Friday, February 29, 2008

Dear Sailor, Be Wise

“When I have seen you preparing for a storm, and reefing your sails to guard against it; how have I wished that you and I were as careful to avoid that storm of God's wrath, which will certainly, without repentance, quickly overtake us? When I have observed you catch at ever fair gale, how I secretly cried, O that we were as careful to know the things that belong to our peace, before they are forever hid from our eyes! And when I have taken notice, how steadily you eyed your compass in order to steer aright, how have I wished, that we as steadily eyed the word of God, which alone can preserve us from ‘making shipwreck of faith, and a good conscience!’ In short, there is scarce anything you do, which has not been a lesson of instruction to me; and, therefore, it would me ungrateful in me, did I not take this opportunity of exhorting you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be as wise in the things which concern you soul, as I have observed you to be in the affairs belonging to your ship.”

George Whitefield, “Thankfulness for Mercies Received, A Necessary Duty.” (A farewell sermon, preached on board the Whitaker, at anchor near Savannah, in Georgia, Sunday, May 17, 1738)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ten Ways to Find Communities of Unreached People in Your Town (or one nearby!)

Yesterday I fired this across your bow, “9 of every 10 people in the world are lost, outside of personal faith in Jesus Christ; 2 out of every 3 people in the world have never heard a clear explanation of the gospel; 1 out of every 3 people in the world are still in the “unreached” category, with no near neighbor to tell them the message of the gospel.” [Here's a point of discussion for you: how could children be thought of as an unreached people?]

Here are 1o excellent ideas to reach the unreached from where you are (from, "Tell by the Smell - Connecting with Unreached People Locally."):

1. Look up ethnic restaurants in your yellow pages.

2. Visit or call ethnic churches and ask about their lesser-evangelized neighbor communities.

3. Attend international festivals or other cultural events at a university.

4. Call a church that has hosted "Perspectives" in your target city. Ask to speak to the missions pastor. Tell him or her you'll pass on whatever you find out if they'll get you going in the right direction.

5. To find an on-line starting point, search the phrase "refugee services" plus the name of the town you're interested in. This will turn up Christian and governmental agencies and efforts to help refugees. Connecting with them can move you down the road to locating ethnic areas.

6. Check out Ethnic Harvest.

7. Consider posting a question in the appropriate state forum. For my current city of interest, Indianapolis, there seems to be an impressive amount of forum traffic, but I don't have real-world experience in terms of response to my question ... yet.

8. Check a guidebook. Granted, this works better if you live in Amsterdam or San Francisco, but it's worth a look. Of course, if you're checking out Indianapolis, this step won't take very long!

9. Visit the library and glance through the free literature rack. Or if you're really feeling adventurous, visit a high-traffic government office. Check the languages that literature is printed in, then go google that language and your city name.

10. Visit a large library and have a real-life conversation with a librarian. I tried this in Tempe, Arizona with less than stellar success, but your mileage might vary. And to her credit, the librarian at Tempe did point me in some helpful directions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

World Christian Week and Imposing Jesus

This is World Christian Week here on the campus of Columbia International University. WCW is one week we set aside out of each year, taking a break from academics to hear the heartbeat of God for this lost and dying world. This year's keynote speaker is the Rev. Celestin Musekura. Musekura, a Rwandan, founded the African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries, or ALARM. In the face of tribal wars, ethnic conflicts, and genocide in Africa, ALARM actively promotes healing and reconciliation. We are being challenged with his personal testimony of pain and hope.

Every year during WCW, the Lord brings to my remembrance the words preached by our Chancellor, Dr. George Murray on October 10, 2004:

“Thomas asked, ‘How can we know the way to heaven?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Is Jesus Christ really the only way of salvation for the whole world? And if so, isn’t that rather narrow? Yes, it is. Doesn’t that sound exclusive? Yes, it does . . . How can Jesus Christ claim to be the only way of salvation for the whole world? The answer is two-fold: 1) because of who Jesus is, and 2) because of what Jesus did.”

