Take Up Your Cross

In Matthew 16:24-28 we hear some hard words from Jesus that are often talked about but I don’t really believe that we fully grasp the truth that is found in His words.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’” NET

Jesus gives perhaps the clearest presentation of discipleship found in the Bible. In this passage Jesus shares with His disciples what we might call the thee laws of discipleship:

1> The Law of self-denial: “deny himself”

2> The Law of sacrifice: “take up his cross”

3> The Law of submission: “follow me”

But the Lord does not just leave them (and us) with these responsibilities. He qualifies them by pointing out the rewards that belong to those who are disciples:

1> PERMANENCE OF DISCIPLESHIP: “For whoever would save his life will lose it,” meaning that joy and fulfillment are found when we exchange our lives for the life of Christ.

2> PRICE OF DISCIPLESHIP: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” We all get only one chance to live by faith as believers. It is priceless and well worth the cost to us personally of following Jesus and fulfilling His commands.

3> PRIZE OF DISCIPLESHIP: “He will repay each person according to what he has done.”

The truths found in the Gospel according to Matthew are also found elsewhere in the New Testament.

Luke 17:33 (NET) states, “Remember Lotʼs wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

We also see a similar point being made in the Gospel according to John the apostle.

John 12:25 (NET) “The one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life.”

And then in the history of the early Church in Acts 14:22 (NET) we read, “They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, ‘We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.’”

Obviously it is costly to be a true disciple of Jesus. And its cost is exceeded only by its reward. We gain life by losing it as we suffer much for the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24;14). But as we share the Gospel with others – and maybe suffer for our obedience to the Great Commission – we recognize that we are ushering in the return of Jesus. In His own words we read, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 NET).

So, as disciples we must be willing to lose our lives for the sake of this Gospel of the Kingdom as we look to the second coming of Jesus once the Gospel has been heard by every nation (people and language group). 

A reminder then of The Great Commission for which we are to invest (lose) our lives …

“Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 NET).

Time to think about taking up our individual crosses, doing to self, and thus investing life in spreading and proclamation of the Gospel to the many who have yet to hear the Good News that Jesus saves. 

Prophetic Words and Visions

I had a person send me a verse that had really spoken to them during their time with the Lord. It was Proverbs 29:18a which reads, “When there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint…” (NET)

A vision was an encounter with the living God – auditory or visual – that gave God’s people direction for the coming season in the nation of Israel.

The Prophet Joel had a prophetic revelation about the last days – the Church Age that we currently are living in…

Joel 2:28-32 “After all of this I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elderly will have revelatory dreams; your young men will see prophetic visions. Even on male and female servants I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

(Time lapse – now a future event) I will produce portents both in the sky and on the earth – blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the colour of blood, before the day of the LORD comes – that great and terrible day! It will so happen that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered. (NET)

Peter, in the first sermon of the Christian Church, quoted Joel in relation to what they had just experienced – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the release of the gift of tongues. However, he altered it slightly adding an extra reference to “prophecy” as the early Church was birthed to be a prophetic voice to the nations … not a pastoral church simply caring for the sheep.

Acts 2:16-21 “But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel: ʻAnd in the last days it will be,ʼ God says, ʻthat I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. And I will perform wonders in the sky above and miraculous signs on the earth below, blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will be changed to darkness

and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.ʼ” (NET)

In the Proverbs verse, the standard understanding of this half verse is that it refers to exhortation to the community (Psalm 74:9). It is a Word of the Lord received through a vision of what the Lord is wanting His people to know and do. The verse goes on to say that without this prophetic direction – without the guidance of divine revelation, people abandon themselves to their own sinful ways. Of course, this happened frequently in Israel (Exodus 32:25; Leviticus 13:45; Numbers 5:18).

Israel had seasons when the prophetic revelations were not guiding and directing them either because they were disobeying what the Lord had spoken or, as these verses indication, it seems that God was apparently simply not bringing fresh revelation to his people. 

1 Samuel 3:1 says, “Now the boy Samuel continued serving the LORD under Eliʼs supervision. Word from the LORD was rare in those days; revelatory visions were infrequent.” 

This time of the Judges in Israel was a period of extremely limited prophetic activity. The few visions that God did give were not widely known. 

Amos the prophet also spoke of this … “Be certain of this, the time is coming,” says the sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a shortage of food or water

but an end to divine revelation! People will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north around to the east. They will wander about looking for a revelation from the LORD, but they will not find any.”

