OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[April 23]--The Best News They’ve Never Heard! Part Six: Who Does What?

            I’m going to deal a little bit with theology here today, but I hope by now you know I’m a practical theologian. If it doesn’t affect my daily walk with my Savior, I don’t talk about it here in the blog. But it’s important, and in the context of evangelism this subject needs to be addressed.
            The question is “Who does what in evangelism?” Or more specifically, “What part does each person play in evangelism?”
            Again, there’s a reason I bring this up. Christians answer this question very differently based on their background. Some Christians, based on their interpretation of the Bible, say that everything is based on God’s decision. He chose before the beginning of the world as to who will be saved and who won’t. If you receive Christ, it’s because the Lord, for whatever reason, chose you. And if you never receive Christ, it’s because the Lord, for whatever reason, didn’t choose you. Therefore, they like to emphasize the fact that the Holy Spirit has to be the One who convicts someone of sin, righteousness and judgment. I can’t do it, a preacher can’t do it, etc. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him. They believe everyone is either predestined to be saved, or they're not. 
            Others claim—again, based on their interpretation of Scripture—that’s it’s all based on a person’s decision. God calls everyone to himself, and whether you receive Christ or not is totally based on what you decide. Therefore, they like to emphasize the effort we need to put into sharing the Good News. We need to make our presentation of the Message as appealing as possible. We need to tailor the presentation of the Message--not the core of the message itself--to each audience. Of course Paul did this. When he shared with Jews, his presentation reflected that, along with his lifestyle as he lived with them. The same was true when he shared with Gentiles.
            Let me make this clear as I can: There are verses in the Bible that make it sound like the first group is correct. And there are verses in the Bible which sound like the second group is correct. The Bible doesn’t attempt to fully and logically reconcile this. And to settle this argument is waaaaaaaaay beyond the purview of this blog.
            But I think we can find some common ground. How? By following the example of Paul, and by being theologically practical. Here’s some things which I hope we can all agree on:

1.   Many, if not most, of the verses which can be claimed by the first group are from Paul. I’m not saying their interpretation is completely correct. I’m just saying that a lot of the verses they claim to support them come from Paul.

2.  But this same Paul is the same one who said he would be all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some. You want a great verse to make you scratch your head? Paul said that he endured “everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.” “Elect” means “chosen ones.” He endured hardship, deprivation, torture, and risk of death so that the ones chosen by God (before the foundation of the world) would receive salvation.

3. Unless the Holy Spirit convicts someone of sin, righteousness and judgment, that person will never come to Christ. No matter how effective the presentation or how much effort the evangelist puts into it, unless the Spirit does his work, we’re wasting our efforts.

            So now we come to my conclusion. Remember my catchphrase: practical theology. Based on that, here’s my advice. I wish I could claim credit for it, or at least credit the person who said it first, but I can’t do either. Here it is: When it comes to witnessing, you talk to that person as if everything depended on that person’s decision. And when you talk to God about that lost person, you talk to him as if everything depends on the work of his Spirit.
            Makes sense to me. How’s about you?

Father God, I just want to see you glorify the Name of your Son by bringing lost people to salvation. Whatever I need to do to see that happen, the answer’s “yes.” 

[April 22]--The Best News They’ve Never Heard! Part Five: How To Open?

John 4:1-26

            Most of us are not natural salesmen and thus not the greatest conversationalists. The very thought of just coming up to someone and starting a conversation about Jesus is one of the most daunting obstacles to being witnesses for Christ. So how do we do it?
            Let me start off my answer to that with a disclaimer. In no way do I propose that what I’ve about to submit is the only way to start a conversation about the Savior. I don’t even necessarily claim that it’s the best way; I’m certainly open to suggestions on how to “break the ice” and move from an insipid dialogue about the weather and football to more eternal issues. Jesus didn’t use this method with every person he met. But it has this going for it: It's a way to do it, and the Master used it at least once.
            Jesus was sitting at the well, it was the heat of the day, and he saw a woman heading towards him. I suspect it was more than mere physical thirst that prompted his opening question: He was there to lead her to faith in himself.
            She responded with the well-known fact that Jews and Samaritans have nothing to do with each other, and then comes the statement I’m actually referring to.
            “If you knew who it was who was talking to you, you’d ask him and he’d give you living water.” This perked up her ears. They were at a well, and he apparently didn’t even have a bucket, much less access to some other well. And what did he mean by “living” water? And what’s this “gift of God” he’s talking about?
            When she points out what was obvious to her eyes and asked him about the “living water,” he tells her something about this water which he offers: In stark contrast with ordinary water, it quenches thirst forever. Once you drink it, you'll never thirst again. Ever.
            Now, Christians have drawn deep theological insight from Jesus’ statement about the water he offers. But let’s not lose the main focus here: Our Lord’s main purpose here is to lead this young woman into a saving knowledge of himself, not provide fodder for theologians. Everything he’s saying is towards that purpose. As is typical of characters in John’s Gospel, she misunderstands a statement about spiritual reality and interprets it physically. But we’ve covered enough for me to make my point.
            Here’s the method as exemplified here. You start a conversation by referring to something right in front of you or something they’re familiar with or in which they’re interested. Then you use that as a segue into an opener to the Message.
            Let me give a personal example. Every year I used to go on Beach Reach down in South Padre. We offered free van rides anywhere on the island, a free pancake breakfast, and free suntan oil on the beach. Also a sand sculptor came out and made massive sand sculptures of something biblical (like Christ on the cross, or the Ten Commandments) and surrounded them with little signs in the sand with provocative verses, such as Romans 3:23 or 6:23 or John 3:16.
            I came up to people on the beach who were standing next to the sculptures, introduced myself, and asked them questions like “So did you know about our free van rides?” “Yeah, I was on one last night. It’s great what you guys are doing.” “And did you hear about our free pancake breakfast?” “Yeah, we’re going to that tomorrow.” “And did you know about the free gift we’re offering?” “What?! A free gift?!” “Absolutely! Let me tell you about it. . .”
            Someone once asked Spurgeon how he came up with sermon ideas. He answered thus: He picked a verse or passage out of the Bible, and went over the country, through the woods, and over rivers to bring it back to Jesus Christ.
            That’s what we do here. You pick something out in front of you, something that interests the person in front of you, and you—with the Spirit’s leading—lead it back to the Good News.
            Again, if you’re already using something that works for you, more power to you. If not, then you have at least one ice-breaker.

Lord Jesus, how often do I talk about everything except the Person who means the most to me? Please forgive me, and help me bring you into more conversations, to the point where your presence is felt every time I open my mouth.