Just yesterday I was having lunch with a representative of one of the visiting missions agencies, and he asked what I get excited about. I get excited about the very thing that drives missions: the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ! Evangelism is one thing, sharing with people the good news that Jesus died and rose again to pay the penalty for sin, justifying us before God the Father and sanctifying us to walk in Holiness before Him. Missions is telling people there is a Jesus to believe. Dr. Murray helps us think about it in light of Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no other One; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved”:

“9 of every 10 people in the world are lost, outside of personal faith in Jesus Christ;
2 out of every 3 people in the world have never heard a clear explanation of the gospel;
1 out of every 3 people in the world are still in the “unreached” category, with no near neighbor to tell them the message of the gospel.”

That last category includes people who don’t know there is a Jesus to believe.

Test yourself to see if you know the names of these early missionaries who did these very things—went into “all the world,” gave a clear explanation of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, even telling there is a Jesus to believe in (and note the responses):

  • This fellow told an Ethiopian eunuch there was a Jesus to believe in (Acts 8:26-27). (Bonus points: Can you remember the name of the prophet he was reading?);
  • This man prayed with John that the Samaritans would receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-15);
  • Who was the guy God sent to restore Saul’s eyesight? (Acts 9:10-12);
  • Peter was sent by this man to Samaria to check on Philip’s work (Acts 8:14);
  • This young man was stoned to death for what he said about Jesus (Acts 7:59);
  • Who interceded for Saul after his conversion? (Act 9:27)
  • Who caught Philip up, and the Ethiopian eunuch saw him no more? (Acts 8:39)
  • This man went to Mars (Acts 17).

What gets me motivated is (with all due respect) less the speaker and his message per se; rather, it is the overall challenge to be mobilized, going into all the world with the good news there is a Jesus to believe.

Just last week I was confronted by two young women who came back to me with the tracts I had just given them. One thrust the tract back in my face and told me I had no right to push Jesus on people. I told her 1) I had enough tracts and encouraged her to read the good news found therein; and 2) I have been commanded to go into all the world to preach repentance and the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ—He Himself has given me authority to do so. She just stared at me.

Her friend began to tell me she was a good Presbyterian but she would take the tract and would read it. By this time I could smell the alcohol, so I asked her that if she called herself by the name of Christ, was she representing Him properly to the world? I told her that drunkards have no place in the kingdom and she needed to repent and walk in obedience. The first girl thrust the tract at me again. I stood with my hands by my side. I encouraged her to think about what she is saying—I am not pushing Jesus on her—He is doing that by Himself.

She dropped the tract and walked off. I called after her, reminding her that littering was breaking the law. Her friend glanced back at me as they both walked off. A man came down the sidewalk from my left, picked up the tract and kept walking, reading it . . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One-stop wor-shop


Obeying God's Will

God’s will is still a hot-pursuit item; however, I think what most people really mean when they say they are looking for God’s will is they are looking for something easy to do, yet still feel like they are accomplishing something for the Lord. You know, “what can I do to feel spiritual, but not break a sweat or bring any drastic changes to my life?”

Read through the following list and see if you can name the individuals who experienced some of the hard-to-obey commands of God:

  • This man was told to name his son “John.”
  • This man was to anoint someone else as king while Saul still lived.
  • This man was told to enter a Gentile’s home and preach the gospel.
  • This man had to cross the sea . . . on foot.
  • Who was told to leave his father’s house and move to a new land?
  • And what about the guy who had to take a harlot for a wife?
  • Then there was the fellow who was told to preach to his enemy.
  • And the chap who helped a man who killed Christians?
  • What was the name of the man who built a boat on dry land?
  • Who was it that took his wife and infant son to Egypt?

How many of these failed? When we are told “to do” for the Lord, we feel like He is asking us to do the impossible. Consider what these people had to do. Reflect for a moment on how many of these people threw their full trust on God, who promised to accomplish what He has said He would do.

