Write Your Own Scripture

song

My church has a list of daily Scripture readings for every day of the year. It’s a common thing in Christianity. Followers of Jesus have been doing it for centuries. The readings will generally be a Psalm or two, an Old Testament reading, and a New Testament reading every day.

I decided since it’s a new month and I want a new heart, it’s time to start a new practice.

I got 1/10 of the way through the first reading and thought, this sucks. Whoever wrote this (probably David) lived in a completely different culture and time than me. It just doesn’t connect. So it got me thinking…

Can I write my own Scripture? (cue lightning bolt)

Seriously. If the Psalms don’t work for me, can’t I just write my own?

What if God is not only after those who quickly say, “Sir, yes sir!”

Even though this Drill Sergeant is stronger by far than anything the mighty U.S. Army has ever seen.

In the army if a cadet in training falls out of line or asks questions, he must face the wrath of a hard Sergeant. And how much more deserving of wrath is a man who dares to question the Sergeant of Sergeants, who turns mountains to wax?

If the penalty is to melt, then here am I, Lord, incinerate me. What can I do?

But if I can be so bold, is it possible that the Mountain God is in search of a few less Yes Men and a few more wrestling matches?

Is it possible that the Sergeant of Sergeants appreciates, respects, and dare I say even enjoys a bit of a wrassle? Could it be that if God wanted to lay you bare and flatten you without blinking his Pacific Ocean sized eye, then you would be toast?

But what if you stood your ground?

What if you were so bold as your spiritual ancestor Jacob, whose desires were strong, who didn’t quickly acquiesce and say “Yes Sir, whatever you want,” but said instead, “I’m not going anywhere until you give me what I want.”

The audacity!

But I can’t help but notice the humility even in the audacity. He recognizes the divine being’s ability and power to bless him. You don’t go to a homeless person and ask him to bless you, right? You go to a king’s palace. You go to someone greater than you, with more resources than you. Asking for a blessing is a humble thing, not a braggadocios thing.

So write your own Psalm. Have the audacity to do that.

The 150 psalms we have are here to stay. They’re not going to be replaced. They will continue being the Jewish and Christian psalms forever. I’m not saying let’s write Psalm 151 and 152 and include them in the canon.

But I am saying, embedded into the Scripture, in fact, one of the psalms, is the admonition:

Sing to the Lord a new song!

John Piper takes this further and adds (John Piper adds to Scripture?) — “sing to the Lord a new song, or picture, or poem, or figure of speech.”

The 150 psalms in the Bible are Israel’s songs, written for Israel, in an ancient context. They deal with kings, thrones, Zion, donkeys.

We need local psalms/songs. So write a Michigan Psalm. Or Iowa Psalm. Or New York. God was doing things in Israel thousands of years ago and the people of God wrote about it. God is doing things in Illinois this week. Why not write about it?
For old time’s (all time?) sake: Psalm 66 —

Take a good look at God’s wonders— they’ll take your breath away. He converted sea to dry land; travelers crossed the river on foot. Now isn’t that cause for a song?

Yeah, that is cause for a song! And so is the God-stuff in 2018, even if it is something like, “Hello?! Where the hell did you go?”

‘Basic Instinct’ Author Has Damascus Road Experience

After a lifetime of wild living…

“He felt an overwhelming peace. His heart stopped pounding. His hands stopped twitching. He saw a ‘shimmering, dazzling, nearly blinding brightness that made me cover my eyes with my hands.'”
–Joe Eszterhas, author, Basic Instinct and new spiritual memoir Crossbearer

Toledo Blade Article: ‘Basic Instinct’ author writes book about faith

'Basic Instinct' Author Has Damascus Road Experience

After a lifetime of wild living…

“He felt an overwhelming peace. His heart stopped pounding. His hands stopped twitching. He saw a ‘shimmering, dazzling, nearly blinding brightness that made me cover my eyes with my hands.'”
–Joe Eszterhas, author, Basic Instinct and new spiritual memoir Crossbearer

Toledo Blade Article: ‘Basic Instinct’ author writes book about faith

What Does A Spiritually Whole Person Look Like?

“A spiritually whole person longs in certain classical ways. She longs for God and the beauty of God, for Christ and Christlikeness, for the dynamite of the Holy Spirit and spiritual maturity. She longs for spiritual hygiene itself—and not just as a consolation prize when she cannot be rich and envied instead. She longs for other human beings: she wants to love them and to be loved by them. She hungers for social justice. She longs for nature, for its beauties and graces, for the sheer particularity of the way of a squirrel with a nut. As we might expect, her longings dim from season to season. When they do, she longs to long again.

She is a person of character consistency, a person who rings true wherever you tap her. She keeps promises. She weeps with those who weep and, perhaps more impressively, rejoices with those who rejoice. She does all these things in ways that express her own personality and culture but also a general “mind of Christ” that is cross-culturally unmistakable.

