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Prayer

New Resume Posted!

I have just updated my resume and a letter from the Parker County Director of Missions, John Thielepape. Perhaps I might be a good fit for your church as a Supply (fill-in) Preacher, Interim Pastor or Pastor. Let’s talk! Contact information is on the resume or click here for a contact form.

Freedom for All!

Following today’s #SCOTUS ruling in favor of the Green Family of Oklahoma City, I wrote the following on Facebook:

Just to clarify, in case you missed the real issue behind the emotionally-based headlines…. Today’s Supreme Court Decision in favor of the Green Family (Hobby Lobby, Mardel, etc. stores) does *NOTHING* to prevent access to contraception. It does *NOTHING* to prohibit access to abortions. It does *NOTHING* to restrict the ability for women to get healthcare.

What the ruling *DOES* do is to allow people to express their First Amendment Rights of Free Speech and Religion through their privately-held businesses. And it limits the Federal Government’s power … just like the Constitution does.

The Green Family’s employees are *free* to purchase their own birth control. They are *free* to purchase their own abortifacients (abortion-causing drugs), and they are *free* to purchase their own abortions.

Limits on Government. Freedom for the People. Today’s SCOTUS Decision protects Constitutional Freedom for everyone!

Happy Independence week, everybody!

‪#‎freedom‬
‪#‎scotus

I recommend that you also check out Ed Stetzer’s great article, “Hobby Lobby Wins: Where Do We Go from Here?

The only thing I didn’t say is that, “Everybody wins, except for unborn babies.” That is still an issue to pray about. Perhaps one day, the Supreme Court will — just like they did with African Americans — affirm the “personhood” of the unborn, thus confirming Constitutional Rights upon them.

Side note: Abortion is disproportionately high for minorities. And abortion clinics are disproportionately placed in minority neighborhoods. So, although the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for African-Americans, abortion providers like Planned Parenthood wish to rob them of those rights by disproportionately killing their children. There. I said it.

I will moderate comments for spam, but I promise to post all on-topic comments, whether or not I agree with them.

 

 

How to Read Through the Bible in 2014

Yesterday I suggested that we approach our Bible reading as a means of growing our relationship with God, rather than looking at it as something we’re supposed to do like eating our veggies and flossing daily. Yesterday, we looked at the right “why” of reading the Bible

Today, I want to look at the “how” of reading the Bible in 2014.

Assuming you have the right approach, knowing that you are eager to hear from your loving Father, how can you go about reading through the Bible in a year? Given the fact that there are about 775,000 words in the Bible and most people read about 200-250 words per minute, you can read the whole Bible in about ten minutes a day. Just saying, “I’m going to read the Bible for ten minutes a day.” may not be enough planning for everybody. So what is one to do?

Which Bible Reading Plan?

There are many ways to read through the Bible and none is the “best”. It comes down to asking what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to read through the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation? Do you want to read the Old and New Testaments together each day? Do you want to read the Bible in a more chronological way? Do you want to just read the New Testament? If you want to read just the New Testament, do you want to include readings from Psalms and Proverbs?

A few years ago, our church read through the Bible using a plan developed by the 19th Century pastor, Robert Murray M’Cheyne. The plan had four readings from roughly two chapters from the Old Testament and two chapters from the New Testament. M’Cheyne’s plan is tried-and-true, but many of us found it to be a bit disconnected and lacked continuity as we read a little bit from four different Bible books each day. You may want to try this plan; if you do, you might want to check out Donald Carson’s “For the Love of God” blog which adds a devotional commentary to the daily readings.

The next year, I chose the Blue Letter Bible’s reading plan that covered readings from the Old and New Testaments. We found it to be much easier to follow.

Last year, I thought it might be better to get a chronological view of the Bible, so we went with Dr. George Guthrie’s plan based on his book, Read The Bible For Life. I used YouVersion’s free Bible App (works with iOS, Android and web) because it keeps track of where I am in my readings. I found the plan to be ideal and will use it again next year, however the Bible Eater Plan looks interesting.

For other thoughts about Bible reading plans, I highly recommend you take a look at Justin Taylor’s very helpful blog post. and you can find even more Bible reading plans at your favorite online Bible resources.

Though I think most people underestimate what they’re capable of, there’s always The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers.

Once you have chosen a plan, you need to choose a Bible. Some Bibles come with their own reading plans built in, such as the hugely-popular One Year Bible.

 

Which Bible Translation?

People used to be able to say that they couldn’t understand the Bible because they don’t understand all the thee’s and thou’s. Through its 400-year history, many believers have benefited from the King James translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. I don’t know about you, but I don’t speak Elizabethan English like William Shakespeare did, and I have as many issues trying to understand the King James Bible as the next guy! I have briefly discussed modern Bible translations elsewhere on this blog.

Since you’re reading this on a computer connected to the Internet, you have access to many Bible translations in your native language on numerous websites, including YouVersion, Biblia, and BibleGateway to name a few.

So how do you know which one to use?

That depends on what do you want to get out of it. If you want to get the general “feel” of the message from the Scriptures, you may want to use the New Living Translation or the New International Version. If you want to get more specific about the words used to convey the message, you may want to use the English Standard Version.

 

Now what?