Here are the answers, but not in order (that would'nt be fun)—you get to find that out:

  • Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 12:1
  • Jonah, in Jonah 1:1-3
  • Hosea in Hosea 1:2
  • Moses in Exodus 14:14-16
  • Joseph, in Matthew 2:13
  • Zechariah in Luke 1:13-18
  • Ananias, in Acts 9:10-15
  • Peter, in Acts 10:19-20
  • Noah in Genesis 6:13-14
  • Samuel, in 1 Samuel 16:1-2

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Five Points Friday, 2/22/08

Here are some reports of the greatness of God!





Debriefing report #1


Debriefing report #2


Debriefing report #3


Debriefing report #4


Debriefing report #5

Friday, February 22, 2008

What do you have planned for Leap Day?

What are you going to do with an extra day this month? Why don't you try this! Or maybe something like this!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where God gave His Word

from my friend, Dr. John Williamson:

"While preparing a Sunday School lesson, I stumbled across a remarkable verse. The psalmist wrote, "He declares his words to Jacob, His statutes and his ordinances to Israel" (Psalm 147:19). The author is encouraging his readers to sing in praise of the Lord God, and he tells us a very important truth. The source of God's Word had one and only one geographic spot of origin. He gave his word to Israel.

Think of the variety of religions and religious viewpoints today, from where did they originate? Islam came out of Arabia. B'hai emerged from Iran. Mormonism is indigenous to the United States. Hinduism and Buddhism are native to India. Shinto is Japanese. Yet, where did God give his Word?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Springboards

In case you have not noticed, St. Patty's Day falls on Monday, March 17. Good Friday is the same week, Friday, March 21. Here's a couple of links to some survey-type questions to help you get the evangelistic conversations going. Get started early!

St. Patrick's Day Survey

Easter Survey

Monday, February 18, 2008

World's Most Hated

What follows is a strong teaching that would be worth remembering when we are about the Lord's work:
************

Who do you think is the most hated man in history? Is it the murderer of millions, Adolf Hitler, or perhaps mass murderer and terrorist Osama Bin Laden? I don’t think so. I think Jesus of Nazareth is by far the most hated person of all time. Who else can you think of whose name is used daily as a cuss word? Two thousand years after He was on this earth, even Hollywood uses it as profanity, in the name of entertainment.

Why is there such a deep contempt for Jesus Christ? That is easy to answer. This is what He said of why the world hates Him: “The world cannot hate you; but me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” (John 7:7). The world hates Jesus Christ for the same reason criminals hate the police. He accuses them of crimes against God.

Despite the hatred, the Bible warns (and Scripture cannot be broken) that every hate-filled human being will bow the knee to Jesus Christ and be judged by Him. Most think of Him as “the Son of God,” and limit Him to being whatever they think that means. But the Scriptures clearly tell us that He was actually God “manifest in the flesh” (see 1 Timothy 3:16 KJV, NKJV) and that “all things were made by Him” (see John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:15-16). That's why they will bow the knee.

The reason that God was manifest in the flesh was to provide a morally perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the reason that we needed a sacrifice is because we are in debt to God’s Law. If you don’t believe you are in trouble, listen to this part of the moral Law: “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.”

Jesus warned that the Day will come when every one of us will stand before God and give an account even of our secret sins . . . sins of lust, of hatred, and evil imaginations. The Bible tells us that liars and thieves will not enter Heaven, and warns of a terrible place called Hell that awaits for all who are found guilty on that day.

The last words of Jesus on the cross were “It is finished!” In other words “the debt has been paid.” His suffering on the cross was sufficient to pay our fine for us. His consequent rising from the dead means that God can now legally commute our death sentence. All we have to do to find everlasting life is to repent and trust Jesus alone for our eternal salvation. The plan of salvation is that simple.

A word of warning. Once you find peace with God, hold on, because the world will hate you because you belong to Jesus Christ.
For Evangelism Resources, please visit LivingWaters.com.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Who do you love?

