Newsletter 07.20.16

Dear Church Family,

Reading the Bible is like dieting. I know none of us have feelings of fondness for dieting and we will have affection for reading our Bibles if we are Christians—even if we suppress or don’t nurture that affection. So yes, I realize this simile will break down, but let’s think about where the two are similar. Also, for the sake of this newsletter, when I say “dieting” I mean altering and monitoring the food we consume.

Last Sunday night we began our study through Don Whitney’s book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” with part one of his section on Bible intake. Lord willing, we will continue with part two of that section this coming Sunday night. All that is to say, I know many of you have been thinking through the role Bible intake plays or doesn’t play in your life—and that is a great thing.

Maybe some of you have come, are coming, or will come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit of the necessity of intentional Bible intake in the life of a growing disciple. Furthermore, we know that Bible intake and knowledge alone are not what God calls us to. We must be doers of the Word and not hearers only; that is, Bible intake must always be rightly applied in our lives. It is meant to change us.

Okay, here is where dieting comes in. Why do we start dieting? Because we want to change something about our physical health or makeup. Why is it hard to start dieting? Because dieting involves changing habits that have been ingrained in us. Why is it hard to keep dieting? Because we do not see immediate changes in our physical health or makeup which makes it even easier to fall back into old patterns. Why do many people join groups about dieting? Because having accountability encourages faithfulness and perseverance.

Do you see where I am going with this? We are called to intentional Bible intake because our lives need to be changed by it. It’s hard for us to start this process when we have ingrained habits contrary to this new discipline that may be sinful, unwise, or simply not best—not to mention the spiritual warfare we are up against. It can be discouraging when we first start out or maybe when we don’t “feel” or see the fruit from our labors, but we can rest assured, the Word of God will not return void. Even though these are personal spiritual disciplines, that doesn’t mean that we are designed to pursue these on our own. We need each other in this struggle between the Old Man and the New Man. We should encourage one another to persevere in faithfully employing the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. We all want to grow in this together.

So, don’t give up. This is a battle we all must fight through the power of the Holy Spirit. He will give us the victory as we war against our flesh as one body. As the father of modern missions, William Carey challenged the church in his day, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Let’s get after it.

Gentry