Slaughtering Sacred Cows
When I was in my early and mid-twenties, I began to reject a lot of religious teachings which I had heard all of my life, but just didn’t line up with scripture. I began slaughtering many “sacred cows!” I found that a lot of people were also reconsidering many of the same things. At first, I was excited that the Holy Spirit was revealing the same things to them.
However, over the next few years, many of these people went on to reject almost anything that “traditional” Christianity taught. I just couldn’t do that. As much as I was for getting free from merely human tradition, there were too many so-called “sacred cows” which really were sacred to me!
This is about one of those sacred truths. Even now, I hear so many people saying “The Bible isn’t the word of God. Jesus is.” People are saying this and thinking “Yay! I just slaughtered a sacred cow!” A little while ago I read a post where a Facebook friend was boasting “I haven’t read the Bible for over a year!” as if to show how free she had become from religion!
I’ve heard so much talk about “idolizing scripture.” While I think it’s possible to idolize the letter of the scripture, I’m much more concerned about a lack of appreciation for the Bible. Here’s why the Bible still means so much to me and why I still believe it is the word of God.
How I Became Obsessed With The Bible
When I was a child my mom sat down with us at night to sing worship songs, read poetry, and memorize scriptures. She told me that before I was born, God spoke to her and said her baby would become like a strong oak tree that would have deep roots and would not be moved. Then we memorized Psalm 1 together. The first few verses are:
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Grammy (my grandmother) told me that she would give me a bible when I was “old enough.” I couldn’t wait to get a Bible, just because I wanted anything that I needed to be “old enough” to have.
I remember when she gave it to me. I was seven years old, and it was outside of my Pappy’s big rig truck. I took it home and read almost all of it from cover to cover, only skipping rapidly through a few really boring parts like Leviticus. It had a lot of really beautiful stories, but also some passages that made me really terrified!
The Bible impressed me. I wasn’t sure if God existed, but later found out that he did when I was healed and felt his hand on my back. Two years after that my grandmother sent me to a Christian camp for kids, called Circle K. My whole life changed there.
Every day they held a morning and evening chapel service. After the morning service, they sent us out into our spots in the woods to read our Bibles for 15 minutes. When I was sitting there in the woods reading, I began to fall in love with the Bible. What I was reading calmed the mental torment I had known and brought an indescribable peace and joy to me. When I got home from the second year of camp there, I began sleeping with my Bible under my pillow so that I would remember to read it the next morning. I spent a lot of time reading Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels, and Ephesians.
After a little more than a year, I got out of the habit of reading the Bible. I had a lot of legalism in my understanding, so I also fell into torment in my mind and soul. However, I soon encountered the Lord again. Then after my first missions trip, when I was fourteen years old, I again started to read every day. I read a minimum of five Psalms. I also read four chapters of the OT books before Psalms, four chapters of the OT books after Psalms, four chapters from the gospels, and four chapters from the Epistles. I continued this reading plan through all of my teenage years.
For almost the next two years, I became an extreme legalist. I really had a poor understanding of scripture. I misused it in the worst of ways, becoming very bitter and judgemental. My legalism drove me back into torment until I encountered God’s glory and repented from it. I was fifteen years old. I went from bitterness and bondage to condemnation, to experiencing great joy and glory.
Even though I was misusing scripture during that time, I have never regretted reading it so much! These scriptures filled my mind and would later come back to me and produce great fruit and miracles in my life.
My Words Are Spirit And Life
When I repented from legalism, I began to experience heaven on earth. Reading the Bible became like eating or drinking to me. I felt rivers of life pouring into my soul as I read.
Matthew 4:4 (NIV) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
I sensed an indescribable inner power growing in me, until I felt like the strongest man in the world. Sometimes I began to weep as the scriptures ran through my mind, because everything they talked about was becoming so real to me. Jesus was becoming real to me as never before. In fact, many times when I was thinking about what I read, my body began to vibrate tangible with power. It was as if the words of scripture became a tangible substance vibrating around me as I thought of them, filling the atmosphere in such a way that I could touch and physically feel them. This went beyond anything I could rationally explain. But I found that what Jesus had said was true:
John 6:63 (NRSV) The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
The scriptures became so life-giving to me, that I could not fathom how I had once thought that books like First and Second Corinthians had once been boring to me! They were full of glory!
The Fruit Scripture Began Producing In My Life
I had been a very quiet person, and I thought I was an introvert. When I was a teenager I once found out that someone thought I was mute because I talked so little. But what I read in scripture filled my soul until my heart was exploding and I needed to talk about it. I started talking, and found out that I was really an extrovert who loved people! I had just been wounded.
Scripture can make a stutterer fluent, because there is such power in it that it fills a person and overflows out of his heart. I have heard the stories of several stutterers who have become fluent when their heart was filled with the truth of scripture. One of them is a friend of mine. When I first tried speaking publicly it was terribly difficult, but the glorious truths in scripture filling my heart gave me the desire to speak, until it became much more natural for me.
I might have killed myself early in my life if not for the revelation of Christ from scripture. But the strength and encouragement of scripture took me from the place of pain and anguish to knowing unspeakable joy and glory. I was set free from depression and mental torment.
