Why the Bible Bores You…

boredom

In preparation for this Sunday’s sermon entitled: “Limited Inerrancy VS Full Inerrancy: A Sermonic Defense of #SolaScriptura”, I found myself in Psalm 119. This rich section of Scripture is literally a psalm of praise, highlighting the preciousness and power of God’s Holy Word. As I was in Psalm 119, I read these poetic words: “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law…This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life…The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver…I have seen the consummation of all perfection, but Your commandment is exceedingly broad…How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Wondrous. Comforting. Life Giving. Better Than Money. Total Perfection. Sweet…Sweeter Than Honey! It was if these words jumped off the pages of Scripture and dazzled my senses. And for a brief moment, I wasn’t doing sermon prep anymore, I was worshipping! Yes, I came once again to this one mega-reality: God wrote a book! A wondrous book. A perfect book. A book filled with life and light!

But my moment of worship and joy for the Word and the God of the Word, quickly turned to concern – pastoral concern. That is to say, I’ve seen “the look”, from people in the pew, when the Bible is being read or recited. A look of apathy, disinterest, and downright boredom. I’ve seen this same look from people in the counseling chamber. It’s almost as if they begin to shut down and disengage as soon as the Bible is being opened. I’ve heard comments from our young people: “The Bible is hard to understand…I don’t get it…It’s boring.” How can the Psalmist of Psalm 119 say: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…Revive me [Enliven me…Bring me from the Chamber of Death], O LORD, according to Your word…”, but we find the Bible difficult to understand at best and downright boring at worst?!

Well, in this week’s blog post, let me do my best to not only address the problem of boredom, but give viable solutions as well. Why does the Bible bore you? Four thoughts:

  1. You read with the wrong focus. That is to say, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to you. In other words, the whole Bible was written for us, some of the Bible directly written to us, but the Bible is not primarily about us. Huh?! Yeah, let me make it more personal: The Bible is not primarily about you. The Bible is primarily about all-mighty, all-glorious, Creator God! Many of you are reading the Bible with the wrong focus. You approach the Bible with this as your mentality: “What can I get out of this reading today that I can apply to MY life.” Not necessarily a bad question, but if this is your only question when you crack open your Bible, you will find many passages to be, well, boring. For instance, the book of Leviticus…If your only questions, as you approach Leviticus, revolves around you and your life then you will miss the full beauty of the passages in Leviticus. You see, this book is highlighting a majestic, holy God that is a God of decency, cleanliness, and order. Don’t miss the wealth of God’s Word by only focusing on yourself! God’s Word isn’t simply a mirror, showcasing yourself, it’s a lamp, showcasing an amazing, life-giving God! Look for HIM when you open your Bible. Ask yourself better questions, like: “How does God reveal Himself in this passage?” Then worship Him for who He is.
  2. You read with unconfessed sin. Yeah, I know, not a fun topic. And many of you will probably just want to skip this point and move on to something more enlightening. Go ahead…OK, for the brave few souls that decided to actually read this point, let me be brief, but clear: Your unconfessed sin disturbs your ability to see and savor the God who has revealed Himself to you in His Holy Word. Thus, it’s always a good idea to start any devotional reading of God’s Word with a simple prayer of confession and help. Confess your sins of pride, or anger, or gossip, or worry, etc. And then ask God to open your eyes so that you may see wondrous truths from His perfect book. The Bible will seem so dead and boring, if you approach it with unconfessed sin in your life.
  3. You read too fast. Some of us know the drill: “Read your Bible. Pray every day. And you’ll grow, grow, grow.” So, that’s what we do…legalistically of course…just getting through it as fast as possible and then we check it off our to-do list and move on to other tasks. We read our Bibles too fast! You know, one of the greatest benefits of taking Greek in Bible College wasn’t that I learned a bunch of fancy Greek words and concepts, no, taking Greek actually caused me to read the Bible more slowly and thus appreciate the text more fully. As I was learning the New Testament in the original language of Greek, I was forced to spend careful time translating every word and every verse assigned to me; and this was no fast process! But I learned so much from simply taking the time to read God’s Word slowly. I don’t always reference my Greek when I get ready to preach a sermon, but I definitely always read my English Bible with multiple self-imposed speed bumps all along the way. Let me encourage you: Slow down as you read your Bible. Stop to meditate on a single word or verse. Ponder what it is you’re reading. Better to read a single verse with understanding than a whole chapter and not have a clue as to what you read.
  4. You read with little expectation. It’s not that we expect too much from the Bible. It’s that we expect too little from the Bible. We compare Leviticus to Netflix and think: “There’s no way this can be as good!” Oh, how shallow we are! Listen…after all your favorite movies and TV shows have faded from glory, there will be the Bible. As all your favorite flicks graduate to the classic station of AMC or MeTV, there will be the Bible: Still Fully Relevant. Perfectly Beautiful. More Precious Than Gold. Sweeter Than Honey. Start expecting more from your Bible…it’s the very words of Life!

