Something Old, Something New

I love to read.

That’s one of the main reasons that when my family wants to give me a gift, they immediately think of giving me books or money to buy books. Some of you have been in my office and are thinking: ‘you have too many books already!’

Regardless of the truth of that, I still love reading books, books, and more books.

Many times, my mind is captured by what’s new or fresh on the shelf. I love to read over the most recent offerings of contemporary authors like Tim Keller, Donald Miller or Andy Crouch. These, and others like them, speak the language of our day. They help me to grapple with the issues in our current milieu and engage with others in our current time. Many times, they challenge me to think freshly.

But I have also found the importance of reading authors outside of our current time period. This helps me to combat the contemporary fascination with what is new. Just as we always long for the newest gadget, we also tend to seek after the newest idea. Too often, we naively think that the new idea is better than the old idea.

C. S. Lewis once wrote:

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.

So, based on that advice, I’ve been adding some old, dusty books to my reading list. Some of the authors’ names sound funny. I’m finding their ideas and way of speaking both harder to engage, more challenging to my worldview, and still very refreshing.

Not long ago, I was reading an anonymous letter from a 1st century disciple of Jesus to someone named Diognetus. The richness of thought that I found within these few pages overwhelmed me. (You can access this in the writings of the early church fathers found online at www.ccel.org/fathers2).

I thought to myself: ‘why have I never looked into these sorts of writings before?’ The answer is found in my contemporary snobbery. If the new is better, then the old is often viewed as unimportant. If the new is to be held up as ultimately worthy, then the old may be discarded as unworthy.

So, I ask all of us this question: are we snobs of the contemporary, or are we letting the voices of the past speak depth into our lives?

Through the Bible in 2011…there’s still time

There is still time to join, if you would like join me and others at Eastbrook Church reading the Bible through this coming year, drop me an email (see below).

I am going to utilize the daily calendar from One Year Bible. You can utilize this as a print-out to stick in your Bible, visit the web-page daily to access the readings (www.oneyearbibleonline.com), or access the mobile version of the site through your smart-phone (http://mobile.oneyearbibleonline.com).

Each day will have 4 readings: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalm, and Proverb. When you read each day, I’d askRead More »

Reading Scripture for Transformation (pt 3)

Here is a brief overview of the form of lectio divina. There are four Latin words that outline the movements of lectio divina: lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation).

Reading (lectio)

Find a quiet place where you will not be distracted by what’s around you or what’s not around you. Find a helpful time in your day when you will not be distracted by sleepiness, what’s next, or your stomach’s rumblings. Read the words of the Scripture slowly one time – maybe even out loud. Stop, and read the words once more at a slower pace. Restfully, quietly let those words sink in. Don’t move on until you’ve really heard and listened to the words of the Scripture.

 

Meditation (meditatio)

Chew on the words that you have read a bit. Ponder them. Let God bring something to the forefront of your mind. That’s what meditation is all about. What word or phrase is God drawing out from these words specifically for you? Let that word or phrase resonate in your mind. What does it make you feel or think? Stop here and let the word or phrase sink in. Don’t rush into the next step. Slow down.

Prayer (oratio)

The primary way to think of prayer in this setting is as conversation. God has drawn something out – spoken something – for you. Now, talk with Him about that word or phrase that He has brought to your mind. Ask Him why He is lodging it in your mind today. Maybe it is unsettling. Let Him know that it is unsettling and speak honestly to Him about it. Maybe it is comforting. Speak to Him about the words of comfort. Finally, ask Him what He wants you to do with it today. “Lord, what do you want me to do with what You have given me today?” Continue the conversation. Listen.

Contemplation (contemplatio)

At its core, contemplation is considering what you have heard from God and then being still within that. Rest in what God is speaking to you. Simply sit still and think about how it should impact your real life. One helpful practice you could begin would be to have a journal in which you record what you experience each time you read the Scriptures in this way. Perhaps you could share it with someone today, whether that is a close friend or your small group. Above all, act on what God has spoken to you.

Take some time in prayer to slowly draw out of your encounter with God. Again, slow down and do not rush. Also don’t forget to thank Him for the time you have shared together.

If you’d like to read more about lectio divina, you could take a look at  Eugene Peterson’s book entitled Eat This Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006).

Reading Scripture for Transformation (pt 1)

Many times, when we read the Bible, we approach it in much the same way that a biology student approaches a frog on the dissecting table. While we gather much information about the various pieces, we’ve failed to get a thorough understanding of what is really in front of us in the end.

While critical study of the Bible – with all of the best tools at hand – is important, such study too often ends with a pile of information in our brains. More than mere information from the Bible, what we want to gain in the midst of our reading of the Bible is transformation. Transformational reading of the Scripture is different than the critical cutting apart of the Bible into so many small pieces while standing above it with goggles on.

Transformational reading of Scripture brings us into a living exchange with God through the Scripture where our lives are opened up to His loving Word. We slow ourselves down, stand in God’s presence, and let Him read His Word into our lives. Sometimes we are comforted. Sometimes we are unsettled. Yet, in it all, we encounter God and are transformed bit by bit into the likeness of Jesus.

Over the next few posts, I want to provide some further thoughts on how we can read Scripture for transformation.