Have you ever been given a book that just sits on your self for months before you finally crack it open? My sister and her husband gave me “The Books of the Bible” about 8 months ago and, honestly, I had hardly looked at it until the new year.
I picked up “The Books of the Bible” and have really been impressed by it. This Bible has the TNIV text printed without chapters or verses. It therefore reads like a book instead of a dictionary or encyclopedia. Our current Bibles were divided up into chapters in 1205 and into verses in the 1550’s. Nothing wrong with this, but the original writers didn’t put them in. So this year I’m taking them out.
And the sparks in my mind it has created!
1. Instead of looking for individual verses which I can apply to my life (and which I sometimes take out of context), I find myself thinking about the flow of the story I’m reading.
2. Instead of thinking “Why does this matter to me?”, I find myself wondering “Why did God act in this way?”.
3. Instead of rushing to get through my chapter of the day, I find myself wanting to finish this portion of the story.
Now, I’m not giving up my ESV Study Bible anytime soon, but I’ve come to realize that there is a real benefit to reading the scriptures as a story – God’s story of creation, our fall into sin, and his work in bringing redemption.
When I was a young kid, my father came home one day from a store called “The Hairy Eyeball.” I’m not sure what they sold – I’m almost afraid to ask. But my father carried a shopping bag with an image which has stuck with me for 40 years. On the bag was a huge black and white picture of a hairy eyeball. A big eye with lots of hair (this was the 70’s!) had little arms and legs sticking out of it.
This image reminds me of Paul’s comment in I Corinthians 12:17 where he says:
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
But the body of Christ – the church – is not like the hairy eyeball. There is not giant part of the body of Christ and then the rest of the body parts are stuck on but not really that important.
Each of us has talents that need to be used. Why? God has given us gifts to be used “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12)
We are in this walk of faith together.
Together we encourage one another. Together we challenge one another. Together we build one another up. Together we show mercy and pursue justice in our world.
There is beauty in the body of Christ as we look at the diversity of our backgrounds; the diversity our talents and the diversity of our callings – and we see this diversity come together for the purpose of loving God and loving those whom God has put in our path.
There are no giant hairy eyeballs in the body of Christ. Thank God for that!!
For the past two years, I’m been involved in the St. Stephen’s Film Club which is an outreach to the homeless and other vulnerable people in Shepherd’s Bush. With the help of Streetlytes, a grassroots homeless charity, we serve hot meals to about 80 people each Monday evening and then watch a movie together.
A few months back, volunteers from the local synagogue stopped by to volunteer and bring extra food and winter items. Here’s a short video which was produced on that night by Tailored Media:
Last week I was able to take a day away from London to plan and pray for the new year. I’ve always found that I need to physically remove myself from my normal surroundings in order to focus on longer term goals and pray for an extended time. Thankfully, WEC International’s headquarters at the Bullstrode Manor House is only a 30 minute drive from home. Depending on their schedule, they often have quiet rooms to spend time alone plus beautiful grounds to walk.
As part of my time, I decided to pray for those people I knew by name in Shepherd’s Bush who were not my close friends or members of New City but those shop keepers, contacts from the homeless film club or other acquaintances I’ve made over the past few years. My list grew as I “cheated” a bit by adding a few folks I knew by face but not yet by name.
It was a good exercise for me and as I prayed for God’s blessing upon each individual, I was convicted by how little prayer I’ve given for these individuals whom God has brought into my life. The friend of a friend, the mum from kids club, the volunteer at the film club – all made in the image of the Almighty and brought into my path for a reason.
I’ve decided to keep my “Neighborhood Prayer List” in 2013. Jotting down names as I meet new people and occasionally praying through the expanding list. Who knows how God will develop these various relationships this year? But I want to do a better job of calling upon the Father to be at work in the lives of people I meet along the way.
Who has God brought into your life recently? Is it time for you to develop a “Neighborhood Prayer List”?