Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Older Even than Dine'tah

Today, Trey Morgan has a moving post about a great need in the country of Honduras and the efforts of some compassionate young men and women to help. Visit the post here and contribute what you can to this good work.

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I was blessed with the opportunity to teach the high school Bible class at Gallup Christian School this morning. I will do so again on Friday and Wednesday of the coming week. These opportunities are some of the highlights of my all-too-short homecomings to Gallup. I enjoy going out on the road and talking to churches about MNCH, but I absolutely love to get back to my roots as a preacher and youth minister and teach and peach God's Word. Especially to our kids at the Home and School.

These kids, for the most part, have had no experience with Jesus and the Bile before coming to MNCH. Many are still very stepped in the traditional beliefs and practices of the Navajo people. It can be a challenge to talk about the Gospel in a way that makes sense and is not overtly threatening or unsettling. The love of God for humanity (especially the person of Jesus) communicates very easily, but the particulars of "Bible-speak" can be hard to convey. But, I enjoy the challenge . . . rather, opportunity . . . to share what I hold dear and what I know is meant to be a blessing for all humanity.

My task in these three classes I've been asked to teach is to give a general introduction to the Bible. Not a subject that is easily reduced to three class periods. But, I'm focusing primarily on the specialness of Scripture.

To this end, I related one of my favorite stories this morning. It is of a man, an archaeologist, who discovered a fragment of Numbers 6 (the Priestly Blessing, vv. 24-26) in an amulet/locket in the ruin of a house outside of Jerusalem. Once dated, this fragment was determined to have been from at least the 8th Century B.C. That is the time of Isaiah! I used this story to speak about the ancient nature and genuineness of the Bible. Here is the case of a person living 2,800 years ago who cherished a portion of God's Word by keeping it close to their person (in a locket hanging from their neck). Wow!

I then compared the ancientness of that portion of Scripture with the ancientness of many of the Native American ruins that are close to Gallup. We have Canyon de Chelly to our northwest, first inhabited in the 5th Century A.D.; and Mesa Verde to our north, first inhabited in the 7th C. A.D.; ad Chaco Canyon to our northeast, regarded by some of the Dine' (Navajo) as the birthplace of their people), first inhabited in the 8th-9th C. A.D.

Th Navajo treasure what is long-standing and preserved (a trait I deeply admire of this beautiful people), and so the comparison I drew of the ancientness of Scripture (as represented in the Priestly Blessing fragment), and how it even outdated the cherished sites of Navajo and Pueblobean (or, Anasazi) history and culture, made an impact of the kids I was teaching. And, I must say, on me as well.

I love the words of the Psalmist:
The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.
The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad;
the commandment of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.
They are more desirable than gold--than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey--than honey dripping from the comb.

(The words of Psalm 19.7-10 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible)