Friday, July 04, 2008

Why You Can Have Confidence in the Bible

I'm currently reading Margaret Feinberg's Sacred Echo, a touching devotional about how God speaks to us, always reminding how much He loves us. Feinberg wrote about a Bible verse I've read many times, Matthew 7:9-11: Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Just like Feinberg, I had to go back and read the verse again, and then again as its message struck home to me.

I'm a big gift giver for my children. I rarely go to a store without walking out with a little something for at least one of them. If I give so readily with love, why would I think of my Heavenly Father of capable of any less? Throughout my childhood, and even as an adult, I viewed praying to God as a tricky job. I thought of Him (unconsciously) as a sort of genie who would twist my prayers like wishes to mean something I didn't mean them to, or perhaps allow something to happen that I hadn't specifically covered. Like the wish in the famous short story "The Monkey's Paw", I worried that if I didn't specifically address exactly what I wanted in minute detail, I either wouldn't get what I wanted or would get some twisted form of it. The sheer effort of trying to construct the perfect prayer left me exhausted, and I gave up on the effort.

When I came to faith, I turned my back on that superstitious belief without ever acknowledging it. But I realized last night, that my prayers to God are small things. I don't ask Him for the big stuff, instead trying to carry those burdens yet on my shoulders. I have resolved to ask bigger and trust more, expect fish and bread instead of stones and snakes.

Why You Can Have Confidence in the Bible by Harold J. Sala is a wonderfully written apologetic for the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible. Sala goes over familiar territory in several cases restating the archaeological discoveries that have proved many of the Biblical stories, but he writes in a matter of fact fashion that makes them both easy to understand and fresh in the reading. I was pleasantly surprised in one chapter to come across a short biography of John Cecil Trever, the first photographer of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Trever is my maiden name, and I've always felt an attachment to the documents because their discovery was aided by my second cousin (three times removed). But even Trever's biography is told in a way to aid in the understanding of how God works. He was in the right place at the right time with the right education and equipment to understand the magnificence of the discover and capture it on film. With each chapter Sala lays his case that the Bible is solid and believable. The most powerful part of the book is one of the last chapters that recounts several stories about the power of the Bible in specific individuals lives (you have to get this book just to read the story of the man who smoked his way through Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Ultimately, Sala acknowledges that belief in the Bible is a faith issue, and no amount of evidence, no matter how sound, is going to sway someone who doesn't want to believe. But for those of us who do, he makes it easier and meaningful.

Today's picture is from Mia's field trip to the Flower Shoppe. Her two friends are Jackie and Bailey. It's six weeks old, but I just finally downloaded the digital camera, and I love this picture of her with her friends.