We want people to love us. Books, songs, and movies are about love—we even set aside one day a year to celebrate love! A child needs love. Old people need love. We all want to be part of a group that cares for each other. But the world is full of hate. Many children and old people are not loved. Why is this? Hatred exists because we do not love God as we ought to—and because we don’t love God as we ought to, we can’t love each other as we should. But God is love. Is God first in your life? Do you love God above all else? Ray Comfort shares the following experience:

“Many years ago, I purchased a T.V. for our children, but the first evening we had it, I arrived home from work and found that they didn't even bother to greet me. They were too busy watching television. I turned it off and explained to them that if they ignored me because they preferred to watch T.V. they were setting their love on the gift rather then the giver, a wrong order of affections. In the same way, if we love anything—husband, wife, children or even our own lives—more than we love God, we are setting our affection on the gift rather than the Giver, which means we have broken the First of the Ten Commandments. In fact, the Bible says that we should so love God that our love for Mom and Dad and brother and sister should seem like hatred compared to the love we have for the God who gave those loved ones to us.”

We are also commanded to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. Jesus spoke of a Samaritan who found an injured stranger, bathed his wounds, carried him to an inn, gave money for his care and told the inn-keeper that he would pay for his expenses. We call him the good Samaritan, but in reality he wasn't "good" at all, he merely obeyed the basic command to love his neighbor as himself. That is a picture of how God expects us to love our fellow human beings. We should love them as much as we love ourselves...whether they be friend or foe.

Have you ever wished someone were dead? Have you ever hated anyone, for any reason? The Bible says, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murder has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15). If so, did you realize you have broken #6 of the Ten Commandments? Jesus warned that if we get angry without cause we are in danger of judgment. If we hate our brother, God calls us a murderer. We can violate God's Law by attitude and intent.

Have you loved God with all your heart? Have you loved humanity as much as you love yourself? You be the judge. Will you be innocent or guilty on Judgment Day of breaking The Ten Commandments (breaking one breaks them all)? I'm not judging you—I'm asking you to judge yourself before the Day of Judgment. The sentence for breaking this Commandment is death.

God does not want man to die in his sin. It hurts God to see people hating people. This is why He sent his only Son, Jesus, to die for us so that we could have real life. That shows how bad sin is in God’s sight. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (I John 3:16) Would you die for a loved one? for a friend? for an enemy? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God wants all people to be His children. He commands that all people repent of (turn away from) their sins (like loving ourselves more than God, murder/hatred and any of the other broken Ten Commandments) and to take Jesus into their hearts. When we do this, we will also love other people. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all men that all people everywhere should repent.” (Acts 17:30) “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (I John 3:23)

When you repent of your sin and love God, you will love other people! What a wonderful God we have! “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God; and such we are.” (I John 3:1)“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Five Points Friday: Feb 8, 2008

Bear with me as I learn to use my new tool--I CAN TAKE VIDEO NOW! Here are some vids from the other night (sorry they are so dark--they do not look that way on other players). At least you are able to get a small taste of what happens at Five Points:



Report on an evangelism encounter:



A Praise report!






Friday, February 08, 2008

Ever see a Baptist dance?

Whether you have or not (or would ever want to), does'nt matter. I just could not wait to pass this along—I am so incredibly excited! And in the midst of all the excitement, know that Satan has already been at work to attack . . . the details there I will gladly leave out. Satan needs no press-time.

I was preparing for our evangelism outing tonight and decided to swing by one of our departments here at the University to pick up more gospel tracts. As I was about to leave, one of the workers began asking questions about what we do in our evangelism team, where we go, who we talk with, etc. When the conversation touched the subject of Bibles for distribution, her eyes got large and she smiled and asked if we could really, seriously use Bibles in what we do. I replied to the affirmative.

She took me down the hall into another department and from a closet produced a box of 42 New Testaments (2 in Spanish!) and said I could take them. And if that was not enough, she told me that two private donors would “foot the bill” to purchase Bibles if someone could give them out . . .

