Friday, June 15, 2012

Proverbs, Politics, and 10-Ways to use the Bible as Your Guide

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.
 Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive. Proverbs 23:1-3
Proverbs 23
Today’s post is not about politics so much as it is about our response to the curious – and very often disturbing – circus that the Leap Year always brings (Presidential Elections are scheduled for the Leap Year, BTW, simply so they can squeeze in one more day of foolishness).
HOW TO AVOID GETTING SUCKED IN: As usual, it is scripture that has brought these ideas to mind. I’ve mentioned before how I believe that the Bible is the ultimate treasure-trove of stimulating words, thought-provoking ideas, and spiritual insight. There’s really no better discipline for the transforming of our minds than ongoing Bible-study in the context of prayer.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
But how, with the incessant noise of political propaganda literally assaulting us, do we make sure that we are rooted in scripture, and primarily shaped in our thinking by the timeless Word of God? How do we listen to the great arc of narrative that is The Greatest Story Ever Told rather than the proof-text sound-bites of unscrupulous manipulators who serve “food that is deceptive“…?
My American Standard from my winter in Montana
First off, this process is not haphazard; I come to these passages in a variety of ways. The following is a summary of what is – currently – working for me:
  1. Daily Devotion: First, I read the scripture selection that comes with the Daily Devotional Magazine, The Upper Room. It comes, automatically, via email in the early hours of the morning. That way it’s ready, right there on my phone, when I walk Scout. I spend time meditating on the passage and trying to memorize the key verse.
  2. Verse-of-the-day: Another daily resources is the home page of the Bible Gateway site that I use to read texts in a variety of translations. Today, that’s what lead me to Proverbs 23. The highlighted passage was verse 24, but I ended up reading the entire chapter and that’s how I ran across verses one through three, above.
  3. Curiosity: And that’s an important point. The discipline of reading various devotional “helps” is often merely the gateway that leads me to so much more. One verse piques my interest and then I read more on my own… or with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Memory: Ergo the next tip for letting scripture guide your life. The Romans 12 passage (the second I quoted today) came to mind only after I started to write about the first passage. This is where the context of prayer is most helpful. I honestly believe God used what is already familiar to me from previous study and brought it to mind.
  5. Writing: Also, the wrestling and creative thinking that goes along with writing out my own thoughts is key to the ongoing development of these ideas.
  6. To Teach is to Learn: Additionally, I am teaching a couple of groups at church. This summer we’re using Philip Yancey’s excellent book, The Jesus I Never Knew. The book, and consequently the discussion, is loaded with scripture. Not only am I exposed to more from God’s Word, I’m also challenged to think about it in new ways.
  7. Small Group Study: And so studying together, reading in the context of the Community of Faith, is possibly the most important resource when making the decision to let The Bible be both a guide and an ongoing resource.
  8. Rebekah: The other day I mentioned how important intentional conversation is to relationships. Well, Rebekah and I often bring Bible-passages to our dialogue. Scripture comes up because we talk about what’s important, and what we’re learning, and what is going on in our hearts and souls… so the conversation is naturally going to involve something we stumbled across in the Word of God.
  9. Tunes: Music also turns out to be a great source of Bible. Playing and singing in the Praise Band; looking up a favorite hymn and reading it as poetry when it comes to mind; tuning to contemporary Christian rock on the car radio. This is as good a reason as any to load up the iPod with some Chris Tomlin, Stephen Curtis Chapman or some Jars of Clay….
  10. General Reading: Then, recreationally, I typically have a book or two going. Right now it’s, “The Year of Living Biblically.” Not all my “fun” reading involves scripture, but this one is a bonus.
So much to learn – always
OKay, that’s more than enough for today’s post, and I didn’t even begin to get into elaborating on the comment from Proverbs about politics.
I guess you’ll have to tune back in for that another day! – DEREK

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