Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blog Hiatus

I am leaving tomorrow morning to spend the rest of the summer fulfilling God's call to mission work in Hamtramck, Michigan. Hamtramck is one of the worst areas of Detroit and a predominantly immigrant community. It's the only place in the USA where the Muslim call for prayer is heard five times per day. I'm blessed and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve in such a way, and my heart's desire is not to seek my own, but to be faithful to another man's work.

My internet access during the summer will probably be intermittent at best and I will have to suspend the blog for the moment. I have not lost interest or run out of ideas. I actually have a few posts already written and queued, and I still have a long list of ideas for posts. My hope is to return to posting later or perhaps post intermittently through the summer; however, it is in the Lord's hands. I knew when I started the blog that I would have to be able to drop it at His command, and I am glad to suspend it to move on to greater service. I hope to continue blogging in the future if the Lord wills.

I will be working with a truly God inspired and ordained organization called Acts 29. You can find more information about them by hitting the link at the bottom left of the blog. May God richly bless you.

Review: Reading the Bible with the Damned by Bob Ekblad

Both long-time church members and those outside the traditional church can find it difficult to read the Bible. Bob Ekblad encourages the church and the unchurched to read the Bible together, for what scripture has to teach us all. In this compelling book, he reflects on how Christians have often found it difficult to proclaim God’s good news to every realm of society, while those who have needed it most have frequently deemed themselves unworthy due to social circumstances or sinfulness. In Reading the Bible with the Damned, Ekblad demonstrates how to bridge this gap by showing us specific ways to engage people from all walks of life, from the poorest parts of town to inside the prison walls. This book is full of examples of how Scripture changes lives, offering practical suggestions on how to lead discussions on passages from the Old and New Testaments.

About a month and a half ago Reading the Bible with the Damned caught my attention, but I didn't want to buy another book when I have a number of books on my shelf still awaiting my attention, so I requested a review copy from Westminster John Knox press. Without communication of any kind, the book showed up in the mail a number of days ago, which meant I was committed to posting a review here. I was not contacted by the publisher in any other way, and I was not required to give a positive review, which will soon become obvious. 

Bob Ekblad is a Presbyterian minister and prison chaplain whose ministers largely to "undocumented immigrants." Ekblad immediatley informs the reader that he resists and "detests" the "dominant theology" and actively seeks to challenge traditional theological understanding. I sympathize with this desire to a lesser degree, and I find Ekblad's interpretations of scripture often refreshing; however, it soon becomes clear that Ekblad approaches the text with a preconceived desire and expectation for its meaning. The author's desire to give the inmates grace often produces a valuable message of God's presence and mercy in the midst of our sin and weakness, but shrouds and obscures other areas of the gospel.

The writing is both scholarly and informed, but also accessible and absorbing. Ekblad cites many sources including the early church fathers and leaders in liberation theology. He teaches both how to lead Bible studies and read with the marginalized as well as relate stories of individual studies and how inmates responded to texts and provided interpretations with guidance.

