The story of the good king

“Once upon a time there was a good and kind king who had a great kingdom with many cities. In one distant city, some people took advantage of the freedom the king gave them and started doing evil. They profited by their evil and began to fear the king would interfere and throw them in jail. Eventually, these rebels seethed with hatred for the king. They convinced the city that everyone would be better off without the king, and the city declared its independence from the kingdom.

But soon, with everyone doing whatever they wanted, disorder reigned in the city. There was violence, hatred, lying, oppression, murder, rape, slavery and fear. The king thought: What should I do? If I take my army and conquer the city by force, the people will fight against me, and I’ll have to kill so many of them, and the rest will only submit through fear or intimidation, which will make them hate me and all I stand for even more. How does that help them – to be either dead or imprisoned or secretly seething with rage? But if I leave them alone, they’ll destroy each other, and it breaks my heart to think of the pain they’re causing and experiencing.

So the king did something very surprising. He took off his robes and dressed in the rags of a homeless wanderer. Incognito, he entered the city and began living in a vacant lot near a garbage dump. He took up a trade – fixing broken pottery and furniture. Whenever people came to him, his kindness and goodness and fairness and respect were so striking that they would linger just to be in his presence. They would tell him their fears and questions, and ask his advice. He told them that the rebels had fooled them and that the true king had a better way to live, which he exemplified and taught. One by one, then two by two and then by hundreds, people began to have confidence in him and live in his way.

Their influence spread to others, and the movement grew and grew until the whole city regretted its rebellion and wanted to return to the kingdom again. But, ashamed of their horrible mistake, they were afraid to approach the king, believing he would certainly destroy them for their rebellion. But the king-in-disguise told them the good news: he was himself the king, and he loved them. He held nothing against them, and he welcomed them back into his kingdom, having accomplished by a gentle, subtle presence what never could have been accomplished through brute force.”

A story of the incarnation told during the 4th century by Athanasius, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, slightly adapted and expanded by Brian McLaren in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy.

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All People That on Earth Do Dwell


All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice; Him serve with fear, his praise forth tell, Come ye before him, and rejoice. 

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed, Without our aid he did us make; We are his folk, he doth us feed, And for his sheep he doth us take. 

O enter then his gates with praise, Approach with joy his courts unto; Praise, laud, and bless his name always, For it is seemly so to do. 

For why? the Lord our God is good: His mercy is for ever sure; His truth at all times firmly stood, And shall from age to age endure. 

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, The God whom heaven and earth adore, From men and from the Angel-host Be praise and glory evermore. Amen. 

A processional hymn by William Kethe, Scottish Psalter, 1650. (To be sung to the tune of Old Hundreth, commonly know as Doxology.)

The Covenant Prayer of John Wesley

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I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy
pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed
God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

John Wesley (1703–1791)

How to choose a good NON-study Bible.

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Earlier in this series, I suggested that if you were going to get a new Bible in 2017, you should invest in a Study Bible. However, that might not be the best fit for you if you are looking for something lightweight or that contains no extra-biblical material such as commentary or study notes. In fact, we can read probably Scripture faster and more focused without all the supplemental material. If you are in the market for a streamlined edition of the Word for daily reading there are still a few “upgrades” worth investigating in before making your final selection.

My three favorite “extras” when selecting a Bible.

  1. A concordance. This is hands down, my favorite feature in my Bibles. If you are unsure what a concordance is, it is a section (usually located in the back) of many Bibles that contains important biblical words and where you can find them. Perhaps you can’t remember the location of a specific verse but you remember it contains a keyword such as “baptism” thus you can look in the concordance for a list of verses that contain that word. I have found that it also helps broaden my understanding of a word or concept to see it used in another context. The bigger the concordance the better!
  2. A wide margin. There are many Bibles that have ample space for writing in them. A few ways you can utilize that space: taking notes during a meaningful message at church, prayer journaling, scripture doodle, structural laws for inductive study, or anything else that you can think of!
  3. Center-column cross references. A cross reference is a verse that has a similar theme or topic as the verse that you are reading. It’s a helpful tool that can help you “connect the dots” across the pages of Scripture. I love to see when an Old Testament passage or prophecy is being quoted in the New Testament and reference its original location. Especially when Jesus is doing it!

