Around the Web: Prayer and ‘Advice’ for Sufferers Edition

Do You Pray Like a Nonbeliever? | Desiring God – One of the more important posts I’ve seen in a long time.

Seen & Heard – Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

There are a number of reasons that could be given as to why Christians should “Pray the Bible,” but the ones below combine to make a rather convincing argument:

  1. Praying scripturally will teach us what prayer is, even while we do it.
  2. It will correct “shopping list” views of prayer which abound in the Christian community. (emphasis added)
  3. It will begin to solve in our own minds the question of “unanswered prayer.”
  4. It will remind us of just how much there is to pray about day by day.

Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis – One of the best articles I’ve seen on this subject.

Suffering

Also see:
Complete List of Paul's Prayers | Scripture Zealot blog

What Does “Grace Upon Grace” Mean?

Here is a repost from a couple of years ago that seems to be popular.

First of all, is it in the Bible? It almost sounds like a catch-phrase of some sort. Why, yes, yes it is in the Bible. You can find it in John 1:16:

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

That’s the wording I’m familiar with for some reason. KJV has “grace for grace.”

This is according to D.A. Carson (quoting the TNIV). This is consistent with what he wrote in his commentary on John, published almost 20 years earlier. Is there another interpretation that you or another scholar prefer?

GRACE AND LAW

John adds, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (1:16). That is exactly what the text says—but what does it mean? It does not mean “grace on top of grace” or “one grace after another,” like Christmas presents piled up under a Christmas tree, one blessing after another. It means we have all received a grace in place of a grace already given. What does that mean? The next verse tells us: “For the law was given through Moses [which takes us back to Exod. 32—34]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, the gift of the law was a gracious thing, a good and wonderful gift from God. But grace and truth par excellence came through Jesus Christ, not in the display of glory to Moses in a cave but in the display of Jesus and the bloody sacrifice on the cross. The law covenant was a gracious gift from God, but now Jesus is going to introduce a new covenant, the ultimate grace and truth. This is a grace that replaces that old grace. It is bound up with a new covenant.

The God Who Is There, pg 116, Chapter 7, The God Who Becomes a Human Being, published in 2010

Quotes on Bible Reading

Here are some quotes I’ve posted before on the most important thing we can do along with prayer. In order to pray, we need to use the language of the Bible.

The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.

–James Merritt

If I want to love God more, I have to know Him more deeply. The more I search the Scriptures and focus my mind’s attention on who God is and what He does, the more my soul breaks out in flames.

–R.C. Sproul

Next to praying there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible reading. By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace.

Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 97

We measure Scripture’s story by ours. The attitude the psalm [Psalm 1] commends involves delighting in Yhwh’s teaching—especially (we might add) when its story seems irrelevant or it takes a different stance from us. That is the moment when studying Scripture becomes interesting, significant, and important. We then delight in it. The way that delight expresses itself is by talking about it day and night–-in other words, ceaselessly.

–John Goldingay, Psalms 1-41, pg 84, referring to Psalm 1

We have become so accustomed to hearing preachers or expositors, as important as that is, that many in the process have abandoned the grand privilege of personally hearing from God’s Word daily.

–Ravi Zacharias

The Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Acts 17:11

Happy Are They Who Submit to the Appointments of Their Maker!

How highly does it become us, both as creatures and as sinners, to submit to the appointments of our Maker! and how necessary is it to our peace!

This great attainment is too often unthought of and overlooked; we are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events; forgetting whatever befalls us is according to His purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of good.

From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repinings, which are not only sinful but tormenting; whereas if all things are in His hand, if the very hairs of our head are numbered, if every event, great and small are under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient; then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as He leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue.

The path of present duty is marked out; and the concerns of the next and every succeeding hour are in His hands.

How happy are they who can resign all to Him, see His hands in every dispensation, and believe that He chooses better for them then they possibly could for themselves!

—-John Newton (who wrote Amazing Grace)

This is the entirety of Happy Are They Who Submit to the Appointments of Their Maker! | Monergism

Earth

Around the Web – God’s Will, Gluttony and Others

Five phrases Christians should never use again

We have short hand phrases that are sometimes helpful, but often not. In fact, many we treat as downright biblical, when they’re more likely to be found in 2 Hesitations. Here are five that I’d love to see never ever used again:

Maybe, or probably not, I’ll get to my series of things Christians say.

