Well. Today I embarked on a journey.

Technically it was last night when I read the prologue to a book containing four essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I have decided to not take any further formal education during the next year. Instead, I will spend the time usually reserved for studies and schoolwork, reading. Spurred on by my brother-in-law and my father, my first thought was to read through the Harvard classics. But my wallet and bank account turned out to be the most convincing voice in that discussion. Fresh out of College with $4.11 to spare, I decided to forego buying the Harvard Classics set and to look through my father’s library for “classic-sounding” books.

My father is an avid reader, and his library is a treasure of enduring literature.

I found several classics, contemporary best sellers, award winners, “how-to” pamphlets, volumes of history, novels, textbooks, and comic books. Emerging from intense competition for the first round draft pick for this reading journey was a book simply called Emerson. It contains four essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  • Self-Reliance.
  • Prudence.
  • Wealth.
  • History.

I’m beyond excited about beginning this journey. And I’m excited about starting it with Ralphie. I don’t think I’ve ever spent much time with any of his works. According to the prologue, I’ve been missing out.

I want to read for a a few different reasons. But the main reason is:

I want to become a better writer, and speaker.It’s my opinion (and limited experience) that a person’s eloquence is often determined by their familiarity with literature. It seems like the average person I run into isn’t able to communicate their thoughts well. Via written word, or in conversation. Those that do communicate well and can hold their own in conversation and in deeper discussions tend to be the ones that are well acquainted with classic literature. I’ve read quite a bit. But if we’re playing the comparison game I’m losing. I want to be able to be a great speaker and writer. I feel a burning in my bones to communicate clearly the Gospel of Jesus. To communicate that well, I would do well to learn from gifted authors who have gone before me.

While I no doubt will learn from the thoughts of many of these great men and women, the reason I am so interested in them is because of their ability to communicate those thoughts in ways that history has deemed timeless.

So. Here I go. First with Ralphie. A man who had a knack for speaking to his generation. I’ll think out loud my thoughts about Ralphie and his writing in subsequent posts.

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Israel – Abraham’s son was named Isaac. He had 2 more sons named Jacob and Esau, and Jacob, who God eventually changed his name to Israel, had 12 sons and so on and so forth.. . One of those sons of Israel, named Joseph, eventaully went to Egypt through a crazy series of events and God made things work out so that he was eventually second in command of all of Egypt, second only to Pharoah. While he was in command, there was a huge famine in the middle east, and because God had warned joseph of this, he planned for it and with the food Egypt had stored up, the country was saved. During this Famine, all of the rest of Jospeh’s brothers and family came to Egypt as well. There, their families flourished and grew into a huge nation. A nation founded in the identity that their job was to remind the world of the greatness of God and to worship him properly

Moses – Well they got to be a really big nation. And kind of freaked out Egypt. So the armies of Egypt made them slaves. The Israelites weren’t exactly a war like nation and couldn’t put up much of a fight. Eventually, A pharoah even ordered the execution of every male under the age of 2 to limit their population growth. One boy, named Moses was saved from that execution. His mom put him in a basket on the nile and somehow (because God is faithful) he ended up in Pharoah’s Palace where a princess took him in and loved on him. So moses grew up in Pharoah’s court. Through another series of events where Moses kills some egyptian slave driver, flees egypt for murder, goes into the wilderness, marries a girl, becomes a shepherd, God speaks to him in the form of a burning bush and tells him to go deliver God’s people, Israel, out of Egypt, and then Moses does it. He goes back to Egypt, tells pharoah to let him go, he doesn’t (largest work force in the ancient world no doubt.), God sends all these crazy plagues on egypt and Pharoah finally relents. Israel is free and leaves. Well Pharoah changes his mind, chases them with his army. Israel is backed up against a sea, and Because God is faithful, he literally splits the sea down the middle and Moses and all his people walk through and are rescued. Oh.. and God killed all of the Egyptian armies that tried to follow them through the sea. So the people of Israel are saved on headed to a place where God is showing them.

