Donny's Ramblings


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Why I’m Loving the Bible

Growing up, and throughout my adult years up until just a few years ago, I often saw the Bible as a boring book.  When God changed my life in September of 2006 I still held that feeling, especially when it came to The Old Testament.

But I started attending Neighborhood Church in Redding, California, and that has made all the difference…

Bill Giovannetti is the Lead Pastor at NCRedding, and he often uses passages from the Old Testament in his sermons.  And the sermons hold my attention.  Seriously, if I hadn’t said that myself I’d be inclined not to believe it.  The Old Testament not boring?  “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

Bill has become one of my best friends.  We meet regularly and chat about life, liberty, and the pursuit of… whatever we’re pursuing at the time.  When I told Bill, a few years ago, that I thought the Bible was poorly written and somewhat childish, Bill told me he thought I was wrong, loved the Bible, and thought it was beautifully written.  Thing is, I have a bullshit detector built in, and it wasn’t going off when he told me that.  He meant it.

Author Donald Miller wrote, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”  Don’s on to something there… because Bill’s obvious love for the Bible ignited a curiosity within me.  Bill has a doctorate degree.  In addition to being a Pastor, he’s a Professor at the local University.  Early in our friendship, when the aforementioned conversation took place, I needed to know why this intelligent man said such things about the Bible.  I needed to know why I could look him in the eye and tell he wasn’t just spewing out Christianese when he claimed to love it.

In Bill’s sermons, he takes us to the time and place being discussed.  We who listen to him speak hear context.  We learn about the culture of the people.  We are given an insight as to what the text meant to them… how they understood it.  I wanted to know how Bill knew these things, so I asked (that desire for knowledge is actually what led me to the place where I told Craig Gross from XXXChurch that I wanted to enroll in Seminary – which Craig responded to by telling me X3’s Esther Fund would pay for it).  I’ve been learning how to study the Bible, and I have to tell you… I get so much more out of it when digging into context and culture than by just reading the words.   I’ve read through the New Testament four times so far and I get something new out of it each time.

On a side note here, I’d like to recommend the following book to anyone who has the same desire “to know” burning inside of them: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth – notice the word Its doesn’t contain an apostrophe… that’s because it doesn’t mean “for all IT IS worth”, it means “for all the worth it contains within”.

In the second half of 2009 I picked up the Scholar’s Library: Gold software package from Logos.com.  There are literally thousands of resources available within that package.  It makes a computer nerd like me very happy to be able to study from the comforts of my easy chair with my laptop warming the tops of my legs.  I read three chapters a day and try to do so in the morning before doing anything else.  Currently, I’m working through an Old Testament reading plan from YouVersion.com.  I start by reading an entire chapter.  Once finished with reading the text through, I open up a few different commentaries and read what they have to say.  Then I browse other miscellaneous resources that come with the software.  I’m always learning something interesting.  One recent example: it’s thought that Joshua was a skilled military leader long before taking over for Moses, and likely led the Egyptian army in battles.  Maybe it’s my inner nerd, but I find things like that fascinating.  It paints a more colorful picture when I read about his conquests leading Israel.

“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Indeed, Mr. Miller, indeed.  And so by watching a man love the Bible, and trying to figure out WHY he loves it,  I too have discovered a love for the Bible.  Sometimes I’m frustrated that I can’t find the words to express this properly.  All I can say is, dig into it, and see for yourself.

Question for the Day:  What do you think about the Bible? Be honest.

This morning I was reading through Joshua 5 and 6.  Earlier today on Google Buzz I wrote the following:

Donny Pauling – Buzz – Public
When Joshua was trying to figure out how to take the walled city of Jericho without possessing the weapons necessary to do so he was very troubled. He couldn’t figure it out. As the leader, it was his job to do so. But as he was pacing around fretting what he was gonna do he ran into God and was basically told, “Hey, this is my battle. Don’t worry about it. I’m leading this charge. You’re just a soldier following orders here. Let your mind rest ’cause I’ve got this covered.” What a relief, huh? Joshua didn’t need to bear the heavy burden and responsibility of leadership alone.

Sometimes I forget that life’s problems are taken care of. I can just be a dependent, rather than needing to worry about things I can’t change…


Donny Pauling – What a thought:

An army is being led into battle. Joshua, as leader, would normally shoulder the responsibilities. But not this time. God made it clear the He was leading the charge. Joshua was standing behind Him this time, not having to carry the weight of the world.

Lead, God. Lead. You’re the General in Charge. Take charge of my life…I’ll just listen for your commands.

I got a whole lot out of today’s readings, which also included chapters from Psalms and Genesis… those thoughts are just a few I pondered.  Studying the Bible each day just sets a tone for the day, know what I mean?


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And I Wonder, Still I Wonder

We’re told that if we want to know God we should read our Bible. But how did those He used to write the Bible know Him, and why can’t I encounter Him the same way they did? And since the Canon of the Bible wasn’t decided upon until the 4th century, did all who lived beforehand NOT know Him to the extent those of us who possess a Bible are able to know Him?

Do we put too much emphasis on reading the Bible and not enough on living in communion with God and conversing with Him in person?

These are questions I have, as I study for the exegesis class I’m currently taking.


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Focusing on What’s Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)


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Focusing on What's Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)


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What You Look For, You Will Find

At least 5 days a week I walk the Sacramento River Trail. If you’ve been reading very long you know this. These walks are my time with God. I learn a lot on The Trail.

Where the trail crosses behind the Elk’s Lodge there’s a beautiful place to sit and look out at the river. I’m sitting there now, writing this blog post from my iPhone using the WordPress Application I recently mentioned in another post.

I also mentioned a Bible Application provided by LifeChurch.tv for iPhone users. Since it was released I’ve incorporated it into my morning walking routine. I sit right here on this bench, stare out at the river, read a few passages, think about them a bit while watching the boats pass by and repeat that process until I’ve read through at least one chapter, often more. The computer nerd in me really loves being able to read multiple versions of the Bible on my iPhone.

This morning I’ve read through 3 chapters of John and found an answer to one of my never ending questions. I’ve read this chapter many times before, but I guess the time is just right today because it finally sank in.

In my blog post to “Carrie the Atheist” awhile back, you might recall that I voiced several of my concerns and questions with the Bible. One of those questions has to do with the ability of the writers of scripture to recall what Jesus said to them. Few of us can remember word for word the conversations we had just hours ago, yet the writers of the Bible are trusted to recall conversations with Jesus from decades before they were written down?

Here’s what I found this morning:

In John chapter 14 verse 26 Jesus is quoted as telling his disciples that when he is gone, the Comforter that he will send will, amongst other things, “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Donny in me would bring up objections on how using this verse to prove its accuracy is pure circular reasoning. But the Comforter and I converse quite a bit on this trail, and on this day I believe this answer was meant for me to find. I choose to accept it.

What you look for you will find.

Next on my list? Those men who met in the fourth century to decide which books to include in our Bibles and which to toss aside… I’d like to believe they made the right decision. Dear God, please shed some light on this for me.

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Cadenisms

On Sunday evening, as we were traveling, I told Caden a few Bible stories. Speaking about God, Caden informed me:

“I’ve known Him longer than you, dad, so I know more about Him.”

🙂

———-

One of the Bible stories I told him was about how Lot and his wife and daughters were called out because the cities of Sodom and Gomorra were about to be destroyed. I knew he’d crack up when I told him Lot’s wife looked back at the town and turned into a pillar of salt. I was right. He did. His laugh, for those who know him, is very infectious.

Yesterday as I was speaking to his mommy, she told me that Caden had shared the story with her that night.

The one about Lot’s wife turning into a salt shaker.