Interact with me on social media. Why is the Word of God precious to you? How do you maintain a love and delight for God’s Word in our entertainment-driven culture? Tell me on Facebook and use the hashtags: #SolaScriptura, #PFBC, and #PrairieStrong.

 

Heather Cotner: What I Learned From My Miscarriage

miscarriage

After weeks of anticipation, I was excited about August 17, 2016 because it was the day of our scheduled ultrasound to see our third little baby! I was so excited that I wanted my husband, and our two older children, to be there to witness the spectacular moment of seeing the baby on the screen and hearing the heartbeat. At ten weeks along, and having experience from my first two children, I knew what to expect when looking at the ultrasound. I was excited! But my excitement soon turned to fear and uneasiness. As the ultrasound started, I looked at the screen…no baby. I immediately knew something was wrong. The ultrasound technician in a sweet, but matter-of-factly voice, stated that I might be really early along, but she advised me that I needed to wait to hear back from the doctor for an official report.

After more testing at the doctor’s office, I finally got the call confirming that I had a “non-viable pregnancy”. I let those words wash over me: Non-Viable Pregnancy. In other words, I looked pregnant, felt pregnant, tested positive as pregnant, and even had all the emotions attached to being pregnant, but I was not pregnant. No baby. No precious little baby. And to top it all off, I now had to wait for my body to go through a miscarriage.

My first raw emotion was that of heartache. After getting the call, I literally went to my room, broke down, and cried. I just kept replaying everything over and over again in my head…then I heard my daughter, Ann-Marie, asking me what was for lunch, and I realized that life still had to go on. Yes, despite what I was feeling, life still had to go on…

For the first two weeks, after I found out the awful news of my non-viable pregnancy, I really struggled with sadness and I worried about when the miscarriage would take place. I had read so many articles online, and I knew that the miscarriage process could be very painful. I was sad and very worried. All of these emotions led me to not eating very well and my sleep pattern was just plain horrible. On top of that, nothing could put a smile on my face. That was probably the worst feeling…I wanted to be happy, but I just couldn’t be.

As much as I wanted my husband to understand what I was truly going through, I just couldn’t find the words to truly express what I was feeling. So I tried to keep busy as much as possible so I wouldn’t have to think about what was going on, but every time I looked down and saw that tiny baby bump, feelings of sadness and hatred towards myself surfaced.

After the turmoil of dealing with all of my emotions, more doctor visits, blood draws, and then a D&C procedure to complete the miscarriage, I was forced to make a decision: Trust myself, and begin the journey of anger and bitterness, or learn to trust my God and His plan for my life. I was so conflicted. The thoughts that kept running through my head were so many: I was so healthy. I had been eating well and been consistent with my workouts. So why now? Why the non-viable pregnancy?!

My husband eventually reminded me that God allows things in our lives, such as heartache and trials, so that we can grow in our faith and bring glory to Him. Taking my husband’s words to heart, I realized that God knows the bigger picture and He knows exactly what each and every one of us needs to learn at the exact moment we need to learn it. Although I didn’t understand, I knew that I needed to trust God. I then discovered Psalm 18:30 “…His way is perfect…” I let those words wash over me: “His way…is perfect.”  You know, trust looks different for everyone, but the following lyrics from the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle were exactly what I needed to hear and do:

Letting go of every single dream

I lay each one down at your feet

Every moment of my wandering

Never changes what you see

I try to win this war I confess, my hands are weary, I need your rest

Mighty warrior, king of the fight

No matter what I face you’re by my side

When you don’t move the mountains

I’m needing you to move

When you don’t part the waters

I wish I could walk through

When you don’t give the answers

As I cry out to you

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

Part of me learning to trust God was taking the dreams I had of having another child and laying them at the feet of my Savior and trusting that His plans were far better than my plans.