Tabernacle – Well. Even though these people are God’s people, and they are responsible for telling the whole world about him, they suck at it a lot of times. They still have that Sin problem in their hearts like the rest of humanity. So they just got freed from Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at the time, and then they came to the land God wanted them to go into. Well.. they got scared of the people who were living there and thought that they would beat them in battle. So they balked and turned back. God was angry that they didn’t do as he told them. He made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years. This effectively killed off the leadership that didn’t follow God’s plan. During this time though, God still loved his people. And wanted to be with them. So he ordered Moses to build a huge tent called the tabernacle. In this tent, that they moved around as they wandered, God would come and let his presence fill it regularly. The glory was so powerful though, that people couldn’t just go in to be with God. They were still imperfect in their sin, so being there in that presence would kill them. God was simultaneously showing his people he loved them and wanted them to be in his presence, and putting up a dividing wallbetween them.

Promised Land – 40 years passed. The people believed God would be faithful and he was. He let them go into the promised land (this was actually the Home of Abraham and Isaac and Joseph long before, and they defeated the people there. They were finally home.

Babel – Well eventually even Noah’s grandsons and great grandsons began to forget about God and want to do their own thing. They had become a huge group of people now. Everyone was speaking the same language and so it was very easy for them to get things accomplished and to work together. They got big headed though, and because they were so productive and powerful together, they forgot that they were just creatures, not the creator. They wanted to build a tower so tall that it reached into heaven. They didn’t need a promised substitute to get there. And they didn’t need God to be merciful, because if he sent another flood, they could just climb their tower. They wanted all of humanity after them to not think about God, but to think about what they had accomplished and give them praise for it. The tower they built was massive. But God was not happy at all about what they were doing. He decided to make them all speak different languages. This was completely confusing to them. They could no longer keep constructing the tower because no one understood one another. God made them speak different languages so they would be humbled once again, and be reminded that they are creatures of a powerful creator. But instead of humbly learning to work together again, the difference in languages frustrated them and they began to argue with people they could not understand. Instead of patiently learning other languages, they began to gather into tribes of languages and fighting with other tribes and stealing their land and women and killing. It sounds familiar.

Abraham – God, could have destroyed all of mankind again. However he wanted to, I suppose. He is God after all. But Instead of destroying them all and starting all over again, he had a different plan. While God is a God of Judgment, he is also Love. So his plan was one of restoration and renewal. God chose one man, Abraham, through whom he would remind the entire world of his greatness and glory. Abraham didn’t do anything special, God just picked him because that was his plan. God promised Abraham that through his sons and descendents, the promised substitute would be born. Abraham believed God. This was a tough thing to believe, considering Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was barren and couldn’t have Kids. However, God is sovereign and in control of all things, so he opened Sarah’s womb and made her able to conceive. After many childless years, Abraham finally had a son. God was faithful to his promise.

To be continued..

Fall – these creations loved God as well. They walked and talked with him everyday. However, they chose one day to rebel against God. They were just moons reflecting light, but they wanted to be the Sun itself. They did things God asked them not to do, and it changed the world forever. Humans would have lived forever, but now they would die because of their rebellion. The bible calls the wrong things that the man and woman did, sin. Also though, sin is not just doing wrong things. It’s a corruption, a disease, a presence that permeates all of the world including the hearts of humans. Humans used to be able to walk and talk with God without any strings attached, but now their friendship and communion was broken and shattered. Humans, unclean as they now were couldn’t approach God because he is perfect and can’t be touched by imperfection. This left humanity in a predicament.
 
promise of redemption – God loved his creation too much to leave it like this though. As it were, humans would have to experience death eternally, and could never enter into communion with him again. But God, because he is so loving, and very wise, made a promise that one day he would send a substitute for all of mankind. That substitute would somehow take the penalty for man’s sin on himself, and would experience death in their place. In doing so, he would blaze a path for people to come back into friendship with God. God asked the man and the woman to believe and trust that he would bring this substitute for them, and if they did, after they died, they could be with God in spirit. And one day, even their dead bodies would be redeemed and made new again. Ultimately, they were promised life again, if they would believe and live like God would be faithful to his promises to them. 
 
