“Disciple-shelf” Part 2: The Books and Why

These collections will have comments on either where I came across the book, or what it meant to me, and where it can be found today. The Rating scale is from 0-4, which indicates difficulty or level of interest.

One more word before I begin: The Bible is of course the most important book in discipleship, and the ultimate rule in faith and practice. Until you learn the original languages, and can make a decision how to handle the English translations stick with the bible through which you have seen Jesus Christ most clearly.

Collection 1: Deep Personal Intimacy with God

3-4 Refiner’s Fire Vols. 1 and 2 by David Wilkerson

  • This was on My Dad’s list: a collection sermons which reveal Jesus in a heart-fiery way. Worth reading three or four times just to get all that is there. This was on my Dad’s list. Available on rarechristianbooks.com.

2 Power through Prayer by E.M. Bounds

  • A Classic: the best book on prayer I know of. Available on Amazon.

3 Reese Howells: Intercessor by Norman Grubb

  • My Dad gave me this book when I was ready for it. It’s the story of a person who grew to know the Lord and the Lord led him through various trainings so that he could accomplish the supernaturally impossible. Amazon.

2 The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • This is a no non-sense call to radical following Christ. No bookshelf on Discipleship is complete without it. Amazon.

1 Knowing God by J. I. Packer

  • A heart-felt and moving classic detailing some intimately relational ways of God. It’s like Existence and Attributes of God Lite. Amazon.

2 Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere

  • A book which really helps navigate the controversy surrounding hearing the voice of God today still. It is very helpful for how to handle it when God does speak with you. Christianbooks.com

2 The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

  • Another Puritan classic about the place of Contentment in the Christian Life. This was also on my Dad’s list. Amazon.

0 Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel

  • Pastor John Outlaw gave me this pamphlet as a good indicator of if a person will be faithful enough to be discipled. If they brought it back and had some thoughts he would agree to disciple them. Amazon.

4 Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock

  • This two volume book of treatises is simultaneously the most intellectually dense book to read and the most devotional. It combines heart and mind, truth and love in a very respectful and inspiring exercise of the soul beholding God, and the human condition. No matter how smart or emotional you are, you will be stretched beyond yourself and called to try to embrace the immensity of the infinite ocean of God’s goodness. This was on my Dad’s list. Christianbooks.com

1 Revival God’s Way or Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill

  • An impassioned appeal for the Revival of God’s people in Prayer according to God’s purpose. Amazon.

2 The Training of the Twelve by A. B. Bruce

  • How would you like to be trained right alongside the twelve disciples. This book simulates this very thing. This was also on my dad’s list. Amazon.

Collection 2: Biblical Theology Worldview

1 Prodigal God by Tim Keller

  • The best explanation of the Prodigal Son which has something for everyone. It gets to the bottom of the gospel for people who have grown up in the church, and who have grown up outside of it. Amazon.

2 Orthodoxy by G. K Chesterton

  • This book is an offered cure to people who are stuck in a black and white world of rationality. This is an appeal to the fantastical and the colorful as an important part of knowing the truth and beauty of God. Amazon.

3 From Eden to New Jerusalem by T. Desmond Alexander

  • A Biblical Theology of the progression of the themes of God’s work in and through the Old and New Testament. This is one of many and this one is an easy one to digest and introduce Biblical Theology. Amazon.

3 In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis by Henri Blocher

  • A book that has given me helpful ways to examine the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis. It is very helpful to humbly examine the different theories for how long the world took to be created according to Genesis. Amazon.

3 The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser

  • This book opened my eyes to things which English translations and church history had obscured from the author’s thoughts in the Bible about the Supernatural world. Very fascinating to at least be aware of this perspective and see if it is convincing to you. Amazon.

2 On being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O Forte

  • There are few tenets of the Christian faith more central than Christ’s work on the Cross. This principle is at the heart of the Gospel, and must be applied throughout the Gospel and the Christian life. Amazon.

2 Prophetic Ministry by T. Austin Sparks

  • The best work on the whole work of prophecy from internal relationship with God, outward proclamation, and the heart of all prophecy that I have ever read! rarechristianbooks.com.

1 Wild at Heart by John Elderedge

  • A book about recovering and embracing Biblical Masculinity. The companion book for women is Captivating, which is also very good. Amazon.

1 Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan

  • Arguably one of the most important books in the Christian faith, as it demonstrates in a storied form how a Christian can interact in all phases of his life. I recommend unabridged. Amazon.

Collection 3: Outworking of Faith

1 Pushing yourself to Power by John Peterson

  • A great book on Physically strengthening with functional strength, so that the man of God may be exercised for godliness. Amazon.

1 Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

  • There are so many disciplines which each of us have not heard of, but this book provides chances to grow in ways you didn’t even know you could. Amazon.

