On June 26 I retired after being pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Doylestown for 35 years. I’ve taken some time to look back at the main lessons God has taught me during that time. Here’s one:
In college and seminary I developed a great appreciation for the Bible as the living, inspired Word of God. I came away with an awesome respect for it. It is the main tool of my trade. My knowledge of it and skill in using it has grown as I have grown. As I look back on my lifetime as a Christian I realize there has been a subtle change in my attitude to the Bible. I respect it more than ever, but I’ve also been developing a real love for it! I love it because it reveals God, and the more I know about Him the more I love Him and trust Him.
No longer is it just a tool to help me accomplish my ministry, it has become my lifeline to God, my anchor and rock in life. I not only like and appreciate it, I find myself totally needing it. The better I know the facts of the Bible the more I realize there is a depth to it that can never be plunged in this life. I am learning it with more than my mind but also with my heart. I has become very precious and special to me.
Some of my early trips to India were especially difficult for me. I found myself turning to God’s Word in a deeper way than I ever had before. God’s comfort and promises were what got me through. God’s Word was the only thing that kept me going. I learned a deeper appreciation for the physical book itself from the believers there who will never set their Bible on the floor nor put anything on top of it. I also discovered a deeper need in myself for its truths than ever before. I held my Bible when trying to get to sleep at night. I kept touching it all night long. That physical contact was vital to keeping my faith and focus on God alone. I read a chapter first thing every morning and last thing every night. I read it as a love letter from God to me, not looking for ideas for messages or things I can use in my teaching. That has been very refreshing and keeps my focus where it needs to be. It speaks words of life to my heart, soul and spirit. I’m learning to listen with my heart and soul, not just my mind. We Baptists are labeled “people of the book.” I like that But I don’t just want the book in my head, I want it in my heart.
My involvement in spiritual warfare ministry has taught me that it is only God’s Word that carries authority against evil forces, not mine or anyone else’s. Satan and his demons must obey God’s Word when we use it. There is real power in the Word of God when we believe and quote it. That’s how Jesus overcame temptations in the wilderness and it’s the sword of the Spirit which Paul talks about – our only offensive weapon.
The Bible comes more amazing to me as I go on in life. The more I know the less I find I really know! It’s simple enough for a child to understand, but the greatest scholar can spend a lifetime in just one part of it and never get to the full depth of it. It speaks to our mind, emotions and spirit all at once.
The older I become and therefore the less of life I have left to live, the harder I cling to God’s promises, not just about this life but also about the future. I’m not as interested in covering a lot of ground in my reading and study (quantity) but in going deeper in just a few verses (quality). Don’t rush your reading, go slow, meditate, mull over a verse or phrase, ask God to speak to you through it and listen to what He says. Go deep, don’t go fast. (October 24, 2016 Doylestown, PA)
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, NIV
Psalms 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Where are you in your growing love for the Bible? Is it just a tool of your trade, or the living Word of God which speaks truth to your heart?
How much time each day do you spend in devotional reading and study of the Word?
What is your favorite Bible passage or promise? Why?
INDIA UPDATE 7 PRAYER REQUEST: My wife and I are going to India January 10 to February 9. She has quit her full time job and is working part time so she can go with me. That is a great blessing to me and the ministry there. Pray for us as we prepare for the trip. Pray for wisdom as we plan lessons, pray for our health for we always seem to come home sick, pray for the necessary finances for us and the conferences, and especially pray for the pastors in India who will be attending.
Christian Training Organization