Insights from a Communal Perspective As you put away your Selfie Stick…

 

One of of my favorite chapters in Lois’ new book is Chapter 7. It calls us to the joy of mutual community and hovering friendships as we engage God as a people of friends…  a y’all of a faith community:

Here is how the Chapter “Insights from a Communal Perspective” begins:

Did you know that you can now order a copy of a Bible translation called “Your Personalized Bible” which will insert your name in more than seven thousand verses?

Here are a few verses from my copy: Lois like a sheep has gone astray. Lois has turned to her own way; and the LORD has laid on Him Lois’s iniquity. (Isa. 53:6)
Lois is the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14)
You have made Lois a little lower than God, 
And crowned Lois with glory and honor.
You make Lois a ruler over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things under Lois’ feet. (Ps. 8:5–6)

You might think I’d be a fan of this style of study. I’m single, never married. I’m self-employed. I work by myself out of my own home office. I have no boss, no husband, no children. I’m queen of my own pleasant little world. I’ve heard the siren call of individualism and succumbed as much as anyone, so you’d think I’d want to read my Bible that way.

The more I study the Bible, however, the more I’m realizing the many ways that an individualistic approach misunderstands the text.”

… And later in the chapter…

Part of the reason we read the biblical text as if it were addressed to “me personally” is because English only has one word, you, which can be either singular or plural. Unlike Greek, Hebrew, and many other languages, we can’t distinguish whether a speaker is addressing one person or a group. As a result, English speakers have a habit of reading every “you” in the Bible as if it’s addressed to “me all by myself” rather than “me within God’s larger community.”

American Southerners have an advantage here, because they use “y’all” when they address a group. Maybe the antidote to the “Your Personalized Bible” is to publish a “Southern-style” Bible where Jesus says, “Y’all are the light of the world,” and Paul says, “Y’all are the temple of God,” so that we’d know both were speaking to groups rather than to individuals.

Putting Away My Selfie Stick

I hope I’ve awakened your appetite to read more. I am…

Excerpt From
Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
Lois Tverberg
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reading-the-bible-with-rabbi-jesus/id1276245722?mt=11

 

Are you “Good” Book saturated and dripping it out with others?

A Book Report: Communal Reading in the time of Jesus.

An Endorsement by D.A. Carson, Research prof. of New Testament, trinity Evangelical Divinity school:

The last few decades have witnessed a substantial move away from picturing the early church studying texts to assuming that most Christians could not read: orality trumped written text. Various efforts to balance the evidence have collided with one another. Enter this groundbreaking work by Brian j Wright, who demonstrates how common ‘communal reading events’ where in both Jewish and Greco–Roman Contexts. Reading and hearing are suddenly not so far removed from each other as some have thought. Wright’s richly supplied evidence from primary sources is convincing; one wonders why these things have not been brought to light before. These results are important, indeed seminal, not only to those who working this field, but to our knowledge of early Christians who give every sign of being book-driven believers. —End Endorsement

9781506432502

I’ve pulled some thoughts together to highlight a book I’d love to have you read, reflect upon and then share… (Dave)

Autor’s Preface

FollowingThM Studies at DTS–years later when I began my PhD program at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia, I remember starting with a host of assumptions related to this volume. For example:

  1. I would’ve told you that reading in the ancient world was largely an elitist phenomenon; 
  2. That text played more of the symbolic role than utilitarian; 
  3. That around 90% of the population in antiquity was illiterate; 
  4. That a “professional” scribe was behind every document, unless proven otherwise; 
  5. That writing materials were expensive and in short supply; 
  6. and more…

My views on all of these and a number of others, however, change during my PhD studies and are still developing today.

Consider this sampling of New Testament PASSAGES that call us to communal reading:

1 Timothy 4:13 NLT Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church (devote yourself to the public/communal reading of Scripture—esv), encouraging the believers, and teaching them.

1 Thessalonians 5:27 NLT I command you (put you under oath—esv) in the name of the Lord to read this letter to all the brothers and sisters.

Colossians 4:16 After this letter has been read aloud to you all, make sure that you read communally in the church of the Laodiceans. Make sure you also read communally the letter from Laodicea.

A JESUS EXAMPLE: Luke 4:14-30 NIV

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

A glimpse into the historic importance of reading aloud together:

Justin Martyr (an early church father) refers to the communal reading of the apostolic memoirs and the writings of the the Lord’s Day: “on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles we’re the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits.” (1 Apol. 1:67)

William Johnson, professor of classical studies, concludes ”Reading in this society was essential in the construction of the community. Group reading and serious conversation devolving from reading [Dave note, havering] are twin axes around which much of the elite man’s community turns.

