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.

[Dec 08]—The Real Lord’s Prayer, Part Two

John 17:20-26

So now we come to the end of Jesus’ prayer for himself, his disciples, and us. This is a very moving passage, and I’d like to focus on two main issues raised here.

Christians who take the Great Commission seriously have spent a lot of time pondering and planning about how to reach the lost world for Christ. What’s the best method? Tracts? Open air preaching? Servanthood evangelism? All of these methods—and a lot more—can be used by the Lord in reaching out to those who need Christ. But I want to drop a reminder here: Jesus prays for all of us who believe through the message of the Apostles. And what does he specifically pray for us? What does he desire to see? Unity. “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” When the world watches us, do they see unity? Or do they see Christians fighting each other?

I myself come from a background in the Southern Baptist church. I’m proud of our heritage as far as evangelism, missions, and taking the Bible seriously. But there’s one thing in particular I’m not proud of. When people hear the term “Southern Baptist,” all too often they think of Christians who can’t get along. And that’s a problem.

But we need to approach this with wisdom. Everybody loves unity—on their own terms. I’d love to have perfect unity, as long as by that you mean people thinking like me. When people call for unity, they usually mean two things: A) People need to drop beliefs which are really important to them, and B) Agree with the person calling for unity.

My dear siblings in Christ, we’re never going to have complete doctrinal unity this side of Glory. The Bible’s not as clear on a host of subjects as we'd like it to be, and we also have to deal with human nature which doesn’t tend to be open to listening (really listening) to those with whom we disagree. On one point I think we can all  agree with Calvin: Where the Bible is clear, we need to be dogmatic. Our steadfastness on a subject should be proportional to how clear the Bible is on it.

So how can we be unified? If not to the degree Jesus wants, then how can we improve? Well, first and foremost, I think we need to carefully distinguish what’s essential to the faith versus what’s not essential. In the first category, I’d put things like 1) Authority of the Scriptures, 2) The nature of God and the individual members of the Trinity, 3) How to receive salvation, and 4) The exclusive claims of the faith (like John 14:6). In the second category, I’d put things like 1) the exact relationship between our free will and God’s sovereignty and 2) Someone's eschatology. I don’t mean we can’t have our own answers to nonessential questions; I certainly do, but I try to be careful about making the right distinctions.

Second, I think we need to be charitable with those who disagree with us over nonessentials. I’m not my sibling’s judge. I don’t know his heart. I might disagree with him, but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. And if someone agrees about the essentials, then they’re part of the Body of Christ as far as I’m concerned. And even if they’re wrong in the essentials, I’m still required to love them.

I certainly don’t know exactly how to bring unity to the Body of Christ, but I do know that it’s important to our Savior. In the last few moments before he was arrested, this was on his mind, and he asked the Father for it. And I think—both for the sake of his glory and for the sake of a lost world—we need to as well.

Lord Jesus, I know that you’re Truth Incarnate, and so I don’t want to sacrifice truth for some notion of “unity.” Help me to speak the truth in love, and to find the right balance between the two.

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