I’m taking a vacation…from reading the Bible

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I’ve taken a vacation…from reading the Bible.

I know what’s happening…you just let your eyes scan over that title of this post and immediately you are probably thinking, “another one bites the dust”. I came to the conclusion that I needed a break from reading the bible because I was pride-ing myself on how good I was for being such a great “student” of the Word. A long time ago, a friend of mine told me that he wished he knew just a fraction of the biblical passages and truths that I had forgotten. Remembering how I felt at the time when he said that to me still brings me a “shiver” down my proverbial spine. Understand, over the years, I’ve been a huge advocate and practitioner of bible reading disciplines…The One Year Bible (I read that 7 years in a row, whoopee), Quiet times (don’t even get me started), one chapter of OT/NT/and a psalm a day, the lectionary (both the Protestant and Roman versions I might add), you name it…I’ve probably done it with passion and purpose. In fact, I have a collection of bibles that fill about two entire bookshelves in my home….most of them, boldly and extensively highlighted with pithy and insightful notes in margins (of course). I think I know quite a bit about the bible…I’ve taught scores of bible studies over the years; preached thousands of sermons; written countless articles and papers on it; I’m even a biblical studies professor for God’s sake! You get the point.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am spoiled rotten with the text. Like a kid with his/her hand in the cookie jar…I can’t get enough…I can’t consume enough, to a point. Sing it with me, “the B-I-B-L-E yes that’s the book for me”. But remember, I’m spoiled. I’m holding on to the text with a truckload of pride and carrying it around like a trophy…but something is missing. It is like having a fancy fishing rod for fishing and never having used it to catch a trout. It is like saying you are an expert in relating and leading teenagers without ever having a child who grew to be a teenager in your own home. It is like saying you have the keys and title to a Porsche and bragging to your friends that you drive an expensive sports car without ever having taken it out of the driveway. It’s like playing “air guitar”…it is just not the real thing, is it?

The real issue is NOT just reading the text…it’s living it, isn’t it? I’ve been thinking lately about a few things – the Disciples of Jesus never carried a bible…millions of followers of Jesus over the centuries never had a bible on their shelf…never knew the differences between the KJV or NASB or NIV or ASB or NASA or UK or whatever…millions of Christ-followers over the centuries never heard of a quiet time…millions of Christ followers died a martyrs death having only heard a select passage or two during their entire lives. So, these things got me thinking…what’s the difference between how they lived out the Kingdom and how I experience God? The real issue is not just reading and knowing the text…if you’re in the boat, you have to get out the oars and row, right? Nice to be in the boat but without rowing, you’re just dead in the water. I know for me, any many other followers of Jesus, we are pretty happy about simply being “in” the Word…maybe we are to “into” it and not living it as we could. Mmmm…

So, I’m taking a vacation from reading the bible…to try to live what I’ve read. The issue isn’t knowing the Word; it is living and becoming the Word to the world. You know what I mean?

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One thought on “I’m taking a vacation…from reading the Bible

  1. At the end of all things it is who we are inside and what we’ve done as a result that matters as we stand before the Father. Are we truly ‘adopted’ and grafted into Jesus the vine or have we simply and fatally attempted to please Him with our own Biblical intellect and religious merit badges? I shudder to think of the millions of people who will stand before Him and read off their deeds as if to impress and remind God of the things that they did together… not realizing that they were only kissing him through a plate glass window..never touching His lips and never feeling His heart beating within their own.
    Nothing is more terrorizing than this.
    As I read this blog entry I found myself applauding. So many times we find ourselves ‘in agreement’ with eating God’s Word but in truth we are far from actually following it. What an amazing realization and confession this has been. I am reminded of a time when I shared the stage with several ministers who decided to power-preach on the topic of ‘what we will say when we finally see God face to face.’ There were some pretty explosive ideas coming out of that shared pulpit (we preached tag team in the round). Lucky for me I was last. By the time I got to speak the place was absolutely drunk with spiritual frenzy. Flags were whipping. People were marching and twirling around the room and standing on their Bibles. Hands were raised with shouting and adulation. Pentecostals and Baptists alike would confess sins that they hadn’t even committed in such an environment!
    I stood there silently for a minute and just watched. Then one of the ministers yelled out, “Tell us what you would say, Pastor Yambar! Preach it!” So I did. I moved away from the pulpit and took a knee.
    Quietly I whispered, “Yes, Lord.”
    I did this several times until the frenzy began to die down. Some of the people on the platform seemed confused. One hopped up man of the cloth actually looked angry. I guess I musta peed on his campfire meeting.
    When the air was finally silent I finished by rising and saying, “A good friend is someone that is with you always. They either know you or they don’t. Sometimes it’s just nice to be in their presence. Jesus told us to follow Him. He didn’t ask us to agree with Him and then not. If He is leading you then He already knows what you did together and what you allowed Him to do through you. He’ll either see you as His friend or not see you at all.”
    “When I stand before God I plan to be speechless and thankful just to see Him.”
    That may have been the shortest sermon I ever gave. Needless to say, I got out of there as soon as I could. I even skipped Denny’s.
    There’s a graet old sci-fi movie out there called Fahrenheit 451 which I encourage everyone to view. Like so many things in life endure to the end. The ending is the payoff. Personally I think that it is one of the best illustrative sermons ever given. To become one with the words of The Word…. what a powerful silence that would be. What peace. What amazing fruit. Selah.
    See you all at the conference! XXOO!
    Rev. Chris Yambar

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