Great Prayer… Wrong Verse?

In that classic film The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya says to Vizzini, in regard to his frequent use of the word “inconceivable”:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I’ve increasingly been hearing evangelical Christians, in prayer, say something like this: “Lord, you told us to ask for the nations and You will give them to us as an inheritance, to the ends of the earth. Lord, we’re asking.” The point of the prayer is great: petitioning for global evangelization. Far be it for any reader to read into this post that I am not excited about this emphasis!

My point is that the verse referenced, Psalm 2:8, is the wrong verse for this prayer.

Psalm 2 is a prophetic Psalm that makes perfect sense when you see it in the light of God the Father and His Anointed, God the Son. When you read the whole Psalm you soon realize that God the Father’s offer to give all the nations to His Son is so that He might pour out His wrath upon them. Verse 9 is clear: “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

This is a prophetic Psalm of the coming judgment of the Son of God when He returns in glory. Only those who fear the Lord and bow their knee to him now will escape His wrath, as verses 11 and 12 reveal:

“Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

So, as much as I love the spirit of this prayer I’m increasingly hearing, I must say to those who are quoting Psalm 2:8 in reference to global evangelization…

You keep quoting that verse. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Mother’s Day Pain for Women… It’s Very Real

My friend Christa wrote this yesterday and I was so impressed I incorporated into my message this morning at Harvest. I hope it will encourage you or someone you know as we close out this Mother’s Day:

Be aware that Mother’s Day can be a very difficult day for many women (women who are single; women who are trying to have children, but can’t get pregnant; women who know they will never have children; women who regret having had an abortion; women who have prodigal children; women who have lost a child to death; etc.). Be empathetic to these situations as you give your Mother’s Day blessings tomorrow. Be cognizant of the fact that, when only those who have physically given birth to children are recognized by way of their standing or being given a rose, it is awkward at best and painful at worst for those women left sitting, who are excluded. I love that our pastor…recognizes the nurturing gifts of all women on Mother’s Day. I find this to be very inclusive, redemptive, and right in line with the fact that some women are called primarily to bear spiritual offspring (Isa 54:1). And to you, my lady friends, for whom pain may threaten to undo you {on Mother’s Day}, the promise of God’s nearness is yours, as one who is broken-hearted! He hears the cry of your heart (Ps 34:18). Hang in there!” – Christa Friel (5/9/15)

Mark Bertrand on “Reference Bibles” vs. “Reading Bibles”

My friend Mark Bertrand has penned a column about a new niche of Bibles designed specifically for reading sessions. Perhaps you have given this subject little thought in the past. If you are serious about engaging with God’s Word I highly recommend you take the time to read, and think through, his points.

For those of you who are not sure what a “Reference Bible” is, I’ll explain. A reference Bible is one that has other Bible verses listed on the page so that you can easily “cross reference” other Scriptures which are related in subject matter to the verses you are reading. For example, here is a photograph taken of the TBS Westminster Reference Bible (can be purchased HERE):

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As you can see in the picture above, to the left and right of the Bible text itself, there are lists of other Bible verses that relate to the subjects presented in what you are reading. Many Bible readers love to pause and search out these other references to see what else the Bible says on this subject. It is an excellent tool for deeper Bible study.

However, aesthetically, when it comes to design layout, a reference Bible seems to have more in common with a dictionary or encyclopedia than a traditional book that you would read cover-to-cover. Hence, the recent trend toward producing “reading Bibles.”

Compare the image above with the new ESV Reader’s Bible from Crossway (available for purchase HERE):

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It makes for a dramatic difference in your reading experience. I encourage you to read Mark’s take on the impact of the design of the Bible you choose to read.

My Heart, Christ’s Home (Again)

I posted this previously on this blog (July 17, 2011) but in light of this week’s message on the 6th Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart…” I want to repost…

Several years ago I read a little booklet by Robert Munger titled, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” It’s a great tool for examining our hearts to make sure we are completely surrendered to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of our life. Click HERE to read “My Heart, Christ’s Home.”

The ORIGINAL Serenity Prayer

Many people are familiar with the “Serenity Prayer” in this form:

“God,

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.”

But few people know the history or original version of this prayer. Reinhold Neibuhr was an American theologian, who wrote an embryonic form of this prayer in the mid-1930s and developed it to its current form sometime in the early 1940s. It is a prayer that was circulated among U. S. troops during wartime and adopted into popular use among various recovery groups. It is a prayer of trust and surrender to a loving Father who is providentially governing all things.

Here is the prayer in full…

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,and the
Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.”

Memorizing Scripture May Be Easier Than You Think

I know a lot of Christians who have good intentions when it comes to memorizing Scripture but can’t seem to get into the disciplined routine it takes to do so. There is hope! One of the easiest ways to memorize Scripture is to strategically place Bible verses in a place where you will see it frequently.

There is Biblical precedence for this concept:

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”   – Deuteronomy 6.6-9, NKJV

You can use it as art on the wall…

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Or place a notecard in a place where you will see it everyday…

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My wife bought this framed blackboard and occasionally writes a new verse on it…

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A little creativity can go a long way with this concept. Seeing these verses over and over daily will requires little effort on your part and helps download God’s truth into your mind and heart.

Can you think of other ways to keep Scripture before you so that it takes root in your heart and mind?

How to Have a Life of Significance and Meaning

It’s something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently. As we have considered how to have our best year ever in 2015, it brings me back to foundational questions: Who am I? What is my mission? What are my goals? And does my weekly agenda match up with the previous three questions?

I believe those four questions I just asked are questions that everyone needs to think through, especially those of us who are following Christ. We must pray as Moses did, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90.12)

It starts with identity, then moves to mission, which establishes the nature of our goals, which are accomplished through our habits, or routine.

IDENTITY  >  MISSION/ PURPOSE  >  GOALS  >  HABITS/AGENDA

As Christians, it’s really a matter of us becoming who we are. In Christ, we are everything we ever would want to be. The issue is for us to learn to walk in the reality of who we now are (Ephesians 4.1). That comes through affirming our identity in Christ, reminding ourselves of our mission, establishing goals based on our mission, and then doing things (habits) through our week (agenda) which result in the accomplishment of those goals.

Faith…Hope…Love

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