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Posted by: Natalie Latzka on 10/07/2021

Understanding the Bible Message

Presentation overview:

In my book, Navigating True North, I set out on a journey to find the truth about God. After a very difficult time in my life, I came to the personal realization that much of what I believed in terms of faith in God, had been influenced by what I have come to refer to as magnetic north.  I define magnetic north as everchanging “worldly” forces influenced by individual, religious and societal agendas, motivated by the desire for influence, power and control.  The forces of magnetic north promise to lead people in the direction of contentment, safety and truth, but ultimately leaves people feeling hopelessly lost in life. For me, the most disheartening part about finding myself lost in life, was the fact that I willingly and blindly followed those directions without ever questioning whether or not I was headed in the right direction.

As I looked to find the truth about my faith and God, I knew I needed to find evidence to support what I believed and why I believed it as I was no longer willing to accept blind-faith.  For me, that meant starting from the very beginning and completely rebuilding my faith foundation by asking these important questions: Is there evidence that God exists?  And, is there evidence of who God is? Leveraging my skills as an attorney, I meticulously studied topics such as cosmology, biology, evolution, thermodynamics, quantum physics and historical methodologies.  For years, I studied the facts and weighed the evidence for myself, ultimately finding objective evidence to conclude there was an intelligent designer and that intelligent designer was the God of the Christian Bible who came to earth as the person of Jesus.

Armed with evidence that Jesus was God, I wanted to understand more about the message that Jesus brought to earth. To do that, I needed to strip away, as best I could, the influences magnetic north had on that message. I had no interest in studying the message from a "religious" viewpoint and someone else's opinion of what was required to have a relationship with God, I wanted to understand the message in its original form and context.  

I began by studying the Old Testament as it set the stage for the message of Jesus. Starting with the story of creation I made my way through the accounts of the Jewish patriarchs and prophets. While I found many of the stories confusing and some seemed relevant only to that specific time in history, there was one message that consistently came through very clearly. The message that God so loved his human creation that he was willing to relentless pursue and preserve relationship with us, but only if we freely chose that relationship in return.  

As I moved into the New Testament I took time to study the religious, political and cultural context existing in first century Israel when Jesus came on to the scene. I then studied the actual words and stories of Jesus using tools and resources to help me understand the meaning of the text in the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic languages. This together with the foundation of the Old Testament provided a rich new message I had never heard before, despite being raised Christian all my life. For the first time the words "Kingdom of God" literally jumped out at me from the pages of gospels. 

Growing up I was taught that the reason Jesus came to Earth was to save us from our sins so that we could one day live eternally with God in heaven.  What had always confused me was the fact that there were so many other (religious) rules that, if broken, would put that salvation that risk. I guess one could call that magnetic north.  While there are elements of the salvation message that is certainly true, I had missed a very important and profound part of Jesus' message.  Jesus taught and demonstrated that the Kingdom of God is available to us here and now as we live our lives on Earth. The message of the Bible, the Old Testament, Jesus' Gospel message, evil and good, death and life, salvation and kingdom, it all suddenly fit together to create an amazing portrait of God's love and purpose for creation.

General presentation outline for a 1-2 hour presentation:

1. Overview of the Old Testament message

2. Religious, political and culture context of first century Israel

3. Overview of Jesus' gospel message in context

4. The Kingdom of God and how do we fit in

Target Audience: 

-Christians not feeling worthy of God's love and struggling with their understanding of the Bible and the message of Jesus. 

-Apologetics: Christians struggling to articulately defend and share their faith. (Only about 19% of Christians will share reasons for their faith with others.)

-Anyone of any faith looking for evidence supporting truth and a deeper sense of purpose, meaning and significance in life. (Only about 25% of Americans feel they have a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.)

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