Fresh Ways to Look at the Bible

Have you ever tried to learn a new language? My German in high school and college seem like a long time ago, but even today I can recall the joy that would surge when something clicked. Oh! I get it now!

That’s how I felt as I took a 4-week seminary class this summer for continued development as a Cru missionary. The class was Biblical Interpretation & Communication.

As things began to click for me, I kept thinking, I want to tell our friends about all this! There is more to share than space allows, so I’ll share what books and truths most affected me and pray they encourage you.

The Story Larger Than My Life

  

A fresh gratefulness washed over me as I was reminded of the big picture of the Bible and God’s incredible redemptive storyline revealed in it.

Can I be honest and say that I finally felt like—after 30 years as a believer—more than a few of the pieces of history of Israel were jumbled and confused in my mind. God’s Big Picture and How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth gave me gift of putting the pieces all together and in a 30,000 foot view that was so helpful and awe-inspiring!

A huge takeaway for me was this: Old Testament narratives are not ultimately intended to teach moral lessons. My first thought was, Wait…what about the David & Goliath Sunday School lesson to “be like David?” 

As I prayed and processed what I was reading, I found incredible relief in this truth. I don’t have to squeeze and tug and pull a biblical man or woman (especially in the Old Testament) into a place of character they don’t possess. I don’t have to explain away their sin, poor choices or lack of faith. Even on their best day they fall short.

Here’s what’s wonderful—they point to a better One coming. They show our need for redemption, which is ultimately ours in Christ. The One who would be perfect. Thereal hero. The better Adam. A better Abraham. A better DavidThey give us mini-tastes of redemption, which make us hungry for Christ.

Putting On Gospel Glasses

These two questions (above) have absolutely changed how I read Scripture. It’s like I have new grace goggles as I look at the Word.

In other words:

  1. What does this passage tell me about the nature of humanity that requires redemption, and
  2. What does this tell me about the nature of God who provides redemption?

Our greatest need before salvation is the gospel. And our greatest need after becoming believers is…the gospel. May we be encouraged today as we read the Bible to see how great is our need (our fallen condition) and how great is God’s grace (redemption)!

 

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Chapter 2: the Dance of Showing Up

It’s post-Irma life ’round here. A friend recently commented about fall decor she’d seen up and my face registered shock. What? It’s fall? Oh, somehow I’ve missed September.

So, deep breath. Kids back in school. Hurricane items almost all put away. And it’s time for my bi-weekly post for our weekly book club. Ha!

I loved the honesty Jessica wrote with last week in her comment about chapter 1 of Just Show Up. What I’m learning about showing up is similar–it’s not just about the logistics of how to love and serve a friend. Rather, it almost seems a bigger part of all of this is God exposing my own heart to His great care, making me more like Him and how He loves.

If you’re just joining us, here’s what we’re reading.

Here are a few of my favorite parts of chapter 2.

  • p. 38-39: “I didn’t know that specifics made all the difference in showing up for someone.” (e.g “How about Wednesdays I come help with your girls?” vs. “Let me know if you need something.”) “The beauty in offering a specific help instead of a broad one is that we get to help within our gifting…The idea that I can listen to the Holy Spirit and then offer within the gifts He’s given me is freeing.” (aka you don’t have to cook! How freeing!) “We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything right that many of us decide it’s too hard to even attempt entering into someone else’s suffering.”
  • My big a-ha came on page 43: “One friend wanted to come [and visit Kara now that she was being moved to hospice], but she didn’t know when she should or how to best show up. Kara and [her husband] are being bombarded by offers of help–and they don’t have the ability to answer everyone or make all those decisions. After this friend prayed about it and sought counsel, someone advised her to stop asking the ones suffering to make a decision. Instead, she made plans, finding her own transportation and a place to stay outside of Kara’s home. Then she told them, ‘I’m coming and I’d love to see you. But if it doesn’t work out, I understand.'” Cue goosebumps. What a wonderful perspective and GIFT! The friend was loving Kara by not putting more burden on her friend and open-handedly offering a visit.

