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Posts Tagged ‘Bible reading’

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SU WordLive’s image of the day

Two Mondays ago I was reading SU WordLive – as I try to do each day: we were starting Proverbs…

Proverbs 1

 1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

 2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;

 3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;

 4 for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young-

 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance-

 6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

With an introduction like that, why wouldn’t I want to read on? I did. I enjoyed the reading. It was encouraging and inspiring and challenging and full of wisdom – and even I, wise in retirement 🙂 – wanted more.

And I got it from Rev Howard Peskett who retired to Penzance in 2006 with his wife Roz, after doing discipleship and ministry training for 20 years in Singapore and 15 years at Trinity College, Bristol. I always perk up when I see that Howard is one of the contributing commentators on SU WordLive.

Here is what he wrote. I love his style and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If Howard somehow happens to read this blog: “Thank you, Howard!”

‘Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? And where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’1

I begin by thanking God for Solomon, a wise though flawed king. I also thank God for my father and my mother (perhaps long dead), without whom I would not exist, for whatever wisdom I gained from them and especially if they instructed me in God-fearing love and obedience. As I reflect on the (at least fifteen) wisdom nouns in the prologue (vs 1–7) I wonder how my children and grandchildren (if I have any) or the young people for whom this book was written may gain and practise the qualities described here, especially the most fundamental one: an affectionate and awe-filled regard for and obedience to God’s good laws (v 7). Do I myself know this? Show this? Embody this?!

The father’s first lecture is about avoiding gangs, resisting peer pressure – a key skill for young people (and for older people?!). Which way shall I go? Which house shall I enter? Which voice shall I heed? These questions echo throughout Proverbs: one most fundamental question is ‘How do I know what I know and how do I know it is true?’ The father’s teaching, the mother’s graceful garland seem so much less enticing than the gang, the lots, the loot! Verse 17 notes the obvious truth that no bird flies deliberately into the hunter’s net! In this past century we have seen, in different parts of the world, whole nations stampeding into the arms of tyrants! Do I have the guts, the moral courage to stand against collective lunacy, even when pelted with insults, mud and stones?

The father concludes his warning with a blunt, global (‘all’, v 19) statement: ‘The rippers-off will be ripped off!’ (v 19a, literally). Sin has a boomerang quality (See also Proverbs 26:27; 28:10; Psalm 9:16), though I may not see the payback in my lifetime. If the vindication seems delayed, I wait for it.

Howard Peskett

1 From TS Eliot, Choruses from the Rock

 

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Every fourth week, I write a 200 word prayer post for Prayerline which is published weekly by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland‘s Council for Global Mission: this is what I sent this week.

On Sunday afternoon we had a picnic beside Strangford Lough. On Monday morning as I write this, summer rain beats steadily on the Wycliffe office roof. This week we want to offer you a Wycliffe Prayer Goody Bag which you can use this summer – rain, hail or heatwave!

Prayer Goody Bags

Prayer Goody Bags

Prayer Goody Bags provide video, audio and written resources to inform, enthuse and give plenty of inspiration for prayer. One of the prayer themes is Encountering God’s word.

“It’s not enough to translate the Bible. It’s not enough to distribute the Bible. Our desire is to see real Scripture engagement: people encountering God’s word in life changing ways”

This Prayer Goody Bag will enable you to pray for Scripture song writing workshops, AIDS education literature, trauma healing workshops, Jesus Film production, and multi-lingual education initiatives.

As we pray that language groups around the world will encounter God through his word for perhaps the first time, let’s also pray for PCI congregations around Ireland – that engaging with God’s word will inspire every one of us to be a community of global concern from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.

You can find the Prayer Goody Bags at https://www.wycliffe.org.uk/goodybags

Here is the prayer menu of more Goody Bags to explore and lead you individually or as a group to pray:

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Recently I was thinking about how I should react to people with whom I’m not getting on too well… This story from a primarily oral culture in Mali was a challenge and an encouragement, not to mention the reminder that God speaks to people through his word in their heart languages!

Jesus lived in a primarily oral culture. People gathered to hear him teach and tell stories – and what they heard transformed their lives.

Today many of the places where Wycliffe works remain primarily oral cultures – and that means that Bible translation can be as much about producing recordings of the Bible that people can listen to, as it is about printing copies of the Bible that people can read.

In many of these cultures, like the Supyire in Mali, Bible listening groups gather people together to listen to passages from the Bible – as in the picture below of people listening to the audio Bible sitting on the yellow can.

Supyire listening group

Supyire listening group

After listening to the passage they discuss how to apply it to their lives. And, as this story of one Supyire women called Ndeere shows, hearing the teaching of Jesus and the Bible continues to transform lives:

‘The word of God in Romans 12:20 says if you do good to your enemy it is as though you are placing burning coals on their head. I thought hard about this passage and then I applied it to the case of a woman who lives in the same courtyard as me who doesn’t like me at all. She used to say to her friends that she didn’t even want to see me.

It is our custom that if women are heading out to work in the fields, the younger women carry the baskets of the older ones. But this woman, such a nasty person as she is, nobody would carry her basket for her.

When I heard the part in Romans on the audio player I started to carry her basket each time we went to the fields and we came back from the fields. Some of my friends told me not to do that, because she doesn’t like me. But still I carried on. At last the nasty lady said to me she was afraid of me because I respect her so much. And in the end she stopped hating me.

What is more, I have to say that listening to the audio Bible player has made me more patient. There was a time when if someone would criticise me I wouldn’t feel at ease unless I attacked them back. Now everyone is surprised at the change in my behaviour.’

This story was sent to Wycliffe supporters who receive our bi-monthly e-newsletter, thanking them for their continuing support and prayers for the work of Wycliffe. If you wish to support and pray for  people like Ndeere to hear and be transformed by the Bible, you can sign up here.

And I’m learning to carry my enemies’ baskets… I hope.

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Life can become overwhelming at times. Database frustrations at work. Car needing fixed unexpectedly. A dodgy washer in an overflow pipe. Family illnesses and daily hospital visits. Worries and concerns about children and grand children. Losing something that seems important but probably isn’t.
All too easily we allow life to get way out of proportion.

Judas betrays Jesus

Judas betrays Jesus

Are you reading the Gospel accounts as Easter approaches? I’ve been reading Mark’s account along with many other people following SU WordLive; last Friday it was Jesus’ betrayal and arrest in Mark 14:43-52.

This is not what the disciples were expecting. This is not what contemporary understandings of the Messiah expected. But Jesus, throughout all he was and was still to suffer, knew that events were going exactly as God intended.

 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Then everyone deserted him and fled. ” Mark 14:48-50

So the disciples fled. Soon Peter would deny Jesus. In the SU WordLive commentary, Graham Cray writes some encouraging words in the Deeper Bible study section:

They were not a hopeless crowd. Jesus chose them, as he has chosen us. Judas’ duplicity and the arrest at night ‘with swords and clubs’ (v 43) was far more cowardly. Despite their promises and the brief flash of a sword, there was little the disciples could have done. They could not change the physical circumstances, while spiritually the work of the cross was something Jesus must achieve alone. God’s purpose prefigured in Scripture was being fulfilled. God’s plan is not dependent on our successes.

The New Testament is clear that it was their encounter with the risen Jesus and empowerment by the Holy Spirit which later made these disciples such effective witnesses. Fruitful and faithful discipleship is not a matter of inherent strength of character but of dependence on God and encounter with the Holy Spirit. Jesus can turn cowards into martyrs, but more often he takes ordinary, reasonably competent human beings and teaches them that to be of service they need to trust his power, not their competence.

This ordinary, somewhat competent, human being takes comfort from Graham Cray’s words, but much more from the fact that everything was not going wrong – Jesus was fulfilling his Father’s plan of salvation.

I’m looking forward to Easter weekend and to going on the Passion Walk in Belfast on Good Friday morning.

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No-room-at-the-inn-816-509

I was about to write my annual Christmas No Room at the Inn story, but Alan Wilson beat me to it – so I’m just going to re-blog his excellent contribution to this great debate. He has entitled this year’s offering The case of the innkeeper: a Christmas conundrum. It’s a good read!

Here follows a few taster extracts, then the crux of his blog – and at the end some links to my past annual efforts.

Alan’s start:

A few years ago I saw an interview with a couple of people who write nativity plays – there’s one with a couple of pizza delivery boys! It’s a great way to include lots of kids, I guess, and it helps to freshen up the old story a bit – if you think it needs freshened up!

Which raises the question of another character – often featured – who possibly does not actually belong in the story. I don’t mean Father Christmas, or David Beckham, or Wayne Rooney, or any other modern day celebrity.

This is one we might even hear preached about in sermons. I know, I have preached about him.

He’s about to talk about the innkeeper, of course!

But what if the reason that there is no mention of an innkeeper is because the story doesn’t even have an inn?

And right now you are scrambling around in your memory because you know what the Bible says. Not sure if it’s Matthew or Luke, but you’re sure it’s there somewhere.

What you are looking for is Luke 2:7 – And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.

So there it is. An inn. If there was an inn, there must have been an innkeeper.

Alan continues and flirts with heresy! But his conclusion establishes his undoubted reputation as a solid evangelical Baptist on whose words one can have absolute confidence – otherwise he wouldn’t be a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland‘s Northern Ireland council, would he?

But before you run me out of town as a heretic, can I remind you that the point remains, and it is this:

When the Son of God came into the world, it was not to a palace, much less a private hospital. He was born in a place that hardly had room for him. His first sleep was surrounded by the smells of animals as he lay in a feeding trough.

And – as a glance at Mark 10 or Philippians 2 reminds us – it was only the beginning. He took on our humanity in its weakest, most vulnerable and most dependent form. He lived as a servant, obedient to his Father with an obedience that went as far as death – even the utter humiliation of death on a cross.

There is still room for us to get onto our knees by the manger.

And we also need to realise that while both the incarnation and the death of Jesus are unique events, fundamental to our salvation, they also serve to challenge us about how we live. There is no room for self-centred arrogance among the servants of the Servant King.

My past blogs on this topic can be found here, here and here.

I wish a happy and peaceful and blessed celebration of Christ’s birth to all my readers!

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app (noun) an application, a small specialized program downloaded onto mobile phones

Stephen Gilmore (ChristChurch Belfast) recently wrote this article for the May edition of Wycliffe News about  how his church is involved in an interesting volunteer project for Wycliffe Bible Translators – and how your church in N. Ireland can do the same!

“Mission projects involve either money, travelling overseas, or both!” But not this one! Being part of this project gives the opportunity to serve in overseas mission without even crossing your doorstep. The contribution is time, not money.

Jackie: I loved working on this project because I love the concept of folks in Mali hearing the Bible in their heart language and learning to read at the same time.

App reader

The simple concept is that an app is provided for a language group so that people can read and hear Scripture in their heart language. Smartphones are very quickly becoming the “must have” accessory in even the most remote parts of the world. So imagine being in the bush in West Africa with your new smart phone and discovering an app that speaks your language. And it just happens to be the Bible!
Before the app can be prepared, the Scripture needs to have been translated and a recording made. The most impressive feature of the app is that as each chapter is read the text is highlighted on the screen – as shown below. This is a tool for those with limited literacy.

Trish: I prayed as I did my work that people who I will never meet would be impacted by what they hear.

Our task was to provide the tagging that keeps the text and voice in synch. ChristChurch Belfast pulled together a team of around a dozen people to work on the project for the Minyanka language of SE Mali. After initial training, sets of 5 or 6 chapters were allocated to team members. We chose to start with the shorter epistles to give folk the satisfaction of completing a full book. Of course with any such project, a few found that the project wasn’t right for them, others completed their initial allocation whist others came back for more and more finding the process verging on the addictive.
phone picThere are 260 chapters in the New Testament each of which needs tagging. We found a learning curve of around 5 chapters before getting “up to speed,” after which an average chapter could be completed in 45 minutes. It took 4 months to completely tag the NT and as the first church to take on such a project we were able to report issues so that now the process should be much easier as the app builder has now been fully developed.

Joyce: When I saw the app working it was great to see how it will make God’s Word more accessible for people from Mali. It was a real blessing to be involved.

Anyone with a PC or Mac and basic computer skills should be able to participate. In the middle of the mundane but intense process of listening carefully to a foreign language – going back and checking to within a few milliseconds that each tag is in the right place – comes the thought that, in just a few months, someone in Mali will be impacted by listening to the Word of God in their heart language for the very first time.
There are 799 languages in the world ready to receive an App. There used to be 800! Could your church take on a project to reduce that to 798? Get in touch with us in the Belfast office at northernireland@wycliffe.org.uk

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… is courtesy of today’s SU WordLive comments by Mark Keown.

no room at the inn

What would it look like if God came to redeem us? Luke gives his answer. He comes into a world seemingly controlled by mighty emperors like the supreme Caesar Augustus, ruler of the Roman Empire. Caesar commands and people obey. He has commanded all his people (about 100 million) to return to their home towns to be counted. He is not concerned about the inconvenience. What matters is that he knows his resources. So Joseph, a descendant of David, travels with the heavily pregnant Mary 150 kilometres south to David’s home town, Bethlehem. Looking back, we know that our sovereign God was working in the chaos, ensuring that the ancient prophecy would be fulfilled (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5,6).

Luke describes the birth of Jesus in scant terms. They arrive. There is no place for them in the katalyma. This is not an inn with an innkeeper but is ‘either some type of reception room in a private home or some type of public shelter.’1 Perhaps it is the home of a relative, already overrun with returnees. Into these humble circumstances, God’s Son is born in an animal shelter, either on the lower floor or in an adjoining stable or cave. While the situation is unhygienic, Jesus is welcomed with love, clothed and laid in an animal’s feeding trough.

So, when God comes what does it look like? God’s coming is unspectacular, contrary to expectations. It is humble, inconspicuous and unseen by the powers of the world. While emperors shout out commands to their subjects, God comes in obscurity. He is born in a small town among animals. That is our God. It is his pattern to plant seeds that slowly transform; to bring transformation through people who were once babes. He could come with might to smite, but rather comes with love to woo. Whatever the mess, God is at work and he is in control (Romans 8:28).

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