Is that a cause to celebrate, or what?

The Cruelty of Loose Living

“Let us be watchful in the use of our liberty, and labor to be inoffensive in our behavior, that our example compel them not. There is a commanding force in an example, as there was in Peter (Gal. 2). Looseness of life is cruelty to ourselves and to the souls of others. Though we cannot keep those who will perish from perishing, yet if we do that which is apt of itself to destroy the souls of others their ruin in imputable to us.”

Richard Sibbes, “The Smoking Flax.”

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Chapel Message on Prayer

[What follows is a Chapel message I delivered (more or less) to introduce our Prayer Chapel at CIU-SSM on Friday, January 25, 2008]

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph 6:18-20)

I. v. 18, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

R.A. Torrey said that when a child of God reads these words, he must be driven to say, “I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray.” Consider and evaluate our current working definition of prayer, “a conversation with God.” Is that it? Does that really describe prayer? We tend to lose the loftiness of prayer because we focus more on the “conversation” part of the definition, than the object of the conversation . . . and that object is not us, but God.

We cannot be sleepy when it comes to prayer. Take a walk down the "Hall of Alls": “with all prayer and petition;” “pray at all times in the Spirit;” “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition;” “for all the saints.”

Nor can we be weak when it comes to prayer. Look at these strong words: “with all prayer and petition;” “pray at all times in the Spirit;” "be on the alert with all perseverance and petition;” Prayer must be made to happen, as it will not happen on its own accord.

J. Oswald Sanders defined prayer as: the most complex simplicity; the speech of infants received as a sublime oratory; the philosophy of a small child; a sporadic and sudden utterance of an attitude of a lifetime; “The expression of the rest of faith and of the fight of faith.” Agony and ecstasy; That which lays hold of God and binds the devil.

This is closer to where Paul is when he says “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

We pray because:
1. God is:
a. There, and He is strong and mighty (go back and read from v. 10);
b. The one in whom we live, move and have our being. Since He is our life, so our life-work is submission to Him through the Spirit. My wife calls this “Yielded heart posture.”

2. There is a devil, who:
a. Attacks
b. Schemes
c. Contends
d. Is armed

This is why Paul says we must be on alert and persevere for “all the saints.”

II. v. 19, “and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”

What is Paul getting at, asking for prayer for the saints and for himself? Is he asking for personal well-being, or for comfort? After all, he is writing from prison, right? No, he is asking for a pouring out before God on behalf of any and all who are the "gospellers". We are what William Shakespeare called "cobblers." You remember what a "cobbler" is don't you? A cobbler is one who fixes shoes--menders of bad soles (souls). One of those Shakespearean puns.

Paul is asking for prayer because he not only wants to be supercharged with boldness, but that others would be as well. He wants those who are praying to be supercharged with boldness as well! Gospel work is not a “job” left to “professionals.” Do you know how I know this? Because ANYONE can pray. There are four books I believe should be on the shelf of every Christian worker:
1. R.A. Torrey’s book, “How to Pray” where you will find him repeatedly encouraging mothers with children to pray, the bed-ridden to pray, etc.
2. Read R.A. Torrey’s books, “How to Work for Christ” (Vol. 1; Vol. 2; Vol. 3) and you will find him encouraging mothers with children in the gospel ministry, the evangel of the bed-ridden and home-bound, etc.

Listen to this, what has been called “The Christian’s Bugle-blast:”

Soldiers of Christ, arise and put your armor on,
strong in the strength which God supplies thru His eternal Son;
strong in the Lord of hosts and in His mighty pow’r:
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.

Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
and take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
that having all things done, and all your conflicts past,
ye may o’ercome thru Christ alone and stand entire at last.

Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul;
take ev’ry virtue, ev’ry grace, and fortify the whole.
From strength to strength go on; Wrestle and fight and pray;
tread all the pow’rs of darkness down and win the well-fought day
.