1 Discover your God-given Gifts by Don and Katie Forture

  • Useful for discovering how you are built to function in the body of Christ based on personality. It’s based on Romans 12:3-7, and theorizes that the whole body is to be broken up into these various body parts and functions. Great for figuring out how the church as a whole should work. Amazon.

2 Spiritual Warfare by Dr Karl L Payne

  • A very accessible, and all bases covered explanation for how to deal with demonic influences appropriated with the arenas world, and the flesh. Amazon.

4 The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall

  • A three-volume, Puritan, thorough, and devotional Classic about how to apply the Armor of God and the strength of God in Spiritual Warfare in the Christian life. This was on the original list my Dad referred to. Amazon.

1 Out of the Saltshaker and into the World by Rebecca Pippert

  • A great accessible work on the dynamic of Evangelism. Amazon.

2 Introduction to Biblical Preaching by Donald Sunukjian

  • A good start to preaching Biblically and well. Amazon.

2 7 Lessons for New Pastors by Matthew Kim

  • A good beginning book for Pastors. Amazon.

2 When Helping Hurts by Stephen Corbett & Brian Fikkert

  • No one should attempt foreign missions or ministry to the poor without reading this book. Amazon.

2 Culture Making by Andy Crouch

  • A great way to consider different approaches to culture as a Christian and strengths and weaknesses of both. Amazon.

2 Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • A good treatise on how fellowship works in the body of Christ. Amazon.

Collection 4: The Church’s Journey

1 Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

  • A picture of the reality of recent persecution. This is the story of the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs. Amazon.

2 Theology in Context of World Christianity by Timothy Tennent

  • All over the world different cultures are experiencing Christianity differently. Amazon.

1 Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L Shelley

  • A great story of how the church has grown through the past 2000 years, very digestible and easy to appreciate. Amazon.

2 Handbook of Denominations by Mead, Hill, and Atwood

  • A good resource for getting a feel for what different Christians believe and their history. Amazon.

3 The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins

  • I bet you didn’t know that Christianity has splintered into East and South. A Fascinating picture of the global church outside of Western Christianity. Amazon.

3 Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe

  • The stories of people who carried their testimony even unto death through Church History. Amazon.

Collection 5: Bible Translation in Original Languages

1 Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) (The Hebrew Old Testament) by Bible Society, Kelley, and Scott

  • This is the Old Testament in Hebrew with Masoretic punctuation, Vowel pointing, and Textual Criticism. Amazon.

2 Basics of Biblical Hebrew 2nd Ed. by Pratico and Van Pelt

  • The Book to teach you the basics of Ancient Hebrew. Amazon.

3 Basics of Biblical Hebrew Workbook 2nd Ed by Pratico and Van Pelt

  • The Workbook that teaches you the basics of Hebrew. It is futile to try to learn Hebrew without it. Amazon.

2 Pocket Dictionary of the Study of Biblical Hebrew by Murphy

  • There are a lot of words that you’ll run across in your study of Biblical Hebrew. This is a dictionary to help you out of the confusion hole. Amazon.

3 Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew to English Lexicon by Brown, Driver, and Briggs

  • The most thorough Hebrew Lexicon I know of. Amazon.

2 Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by William Holladay

  • Not as thorough as BDB, but sufficient for general dives into the text to discover the meaning of Hebrew words. Amazon.

1 Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 28th Ed. by Institute for NT Textual Research

  • The New Testament in Koine’ Greek with Textual Apparatus. Amazon.

2 Basics of Biblical Greek 3rd Ed. by William D. Mounce

  • The Book to teach you the basics of Koine Greek in the New Testament. Amazon.

3 Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook 3rd Ed. by William D Mounce

  • The Workbook that teaches you the basics of Greek. This is a must-have companion with the Book. Amazon.

4 Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics by Daniel Wallace

  • This will spell out just about every nuance in the New Testament in detail. If you find something and it’s not in here, it probably isn’t real. Amazon.

3 Syntax of New Testament Greek by Brooks & Winberg

  • This will help you pick up on the significance of nuances in the language. Amazon.

3 BDAG Greek-English Lexicon by Bauer, Danker, Ardt and Gingrich

  • This is the Lexicon for the New Testament. This is where you will learn what the Greek text words mean. Amazon.

Collection 6: Sound Biblical Interpretation

2 Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard

  • Great introduction to Hermeneutics. Amazon.

2 New Testament Exegesis by Gordon Fee

  • The Process of New Testament exegesis from Beginning to End. Amazon.

2 Biblical Words and their Meanings by Moise’s Silva

  • Key to a formative understanding of how Word’s meaning are shaped by context. Amazon.

3 On the Reliability of the Old Testament by K.A. Kitchen

  • The most fun any academic has had proving that the Old Testament is reliable. Amazon.