In school, I got the worst grades of all my subjects in Spanish. But the Bible was my breakthrough in language learning. My breakthrough in actually being able to speak Spanish and put words together came when I read the book of Revelation in Spanish. I also used the Bible to study Polish, and then Russian, Portuguese, and other languages. I was not planning to learn Russian when I first went to Russia, but I found that after two weeks of being there I could read and understand the book of first John in Russian. I have now spoken publicly in four languages (including English). People tell me that I’m good with languages, and they don’t realize that Spanish was once my worst subject!
When I was in school English and Composition was the subject I hated the most. Then I read the book of Proverbs and decided to submit to my parents and to the discipline of studying English. My mind was so filled with what I read in scripture that I began to write about it, and words began to flow. Now I feel like I have a lot to write, and I teach English as a foreign language. How ironic, since I once hated English!
What I read in scripture so encouraged me that I bought a bunch of permanent markers and began to write scriptures on my arms and hands. Everyone asked me if I was ever going to go ahead and get a permanent tattoo. I said “No, you can’t change them. I like to have a different scripture every time.” Then I covered the walls and ceiling of my bedroom in my parent’s house with scriptures written in colorful permanent markers. (It was a lot of work to paint over later!)
When I was 21 I became convinced from scripture that it was always God’s will to heal. That was the beginning of a life full of miracles. What I read in scripture strengthened me and produced faith in me, even when I felt like it was impossible for me to have faith.
Romans 10:17 (NIV) Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God
I took a little pocket Bible and read it in the truck on my way to work. I would be thinking about it all day. Sometimes when I was thinking about what I read in scripture, the power of what I read became so real to me that it was like the air became thick with a tangible vibration of God’s goodness around me. For example, I read that The Father loves me with the same love that he has for Jesus (John 17:23), and has given me the same glory that he gave to Jesus (John 17:22). I read that Jesus is not ashamed to call me his brother. (Hebrews 2:11) It was so good that it seemed too good to be true, but it was true! Somehow through this written word, Jesus became so real to me, that I experienced heaven. Waves and waves of love and goodness began to flow through my being. And the love of God fixed so many things that were just too hopelessly messed up with me.
Writing Scriptures On The Walls
I bought my first house when I was 22 years old, and moved out of my parent’s house. I rented the other rooms out to friends, and I wrote scriptures on the walls with colored permanent markers. (In the places which I had not yet remodeled).
Two years later I bought another house and moved into it. It had five bedrooms, and I had five other young people living with me. I sealed the basement walls and painted them white so that I could write verses there with my colored markers as well. I prayed that people would be healed or set free by the peace of God when they walked in the door. Supernatural things began to happen in both houses. I and some of my roommates began to see and encounter angels there.
Once when I was in the truck going to a siding job, something made me start thinking about scriptures telling us to pray for rain. I was thinking of these scriptures all day long, then returned to find that it had supernaturally rained inside my house while I was at work! God’s word is always working and is always effective.
Isaiah 55:11 (NIV) so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Sometimes I weep when I think of God’s word, because of what it has accomplished in my life. It was the revelation of Jesus from scripture that made my great aunt’s crooked back straighten before my eyes—one of the first miracles that I saw happen. Scripture made me—once a very shy and timid person—forget my fear so I took the hands of a man in a wheelchair and helped him up, saying “In Jesus’ name, get up and walk”. There was a scripture that I just couldn’t get out of my mind, and I finally obeyed it. It worked! No wonder I started talking more! Who could help but talk about seeing things like that!
The Written Word Reveals The Living Word
I was recently listening to this video on youtube. In it, Joe McIntyre explains that the written word which we have in the Bible reveals the Living Word, which is Christ. The idea that Jesus is the Word of God, therefore scripture is not, is faulty logic and is a false dichotomy.
Joe explained that Paul was reading the Old Testament and saw Jesus everywhere in it! For example, Paul read the story of the creation in Genesis, and the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to him. That is why, thinking of Genesis, he wrote:
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV) For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
One of the themes that opened up to me in scripture was the truth that Jesus came in the flesh. I was at a church in Canada and shared what the Bible says about Jesus coming in the flesh. After that I watched people being healed by God’s power, one after another. I stood there weeping, overwhelmed with the feeling that Jesus himself was standing beside me. And I remembered that he said “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV). I later estimated that about three quarters of everyone who was there was healed of something. This was the fruit of God’s word. Jesus became the most real person in the world to me. He became tangible to me. I felt like I could reach out and touch him whenever I wanted. The written word bore fruit which revealed Christ, the Living Word of God.
The theme of Psalm 119 is thanking God for his word. It seems clear to me that David was not only talking about Christ but was talking about his love for the scriptures. I can relate very well to what he wrote! Here are some of the best excerpts:
Verse 50 Your promise preserves my life
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
61 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live
127 Because I love your commands
more than gold, more than pure gold
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises
164 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises
165 Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.
If you let the same love for scripture which we see in Psalm 119 grow in your heart, the result will be life and peace. Don’t worry about idolizing the Bible, but just let everything you read in the Bible point you to Jesus! Meditate on scripture day and night, like Psalms 1 says, and the Holy Spirit will reveal Jesus to you through it!