Sunday, December 16, 2012

Preach Christ!

O Brothers! Oracles of Our Sacred Desk! Today, as you preach to your people, preach Christ! Comfort the hurt, sorrowful and destitute with the promise of Heaven and the Sovereignty of God, but preach Christ! Equip the saints for the work of the ministry, but preach Christ! If you must, crack your jokes, promote your books, play your song, but preach Christ! If you complete nothing other than preaching Christ this day, then this day it shall be said, "Well done!"
Preach Christ, and Him crucified, for the foolishness of such a notion is what God has chosen to bring salvation to our nation!
Brothers, Preach Christ!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Strongly Encourage You to Try To Listen to an Audio Bible

...While Reading Your Bible

Do you have trouble reading your Bible on a consistent basis? Do you find your mind wandering or yourself spending more time seeing how far you have read (or how far you have to go) instead of focusing on what you are reading? Do you end up justifying reading a short portion simply because it feels like a lot of work just to read a chapter or more? Maybe this will help you.

There are many audio Bibles out there- in which someone is reading the passage of the Bible for you to read along with. They started out with Alexander Scourby reading the King James Version. I sincerely appreciate Mr. Scourby taking on this massive feat for the benefit of others, but personally, it was boring to me! It was simply a single person reading monotone. Yawn! 

James Earl Jones put a New Testament KJV out once, but that was more expensive and harder to find. Apparently Johnny Cash put one out also.

Then they came out with the dramatized version. It seemed like it would be more exciting, but apparently “dramatized” simply meant “music in the background.” Some of them would record a few different voices for other characters, but they were few and far between. And the monotone was back for the majority of it, since Jesus, God and the narrator all had to be done by the same guy.

Finally, some new innovations came out. First, a talented orator named Max McLean put out The Listener’s Bible in the NIV (he has since also done the KJV and the ESV). While it is only him, he is literally acting as he records this. He studied in college focusing on acting through narration. His voice is beautiful.
Then the idea came out to do a full fledged dramatization using several different people! The first is The Bible Experience, using the TNIV. 
Dozens of professional actors, actresses and orators were used, along with a professional orchestra.

This leads up to my personal favorite- The Word of Promise Audio Bible. It features over 200 professional actors and actresses, including Jim Caviezel as Jesus (you may remember him portraying Jesus in The Passion of the Christ). This performance uses the NKJV word for word and is well done.

I have listened to the book of Matthew so far. There were some features I noticed that I really enjoy, and that sets this apart from other audio Bibles I’ve heard before. First, the narrator does not say, “chapter 1, chapter 2, etc.” before each chapter. While this may be slightly confusing (especially if your CD player or iPod accidentally gets set to “shuffle,” which happened to me), it allows the reading to flow better. Also, some slight wording is removed for the sake of flowing more like a conversation. I do not mean in ANY way that verses or important passages are removed. I mean when it is written that someone says something, or someone replied, it is removed, because it is implied in the audio.

For example: Matthew 16: 13-17a says, “13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Here is what you hear read:

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying,                                         
“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah,
for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

This has been out for a couple of years now. You can purchase it in different options. You can buy the CDs (total Bible is about 70 CDs), or MP3 CD (about 8 CDs). You probably could also order the digital version, but I like having hard copy originals. You can also order the entire Bible CDs, only New Testament CDs, only Old Testament CDs, entire Bible MP3 CDs, and only New Testament MP3 CDs. I ordered the last one, and immediately copied all the files into my iTunes. I ordered my copy online through Amazon. Amazon has their discounted rate, but also have approved sellers who list their items- often at a much more discounted price. I ordered mine brand new, but opened, from an approved seller. The discs looked like they were never even used. The retail price is $34.99. Amazon sells it for $31.49. Mine cost $8.78 plus $3.99 shipping, for a total of $12.77. WIN!

Looking at the website created for the Word of Promise Audio Bible, they also encourage a small group 40 day study. With their reading schedule, small group participants read along as they listen to the audio Bible. Over about 30-40 minutes a day, readers can get through the New Testament in 40 days.
I think this will greatly strengthen your Bible reading. Because of being bombarded by entertainment on a daily basis, it is easy for our minds to be distracted. A radio-like performance of reading the Bible, along with occasional music and even sound effects, may help you keep attention and even bring what you are reading even more alive and real to you.

