“God is not the Bible. To make the Bible into God is idolatrous. The Bible is God’s communication—in the form of words—with us. We can trot out here all the important words about the Bible—inspiration, revelation, truth, etc.—and they deserve to be. But those are not enough. Behind all of these words is the astounding claim we Christians make: the Bible is God’s communication with us in the form of words” Scott McKnight
“The Bible does provide norms for life. This is all true, but several problems arise with using the Bible principally as a kind of “rule book” for life. First, large chunks of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments have a relatively small proportion of imperatives or commands. Much of Scripture seems to be descriptive rather than obviously prescriptive. Much of Scripture doesn’t tell us to do anything at all, particularly the historically oriented books” Michael Emlett
“God is up to something in neighborhoods, on the ground in real places. The church, in all its diversity, needs to figure out how to join in. We think God is putting forth a dare that, if practiced, could both revitalize church traditions, and develop a growing unity among members of various denominational expressions in the parish. More than that, it could help the church learn to give itself away in love to the world around it.”
Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, Dwight J. Friesen
In 1 Kings 18, Elijah is on the mountaintop and seeing great blessing as he serves God, yet just a chapter later he is in despair. Last week, I was in chapter 18 but the last 3 days have been a chapter later and I have been despondent, like Elijah, wanting to run away from my ministry and hide. It has been a struggle and so this morning, I decided to go and sit in a public area away from my office.
As I walked to a seat, I was pleading with God to give me a sign that this ministry was worth it, that it was worth persevering, to give me a sign of hope. On sitting down, and with immediacy, the raven fed me. A man came up to me on his mobility scooter and began a conversation. It was a conversation when the man quickly opened up about his life, both good and bad, and over 30 minutes or so we were talking about Christ, forgiveness and hope for the future. It was an important conversation – as he said goodbye there was the opportunity to pray for him and he promised to go away and reflect on what we spoke about.
Like Elijah being fed by the raven, God was feeding me with hope. This ministry is worth it, it is worth persevering and this conversation was that slither of hope that I had cried out for. God’s grace was not just apparent, it exploded in these moments. An explosion of grace…beautiful!
One of the dangers in any work is “over management”. So often, there are attempts at controlling work, maximising revenues and increasing efficiencies, that we draw things closer and manage things tightly. This may inhibit creativity, work flow and the general excitement of team growth, more importantly, it may strangle faith.
In ministry “over management” can be stifling. We see in the Old Testament that the people of Israel, when arriving at the borders of the promised land, were warned to remember their God, the God who sustains, the God who provides, the God who is faithful. However, as they settled in the land, they forgot their God, relied on the land to sustain them and thereby forfeited those things that had been so longed for. Why was this?
The land was given as a gift, not as a possession. The land was owned by the creator and therefore the people needed to manage the land in a way that recognised ownership – instead they “over managed” the land as if it was their personal possession. It came to a point where they lost the land and were driven into exile.
What does this mean for ministry? It causes us to stop and remember that our ministry does not belong to us – it belongs to God. Remember who the rightful owner is – manage it appropriately, to enhance and not possess. Honour the owner of the work – remember faith is integral to all that we do. This is a challenge but it enables us to honour the Creator God – management is important but not to the point were we stifle those good things that need space to grow.
Easier said than done…..but I will keep trying!
fascinating article called “Africa needs God” at Times online. Worth a read.