Another part of me learning to trust the Lord was in the area of my body. In other words, I had to stop the self-hatred of the body I now had. This was hard. Thoughts of self-hatred would arise every time I looked down and saw the tiny bump that held no baby. Thoughts of self-hatred would also arise every time I got ready to leave the house because I hated the fact that I had to disguise something that I once held so dear. However, throughout those different times that those thoughts would arise, I had to remind myself of Genesis 1:27, which states, “So God created man in his own image…” I had to stop hating the body that God gave me and learn to care for the body that was made in His very image.

I also begin to cling to the beautiful, hope-filled words of Scripture, and not rely on my rollercoaster of emotions. I started the devotional book, “He is More Than Enough” which is a study on the book of Hebrews, and learned so many valuable lessons throughout the entire study. I learned that no one on earth can comfort you like the Savior. One of the corollary verses in this study was found in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But He [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God’s grace was sufficient for me! Yes, the days were (and sometimes still are) hard, but I kept praying, and pouring my sadness, and my burdens, and my thoughts, on Him!

But even after learning to cling to the precious promises of Scripture, and trusting His plan, I am still in the process of learning how to truly be content. Content that this is what God has for me; content with the fact that my body is still recovering from miscarriage; content with the life I have now. You know, throughout the years, God has used my life verse of Hebrews 13:5 to teach me different things in different situations. The verse states, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” The phrase “be content with what you have” was like a knife that cut into the dream of having another child and made me realize that I needed to be content with my two little blessings: Ann-Marie and Little David. I absolutely love my two children and I would love to have more, but if this is all God has for me; I need to be content…truly content. And I’m still learning what this exactly looks like and I wish I could say that I have a great plan for how to combat discontentment, but all I have to say is that I keep reminding myself of the truths from Scripture. I also try to cherish the little moments of hugs and kisses from my children and thank God for what I do have, while always reminding myself that I am truly blessed.

The tears began to fall, while writing this blog post. I have learned so much through this pain. In my grief, I learned that complete comfort can only come through Christ. He is the God of all comfort as stated in 2 Corinthians 1:3. I have learned to cast all of my doubts and sadness at the feet of my God who alone provides comfort. I have learned to humbly ask for His help in trusting His plan, knowing that “His way is perfect”. I have chosen to daily give up my dreams and ambitions by laying them at the feet of my Savior. Through every situation, I know that I must cling tight to His promises, trusting that He knows what is best for me.

PFBC: Prayer List #20

 

Prayer #2

The following list of prayer requests can be prayed for in your own quiet time with the Lord, in your own family worship time, or in Growth Groups. Please keep the following requests in your prayers:

Justin Aubrecht – Unspoken Prayer Request.  

Carl Benson – Unspoken Prayer Request.

Mike and Christina Boos – Unspoken Prayer Request.

Braden Carroll – Unspoken Prayer Request.

Susan Davis – Please continue to pray for Susan’s father, Chester, that he would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Greg Dunbar – Please lift up in prayer Greg’s mom, Debbie, who is struggling with cancer and is fighting it by means of radiation.

Rick Fields – Pray for Rick and his overall health.

Kira Fikes – Please pray for Kira and for healing in regards to her broken foot.

Bill Fiordelise – Please pray for Bill as he continues to recover from the stents that were placed in his neck.

Steve and Diana Fordham – Pray for Steve and Diana as they battle many different health issues. Also, prayers for wisdom and discernment in terms of the sale of their Texas home would be greatly appreciated.

The Goodlanders – Pray for the Goodlanders and their overall health.

Linda Grice – Please pray for Linda’s cousin, Roger, who has cancer.

John Hardt – Unspoken Prayer Request.

Marion Hayes – Please pray for comfort as Marion recently lost his 16 year old nephew due to complications from heart surgery. Also, continue to lift up in prayer Marion’s wife, Christine, and her health issues.

Matt Latcham – Please pray for Matt’s mother, Linda, who is battling cancer.

Gertie Loder – Please lift up in prayer Gertie’s nephew, Tony Harris, who has stomach cancer.

Edwin Luers – Please pray for Edwin’s part-time employee, Wilfred Miller, and his salvation.

Brent and Tori Lybarger – Please lift up in prayer Brent’s mother who is battling cancer. Also, please pray for Brent and Tori’s daughter, Brooklynne, who is struggling with drop seizures and other difficulties. Also, please pray for the Lybarger’s son, Blake, who is joining the Air Force in November 2016.