Today we seem to be receiving an avalanche of prophetic words. Day after day I receive messages from believers here in North America with links to new prophetic revelations that the Church is receiving. Just go on the internet and type in “prophetic words” and you will be good for a week or two of 10 hours a day reading and sifting through various people’s prophetic visions and words which they claim the Lord has given to them. 

I have several thoughts about this phenomenon.

1> It is amazing that the Lord is speaking so often and in such detail to and through the North American Church and yet seems to be fairly silent to the Church in so many other nations. Yet, the church in these other nations are more spiritual alive and alert than most here. And, definitely more actively engaged in the Great Commission.  (Note that Joel and Acts talks about people being saved as a result of the prophetic). 

2> Maybe a lot of these words being received are not from the Lord and thus a distraction from what the Church in North America should actually be doing. You know, what He has already spoken as recorded in the Bible – “seeking and saving the lost” (Luke 19:10).

3> It seems to me that there is little discernment being applied to the words being received. No judging the word according to God’s Word, the Bible, and the season that the Kingdom is in. It seems to me that if someone says “The Lord told me…” people automatically believe the word. Scripture tells us we are to test the words and check the source (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

4> Seldom do we hear a prophetic word that states the need to “repent and turn back to the Lord” and yet this is just the message that the Church and the people in North America need to hear. And, may I mention, that it is one of the basic messages of the prophets both in the Old and the New Testament including a now Word from the Lord Himself (Mark 1:14-15).

5> I have been following the Lord and prophesying for over 45 years and have been following the declared words of other ministries. The problem is I seldom see any of them bear fruit or come to pass. They often earn a good living for the ministry publishing the words but apparently there is little fruit for the church or the people to whom we are sent.

6> Often times I believe we are simply speaking to ourselves the things we want to hear. When actually the true prophetic word comes from the Lord through the Church and is for the society at large to hear. 

7> The Church is not growing or becoming stronger as a result of its preoccupation with all these prophetic words. In North America statistics show that we are growing smaller and smaller and are no longer influencing or impacting the culture and society that we live in.

8> Many of the prophetic words are so out of it that they are causing the church to be seen as out of touch, irrelevant, and of no value in the life of the community. In fact, at times, idiotic. 

Just some thoughts about the multitude of prophetic words floating around and occupying so much of the believers time.

Don’t get me wrong, I deeply believe in the true prophetic. But, I don’t see much of it active today in today’s church.

Head and Heart

For years believers have been taught good Bible information and have, if they are paying attention, become well versed in the stories and principles of the Bible. This is especially true in North America where we are free to preach the Gospel openly and freely. We have great Bible teachers and preachers in our church pulpits. Television and radio preachers and teachers keep us well versed in biblical truth. And, the internet certainly gives ample opportunity to hear the Word of God, the Bible, taught 24/7.

But, almost all of the teaching is aimed at the head. The way we, the preachers and teachers, were taught in seminary and Bible Schools to teach the Word of God was designed to impart information to the mind. The goal of the preaching style was and is to impart head knowledge. 

So, we know a lot. But knowledge does not transform us. It may renew our way of thinking – our minds (Romans 12:1-2). It may educate us and give us wisdom (Proverbs 2:6) and even understanding (Proverbs 3:5). But, unless the truth of the Word deeply touches our heart it remains no more than mere information. And, we are really not short of information to process in this mass media age in which we live.

We have many believers who know the Bible well and can even quote it. But their lives have not changed in spite of this. One might say that they are hearers of the Word and not doers of the Word (James 1:22). They can quote the Word and pray the Word but their life remains the same – unchanged and not transformed – because they have not applied the Word. Even “renewed” could be questioned and become a big if.

People who are my age and preaching the Word of God need to alter the way we teach. This starts by recognizing that our target must be the heart and not the head. Yes, people need to hear and receive the Word, understanding its implication for every day life. But, we must learn to teach and share the Word in such a way as to actually touch the heart. Because it is out of the abundance of the heart that life flows (Matthew 12:34). The heart must be the target because only as the heart embraces truth can a lifestyle permanently change. So, we need to teach in a different way so as to impart life to people’s spirit (heart). As Jesus said, “My Words are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). For this to become a reality we must teach to reach the heart.

Because we live in a culture and society that values logical and rational thinking, the preachers have been teaching in a way to communicate truth to the mind, line upon line and precept upon precept. We were taught to do that. But the Scriptures state that we are to “love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Matthew 22:37). Heart first. And we have been neglecting this as we aim only for increased knowledge and information (the head). We now need to change the way we teach and preach so as to release “spirit and life” into the heart for then we will see lives transformed, changed, and begin to experience freedom and the abundant life that Jesus promised us (John 10:10). 

