Category Archives: Bible

We’re Losing Our Brains!

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I carry a large portion of my brain in my pocket – and most likely you do too.   According to a recent European and U.S. study by software security firm Kaspersky Lab, Internet and mobile devices are causing users to store information on devices we once stored in our head. They conclude that losing your phone would be akin to losing your memory.

I’ve been saying this for some time.  When I don’t know the answer to something, I reach for my phone and say, “Let me check my external brain.”  Gone are the days of memorizing facts, quotes, ideas, concepts, or even things as simple as phone numbers.

More than half of European adults surveyed could not remember their children’s mobile phone numbers and needed to consult their smartphone and 1 in 3 could not recite their partner’s mobile number. Across all 6,000 respondents, 57% could not remember the phone number of their place of work. 91% of Americans are dependent on the Internet and devices to remember things, and consider them as an extension of their brain.   Among 16-24s, more than half said their smartphone holds all the information they need to remember.

But what happens to our brains when we stop memorizing and rely on an external device to remember?  After while, wouldn’t we begin to display the same forgetfulness as those suffering from dementia – if not for our phones?  Will our brains atrophy like unused muscles do?

Even more troublesome would be the consequence of not following a major principle of the Christian faith as articulated by King David when he declared, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

Word Heart

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts (minds) will help us to avoid sinful thought patterns and sinful actions.  The opposite then must be true that NOT hiding God’s Word in our minds will result in sinful thinking and sinful actions.  And while there are tons of Bible apps out there, nothing on or about our smart phones can help us with this.  As Christians, we must discipline ourselves to fill our minds with God’s Word.  Our smart phones just won’t cut it on this one.

Sunday’s Advent Sermon in 18 Tweets

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Sunday was the second Sunday of Advent, and I preached on 2 Peter 3:8-15. You can listen to the entire sermon here. I saw that a pastor friend of mine condense his Sunday sermon into tweets (140 characters or less), so I thought I’d try. It really boils the message down to the essentials!  Here goes…

Advent is a season of waiting, but waiting is hard. We’re tempted to give up, so Peter gives us perspective.

2 Pet 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact beloved that with the Lord one day is as 1000 years, and 1000 years as one day.

2 Pet 3:9a The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…

2 Pet 3:9b …not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God “delays” because every moment that passes is another moment that a non-believer can repent and believe.

But, the Lord will return. Judgment will come. His patience will end. It will be unexpected for the unprepared.

God’s judgment of sin, the wicked, and the unrepentant will be absolutely, categorically complete.

Therefore, Christians must live lives of holiness and godliness while waiting. And it looks like this:

1. Be diligent (make haste) to be found by Him without spot or blemish (1 Pet 3:14)

Make haste to continually forsake sin and diligently practice prayer, praise, Scripture intake, worship, communion, fellowship.

By the way, we do all of this on Sundays together!

2. Be diligent (make haste) to be found by Him at peace (1 Pet 3:14) But how?

Phil 4:6 Don’t be anxious about anything, but pray and make requests of God with thanksgiving.

Phil 4:7 And when you do, the unexplainable peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

3. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation. (2 Pet 3:15)

2 Cor 5:20 We are ambassadors for Christ as God makes His appeal through us.

Every day the Lord “delays” His return is another day for us to be ambassadors for Him to unbelievers.

In conclusion, while you await His return, grow in holiness and godliness – and share your faith!

The B-I-B-L-E: Is It Still “The Book for Me?”

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8

25 million copies of the Bible are sold in the U.S. annually.

9 out of 10 homes in America have a Bible.

More than 400 million copies of all or part of the Bible are distributed worldwide through Bible societies each year.

Only 16% of American churchgoers read the Bible daily and 25% don’t read it at all.

Only 37% of American regular church attenders say reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference how they live their lives.

Source: LifeWay Research

PETA Wants What?!

I enjoyed a delicious chicken soft taco from a local Mexican joint for lunch today and told my wife afterward that IT was good.  And then I read about this:

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for a more animal-friendly update to the Bible.  The group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls “speciesist” language and refer to animals as “he” or “she” instead of “it.”

Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s vice president for policy, told CNN that “language matters. Calling an animal ‘it’ denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God.  God’s covenant is with humans and animals. God cares about animals.”  Friedrich is also a vegan and suggests the Bible promotes vegetarianism.

So, I called my wife back and told her that I enjoyed a delicious chicken soft taco from a local Mexican joint for lunch today.  I told her that HE was very good.

Why I Like M&Ms Better Than Memorizing Bible Verses

Mike and Michelle_1I’ve been told I have a good memory.  Just ask my wife.  I can remember dates and details with amazing accuracy.  She can’t.  I remember the exact date we decided to start dating 18 years ago; I remember the exact location of our first kiss and where we were the first time I told her I loved her.  She has a hard time remembering some of those specifics, although one would think she would have been so blown away by my good looks and the heat of my love that she would remember.  Anyway, I have a really good memory…except in one area:  Bible memorization.  As a pastor, I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.  I just haven’t been able to hang on to the verses I’ve memorized in the past.