You know that the reason to read the Bible is to grow in a relationship with God. You know that there are many plans and translations to choose from. But please don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the choices. And don’t run out and spend a bunch of money on a fancy Bible. Ask God to guide you and then “get after it!”

This time next year, you’ll be glad you did; you’ll have a better understanding of who God is and how He works to bring people into a relationship with Him.

 

(Note: Some of the links on this page will take you to Amazon where you can purchase products. If you use these affiliate links, I will receive receive a small  commission for the referral.)

 

 

Read Your Bible in 2014

If you’re like most Christians, you rarely pick up your Bible to read it on your own. You know you should read your Bible, just like you know you should be a better steward of your body with diet and exercise, and you should floss your teeth daily. You know you should do these things, but at the end of the day, you’re tired. And the last thing you want to do is head to the gym, get saliva all over your fingers, or read a book that seems a bit outdated. And the thought of reading through the whole Bible is, well, nothing short of impossible.

I have good news! You’re not alone! And it’s not an impossible task!

The first thing is to ask why you should to read the Bible.

Is it because your pastor or Bible study leader says you should? Is it because you read somewhere that you should?

If your reason for reading the Bible is because you think it’s something you should do, then maybe you need to rethink your reason.

Don’t get me wrong! I think you should read the Bible. But the reason isn’t because it’s something you should do. Your reason should be because you want to experience a deeper relationship with God. If you want to experience a deeper relationship with your spouse or a friend, you must spend time with them. The same is true with God. The primary way we experience a deeper relationship with God is by spending time with Him, reading your Bible and praying.

Too often, we approach our relationship with God with the idea of “doing” and “not doing”. But God is a person and we build a relationship with Him just like we build other relationships: by spending time talking and listening.

If you’re a child of God, you need to know that God wants to speak to you! (John 10:27) But unless you read what He has revealed, you can’t hear what He says. Sure, you may occasionally hear a “still, small voice”, but how can you know if that voice is the One Who loves you and wants the best for you, as opposed to the one who hates you and wants to destroy you? (2Corinthians 11:14-15; John 10:10)

Knowing the Bible will empower you to distinguish between the voice of our Shepherd and the voice of our enemy. And we will know our Bible as we read it.

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

As long as our approach to reading the Bible is one of obligation or duty, we will continue  a hit-and-miss experience of Bible reading and we’ll continue to walk in shame when we fall – the same shame we feel when we visit our doctor or dentist. However, if our approach to Bible reading is one of wanting to grow closer in a relationship, and one of wanting to eat a much-needed, delicious meal, our desires will be fulfilled. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Those who find their refuge in him are blessed! (Psalm 34:8)

The right reason for reading our Bible is crucial to success in reading it.

 

Application

Take a few minutes to pray about reading the Bible in 2014. Confess your approach of duty and obligation. Ask God for a fresh taste of Himself. Ask Him to give you a fresh perspective of growing your relationship with Him through reading your Bible.

Tomorrow, we’ll take up the “how-to” in reading through our Bible in 2014.

 

 

A Hard Day at Church

It was a hard day at church Sunday. Perhaps the hardest I have ever experienced. Definitely the hardest I ever want to experience.

We hoped and prayed that last Sunday would never come. But Sunday, our church family at Bethel Baptist Church in Weatherford, Texas voted to begin the process of transferring the property deed to the Parker Baptist Association. John Thielepape, the Association’s Director of Missions and the Association’s Executive Board will administer the transfer of our deed. We look forward to seeing how God will use the facilities for His glory to reach people that we might never have been able to.

For several years, Bethel has been on life support. We saw the demise coming several years ago and sold our parsonage. We had a flood a few years later and due to the insurance settlement, we were able to do some much-needed updates of the vintage 1970s-era carpet and paneling. All of this helped keep us afloat. For a while.

Last November, as we considered the 2013 budget, our treasurer informed us that with our current average expenses and income, we had about 4-6 months left of savings. I challenged our people to fast and pray through December and be ready to discuss at our quarterly business meeting what we felt God was telling us. At the January meeting we said that we felt that God still had work for us to do at our location. Perhaps we were in denial. God continued to provide for our finances through October — eleven months into our “4-6 months”. He’s still providing. He always does. He always will, but not necessarily the way that we pray for – or expect.

If our church has been on life support, then last Sunday was the time to “call in the family”. I don’t think anyone was surprised by the realities I presented, though not all of us were ready to “pull the plug”. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe any one of us wants to pull the plug. But there comes a time that you have done all that you can do to extend life and that the life support no longer extends life; it actually extends death. And we have passed that point.

It is only a matter of time before we close the doors of the church as a fellowship. We will soon turn the page and close the book on Bethel Baptist Church. As we seek God’s plans for us as individuals, we look forward to seeing how He will use what we have learned and the experiences He has blessed us with. And we look forward to seeing how He will use our facilities in the future.

Only He knows. But as I have told our people for over six years, it’s not about us; it’s about Him and His Kingdom. We get to show up and participate.

But Sunday wasn’t just a hard day. It was also a great day to spend time together with our church family. Most importantly, we praised and worshiped the God Who called us together to begin with. Our task at this point is to continue to seek His lead as we move forward.