And, as we do this, lives will be radically transformed. All life-change starts on the inside and works it way out to alter the way we live life and relate to others and the world around us.

So, it is not either heart or head but both heart and head. A shift is needed in the way the Word is taught and in the expectations of the listeners who hear the Word taught. Then we will begin to see people walking in the fullness of the Spirit and actually showing forth the “new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) that they have become when born again and experience eternal life (Romans 6:23b; John 17:3).

A Principle of Spiritual Growth

Jesus is speaking to a crowd of people and sharing with them Kingdom truths. The story is found in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 13. This is the start of several well known parables about the Kingdom. Well known but not always well understood.

I enjoy reading the parables and reflecting and meditating on them. There is so much truth wrapped into these short spiritual stories explaining powerful and dynamic spiritual principles using common, well known, everyday events and activities to explain profound spiritual Kingdom truths.

One of these truths that hit home a few days ago in my time studying the Bible reading the parables…

Matthew 13:10-15 NET “Then the disciples came to him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He replied, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not. For whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. For this reason I speak to them in parables: Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand. And concerning them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ʻYou will listen carefully yet will never understand, you will look closely yet will never comprehend. For the heart of this people has become dull; they are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.ʼ” (quoted from Isaiah 6:9-10)

So Jesus is saying through this interaction regarding parables:

1> The ability to discern spiritual truths is a gift from God given to those He chooses.

2> Casual followers would not understand the parables on their own. Their spiritual ears and eyes are not yet open and so they cannot discern the truths that the parables are meant to reveal.

3> Committed followers – true disciples of Jesus – would comprehend truths as the parables are heard and then reflected upon.

4> When people receive God’s Word and fail to act upon it, they gradually become calloused in their hearts, losing spiritual sight and spiritual hearing. They need to be willing to act on what they have heard. When they do their spiritual eyes and ears remain open and their heart remains soft so as to continue to receive what God is speaking and revealing to them.

This, of course, means that casual or cultural Christians do not hear the voice of the Lord as they are not committed to following Jesus, taking up their cross daily, and obeying what they have read and heard. 

Even many who are born again who are not passionate about the things of the Lord will fail to hear and thus understand at a heart level.

In this regard Romans 12:11 speaks volumes: 

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (ESV)

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord” 

“Don’t burn out; keep yourself fueled and aflame … cheerfully expectant…” (MSG)

“Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord.” (NET)

“Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.” (TPT)

“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” (NLT)

“… never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord” (Amp.)

You get the point. Being passive in your following of Jesus is simply not going to work. We need to be careful to keep the spiritual fires stirred and burning bright. Then we will hear and be doers of what we hear. And then the Spirit will continue to bring revelation as we read His Word. And, we will receive daily revelations (fresh manna)  as He speaks directly to our hearts.

A great principle and reminder of how to continue to grow spiritually as we follow the Lord. 



There are three ways to translate the Bible. You can translate it with 1) your mind 2) your heart and 3) your life. 

I think a lot of us settle for the mental translation. But the end result is information. And what happens is this: we learn more, do less, and think we’re growing spiritually. But not if that’s the only translation. 

The second translation is emotional. And the emotional translation may seem more subjective than intellectual translation. But that is when our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God. It’s not just information. It’s transformation. For the record, I think one person with one deeply held conviction will make more of a difference than someone with a hundred good ideas. 

Finally, there is the life translation. That is when we become a “living epistle.” That is when the noun turns into a verb. And that is how we change the world. At the end of the day, Jesus isn’t going to say, “Well thought good and faithful servant.” He’s going to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” 

Imagine a church filled with people who are translating the Bible with their lives! 


John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

“Whoever” unrolls the welcome mat of heaven to humanity. 

“Whoever” invites the world to God.

Jesus could have so easily narrowed the scope, changing “whoever” to whatever. “Whatever Jew believes” or “Whatever woman follows me.” But He used no qualifier. The pronoun is wonderfully indefinite. After all, who isn’t a “whoever?”

The word sledgehammers racial fences and dynamites social classes. It bypasses gender borders and surpasses ancient traditions. 

“Whoever” makes it clear: God exports His grace worldwide. For those who attempt to restrict it, Jesus has a word: “whoever.”

