A man is an elder only if his character and spiritual labor say so.
That means every elder is an elder before he is an elder. Every legitimate elder shows himself qualified in character and competence before being appointed to the office. This brief essay will focus on competence.
“How many of you have a personal quiet time?”
Crickets could be heard in the room.
“Any of you?”
Then, one of the boys spoke up.
“As part of my homeschooling curriculum, I have to do Bible in the mornings.”
I looked around the room, “Anyone besides Steven?”
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Parents, I teach junior high boys on Sunday mornings. The above is based on a real conversation we had a few weeks ago that left me dumbfounded.
We can bring our kids to church… but if we aren’t having them reading their Bibles, praying, having a personal quiet time, then they are hearing the Gospel one day a week. That’s one day to:
- Transform lives
One day to build fellow brothers in Christ up.
It is not enough.
A personal quiet time starts with one day, you, God, and His word. It morphs out of that one day to become multiple days where you spend time with Him.
All I can say is if you don’t read the Bible, start.
Woke up this morning, and I hit the snooze button. I hit the snooze button, over and over again, for the next hour. I didn’t want to get out of bed today. But I did get up, make my coffee, and manage to eat a few lemon poppy seed muffins–thanks, Tab!–with some oatmeal.
In the process of getting ready, I happened to check my social media feeds. Friends and family, who are normally pretty chill people, are upset and angry right now. The topics of Coronavirus and racial injustice overwhelm my normal places of fun escape.
This has been one of those weeks where I have hit the snooze button more; this has been one of those weeks where I haven’t read my Bible as much. Instead of starting my mornings in the Word, I have been starting my mornings with a different type of word.
I am tired this morning.
Mentally exhausted from being told that I should fear something. That instead of engaging history, we think that that engagement equals erasing the past. We live in some sort of Orwellian nightmare.
Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. – Winston Churchill (paraphrased)
I am also heart tired. As Augustine wrote, I long for how our human experience could/should be versus what it actually is. While we may not put this longing into words, this is a longing for Jesus to return. His return will fulfill that deep human longing for the restoration of all things, for justice. No more:
A future where we will work alongside the Creator of the Universe. The curse of Adam, against work, removed from us.
In writing all of this, I realize that I need to pray for strength to overcome being tired. I also need to pray for grace… maybe for myself with the snooze button… more so for those whose actions I do not understand right now. When you have been living a pretty normal life, for more than a month, and your friends and family have not been, it can feel like talking to people on Mars. Irregardless of that Martian divide, I think grace continues to be the word.
I am in my 8th week of reading through the Bible in a year. Right now, I’m somewhere in the jungles of Leviticus. Hacking my way through the sacrificial system (lots of blood and heavenly BBQ). Contemplating how my relationship with my pastor might change if I had to go to him for bumps and rashes (see Chapter 13). Okay, I’m not thinking too much on my pastor being bi-vocational dermatologist.
In the thick of all the details regarding discharges, the Day of Atonement, and forbidden sexual practices, one can see that God is a God of detail. Conditioning and preparing His people to be set apart for Him, different than the people who were then occupying the Promised Land. These rules and boundaries were not only there to set His people apart but to also protect their very beings.
- Drinking blood? Don’t do that.
- Sacrifice your kids to an idol? Don’t do that.
- Sleep with your mom or sisters? Just don’t.
Even more, God was teaching His people how to interact with Him. Christian vernacular would call this a DTR (define the relationship) moment. God was calling His people to participate in a relationship with Him. A relationship that would require:
- Dedication – To following His rules/law.
- Honor – Honoring God with the first fruits of their crops, animals, essentially their labor.
- Sacrifice – Both literal animal sacrifices and the daily sacrifice of living set apart/holy.
God wanted His people to be dedicated solely to Him. Not looking at the surrounding culture, how they worshiped their gods, but looking to Him alone.
Reading through Leviticus, I’m reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross. How his death made a way for us to be with God forever. I am thankful that I do not have to visit my pastor to have a skin rash examined; I am thankful for not having to worry about how my food is cooked—rare steak can be amazing!—. I praise God for being a God of detail. Revealing Himself to the Israelites… revealing a glimpse of Himself to us.