…According to Augustine, there was one word in Jerome’s Latin translation (the Vulgate) of Jonah 4:6 that differed from what they had been hearing read communally for generations, and it caused an uproar in his congregation.

Insights gained about communal reading events the time of Jesus:

1. No historic doubt exists that communal reading events we’re part of the first Century Greco-Roman socio-historical milieu.

2. “Before launching further into this study, then, these details need to be addressed. Similarly, it should be said from the outset that the more common “public reading” which is used in most modern translations and academic works, Will be avoided because of the confusion that often comes (or may come) from the word public.“ The word communal is preferred because it both highlights the social aspect of reading and defines the reading event as one in which two or more persons are involved. In other words,” communal reading” can be public or private, but not individualistic. 

3. The gospel was launched into a season of history where sharing ideas publically (after first having them written down) was more of a norm than a rarity. Also it was a season of great mobility where travel was easier than in previous generations. [The soil of culture was ripe for Jesus House of peace strategy — sending friendship pairs to find others who would welcome them and consider their truths]

4. French historian Jerome Carsopino wrote one of the classic texts on ancient Roman life, with an entire section devoted to communal reading and recitation events. He observes that communal events crossed social boundaries: Examining the contemporary literature, you soon get the impression that everyone was reading something, no matter what, aloud in public all the time, morning and evening, winter and summer.

5. Writing down original or learned thoughts, poems, lyrics or perspectives and then reading them aloud (to be heard and also discussed) WAS THE FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM or SNAPCHAT of the FIRST CENTURY! During 10 to 100 AD we were out social media’d by a pre-technology culture.

a. Some people wrote their ideas and shared them, some even wrote their ideas on the spot so they could then immediately share them, others took a great season and depth to write their thoughts and story before communally sharing them. Others mocked the communal reading (if they didn’t agree or weren’t interested) while others took notes as they listened to what others were reading to later reflect and re-share them with friends.

b. Bookstores and libraries existed as well as publishers. 

c. Some wrote thoughts as pamphlets that would be shared as they spoke—the ancient equivalent of keynote or PowerPoint to go along with their “presentation of the text.”

But there is no mistaking the profound social impact and desire to share written documents for others to interact with in the process of shaping thought ideas and connections. 

6. Where did communal reading events take place: History reveals that it was common to encounter people sharing communal reading (with 2-3 friends or a small crowd) in the village market place, assembly Halls, at receptions, at synagogues, in a theater, in the houses of both poor and elite, in urban settings including crowded tenement buildings or out in an open space between villages.” 

They were both:

  1. indoor and outdoor settings…
  2. sacred and secular events…
  3. Both Christian and non-Christian…

7. The observation is made for the Christian context that, “while church elders had substantial discretion about “how” to do it, they had no discretion about “whether” scripture was read aloud.”

Reminders:

  1. 1 Timothy 4:13 “Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching.”
  2. In 1 Thessalonians 5:27 we are given the directive, “I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers,”
  3. In Colossians it’s taken for granted that they practice communal reading, “And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicean.”

8. Study showed the pattern that Communal reading started at home and was essential in the education process of the day…

9. The Old Testament has frequent communal reading events starting with Exodus 17:14-16 Where Moses is told to write down the events that just occurred, and then read the written account to Joshua.

10. Synagogues practiced communal reading as an essential component of their community and role.

Summary: 

  1. Communal reading events were widespread and to systematic to be accidental in Greek, Roman, Jewish and Christian contexts.
  2. Readers included: clerks, emperors, students, Young boys, politicians, scribes, … fathers, old men and women.
  3. Hearers included: emperors, children, man, Women, slaves, assemblies, … soldiers, invited guests and crowds.
  4. People heard these readings while: standing, sitting, running, bathing, eating, and swimming. (Think of how we encounter the modern podcast or YouVersion Scripture reading wearing our AirPods while we sip coffee, workout or relax.)
  5. The New Testamentt valued what had been written before: In over 300 passages, the New Testament includes 317 direct quotes of the Old Testament. Add in illusions and parallels and there are 2,310 Old Testament references.

