by the book blog

In 2013 there was a movie titled “Instructions Not Included.” The original title in Spanish was actually “Returns Not Accepted.” The story was about a playboy who had a baby dropped off at his house by a lady claiming that the mother had sent her to deliver the baby to him. Without a clue as to who the mother was (he had known many women, remember), this otherwise selfish man had to learn to become a parent fast by relying only on his gut and gumption.

Though fictional, this could be the story of so many of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Many of our marriages are failing. Our children are turning against God. Our families are being tossed around like a ping pong ball in a game of amateurs. Many people feel like a ship that has lost its rudder and remains adrift with no possibility of rescue.

But contrary to the movie, our life with Christ comes with instructions. We have a manual. It’s been around for a couple thousand years. It was written over a period of 1500 years by about 40 different authors, making up 66 books, covering anything you might want to know about life and living. But how many of us are really reading the manual and trying to follow it?

Many so-called “Christians” are still living as if instructions were not provided. I am told that every day an average person breaks at least three commandments just on the way to work (I know, some of those violations have occurred within my hearing. Three words: Lancaster County drivers).

Even those who try to live “by the Book” often find themselves being selective about which parts of the Book they follow and which they don’t. One guy ran an experiment for a whole year when he tried to live “biblically,” whatever that meant for him. Though an agnostic, he claims that he found 700 commandments in the Bible and he tried to live by them the best he could. The result, of course, was a book, a website, and rumors have it, a future film with Brad Pitt.

Now, to be sure, the title of our new series at Grace, “… By the Book,” is not meant to suggest that we should live by every rule and commandment found in the Bible. For two reasons – some of those commandments have been abrogated; others are simply impractical to follow. But the Bible is still the foundation, the rock solid ground upon which we should build our lives.

So in the next several weeks we will be looking at “Parenting By the Book,” “A Good Husband By the Book,” “A Good Wife By the Book,” and “Singleness By the Book.” Now I know that some people in our church may not belong to any of the categories listed here. Be assured that throughout this series, the underlying theme running through every topic will be “Living By the Book.” There will be important foundational truths that will apply to all of us, so please come.

What we will find is that when you take this manual seriously, it is still relevant to life today tough it was written a couple of thousand years ago. We will see that in the history of the world no other book can claim divine authority and have the facts to back it up to the extent that the Bible has – transformed lives of people who met the living Word through the written word. The Bible still towers the world of religious literature with a claim to divine. Though many self-professed Christians may relegate it to a dusty shelf (or an app that is never open), enough of us still take it seriously and try to live by it without having to write about our “humble quest,” as the author of the above mentioned book did.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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