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Friday, June 28, 2013

Maps or Stories?

We just returned from a week of vacation. We spent a few days in the mountains and then traveled to Columbus, Georgia where Hannah is doing an internship for the summer. That involved driving through Atlanta, which improbably, I had never done before. We got off pretty easy. The traffic was just really bad, but not horrible, or horrendous.

Using a GPS gives me more confidence on such a trip, though I think it’s making me less able to figure out directions on my own. I like finding the fastest way to get to places, so I often use it even when home to see if there’s a better way to get from one place to another. Sometimes I drive my family crazy on trips though because the technology fools me into thinking I will never make another wrong turn. I hate making wrong turns and so I obsesses over details like, “turn right,” “turn left,” “turn here,” “don’t turn there.” When I make a wrong turn, I’m frustrated because I wasted all of a minute or two. You should pray for Kat. She’s had to put up with me for a long time. 

Many see the Bible as a set of directions, a map if you will, that tells you exactly what to do. Some have decided they don't want to go where the Bible seems to point, because they don't much like what following those directions apparently does to some people. But the Bible is not a map; it is not a set of directions. It's a story of a desperate rescue. It's your story and my story. It is the story of every person everywhere. The story has a glorious ending. But you and I have a role in determining how we fit into the story. For the story to end well for us personally, we have to accept this story as the truth about the world and the truth about us personally.

I’m beginning a study of the Old Testament book of Joshua, but I must first place Joshua’s story in the context of this big story. Joshua’s story contains numerous memorable incidents that will yield clues to developing an enduring faith. It begins with a delicate transition when a great leader (Moses) is gone and a new one (Joshua) is coming on the scene. It ends with Joshua’s funeral and this ominous statement:

Joshua 24:31 (ESV) 31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel. 

Israel remained faithful to God through Joshua’s life and of the lives of those who outlived him, but then (recorded in the Old Testament book of Judges) they tragically wandered away. This begs the question, “Is there a way to avoid this outcome? Is there a way to set down such roots of faith into the DNA of our churches, organizations, and culture so that an enduring faith is built that lasts for generations?” I'll be exploring those questions while walking through some of the most memorable incidents in all of the Bible. The series title is Reproducing Faith. 

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