Noah – Well. The first man and woman did believe. And they taught their children to believe. and their children’s children to believe and so on and so forth. However, somewhere along the line, someone didn’t care that much about God and stopped teaching his kids about him.Well that attitude was really contagious and pretty much everyone stopped teaching their kids about God and then the world got kind of crazy. Everyone was running around doing whatever they wanted, killing, stealing, sleeping with anyone and everyone. It made for a sad world and they all forgot God. Eventually.. in the entire world, only one man and his family still remembered God and believed in the promised substitute. His name was Noah. God said he would punish the world by sending a great flood to wipe the planet clean. He instructed Noah to build a huge boat. On that boat, Noah and his family (his sons and daughters and their husbands and wives) would stay while the floods were raging. God sent 2 of every kind of animal to the boat as well so that they could repopulate the whole earth once they got out. It’s an amazing story really. God did send a flood. Everyone on earth was killed except Noah and his family. God is very serious about people not recognizing him as their creator and being faithful to his promises.

To Be Continued…

So My friend was at a disciple now leading small group sessions. The subject matter of the weekend was the story of Nehemiah. In an attempt to help her with teaching her girls, she asked that I give her a brief summary of what has taken place in scripture up to that point so that the girls could read it.

The word “brief” is relative.

I will be posting in increments what I wrote for her. I hope you enjoy.

The Bible is ancient scripture. Written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different authors, it is the most popular book ever written. Every year since it’s first printing, it has been the best seller. It contains hundreds of prophecies, none of which have been proven false, hundreds of which have come to pass, and still many more that have yet to be fulfilled. Many look at the Bible as a strange book full of rules, or a magic book that you can go to when you need something, full of incantations for certain situations. Instead, one should see the Bible as a story. It is the story of the world. It is the story of all mankind. And it the story of God. It’s important to know that the Bible is full of hundreds of stories, but they all connect into one big story. We are going to study one story, about God and a man named Nehemiah. We are picking up this story in the middle of the bigger story, so I want to briefly summarize what you might need to know to better understand the story of Nehemiah.
 
God – You need to understand the God of the Bible first. In the beginning, before time even existed. God always was. He exists in 3 parts, but all 1 being. He is God as father, God as Son, and God as Spirit. Hard to wrap your mind around. But that’s expected. It makes sense that you would have to be God to fully understand God. He is the one who started this whole thing. He is the author of the story. He is the main character too. He isn’t like what most of the world thinks of when they think of God. He isn’t old and hard of hearing. He isn’t waiting for you to mess up so he can hit you with a lightning bolt. He also isn’t playing chess with the angels unconcerned about what is going on down here. He is ageless, and hears quite well. He is infinite in power, and loving and wise. He is intimately involved with all that happens on earth. He most of all, is intimately involved with humans. Why?
 
 
Creation – God created the entire world, and he said it was all perfect. All the animals, all the stars, all oceans and mountains… all his work. His favorite and most unique creation though, were humans. He made a man and a woman and what made them so unique and different from other animals and creations, is that God made these humans in his image.These creatures were not just physical, but also spiritual. They were a radical unity of both body and spirit. Their job was to take care of the earth and hang out and enjoy God. They were created to reflect God’s glory on earth. It’s kind of like how the moon reflects the Sun. Or like when a king puts up statues of himself around his kingdom, to remind the kingdom who is in charge, except these statues lived and breathed. It’s hard to find an analogy, because none match up. Well anyways, God loved these creations most of all.

To be continued..

This is a letter written to my college and young adults ministry (called the Orchard) back at home. They have asked me to keep in touch with them while I am away at school and to write in the Pauline fashion when I do. It was a lot of fun to do. 🙂

Weston, a brother in Christ:

to Jason and the other believers of the Orchard who are faithful in Christ Jesus.

Grace and Peace from God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank God every time I think about you guys back in the Boro. I am reminded of the sincere faith that you have in the Lord, and I long to be back with you again. I miss the Men’s Bible Study especially. I urge you to continue studying and reading the Word. It is power.

I am so encouraged when I hear how things are going back at home. I am so proud of how you are seeking after Christ and are trying to love him first and act accordingly. Keep up the good work! 