I say again. The most important book in your library is always your copy of God’s Word. Be ready to change Bibles and how you read the Bible as you grow as a Christian.

And I close with the reminder: Christianity can be aided and supplemented by books but ultimately it is exercised internally and externally and eternally. May these books bear you to a clearer manifestation of Christ in you, the hope of Glory.

Your servant,

Aner327

“Disciple-shelf” Part 1– Analogies and Instructions

Written on January 19, 2022

Following Jesus Christ is only accomplished in practice and exercise internally and externally but it can be supplemented and aided by books. My own collections began with my Dad who had lost a list of books given to him by a friend, but he recalled as many as he could and shared them with me. This is a snapshot of where my shelf is now. I am hopeful that I may grow and refine this shelf over a lifetime.

My Disciple-shelf

First let me explain the analogies. I was given a short black wooden bookshelf with three shelves, and I divided each shelves into two halves.

  1. The top shelf is for books about: Deep Personal Intimacy with God and Biblical Theology Worldview Heart Perspective.
  2. The middle shelf houses books about the Outworking of Faith in Exercise, Culture, Service, and Fellowship, and about The Church’s journey through time, space, and variation.
  3. The bottom shelf is for the collections of Translation in the Biblical Languages and Sound Biblical Interpretation.

Rainbow of Discipleship

Christianity is Spiritual, Intellectual, Personal, Social, Financial, Career-related, Familial, and Physical. And for my walk, it has been rooted in Faithful Devoted Translation of His Word. This breaks the white light of the Revelation of Jesus into a spectrum of Color.

Collection 1: Deep Personal Intimacy with God

Collection 2: Biblical Theology Worldview

Collection 3: Outworking of Faith

Collection 4: The Church’s Journey

Collection 5: Translation in Biblical Languages

Collection 6: Sound Biblical Interpretation

These six collections provide an ability to inform much of the whole spectrum of God’s revelation in Christ. This way, a disciple of Jesus will not be color-blind.

The Missile-ple-ship

MISSILE-PLE-SHIP

The Three Shelves have three central features and with one stabilizing feature for each level like a Missile.

The Top Shelf: The central feature is Deep Personal Intimacy with God. This is the Payload: the truly explosive and powerful part of any believer’s life: the revelation of Jesus Christ. The companion stabilizing feature is the Biblical Theology Worldview Heart Perspective. These are like the guidance computer and the nose cone: which keep the missile piercing the air upwards toward heaven, and keeps the whole life on target.

The Middle Shelf: The central feature is the outworking of faith in all areas of life: physical, financial, familial, career-wise, service, and fellowship. This represents the fuel, the relationships that keep moving with the whole body as we work and stay on mission together. The stabilizing feature of this level is the Church’s Journey to familiarize a believer with how the church has walked in history and how the church today has its various streams in various countries and cultures.

The Lower Shelf: The central feature is the Translation of the Scriptures in the Biblical Languages. This oddly enough has been a tremendous propulsion system in my own life. The Word of God itself is a wonderful fire of God’s holiness to sustain the flight of the Christian forever. The stabilizing feature of this level is Sound Biblical Interpretation, which keeps the propulsion straight and upright. The Work of Translating the scriptures as an interpreter is very much like a Nozzle where people can feel the heat of the fire of the Word of God.

Are all of them necessary?

All of these components are necessary to make the missile work, launch, fly, find it’s mark, and deliver a payload of explosive power! To have all but the 6th collection (Sound Biblical interpretation) the disciple is at risk of launching a warhead into the air with no stability to keep it from coming back down on his own head in destruction. To have all but the 5th collection is to have no propulsion and no truly spiritual power from the ministry of the Word, or at best it must be outsourced to others which often has much sparks and fire but no internally true launching power. To have all but the 4th Collection is to potentially get side-swiped part of the way through the journey by people hijacking or pushing your mission off target to fit into the flightpath of other missiles on other missions. To neglect the 3rd Collection is to be practically ill equipped for your ministry in impacting the world physically, financially, intellectually etc. To neglect the 2nd Collection is to have a lot of knowledge about God even intimately, but to get lost in appropriating scripture, ministry, and revelation in ways that are overly subjective, without an objective standard of Biblical Theology. To neglect the 1st Collection, is to have a small to non-existent payload, and have nothing impactful of Christ Jesus to reveal in your life; in essence to be a dud.

What order should I read them in?

If I had to recommend a place to start, I would definitely start with the first ministry of knowing Him (Collection 1) but I would be quick to stabilize it with some work from Collection 2. I would get started on Collection 5 (Translation) after having some work in correct interpretation (Collection 6) as soon as possible. As I grew in secret, I would want to find out more about how to take this and practically use it, (Collection 4), and finally see what the church has thought historically and today. (Collection 5) Still, in growing with the Lord, there will be much back and forth between all of these collections, and may He lead you into what area He wishes for you to explore next.