Delicate Tastes – Gluttony
It’s not just over-eating.

I can think of maybe one sermon I’ve heard on the subject of gluttony. [I can think of zero.] Whether for fear of shaming portlier parishioners, or because our pastors have noticed how much closer the pulpit has moved to their own waistlines, it’s not a subject we address much in church. Yet precisely for that reason our thinking on the issue has become so shallow and one-dimensional, leaving the church, especially our affluent, North American congregations, exposed to a much less obvious, and all the more deceptive form of the temptation.

Finding Hope In Suffering – Joni Answers Your Tough Questions

Just in case you missed the amazing insights from Joni Eareckson Tada, we have provided the full video right here. If you’ve dealt with any kind of suffering, this video is full of encouragement and wisdom.

When We Misinterpret God | Parchment and Pen Blog

There have been times, too numerous to count, when I went one way, suspecting the Lord was heading in the same direction, only to find out the heart-breaking reality that God was going a different direction.

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

All our steps are ordered by the Lord,
how then can we understand our own ways?
Proverbs 20:24

Related to that:

Taking the Mystery Out of Knowing God's Will – Sermon by John MacArthur – This is one of my favorites by him. It can be a life changer.

If you’re saved, spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering and thankful – you ready for this? Do whatever you want. Do whatever you want. Marry whoever you want. Go wherever you want. Work wherever you want. Choose whatever you want. You say, “Whoa. Are you sure?” Absolutely. Because if this is true of your life, guess who’s controlling your wants. Do whatever you want.

Revelation 3:15-17 – Both Hot and Cold Are Good

This is a Repost from 2009. The original comments were heated.

Revelation 3:15-17 NIV
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

I was always slightly puzzled by what these verses mean but never really looked into it until I read about it in Craig Keener’s The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation.

Regarding verse 15, although it may be well known to most of my readers, who are generally better educated in things Bible than I, Jesus is referring to the water temperature and quality or lack thereof in Laodicea, the church He is addressing here.

Keener writes:

Laodicea lacked its own water supply, having no direct access to the cold water of the mountains or the hot water of the nearby springs in Hierapolis to the north. In contrast to its claims to self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17), it had to pipe in its water; though much of the aqueduct from the south was underground, nearer the city it came through stone barrel pipes, thus remaining vulnerable to any intended besiegers who wished to cut off the city’s water supply. More important, this water had grown lukewarm by the time of its arrival.

Other sources speak more about how displeasing this water was.

NLT Study Bible:

neither hot nor cold: The hot springs in Hierapolis were famous for their healing qualities. Colosse was equally famous for its cold, refreshing springs. In contrast, the water available in Laodicea was smelly and lukewarm. Such water is distasteful; Jesus was saying that the church’s indecisive commitment to him was revolting.

ESV Study Bible:

The waters of the nearby Lycus River were muddy and undrinkable, and the waters flowing by aqueduct from hot springs 5 miles (8 km) away were lukewarm when they reached Laodicea. Likewise, Jesus found his church’s tepid indifference repugnant. Cold and hot water represent something positive, for cold water refreshes in the heat, and hot water is a tonic when one is chilly.

So in mentioning the hot and cold water Jesus wasn’t speaking to their spiritual zeal or lack. And it doesn’t make sense that Jesus would rather they be spiritually cold than lukewarm. He’s not saying, “Pick a side, any side, as long as you commit to something.” Or that He would rather we be willfully cold towards Him as a way of showing some sort of truthful integrity if we aren’t very thrilled about how we feel about God at the moment.

What Jesus is saying is much more shocking. As Keener puts it,

In today’s English, he is telling the self-satisfied church in Laodicea: ‘I want water that will refresh me, but you remind me instead of the water you always complain about. You make me want to puke.’

The Laodiceans, who prided themselves on their wealth and self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17) didn’t even have water that tasted good and Jesus used this to illustrate their spiritual self sufficiency and pride, and how He felt about it.

I was wondering if puke was a little overboard.

Thayer: to vomit, vomit forth, throw up, i. e. to reject with extreme disgust,

Louw-Nida: Since a term meaning ‘to vomit’ often carries somewhat vulgar connotations, ἐμέω in Re 3.16 has frequently been translated as ‘to spit out of my mouth.’ It is also possible to interpret ‘to vomit out of the mouth’ as an idiom meaning ‘to reject.’

