RSS Robot

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  1. Selah

    “Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” (Psalm 3:2) The word “Selah” occurs 74 times in the Bible (three of which are in the prophetic psalm of Habakkuk, with the other 71 in the book of Psalms). The first of these occurrences is here in Psalm 3:2, and it also occurs at the end of verses 4 and 8, thus in effect divi... More... View the full article
  2. Do you want to read God’s word consistently? More importantly, do you enjoy reading it? Or perhaps, like most Christians, you get stuck in the “duty and obligation” of the “ought to” attitude. Sure we “ought to” read God’s word, but there’s a better way! Reading, understanding, and applying the Bible is a “get to”, “want to” experience, and there’s a way to cultivate that heart of desire. Growing Christians discover how to nurture an appetite—a desire for God’s word. They understand that the word of God is alive and powerful, and that it changes us in ways that we could never change ourselves (Heb. 4:12, 1 Thess. 2:13.) In this post I would love to help you move beyond the “dutiful reading” God’s word and enter into a “desire-filled longing” for God’s word. More importantly, I’d love to help you move past the short, disconnected, daily snippets of “devotional reading” and enter into a more rich, full, global understanding of God’s grand narrative. This practical and broader understanding of God’s word affects the heart in a wonderful way, because understanding the Bible makes reading it so much more enjoyable! At EBC, we’ve been studying a Sunday evening message series entitled Biblically Literate—Grasping the Grand Narrative of Scripture. (You can hear those messages at the link attached.) Through this study, we’ve examined the broader narrative of God’s Word, in hopes that our daily reading will tie together and give us a clearer picture of God’s message to humanity. From this series, here are ten practical ideas for enjoying God’s word: 1. Commit to Consistency—Of course, reading God’s word daily is best. “As often as possible” is second best. The important point is this—everybody misses days. Yes, everybody! Even the person who tells you they never miss a day. Don’t beat yourself up over the discipline—that merely becomes a source of discouragement and causes you to quit altogether. The discipline of reading every day is not an end to itself. The continued commitment to consistency over many years is where the word of God has its greatest impact. There is tremendous power in the incremental spiritual growth that unfolds over decades of reading God’s word consistently. 2. Choose a Reading Plan—The strength of a reading plan is that it facilitates consistency and reminds you to keep making progress—like a good diet or exercise program. The weakness of a reading plan is that, again, it can divert your attention to the nagging duty and away from the enjoyable relationship. It’s hard to go wrong with a reading plan—but find one that works for you, and that doesn’t discourage you. This past year I did a one-year chronological plan on the Olive Tree software for iPad. I greatly enjoyed reading God’s word this way, as this plan stitched together history with poetry and prophecy in ways that helped connect a lot of dots. 3. Decide on a Format—Will you read with a leather bible in hand? Will you use a device? Email? Audio? Regardless of the format—God’s word is God’s word. May I suggest a couple of critical things? Many Bibles are printed in columns with a lot of disruptive verse, chapter, and topical divisions. In many ways these divisions are helpful, but when it comes to simply reading God’s word, these things become real distractions to your eyes and mind. Some time ago, I began using an app on the iPad that allows me to read the Bible by paragraph (which is critical to properly understanding it) and to minimize the chapter and verse divisions visually. Reading the Bible this way made it more like a book, and provided for a very different experience. It made the Bible read, as it is, a narrative, rather than a collection of disconnected quotes. This was immensely helpful. 4. Familiarize Yourself with the Context—Most people begin reading the Bible with themselves in mind first. The mental idea is sort of, “what’s in this for me and my life today?” While this is admirable on one level, it’s also short-sighted. May I challenge you to begin with context. When you begin reading a book of the Bible, take a few moments to do a bit of research in a study Bible or online. Find out who wrote this book, when, to whom, and why? What’s the historical context? What was the original message of the book? What were God’s original intentions through the human author? What did this mean to the original recipients and why? There are many great resources that give this kind of information, and having the context in mind will help you not to misapply scripture to your own life. This approach will prevent you from taking a mystical approach to scripture that will cause you great distress in misunderstanding and misapplying scripture. Frankly you’ll always wonder where you stand with God and what He’s really trying to say to you, because you’ll never know how any passage fits into a sound theological framework. One day you’ll know God loves you, the next you will be certain that He’s angry at you. This is not a good way to approach God’s word, and will certainly keep you spiritually schizophrenic as a Christian. Two quick words of caution. Be careful that you are consulting a reliable source for your biblical, contextual data. Second, always find the personal application within the context of the original intention and meaning as given by God to the first recipients. 