Reading the Bible with the Damned relates how interpretation changes when reading the Bible with the marginalized: the oppressed, convicted, criminal etc., and at its best it is a valuable reminder of God's grace. Ekblad's interpretations at their best reveal that common theological interpretation is often derived from intellectual understanding and that a very different interpretation results from reading the Bible in a desperate situation in need of hope and grace. That said, Ekblad's approach often comes close to justifying sin and openly justifies breaking the law in the case of illegal immigration and perhaps even other crimes. Ekblad is highly political, which didn't bother me at first (I am largely nonpolitical), but he often strongly vilifies those in authority, including governments, government officials, courts, judges, prosecutors, police and border patrol agents. It is clear that he views many of the inmates as being in legally impossible situations. Ekblad unapologetically reveals a politically liberal interpretation of the Bible, and often borders on antinomianism, taking justification by faith so far that sinful lifestyle becomes justified. In addition, Ekblad openly denies both original sin and the depravity of man, both of which are central to my own theology and understanding of the gospel. Ekblad believes that humans are basically good and that their weaknesses are taken advantage of by the environment. He makes little to no defense for what I cannot help but call theological errors, and because he makes no defense it is difficult to know just how erroneous his theology is. It is possible that I simply misunderstand his work, or that he intentionally shrouds his theological core in order to give precedence to his message of liberation and grace (which I do not deny is important, valuable and outrageously right on in many places). These issues are kept fairly ambiguous throughout the majority of the book, but in the final chapters Ekblad denies Christ's sacrifice as a penal substitution (meaning that God punished Christ for our sin and that Christ was our propitiation):
In the Gospels it seems clear that God did not need Jesus to die. Those who plot his death are consistently religious authorities. Jesus' conscious and willing taking up of his cross is best interpreted as God's total solidarity with human beings and willingness to identify fully with the victims of human violence and injustice. 
When we look at the notion of Jesus' life given  as ransom, or bail, it is clear from an inmate perspective that bail would not be posted to God, but is required by the state. Jesus does not give his body and blood to God in a way that would be in keeping with penal substitution. (177-178)
This at the very least obscures the gospel. Ekblad compounds this by failing to mention sin almost completely (I did not count but I think the word sin might only be in the book once or twice), and he uses the word "repent" only in the context of changing ones mind about thinking that keeping the law will justify. For Ekblad repentance is not the first part of the gospel.

With all that said, the book does offer a valuable perspective and for most of the book I was wincing, wishing that such beneficial biblical interpretation wasn't mixed with such bad theology. As a reader of puritan theology, Reading the Bible with the Damned was an intriguing look at a different approach. Jesus did not tell the woman caught in adultery to repent immediatley, instead he dealt with her accusers, gave her grace and then finally told her "Go and sin no more" (this story is not mentioned in the book). She was in a context where her sin was obvious, she was already found out and convicted, she needed grace first. Inmates are in much the same position, and I sympathize with Ekblad's approach because grace needs to be given and false theology does need to be confronted. People need to know that God still loves them, gives them grace and will meet them where they are. However, Jesus came to save people from their sins. Not from Hell. Not from oppression. But from their own sin. This is the gospel, and Ekblad never gets there.

I greatly benefited from portions of this book and there were large amounts of biblical interpretation in it that I found illuminating and inspired (his interpretation of Genesis is often quite amazing); however, I hesitate to recommend the book because of its dangerous theology. At its best it provides hope and grace to the marginalized, at its worst it justifies sin and obscures the gospel. While many of Ekblad's practical applications of scripture are accurate, gripping and radically empowering, the core of the gospel, sin and the need for forgiveness are lacking. It's possible that the theological dangers I see are simply the result of the book's narrow focus, but many seem to go much farther. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dr. Grant Horner's Bible Reading Plan

One of the most highly recommended and unique Bible reading plans comes from a Professor of literature, theology and philosophy from the Master's College in California, Dr. Grant Horner. I've heard about this plan for sometime and finally had the opportunity to check it out for myself. Dr. Horner's plan is highly developed and designed to create maximum retention. The plan organizes the Bible into ten sections and organizes readings in each section. I have not tried this plan, but Dr. Horner's suggestions on reading are very astute, and I have utilized similar methods in the past. The basic design of the plan can be adapted to create a your own personal plan: simply create your own lists and attack the Bible the Horner way. You can get PDF files of Horner's lists here. Enjoy the article below.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

D.L. Moody's Advice on Bible Marking

D.L. Moody was the foremost evangelist and revivalist of his day and remains one of the most famous evangelists of all time. He was also the founder of Moody Bible Institute and Moody publishers. His wordless book is still used to preach the gospel in many areas of the world and his legacy continues on. His ministry continues to bear fruit today through his teaching and organizations. 