III. v. 20, “for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

As to prayer, notice what Paul is doing while in prison: he is an ambassador. He is not thinking of himself, but others; and in so doing, we are encouraged to stop praying so much for ourselves, and begin to ask for unselfish things. A.B. Simpson says it best: "Try the effect of praying for the world, for definite things, for difficult things, for glorious things, for things that will honor Christ and save mankind. After you have received a few wonderful answers to prayer in this direction, see if you will not feel stronger to touch your own little burden with a divine faith and then go back again to the high place of unselfish prayer for others."

A few years back when the Gulf War got underway, one pastor told his congregation, "This week, I'm doing missionary work in Iraq--I'm praying. We will not sit idly by and do nothing while the Middle East is on fire--we will pray. We will not wring our hands or march in the streets or hyperventilate over the news--we will pray. Prayer is not the least nor the last thing we can do, but the first, the best and the most."

As to speaking the gospel boldly, consider this:

Do you now Papageno? He is the character of a bird-catcher in Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute." The opera opens with the slaying of a dragon by three fairies. Papageno comes along, finds the dead dragon, and while he is wondering what happened, Tamino comes on the scene and asks what happened. Papageno tells Tamino that he killed the dragon. To punish Papageno, the fairies lock his mouth with a golden lock, so Papageno cannot talk and must finish the scene by humming--the duet is a masterpiece! Why are you now speaking the gospel boldly? Is your mouth sealed with a golden lock?

Imagine your house is on fire. The first person you would want on the scene would be a firefighter, right? What would you expect a firefighter to have (besides water)? Training to fight the fire, strength, courage, alertness, boldness, concern for others . . .

Do you have those things? Are you concerned about the eternal state of others? Are you sober, alert, diligent? Are you as horrified about the thought of what eternal fire can do as the fireman knows what an earthly fire can do? Are you strong in prayer and faith? If not, THESE ARE THINGS TO PRAY FOR! What would you think of the firefighter who attended classes on firefighting, read books on firefighting and stayed in the truck.

Do you realize that if you can say to someone, "Hello, how are you today?" (which means nothing on the scale of eternal matters) you can also say, "Did you get one of these?" and hand them a gospel tract? If you can't do that, just say, "here, hold this for me!"

Remember Paul's words to the Corinthians! (2 Cor 2:1-5). If you are knock-kneed, you fit the job description!

Here's what this means:
1. When we set our hearts on God, then those to whom we go can set their hearts on God;
2. When we set our hearts on God, then those with whom we go can keep their hearts set on God;
3. When we set our hearts on God, then those we send can keep their hearts set on God;
4. If our first prayer was, "Be merciful to me, a sinner," aren't we about hearing those words from the lips of those to whom we go?

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
give heart and mind and soul
and strength to serve the King of kings.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Building your Bible Study Files

Occasionally I meet a person in ministry who voices a desire for personal and office organization, that time used in preparation for Bible teaching and preaching would be more efficient. I will suggest to you an easy-to-use filing and index system I’ve used for nearly 20 years.

Consider first how many publications (both electronic and paper) are used widely by anyone who is a serious student of the Bible, Sunday School teacher, missionary, or pastor. Now and then we read a periodical, an article or have some other documents to file that contain some insight, illustration or principle or perhaps we take some sermon notes that we desire to be put away for easy retrieval. Let me show you what to do with these documents.

First, you will need:
1) A file cabinet. Think 4-drawer, because over time, your files will grow. I have one two-drawer cabinet that pulls drawers out horizontally. It holds the equivalent of one traditional four-drawer cabinet.[i] This fits snugly against a wall and does not just out into the room.

2) Hanging and Manila File folders. I suggest using hanging folders to contain traditional file folders, as this will allow the management of the actual files more efficiently. You will need 76 manila folders, one for each book of the Bible, plus one each for:

o OT, General
o Law
o History
o Wisdom Literature
o Prophets
o NT, General
o Gospels
o Acts
o Pauline Epistles
o Other Epistles[ii]

Use Left-cut folders for the “generalist” headings (above) and Right-cut folders for the actual Bible books themselves (see below). Right-cut folders can be used to contain even more specific files, such as series publications (Reformed Perspective Magazine, for example, occasionally publishes articles in multiple parts).

