We kicked off a new series at axis called "The Book" on Wednesday. It's a 4 week series we will be doing on the Bible. I'm really excited about it. We'll tackle several different aspects of the Bible during our series, but on this Wednesday we focused on the importance of not just reading the Bible but actually doing what it says to do.
I used the illustration of letters that I hold on to from my wife. I keep every card and note she's ever sent me. The reason I do it is because of who they are from. They are from the woman I'm incurably in love with ... my best friend ... my wife. That's why the letters are important to me. I used that to illustrate why the Bible is important to me. The Bible is God's letter to us. What makes it special isn't the fact that it's amazingly written, the best selling book of all time, and contains great "advice" for life. Who it's from is what makes it special. It's a letter from God, the Creator of life, the One who loves us more than we could even know. And, specifically, this God has changed my life and, because of that, I want to read His letter and do what it says.
We looked at James 1:22 - 25 which reads 2 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
We talked about the idea that the Bible is meant to do more than just penetrate us. It's meant to activate us. If we believe that coming to church or our youth ministry or simply listening to someone talk from the Bible is what following Jesus is about, we are deceiving ourselves (verse 22). Knowing is good. But, knowing should lead to doing which leads to growing.
I used the illustration of being pretty overweight a few years ago. I was 250 pounds ... which on my frame looked more like 350! I knew I needed to lose weight. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to cut back on sweets and carbs. I needed to eat more fruits and vegetables. I needed to exercise more. I knew all of that. But, knowing it isn't what caused me to lose the weight. DOING it is.
Simply knowing the Bible is not what embracing Jesus' way of life is about. The blessing comes from the doing. James 1:25 says "But the man who looks intently into the perfect law (the Bible) that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." To grow in our relationship with Jesus we have to:
1) "Look intently into the perfect law." In other words, spend time in the Bible.
2) "The perfect law that gives freedom" Realize the Bible is meant to set us free, not handcuff us. Embracing Jesus' way of life as outlined in the Bible brings true freedom. Sin handcuffs us. The words of God free us.
3) "Not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." Again, the blessing comes from the doing.
If you're a follower of Jesus, you have the presence of the Living God inside of you. When you combine the Presence of God plus the Words of God ... well, that is a winning combination.
We ended our night by challenging our students to begin something called the E100 Bible Challenge. The challenge was to read a specific set of passages from the Bible (100 of them) by December 19th ... the last Wednesday we will meet in 2012. I was pumped to see the majority of our students sign up for it and take the challenge and can't wait to see them rise to meet it.
We also challenged our students not just to read the Bible but to do what it says. This month we are challenging all of our students to pray (something the Bible tells us to do) and specifically pray at the See You at the Pole event on September 26th, and also to share Jesus with their friends by giving the friends at school something called a Life Book. We will be doing this at the end of the month.
It was a great Wednesday for us. I loved seeing our kids get excited about the challenges ahead. We also had lots of fun with games and just hanging out together. You can check out some pics below.