Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Best Book--by Linden Malki

My favorite memory of my grandmother is the time that a cousin and I, about eight and nine years old, saw Grandma, then in her 80's, reading her Bible. One of us asked "Grandma, you haven't read that yet?" Her reply, "Yes, I've read it several times, and I find new things every time." I couldn't even guess how many times she had read it; she had grown up in a house church organized by her father, and was an amazing, tough, Godly lady. I remember thinking that if she was still finding new truths in the Bible, there had to be something to it. I have found it to be true. We owe an eternal debt those who wrote down what they saw and heard of God, and those who collected and preserved it. For some years now, I've been compiling daily Bible readings to follow up on readings included in the class material we used up until our adult Sunday morning class became a life group discussing the week's sermon topics. I've made them available to people in groups I've worked with, and they are posted each week on the NorthPoint Christian Fellowship, San Bernardino, Facebook page. Pastor Paul has asked me to get them to the office in time to be included in the Sunday church bulletin. I'd like to share why I take the time to do this, and what my guidelines are for what is included.  I grew up in a strong Christian family, and the Bible was always an important part of our lives. I can't say that I've read it every day my whole life, but l was blessed by a solid church background, and a New Testament LIterature class in college that got me seriously reading. Later, I had opportunities to teach Sunday School at Calvary at various times and various age levels, and developed a passion for Biblical context. It is too easy to read the Bible as isolated verses and passages, and pull out "proof texts" to prove specific ideas, too often without appropriate context. I am constantly impressed with the consistency and one-ness in the Bible message. It is miraculous that a compilation of writings collected over fifteen hundred years, covering the story of God's working with people over an even longer period of time, hangs together the way it does. There is value in reading it front to back, Genesis to Revelation; I do recommend having commentaries that explain how it all fits together. (I re-read it in a different translation each time.) It is useful to get an idea what is there and where it is, and the more I read, the more cross-connections, quotations, and relationships I find. The daily readings I put together, however, are topical. My goal is to help people develop the habit of reading daily passages that show how the same concepts come up in different times and places, but that they all point to the same message and the same God, and enrich our understanding of what our pastors have said and our Life Groups discuss. I am constantly struck by the human-ness we find in the people we see in the Bible; they are much like people we all know today. Yes, there are language and cultural differences, but basic human nature shines through. We can get under their skins.  I put these together as a discipline for myself as well as anybody else. When I am choosing them, I use one of my favorite study Bibles, and when I read them each morning, I read them in a different translation. Our growing understanding of God's calling for our church family includes discipleship and spiritual growth, and the more of us that are spending time and attention in God's word, the better God can use us in His plan.

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