5. Look for the Gospel in the Text—Look for Jesus every time you read. Jesus said in John 5:39 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Every page, every chapter, every verse, and every story of the Bible in some way points to, pictures, predicts, reveals, or magnifies Jesus Christ and the story of God’s redemptive work. The entire Bible narrative is about Jesus. The more you see Him, the more you will understand the gospel and the transforming power of the gospel. The gospel is not merely the door through which you become a Christian, it’s the power that sanctifies and transforms you as a Christian for the rest of your life. And the gospel, in some way, is in every part of scripture. Finding the gospel in all of scripture will help you properly understand and apply each part of the Bible personally. As a Christian, if you ever move past the gospel, you have moved past biblical Christianity and the message of God’s Word. 6. Expect God to Speak to You Directly—Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yes, the Bible always has a historical context, but it also has a present day, personal application. When God gave His word, He had both the first recipients and you in mind at the same time. And your personal application always flows from the context of the original recipients. In other words, without the historical context, it’s fairly easy to make scripture say whatever you want it to say—which is really dangerous. For instance, take this beautiful verse—“If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” (Luke 4:7) This powerful thought was even printed in an inspirational calendar. But there’s a problem with it, and if you are discerning, just reading it probably struck you oddly. It doesn’t sound like a truthful promise. Well, the truth is, these words were spoken by Satan while tempting Jesus! Expect God to speak to you, but expect Him to do so through a right view of the true context of what you are reading. 7. Journal or Share What God Shared with You—One of the greatest ways to process and retain what God is teaching you is to write it down in your own words, and then to somehow share it with others. This can happen over social networking, in conversation, in a note, or in a ministry setting. God doesn’t give you truth to merely absorb and hold in. He gives it to be disseminated—planted like seed in the hearts of others. Before you put away your Bible or journal, ask this question— “Who can I share this with, and how?” Teach it. Become more than an retainer of truth. Become a transferrer of it! (2 Timothy 2:2) 8. Engage in Other Ways of Hearing God’s Word—Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Move beyond the reading of God’s word, and take it to another level. Listen to music that teaches you truths of scripture. Read books or blogs that expound and explain scripture. Meditate upon it. Memorize it. Listen to it read out loud. Listen to others teach or preach it. Sing it. Write it out. There are many effective ways to take in God’s word, and each one will help you cultivate your desire for it. 9. Set Times to Binge-Read—This is my favorite point. Several years ago I set aside an entire morning to read the gospels. I chose a quiet, comfortable spot, made some coffee, opened my app, and began with Matthew. On this day, there was no schedule or devotional plan. This was just me, God’s word, and an unscheduled morning. For about five hours, I simply read the life of Jesus through the eyes and experiences of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This was the first time I had ever done this type of relaxed, un-rushed reading of God’s Word, and it was a lot of fun, and truly transforming. Binge reading God’s word is a bit like watching an entire season of your favorite TV show—except it’s good for your soul! Rather than reading the God’s narrative one chapter at a time, set aside a longer period of time to read an entire book. Perhaps you’ve never thought of it this way, but most of us think nothing of sitting for two hours through a riveting movie plot, and would almost never watch a full movie in five minute increments over 24 days. When is the last time you sat for two hours reading God’s plot line for all of time and eternity? Seriously, this exercise will give you a very different perspective and understanding of God’s word. One more illustration. Over the years I’ve read the Bible on a one-year plan many times. I have to be honest with you, getting through Leviticus was always the hardest part. Well, last year I decided to embrace Leviticus. This time I used the “Faith Life Study Bible” app—a free software. And I made a decision to read not just the book of Leviticus, but also every single study note or explanatory note as well—while I worked through the text. Believe it or not, through that reading (which took place in two sittings) Leviticus became one of my favorite books of the Bible. Do some binge-reading—you might find out it’s addicting. You will definitely find that the Bible makes a lot more sense this way. 10. Give it Ten Years or More—You Will Be a Different Person! Jesus said in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Ten years from now, you will be a different person—one way or another. You are changing whether you want to or not. Will you be healthier spiritually or further from God? Will you be well grounded or easily tossed? Will you be prepared for the unexpected trials, or shaken with every wind and storm? Will you be more spiritually and emotionally mature, or still easily discouraged or angered? Will you still be wrestling with all of the same fleshly areas of weakness, or will some of them have been transformed by the renewing of your mind? Will you be more in love with Jesus and more understanding of the unsearchable depths of the gospel or will you be merely skimming the surface of a two-inch deep biblical understanding? The answer to all these questions hinges upon whether you consistently cultivate your desire for God’s word. It will change you. No doubt. But for that change to happen, you have to get into it. The wonderful news is, getting into it can truly be a lot of fun! So go for it… start enjoying God’s word! View the full article
  3. A Model Church