 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32)

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39)

“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35)

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16)

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36)

“… but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14)

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37)

“… and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:26)

“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17 NKJV)

Titus 2:11 assures us that “God’s grace that can save everyone has come’ (NCV). Paul contended that Jesus Christ “sacrificed Himself to win freedom for all mankind” (1 Timothy 2:6 NEB). Peter affirmed that “it is not His [God’s] will for any to be lost, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NEB). 

God’s gospel has a “whoever” policy and that is simply powerfully exciting and even awesome!

Pointing A Finger

Saw an advertisement for KFC and their “finger lickin’ good” slogan…. And though about what God likes to do with His fingers: run them across the earth out west to form the Grand Canyon. Or pinch some dirt together and form Mount Everest. It’s true! Here’s what the Bible says: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

God is so big that all He needed to create the universe were His fingers.

Actually, He didn’t literally use His fingers to create stuff. David wrote about God’s fingers because He knew that humans cannot really comprehend how big God is, and so he used human characteristics to describe Him. It’s a literary technique called anthropomorphism, something poets used to help us wrap our human minds around the divine. In another psalm, David said that God spoke the universe into existence. I really don’t know how the earth was formed; even the smartest scientists who study these things don’t know for sure. What I do know for sure is that it took a really big God to give us the universe.

Consider this one planet we call home. Scientists estimate the weight of the earth to be six sextillion tons. If you are wondering how much six sextillion is, it’s a six followed by twenty-one zeroes. By any stretch of the imagination, six sextillion tons is heavy. Yet as heavy as the earth is, it’s not plummeting uncontrollably through space. All six sextillion tons is suspended in nothingness, held in place by an unseen force scientists call gravity; but in reality it’s held in place by our big God. According to the Scriptures, “He stretches out the north over the void

and hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7).

And not only does He suspend the earth over nothing, God tilted the earth at a twenty-three degree angle so we can experience winter, spring, summer, and fall. He also spins the earth on an invisible axis at the rate of one thousand miles an hour so we can have night and day. Then He orbits this sextillion ton behemoth we can home around the sun at the rate of sixty-seven thousand miles an hour. At that speed it’s a wonder none of us have been blown off the earth! 

Jupiter, one of our nearest neighbours is more than 390 million miles away. Yet we have discovered that this largest planet in our solar system has sixty-three moons. A few are visible from earth with a telescope. Jupiter and the earth are just two planets in a universe of billions of galaxies that God created and that He suspends over nothingness.

Brennan Manning wrote in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel  that if you held out a dime at arm’s length while gazing at the night sky, the coin would block out 15 million stars from your view, if your eyes had the power to see that far into space. Manning’s observation reminds me of what God said to Abraham: “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them” (Genesis 15:5). After looking up, Abraham surely must have concluded that God is big, and that He has big fingers. 

We worship and serve a big God! An amazing and powerful God! A loving and gentle God who knows each one of us by name! Never let a day go by that you don’t marvel at all that He has created and give Him thanks for still intimately knowing your every thought and feeling. 

Passing Along Truth Reminders

I am a fan of Frank Viola and his writings. He is always current and on the cutting edge of what God is up to in His Kingdom. He is a fan of – and thus mentions frequently – a man names T. Austin-Sparks (1888-1972) who was a preacher. His teachings are on-line and you can buy them on amazon.ca or simply go to the man’s web page and download them all free. Austin-Sparks was a friend of F.B. Meyer whose teachings I also read. So, as a fan of Viola and Meyers I have looked up T. Austin-Sparks and have begun reading some of his teachings.

One of Frank Viola’s stories as quoted in his new book “Hang On, Let Go” reads as follows:

Those who read my work know I’m an unabashed T. Austin-Sparks fanboy. Spiritually speaking, Sparks was a force of nature. But as deep as his insights into Christ and God’s purpose were, he, took, had mentors.

On one occasion, Sparks went to visit F. B. Meyer, an amazing author on the deeper Christian life and a man whom Sparks held in high regard. Meyer wasn’t available when Sparks visited, so he was asked to wait in Meyer’s study.

As Sparks looked at Meyer’s library, he spotted a wooden plaque that contained two words inscribed in gold. Those words were “Look Down.”

Meyer walked in at that moment and greeted Sparks. Sparks mentioned he plaque and asked, “Shouldn’t it be look up, and not look down?”

Meyer responded: “It’s a question of your position. If you are in Christ, you are seated with Him in heavenly places and you look down. But if you are under the situation, the only thing you can do is look up.”

