Yesterday was the first official day of summer and because of that I felt led to write this blog. It’s about a brother who smuggled a book. And I hope what you read inspires you to reach new heights on your spiritual journey between now and Labor Day.
The brother that this blog is about??? A man named Brother Andrew. He is often called “God’s Smuggler” as well as “God’s Secret Agent.” He is one of those modern day heroes of the faith that I have heard of but, in reality, didn’t really know much about. So I picked up his biography simply titled Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent (part of the awesome Christian Heroes: Then and Now series) and was blown away at what I read.
In a nutshell, Brother Andrew felt God gave him a lifelong mission to get the Bible into the hands of Christians in Communist countries where it was illegal. And he risked his life over and over to do exactly that as he traveled across eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R., and China.
While his courage was inspirational, what really rocked me was how the Christians who lived “behind the Iron Curtain” reacted when they saw what Brother Andrew had in his backpack.
For example, here is what happened when Brother Andrew gave a Bible to a group of Christians in Bulgaria: “The members of the church would gasp when they saw it, and as they passed it from one to the other to examine it, tears would run down their cheeks.” (p.183). Imagine being emotionally moved like that when you picked up your Bible!
Later on in his life, Brother Andrew focused his efforts on getting Bibles behind the “Bamboo Curtain” of Communist China. In underground churches in China, Bibles “were in such short supply that a Bible would be cut apart and sections of it handed around so that people could memorize it” (p.210). Imagine only having one page of God’s Word in your possession and treasuring it to that degree!
As I read story after story in that biography, I felt like the Holy Spirit brought a healthy conviction on me. Not guilt, but conviction, and there is a world of difference between the two. 🙂
The conviction? Read, study, reflect on, and memorize the Bible like never before.
The timing of reading the book about Brother Andrew was not coincidental. When it came to my personal Bible reading, I have been in a valley as of late. I still have been reading it regularly but not as much as before and far from the level of passion that I have read it in the past. So the biography put the wind in my sails that I needed.
All that to say, I knew what I wanted for Father’s Day: a new Study Bible! Granted I already own an NIV Study Bible but I decided to take the advice I have given to many folks at my church: when you aren’t reading the Bible as much as you’d like, sometimes “just what the doctor ordered” is to buy a new translation which will allow you to read the Bible with fresh eyes.
So Kellie and the kiddos took a trip to the new LifeWay Christian Store near Lakeside Mall (where the old Family Christian used to be located) and got me the brand new CSB Study Bible. And… I… love… it!
I had been reading the CSB translation (which is a cross between the NIV and ESV when it comes to readability) for a couple months now, but the Study Bible version of it — with it’s 16,000 study notes!! — just got published. And I am thankful it did.
With July 4th right around the corner, a day when we celebrate our country’s birthday, let me say this… I am thankful I live in a country where you can drive to a store to buy a Bible… and where there are dozens of versions to choose from… and there is no fear of arrest or imprisonment for owning a copy of it.
May you — and I — not take for granted the privilege it truly is to own a Bible. And may we not be content only reading it here and there. May we become like Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 3:3) and consume the sacred text. Not so we can win a Bible trivia contest, but so we can better follow our Rabbi as His disciples.
P.S. #1. To help you put this blog into practice, attached is a Bible Reading Plan that I created for our church family. It’s a 13-page document with a day-by-day plan as well as other hints and tips in how to get the most out of God’s Word. Click HERE for your free copy.
P.S. #2. If you live in my local area, go support the new LifeWay store. They are having a Grand Opening sale this week and giving out 40% off coupons. So you could buy a new Study Bible at a very affordable price!
***Americans are people of action, aren’t we? So we love it when God gives us marching orders to “go” and “do.” But what about when God says, “Wait?” What do we do when God presses the pause button? Well, that is exactly what happened in Acts 1 between the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost. Jesus told His followers to “wait.” But as they waited, they didn’t sit around and do nothing. Instead they pressed into three critical areas that prepared them for what was right around the corner. And we need to learn from them and do the same! Please join us at The Eastside Vineyard Church on June 25th at 10:30am at our new location at Wiley Elementary School (near 21 Mile & Van Dyke at 47240 Shelby Rd. in Utica)! More info at tevchurch.org***