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Pastor's Column

Encountering the Word in the words

  I received a Bible in the 4th grade. It was an RSV translation handed to me by my Sunday School teacher Mrs. Jensen. To be honest, I do not recall the event. However, the date and names on the inside of the cover remind me that I owe a debt of gratitude to the fine folks at Parkview United Methodist Church in Cozad, Nebraska. The RSV must have been a tough translation for a fourth grader because I do not remember seeing that Bible for many years. As I continued to grow in the church, I am sure I had other versions along the way, but it was really the stories read aloud that permeated my life until I was a teen.

  We moved and so did my heart. Now a thousand miles away in a small town in Michigan I may have tried to find that relationship with the Word, but instead I found a different life. In my mid- twenties while visiting my parents, I began to search for that old red bound RSV Mrs. Jensen had so lovingly inscribed. I found it amongst a conglomeration of items discarded from childhood. There it was as if it had been waiting for me. When I returned to my apartment I began to read. I read faster and more intensely. For hours I read page after page, the Old and the New. It was those scriptures that helped me realize I needed to return to a Christian community. I found myself hungry for those words. They somehow seemed to come to life in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I found myself ordering my life around these words, but I longed to understand so much more. I had so many questions.

  Eventually I felt a call into the ministry. I believed God could use me to help others see the benefit of a relationship with the God of the scriptures. While at Asbury Theological Seminary, I fell in love with the Inductive Bible Study Method. My first class there dealt directly in the scriptures. The first day seemed too hard, I called a friend who encouraged me to stick it out and it would be worth it. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

  My study of the scriptures came alive with the presence of the Living God. I learned that God loved my questions and together we explored the depths of those words. I fell in love with the process. Observing, interpreting, evaluating, and appropriating were such a joy. My goal is to continue a lifelong learning process that can serve Christ’s church.

  As we discover God’s will for our lives, we are drawn into the grand narrative. This God who loves us bridges the gap throughout time as we engage the Bible in fresh contexts. We could even say the entire purpose of both Old and New is missional. I desire this life lived in God’s mission as described in the Bible. I believe as our kingdom victories this side of eternity take shape; it will still be the Word that matters. It is the promise of who God is and what God does for humanity that remains constant. The methods may morph, but the results are always resurrection in the end.

  These days I try to encounter the Bible in the morning as a sacred place to meet God in solitude and stillness. In the afternoon I find myself diving into the text, asking questions, and determining how I will appropriate in the future. In the evening, the Bible is the place my family gathers for rhythm and stability. I pray every moment in between reflects the One whom we find willing to meet us in those words. Those God inspired words that bring life to both my family and the ministry. I find my relationship with Jesus as the living Word has a solid meeting place in the written word of the Bible. Thanks again to Mrs. Jensen and the fine folks at Parkview United Methodist. Jesus is life.


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