My modern applications include:

  1. Starting with my family but then extended to friends and neighbors we are invited to embrace what I refer to as a Scripture Saturated life that we drip out as we life life together. It so increases the collection of truth lego’s (resources, building blocks, truths, insights into who God is and how he works) that the Holy Spirit can call to mind, heart at the moments they are needed. i.e. The more Scripture in our minds and hearts the more greater potential I have for an aligned life, “I’ve hidden thy word in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” —Psalm 119:11
  2. We should encourage each other to more frequently write and share our God stories (testimonies), journal, express artistically, write song lyrics and songs, write creative stories to share and to copy down word-for-word sections of Scripture as to later READ ALOUD what we’ve written with family, friends and others who are interested (Remember Jesus House of Peace Strategy).
  3. Join in with YouVersion or ReadScripture.org to commit to daily reading scripture (even have it read aloud to you and your spouse, kids or friends. Commit and embrace to reading Scripture every day (ever consider like they did in the first century reading more than once per day — See the first chapter of the printed or digital Getaway Like Jesus, by Dave & Rennie Garda to learn more.)

Why not practice right now by reading aloud (to help Word saturate yourself to give the Holy Spirit truth to knead into your life today. How about starting with Psalm 78:1-8:

 

My people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. 

Kavanah: The linking of God’s Power & Presence with our Obedience…

The very nature of Kavanah is the discovery of a life where God’s presence AND power wraps His arms around us. But not us in any mind-set, but rather us as yielded, available and obedient so that God can work in, through and around us. The understanding of Kavanah is best grasped as an english paragraph contained in a single Hebrew/Aramaic word.

Kavanah transforms life as we know it. We enter a life where we willingly join God with a blank-page invitation for Him to actively live in and through us with His unlimited presence and power. This isn’t a Sunday morning hour of sitting but rather a 24/7 life-together. Kavanah doesn’t fit in a box, program or hour, it busts out all 8 sides of the box and ushers us into a daily way of life with God, together. Kavanah powers and connects us intimately with God and then to each other as we share in His Word, Prayer, Love and daily life. Sadly, Kavanah illustrations have often been limited to the context of intentional prayer. Don’t get me wrong, Kavanah & prayer are essentially linked, but so are Kavanah & the Word, Kavanah & our being loved to love, and Kavanah & all of life.

To better understand the transformational power of a Kavanah life we need to grow in our understanding of how the Bible makes us aware of God’s manifest presence, not only his omnipresence:

Kavanah is the difference that moves us beyond saying “God is everywhere,” to saying “God is here with me.”

As we travel the Route 66 of our disciplemaking friendships we encounter an intentional link between a live lived in God’s presence, our obedience and His active power—these knit together to form the intersection and clarity of Kavanah.

Following are some passages that call out Kavanah invitation to live a transformational life with God. What passages would you add?

God answered Moses: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give you rest” (33:14). The Hebrew word for “rest” here translates to “a comfortable, peaceful confidence.” Notice how God’s presence results in a change to how I live.

I love how the active presence, power and leaning in of Abraham leads a heathen king to declare, “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do…” (Genesis 21:22)

God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when his Kavanah was active: “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” (Joshua 1:5–6). 

The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and affirmed his Kavanah, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” … “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:12, 14).

God told Isaiah of a special Kavanah promise he makes to those he loves: “O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. … because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2, 5).

God’s Kavanah comes through the power of the Holy Spirit with us: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…” Acts 1:8

In the Old Testament God places himself with his people, but they don’t always respond in Kavanah… God leans in regardless of our leaning back because it’s the nature of His grace (WHILE we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8). So God’s presence alone isn’t kavanah, yet God let’s us know that it’s his desire for his people to have Him in the midst of their daily lives: “I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them” Ex 29:45-46; ‘The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you.’” Zech 2:10-11.

But kavanah rings loud when he combines his presence and our leaning as pictured in Ezekiah 37:27: “I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

In the New Testament God continues to let us know that he desires to dwell with us: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” John 1:14

But the joy of Kavanah is when his presence is responded to as we receive (gospel) this presence: “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” John 17:3; and ‘For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” 2 Cor 6:16

I love the simplicity of disciplemaking that shares this life of Kavanah as our bullseye—the intersection of God’s presence, God’s power and my heart in obedience.  We see this clarity painted when the Babylonian Talmud Berakat 32:b stresses that four practices particularly require this Kavanah bullseye:

Our Rabbis taught: Four things require to be [always] done with Kavanah, namely, study of the Torah [to intimately know it’s author], good deeds [our response to be being loved as we overflow love], praying at all times, and one’s worldly occupation [in all of life starting with our family].  

