The Evangelical Covenant Church and the Bible

The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), the denomination to which Malmo belongs, every so often publishes “teaching documents” for its churches to “provide context and clarity for Covenant churches on critical issues of concern in matters of faith, doctrine and conduct.” These resource papers are approved by the ECC Annual Meeting, our highest denominational authority, and are a helpful guide to understand how the ECC generally approaches scripture.

The Evangelical Covenant Church believes that the “the Holy Scripture, the Old and New Testament, is the Word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct.” The paper, “The Evangelical Covenant Church and the Bible,” gives an overview of how the ECC reads scripture (though it does not provide instruction as such for interpretation). This approach can be summed up in five ways of living out scripture and three commitments for doing that: “At our best we as Covenant people read the Bible faithfully, communally, rigorously, charitably, and holistically, with commitments to grace, transformation, and mission.”

Read the whole document to see how we approach the Bible, the document at the centre of our faith and practice as a Covenant church. It may help you as you read scripture on your own, too!

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Helpful Bible reading tips (podcast episode)

Scot McKnight’s* Kingdom Roots podcast recently posted an episode that presented his talk called “What I Wish Every Christian Would Do When Reading the Bible” (episode 125, episode links below**). It’s about 40 minutes long and has lots of wise and helpful suggestions for us as we read the Bible.

As a teaser, here are the main points he makes:

  1. The Bible is a gift from God.
  2. Get out of the way.
  3. Develop bigger ears.
  4. Locate what you’re reading in the bigger story.
  5. Read the Bible with others.
  6. Learn your church history.
  7. Take advantage of seminaries, Christian colleges, conferences, and other educational resources for reading the Bible.
  8. Avoid taking verses out of their context (paragraph, book, culture, etc).
  9. Don’t be afraid to be mistaken.
  10. When you read the Bible don’t expect too much.
  11. Thank God for speaking in the Bible.

Give it a listen!

*Scot McKnight was for 18 years Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University, the Evangelical Covenant’s Church school in Chicago. He now teaches New Testament at Northern Seminary.

**SoundCloud stream, iTunes, and available on other podcast/streaming services as well)

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Praying with scripture (resource for individuals and families)

There is a whole lot of devotional material available. You may have your own preference for that stuff or maybe you’re overwhelmed by all the options and don’t know where to begin. I’d like to highlight one unique resource that I have found very helpful in my walk with God. It’s called Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year.

This book has one entry for every day of the year, beginning with Advent. Each day includes a couple of short scripture readings for reflection and prayer, and/or conversation with your spouse or children, some suggestions for “free prayer”, and a closing prayer and benediction. It’s simple and reflective.

There are two things I especially like about this resource:

  1. It puts very little in between you, God, and his word to us. It’s just you, scripture, and a few prayer suggestions.
  2. It’s simple: everything you need for a given day’s prayer and reflection can be found and read on that day’s entry. There’s no flipping between pages or reaching for your Bible to find the passages for the day.

This is a resource that could work for individuals or families and would serve this purpose for many years. Malmo gives this book to its high school grads as a gift to encourage ongoing conversation with God. It might be too late for you to acquire this before Advent begins, but you can start any time. Consider getting it for yourself or your family for Christmas!**

Here are a couple of places you can find it: Wisemen’s Way // Chapters/Indigo //

(Compact edition [smaller size, otherwise identical]: Wisemen’s Way //

**Pastor Marc has a copy of his own. You’re welcome to have a look at it. Just ask!


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Is the Old Testament a complete mystery to you?

Sandra L. Richter, author of The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament, has a diagnosis for many of us when it comes to the Old Testament: “dysfunctional closet syndrome.” Most of us have a drawer or closet in our homes where we throw all the random things we don’t know where to put and after a couple of years we’re not even sure what’s in there anymore. Similarly, many of us have grown up with a jumble of various Old Testament stories, stories which have been stuffed into our mental closets, and those closets can be quite a mess. These are stories which we can fairly easily recall but aren’t quite sure how or where they fit into the Old Testament or what they have to do with us.

