I’ll be honest, I’m a bit obsessed with the brilliance of healthy home bible study groups.
So, if you’re not in a bible study…..can I first say: (gentle version) you don’t know what you’re missing. (Harsh version): get you butt into one, pronto. None you can see that are suitable? Start one.
The reason why I take this view is because I am constantly amazed by how much the Spirit speaks to me during our Tuesday night home bible study group.
Moreover, people come to your house with awesome flavors of chippy dip too, so what’s not to like?
Last night we were having a good group gander at Acts 15:5-29 as part of our little series on the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, and this particular text is a doozie.
One of the questions that we looked at was: “How can we recognize the movement of the Spirit in our own lives? / How does the Spirit speak to you?”
Now this of course was a question designed to bring out the various ways in which group members experienced the Spirit, moderated by the patterns that we see in the this and other Acts accounts of the Spirit’s work.
An interesting and exciting discussion ensued and I began to notice a bit of theme. Perhaps it is because I am a bit of a journal-er myself, but I noticed that the discussion very quickly turned to the concept of reflection.
It occurred to me that the busier society gets, the less time it has for reflection. We are, in the 21st century, not particularly awesome at reflection. To receive amazing insights….we’d rather google a TED talk. (Not that there’s anything wrong with TED.com.)
Nonetheless, I think Henri Nouwen was bang-on when he said; “We have arrived at a point in society where the productive person is preferred to the wise person.” Reflection takes time and we’re often too busy for stuff that takes time. Heck, that’s why people hate ‘newer repetitive worship songs’ -yeah that’s right, what you’re really saying is: “isn’t there a better use of this time?”
But have you read the Old Testament recently? It’s got some pretty repetitive worship.
Anyhoo, reflection. Mulling over things takes time. But it’s time that always pays you back…in spades. Here’s how:
Reflection is where hindsight has the space to become insight, that it may provide foresight for the future.
You’ve got to ask the question, why did God design our brain this way?
I once mentioned in an earlier Facebook post: As Christianity is a faith anchored in history, so a Christian’s faith is built when they examine their own ‘history’ before God. Ie; what’s true cosmically is true personally and vice verse. This is how we can talk about ‘experiencing the resurrection’ in daily life.
So if this is true, why are we tempted to steer clear of taking time for reflection?
I pondered this for a while and here’s the best I got. Everyone seems to be cool with the idea of hindsight. We have a saying that it’s 20/20 (which it isn’t by the way). Also, we love the idea of foresight and the idea of being a equipped for any eventuality. (Have you read any horoscopes this week?)
I wonder if we’re a little bit worried about the bit in the middle. Especially when the Bible is involved.
It can be a scary thing. For what happens if, through taking the time to reflect, God confronts us with something we may not necessarily want to know?
One of the first memory verses I ever learnt was Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Nothing reveals more about God, and about ourselves than taking time to reflect on life with a Bible open.
It’s just not always stuff that we want to know about.
One of the main reasons behind procrastination and reaching for distraction is fear. By our very nature, we want the promised land without having to walk though the wilderness. Thus, we settle for a self-instigated sin management program where we never learn anything new, don’t change our life choices, make the same mistakes, wait for people to say “there there,” and then get offended when they don’t. This sort of life sucks. I lived it for ages.
Then God in his huge grace, got my attention…by seeming to disappear.
Then I got on my knees like I never had before.
Are you procrastinating getting real with God?
Are you putting off opening up your life to Him?
Let me encourage you; embrace the ‘freak-out’ moment. Even if your heart is kicking and screaming, it’s worth it. Here’s why:
God wants to heal you, God wants to love you, God wants to rescue you and he wants to fill you with a joy that you can’t even describe. I realized this one day when for some reason, I read past verse 12 of Hebrews 4:
Hebrews 4:13 -16 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
This whole chapter is getting to the punchline: ‘go to God so that he may give you grace‘ Grace = unmerited favor AND unmerited embrace.
I’m being serious; Do you need a hug from the Lord of the universe? He’s waiting. (Isaiah 30:18 So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. )
But just as you have to read verses 12 and 13 before you get to 14,15 and 16, so in life we have to be willing to hear what we may not want to hear in order for God to do a work of grace.
It says in proverbs that ‘the wounds of a friend can be trusted’ (27:6), I dare you to believe that you have no greater friend than Jesus.
Embrace the discomfort. Embrace the insight you may not want to hear and find yourself in His embrace.