Thursday, August 18, 2016

Immersion Bible Reading

For over a decade, Isabel and I lived in Cairns, in beautiful Far North Queensland.
Although the beaches near the CBD were not particularly attractive, its northern beaches were, and still are.
Even if you were too busy to visit during daylight hours, to grab a serve of fish and chips and head north after dark, watch the moon rise over the Coral Sea and make its wavy reflection travel from the horizon to the exact spot where you were seated at the water's edge, was a pure delight.

As appealing as this was, it still didn't touch the wonder hidden within.
Visiting a beach on the Great Barrier Reef, removing your shoes and poking your big toe into the water, even stripping off and going for a swim, are poor substitutes for donning scuba diving gear and immersing yourself deep into the ocean, where a whole new world of vibrant life and colours exploded in front of you.

I have discovered that reading the Bible is quite similar.
Visiting this library of sacred books occasionally, dipping your big toe into a couple of randomly chosen verses, even going for a swim across the surface of a whole chapter or short book, are poor substitutes for immersing yourself deeply into God's message for us and to us.
Reading a particular passage slowly, thinking deeply about what it is really talking about, is the way to discover a whole new world of vibrant reality in which God is involved in everything that happens.

And we discover not only what God is doing, but how he wants us to be involved in that with him as the Holy Spirit enlightens and challenges us.
Immersing yourself in the Bible is the most exciting adventure I have experienced - even more exciting than conducting weddings under water on the Great Barrier Reef.

I am currently reading Ephesians in this way, using various English translations to make sure I am exposed to as many different nuances from the underlying original languages as possible.
If you don't have a current project on the go at the moment, how about joining me in the Ephesians immersion read and sharing your discoveries with me. 

Blessings, Barry

Reef image courtesy of


  1. I'll start the ball rolling by sharing some thoughts that came from immersing (looking below the surface) .in Ephesians this week (Please share yours too if you can spare the time.)

    Chapter1 Verse 1 : Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.

    Paul knew exactly who he was and he knew just as definitely that it was God's will that he held this position.
    This confidence, not arrogance, allowed Paul to perform his powerful ministry with humble authority.

    I think it is equally important that we know who we are, know that our position is God's will, so we can perform our ministry and exercise our gifts with humble authority.

    I am a member of the Body of Christ, and I know that is God's will because He has given me the ability to believe to gospel that:
    Christ died for our sins
    He was buried
    He was raised on the third day.
    [1 Cor 15 : 3 - 4]

    I therefore have the privilege, as do all members of the Body, of representing the Head 24/7, and of sharing the gospel as God provides the opportunity and prompting.
    Of course, Body members are also given different gifts that empower them to represent the Head in additional ways.
    Personally, Christ has gifted me as a pastor-teacher, and regularly places me in circumstances to use those gifts.
    What a joy to be chosen and empowered to serve the Head, the Son of God, by the will of God.
    Blessings, Barry

  2. Chapter 1 verse 2 : To God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.

    The holy people in Ephesus (the saints in Ephesus) were those who were faithful to Christ Jesus.
    The subject of faith/faithfulness often generates some confused thinking.
    We are forgiven (all of us) as a result of Jesus' death and resurrection. It was Jesus' faithfulness to the plan of His Father that reconciled God to His creation. So we are saved due the faith of Jesus, which is easily seen in a decent English translation of Galatians.

    Yet we know that a person is not justified by doing what the law requires, but rather by the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah. We, too, have believed in the Messiah Jesus so that we might be justified by the faithfulness of the Messiah and not by doing what the law requires, for no human being will be justified by doing what the law requires.
    [Gal 2 : 16 ISV]

    I no longer live, but the Messiah lives in me, and the life that I am now living in this body I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
    [Gal 2 : 20 ISV]

    When we hear the gospel and are given the faith to believe it, we become aware of our salvation and respond with delight and thanksgiving.
    Our ongoing response is to be faithful to Jesus, to be found faithful in Christ.
    And so we are saints, or holy ones, those set apart to represent Jesus through faithfulness to Him and His mission.

    In summary, Jesus faithfulness produced our salvation; our faithfulness produces kingdom ministry.
    Blessings, Barry

  3. Chapter 1 Verse 3 : Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Paul is acting as a conduit of grace and peace connecting God to the Ephesians.
    What a privilege we have as disciples of Jesus, believers who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, to be conduits of grace and peace wherever we are.

    The world increasingly needs this ministry from us, as discord, hatred, intolerance and war abound. So many circumstances and situations are lacking grace and peace.
    Even in Christian circles, when differences of opinion are expressed or decisions affecting communities are being made, grace and peace are often missing. Yet God has us there to provide them.

    I have been in church "business" meetings where two sides of a decision, A and B, are being debated. To encourage the supporters of side A to pause and consider the question from side B's point of view (and vice versa) often leads to a greater appreciation of the issues involved and an avenue for grace to be explored and extended, and peace to be restored.
    "Let's spend some time standing in his shoes" or "Let's look at this from her perspective" is good counselling advice that can trigger an "aha" moment and open a conduit for grace and peace to flow from God to the meeting.
    Blessings, Barry


All relevant comments are most welcome. However, please express any disagreement you might have without being disagreeable and with grace towards those who might not hold your point of view.