Author Archives: Pastor Mark

Stats on Bible reading from YouVersion

biblesI am a bit old fashioned, in that, I still like my paper Bible.  As a church pastor, I occasionally ask folks to hold up their Bibles.  More and more folks are turning to electronic versions of their Bibles.  IPhones and Droids are becoming the tool of choice for Bible reading.

Because folks are accessing the web for Bible reading, this has allowed for keeping stats on which Bible books are read.  The number of hits on a book, chapter, or scripture are tracked and we are left with some really interesting data.  Interesting sociological points can be gleaned from this information.  However, that is not the point of this post.  Rather, I am just going to jot down a few of the highlights which interested me.

First, YouVersion has topped over 100 million members.  That is pretty cool.

Here are the books accessed most and the highest viewed scripture in each:

1. Psalms ( you could have guessed that one) 74,044,741  views and its most popular verse is Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

2. Matthew 44,986,813 views and its most popular verse is Matt 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

3. Proverbs 43,288,764 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Prov. 3:5

4. Romans 32,569,657 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:25

5. John 29,571,356 (any guesses here, I am not even going to write it out?!)

6. Luke 26,355,373  ”Give, and it will be given to you, Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

7. Ephesians 22,736,846 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:32

8. 1Corinthians 20,392,129 “Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.” 1 Cor 13:4

9. Isaiah 20,205,218 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Is 40:31

10. Lastly, Genesis 19,055,482  ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Gen 2:24

Interesting stuff.  Can you interpret anything out of this?
How does this list compare to your most read books or favorite verses? Have you navigated away from a paper Bible to an electronic version? How has that helped you in your Bible study or scriptural acumen?

This is water.

Every once in a while a video comes up that demands the time to watch it and to ponder the implications to each of our lives.

this is waterThis particular graduation speech is eight years old. However may be one of the absolute best there ever was and will be. David Foster Wallace was the commencement speaker at Kenyon College in 2005. To give a fresh and original grad speech is not easy to do. With the thousands given every year, the themes and styles are ‘oh-so’ similar that merely changing the date and the face of speaker is all that is required.

This one however, is, not just a cut above, but, from a completely different paradigm, yet as close to the core of who we are, what makes us tick, and a solution to a truly joy-filled life.

The speech is about nine minutes long and provides keys to a wonderful life, not just for grads, but for folks of every age and education level.

Enjoy.

Sacred Pathways

Hosea pursued by the LordThe prophet Hosea used some strong language to make his point to his fellow countryman.  Hosea not only shared the Lord’s message, but he felt it.  He felt what spiritual adultery was like based on the human adultery he was experiencing with his wife.

The word ‘acknowledge’ is translated in the NIV for the Hebrew word yadah.  Acknowledge is found six times in the early parts of the book.  Yadah is more than a head nod to someone as they are passed on the sidewalk at the mall.  Yadah is knowing in a much more intimate, personal way.  More than a head nod, it is real interaction and real knowing.

In Hosea 6 yadah is found three times in close proximity.   Verse three is quite commanding in nature, “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.”   Then in verse six, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

You see, it is all about relationship with Father- –   not the trappings of religious worship that dumb down the original purpose of those religious rites.  They usually start with good intention and focus on the Lord, but without the why, they result in lifeless duty.

I don’t want lifeless duty.  I want life in the Lord.  I want a life filled and a life fulfilled.  I want all I can be for a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants the absolute best for us.  I want to know Him and know how I was made to worship Him.

This past Sunday to further press into knowing how we best can know Him and know how to worship Him fully, we explored, ever so briefly, the Sacred Pathways idea by Gary Thomas.  We took an abbreviated assessment to further propel us into knowing how to best connect with the Lord.  We followed with some Small Group time to talk about some of the ideas and used some questions to prompt healthy, life-giving discussion.

If you are interested in doing the survey yourself, (which is highly recommended for growth in Jesus), it and other information can be found here.  Find May 5, 2013 and open the documents.  The Powerpoint presentation has all sorts of information about each pathway.

Also this link has a really good PDF on knowing more about your particular pathway to connecting with the Lord.

Shalom.

‘The Long Silence’

billions before the throneAt the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne.

Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them.  But some groups near the front talked heatedly – - not with cringing shame, but with belligerence.

 

‘Can God judge us?  How can he know about suffering?’ snapped a pert young brunette.  She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.  ’We endured terror… beatings… torture… death!’

In another group a Black man lowered his collar.  ’What about this?’ he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. ‘Lynched…for no crime but being black!’

In another crowd, a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. ‘Why should I suffer’ she murmured, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’

Far out across the plain there were hundreds of such groups.  Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was to live in Heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred.  What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in their world?  For God leads a pretty sheltered life, they said.

So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he had suffered the most.  A Jew, a Black man, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child.  In the centre of the plain whey consulted with each other.  At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.

Before God could be qualified to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured.  Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth – - as a man!

‘Let him be born a Jew.  Let the legitimacey of his birth be doubted.  Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured.

‘At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone.  Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.’

As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.

And when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No-one uttered another word.  No-one moved. For suddenly all knew that God had already served his sentence.

Selah.

The issue of evil and suffering here on earth has puzzled humanity in every millenia of our existence.  As early as Job, with the Epicurean Paradox, and as recently as CS Lewis- questions, discussions and solutions abound, even confound. The brutal death of Jesus provides the basis and resolution for such discussion.  

The playlet above is found in a fabulous section on ‘suffering and glory’ in a lengthy classic by John R. W. Stott entitled “The Cross of Christ” an InterVarsity Press publication 1986.

Help me to cling to the Cross

steel cross through raindropsHelp me to cling to the cross,
be crucified to the world by it,
and in it find deepest humiliation,
motives to patience and self-denial,
grace for active benevolence,
faith to grasp eternal life,
hope to lift up my head,
love to bind me for ever
to him who died and rose for me.

May Christ’s shed blood make me
more thankful for your mercies,
more humble under your correction,
more zealous in your service,
more watchful against temptation,
more contented in my circumstances,
more useful to others.

Puritan prayer