It seems to me that a disservice is done when translations water this down (no pun intended). Most popular translations use spit. Among those that I looked at, the HCSB, LITV, Mounce Sr. (Interlinear), NET, NKJV, The Message and WEB use vomit. The Geneva Bible and King James use spewe and spue. (I think they were ahead of their time.)

Further reading:
The Letter to the Church in Laodicea at Ligonier Ministries

revelation-commentary

Around the Web

Imagine If Ebooks Came First

Notes. We would count it ridiculous that any notes, marks, and highlights we make in a book reside exclusively on those pages and that only manual transcription can make them accessible outside of it. In books our highlights and annotations are nothing more than marks. In ebooks they are information that is electronically extracted and stored for us, made ready for use in other media. In this way ebooks help us easily gather important information so we can more simply put it to use.

Searchability of this information is of major significance. I put a lot of these types of things in Evernote while reading paper books, which takes a lot of time.

A Bible Reading Plan for Readers

Just as we can meditate on nibbles, so we can meditate on gobbles.

Why Are So Many Christians Unkind? | Beyond Evangelical – The Blog of Frank Viola

epexegesis: The Chief End of Christian Self-Improvement – An absolutely stunning quote.

Why Lying Is Always Wrong:
The Uniqueness Of Verbal Deceit
by Vern Poythress – This is a long PDF on Poythress’ view that lying is always wrong. He also interacts with others like John Frame and Wayne Grudem who believe there are exceptions. I’m with Poythress on this, but respect those who allow exceptions in certain cases. This is something that isn’t of much interest to many nowadays, but it’s always been a subject of interest for me, ever since hearing the stories while in elementary school of George Washington and the cherry tree (now realizing it might not be true), and Abraham Lincoln. In any case, all of us should strive to be irreproachable [blameless] (1 Peter 2:11-12), even though we ultimately are so in Christ (Colossians 1:22).

When People Insult You

I think the quote below is great. This applies to obviously unfair criticism. Of course, there are also times to take it into serious consideration.

Don’t take everything that people say to heart, or you may hear your own servant cursing you.
Ecclesiastes 7:21 GW

or

do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. (NASB)

One wise man responded to criticism by saying, “He didn’t insult me at all; in fact, he was talking about another man: the man he thought I was.”

–Philip Ryken, Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters

There’s a lot more to it than that; I just wanted to post this quote, which is a perspective I hadn’t previously thought about.

This post is in the Small Thoughts category.

Allen Ross on Psalm 119

As promised in a recent review on this blog, here are some quotes on Psalm 119 from A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 3 by Allen Ross. I especially like this Psalm and I really appreciate how he treated it.

Psalm 119 has not received the kind of attention that it deserves. For many students of the Bible its massive size and apparent repetition is off—putting. This is reflected in a number of commentaries and studies as well. Leopold Sabourin, for example, says, “Tedious repetitions, poor thought-sequence, apparent lack of inspiration reflect the artificiality of the composition.” Anderson calls it monotonous, but impressive in many ways. Weiser considers it a purely literary composition that is wearisome in its repetition of motifs—and one that opens the way for later legalism; he offers no commentary on the text. But most would agree with Breuggemann that it is a massive achievement.

Finding himself in persecution from powerful people who ridicule his faith in an effort to shame him into abandoning it, the psalmist strengthens himself by his detailed meditations on the Word of the LORD, which is his comfort, his prized possession, his rule of life, his resource for strength, and his message of hope, all of which inspire him to desire it even more, to live by it, and to pray for its fulfillment.

If people simply read through Psalm 119 quickly they most likely will conclude it is a repetitious and random collection of meditations on the Word of God. But if they take time to study each stanza in sequence, they will discover how each of the stanzas forms a complete meditation with certain themes and emphases. They will also see how the collection builds on the themes from stanza to stanza to develop a general flow to the message. To gain a full appreciation for this amazing work one must study it carefully from beginning to end, stanza by stanza.

As a major resource for meditation this psalm is superb. It reveals how divine revelation is the basis for everything that the believer does; but it also shows how the Word of the LORD is applied in all the circumstances of life.

Commentary on Psalms by Ross Vol 3

Book Review: A Commentary on the Psalms Vol. 3 by Allen Ross

Commentary on Psalms by Ross Vol 3A Commentary On The Psalms, Volume 3: (90-150) by Allen P. Ross

Stay tuned for quotes from the commentary on this blog.