Moody wrote a phenomenal explanation of Bible Marking, explaining proper marking use and philosophy and giving advice on how to mark your Bible. Perhaps even more fascinating is the look into his own marking methods. The article is so good, I wish I could post it here, but that would break copyright law, so I include the link and vigorously urge you to read D.L. Moody on Bible Marking.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Little Perspective: Bibles For Captive Nations

My last post featured a Bible that cost an arm and a leg (or a significant portion of graduation money), and I've been planning to balance the scale for a while with a look into the availability of Bibles around the world. Obviously I believe that its OK for the money God has given us to be a personal blessing and aid in our personal Christian walk through Bibles, study materials etc. However, I believe that God has an even greater purpose for our money and that as students of God's word we should seek to obey the great commission and God's radical demands regarding stewardship.

1 Timothy 6:17-19
17As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

North America and the UK is saturated with the word of God. Bibles are everywhere; Bible teaching is everywhere. We receive more Bible teaching in a week than many Christians in the 10/40 window receive in a single year. Most of us probably own multiple copies of the Bible, but those living in areas of persecution where Christians are living on the front lines of the battle to fulfill the great commission and give the gospel to every tribe, nation and tongue before the coming of Christ often are blessed to have a single copy of the word of God. In many nations a single copy of the Bible will be circulated in the underground church and believers will copy a chapter and pass it on. Sometimes they will break the Bible's binding and circulate individual books so that believers can make homemade copies. Many missionairies, pastors and Christian workers don't have access to the Bible and have to rely on the Holy Spirit to disciple new believers. This is a heartbreaking scenario, and I believe that God has blessed the wealthy nations of the world and called them to provide for the needs of those who are less fortunate. Many of those who are doing the most daring work for the Gospel and will receive the greatest reward in Heaven have the least in this world. Our job, as the rich of this world, is to provide for those in need and invest in eternity (Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 12:20-21, Luke 18:22). We must put our treasure where our heart is and help fulfill the sufferings of Christ with our financial frugality (Matthew 6:21). We must bless the world and serve those Christians who are laying down their lives for the Gospel in the hardest areas of the world.

With that in mind I want to spotlight some ministries that provide Bibles to the 10/40 window and the lost world.

Gospel For Asia Bible Society

Gospel for Asia is one of the most radical missions I've ever heard of, and their teaching and example has had a massive impact on my own walk as a believer. They provide Bibles to the 10/40 window as part of a native missionary campaign to support, educate, commission, and mobilize native born again believers to radically evangelize their own countries. 100% of gifts go to the mission field.

Voice of the Martyrs: Bibles for Captive Nations

Voice of the Martyrs is an organization founded to support missions to hostile and restricted nations of the world, taking the gospel to countries that prohibit and persecute Christianity. They smuggle Bibles into captive nations using a number of methods and taking great risk to bring the word of God to believers who daily risk their lives for their witness. The Voice of the Martyrs exists to inform the world of the needs of the persecuted church and is a powerful witness of commitment to Christ.

VOM recently came out with a Bible Smuggler T-Shirt that costs $15. $3 of that money goes to provide Bibles for captive nations. The shirt can be a reminder and witness for the persecuted church.

Voice of the Martyrs also has a more hands-on ministry which involves missionaries who personally carry and distribute New Testaments to closed and restricted nations such as North Korea. It is highly dangerous to bring the word of God into these nations, but many risk their lives to provide Bibles for the persecuted church. The Bibles Unbound ministry mails materials to you, where you take part in the process and you mail the Bibles to missionaries in the field who carry them into restricted nations. 

I've featured Faith Comes by Hearing before. They provide audio versions of the Bible to a large number of people groups and nations through portable Bible "proclaimers," which feature the Bible in that group's spoken language. They are able to provide the word of God to the world's largely illiterate population. Check out my previous post.

Currently, Faith Comes By Hearing offers 518 Audio Scripture recordings in 460 languages reaching more than 4.5 billion people in more than 154 countries.

I've been greatly blessed by my involvement in these ministries and consider the chance to share in their ministry one of the most important works I've ever done. I have no doubt that their work will last for eternity and I'm honored to be able to have some small part in their eternal reward.