Remember! There is nothing we have done to deserve God’s grace, but it is only because of his great love and mercy that he has called us out of our graves into new life with him. Meditate on this truth and it will help you walk and speak in humility. And Brothers and Sisters, for the perfect example of humility, look to Jesus on the cross. He is God, but humbled himself to do the Father’s will as a servant and submitted to death on the cross to bring glory to his Father. Do not be ashamed of this testimony and message about Jesus. The cross is foolishness to the world, but it is our only hope. I pray that the message of the Gospel is continually on your lips, and that you speak it to one another daily. You must remind yourself of this truth day after day, for we, in our weakness, forget it day after day. 

Therefore, knowing what God has done for us, pursue a life worthy of the calling he has called us to! Walk in love, humility, and patience, trying always to maintain peace amongst yourselves. When one of you wrongs another or screws up somehow, Forgive one another, knowing that God has forgiven you. Speak the truth to one another. And how will you know the truth unless you are dwelling on it every day in scripture? Devote yourselves to meditation on the word and prayer for one another.

Welcome others to the Orchard, and if they are not believers be kind to them, but speak the truth about the gospel to them. Do not shy away from what matters so that they might feel more comfortable. It is far better that they know the truth and feel convicted and come to faith in Jesus than that they feel like one of the members when in reality they are dead in their sin. Look to 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 to see how this works.

Daily decide to die to yourself and to live for Christ. If you are not humbling yourself to save face, or are trying to build your reputation to receive glory from others, or you keep from confessing sins because of your pride; you are under the illusion you are still alive. But Saints, You have died! It is not you that lives, but Christ in you.

The opportunities here at Union are encouraging. The Building that I am the RA (resident advisor) over is full of great guys who love the Lord and are very Kind. There are several who are not believers and there will be plenty of chances for me to speak with them. Please pray for me that I will be bold in speaking the truth to them and will do it in kindness and with patience. I already love these guys and I pray that the Lord will use me to help mold them into young men who love Jesus more than anything else. We will be starting a Study through Romans pretty soon and I am very excited about that. I will keep you posted on how that goes. Pray that people will begin to love and submit to the word. 

I miss the Men’s Bible Study at the Orchard. I pray the Women’s bible study is going well. In whatever study, if two disagree, appeal to the authority of the text every time. It is our standard for truth. We always say we know that, but often we do not act on that knowledge. It is my prayer that we all become better students of the Word. 

Remember Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and talk constantly about this hope that we have. Be faithful in speaking it to one another, and be faithful in declaring it boldly to those outside of the church walls as well.

I love you dearly and look forward to seeing you all again. I hope to come before winter.

I pray that you walk in the Peace of Christ and the rest that only he can give.

Weston

Good Evening Brothers and Sisters
 
It is good to gather here together to worship the Lord through song, confession, prayer, and the hearing of his word.
 
One of the themes of the night is the beauty of the local church and tonight as we worship together, I encourage you not to get lost in worship. Know, and thank God, that we have been called to the community of believers. Thank the Lord that it is not just you and God, but that he has been kind enough to let us work alongside other believers who serve the same king.
 
So as we worship tonight, do not get lost, do not block out the voices of the saints around you. but stay aware of and be encouraged by where you are. Worshipping next to brothers and sisters. Family who you have wept with in trials and heart ache, and who you have laughed and rejoiced with as you have seen prayers answered and the fruit of your labor for the kingdom.
 
Rejoice that together, we come before our Sovereign God in awe and wonder, and worship him.
 
Sing with me about our Sovereign God. This is our Father’s world.
 
 
Prayer. 
 
Father, Thank you for your son. I pray that he is our one foundation. Thank you for your glorious plan of salvation. Thank you that through the death of your son we are forgiven, and that through his resurrection we have been justified and have been reconciled to you. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for your promise to conform us into the image of Jesus. Teach us to be more like him. Teach us to love the church the way he loved the church. He gave himself up for it, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water of the word that he might present her to himself in splendor, without any spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and blameless. Thank you for the way you have loved your church. We wait for the day Jesus comes back to claim us his bride.
 
Teach us from your word tonight. Be with Trevin as he speaks from the text and help us submit to the authority of the word. In the name of Jesus, Amen.