The Epic of Eden is meant to help us put our Old Testament “closets” in order and to give helpful tools to keep them in order. She does this not by walking us through every detail in the Old Testament, but by highlighting and explaining the major themes, ideas, and turning points in the Old Testament by which we can grasp the larger whole. In this way, Richter help us to see how the Old Testament story flows, how it is intimately connected with the New Testament, and what it has to do with us as Christians.

The Bible is one of the primary ways in which we come to salvation (2 Timothy 3:15) and encounter Jesus Christ (John 5:39). Note that in both of these passages the scripture it’s referring to is the Old Testament! So reading, understanding, and meditating on scripture, including the Old Testament, is a significant part of being a disciple of Jesus. But that’s difficult to do if two-thirds of the Bible is a confusing mess! This accessible book will help put the pieces together for you and give you deeper understanding of the story of God’s love and faithfulness.

It’s not a difficult read and it’s not long (about 220 pages) and will help you understand the Bible better. There’s a copy available in the church library, or you can order it through Wisemen’s Way, Chapters/Indigo Books, or Amazon.

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My daily bible reading took me to Hebrews 11.  The familiar chapter about ‘faith’ and the amazing faith of our forefathers.  Right at the beginning of the chapter is this verse that is so familiar to me, but it hit me in a new way today.  Verse 6 (in The Message):

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith.  And why?  Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

I believe with my whole heart that God does indeed exist.  I see the things that He has made in creation, I’ve been witness to some amazing miracles in both my family and in my church.  That’s not the hard part for me.

Sometimes, the hard part for me to believe is where it says “…that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.”  Does God respond to me?  The verse says that He does, and I know that God doesn’t lie and the words in the bible are Truth.  But it also says that I need to believe  that He responds to me.  How many times has He responded (spoken) to me and I’ve just never heard it?  Or haven’t ‘believed’ that it was Him because He responded with an answer that I didn’t like or ‘agree’ with?  And then instead of just being honest with myself that I didn’t like what God had to say, I complain that I can’t ‘hear’ God or that He doesn’t answer me.  In effect, ‘blaming Him’ for being quiet, instead of dealing with the conflict and the unbelief that’s going on inside of me.  Admittedly, too may times.

This verse in Hebrews reminds me that God does care for me.  He DOES indeed respond to me.  Day by day, I’m learning to BELIEVE it fully – no matter the situation that is before me.

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Being Present

hebrews 2:1


It’s true.
Following after someone requires intentionality.
Listening needs presence.

“Pay attention” the mother in the shop says to her seven year old.
See what is happening here. Watch what I am doing so you can know how to do it yourself.
Paying attention will help you to not miss the details.

Drifting is fine for a hot summers day when you are on a raft floating down the North Saskatchewan river.
It’s not fine for a relationship. Just ask any emotionally abandoned lover.
Drifting isn’t enough for those big things in life.

To not lose our way, we must listen, be present, pay attention.

Are you paying attention to today?
Are you listening?
Are you present to the things you hear?

“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  -Hebrews 2:1

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Healing Today

You know the church’s history of praying for healing for people has been a bit of a come and go thing over the past 2000 years. There are seasons where we practice it well and then there are seasons of quiet. We see seasons of incredible miracles and then we see nothing for a hundred or so years. While that may be a part of our past story, there is biblical reason to believe that it can be a helpful part of our ministries today, if we will have the courage to try.

I think some of us are generally afraid of the whole topic, so we end up saying that those sorts of things were for the early days of the church and are not for today.
I also think that we see the things we have simple faith to see.

During the past two weeks we tackled the difficult topic of Healing in the church and we explored some reasons why we may not see the answers we are looking for. It’s certainly not the definitive piece on healing, but it’s a good place to start looking at these things and perhaps to be challenged about our own thinking on it.

Part One: Praying for healing, an Overview

Part Two: What Happens When We’re Not Healed?


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Our Scripture for Sunday

The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
See what’s in your heart, by judging what comes out of your mouth.

Matthew 15:10-20

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

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