What about you? I’d love to hear what you’re chewing on from chapter 2.

Chapter 1: The Value of Showing Up

If you got a chance to read the introduction and chapter 1, let’s chat! (If not, it’s not too late. Jump in whenever you can! Here’s more about our online book club for Just Show Up.)

Here are some questions to get us started. Feel free to answer any of them or none of them, and comment on something else. 🙂

  • What thought(s) struck you as new or surprising?
  • Any question come to mind as you were reading?
  • How was it to answer questions 1 & 2 on page 31?

 

How to walk with hurting friends :: join me for an online book club?

just-show-up

For months, I’ve been thinking about this idea of “just showing up.”

Actually, it must have been for years, because I asked a friend to bring this book with her when she was coming to visit us in Australia a few months after our first miscarriage.

That title encompassed what we’d experienced as many friends on two sides of the world chose to walk alongside us, our hearts grasping at breath after the loss of our baby.

My life was marked. Our family’s lives were marked. I can only imagine hard much harder our road would have been without them just showing up.

The book quietly testified to that truth from shelf by title alone until just a few weeks ago. The spine of the book unbroken until a sweet young friend of mine found herself a new member of the sorority none of us wants to be in — the women who’ve miscarried.

That’s when I went hunting for the book in a box yet unpacked. I opened it, asking God to help me know how to love my friend well.

Even after weathering the loss of two babies (another one, Gabriel, last December), I felt a wave of amnesia as to what had ministered to my heart so much. Help me know how to love her, Lord? How can I help?

Do you ever wonder the same when you hear of a hurting friend?

There can be barriers, can’t there? I don’t want to say the wrong thing. Or, I am a horrible cook. Or, I’m actually scared of medical things. Or, It’s too close to home. Or, My own wound is still so raw.

Those are valid concerns. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be held back. But I’d like to offer that we were made in God’s image. And He’s always been in community with Himself, the godhead, as the Father, Son and Spirit. We were crafted from our very start for community. No wonder we long for that at our deepest level.

What would it look like to move toward others, empowered by the One who made us, knowing that we need to receive and we need to give? We need each other.

Here’s the synopsis of the book:

Kara Tippetts’s story was not a story of disease, although she lost her battle with terminal cancer. It was not a story of saying goodbye, although she was intentional in her time with her husband and four children. Kara’s story was one of seeing God in the hard and in the good. It was one of finding grace in the everyday. And it was one of knowing “God with us” through fierce and beautiful friendship.

In Just Show Up, Kara and her close friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn, write about what friendship looks like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry, and even cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, this eloquent and practical book explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.

The author, Kara Tippetts, writes this in the introduction of the book. I absolutely love this.

Showing up for another says, “I see you. Your pain is known, and though I cannot make it better, I’m here and that’s what matters…

Friends. Community. It is the only way to know and be known. It’s where we see our own humanity and frailty, our gifts and our weaknesses. When we show up for one another, we invade each other in love and become witnesses to the truth that trials and sickness and pain are not the whole story. There’s more, so much more. We can remind one another that our lives are not a mistake. And, most importantly, that we are loved with an everlasting love.”

Maybe you’ve had a taste of a community of friends that seem to match Kara’s words. Or, perhaps, you haven’t but that picture stirs you to think that something like that could exist.

Join me in a very loosely organized online book club starting today.

  1. Buy the book (ebook, or audio) from Amazon or another bookstore, or borrow from the library. (Hoopla is my new favorite way to borrow audio books and listen from my phone or ipad.)
  2. Read the introduction and chapter 1 this week. (A quick and easy read yet so much to chew on, both on a practical-level and heart level.)
  3. Next Tuesday I’ll write a post asking for your thoughts. This is what I’m really looking forward to!

Until then, I’d love you to leave a comment on the blog with one practical way that someone has “shown up” for you, big or small, that really helped when you were going through a hard time.