I encourage you to try this out. You can even start with free samples. You can find several different chapters on The Word of Promise’s iTunes podcast page. Click this pic to go straight to that page:

You can also download the Book of John for free from Max McLean’s website. Click this pic to go straight to the webpage:

I hope this tool will help you in your Bible reading. I pray it will become even more powerful and real to you, and that God’s Word will change your life!

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
-Romans 10: 17
Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
-Nehemiah 8: 1,2, 5-7a

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don't Quit Poem

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Author unknown

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

R A Torrey on The Power of Prayer

"We are too busy to pray, so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services, but few conversions; much machinery, but few results. The power of God is lacking in our lives and in our work. We have not because we ask not."

-R. A. Torrey, "How To Obtain Fullness of Power," 1897.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shared Article: There Arose Another Generation After Them That Did Not Know The Lord

Ever since the early 1980’s due to the influence of church leaders such as Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Joel Osteen, the evangelical church has been sold the idea that "bigger is better." Under this rubric, the way to get the church to grow is to make it comfortable or palatable to the unsaved. Such a philosophy "works" in that it can fill massive stadiums with adoring fans. While I am not per se against God-ordained church growth (Matt 16:18; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 3:6), what is lost under this seeker friendly philosophy is basic doctrine and Bible teaching since such activities are deemed as offensive to the unsaved. What does not appeal to the unregenerate seeker is quickly discarded. Thus, the church ceases to be the pillar of truth that God called her to be (1 Tim. 3:15). As the seeker movement rolled on throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s some hungering for a deeper spiritual experience became disillusioned with it and adopted something even worse in its place called the Emerging Church. This ministry style places personal experiences and ancient medieval liturgical practices over the proclamation and study of objective biblical truth. Indeed, this emerging spirituality would contend that even the ability to arrive at such objective truth is an impossibility. Both philosophies have produced a generation of church goers who know very little about the very Bible that they claim they believe in.
(Andy Woods, Pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church, Sugar Land, TX)

A Rant on Church Planting Conference

Found an advertisement for a big, and I mean, apparently a BIG conference on church planting. Over 100 speakers and workshops over 3 days. Topics include planting and growing a church through:

Recruiting, Funding, Casting a Vision, Generosity, Stewardship, Discipleship, Relationships, Score Cards (?), How to Plant an "Urban" Church, Effective Evangelism, Spiritual Leadership, Discipleship, Neighborhoods, Kingdom Movement Instead of Institution, Maximizing Leadership, Excellence, Being Multi-Ethnic, Being Holistic (?), Being Culturally Appropriate, Leadership (AGAIN?) Culture, Passionate Spirituality and Creativity (?), Modeling for Leadership (AGAIN?), Create Ownership, Getting the Bible into Water-Cooler Conversations, Avoiding Stress, Project Management, Recruiting, Teaching for Life Change, Personal Leadership (THERE IT IS AGAIN!), Financial Resources, Build A Better Worship Experience, Launch Larger, Get the Public's Attention, Financial Reso
urces (ALSO AGAIN?), Relationships, Reproducing Leaders (Honestly, Lord help me, this is getting ridiculous), Getting Apprentices, Creating Artists (?), Planting in a Urban City, Discipleship, Missional Communities, Missional Paradigm Shifts (?), Multiplying Leaders (oh good grief), Future Travelers (?), Being Multi-Site, Being Multi-Ethnic, Being Small Town, Being Urban, Being Spanish, Things to Do Before, Things to Do After, New Ministries, Team Leadership (AGAIN?!?), Vision Casting, Women in Leadership (of course!), Communication, Leading your Family, Leading Through Crisis, Leading Ourselves (I think I'm going to be sick), Counseling, and of course, one more on Finances.

Not a single, solitary lesson/track/workshop/session on PRAYER.

I fear our church planting movement phenomenon is in SERIOUS trouble.