A Seventh Collection

There is a seventh area of the discipleship books which I recommend highly, is the collection that you write yourself: note taking, journaling, bible-marking, correspondence. Jesus never may have written anything down, but praise the Lord for the people who did. My father told me, if you look for a common denominator of all those who were greatly used by God, they kept a journal/wrote things down. There are probably exceptions to this rule, but in my own life, this has become a tremendous exercise for chronicling my own journey with the Lord, and recording His faithfulness as another track record for how real He is. My journals are my testimony. Furthermore, it has helped me sort through the jumbling of my own thoughts and God’s thoughts, and evil thoughts, and let me work them out like a work-bench for the things that are in my heart. Through it God has shaped me and entrusted me with the treasure of ripening fruit. Now I have a place to keep them until they are ripe.

Continue on to Part 2 for the current list of books in each collection.

A “Pilgrim’s Progress” Dream: Christian Retirement

I slept, and in the morning time before waking, I recall I had this part of my dream.

I was on the way with a bunch of Pilgrims to the Celestial City. I was walking down the road after Vanity Fair right before Doubting Castle. The later afternoon sun was to my left and there was a cornfield all around me. The path emptied out into this lane 20-feet wide each direction which was made of mowed-down corn stalks and mud. It reminded me of walking the Disney Marathon. The cornfield path was mowed down along the narrow path to the Celestial city, but the wide path gently swerved off to the right as it came to a tall hedge. There was a gap in the hedge with an old rancher’s gateposts (One post on either side, and a wooden beam across the top) The hedge was too thick to see through but through the gate, I could recognize from my reading of Pilgrim’s Progress, the rocky, difficult path that Christian and Faithful had to travel, and the lush green grass beyond it, and further the clump of trees in which Christian and Faithful got lost by following Vain Confidence. I looked through the gate narrow so that two people could walk side-by-side, but kept on going down the wide corn-mowed path. I did not know that it was leading me out of the way. I thought that the gate was like the stile over which Christian and Faithful got out of the way, so I went along with everyone.

We walked a little further to a beautiful oak tree covered hilly landscape. Through the oak trees was a huge brick home with white trim and a black shingle roof that stretched longwise in both directions. It was a Christian Retirement home. People stayed there to wait their turn to be called to finish. New arrivals, according to the one in charge of the mansion, would be good for another year. I went inside, and witnessed a conversation between two caucasian ladies and an African-American lady. The two Caucasian ladies politely suggested the African-American lady that she had to find another place to live. I was shocked. This was a demonstration of selfish, petty, racism. I knew I had to go back to find the narrow gate.

After this, I awoke and told my wife my dream. She saw in the dream a warning: that Christian Retirement is not a thing. Instead, we have to keep going on the path to the Celestial City, which will mean difficulty and hardship, and we will be tempted by doubt and despair and vain confidence, but we must be faithful.

A Pathfinder out of Self-exaltation

In the half-a-year since my last post, I have continued to walk with Him, and have been spared much self-exaltation by the input of people in my life who keep me grounded in Gospel reality. Getting Covid, being in a time of some “transition” in my life, and also experiencing relational abundance that I have long desired has recently brought me to an all-too-familiar temptation of self-aggrandizement and self-righteousness. I am sure others struggle with this too, but for me it looks like having pretend conversations with people that make me feel good about myself. This bad habit has led me into temptations of more practical natures such as indulging in lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life that leads to treating others carelessly and unlovingly. This most recent time, I recognized I was turning inwards on myself, trying to assuage feelings of sadness and by journaling, I marked the pathway out.

I believe God has given us tools to manage and combat the sin in our internal world that arises from within all us. If you would like to follow me, I will show you the path from self-pleasing thoughts, to God-pleasing thoughts. The person who spends his time pouring over his own private treasures of achievements and accolades, and bases his view of himself upon them is a very poor man who has little experience of the Love of God in his life. And it is the Love of God that our hearts are truly seeking.

Here is the way back to God if you have fallen or some later day fall into this trap.

