05/30/09

Weekend Resource: Never Read a Bible Verse

 Weekend Resource: Never Read a Bible VerseResource: This is a short, easy read by By Gregory Koukl that explains the value of reading more than one verse during quiet time. According to Greg, it is “the most important thing I could ever teach you.”

He goes on: “If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be?  What is the single most important practical skill I’ve ever learned as a Christian?  Never read a Bible verse. That’s right, never read a Bible verse.  Instead, always read a paragraph (at least) if you want to unlock the meaning of a passage.”

Click to download the resource



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05/28/09

The Value of Garbage is Still Zero (Part 2)

confused 1 The Value of Garbage is Still Zero (Part 2)The gray areas: here comes confusion
Our hearts will recoil after the Holy Spirit identifies pieces of rubbish that we have treasured, and a battle with ensue. Why is it difficult to let go of rubbish? Because difficult choices frequently deal with grey areas where easy answers and clear cut lines are nonexistent. How then can we make sense of the grey areas? We will continue to cling to the rubbish as long we see potential for value. We will only discard rubbish once we count it as loss. Thus, we need a way to inspect and assay our treasures.

Know your heart
First, we must know our hearts.

Our hearts are deceitful
It is deceitful and desperately wicked.  Following the advice to “just follow your heart” will lead you down a crooked path. We must account for these facts if we are to ever deal with the heart on realistic terms when making decisions.

Our hearts do not want to be broken
An aversion to pain is planted so deep within the heart that the seeker of spiritual brokenness will be met almost instantly with a barrage of justifications aimed to lock the heart within the bounds of comfort. This bias frustrates attempts at spiritual discernment. While the Holy Spirit speaks through God’s word on one side, our human idols of comfort, ease, and temporal pleasure beckon to us on the other.

Ploys of the heart to deceive
Since we know that the heart is deceitful and will attempt to avoid brokenness or discomforted, we can apply this knowledge to decision making. The our hearts use justifications to muddy the waters, allowing garbage to infiltrate the treasury. If we call garbage what it is, we probably would not let it into the treasury. Yet our hearts desire the garbage- we fall for sin’s lie that it will be more satisfying than righteousness- so we let it slip in under another name that justifies its presence in the treasury. What are some of these justifications?

  • Others do it
  • The Bible doesn’t say it is specifically wrong
  • It is a spiritual benefit
  • I need to do this to be able to relate to the world
  • Not all non-spiritual things are evil

Now what?
The problem is [at least] twofold. First, each of the justifications have a valid argument behind that counters what the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Justifications capitalize off of the uncertainty and obscurity of the situation, causing us to doubt whether or not we are hearing the Holy Spirt or just our own mind. The simple yet strong justification is difficult to dismiss, and attempting to do so feels like getting caught in the crossfire between friendly forces. We doubt, then second guess the sound, then doubt the second guess. Second, something deadly within our heart actually desires the forbidden. We want to do right, yet there is a rival desire for fleshly evil. Our flesh has an edge often simply because of our selfish desire for worldly pleasure, passion that wage war against our soul. The justifications  we produce are often a giveaway that this a fleshly desire exists and can not get past our conscience unless rigorously justified. But can we label confidently label that fleshly desire evil? Can we label the thing we desire evil? If it is evil, how to we find out? What if is lawful, just not profitable? How can we move past the justifications to sort it all out?

We will begin to tackle all of that in the next post.

Can you think of other justifications the heart uses, maybe from your own experience?


Related posts:
The value of garbage is still zero (Part 1)



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05/26/09

The value of garbage is still zero

 The value of garbage is still zeroValue what is most valuable
Philipians 3:7-8
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”

The question is simple: Do we value what is most valuable?

3 question to help us discover what we value
1. What people, activities, or things consume most of our time?
2. What rouses our emotions (anger, joy, etc)?
3. What do we require to feel happy, secure, or fulfilled?

Smaller when kneeling
My love for Christ always looks larger when I stand than when I am on my knees. Standing, my discernment is blurred in a haze of pride. On my knees, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). When that word discerns the thoughts and intentions of my heart, my love for Christ loses its inflated appearance.

God and self have rival views
Dare we ask God, not ourself, how He views our passions that compete for His throne in our life? I’ve been giving myself favorable answers lately about several areas of life. God is breaking me. I had been valuing refuse out of the garbage heap.

Can you think of another way to discover what you value? I appreciate your thoughts.



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05/23/09

Weekend Resource: An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture

 Weekend Resource: An Approach to Extended Memorization of ScriptureResource: “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture” by Dr. Andrew Davis.

Summary: Dr. Andrew Davis expounds on not only the value of Bible memory, but the value of memorizing passages instead of single verses. We struggle enough to discipline ourselves to memorize a single verse. How can we be expected to tackle a passage? Davis offers practical ways to accomplish such a task, as well as retain what has been committed to memory. Many of his techniques can also be used to memorize single verses.



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05/19/09

Quiet time: Reading my glorified newspaper

953848 777951081 300x217 Quiet time: Reading my glorified newspaperHave I turned the Bible into a glorified newspaper, approaching it with a heart attitude that has sucked the life out of my quiet time?

Reading or Communing?
I was reading this last night, and it occurred to me that when I approach God’s word, often I am coming to read instead of commune. Psalm 119, as the rest of the Psalms, reveal David’s heart to know, love, and commune with God. In the Psalm, David is not focused on the Law, David is focused on the Law Giver. The word of God serves to facilitate the drawing near to God himself, but is not the object of our longing. Even when David says “Oh how I love Your law!” (v97), David is speaking directly to God in communion with Him. The book itself is loved when in communion with God.

I Sought Knowledge, Not Communion
That has not been how I approached God’s Word. I’ve approached God’s Word as if it was something to read that would just tell me about God. It was about knowledge, not communion. It was about reading, not hearing God speak. This approach sucks the life out of my quiet time and leaves it feeling like a mechanical action to fulfill an obligation.

Escape Lifeless Reading
The positive side to this indictment is that there is a way to aid my often lifeless quiet time. If yours is lifeless, join me. God bids us come into His presence and hear His voice speak to our hearts. I can hear not just random words I think I heard from a vague voice in my head, but His exact words spoken as clearly as if they are the words ringing in our head after a conversation with a friend. That is what the Bible is.

“SPEAK, O LORD, as we come to You
To receive the food of your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes, for Your glory.”



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05/17/09

Love Precedes Obedience

 Love Precedes Obedience“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” A simple if-then statement from Jesus found in John 14.

I have looked at it a thousand times, yet it was not until today that I saw it with understanding.

Here are the facts, implied by the verse:
1. If you do not love Christ, you will not obey Him either.
2. If you do not obey Christ, you must not love Him either.

For a while, I would have said that the conclusion drawn from the facts to be this: You must obey Christ in order to show/prove authentic love.

But that is dead wrong.
It is off the mark. Jesus knew that without love, there would be no obedience. Attempting to obey in order to create or prove love is equivalent to trying to produce light in order to create a lightbulb. Love is the foundation and motivation for following Christ in full obedience.

Therefore, the conclusion should look more like this: You must love Christ in oder to obey.

The words of Jesus found in Mark 12:30 chime in unison with this conclusion: The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Without love, effort to obey will lead to failure. Love precedes obedience.



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