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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: NIV Life Journey Bible

Find the answers for your whole life.

It can be difficult to translate God’s Word into an effective plan to stay spiritually healthy, especially as you enter new phases of life. The Bible always holds relevant lessons, but sometimes it takes an experienced guide to help you grow as you face different life experiences.

Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend—bestselling authors of How People Grow and the Boundaries series—bring you the NIV Life Journey Bible, which includes the full text of the NIV, the world’s most accessible Bible translation, paired with their own acclaimed teachings. This Bible provides invaluable support for personal growth and wholeness.

At the transitions of life, we often need a trusted guide.  So within the pages of the NIV Life Journey Bible, we meet Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, who have brought so many great resources in understanding human growth and development from a Biblical perspective.

Dr. Henry Cloud is a popular speaker, and co-host, with Dr. John Townsend, of the nationally broadcast New Life Live! Radio program, and cofounder of Cloud-Townsend Clinic and Cloud-Townsend Resources. His bestselling books include the Gold Medallion Award-winning Boundaries books and Making Small Groups Work. Dr. Cloud and his wife and two daughters live in Southern California.

Dr. John Townsend is a psychologist, popular speaker, and co-host of the nationally broadcast New Life Live! radio program, and a cofounder of Cloud-Townsend clinic and Cloud-Townsend Resources. He has written or co-written 27 books, selling over six million copies, including the bestseller Boundaries.  He is also the author of Boundaries with Teens and Hiding from Love. He and his wife, Barbi, live in southern California. They have two grown sons.

What I particularly love about them is their transparency.  Throughout the Bible, there are links to their reference pages, which are arranged topically.  So you can use the Bible in many ways.

Of course, you can read the Bible from cover to cover, straight through.  It has been said it takes 70 hours to read the Bible from beginning to end in one sitting.   You might find it helpful to use one of the many Bible reading plans, especially the plan that walks you through the life of Jesus Christ.

Along the way, you will find links to Cloud and Townsend's study notes, which are really thoughts to ponder.  These notes will be beneficial to connecting the land and people of the Bible to one's own experience. (which is where most people fall off of Bible reading, thinking, "How can this ever apply to my life?")

The NIV Life Journey Bible will be a great companion along your life journey.

This review will written as a part of the BookLook Bloggers program, sponsored by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and in no way am I compelled to give a positive review.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meditation from Deep Is the Hunger, by Howard Thurman

I Need Thy Sense of Time
Always I have an underlying anxiety about things.
Sometimes I am in a hurry to achieve my ends.
And am completely without patience.  It is hard for me to realize
That some growth is slow,
That all processes are not swift.  I cannot always
Between what takes time to develop and what can be rushed,
Because my sense of time is dulled.
I measure things in terms of happenings
O to understand the meaning of perspective
That I may do all things with a profound sense of leisure
--of time.

I Need Thy Sense of Order
The confusion of the details of living
Is sometimes overwhelming. The little things
Keep getting in my way providing ready-made
Excuses for failure to do and to be
What I know I ought to do and be.
Much time is spent on things that are not very important
While significant things are put into an insignificant place
In my scheme of order. I must unscramble my affairs
So that my life will become order.  O God, I need
thy sense of order.

I Need Thy Sense of the Future
Teach me to know that life is ever
On the side of the future.
Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope,
The onward surge. Let me not be frozen
Either by the past or the present.
Grant me, O patient Father, thy sense of the future
Without which all life would sicken and die.

----From Deep Is the Hunger

Biographical Note:
Howard Thurman was an African-American minister who trained in the Baptist tradition, who studied as a special student at Haverford College with famous Quaker philosopher Rufus Jones.  Thurman pioneered the first multiracial congregations in the United States, and was a trusted advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Thurman is one of my heroes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Just what is salvation anyhow?

The nutshell of the Gospel (good news) is given to us in Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church, chapter fifteen:

1 Corinthians 15 New International Version (NIV)

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you,which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

There are many passages in the New Testament that give us word pictures to describe what is meant by salvation

Jesus invites us into rest, relationship and apprenticeship, characterized by faith, love and obedience.  Jesus says, "Follow me," "Believe in me," and "Abide in me."  The heart is the place for affection and volition.  There are moral, affectional and volitional aspects of salvation.  When we believe and follow Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, we experience the new birth (John 3:3; 14:6) We receive the Holy Spirit, and new desires to love and obey God. (John 14:26; 15:26)  We confess and renounce sin.  We receive new and holy emotions, such as joy, awe and wonder as we watch God work in our lives and in the lives for whom we pray.  Where in the human consciousness do these transformative processes occur?

Head? Heart? Will? All of the above.  Becoming a new creation is the start of a new transformed life, increasing in holy virtue, and gradual transformation of looking more and more like Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, 3:18f.)

Most of what is called salvation is found in the Greek word 'sozo.'  Since the New Testament written in Greek, we must look to this original language to derive the various meanings.  The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament lists the following definitions.
  • rescue one (from injury or peril)
  • to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
  • to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue
  • to save in the technical biblical sense
  • negatively 1b
  • to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment 1b
  • to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance
How does one get there?

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  (Romans 10:9-10)

Believe. Follow. Jesus.

A prophetic quote from General William Booth