Monthly Archives: May 2012

The 17 Most Misused Verses in the Bible

Last weekend, I read a helpful book by Eric Bargerhuff titled The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God’s Word Is Misunderstood (Bethany House, 2012)Eric takes the reader through 17 often misquoted verses and helps us see their proper meaning and application.

Since some of these misinterpretations are more damaging than others, Eric doesn’t recommend we run to correct people who innocently mis-apply the passages. He does recommend, however, that pastors and teachers take special care to avoid the common mistakes that lead to misuse.

I should note that pastors and scholars don’t always agree on the meaning and application of some of these passages. Personally, I found myself appreciating Eric’s analysis of some of the more rampant misunderstandings that come from these verses without necessarily agreeing with all the particulars of Eric’s interpretation. Still, the book is a helpful tool that resembles F. F. Bruce’s Hard Sayings of Jesus.

Here’s a look at the “most misused verses” Eric writes about in his book:

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Worth a Look 5.31.12

Graduation Message: Dear Digital Son…

Let others pursue a narrow and relentless path toward one percentagery, but remember that very few people wake up every day and look forward to their labors. Most people only look forward to lunch.

The Church and Homosexuality: Ten Commitments

While some Christians may be called to speak to one group in particular, we must keep in mind that in this technological day and age anyone from any group may be listening in. This means that we will often be misunderstood. It also means we should make some broad basic commitments to each other and to our friends and foes in speaking about homosexuality.

Here are ten commitments I hope Christians and churches will consider making in their heads and hearts, before God and before a watching world.

Works and Words: Why You Can’t Preach the Gospel with Deeds

This is not some esoteric debate reserved for theologians or technical Bible scholars. Faithful obedience to Jesus Christ is our goal, and that applies to all who call him Lord. Such obedience must begin with clear thinking about what Jesus calls us to be and do.

Happiness, Harvard Business Review, and the Church:

Somewhere in the span of local church history, we have turned our focus to activities, programs, and even entertainment as the unstated purposes of the church. In doing so, we have yielded our right to speak with authority about that which brings true joy. The consequence is that the church is being replaced …

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Connecting Theological Depth with Missional Passion

More than 11,000 people have joined the pilot project to review The Gospel ProjectOne of the core values of this new curriculum is “mission-driven.”

A gospel-centered curriculum should be driven by the character of our missionary God seen most clearly in the Person of Jesus Christ. Our weekly gatherings are not the goal of the mission; they are the means by which we connect with one another and learn God’s Word in order that we might be equipped to love God and neighbor while spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

The goal is not to fill our heads with theological truth but to fuel our hearts with passion to join God on His mission to bring people to Himself. Keeping a focus on how the gospel leads us to mission is a crucial aspect of how we apply the Bible to our lives.

In this video, Ed Stetzer (general editor) and I talk about our approach to theology and mission in The Gospel Project. 

Trevin Wax: Ed, anytime I’ve ever listened to you preach or teach, you have emphasized that we are sent - God’s people are a sent people. Why is that so important for churches, for Christians to understand – our sent nature?

Ed Stetzer: One of the things that we often under-emphasize in all different kinds of churches is actually the fact that we have been sent as ambassadors. Agents of reconciliation. We join Jesus in His mission. So that’s really been a theme of …

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Worth a Look 5.30.12

God calls us to become what He declares we already are:

The Bible presents sanctification in a twofold way: (1) as an objective, positional reality; and (2) as a subjective, ongoing experience. At conversion, God positionally sets the believer apart as holy, and the Christian experiences the liberating power of his sanctification when by faith he lives by this truth. We can experience the relative perfection of a progressing maturity while striving for the ideal perfection modeled for us by our Lord (Phil 3:12-16).

Planned Parenthood Assists Gendercide:

Lila Rose and Live Action have exposed the dark underbelly of Planned Parenthood once again. In the video above, the undercover cameras catch Planned Parenthood helping a woman who says she wants to kill her unborn child if it’s a girl but to keep it if it’s a boy. The Planned Parenthood worker even informs the mother how she can manipulate the system to get Medicaid to pay for her ultrasound.

And here’s Denny Burk’s take on Planned Parenthood’s response.

Egg on Face(book):

Why don’t people learn from history and the experiences of others? Greed is listed among the “seven deadly sins” for a reason. In the case of those who poured a lot of money into Facebook stock seeking instant wealth, only to see the price plummet, their greed did them in.

The Quantity and Quality of God’s Provision:

Once again, I’m confronted with the fact that at some level, I am convinced that I know what is best …

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Lessons from the Megachurch Pastor Who Killed a Man

Want a riveting beach read this summer? Then pick up The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America by David Stokes. It tells the story of one of the earliest megachurch pastors – J. Frank Norris of First Baptist in Fort Worth, TX.

If there’s one thing Norris knew how to do well, it was how to attract publicity. By 1924, he had the largest Protestant church in America. His weekly newspaper was delivered to 50,000 homes. And his radio station broadcasted his messages to millions.

