Encounter: Listen or read Isaiah 55 as a whole and then twice through just verses 6-13 in the New Living Translation. Underline or write down any words or phrases that resonate with a sense of God’s Word bringing something about or restoring something to beauty. Begin to think about what happens when God speaks.
Jack surprised me this week with a Christmas present taking me to West Baden Springs Hotel for a couple nights. The beauty of the giant domed atrium was awe inspiring and striking enough to cause us to gaze up for hours taking in the shades of red, blue, green and gold lights that cast a glow adding to the stunning ambiance below. Knowing the history of this magnificent hotel inspired even a greater sense of awe since what we were looking at today had been restored over and above its original beauty not many years ago.
In 1901, Architect Harrison Albright was only 35 years old when he designed and constructed the awe-inspiring West Baden Springs Hotel but don’t let his age fool you. It took the vision of Lee Sinclair and the plans of Albright to bring to life the world’s largest free-span dome in the famed hotel.
In order to fully appreciate the magnificent structure, we spent time in the hotel museum listening to the history unfold. We walked through the grand hallways looking at all the old photos of a hotel that in 1901 was dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” After a tragic fire and the stock market crash of 1929, the downfall of the hotel began and it went from a gambling center, turned into a Jesuit college, military hospital and then finally rescued for restoration by the Historic Landmarks Foundation in 1996. After 500 million in historic restorations, West Baden Springs hotel receives guests from around the world. You could say it's latter years are far greater than its early ones.
Most of us are intrigued when something is restored to its former glory, whether it’s a classic car, the 8th wonder of the world in West Baden or a person being transformed through Christ. I believe the echoes of eternity playing in our hearts always speaks of restoration because it is the word that sums up God’s heart towards his creation. Where there was once thorns and nettles now come majestic cypress and Myrtle trees and at the heart of this… These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” (Isaiah 55)
I was able to stand with confidence on the suspended balcony of our room six stories high because I had learned the history of the building and more importantly I knew enough about the architect. Therefore I could gaze at the wonder of his creative genius without knowing all the technical details. There was mystery for sure but I had enough evidence he knew what he was doing.
To read and study the Bible is to accept an Invitation to see the Lord’s Restoration project. To fully appreciate and have confidence in what our Architect has created, we need to learn about the history, the people involved and the purposes for which we all exist in order to get a sense of what the grand story is about.
This Sunday begins our preparation for the launch of Mission Possible - 730 Day Challenge: Living God’s Story from Genesis to Revelation. I will begin by helping to build our confidence in the revelation we have received in the Bible answering the question many ask, “Why should I read the Bible?” Be sure to follow the directions Julie has sent out in separate emails and in this week’s Eden Weekly about the new Bible Study Together app and pick up your free hard copy of the Bible Reading Plan in worship on Sunday.
This is God’s story, the account of His search for us. Let’s take it all in one day at a time!
Preparing with you,
Reflect: Read through Hebrews 4:12, Ephesians 6:17, Colossians 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Peter 3:16 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13 - What do these verses have in common?
Spiritual Practice: Watch these two videos to get a picture of how the Bible exists and God’s purpose in inspiring it’s creation. Journal about what you have learned asking God to help you as you begin the 730 Challenge.
Gather: In your small group time talk about your Encounter & Reflect exercises and what was new for you after watching the Bible Project videos. As a group, help anyone who may need assistance in downloading the Bible Study Together app and have everyone walk through the steps of joining the Fellowship Group - (all you need is in links in Julie’s email this week)