As a kid, I memorized dozens of verses.  I had to in order to keep up with the biblical brainiacs in my Boy’s Brigade group (Christian version of Boy Scouts).  I wanted those darn badges sewn on my uniform as bad as the next guy, and the only way to get them was to – in addition to completing other activities – memorize Scripture.

I also memorized 50 verses one year in order to earn a $50 scholarship to church camp.  I remember that if you didn’t go to camp, my church offered a lame consolation prize.  Instead of the $50 scholarship, they handed out $10 gift certificates to the local Christian bookstore.  Ten bucks?  You couldn’t even buy the latest cheesy Christian cassette with ten bucks!  Anyway, I memorized the 50 verses and took the $50 discount for a week of trying to impress beautiful Christian girls from other churches.

All those verses memorized…and so little to show for it.  When I was ordained for service in pastoral ministry, I had to recite some of the verses I had committed to memory for my ordination board.  I knew it was coming so I prepared for it, but I was frustrated with how little I remembered from years gone by.  I’m convinced – for me – that the traditional method of Bible memorization does not work for the long-haul of life.  Trying to cram a verse (or verses) into my head with a deadline for reciting it back to someone just doesn’t work.  It’s much like the cramming I did for those college exams I took.  I’d cram the information into my head just long enough to spit it back out on the test…and then it would all be forgotten by the next day.

mm1The psalmist says that he would hide God’s Word in his heart and it would help him not to sin against God.  He didn’t say that he would cram God’s Word in his mind…he said he would hide it away in his heart.  Therefore, I use a different Scripture memorization method – one that helps me hide God’s Word in my heart rather than cram it into my head.  I call it the M&M method, which stands for a process of meditation that leads to memorization.  With this process, cramming is out, and meditation is in.  And when I say meditation, I mean a process whereby I allow a certain passage of Scripture to have its way with me over a long period of time.  I calmly read it, ponder it, and pray it several times a day for a period of several days, weeks, or even months, depending on how much I need that certain passage to work in and through my life.

I write the passage down on an index card and carry it with me wherever I go.  I post it in places where I’ll see it several times a day.  The goal is not memorization.  The goal is life application, but what I find is that after a period of this kind of intense and repeated meditation…I’ve got the passage memorized!  The M&M method is one that I’ve found that actually “hides” God’s Word in my heart as opposed to cramming it into my head.  It’s a process that transforms my life while also depositing a passage of Scripture into my heart and mind that I won’t soon forget.

This process is not nearly as quick as the traditional cramming method nor will it allow you to memorize nearly as much Scripture.  You will not win $100,000 doing it. However, the Scripture you do memorize by doing this will prove to be sharper than any double-edge sword in your life.  You will be transformed.  God guarantees it!

Your Bible May Be Worth $100,000!

Senior1Under the bright stage lights, Daniel Staddon, 18, a home-schooler from Salem, W.Va., squeezed his eyes shut as he recited verse after verse from the Bible at the inaugural National Bible Bee.  He recited the first 20 verses of the fifth chapter of Ephesians and the 21 verses of Psalm 145 in the tie-breaker round, winning first place and a $100,000 prize.

Sifted from more than 17,000 students ages 7 to 18, the National Bible Bee finals grilled 21 children on their knowledge of Scripture. The five-hour finals were preceded by regional competitions in 49 of the 50 states in September, oral contests and SAT-like tests for 300 contestants.

The Bible bee, which required the mastery of six books of the Bible, was inspired by Shelby Kennedy, a Texas woman who died at 23 of a rare form of cancer in 2005. An anonymous benefactor was inspired when he learned at her memorial service of her commitment to Scripture memorization, and he donated money for the Shelby Kennedy Foundation to launch the bee.

The bee, attended predominantly by home-schoolers and members of evangelical churches, marks a new juncture in Bible memorization. Southern Baptist children do Bible drills, and Awana clubs at evangelical churches engage in Scripture memorization, but the tradition has faded elsewhere.

Pamela Braithwaite, office manager of Scripture Memory Fellowship in St. Louis, recalled winning a trophy in a church Bible bee as a teenager in 1971, but she said such activities have dwindled over the years. David Bunker, a spokesman for Chicago-based Awana, said his organization supports the bee and hopes that it will help reinvigorate Bible memorization.

Despite the spiritual emphasis — contestants’ T-shirts read “Building character . . . one Bible verse at a time” — some participants did admit that, at least at first, the thousands of dollars in prize money was a draw.  Staddon, too, said the $100,000 prize was an attraction. He said that he expects to use it for housing and schooling but that he will have to “ask the Lord” for advice.

As fellow contestants clamored around him after the bee’s awards banquet, he said he kept one of the Ten Commandments in mind as he studied the Bible passages.  “You have to say them every day,” he said in between signing autographs. “I wouldn’t say them on Sundays since Sunday was a day of rest.”

From The Washington Post