Well, I’ve been continuing in my development group at church, reading through and discussing many things with a great group of guys. Just to recap where I’m at and what I’m doing, I’ll list the four books that I’ve either finished or that I’m currently going through.
First, I’m still going through the One Year Bible (the English Standard Version versus the English Automatic Version); I’m now reading through the book of Judges on the Old Testament side and I think I’m into the book of John on the New Testament side. I say “I think” because I’ve fallen a few days behind on my reading. Anyway, the Old Testament stories are really amazing to read and I’m glad that I’m taking such an insightful journey.
A theme that I continue to notice, because, as those of you who read my blog know, I am really into understanding the past in order to understand the present and the future, is the theme of the people of Israel being warned against not teaching “these things” to their children. All throughout the desert, the Israelites would erect monuments of remembrance so that their children would not be ignorant of the things that God had done for them. Moses and Aaron both admonished the people of Israel to observe the days of remembrance so that the children, who had not seen the miracles in the desert, would know of the Lord and His awesome deeds.
We just finished reading Bill Hybel’s book Who You Are When No One’s Looking, which is an easy read, but which presents a lot of information that isn’t really too deep. The book is pretty much about having character, discipline, and imitating Jesus’ kind of love in different situations.
Now, we’re reading Robert E. Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism, which isn’t really about what you’d think the title suggests. I thought this book was going to tell me that I needed to start knocking on people’s doors like a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that the book looks at Jesus’ actual plan of evangelism, which is quite different. The book looks at how Jesus selected a few men to be his disciples and how, even when ministering to the crowds, he devoted himself to teaching and training these backwoods men. Jesus spent his entire three year ministry imparting himself into a group of men who, ultimately, came to change the world.
The point that the book really tries to make is that the church fails many times when its focus is on converting people over building relationships. I know that I’ve been involved in churches before where I was just a number and I didn’t have the relationships that are so necessary to fully develop and mature my faith; however, I’m now in such a great environment at Milestone, where relationships are seen in a whole ‘nother light. In Milestone, men and women are being taught and discipled in such a way that they can place their faith into action and disciple and mentor other believers. What a disservice we do when we bring someone into a church and we don’t take the time to make sure that they are discipled and given a chance to truly serve and get involved in the things that are going on.
In my spare time, what little of it I happen to find, I am reading The Confessions of Saint Augustine, which is another great book that is really opening my eyes. This book is about the life and conversion of a man who considered himself smart in the world. Augustine was a philosopher and a teacher of rhetoric who had a praying mother and a desire to find the truth. As Augustine learned more from the different philosophers, he found that their answers never seemed to lead him to the truth. He finally began hearing the scriptures and God spent a lot of time working on him, tearing him away from the things of the world. One of the most interesting glimpses of his life takes place in a garden where Augustine is seen wrestling with a decision to abandon the things of the world (fame, etc.) and to cling to God alone.
Currently, I’m reading through one of the books in The Confessions entitled Philosophy of Memory, which is amazing to say the least. Augustine talks about the memory and brings up the point that somewhere in our memory we all know what the truth is (the happy life) and that the truth is what we all ultimately desire. As soon as I have an opportunity, I’ll put one of my favorite quotes that Augustine makes on this philosophy.