Jesus isn’t shy about linking himself to this picture of active Kavanah when in Matthew 11:28 he declares “Come to me (with/presence), all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

I never tire of reviewing how Kavanah is woven start-t- finish into the disciplemaking friendship challenge of Matthew 28:18-20.

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:18-20

Where do you see the weaving of the Spirit’s active power, our being sent wrapped up in Jesus assurance of his continual presence?

I invite you to join me in leaning in with Kavanah clarity as you live today, tomorrow and the next day. And know like Moses and Jesus that this means you’ll not be alone, you have God’s active presence so that others will notice that “there’s something different about you because God is with you wherever you go…”

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If you want to live and grow in Kavanah I suggest you walk through The Disciplemaker’s Living Guide with family and friends. You’ll embrace our 25 favorite disciplemaking passages with Kavanah and each other. I promise you, you’ll look at life and live differently. —Dave Garda, Your Cadre Disciplemaking Friend & Missionary of Encouragement
For the portable digital edition you can go directly to the iBookstore on your iPhone, iPad or computer.
For the printed edition or reader’s PDF edition you can visit us at our online disciplemaker’s store…

For live disciplemaking training, Disciplemaking Learning Communities, Preaching, teaching or training with your church, group or ministry you can contact rennie@cadremissionaries.com

God is Using You

Cadre Blog Friends: We were super encouraged by this note from the impact of one of our Disciplemaking Learning Communities… this one just happens to be inside of a prison.

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Dave & Rennie,

I wanted to take a couple of minutes to share with you one way you have impacted “K” inside of Muskegon Correctional.

When I was in the prison fellowship library yesterday . . . standing in the doorway getting ready to leave I had a brief conversation with K. and G. about a new, prospective volunteer.  I was talking about a concern I had over a slight theological difference.

K. spoke of and said something like . . . “You don’t have to worry about that Chip.  It’s like Dave & Rennie teach us, we just look to what it says in the Word”.  He pointed to the library bookshelves and said “We have all these books with a lot of peoples views and opinions . . . but we need to look at God’s Word and what it says in the Bible.”  That’s where we get our truth.

Something like that, you kind of had to be there but it was obvious that you guys have strengthened his commitment to the truth of God’s Word and the value of going to the Bible as the one and only authority.

The fact that you impact K. is HUGE as I believe he is the one most influential believer on our prison compound.

I love you guys and your willingness to be used of God inside of prison walls.

Chip

(Prison Fellowship and a Disciplemaking friend).

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Who will you walk with as a Disciplemaking friend today?

I’m so glad that for Rennie and I that includes life with K., G., and Chip!

What if we’ve gotten “Leadership” wrong?

What if we’ve gotten “Leadership” wrong?

What’s the difference between being a first-live-er and a first-tell-er?

I’d start by outing the western view and lack of a Biblical practice of leadership. Why are western churches so obsessed with a structure where a few special people (talent, presence, temperament, inheritance) define leadership?

I am so grateful for the towel wearing leadership of John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul… 

Rather than focus on special vision, special leaders, I am excited to wake up each day to walk with friends and let the Holy Spirit (kavanah style) lead me, lead us…

The greatest leadership vision, action, example of leadership is when you and I live Jesus’ GO MAKE DISCIPLES, together vision, starting with our family. 

We’re not leaders when we gorge ourselves on leadership reading, more leadership workshops and more leadership copying…

We’re leaders when we help others lead. When we multiply at home and with friends. When we break out of our silo’s and walk alongside and not above… leaders don’t rise above, they crawl alongside.

The gift of leadership is mentioned in only one gift list and that was to refer to it as a LESSER gift… instead Paul elevated, hospitality, towel wrapped servanthood and friendship. Please learn to lead as a role and not a position.

I love how 1 thessalonians 5:11-14 calls each of us to be disciplemakers who live alongside (encourage, Thayer) in a mutual/reciprocal way (one other, Thayer) who mutually leave each other with more (build, Thayer).

Then Paul refers to ways we can honor those in the role of leadership for their example and hard-work (first-live-ers) who offer spiritual example and guidance through an accessible life… (1 th 1 to 5).

Next PAUL returns to invite each, all of us to lead in each other’s lives like positive, hard-working leaders have modeled…

From my understanding of Jesus: Inflow, overflow, multiply are a flat org chart we’re all called to live, share, own and release. We are disciplemaking friends not leaders… and it starts in our homes.

My vote: Let’s drop the leader, follower dialogue… let’s erase our leadership boxes and layers then instead… be kavanah living, disciplemaking first-live-ers who lead by helping others multiply.

What if we’ve gotten leadership wrong?