Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dr. Douglas Jacoby visits Chile

Challenging. Deep. Refreshing. Inspiring. These are words that disciples in Santiago, Chile used to describe the visit of Dr. Douglas Jacoby. In just four days we learned principles of parenting, strategies for studying the Bible, and the truth about the Holy Spirit. He also spent many hours teaching the staff and answering their questions.

On Sunday March 12, the church heard two classes on the Holy Spirit. The first session focused on the basics of the Holy Spirit, including how a person receives the Spirit and how the Spirit works in our lives. The second session dealt with common misunderstandings and false doctrines surrounding the Spirit. For some, the classes brought added clarity, while for others the teaching brought new perspectives that clashed with previous understandings. For all it was a challenge to think more deeply. Many friends and visitors were present and afterwards the fellowship was abuzz with conversations and questions. The Wednesday class on Bible study strategies called all of us to go deeper into the Word. One of the most convicting moments was when Douglas asked the church how many had read the entire Bible. A number of hands went up, while many realized their need to read the Old Testament as well as the New. A number of brothers and sisters started that week with the goal to read the whole Bible. At the end of the class we saw the strategies applied as we examined a few scriptures regarding lukewarmness, division and church discipline. Our convictions were strengthened by the call to love our brothers while dealing firmly and biblically with sin. The disciples were very grateful for the input, and surrounded our guest speaker in the fellowship to ask him even more questions.

A special part of the trip was having Douglas' son James here as well. On Sunday morning James spent time with the teen ministry, encouraging them to remain true to their convictions. All in all we are very grateful for how God inspired us and taught us so that through God's word we might be "thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Giving joy to the heart...

The law of the LORD is perfect,

reviving the soul.

The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure

and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold,

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:7-11

Need revival? Missing some joy in your life? Want to be more radiant? Lacking wisdom? Want something more valuable than gold?

All of us at times find ourselves discouraged, perplexed, feeling empty and needing direction. And there's no better place to look for the solution than in God's Word. In the past two months God has been reviving my soul and giving joy to my heart through his word.

For Christmas, I received a new Bible from my mom. Its called "The Bible in 90 Days". It's a regular, large print, New International Version Bible, but what makes it special is that it includes a plan to read the whole Bible in 3 months. That may sound really overwhelming to some, but I decided I wanted to take the challenge. I started on Christmas and by reading 12 pages a day, my goal is to finish the Bible before April.

It has been utterly amazing to read so much of the Bible in such a short time. I read the entire New Testament in less than a month and have already read a great portion of the Old Testament. God has opened my eyes and refreshed my soul through this reading.

I'm a huge fan of studying in detail, taking time to really sink our hearts into a portion of scripture and things like that. On the other hand, reading so much of the Bible so quickly has really reminded me of the incredible love that God has had for us for thousands of years. I've also been amazed to find so many connections between the OT and the NT. For many years, I didn't connect much between the OT and the NT. Through these past two plus months, I've seen how consistent God was and how his heart to save people has never changed.

For anyone reading this, whether you've only read a little bit or have been a Bible student for years, I want to encourage you to keep reading! If your Bible study is stale and you don't feel like learning much, change something! Read more or less or in a different version or a different language. Whatever it takes, don't forget that the Word of God is "more precious than gold" and truly "sweeter than honey".