What does revolution look like?
Baptism. Forgiveness. Mealtime. I trust in the revolution that God works in my body and soul. I know the danger of my sin and shame. The power of darkness against me is real. It is so difficult to imagine the glory of God being revealed in the midst of my loss and shame. Jesus Christ overthrows the powers of this age and the evil that lurks around. Through His love revealed for the world in His suffering on the cross, the glory of God shows up in our suffering and humiliation. The revolution of God’s love transforms my present so that I live now inside of promise. Death and the Devil seek to take away my view of Jesus’ love. Satan is working overtime to convince me I am weak and nothing. The shouts of accusations and images of weakness shout at me loss. In Jesus I see the love of God. This light of love shines as a gate when I know myself stuck in disappointment.
Revolution of Baptism
The spirit of God has called me to have faith in this revolution of hope by pointing me to Jesus. I cannot come to know or believe in this hope but through the work of the Spirit of God I believe. My heart beats. My mind spins. My eyes open. Hope is possible because Jesus is present. The old Adam which brings me death has been drowned in my Baptism. Daily I emerge from the waters a new creation. God is going to work through me. So much risk is underway in God. He will work through me. Revolution from death to life is the promise of my Baptism. I have been called into this world as a child of God. I have something to share with the world. The love of God calls me to speak.
Revolution of Forgiveness
I take steps forward in my Baptism. My vocation as a child of God compels me forward. I stumble and fall. I say and do the very things I do not want to do. Should I become quiet again? These bones have come to life but I doubt. I know the poison of hypocrisy. I feel I must go back into the shadows again because I do not have the authority to speak. I speak words of this shame to another in my whispers. I hear from him the very words of God, “I forgive you.” I’m called again out of darkness, and I speak again. I can do no other but speak the revolution of being called out of darkness into His marvelous light. Sin and shame try to silence my witness, but I no longer stand on my own righteousness. I stand on Christ. He is my heart beat.
Revolution of Mealtime
I come weak and weary in my soul to the table of the Lord. My host greets me with welcome. There is room for me at this table. My savior Jesus has set the table with the choicest feast. I do not deserve a place at this meal. I come at the invitation of my savior. He feeds me forgiveness and resurrection in the sacrifice of His body and blood. The revolution of the table greets not only me but all others. By faith in the words “given and shed for you,” I’m worthy to feast at this meal. My place at this table does not come reserved by my own works. From the first to the last we all arrive at this meal with faith in Jesus as our reservation.
Reformation On the Street
What does this revolution rooted in baptism, forgiveness, and mealtime look like in our world outside the walls of our churches? On October 9, 1989, Germans in Leipzig gathered for prayer and song at St. Nicholas Church. They had gathered for prayer on Monday nights since 1982. They participated in a revolution rooted in peaceful hope when they marched around the city. The secret police knew how to respond to violence. They had not been given orders for how to handle a protest that brought revolution through peace. The people, young and old, lived on the streets the revolution of their Baptism. They people answered the voice of death and oppression with the voice of hope and life.
Today the resurrection of Jesus still calls us out of darkness and shame to live in the light of His life. Silence and fear do not order my days. There is a revolution in my body and soul. I now march from death to life.
A monument in Leipzig to those who walked in hope.
Grace is flowing today.
Mike Yagley and I have been working on recording podcasts for a project called GraceOnTap. Today we have uploaded our first episode on the background of the 95 Theses. Our plan is to release an episode each week. I hope you enjoy.
What happens when people are engaged in daily reading of the Bible? The results can be massively helpful for our walk in this world.
- We see our story and God’s story intersecting.
When we walk with the words of the Lord daily on our hearts, we are better equipped to bring God’s perspective to the challenges and joys we experience. God has a story to share with us. After reading through the Bible, the story of God becomes more apparent. I have found it helpful to place the events of the Bible on a timeline and then discover parts of my life fit onto that same timeline. When I get farther away from the rhythm of God’s Word, my own life seems out of sync.
- We make connections between Bible passages.
Besides becoming more comfortable with knowing the details of the Bible, I also find regularly reading the Bible improves my ability to connect the dots between different Bible passages. When Paul quotes in Romans 1:17 a passage from the prophet Habakkuk, I am better equipped to know why Paul quoted that passage. I enjoy the experience of reading one passage in the Bible and having that passage lead me to read another passage which then causes me to remember yet another passage.
- We slow the day down.
When reading the Bible is part of my daily schedule, I enjoy how the pace of my day begins to slow down. I have heard athletes describe being “in the zone” and how everything moves at a different speed. I think daily reading the Bible puts my spiritual heart closer to the zone of having everything move at a different speed. The Holy Spirit works through the Word to bring me into the God zone.
- We deal with the tough passages.
When working through a reading plan, I read books and passages that I previously passed over. I also find myself reading passages I have taken for granted. I appreciate reading the tough passages and putting on my big boy pants to figure out what God’s Word means. I also rejoice in the depth and width of God’s Word when I revisit oft-read passages.
In the Michigan District we are celebrating the Reformation’s 500th Anniversary with a call to the Word. The Reformation refers to the 16th Century when people called for a reform of the teaching of the church. The website crafteddaily.com will show you how to signup for the Reformation Reading Plan. This plan, likethe Reformers, accents the joy of the Word of God. You will find in this plan a gospel ordering for your daily reading. The Bible readings are organized according to which books most influenced the Reformers. Signup for the Reformation Reading Plan and find yourself daily fed with grace. The reading plan utilizes the Bible app available on Android or iOS. Each day’s reading takes 10-15 minutes.
Bible reading plans are not only for adults.
The Barna Group conducted research commissioned by the American Bible Society. They surveyed more than 1,000 participants between ages 13 and 17. Most teens still see the Bible as a positive thing. 69 percent of teenagers personally own a Bible. 44 percent of teens read the Bible at least three or four times a year, and at least 25 percent say they read the Bible at least once a week. The main motivation for Bible reading among teens is growing closer to God. Despite postmodern teachings in schools that all religions reveal truth, American teens still regard the Bible as the primary holy book. The president of the Barna Group said, “In an increasingly secular culture, the Bible remains a highly regarded and well-read text among the vast majority of American teens—most of whom believe it to be sacred.” We have reasons to be filled with optimism because teens still care deeply about the relevance of the Bible to the world in which they live. Getting rooted in the Bible is needed in every generational level.
Daily reading of the Bible, possibly reading through the whole Bible, may seem daunting or something only the professionals should handle. God has given His Word to all of us so that we may believe in Him. The Word of God reveals the very heart of God. The heart of God is not given only to professionals, nor should we consider the Bible only the possession of a few. God’s Word has been revealed so that all might come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. So I encourage you to read the inspired Word of God. Do not just pick and choose sections. Take the time to read the whole Bible because we should all seek to understand the whole picture of God’s plan. You may have already read through the Bible in the past, and now think to yourself “been there, done that.” Do not consider reading the Bible as a challenge to complete and then move onto some new challenge. We do not outgrow God’s Word. The Bible is deep and wide with wisdom.