The outlandishness of Norris’ preaching would be merely a footnote in history today if not for the fact that on July 17, 1926, Norris shot and killed an unarmed man in his office. In 1927, he stood trial for murder and was acquitted.

I grew up hearing about Norris. He achieved a sort of legendary status in independent Baptist circles but usually not in a good way. So I found the story of his meteoric rise and disastrous fall interesting on a number of levels. Most intriguing was the progression of Norris’ downward spiral into unhealthy patterns of leadership.

Can we learn some things from J. Frank Norris? Yes. His ministry can serve as a cautionary tale in these ways:

1. Recognize the Difference Between Strong Preaching and Sensationalistic Preaching

[Norris] said, “The question of sensational preaching was a serious one with me. I knew that with a great many people it was taboo, especially among the so-called conservatives.” But he …

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Worth a Look 5.29.12

I don’t believe same-sex marriage is inevitable, but I like Mike Bird’s remarks on an “ecclesiology of exile.”

As we construct a Christian response to gay marriage, the evangelical and apostolic churches (not the liberals churches who are little more than chaplains for Nero) need to do from an ecclesiology of exile, not from an ecclesiology of christendom. We are on the periphery of society, not in its privileged position. We do it recognizing we are the outsiders, we are not the respected authority we once were.

Would You Like to See the Face of Jesus? Come to My Town.

Join a church if you haven’t yet.  Be a brush stroke in the portrait of Jesus God is painting in your corner of the world.  You can’t see this portrait on TV.  You have to get with Christians living together.

It’s just not true: American evangelical do not, in fact, behave as badly as everyone else

Weirdly, it’s a myth perpetuated especially by evangelicals themselves: We’re just as bad as everyone else, we feel (or ought to feel) terrible about that, and now here’s what we’ll do. The classic American sermon style known as the “jeremiad” never goes out of date, it seems. But in this case, its basis is just wrong.

Classical School Reading List: Grades 1-8

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Chesterton on Filling Out Paperwork Upon Entering the U.S.

One of the questions on the paper was, ‘Are you an anarchist?’

To which a detached philosopher would naturally feel inclined to answer, ‘What the devil has that to do with you? Are you an atheist?’ along with some playful efforts to cross-examine the official about what constitutes an arche.

Then there was the question, ‘Are you in favour of subverting the government of the United States by force?’

Against this I should write, ‘I prefer to answer that question at the end of my tour and not the beginning.’

The inquisitor, in his more than morbid curiosity, had then written down, ‘Are you a polygamist?’

The answer to this is, ‘No such luck’ or ‘Not such a fool,’ according to our experience of the other sex. But perhaps a better answer would be that given to W. T. Stead when he circulated the rhetorical question, ‘Shall I slay my brother Boer?’—the answer that ran, ‘Never interfere in family matters.’

But among many things that amused me almost to the point of treating the form thus disrespectfully, the most amusing was the thought of the ruthless outlaw who should feel compelled to treat it respectfully. I like to think of the foreign desperado, seeking to slip into America with official papers under official protection, and sitting down to write with a beautiful gravity, ‘I am an anarchist. I hate you all and wish to destroy you.’

Or, ‘I intend to subvert by force the government of the United States as soon as possible, sticking the long …

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Worth a Look 5.28.12

Biologos – Southern Baptist Dialogue on Evolution:

Marc Cortez - Dung Beetles in Heaven:

Our picture of “Heaven” is wrong because we’re looking in the wrong place. Rather than gazing up in the clouds trying to picture what heaven will be like, look down at your feet. Take your shoes off and dig your toes into the damp soil. Reach down and tip the little pill bug over on its back. Watch its squiggly legs kick in the air. Then, turn it over again and let it scurry away. Nearby, see the earthworm wriggling deeper into the freshly turned earth. Look closer and examine the tiny grains of dirt, each a different shape and color, yet combining to form the lush hue of fertile soil. It even smells brown. Turn over the small rocks and explore the exquisite glories that hide in even the most innocuous crevices of creation. I can’t tell you what the new earth will be like. The Bible gives us very little detail. But I can say that this one’s pretty amazing. And, whatever God has in mind for our future, it will not be any less than this.

Why Do Paper Cuts Hurt So Much?

There are a couple things at play here, some involving the paper, some involving your skin.

Evangelize, Not Indoctrinate:

My children are my neighbors and thus deserve grace and conversation about truth and belief. In their early years this …

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Te Deum

One of my all-time favorite prayers! This one just overflows with praise…

You are God: we praise You;
You are the Lord: we acclaim You;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To You all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise You.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise You.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise You.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims You;
Father, of majesty unbounded,
and Your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the King of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When You became man to set us free
You did not shun the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that You will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help Your people,
bought with the price of Your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

– from The Book of Common Prayer

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Let People Enjoy the Bible

“Yet further, do not repeat the same idea over and over again in other words.
Let there be something fresh in each sentence.

Be not forever hammering away at the same nail:
yours is a large Bible;
permit people to enjoy its length and breadth!”

- Charles Spurgeon

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