As best you can, take the heavenly view of your life. Remember that this life is passing. As a follower of Jesus, therefore, you’re a sojourner and a pilgrim here (1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13)   

It’s true that one can be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. But it’s even more true that a person can be so earthly minded that they’re no heavenly or earthly good.

In your day of trouble, remember where you are. And learn to look down, not just up. 

(Story is from Chapter 68 of “Hang On, Let Go”)

T. Austin-Sparks quote: “Are you looking at God through your circumstances out at your circumstances through God?”

Do You Pray Expecting?

Sometimes when we are praying for the same thing day after day  – such as the salvation of a loved one – and nothing seems to change we lose “expectancy.” We may even continue to pray but we really don’t expect much, if anything, to change.

Something pricked my heart recently. I noticed the story in the Bible of the woman with the twelve-year blood issue. She had every reason to give up hope, but apparently she refused to. She wouldn’t lose her expectation that God would change her circumstances, even after twelve years of pleading and prayer and no answer.

The woman fights through the crowd certain that if she simply touches Jesus, she’ll be healed. Well, she is right. After touching his robe, immediately she is healed. Jesus then asks who touched Him. Incredulous, the disciples speak up and say, “You see the people crowding against you … and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched Me?’” (Mark 5:31).

The point being, “Everyone is touching you.”

So everyone is touching Jesus, but only one person received healing from Him.

But what’s the difference between her and the others? She had expectation. I’d even say assumption. So it’s possible to be in the presence of God and receive nothing because we expect nothing.

Theres a saying about why you shouldn’t assume. It makes something out of “u” and “me.” (Think about it – it’s easy to figure out). But God, it seems like He loves when we assume. We tend to assume the worst. Like He’s out to get us or He just doesn’t care. But He has a pattern of showing up when we assume His goodness and His strength. 

Just a couple of examples:

    • Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “If you touch His cloak, you will be healed.” She just assumed. She expected it.
    • David told Goliath that he was going to cut his head off, and he didn’t bring a sword to the fight. That’s a pretty big assumption. (God provided a sword. Goliath’s sword.)
    • The centurion stops Jesus from traveling to heal his servant. He says to just say the word and it’ll be done. He didn’t know that! He just assumed. He expected that kind of power. What was Jesus’s response? After marvelling at him and turning to the crowds, He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9). The servant is healed.

I think God loves it when we assume the best of His power and character. Like a child who tells every kid in class, “My dad can beat up your dad.” (I don’t know why we do that, sign our dads up for fights. But when we’re young, we do). Although I may not encourage him to say such things, if that were my son, I’d feel like a proud dad. I’d think, My son truly thinks I can do anything! Let me tell you something, God  truly can do anything. So if you’re hitting the point where you feel like He doesn’t care o maybe like He can’t change the situation you are in, remember that He can take a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. And be confident that “the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). This is a promise we should hold on to especially when we are praying for lost or back-slidden loved on.

Sometimes God is slower than our timing.

Sometimes He is faster than our timing.

But He is always better than our timing.

Just don’t lose hope. Don’t lose expectation. And never stop assuming that He’s a good Father who gives good gifts. He says so in His Word. 

Knowing the Bible Stories

A New England teacher quizzed a group of collage-bound high school juniors and seniors on the Bible The quiz preceded a Bible as Literature class he planned to teach at what was generally considered one of the better public schools in the nation. Among the more unusual answers from these students were, “Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers,” and “Jezebel was Ahab’s donkey.”

Other students thought that the four horsemen appeared on the Acropolis; that the New Testament Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luther, and John; that Eve was created from an apple; and that Jesus was baptized by Moses.

The answer that took the misinformation prize was given by a fellow who was academically in the top 5 percent of his class. The question, “What was Golgotha?” The answer, “Golgotha was the name of the giant who slew the apostle David.”

In case you think this is an isolated instance of biblical illiteracy, let me quote the finding of a recent Gallup poll:

    • 82% of the people surveyed believe that the Bible is either the literal or “inspired” Word of God.
    • More than half who responded to the survey said they read the Bible at least monthly — Yet half couldn’t name even one of the four Gospels.
    • Fewer than half knew who delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

USA Today reported a poll showing that only 11 percent of Americans read the Bible every day. More than half read it less than once a month or not at all.

The Barna Research Group conducted a survey that focused only on “born again” Christians and came up with the following statistics:

    • Only 18 percent — less than two in every ten — read the Bible every day
    • Worse of all, 23 percent — almost one in four professing Christians — say they never read the Word of God.

The Bible is available in more than 1,800 languages, and yet someone has observed that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously.