Our Lectio Divina for today:
Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2nd Timothy 3: 14-17 (MsgB)
So, dear pastor or ministry leader, when did you first realize the kalós, the call of God on your life?
Or maybe a better question is this…
In truth, the Spirit of God has been working in and on you, like Timothy, from the very beginnings of your life. When did you first realize that God has been calling you to serve the Master from the very earliest of your days?
You see, whether you know it or not, and whether you care to admit to it or not, there never has been a day of your life or mine when Jesus didn’t see us as ones He was wooing toward Himself. And as I discussed last time, I can go back in my 65+ years of life and now recognize unique times when Jesus of Nazareth was meddling in my little world, preparing me for the pastoral work I now do today. What about you?
We’ll talk more about Timothy in future blogs in this series, but suffice for now to know that little Timmy was apparently being set up for his life in ministry long before he had any say in it at all. For Timothy, it was growing up in a godly home where God’s Word was the Cornerstone for all life.
When I beckon back to my story, I recall being totally mesmerized by that big black book in the competent hands of Billy Graham as he spoke of Jesus Christ on network television to thousands of people gathered in stadiums across North America. I remember getting one of those black books (in a smaller size, of course) when I completed my confirmation class at the Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa when I was 13 years old. I was so excited to have my own copy of God’s Holy Book. Wow…it even had my full name written inside it, with the date of my birth and the date of my confirmation!
Many years later, I took a job as a manager of a Logos Christian bookstore in Evanston, Illinois and I remember the excitement of overseeing the huge variety of Bibles we made available to our customers. Big Bibles. Little Bibles. Thick Bibles. Thin Bibles. As I recall, the King James, Revised Standard, and New American Standard versions were the best-sellers, until the exciting day I pulled my very first New International Version hardcover from its Zondervan shipping carton. Now I had a Bible that read so much easier than that RSV I’d been using thus far. Oh yes, the Living Bible was available long before the NIV, but no one with any scholarly scruples would dare suggest I ever read one of those! :0)
So, what’s your experience with God’s Word?
Did the words in red enthrall you like they did for me? Did those stories and parables from the Master burn in your heart long after you closed the book? How about those wonderful study Bibles that helped you bring more clarity to your understanding of God’s Word?
I remember the day when I bought my first Message Study Bible. Eugene Peterson had long been one of my favorite authors and when NavPress started issuing sections of his Message Bible, I was first in line to get my hands on whatever I could. If I recall, it was in the early 1990’s when The Message New Testament and Psalms was first released. Suddenly, I felt as though I was reading the Bible again for the first time. So when The Message Study Bible came out (it was called The Conversation Bible at the time) I was thrilled to sit down and allow this masterful contemplative pastor, Eugene Peterson, lead me through passages of the Scripture in ways I’d never thought possible.
So today, as we close, let me suggest, as we walk together through this blog series, that you re-focus yourself on God’s Word. One of the most important tools I’ve discovered recently is the ancient discipline of Lectio Divina. That’s simply Latin for “divine reading.” Early church fathers and mothers realized the beauty of opening God’s Book, not for sermon material or for covering vast quantities in one sitting, but for the care of their own souls! Lectio Divina, you see, is a slowing down way of reading the Bible, listening deeply for the voice of God as He speaks through the sacred texts. Eugene Peterson, in his classic, Eat This Book, says it this way…
“There is only one way of reading that is congruent with our Holy Scriptures…This is the kind of reading named by our ancestors as Lectio Divina, often translated as “spiritual reading,” reading that enters our souls as food, enters our stomachs, spreads through our blood, and becomes holiness and love and wisdom.”
I encourage you, as we journey together with short texts from Paul’s letters to Timothy, to use this ancient discipline of Lectio Divina as a creative tool for listening, pondering, and enjoying the Presence of God as we read together God’s Word.
My prayer: Father God, I’m so thankful for Your work in my life…work that began long before I was even aware of it. I’m thankful as well for Your Holy Word which offers me Truth in a world where Truth is often lost at sea. As Jesus so rightly said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” May I hold on to Your Word both now and forevermore. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: It’s very common for a pastor or ministry leader to “read” the Bible, using it for sermon preparation, Bible studies, and the such. But when was the last time I simply sat with God’s Holy Word and allowed it to “read” me? Am I willing to allow the Holy Spirit to go deep within me as I ponder each word, welcoming it to enter my soul as food, enter my stomach, spread through my blood, and become holiness and love and wisdom?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14