  1. Repent, looking to the Lord. The most terrible thing about pride is it gets our eyes off of God and places them onto ourselves or that thing in which we take pride. The first step to any right orientation of the heart is the re-placing of the sight upon the face of Jesus in the Scripture. Seeking His face, His grace, His love, His truth. Without this, one is trying to find his way out of a room blind.
  2. Confess the fantasies and my pride in them. Let’s say I had a fantasy of someone who I thought didn’t like me very much. This person in the fantasy is in danger, and I save their life. If I was to rehearse this fantasy often so that my heart got used to a feeling of superiority over their appreciation, when I engage with that person in real life, it has happened that I find myself dissatisfied with the reality of the exchange at the heart level. It is a fantasy that my heart has wanted to believe to be true, because my heart wants to accumulate more worth to itself. It becomes a lie when I choose to desire that reality over the reality God has given me to live in the Gospel. In other words, when I indulge my heart in good feelings over a fantasy of people’s praise, I base my heart on my own imagination and I become puffed up and I “lose connection with the head.” (Colossians 2:19) This sets me up for the same failure of any member of the body that is powerlessly disconnected from the brain. I say all of this because it may not be immediately obvious what is wrong with fantisy. To imagine it is not necessarily wrong if it’s not in violation of God’s moral will, but the way the heart takes the fantasy and uses it to ascribe worth to itself: this is the wrong. The only true standard of worth that the heart should take pleasure and delight in, is conformity to the image of Christ Jesus. And so, I lay out the fantasy before God, and acknowledge my pride in that self-created smokescreen. This is because “In all your ways acknowledge God, He’ll make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:6) God can only straighten us out, if we are willing to be straight with Him.
  3. Take each fantasy and feeling and self-thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is where we can use our imagination against our pride. Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily, and follow me.” So, ever Christian has a tool to put to death their old life, and to remind them of their present life, and the promise of their future life. The Cross is this very tool. It is that which a Christian carries with them, until the time God has appointed them to set it up and give their life as a representation of Christ. It is the very thing that separates Christians from non-Christians, and it is a stage of Christian development that not every Christian attains, but this is how the Cross can be the answer to any sin struggle. In this case, what I like to do is use my imagination to picture my Cross. It’s usually laying down on the rocks in a dark-cloudy place. I see my fantasy stretched out on the cross, and take a hammer in my hand and nail the fantasy to the cross for it to die. I usually incorporate a tangible bodily action like swinging my hand with a make believe hammer in it, because fantasy touches reality through our emotion’s impact on our bodies. The reverse is also true. Reality touches fantasy through our bodily actions impact on our emotions. And so, when I take a fantasy, let’s say pictured as my idea about the way a person should feel appreciative toward me, and I nail it, it’s not like I am wishing evil upon that person. It is my acknowledging that this thought of them is unworthy of them, and must be dealt with. Not only this, but it is unworthy of Christ. And the Cross is the Gate by which anything inside us or outside of us can be given to God as a sacrifice. If God wishes our heart, or our imagination about something to be spared, then He can resurrect it for His glory by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Once this step is taken, I find that there is an emotional response like loss or a sadness over the fantasy given up, but this is where the heart must take the next step.
  4. Thank God for the good things that remain. Whenever I have done this, I have found that God gives me great clarity about the things that are of Him vs the things that are of me. The things that remain still alive after all is nailed to the Cross are things are of God, and therefore worthy of giving Him thanks. The things that are of me are temporary, but the things that are of God are eternal. And when I thank God, I anchor my heart’s sight upon the Lord, by recognizing God’s goodness in the things that are from Him, through Him, and to Him. (Romans 11:36). To Him be the glory forever.
  5. Worship, delight, and rejoice in Him. O the joy of leaving behind the worthless and vain things of our own heart-idolatry! Our hearts grow so unhappy simply because we are so determined to want anything and everything short of God Himself. But when our eyes are on God, we feel based on His truth, His gospel, His love, then we have an overflowing cup of eternal joy that will spread to every area of our life. This eternality of Joy is the secret on the other side of the Cross a Christian carries. The source of every dissatisfaction in a believer’s life, is anything un-crucified, or un-surrendered to his or her new Master. But in obedience and submission to Him, a human being finds his purpose fulfilled, and all his life is as it should be until he hear those precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

May you and I find our deepest delight in the One whom our hearts were designed to worship.

Application Pathfinder: Nail it to the Cross

“Each soul that would enter into real life. . . must go out through the Gate of the Cross.”
 ~Parables of the Cross by Lilias Trotter

