This week's Bible study tip is: Pay attention to your thoughts as you're reading the Bible. If something in it challenges the way you look at things, and you catch yourself writing it off as, "that's just a cultural thing," or inserting modern practices into it, stop and think. You might have been right, or you might have been wrong - but thinking critically about why you believe certain slants on Scripture is the only way to find out.
Here's a fantastic teaching on applying what we learn from the Bible to our lives from Francis Chan. If you like his bold, confrontational style, check out the link to more of his sermons with the other Bible Study Tools for You on the left sidebar.
I'd also like to offer a (cautious) book recommendation this week: Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola. It uses Scripture to paint a picture of what the New Testament Church looked like, contrasts it with the American Church today, and uses history to show what non-Biblical sources provided many of our church practices today - and discusses what bad implications these non-Biblical practices can have.
I do not agree with all of the assertions and conclusions in this book, and please do *not* read it if you are feeling angry and bitter at your church right now...but, if you are feeling like something is missing from your church experience and crave a more family-like community where everyone's spiritual gifts come into play, I strongly recommend you read it. It might clear up a few things. :-)
Some of you may have noticed that the pictures I've used on the last couple of posts have been a little weird, and that I've removed all the pictures from older posts. Why? Because I read this post on Pub Rants , and any of you who use pictures from the Internet on your blogs should take the time to read it, too. Basically, most of the pictures that people think are in the public domain, really aren't.
As a writer myself, I'm a stickler for copyright law, so I don't consider <violating someone else' property rights for their photograph/graphic/painting/etc. just because I probably won't get caught> to be an option. It is wrong. We as Christians are called to live with integrity, and this is one place where I will take a personal stand and say, "That is a line I will not cross."
There are many, many sources of public domain pictures (some are listed in the above hyperlink, and you can find some more here at From the Heart, but until I have time to get acquainted with those, I'm sticking with Wikimedia Commons for now. That's a much longer explanation than I intended; sorry. :-)
After that monologue, let's have a bit of dialogue, eh? :-) Can you think of times when you had to reassess Scripture at face value and consciously remove your own cultural views? What Christian books have you read lately that taught you a lot? Also, any prayer requests you'd like to share?