You can read the reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2 here on the blog.

I read the exposition of Genesis by Ross entitled Creation and Blessing and became a fan of him and his style. That exposition was perfect for me and my level of knowledge, as is this commentary/exposition of the Psalms. According to Ross it’s “for pastors, teachers and all serious students of the Bible.” This commentary isn’t quite as academic as Goldingay’s, but it’s also not for new Christians. It’s very thorough, and didn’t leave me wanting. In fact, he answers some questions I didn’t know I had.

Volume 3 is longer than the other two, coming in at over 1000 pages. It covers books IV and V of the Psalter. Like Volume 2, this doesn’t have the excellent introduction that’s in Volume 1. There is an Index of Hebrew Word Studies and a very extensive bibliography at the end, which the other two don’t have. Volume 3 is exactly the same color and height as Volume 1 and 2, so they will look good next to each other on your bookshelf. The cover art is on the cover itself, so it doesn’t have a dust jacket, which I like.

The first section for each Psalm is the Introduction, which includes Text and Textual Variants, and also includes the author’s own translation along with plenty of footnotes on words, phrases, and comparisons to the Hebrew version. This is very educational, and is but one of the strengths of the commentary. I always like reading the author’s translation. To me it’s like a bonus, since I enjoy comparing translations.

Next comes Composition and Context which is basically a short introduction with any information that will be helpful in understanding the Psalm as a whole. Then there is Exegetical Analysis which might have a short comment on the genre and structure, and then a short Summary with an outline. The commentary itself is titled Commentary In Expositional Form. Sometimes he will go verse by verse and sometimes groups of verses. He will spend as much or little time on a verse as warranted. He doesn’t pick out little things on simple words if the meaning is obvious. He seems to follow C.S. Lewis’ philosophy in not using big words when he doesn’t have to. A good commentator doesn’t need to show off their vocabulary just for the sake of it.

Although he interacts with other commentators, this isn’t a commentary on commentaries, or leave you wishing you would have just read the people he’s quoting instead of the book you bought.

He treats Psalm 119 with special care, which is something I was very glad to see. He has a longer introduction to this chapter than others, and defends its literary integrity and value.

His knowledge of Hebrew is very beneficial, especially because he explains it in a way that anyone can understand. For example, he mentions that there are eight words for the law. That’s why translations use words like precepts, word, statutes, commands, etc. He also often uncovers what a word would be if it were translated literally, like the Hebrew word for “kidneys”, which “is used commonly for the internal emotional being, the soul or spirit”. (Psalm 139:13) This is just one reason why there’s no such thing as a literal translation, but that’s a different story.

I’m not one to be able to comment on any theological bent regarding the Old Testament and Psalms in particular, other than he is evangelical. (Here is a good one on Amazon.) He seems very objective and doesn’t insert any obvious biases and slants. I think this makes it a great commentary for a wide audience.

If I could write anything at all negative it would be that the font size is actually a little larger than what I like, which is a plus for many people. Like his commentary on Genesis, it’s nearly perfect for me and if you buy it, I hope you feel the same. It’s not cheap and doesn’t come in Kindle format.

If the publisher wouldn’t have provided a free copy for an unbiased review, I would have bought it.

Around the Web

You Don’t Have to Know God’s Will | Desiring God

Five Things the Psalms of Lament Teach Us About Emotions | True Woman Blog | Revive Our Hearts

If Death Is Gain, Should We Pray for Healing? | Desiring God

What If “Iron Sharpening Iron” in the Book of Proverbs Is Actually Something to Avoid? | TGC – I would posit another besides ‘tough love’ or it being bad, as the article says, and that would be it’s merely two people sharpening each other’s minds through normal conversations. This is based on commentaries I’ve read. Of course, I could be wrong.

Dictionary of Christianese – List of Words (A–Z) – Exellent

Around the Web

The Christian Struggle with Mental Illness | The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer

Part of the struggle is discerning the extent of the spiritual issue with mental health. How much is physiological and how much is spiritual ? Is mental illness a punishment for sin or a natural illness?

We all have spiritual struggles: struggling with our identity in Christ, receiving forgiveness, living with joy. With mental illness, the struggle becomes much more complicated.

Is it something that can only be resolved with a deeper understanding of the gospel and closer relationship with Christ and others, or can it be impacted by some external influence—medication, counseling, etc.?

