I was thinking today of getting a new bible in which I would underline nothing! The reason? Well, I was remembering something that Juan Carlos Ortis said in his book “Disciple.” He said that there were five gospels; Mathew, Mark, Luke, John and the one written by Saint Evangelical! The last one is made up of all those bits we underline in our bibles. Saint Liberal and Saint Progressive, Saint Missional Movement, Saint Fresh Expressions and Saint Renewal all have their own bibles too. Ortis’s suggestion was it would be good to go back and read the bits in our bibles we have not underlined, that we hear the Word of God there.
I think we are all a bit selective in reading the Bible, or at least we give emphasis to certain things we read and only turn half an ear to some other themes that ruffle our feathers a bit. So that is why I am thinking of having an unmarked bible for the first time in my Christian life. If it is all the Word of God, it all matters.
The immediate spur to such a thought was reading these words from Philippians: “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.” I don’t think I ever underlined these words in any past bibles I have owned. I found life in them today. Perhaps there is life in them for you. Grumbling and complaining get us nowhere except into wandering around in a desert in a fellowship of grumbling and complaining until the grumbling and complaining is burned out. It is a waste of energy and time that could be otherwise used. I was thinking today of how often after the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland I would end up grumbling, as evangelicals often understandably do after the Assembly. The grumbling usually lasted about 3 weeks. That means that since my licensing I have spent two years of my life and ministry grumbling and complaining over that alone! Fruitless!
I meet Christians and indeed ministers who seem to live in the desert of grumbling and complaining most of their days. If we believe that God is in control of our steps when we humbly commit our ways to him, then let’s get on with who we are called to be and what we are called to do without complaining and grumbling believing that this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. It is a happier more fruitful way to be.
Maybe I should end with a particular word for my fellow ministers and other friends in the C of S. If you cant stay and serve without grumbling and complaining, it is maybe time to go and see if you can serve somewhere else without grumbling and complaining. You will not bless your people or yourself by stoking the fires of grumbling and complaining in yourself or your congregation. That does not mean there is no place for godly mourning, but that is quite a different thing. Into that God speaks his promise, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Grumbling leads to the desert. Mourning leads to Revival.
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I am also trying to not underline anything in a new bible. Every word is God breathed. I once read of a missionary whose only luxury was a new bible every year so that he would not be tempted to remain with what God had shown him in the previous year, but would look for fresh manna each day. Thank you Father for your inexhaustible supply of wisdom and revelation. Bless you Kenny
If underlining is without date lunderstand that it would be without reference in our time.
Maybe it is like this over time and at the end when someone opens your bible it will be that every word is underlined.
Just a thought trying to save expense of buying another bible!
Just another thought
The living word how often do we try and capture it.
Thanks KENNY! Many truths to digest – again:). I fondly remember Ortiz – particularly his calling ‘praise and thanksgiving the language of the Kingdom of Light’ and, conversely, calling ‘complaining and grumbling the language of the Kingdom of Datkness’!
I see I’m logged in with a pseudonym – don’t know how that happened:) Charles Dusse