Her motives include faith—a quiet confidence in God and in the mercies of God that radiate from the self-giving work of Jesus Christ. She knows God is good; she also feels assured that God is good to her. Her faith secures her against the ceaseless oscillations of pride and despair familiar to every human being who has taken refuge in the cave of her own being and tried there to bury all her insecurities under a mound of achievements. When her faith slips, she retains faith enough to believe that the Spirit of God, whose presence is her renewable resource, will one day secure her faith again.”
–Cornelius Plantinga, Not The Way It’s Supposed To Be, pg.34-35

CT Editor: “God Spoke to Me”

A professor of theology, author, and contributing editor for Christianity Today wrote an article about how God spoke to him. The article starts out:

I’m a middle-aged professor of theology at a well-known Christian university. I’ve written award-winning books. My name is on Christianity Today’s masthead. For years I’ve taught that God still speaks, but I couldn’t testify to it personally. I can only do so now anonymously, for reasons I hope will be clear.

Find the whole article here: My Conversation With God

A New Kind of Life

I want to spend a month in the wilderness, with nothing but healthy food to eat, natural spring water from the mountain to drink, my soul, and the person who made all the universes. I have spent 25 – by the time May rolls around, 26 – years of my life mostly existing and letting life happen to me, being blown wherever the wind of the world wishes to carry me. I will not spend the next 50 years, God-willing, like this. I want a disciplined life – physically, mentally, spiritually – so that I am a receptacle that God can use to do in me what He wishes to do in me. I didn’t create myself, so I have no right to live as I please. This is not something I have any control over – I cannot choose to end my life and bring myself into existence again so that I’ll be held accountable to nobody but myself. This fact will remain forever – I have been created by somebody else; I am not my own.

In the past I have tried to totally re-orient my life in a good direction, even in the God-direction, and I’ve failed, usually within the first week. I don’t pretend to believe that if I spent a month in seclusion everything will be completely different. We are essentially the same people throughout life. The person I was when I was 10 is not much different than the person I was when I was 18, which is very similar to the person I am today. Sure I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’ve been through life experiences that have made me who I am today. But an introverted person doesn’t usually turn extroverted just because he admires extroverts. A lazy person doesn’t become a super-disciplined man because he realizes he needs to accomplish more. Some people don’t struggle with laziness. Give one woman 24 free hours and she’ll sit on a couch, watch TV, surf the internet, talk to her friends on the phone, and read a novel. Give another woman 24 free hours and she’ll start her own business. Everybody is different. I can’t believe that I’m going to be a different man because of one month in solitude and a change in geographic location.

When I moved to China for a year I didn’t think my struggles could follow me up 30,000 feet at 600 mph, over a vast ocean, through numerous time zones, across several continents, and through my new locked apartment door. But they did. China didn’t change fundamentally who I was. I learned some things. I met some new people. But I was still Victor. Same Victor.

Hopefully the difference this time will be that I am Victor under a different authority. For most of my life I’ve been God to myself. I didn’t make myself but I acted as if I did. I didn’t know what was best for me but my actions proved that I believed otherwise.

In God’s dealings with certain humans in history, when their father died God gave them a new name. In the Hebrew language and culture, a name was not just a name, but it had to do with actually who a person was. When Avram’s father died and he moved to a new land, God re-named him according to his plans for him. He was no longer Avram but Abraham, because his destiny was to be the father of billions of others. In the Scriptures, whoever named a person or animal had authority over them.

I don’t plan on having a new name (although anything is possible with Him) but I do hope to have some sort of idea about my destiny. I don’t think this is always a cut-and-dry thing that God reveals to each of us once-and-for-all at a certain point in our lives (though he has done that with a few people), but I also would be foolish to continue letting the wind of the world blow me where it wishes, molding into a person I was not intended to be, slowly raping me of an existence that is exploding with the kind of life that God has in himself.

Sacred Pathways

Sacred Pathways

A few months ago I skimmed a book called Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas, which is about discovering your soul’s path to God. It’s not advocating a “do what’s good for you” spirituality; I wouldn’t read such rubbish. Rather, it acknowledges that there are different spiritual temperaments and it’s quite foolish to think that a one-size-fits-all approach to worshiping God will work. The nine temperaments are as follows:

Temperaments

Naturalists: Loving God Out of Doors
Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
Traditionalists: Loving God Through Ritual and Symbol
Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
Activists: Loving God Through Confrontation
Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others
Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
Contemplatives: Loving God Through Adoration
Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind

Thomas points out that, of course, Sensates are not excused from studying, Intellectuals are not excused from social justice, and Contemplatives are not excused from loving others, etc. But not everybody will be a Mother Teresa, Jim Wallis, Hudson Taylor, Annie Dillard, Billy Graham, or N.T. Wright. Everybody has a certain temperament (some have more than one) so it’s not fair to insist that everybody read their Bible at a desk every morning and go to a Baptist church every Sunday. Some people insist on this because that is their temperament and thus everybody else must follow suit. Thomas says that it’s natural to find spiritually empty people outside of church, but it’s another thing to find spiritually empty people inside the church. Discovering your spiritual temperament may be the channel that you need to worship God the way that he made you.

Again, though, I very much appreciate his balance. He says,

“I must admit, there is a limit to the individual approach to spirituality. It is neither wise nor scriptural to pursue God apart from the community of faith. Our individual expressions of faith must be joined to corporate worship with the body of Christ.”