I'm placing this post in the "Introductions and Features" section on the top left for easy access.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cambridge ESV Wide Margin

Wide-Margin Bibles are one of the most popular and effective tools for personal Bible study. They allow you to create your own personalized study Bible, inviting you to investigate your own interpretation and experience with the word of God. In essence it is the creation of your own reference tool and doctrinal aid. A wide-margin Bible simply gives you the space to write your own notes around the word of God allowing marking, underlining and highlighting to be augmented by notes, chain references, diagrams, sketches, charts etc.

As a graduation gift to myself, I purchased a Cambridge ESV Wide Margin Bible. This is my first wide-margin Bible and I reasoned that if I was going to meticulously write notes in it, I wanted it to last a lifetime. The edition I purchased features a smyth-sewn binding, art-gilt page edges, two ribbons and a genuine goatskin cover. It was a pricey item but I'm planning for it to last a lifetime and contain an entire book full of interpretational notes etc. Mark Bertrand has written an excellent review of the product. Of course this rationale propagated itself and I thought, "If the Bible is this expensive I really should buy a fine point archival quality pen to write in it," hence my notes are made in an 005 purple Pigma Micron, which is the most heavily reccomended pen for Bible marking and won't bleed through or cause damage over time.

There are plenty of articles on how to use a wide-margin Bible, two that I found helpful were Mark Bertrand's  "Marginal Interest: Why You Need a Wide Margin Bible" and Randy Brown's "How to Use a Wide Margin Bible." Both of these posts are highly recommended reading, but leave me in something of a tight spot as most if not all of the points I could make about the advantages and uses of a Wide-Margin Bible have been eloquently explained. I can only point my readers to these articles and reveal my own study methods with my recently acquired wide-margin.

I mainly use the Wide-Margin for notes on interpretation. I distrust study Bibles to an extent because of the proximity of an interpretation to the Word of God; however, when it comes to my own interpretation, scrawled and jammed into margins with a purple pen, I feel a little more at ease. I've already had to cross a note or two out due to mistakes or unclear thinking, it helps me realize my fallibility. These notes can be altered, crossed out and added to. I plan to go through the entire Bible with my purple pen and then switch colors for another layer of notes, which may include cross-references and word studies.

I'm currently restricting myself to notes on interpretation and tracking the literary argument present in the text. I boil down and paraphrase the verses to illuminate the logic of the teaching, occasionally referencing scripture that's not in the my center column. In college I was taught to "explicate" a text. This method meticulously studies how the meaning of the text is achieved. This means studying the method of the literary elements, discovering how the words are used to structure a point or element. The meaning of the text is illuminated by the author's means of constructing the meaning and revealing it. This method reveals the meaning of God's word by rebuilding the structure and support of that meaning and forces the reader to examine the foundation of the argument and its construction as a means of validating their interpretation.

James 4:6-10 is a passage that God has used to humble me and change me over and over again. I spent more than a year reading it every morning and praying over it as God revealed to me that the subject of the scripture was my own sin and double-mindedness. My notes reflect a piece of my heart for this scripture. Both James 4:6 and James 4:10 are verses referring to humility and God's resistance of the proud. This point in verse six frightens me. If God resists or opposes you then you have no hope. You could not be in more trouble. There is truly no one to help you. You have no divine aid. The context of humility illuminates the entire passage. Submission to God in verse 7 precedes resisting the devil. This humble submission to God's authority opens the avenues of His grace and provides the strength to resist the devil's work and wiles. But even greater than that: Satan flees from the humble. This is a radical truth. Satan flees from those under God's grace and protection; verse 6 tells us that those are the humble. Satan doesn't flee from the strong or powerful, but those who realize their weakness and cry out to God for help, receiving His grace.

You can read my notes on the passage above, which are far from complete but are a starting point for my thoughts and interpretation of the passage. Many times my interpretations are inspired by sermons books etc. and I glean from all over, even occasionally going to my ESV study Bible to find answers to my questions. The practice of placing notes next to the text forces me to interrogate every verse. What does this mean? Do I understand this? How is the writer making their argument? What is their argument? etc. I find that this significantly slows down my reading but gives me an opportunity to inquire of God over many portions of scripture that I let slide past my attention before.

The Cambridge Wide margin also includes a large portion of lined note paper in the back, which I am currently using for outlines when I'm called to speak. I don't really outline what I say, I just keep a list of scripture and brief notes reminding me what the scripture's about. However, this note paper could be used for just about anything.

A more mysterious tool is the "Index to Notes" section which contains a number of columns with each letter of the alphabet. There doesn't seem to be any specific instructions for the use of these pages; however, one might infer that an alphabetical marking system is used which refers back to this section where notes are written. My plan is to use the sections for topical lists and verse collections (the Z column might be a little spare unless I do a study on Zebulun).

If the truth be told, this is rapidly becoming my most valuable study tool. I have learned more from God by asking "What do I write here? What do I have to say about this scripture? What does this mean?" than from simple reading, classifying etc. The wide-margin gives me room to respond to the text and forces me to respond to almost every word in the Bible, this response inspires trembling at the Word.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Revival Conference Victoria

Sermonindex.net and Canadian Revival Fellowship organize a number of Revival Conferences each year, centered around biblical revival and awakening. The conferences are streamed live and I look forward to watching the messages for the next few days. I thought I would share the opportunity with you, and encourage you to pray for God to move in personal revival and awakening. The schedule is below add 3 hours for EST. You can watch the live stream here or in the embedded player below.

Revival Conference Victoria Webcast Schedule (June 8-10)
Conference Vision

Will God send another great awakening? There are over 10,000 conferences that happen every year. The 'Revival Conference' is not to be just another conference but a honest, sincere, earnest plea for the desperate need of revival. There is no cost to attend the event. No materials will be sold. There will be no big bands. The conference will have the chief object to be God-glorifying. The speakers will come on their own accord trusting God for provision. There will be no emphasis on money during the event. The event will be a simple, apostolic, yearning for a genuine biblical revival in our day. The conference is hosted by the ministry of sermonindex.net and is a inter-denominational event.

Live Webcast: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/revival-conference-live-webcast/v3

Day 1 - Tuesday, June 8th
12noon-2pm - Registration
2pm-3:00 - Concert Of Prayer
3:30pm-4:30 - Session 1: Don McClure
7pm-9:30 - Session 2: Charles Price

Day 2 - Wednesday, June 9th
9am-9:15 - Worship
9:15am-10:00 - Concert Of Prayer
10:00am-11:00 - Session 3: Richard Sipley
11:20am-12:20 - Session 4: Mark Greening
2:00pm-2:15 - Worship
2:15pm-3:15 - Session 5: Clayton Dougan
3:30pm-4:30 - Session 6: Andrew Strom
7pm-9:30 - Session 7: Don McClure

Day 3 - Thursday, June 10th
9am-9:15 - Worship
9:15am-10:00 - Concert Of Prayer
10:00am-11:00 - Session 9: Charles Price
11:20am-12:20 - Session 10: Richard Sipley
2:00pm-2:30 - Worship
3:00pm-4:30 - Session 11: Question/Answer
7pm-9:30 - Session 12: Mark Greening

Mind of Christ

This morning I was reading from 1 Corinthians in my Cambridge ESV Wide Margin (which will be a project post this weekend Lord willing) and I was tremendously uplifted by a portion of scripture that I had never really studied before: 1 Corinthians 2:10-12,16

10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

16 "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

Is this not a truly awesome truth? The Bible says that even as our individual human spirit searches our thoughts  and knows the intents of the heart, the Holy Spirit which was given to us as a comforter, counselor, advocate (paracletos) searches the thoughts of God Almighty and reports back to us. Not only does He, the Holy Spirit, inform us of God's thoughts, but he also interprets them and gives us a spiritual understanding of God's mind (1 Corinthians 2:14). This gives us our understanding of God and His will.