  • First ask the Lord to reveal what is in your heart.
    1. Honestly answer: Who or what in my life that if I lost it, my life would be meaningless?
      • Wait for the Lord to reveal something to you anything or anyone big or small.
      • If you decide you want God to be most important in your life, follow these steps.
    2. How to “Nail it to the cross”
      1. Nail it. (Choose one which feels that can be done most genuinely from the heart.)
        • Verbal processor—Tell God out loud what it is, and verbally give it to Him.
        • Writing processor—Write out to God what it is, committing it to Him.
        • Art processor—draw or paint it on paper, write poetry, craft something.
        • Eidetic processor—Imagine your hand nailing it to the Cross.
        • Kinesthetic processor—Get a hammer and nail and take something representing it and nail it to a block of wood, or just swing your hand.
        • Actors: Take an indefinite break from it.
        • Other: Decide to nail it with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and do something to represent that.
      2. Thank God for it, and worship Him (Choose one which makes sense for you)
        • Verbal—Sing a song like, “I Surrender All” or “Take My Life and Let it Be.”
        • Writing—Write a psalm or praise poem for God, or a Love letter to God.
        • Art—Create a work of Art that Arises from Scripture.
        • Eidetic—Elevate God in the loftiest place He can be.
        • Kinesthetic—Dance for/with God.
        • Actors: Do something that is exclusively for God.
        • Other: Do something else to glorify and enjoy God as He leads you.
      3. Bring it before God again and wait for God to lead you in what to do with it. (Yes, He does still speak today, if you believe it and are humble and want Him to.)
        • Voice—God speaks inaudibly inside the heart, or externally outside the body
        • A Word—God can give a “word” in your mind. Give every word back to him to see if it’s from Him.
        • Impressions—A general sense, or an artistic form can come to mind that makes sense in the heart
        • Dreams/Visions—Separate the actual dream/vision from its interpretation, ask God to show you what He wants you to know.
        • Situations/Signs—God works in the world around us, see what He’s doing.
        • Guided Actions—He can give you peace, motivation, or a slight nudge in the direction of a decision.
        • Other: He chooses how He wants to speak.
      4. Check: You will know it is nailed to the cross when your heart feels brighter for God than that thing.
    3. Nurture that bright heart for God by doing this with your whole life regularly.
  • Scriptures on this theme for personal Bible Study
  • Matthew 10:32-39
  • Mark 8:34-38
  • John 12:23-25
  • 1 Corinthians 1:17-31
  • Galatians 6:12-16
  • Ephesians 2:14-16
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Colossians 2:9-19

The Pray-er and the Pastor

Once there was a young man who was a devoted Pray-er. He was not very popular and never got invited to parties. The local Pastor invited him to his party and welcomed him into his home, but when he sat at the table with everyone else, the people clamored to get near the popular Pastor, and the Pray-er was politely acknowledged and forgotten about.

On the Day of the Lord, the Pastor and the Prayer were both welcomed to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Pastor was so excited, and he remembered the time Jesus said, “He who humbles himself will be exalted,” so he sat in the lowest seat he could find. The Prayer also sat in the lowest seat he found.

Then the Bridegroom came in and greeted his guests with warmth and joy! He walked to the end of the table farthest from the head, and politely acknowledged the Pastor. He said, “Faithful Pastor, you may go higher. Go and sit with my groomsmen.” The Pastor rose and was exalted before all the guests. The people rejoiced to see him move to a place close to the Groom!

Then the Bridegroom turned to the Pray-er and said, “My friend, it is good to see you. Come sit with Me.” And He took his hand, and led him up to the seat on his left side, and sat him down closer even than His own best man! The people were dumbstruck, and the Pastor was deeply insulted!

The meal progressed, and the Pray-er spoke, listened, and laughed with the Bridegroom, and the Pastor stared with longing in his eyes. Finally he couldn’t restrain himself and he walked over to the groom and said, “My Lord, thank you for honoring me to sit at the place for your Groomsmen. Please tell me: what did I lack to sit with You at the table?” And the Lord said, “Friend, you have served Me well, which is why I honored you with My groomsmen, and I am glad you are with Me now. This young man devoted himself to being with Me. We have been intimate friends for years, and we have shared much joy and sorrow of life together. Should he not be close at hand to share in the greatest joy of My life’s new beginning?”

The Bible: Theological, Historical Narrative

As I watched a video on the Bible being historically accurate, I creatively learned this diagram to make sense of these three descriptors, and why they are important.

Taught to Christian Ed 6th Grade Grace Christian School on May 22, 2019 to

As a way to show it to people, the explanation of the “Snowman” diagram starts at the bottom with just the word “Narrative” in its spot at the start. Each word is put in quotes, it is filled into the diagram.

The Bible is “Narrative” which means it is “Story.” And what does a story have? It has “characters,” it has a “plot,” and it has “meaning.” That part of the story that really gets us. And a story is crafted by the imagination of a man, yes?
Now a lot of people are content to accept the Bible as a wonderful collection of stories for the most part, but the debate will really start to come into the next level up. Because the Bible isn’t just Narrative. It is

“Historical” Narrative. When I say Historical it means that the things in this story, “Really happened.” And in history we don’t have just any characters or plots, or meaning, we have real “People,” “Events” of history, and as we look at history we start recognizing patterns in history. Case in point: Roman Empire’s rise and Fall. This pattern of rising and falling has prevailed throughout history.
A lot of educated people will debate if the things in the Bible really happened, but evidence supports the Bible’s historical account, just like the Senacherib’s Prism. Some people who don’t accept the Bible as God’s word will say, “It is Man’s recording, and Man’s crafting of the story.” The debate may convince them that there is historical evidence, for the story, but the final part of the Bible’s descriptors, is the part that people who are not Christians will not accept at a heart level. Because the Bible isn’t just Historical Narrative. It is