Capitalizing Pronouns Referring to Deity

Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night | Desiring God – This is longer than most blog posts, but it’s very good. It’s based on Psalm 1. One interesting thing it addresses is the word ‘prosper’.

The Word of God informs prayer. This means that the Word tells us what to pray and becomes itself the content of our prayer. When you know the mind of God in his Word, you pray the mind of God in your prayers.

Let’s think about the blessing that comes from delighting in and meditating on the Word day and night.

Man With Jeremiah 29:11 Tattoo Recounts His Time In Babylonian Captivity | The Babylon Bee – I should tell you that this is humor, since some might not get that.

I was very surprised to see a photo of my bookshelf on another article at Babylon Bee. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Been Reading

I’ve been in a big book reading slump. Bible reading is fine, and maybe it’s partly because I’ve been reading more of the Bible. But some of it is spiritual, and it’s a long complicated story that I don’t fully understand myself. I’m waiting for God to bring this back for me. Until then, I force myself to read just a little each day. Did you know that ten minutes of reading a day can amount to about 12 average length paperbacks in a year?

book-what-is-biblical-theology

The most recent book I read is What Is Biblical Theology? – A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and Patterns by James M. Hamilton Jr.

This is great primer for the subject and the subtitle. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now, which is why I want to mention it. I thought the end of the book veered a little off course but it’s a very good basic book on these concepts. Much of the book deals with Eden and exodus. There is a good bibliography at the end, which is nice because the book left me wanting more. It’s only 177 pages, so that’s not a complaint. Go to Jennifer Guo’s site for a more in-depth review.

Before that, I read Calvin’s Institutes for the second time. This time I read the 1541 edition, which is Calvin’s third iteration–the last one being is fifth. It was great of course. My reading slump happened halfway through. With some slow reading and skipping a couple of chapters, I made it through. By the way, I very much dislike the publisher’s subtitle of “Calvin’s Own ‘Essentials’ Edition”. It’s not a condensed version of any of his works. It’s just not as long as his final work–with less polemics–although there still was quite a bit.

Right now I’m reading parts of A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 3 (90-150) by Allen Ross. He has a great portion on Psalm 119 which is my favorite one. This is a review book.

Next up is Hearing God When You Hurt by James Montgomery Boice. I haven’t read a good book on suffering for a while and really need to right now (part of the long story, but many readers are familiar with the general situtation), and I also wanted to see how I like James Montgomery Boice. Each chapter is based on a Psalm.

This was just going to be a short post giving a heads up about the Biblical theology book, but then I felt like writing a little more.

Vern Poythress Describes Me and My Friends

Herman and Dottie are me. My friend, who happens to be named Peter, is Peter and his cohort Laura. Other friend Nathan is like Missy. A motley crew we are.

I found this while I was taking a look at the book God-Centered Biblical Interpretation by Vern Poythress, which he offers free in PDF format. There are others along with samples of some of John Frames’ books.

Herman Hermeneut: Can we come up with a “how-to” list for interpreting the Bible?

Dottie Doctrinalist: That’s definitely useful, provided it is based solidly on the Bible.

Oliver Objectivist: We certainly need such a list, in order to be rigorously objective in our interpretation, and to eliminate subjective biases.

Peter Pietist: I’m not so sure. Won’t a method interfere with my personal communion with the Lord?

Laura Liturgist: I’m just as uneasy as Peter. Does “method” mean something purely academic? Or would it include participation in worship?

Missy Missiologist: I can see both advantages and disadvantages. We certainly need to take steps in order to make sure we are not blinded by the blind spots of the culture in which we were raised. But we need to be careful. Our focus on method can introduce a Western bias. The idea of having a technique or assembly-line process for producing the right meaning seems natural within an industrialized society, where we pursue technique.

He then provides some guidelines for interpreting the Bible.

Around the Web

Book Tribalism | CCW – Christian Communicators Worldwide – I’m not exactly sure what they’re trying to say here. But I do know that it’s good, of course; and it’s bad. It has caused me to think about what and who I read. The video they link to is amazing. I’ve seen in at least a couple of times and may have posted it before.

Reformed Theology & John 3:16 by Burk Parsons

Visual Theology on Pinterest – Infographics

I guess I might have been wrong about the premise of the Daniel Diet mistreating Scripture.
Archaeologists Discover Prophet Daniel's Weight Loss Diary | The Babylon Bee