But even greater than that, this gives us the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit is communicating Christ's mind and  the thoughts and intents of His heart to us, God's children. So when we look at a situation or a person we can see God's desires and thoughts for that instance through the Holy Spirit. We can look at a tough situation and understand that God works everything for good, we can understand His purpose. We can look at a person with Christ's thoughts and truly have thoughts for good towards that person not thoughts of evil and a desire to bless them and see them prosper and see them have a hope and future: Jeremiah 29:11.

The Holy Spirit reveals the mind of Christ to us through His word. This is the most universal revelation of the mind and heart of God. But Paul wrote these words before the Bible existed, there was only the OT and a few letters just beginning to be circulated. The Holy Spirit is a person, and though I constantly exalt God's Word, the Holy Spirit is not bound up in a book. He lives today and interacts with us in our lives, speaking to us and revealing the mind of the Lord Jesus: giving us the mind of Christ.

Image from CreativeMYK.com

Friday, June 4, 2010

Praying Scripture: The Epistles

One of the oldest and most effective ways to pray is to simply pray through scripture, taking portions of the Bible and reading them to God with an understanding that the words are your heart's desire and aim. This type of prayer has awesome results:

1.  Because we know that God's word will not return void Isaiah 55:11 (KJV). God's word is powerful and our application of His word in prayer will produce results because the words are from God: they already contain His power.

2. Because we know that God's word is according to His will. These are not prayers that are easily twisted to our own desires or prayed with a false heart because the words confine us to a specific God approved desire and petition. The presence of the petitions in the word makes them God's express will and therefore our prayers will be according to His plan and purpose.

3. In the absence of knowing what to say, praying the scriptures guides our hearts towards proper desires and proper prayer. Even as we pray the scripture, we apply them to our heart and they begin to work in us molding our heart as we express our desire for the designs of God's word.

Some of the easiest scripture to pray is found in the epistles because the writers often document their prayers for the recipients. Many times I simply adapt these prayers to my own circumstances by switching the pronouns into first second or third person as it applies. I include below a list of scripture that I've used to pray in the past and some that I still use frequently, that can easily be adapted by simply switching the pronouns.

Some Scriptures to Pray:

1 Corinthians  1:4-8, Ephesians 1:15-23, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-14, 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, Philemon 1:4-6, Hebrews 13:20-21, 1 Peter 5:10-11, Colossians 4:2-4, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

Ephesians 3:14-19 
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and  grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

14For this reason I bow my knees before YOU Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of YOUR glory YOU may grant  (INSERT NAME)  to be strengthened with power through YOUR Spirit in (INSERT NAME)  inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in (INSERT NAME) hearts through faith—that (INSERT NAME)  , being rooted and  grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that (INSERT NAME)  may be filled with all the fullness of God.

I additionally had a powerpoint file I made of these verses with the pronouns already altered, which we scrolled through during silent group prayer and we prayed through the scripture together . I've broken the powerpoint into image files and include them below. You can use them as desktop backgrounds or paste them into a powerpoint etc. for your own use. Just click on the image and it should give you the full size 1280 x 1024.

In addition to these prayers I turned Romans 6 into a prayer for my personal use. This was much more personalized and paraphrased, but I made it by going through verse by verse and restating it to God. Its a much freer prayer with the scripture at its root.