    “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3) Paul had begun the work at Thessalonica, and when forced to leave, he maintained an active interest in and contact with the Thessalonian believers. The book of 1 Thessalonians contain... More... View the full article
  4. Labor--The Gift of God

    “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13) Some people may have the feeling that having to work for a living is an imposition of a corrupt society. Since they were brought into this world through no choice of their own, therefore the world owes them a living, they think. I... More... View the full article
  5. “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15) Whether or not the Bible clearly commands total abstinence from alcohol for Christians, it is increasingly being recognized that alcohol is the most widely abused and dangerous dr... More... View the full article
  6. The Worldwide Flood

    “And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11) Those Christians who accept the concept of the “geological ages” commonly have to explain away the great deluge by assuming it was not really a global flood. Th... More... View the full article
  7. Friendly Persuasion

      This thought came from a movie I saw recently where one of the characters states that getting their situation across to others would be impossible without a common frame of reference. That sent me on a search for how to reach a common frame of reference when none exists. Thus I landed on "ChangingMinds.org" and their welcome: In the opening of both, he describes Jesus as the Word: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 KJV) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (1 John 1:1 KJV) Both have a third chapter, sixteenth verse that speaks love: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16 KJV) Ready to start? View the full article
  8. Southern California Conference with Warren Smith and Roger Oakland – February 5th and 6th   Lighthouse Trails authors Warren B. Smith and Roger Oakland will be speaking at the following conference in Southern California on February 5th and 6th. There is no charge for this conference. Also speaking will be Paul Smith and Xavier Reis FEBRUARY 5-6 THE REMAINING AND ONGOING DANGERS OF THE EMERGENT CHURCH MOVEMENT CONFERENCE OVERVIEW […] The post Southern California Conference with Warren Smith and Roger Oakland – February 5th and 6th appeared first on . View the full article
  9. America Sends Mennonite Pastor to Prison For Protecting Child Against Homosexual Abuse LTRP Note: For 6 years, Lighthouse Trails has been following the story of homosexual-turned-Christian-believer, Lisa Miller and her young daughter, Isabella. “Pastor Convicted of Helping Ex-Lesbian Flee Country With Daughter Ordered to Report to Prison” By Heather Clark Christian News Network BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Mennonite pastor who was convicted of providing assistance to an ex-lesbian […] The post America Sends Mennonite Pastor to Prison For Protecting Child Against Homosexual Abuse appeared first on . View the full article
  10. Prophecy

    “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18) Two types of prophecy must be distinguished. When a prophet foretells or predicts, he represents the future in light of the present. But frequently the prophetic messag... More... View the full article
  11. It would be hard to describe the level of prayer, planning, and preparation that preceded Spiritual Leadership Conference Asia. And it would also be hard to describe the level of blessing God is placing on it. It’s overwhelming to see what God is doing. I plan to write more later, but I wanted to post a quick update now to share what the Lord is doing and thank partners who have been interceding with us for the conference this week in Manila. (For snapshots moments of what the Lord has been doing, see the pictures I’ve been posting to Twitter and Facebook.) Several months before the conference, we chose the theme “striving together for Asia and beyond.” I have been so encouraged by the real striving together that has taken place leading up to and during this conference. This hasn’t been “striving together” in name only, but in Spirit-filled reality. Missionary Rick Martin in the Philippines, businessman Niranjan Sundararaj from Australia, and Jerry Ferrso from Lancaster Baptist put countless hours into coordinating this conference. But many Filipino pastors and their churches also gave tirelessly to support the conference. From advance prayer meetings with fervent intercession and surrender to providing accommodations for guest pastors and missionaries in homes and churches to providing administrative and ground support, the labor of these dear Christians has been unending. And we are seeing God bless! There is such a spirit of joy, surrender, faith, and passion to reach the lost. Every preaching service has had the anointing of God upon it, and there has been a tender, faith-filled responsiveness to the preaching services and teaching sessions. Many have sensed and surrendered to God’s calling to serve in various Asian mission fields. We’ve been praying for many months that the time and resources we’re investing in this conference would bear a direct result in souls saved, churches planted, laborers encouraged, and more called to serve on mission fields across Asia. We’re seeing the Lord answer these requests in Ephesians 3:20 ways. We still have a final preaching service before concluding this conference. I’m praying that this service will be a grand finale and that the Lord will touch and speak to every heart. Related posts: Spiritual Leadership Conference Asia Coming in February 7 Prayer Requests for Spiritual Leadership Conference Asia Spiritual Leadership Conference: Monday Update and Tuesday Preview View the full article
  12. The Awesome Word

    “Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.” (Psalm 119:161) This stanza of Psalm 119 is rich in descriptions of the way God’s Word envelops the believer in awe and wonder. This initial focus is of the heart rather than the mind. Our minds are key to growth and maturity in Christ (View the full article
  13. Protestants and Catholics in Vancouver (Canada) to Hold Ecumenical “Weekend of Protestant and Catholic Discovery” Protestants and Catholics in Vancouver, BC, area will be holding two events at the end of February calling the weekend the “Weekend of Protestant and Catholic Discovery.” The Church for Vancouver website states: One of the signs of hope in Vancouver is the way the Holy Spirit is helping Catholics and Protestants to find inspiration […] The post Protestants and Catholics in Vancouver (Canada) to Hold Ecumenical “Weekend of Protestant and Catholic Discovery” appeared first on . View the full article
  14. “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:50-51) God’s true prophets have been persecuted from the begi... More... View the full article
  15. The Wonderful Angel

    “And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (Judges 13:18) This intriguing encounter occurred during one of Israel’s periods of apostasy and servitude, when the people had been ruled for 40 years by the pagan Philistines. There was one godly couple in the tribe of Dan, however, who evidently had long ... More... View the full article