 

Why am I sharing this?

The new year has begun and many of us have committed to reading through the entire Bible in 2017, so I thought it might be helpful to start a blog series and share some of the resources that I use and some of my favorites.

I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let us know what you’re using to engage with Scripture so that everyone can benefit from your breakthrough!

How to read the Bible when it’s hard to read.

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Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” and this weekend many of us have taken the first step! As with any journey, reading the entire Bible in a year will have long, difficult stretches. A little preparation & a lot of perseverance will ensure that we can reach our destination. 

Here are my three favorite ways to get through a hard portion of Scripture: 

  1. A dramatized audio Bible. A few years ago I discovered The Bible Experience and it was a game changer! There are times where I don’t feel like reading or where a passage of scripture itself is difficult to follow (i.e The Book of Leviticus) so I listen to it instead. I prefer to listen to a dramatized audio Bible because it includes sound effects, background music, and has different readers narrating the text with actual emphasis/inflection in their voice. Whereas an “audio Bible” typically has a single monotone reader simply narrating the text.
  2. Use an easier translation or paraphrase. I prefer to read the Bible in a modern yet accurate translation such as the ESV or NIV but certain books of the Bible (i.e The Book of Job) are much easier and more enjoyable to read in a version such as the New Living Translation or The Message.
  3. Find an outline or chart of the book. I have found it helpful to read through an overview of a book of the Bible before I set out to read it in an effort to understand the original author’s train of thought and the context in which it was written. This is particularly useful for some of Paul’s doctrinal works (i.e The Book of Romans) Many Bibles have outlines preceding each book, so slow down and explore yours or look online and you will find an array of supplemental materials to broaden your understanding.

 

Why am I sharing this?

The new year has begun and many of us have committed to reading through the entire Bible in 2017, so I thought it might be helpful to start a blog series and share some of the resources that I use as well as some of my favorites.

I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let us know what you’re using to engage with Scripture so that everyone can benefit from your breakthrough!

If you’re going to get a new Bible, try a Study Bible.

Here are my three favorite study Bibles: 

  1. The New Spirit Filled Life Study Bible. Very organized & helpful section at the bottom of every page that helps you understand the context and original language of Scripture. This Bible is full of life application, theologically accessible, and written from a  very balanced charismatic perspective. Easily my favorite Bible and the first one I would recommend to anyone, regardless of their level of biblical literacy.
  2. Archeological Study Bible. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the historical setting or geographic intricacies that seem to be presuppositional in Scripture, this is the Bible for you. It is also full of detailed maps, charts & diagrams, and full color photos of the Holy Land.
  3. Life Application Study Bible. It’s the number one selling Study Bible in the world and very approachable if you are a new believer or haven’t spent much time reading the Bible.

Why am I sharing this?

As we prepare to kick off a new year and go through the Bible together as a church, I’ve noticed several of my friends asking questions on Social Media about the Bible. I thought it might be helpful to start a blog series and share some of resources that I use as well as some of my favorites.

I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let us know what you’re using to engage with Scripture so that everyone can benefit from your breakthrough!

A Private Litany of Humility

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of comfort and ease, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being criticized, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being passed over, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being lonely, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being hurt, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering, deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, strengthen me with your Spirit.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach me your ways.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, help me put my self importance aside to learn the kind of cooperation with others that makes possible the presence of your Abba’s household.

From the prayer book, For Jesuits, Loyola Press, 1963 – adapted from a prayer by Rafael, Cardinal Merry Del Val (1865-1930)

Photo by: Kim Graham – Charleston, SC