Romans 6 Prayer
                O Lord, through Jesus Christ and His cross I have found favor in your sight, but though your grace and your love is unconditional, I must not remain in sin, Lord. I know that when Christ died as sin and to sin, I also died to sin and I know that I can’t live in sin any longer. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask that you make this heavenly reality real in my life today. O Lord, I never want to step out of the fact that as I have been baptized into Christ, I have been baptized into His death. I want to know that I was buried with Christ by a baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by Your glorious power, so I also will always live and behave in newness of life. Father let me live in this newness of life today. Lord, Your word says that if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be one with Him in sharing His resurrection. Don’t let me dodge the death of Christ today. I want to take up my cross today, so I can live in His resurrection for eternity. O Jesus, help me know, make it so real to me that my old self was nailed to the cross with You and I bear it no more, so that my body of sin would be made ineffective for evil, that I might no longer be a slave to sin. I know that if a man is dead, he is free from sin. I want to be that dead man today. Your word says that if we have died with Christ we shall also live with Him. O how I want to live with Christ. This is my prayer today. Show me the way to live with my Jesus. For I know that Jesus died once and for all and that death has no power over Him. He died once and when He did, He died to sin and it can never touch Him again. He lives to you alone Father. Your word tells me to consider myself dead to sin but alive to You in Jesus. I want this so much Lord. O Father don’t let this truth pass me by. I want to live in it. I want to live in it today Father. I don’t want sin to reign in my mortal body. I don’t want to be subject to its cravings and lusts and evil passions. O Lord I don’t ever want to offer or yield my body or its parts to sin. I don’t want them to be instruments of evil. I offer and yield them to You Father. You have raised me from the dead. Here is my body, use it as a tool of righteousness. Here are my hands, here are my feet, here are my eyes, here is my mouth. All to Jesus, all to Jesus all my being’s ransomed powers. For sin shall not exert dominion over me. I am not under the law but under grace. I will not sin, though I am always under Your favor. Lord, I know that I am a slave to whomever I surrender myself to obey. I don’t want to surrender myself to sin. I thank You Jesus, I thank You Father that though I was once a slave to sin, I have become obedient with all my heart, all my heart, (purify it Lord) to the teaching You have sent. I thank You that I have been set free from sin and become a servant of righteousness. Help me Lord, to always and today yield now my body and its parts as servants of righteousness to sanctification. Lord I was a slave to sin, marching towards death. Now, Lord I have been set free and I’m your slave in holiness to eternity. The wages of sin is death, but the gift you have given me is eternal life. Thank you, Lord that it is true in my life today. I take up my cross Lord, and I follow after You in this truth. Eternity starts now. Stamp it on my eyes, in Jesus name, Amen. 

Going through scripture and turning it into prayers is a powerful way to interact with God's word. It directly applies the word to your heart and allows your desires to conform to what the Bible says. Reading the Bible with this intention and using it as a means of directing your communication with God can realign your relationship with Him and give you a new focus on the Bible as a living book that's practical, applicable and powerful as you see God answer the supplication you've prayed from scripture.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Gospel Page

It is hard to say that America is being destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). We are practically swimming in teaching, literature and Bibles. If you want good, anointed teaching, you can find it. It is much easier to make a case that we are perishing for lack of vision Proverbs 29:18 (KJV). We have lost the reality of Christ's life. And I say that to my own heart. We have lost a vision of the cross and the gospel. We have even forgotten much of what the gospel means for our lives. We have let man-powered evangelism redirect our presentation of the gospel until its robbed of the natural power that God gives it. The gospel is vital. The gospel is life. When I am dry and loveless, I go back to the gospel. When I am fearful and unbelieving, I go back to the gospel. When I am joyful and strong, I go back to the gospel. When I pray, I go back to the gospel. When I worship, I go back to the gospel. And when I read the Bible, I go back to the gospel. The gospel is the foundation of our lives and supports everything. We should be continually planting and replanting ourselves on this firm foundation and find ourselves filled and refilled with its truth as we declare it to ourselves and to others. I never get tired of hearing the full, biblical gospel.

With that goal in mind, I have created a Gospel Page for the blog. You can find it on the top left under Introductions and Features. It is a (currently small) collection of gospel messages and testimonies, mostly brief, designed to encourage and evangelize with the true, un-neglected gospel message. Please comment on this post and suggest videos and messages for me to post in this section. I'd like it to grow into a resource for my readers (all 50 of you).

Mark 1:15
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Mark 13:10
And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek

1 Corinthians 9:16
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:23
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Galatians 1:6
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel

Revelation 14:6
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternalgospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.