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My Life Verse and How Some Things Never Change

There is one day left before Bible Mania. I was reviewing my slides this morning and came across the picture of my NRSV Bible. I snapped a photo of the first page of Philippians, and on it is highlighted my life verse.
Philippians 1:9-11
That reminded me of how, when so many things change, some things stay just the same. Philippians 1:9-11 became my life verse during the GED class back in the mid-1990s. GED was a class that we started at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. It stood for Growth through Education and Discipleship and was designed to help adults who had no training or upbringing in scripture or Christian spirituality to get a one-year, crash course in the Bible, How to Study the Bible, Essential Beliefs of the Christian Faith, and Basic Spiritual Practices. It was so much fun.

These verses hit me because, up to that point, I was kind of a knowledge junkie, and my main pathway to connect with God was to learn more information. I was teaching some Bible study methods to the GED class and we were using Philippians as our text. That week I was using the study methods to dig into Philippians 1, and that’s when the Holy Spirit convicted me with verses 9-11. Knowledge is not our goal as teachers. The goal is love. Paul prayed that his people would overflow in love. Love, however, is increased through knowledge and depth of insight, but these things are only the vehicle through which we reach love. That changed my understanding of what and how I should teach.

So, here I am, twenty years later, about to teach a one-day overview of the Bible. Much has changed since then. I’ve earned an M.Div. I’ve planted and killed a network of house churches. I’ve uprooted my family, moved to Minnesota, pulled a Jonah and tried to run to Tarshish (being a full-time illustrator and vowing to never be a pastor again), got puked up on the shores of the ELCA, became a Lutheran pastor, and am about to finish my PhD.

Much has changed, but, at my core, I’m just a guy who loves to use cartoons and whacky teaching methods to help people fall more deeply in love with God through knowledge and depth of insight. Why? …so that we may be able to discern what is best, and be found pure and blameless, having produced a harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11

My Life Verse

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