All posts tagged: bible

youversion Finally! I’ve been waiting to see what this is all about. It’s LifeChurch.tv’s online Bible program. If I can remember correctly, I started using the Blue Letter Bible, then I moved to Bible Gateway, and most recently Ebible. But I’ve been stoked to see what LifeChurch.tv had brewing behind the scenes. From what I can tell this is an online Bible program that also promotes community and personal study & devotion. Here’s what I noticed after a 10 minute test drive:

  • I couldn’t get the search feature to work
  • Right now they only have ASV, KJV, Word English Version, ESV, and an Arabic version (my favorite versions are The Message, NLT, and NASB)
  • You can star, tag, and email selections of scripture (very cool)
  • The format is 2 columns – on one side is the scripture, on the other is an interactive window with…
  • A Community tab – this looks like it will be like a sharing area, where relevant information is shared throughout the “community”. A reference to Matthew Henry’s Commentary came up on my screen.
  • A My Version tab – looks like this is where your starred and tagged information is stored, although I couldn’t get it to work.
  • A Journal tab – this is where you can write your own notes to go along with what you are reading or studying, very cool.

All in all the interface is totally Web 2.0 – very easy to navigate and very cool. Here’s my wish: A “You Version Widget”, where you could share what you are reading and what God is teaching you via the Journal tab in your personal blog.

Have you checked this out? If not, you might want to go check out this very cool happening on the web.

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve take the time to post a Daily Devotion. Today I had extra time to spend reading and hearing the word of God – it was good. I read Psalms 146-150 – here are some of the verses that really spoke to me:

He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry,
The Lord frees the prisoners, The Lord opens the eyes of the blind,
The Lord lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads.
The Lord loves the righteous, The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows…
– Psalm 146:7-9

He heals the borkenhearted, binding up our wounds…
The Lord supports the humble…
The strength of the horse does not impress him;
how puny in his sight is the strength of a man.
Rather the Lord’s delight is in those who honor him,
those who have put their hope in his unfailing love.
– Psalm 147:3, 6, 10, 11

I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God even with his dying breath.
– Psalm 146:2

That last one really rocked my world. As I am getting older, I am witnessing people pass on more and more. Sometimes it’s really sad, sometimes it’s a quiet lonely time, sometimes it’s dreadfully frightening. Death is a very somber reality; we will all face it someday. And I am not gonna lie – it scares me, even though my faith says that death is mearly a passing onto glory with my heavenly father to a place of peace and everlasting life. This verse just encouraged me to spend my life praising God with every breath, loving my family, my wife, and the people that God brings into my life, until my dying breath comes.

applauseToday I begin the journey through Matthew 6. Jesus continues teaching his disciples from the “Sermon on the Mount”. I’ve heard before that this is crucial teaching that he was sharing with his closest disciples. Not that any of his other teaching is less important, just that this was “face time” with the Song of God, teaching on the basic fundamentals of being a Christ follower. That’s why I am just taking little bits and really trying to see what God is saying into my life today, so far it’s been really refreshing and challenging.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full

Matthew 6:2

As I was reading & studying this verse, I really began to think about the motive behind what we do as servants of Christ. Whether “professional”, 0r volunteer ministers. I know this is primarily about giving to the needy, but I wonder if it applies to every area of service – what we do in the name of Jesus Christ.

I’m a pastor & worship leader. I disciple people, lead people in worship, teach from God’s Word, create marketing plans, organize and plan out weekend services – and all the administrative and mundane tasks that go along with that. Why do I do this? Well, here’s a short list:

  • I’ve known almost my whole life that this is what I was created for
  • I love seeing people grow in their relationships with God and others
  • I love seeing the church worship together
  • I love seeing the Gospel represented in a way that reaches out in today’s culture
  • I seem to be relatively good at what I do

The thing that is a little harder to nail down though is, what do I get out of it? Am I seeking some kind of reward? Would I do it if there was no “applause”, no encouragement, no worldly compensation? Another way of putting it is – is my greatest satisfaction knowing that God is pleased and his name is made great through my meager service?

