Join Sr. Pastor Joseph M Cross at the Imperfect Pastor Blog for one of his favorite passions, exporing the Scriptures.
From Joe’s story…. “At about the same time that I was starting to grasp that I could understand the Scriptures for myself and apply them to my life, my father undertook another out of the box experience. The old converted Methodist, along with a group from our church, took my family on a trip to the Holy Land.
It was here in the Holy Land, that for the first time in my life, the Bible’s stories were no longer just Sunday School stories. They were real places. I walked on a flower-covered hillside where many scholars believe that Jesus had taught his famous Sermon on the Mount. I rode in a boat on the same small sea that Jesus had calmed a storm upon. I prayed in the same garden where he prayed to his Father “To take this cup” (of suffering, the Cross) “away, if it be Your will” (obviously, this did not turn out not to be the case…and to mankind’s benefit!). I walked many of the same streets where he might have walked, visited two different places where he might have been crucified, and possibly walked in and out of his very tomb, or one very much similar to it. Now the Bible was not only becoming more relevant, it was becoming more REAL to me!
Having experienced that there was much, much more, that the Bible was not only relevant to my life and struggles and that it spoke of real places, places that I had seen and walked upon, all the while still pursuing a pre-med degree in college, I decided I wanted to learn more, and I wanted to learn more about the Bible. The Bible was the key for me. It held all the clues, the original writings and truths. If I was to truly understand this God and Jesus thing, I had to read and understand the Bible for myself, not just depend upon what some fancy teacher or preacher might be saying.
Something changed in me my junior year. I was growing spiritually. My dry roots had begun to be watered and I was growing like a weed. Finally, just before my senior year in college, as I was finishing up a pre-med chemistry degree, and feeling led by God, I chose instead not to apply to medical school along with all my friends, but rather, to apply to seminary so that I could feed my spiritual hunger of wanting to know more, specifically how to study the Bible as an expert for myself. I was tired of hearing everyone else say what it meant. I wanted to know for myself. I wanted to know the truth.
After I graduated from college and had gotten married, I applied, was narrowly accepted and enrolled in what I felt was the best of the Bible-based seminaries in the world. It was the Harvard of biblical seminaries, Dallas Theological Seminary.
From the first day of classes to now almost thirty years later, I began to not only learn how to observe Scripture, but how to more accurately interpret a passage of scripture, within its context (in English) and within its original language (New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew).
And if that wasn’t enough, I received the greatest gift of all—I was learning not only how to understand what I was reading in context, but how to find its timeless truths and personally and spiritually apply its truths to my daily life. I had learned, no matter the time, place or passage, how to credibly and spiritually connect with the Creator of the Universe through his timeless Word. This meant that every time I read his Word, I could have a dynamic spiritual experience; I could change; I could encounter God. For me, reading/studying God’s word, if only for a few minutes, with someone else, without someone else, had become credibly transformational. On a very real and practical basis, applying the truths that I had credibly mined for myself embodied what Paul describes in Romans 12:1-2 as “In view of God’s incredible mercy…offer yourselves as living sacrifices, no longer being conformed to the pattern [or molds] of this world, but being transformed by the renewing [or exchanging] of your mind”—the way and what one thinks, feels and wills or chooses to act–through a credible, accurate, Scripture-based, dead-on honest, applicational and spiritual encounter with God’s Spirit and truth. I no longer was eating the world’s uncooked slop, I was eating well-cooked spiritual food that I had helped learn to prepare myself. I had been empowered. I had learned to change…the right way, the healthy way, the godly way, and there was no going back!”
Today, Joe’s appetite is no less. At ImperfectPastor.com, along with Joe, you can Spiritually feast on His truth and principals, seeking to discover how to apply, by the Spirit’s empowerment, God’s truths, transforming your faith and your life.
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