“Theological” Historical Narrative. That means it reveals things about “What is really going on. The Bible gives voice to the part of us that knows this world is more than the world we can see, taste, smell, and hear. There is an unseen “God” and there are unseen “Spiritual realities” which are moving in the world: Angels, demons, blessings, curses, and at this level we actually get to the “Truth.” Now while The Story is Man Crafted, and History is Man recorded, Theological means it is “God revealed.”

The Bible is all three levels, and in order to understand the Bible, you have to accept it at all three of these levels. It is Theological, Historical Narrative. Because The Historical Level is written at the level of “Earth”: The events that concretely happened in time and space here on this planet. But the Bible also accounts for and describes the real of “Heaven.” And because it is story it also speaks at the level of the “Heart.”

Please get this: God has revealed something to Man about Heaven and Earth which He had Man record and craft so that it could reach your heart. This is why the Bible is the best and most all encompassing book ever written. It is Heaven and Earth, and the Human heart all wrapped into one Volume, and it sets all of them back into right relationship with God.

So yeah! The Bible is Theological, Historical Narrative. Isn’t that awesome?!

11. Closing Thoughts: Running the Race

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Therefore, we having around us this cloud of witnesses, every weight let us cast aside and easily ensnaring sin, with endurance let us run the “set-before us” race looking to the author and perfecter of our faith Jesus, who for the “set before him” joy endured the cross disregarding the shame, on the right hand of the throne of God has sat down. For consider the one enduring much hostility by sinners so that you may not grow fatigued in your soul giving out.
~Hebrews 12:1-3 (translation mine)

The Cloud

The heavenly company surrounding us now that we have seen their faith is numerous as the stars of heaven, just as God promised Abraham. The visible World made by the unseen word of the real God is based in an unseen reality. Abel knew it, and offered an acceptable offering to this God by giving the best of his life. Enoch knew it, and walked with the Unseen God who ruled it all. Noah knew it and obeyed God and condemned the world by his faith. Abraham knew it, and went into exile on earth so that God might give him the Unseen Promise. He also knew it when he obeyed God to offer up Isaac his son, trusting that God could even raise the dead. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph knew it and carried this promise in their hearts. Moses knew it when he forsook his earthly pomp for persecution with God’s people. The nation of Israel knew it as they revered the God who fought for them. The servants of God have known it in their exaltation and humiliation that there was a glory that awaited them at the revelation of their Beloved’s face.

The Cross

Jesus was the beginner and the finisher of this faith, having showed us the whole path of maturity in faith from humble Birth through Ascension to God’s right hand. (see “To a Mature Man”) While Christ lived the life of faith, he also died the death of faith. He endured the cross disregarding the shame because he was aiming for what was on the other side. He has shown us that there can be no life of faith for us except through the cross– through the principle and practice of dying to self and to the world, submitting under the just judgment of God, so that other’s may know His forgiveness and love through us.

Cast aside everything that holds us back.

The Cross is how we do this. By the cross the world is crucified to us, and us to the world. (Galatians 6:14) The weight of the world represents the cares and investments we make for any reason other than the pleasure and glory of God. They are snares to us, and they strengthen our unbelief against God. That unbelief is the achilles heel to any runner. We run because we know that we are going somewhere we cannot see, and it is not too far for us to reach. Let us keep Jesus in mind so that any difficulties we face from the world or within us may not cause our breath to give out. We must have endurance to finish strong, and there is something at the end of the race that we can have right now in the midst of the race to keep us going.

“Set before”

The author of Hebrews wrote in Greek the same world for “set before” us about the race and “set before” Jesus the Joy. The Master of this race has hidden in the fabric of the race itself this secret: The Race that is set before us, the same race Jesus ran, is the Race of Joy. This is the invitation of faith: Leave the fruitless pursuits of this age and pursue the eternal promise with God, and through that pursuit enter into the Joy of your salvation.

This is the Invitation set before you right here on this screen. Will you accept it?

10. The Servants of God–The Visible Reality (32-40)

– – “And what yet will I say? For time will let me down to describe concerning Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel and the Prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, extinguished the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong from weakness, became mighty in battle, put hostile camps to flight, women received their dead from resurrection.
– – “Others were tortured not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection, others received the experience of mocking and lashes, and in addition bonds and imprisonment, being stoned, sawn in two, in murder died by sword, wandering about in sheepskins, in goatskins, needy, oppressed, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about in the wilderness, mountains, and caves, and holes in the ground.
– – “And all these bearing witness by faith did not receive the promise, God foresaw to something better for us, that they not be made complete without us.”
~ Hebrews 11:32-40 (translation mine)

The author of Hebrews makes one final point about faith with these examples. The visible reality is a two-sided coin: Victory and Martyrdom.

Victory

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https://baptistandreflector.org/2016-resolutions-you-need-a-tipping-point/climb-mountain-rock-victory-top-determination/

When someone lives the life of exile, walking with God, pleasing God, and obedient under judgment they will find themselves in the midst of God’s miraculous works. The power available to the believer in faith is all of God’s miraculous power to heal, to conquer, to restore, to gain, and even to extinguish mighty powers. Faith strengthens the weak, and makes mighty in battle, and makes entire fortified camps flee. Here are a list of stories in which we see each of these things happening.

  • Conquered Kingdoms (Deuteronomy 2:24-36)
  • Performed acts of Righteousness (2 Samuel 8:15)
  • Obtained promises (Genesis 21:1-3)
  • Shut the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:16-27)
  • Extinguished the power of fire (Daniel 3)
  • Escaped the edge of the sword (Psalm 144:9-11)
  • Were made strong from weakness (1 Samuel 30:1-18
  • Became mighty in battle (2 Samuel 8:1-6)
  • Put fortified camps to flight (2 Kings 6:24-7:20)
  • Women received their dead by resurrection (2 Kings 4:8-37)

The power of faith is attested in ways the author of Hebrews could only begin to paint with broad strokes to describe here. But while these strokes may indicate a striped pattern, the next section shows that it is more plaid.

Martyrdom

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Faith is not just the victory that happens through our exaltation, but also the victory achieved by our humiliation. That humiliation would ever be considered a victory is the offense of the Cross. It smacks the face of all human decency and dignity by being utterly stripped of its glory.

Still, anybody can tell you that there is a glory associated with martyrdom. The church has long been nourished by the glory of God seen in the faith of those recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. But Martyrdom is only effective when it is the final step in living for God faithfully. Consider these examples:

  • Tortured (2 Corinthians 11:23)
  • Mocking and lashes (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
  • Bonds and imprisonment (Genesis 39)
  • Being stoned (Acts 7)
  • Sawn in two (Isaiah according to Babylonian Talmud)
  • Murdered by sword (1 Kings 19:10)
  • Wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins (2 Kings 1:8)
  • Needy (Isaiah 20)
  • Oppressed (Exodus 2:23)
  • Mistreated (Jeremiah 38:1-6)

“Not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Truly “The world was not worthy of them.” They lived out of a different reality entirely: one based on eternity rather than the transient and passing plays for power by humanity. This reality, to the world’s way of doing things, was not worthy to be compared to the glory that was and is opposed by the evil one, and the glory still to come in full strength through faith.

Us

Faith is a reality of the eternal past and eternal future shaping the momentary present. We who live right now are on a cosmic strand of faith beneath the beads of the kingdoms of this world clashing together like so many pearls. And one day those pearls will fall off and a new more glorious value will replace it. And our goal is not to cast off this reality entirely, but rather to bring it into alignment with the past and the future eternity of God’s rule. So simple: live now according to the eternity of God forever! That is what it means to live by faith. For some in the past it meant conquering kingdoms; for others in the past it meant being utterly humbled.

For us today, we are part of something better. Jesus has finished the work, and now we are His fruit. We are a part of the promise that is being fully grown from the seed of Jesus Christ. Apart from us, these faithful witnesses of God are not made complete. Now the work of Christ is made real in the body of Christ in the world. The Servants of God, those who walk by faith for the glory of His Kingdom now represent the Invisible Reality of God in the world now made visible for those who are blind. In short, our faith gives others eyes to see the invisible reality of God’s eternal rule in us.

Application

  1. Internally take stock of your inner life: purpose, fulfillment, thoughts, emotions, cares, self-identity, and align all of it with the gospel of God’s love that has transformed you into one who is like Jesus.
  2. Close to you, set your life in order according to the Word of God. Relationships, possessions, goals– let nothing go to waste or be a mockery of the Kingdom of God, but rather let the invisible reality of God at work in your heart manifest itself close to you.
  3. Stand in the community of faith– as people who will not live according to the world’s rules, or compromising with the world’s values, but as those who either in humiliation or exaltation give glory to God as the True King.
  4. Show God’s love to the world by serving and meeting the needs of others.
  5. Show God’s sacrificial justice by taking a stand to fight for the rights of the poor and afflicted against those who refuse to acknowledge God’s rule over them.
  6. Give glory to God and thank Him for the victory by which we overcome the world: our faith.