I think this is an easy trap to fall into as a pastor or worship leader. We get our kudos every week when we “do our thing”. People come up and say things like:

  • Oh the worship was HOT today!
  • That song was amazing!
  • That message was so relevant
  • That talk was so creative
  • That graphic you made was insane!
  • I just love it when you…

Now don’t get me wrong – I hear my share of critique as well, and encouragement is a great way to get people to continue serving and growing. But does my joy come from hearing those things? Or does my joy come from knowing that God is pleased with my lifestyle, my relationship with him, and my relationship with others? Check this verse out:

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done

Revelation 22:12

Here’s the bottom line: I just really want my life to be about making the name of Jesus Christ big. I don’t want pride to be constantly rearing it’s ugly head in my life. I want the reward of spending a lifetime serving and an eternity with my God and savior to be enough.

Wrapping up Matthew 5 today – it’s taken longer than I thought, but I’m getting back on track here with doing these on the blog. I wanted to also share with you 2 sites that I am excited about. The first is eBible, I stumbled upon this and I really like the web 2.0ness of it as an online Bible study tool, way better than Biblegateway or some of the others. Also, coming soon from Lifechurch.tv is YouVersion 2.o, what should prove to be a very web 2.0 community based online Bible study site.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?

And from Nelson’s Commentary on this portion of Scripture:

The Christian may live above the demands of the Law and the temptations of the world because he has an inner depth of character which is the product of the divine nature within him.

I’ve always struggled with these portions of Scripture, and I am not really sure why…? It’s pretty plain and simple. Earlier Jesus says to always give to those who want to borrow, and to turn the other cheek, and to give someone your coat if they want to sue you and take your “tunic“. Always giving, always forgiving, beyond what people deserve. It’s what God did for us, does He expect us to do any less? We are to be “perfect”.
But we’re not.
Here’s the issue that’s the biggest I struggle with. I want to strive to be like this in my life (and not just with my “enemies”). But I find that a lot of Christian leadership, behind closed doors and in public talk about getting fair treatment, especially when dealing with “the world”. When churches build, they expect perfection at a discounted price. When they purchase a product, they haggle to the lowest possible price and then complain about shoddy service. They are always renegotiating prices, looking for the next lowest price, completely negating the relationship that could be built between the church and the company – or even worse, taking advantage of the relationship to squeeze an even better deal out of them. The explanation I hear on this issue is that the church has to show “good stewardship” with “God’s money”.
When someone wrongs someone in the church, especially a minister, the church gets all up in arms about justice and being held “accountable”. I’ve heard so many pastors teach from the pulpit that “Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but you’ve only got two cheeks”, and they fail to mention that Jesus also said to forgive someone “seventy times seven”, which is an analogy for unending forgiveness.
To me it’s no wonder that people don’t want to have anything to do with the church. We’ve defaulted on one of Jesus’ most basic teachings – love your enemies, love those who persecute you, love those who sue you, love those who take advantage of you – in fact don’t just love them, give them what they want and more because that is what God has done.
Maybe I am leaning too far on one side right now – what do you think?

Sermon on the Mount (cont.).

And don’t say anything you don’t mean… You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

Matthew 5:37

I’ve been reading through the Sermon on the Mount for quite a while now, deep stuff. My goal is to read and blog through the entire NT, then move to the OT. Not sure how long it will take, but that’s the goal.

So this little jewel above is pretty amazing. People often get themselves in trouble when they open their mouths (as do I). As James put it:

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

James 3:5,6

I’ve come to the conclusion (which will change of course) that communication is the key to ministry. Bad communication, or lack of communication will wreak havok. I’m just going to list off these things running through my head:

  • no communication shows a lack of care and/or respect
  • bad communication leads to questions of motive (is this person manipulating me?)
  • religious jargon is out (and has been for thousands of years)
  • too many people talk just to hear themselves talk (maybe that’s what’s good about a blog)
  • we feel the need to be heard – that’s not bad as long as you listen to others more that you talk
  • being honest is always the best thing to do, and the hardest
  • without love to back them up, words are pretty useless – especially when dealing with hard situations. and…
  • love is not something you can say, it must be expressed through action (there’s got to be history). and…
  • if you have no history with someone, how can you speak into their life in love?
  • I talk too much a lot of the time…
  • I need to work on listening more, especially with my family…
  • Our lead pastor John said something interesting this week, “I’d like to use the word ‘Holiness’ instead of ‘Integrity’. I really like that, we don’t talk much about ‘Holiness’ anymore.