flips that can be done.
Why should we show humility?
This is a matter of ethics; how we, ourselves, treat others. Humility is one of those virtues that scales. It works in a marriage between two people. It works at your job. It works in society. It scales. Additionally, it is one of the founding principles of the Christian faith. Humility is what gets us out of our heads and into the lives of other people. We can’t adequately love other people if all we want is to have them know how great we are at their expense.
What is humility?
A dictionary would say that humility is a lowly-sense of yourself, especially having the perspective of there being other people outside of yourself. However, I would be tempted to say that it is more like the knowing the existence of our own shortfalls and weak spots in life when we are made aware of other peoples.
Christians engage culture by thoughtfully and carefully inserting themselves into contexts that aren’t usually Christian. They must be careful because not every part of any culture is healthy for Christian living. They must be thoughtful because there are a thousand nuances that can make you engaging with a certain group or make you a sore thumb with them.
How can Christians Engage Culture?
This begs the questions, how can a Christian Engage with Culture Thoughtfully? and, How can a Christian Engage with Culture Carefully?
I will separate these two questions for a bit more clarity. But I think it is important to think of them together. We want to be thoughtful in how we engage culture (and various subcultures; geographically and ideologically), otherwise, we will never truly connect with these people or benefit them with the Gospel. They will be annoyed that we are trying to sell our religion to them without knowing anything specific about them.
We must engage culture carefully because there is a real threat that Christians can absorb too much of the culture. Christians can be well-intentioned yet dumb when they approach others. They often change the way they think in order to draw lines closer to their target audience which just creates a pseudo-Christianity and an aggressive mix of a new Cultural Christianity (emergent church anyone?).
Being unthoughtful leaves you babbling at people who are walking away from you and being uncareful leaves you with a compromised Christianity.
It’s a bold claim to say that you aren’t entitled to your day of rest when so many Americans think they are entitled to their weekends and vacations. It is bold, but it isn’t without reason or distinction. To understand this, we need to understand the historical reasons for the Sabbath and what Jesus has called us to with the Sabbath.
Key Biblical Texts for Understanding the Sabbath
If you want to read the article and reference them as I do, go ahead, it may save you 6 minutes.