Adele McPike – Please pray for Adele and her overall health.

Dan McClure – Please pray for this former PFBC pastor as he grieves the loss of his dear wife.

Jackie Morgan – Please lift up in prayer Jackie’s friend, Sam, as she continues to grieve the passing of her brother.

Rhonda Reed – Please pray for Rhonda’s mother, Jean Sampson, who is struggling in her health (pneumonia and afib).

Zach Shepherd – Please pray for Zach’s boss’s wife, Sherry Mitchell, who is recovering from surgery.

Arlena Tinnes – Please pray for healing and strength as Arlena continues to battle cancer.

Willie Van Der Molen – Please pray for Willie’s father, Roger, who has a heart condition.

Shanon Walker – Please be in prayer for Shanon as she undergoes treatment for adrenal stress. Pray that her body recovers and that she becomes fully healthy once again.

Brian Wilson – Please pray for Brian’s family as they grieve the loss of Brian’s sister, Carol.

Nancy Wilson – Please pray for Nancy’s nephew, Nick Duvall, and his wife, Leslie, as they’re at the University Hospital with their 6 month old baby named Pierce who has stage 3 liver cancer. Please pray for healing and strength.

Judy Wolf – Pray for Judy’s daughter (Sandi) as she continues to battle cancer in her lower body. Sandi does not know Christ and so prayers for her salvation are also needed. Also, please pray for Judy’s granddaughter (Maddie) and her salvation. Also, please pray for Judy’s great-granddaughter (Errin) who has a heart implant…Errin is just 4 years old. Pray too for Errin’s father, Eddie, and his salvation.

Eldon and Phyllis Yoder – Pray for the Yoder’s granddaughter, Katlyn, who just discovered she has a tumor.

Mike York – Please pray for Mike’s wife, Becky, as she is struggling with tendonitis.

PFBC Leadership Team – Pray for your Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Deacons that God would grant to them wisdom, discernment, vision, and unity.

Our Church – Pray for the unity and blessing of God upon our church.

Our Community – Please continue to pray for all of the flood victims in Northeast Iowa.

Our Visitors – Please pray for our many visitors that continue to come to PFBC. Pray that God would work in their hearts and lives. Pray that God would grow our church numerically and spiritually.

Our Missionaries – Please pray for our many supported missionaries that they would remain faithful.

Our Country – Please pray for our country and our upcoming election this November!

Please Note: We update this prayer list on a monthly basis. If you would like a prayer request to be added to this list, please let Pastor Dave or Pastor Jon know. Thank you!

 

 

Quarterly Meeting Agenda Items (10-9-16)

event-meeting

This Sunday, October 9, immediately following the Morning Worship Service and Food Fellowship, we will conduct our Quarterly Meeting in the church auditorium. Below are the agenda items for this meeting:

  1. Prayer for Unity and Blessing – Pastor Jon
  2. Call Meeting to Order
  3. Reading of Past Meeting Minutes
  4. Acceptance of Financial Report
  5. Update Membership Roster (Voting Item): We will be removing the following people from our Membership Roll, per their verbal request: 1) Mary Dickinson (formerly Mary Walker) as she is now going to church in Richland with her new husband, 2) The Anderson Family (i.e. Mark, Tobi, and Jerzee) as they are regularly attending CityPoint Church here in Washington, and 3) Mary Case as she is regularly attending Faith Baptist Church here in Washington.
  6. Missionary Review:
    • Larry Beckman’s retirement support is set to $100 a quarter per church precedent.
    • Ken Rathbun no longer supported due to his transition to Faith Baptist Bible College on July 31, 2016.
    • Frontline Missions International support level now at $600 a quarter (up from $400 a quarter).
  7. New Missionary Support (Voting Item): Transition Joy Ackerman and Noel Mananquil from Special Support to Regular Support at $500 a quarter each.
  8. Lead Pastor Updates:
    • Church App: Online Giving Capability Update.
    • Annual Election of Officers’ Timeline: Oct. 23Nov. 6 – Dec. 4.
    • Possible Intern for Summer 2017…
    • Harvest Offering – Nov. 20th – HACAP?
    • Christmas 2016 Series.
    • Land/Building Exploration Update…
  9. Associate Pastor Items:
    • Summer Review.
    • Youth Group.
    • AWANA.
    • Miscellaneous.
  10. Old and New Business (If Any)
  11. Closing Prayer – Brian Wilson
  12. Adjournment