A Great Read

Do you have a Bible? If so, how many? Do you have a favorite? Is it a thin-line Bible? A daily devotional Bible? A chronological Bible? A study Bible? A pocket Bible? Or possibly an on-line Bible?

What version do you prefer? Do you like the NIV? The New Living Translation? The Message? Or do you lean more toward the New King James? The New American Standard? The New Revised Standard?

It’s amazing how endless the possibilities are for us to access scripture. We have it on our phones. We have readings sent to our e-mail accounts. We have them in our cars, in our bedrooms, in our living rooms and even in our hotel rooms when we travel. We have literally come to the place where we could have constant access to the word of God.

And so I ask, “What’s your relationship with the Word?”

Early on, I knew the Bible to be God’s book. That he inspired over 40 different men to write his words down for us. That it is divided into two major sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. That it has 66 books, 39 in the Old and 27 in the New. That the Old Testament has stories about God and his people – Israel. And the New Testament has stories about Jesus and the church. I was a student of the word. I took notes in church and worked to connect all the dots. I was definitely in pursuit of more information. I wanted to know more about God, more about the church and more about what this meant for me.

Then, there was a time when I stopped reading the Bible altogether. I struggled with what appeared to be inconsistencies in scripture. And with inconsistencies in my personal experience. I stopped my pursuit of God and did my best to numb my heart.

But still he spoke to me. In the midst of my struggle, he reminded me of his love and his desire for me to be free. I heard is voice through the gentle challenges of other believers. And finally, he broke through with a word spoken deep into my heart, saying, “You have no life without me!”

When I came back home to him, I entered with a new desire. I wanted to know this God who would not give up on me. I longed to discover his heart. I wanted a real relationship with him, not predetermined religious answers. And so I searched, I questioned, I discovered and I let go.

In my pursuit of God through his word, I found Jesus. I was introduced to the Word who was God and has been with God from the beginning. Who participated in creating us for relationship with himself. Who ached as we continually choose to love ourselves more than him. Who has relentlessly chased humanity from the beginning of time. Who established the nation of Israel to represent God to the world. Who refused to give up on people. Who punished and rebuked but always followed it up with hope and provision. Who willingly gave up his place to become like us. Who came to once and for all rescue us from the enemy, from this world and from ourselves. Who stood in our place, taking our penalty…dying so we could live! Who promised that his presence will always be with us, leading us and reminding us of his way. Who will one day take us home!

When you look at your Bible, do you see him? Do you encounter his heart? Do you invite him to break through and have his way with you?

What’s your relationship with the Word?

The Dream House

It’s something we all dream about at some point, isn’t it? Where we will live when we finally arrive at the life we are working toward. You know, the white picket fence — the American Dream.

For some it’s small and quaint. For others is expansive and out-of-the-way. For my daughter, at least at this point, the only requirement would be that it is pink!

For us, this is the ultimate dream house. We love the color variations in the rock, the tin roof and how the paint connects it all together. And then there are the dormer windows and the columns on the porch that break up the lines and draw your eye in. There’s just not much wrong with this house, other than…it’s not a house! It’s a bank in Cameron, TX.

Kristen and I drive by this beautiful structure every time we head south to visit her parents in Round Top. We love looking at it and dreaming of what could be in the future. It’s a constant reminder of the life we’d like to have.

It’s amazing how tied we are to houses in our culture. We go into unbelievable debt for them. We work two jobs and make double payments so we can afford them. And we USED to agree to ridiculous mortgage schemes in order to get into a house that we really had no business buying in the first place. We do all of this working toward that perfect dream, just knowing that when we get there all will be right in the world.

Question: What if we put that much effort in building a different house? A house of peace? A house that constantly carried the presence of Jesus. A house that became a blessing to everyone who entered it. What if instead of working two jobs for brick and mortar we actually quit a job to build a house that lasts? What would our homes be like if we were OK to live in half the square footage in order to have more time investing in our children? What if the “American Dream” is actually the greatest threat to the greatest desires of our hearts?

Kristen and I still love that house and we may or may not ever build it. But one thing I know, if we do build it, it will be done in freedom, not bondage. It will be a blessing and not a curse. Because that’s not the house that I really dream about when I close my eyes at night.