When you begin to drop documents into the files, turning the pages horizontal for placement in the appropriate folder, make certain any staples are in the top-right corner, for easy maneuverability as content grows.

Next, mark the document you are filing with the title and the Bible reference in the top-right corner (by the staple, if any) so it can be viewed at a glance. It can be simple as “Were The Days of Creation Literal 24-Hour Periods?” and “Genesis 1:1-2:7” (if that is where you are filing the document). Write the reference on the top-right corner, near the staple so you can search through documents without removing each completely from the file.

This is the most simplistic filing system, and will work well with very little maintenance.
I’ve used a more complicated system that allows cross referencing, both across Biblical references, but also incorporates a topical system. In order to do this, I use a coding system, as follows:

o OT, General: OT Gen

o Law: BL
§ BL-Gen
§ BL-Ex
§ BL-Lev
§ BL-Nu
§ BL-De[iii]

o History: BH
§ BH-Josh
§ BH-Judges
§ BH-Ruth
§ BH-1 Sam
§ BH-2 Sam
§ BH-1 Ki
§ BH-2 Ki
§ BH-1 Chron
§ BH-2 Chron
§ BH-Ezra
§ BH-Neh
§ BH-Esth

o Wisdom Literature: BW
§ BW-Job
§ BW-Ps
§ BW-Prov
§ BW-Eccl
§ BW-Song

o Prophets: BP
§ BP-Is
§ BP-Jer
§ BP-Lam
§ BP-Ezek
§ BP-Dan
§ BP-Hos
§ BP-Joel
§ BP-Amos
§ Etc.

o NT, General: NT, Gen

o Gospels: BG
§ BG-Mt
§ BG-Mk
§ BG-Lk
§ BG-Jn

o Acts: Acts

o Pauline Epistles: BE
§ BE-Ro
§ BE-1 Cor
§ BE-2 Cor
§ Etc.

o Other Epistles: BO
§ BO-Heb
§ BO-Jas
§ BO-1 Pe
§ Etc.

When I mark a document for filing, I use a code like this: "BL-Gen 1:1-2:7."

This code comes in handy. Let’s say that the document I filed also contains cross references for Genesis 1:1 to Ps 102:25; Is 40:21; John 1:1, 2. Well, that’s where you kick the whole project up a notch and create an index, which can be managed in three forms, depending on your style. Two are very “old school" (your grandaddy or daddy may have used something like this):

INDEX CARDS:

The first is an index-card system, where you dedicate one card for each subdivision, as described above. From experience, you will basically be dedicating one card for every verse of scripture, which calls for a whole separate filing system in and of itself. This style also allows you to file shorter quotes and references without placing the entire work in your file. Let’s say you are reading a book and that book describes a Bible passage. On your card for that reference, you can record the bibliographical information, for example. Or perhaps you read a blog that was helpful, so you print it out, mark it, file it, and record it on your card for quick reference. This system is also great for filing quotes by scripture passage.



NOTEBOOK:

Here you will dedicate a page of loose-leaf paper for each division as described above and record the information similarly. The photo below shows a page dedicated to the Gospel of John (BG-Jn), with columns labeled as follows:

Cross Reference
Month
Day
Year
Page
No. of Clippings
Evaluation
Chapter
Verse
Notes (for titles or descriptive terms)



Feel free to make columns that work for you. I am in process of moving my notebook over into my . . .

DATABASE:

You may create a database divided accordingly and record the information as appropriate. The database version allows you to add columns to include author name and use the organization features to keep your bible references in numerical order. This is more difficult to do on paper. Also, instead of printing out web pages, you can copy and paste web links right into your database for easy retrieval! Can you find my libary books in the cross references?

So, let’s return to your document filed under BL-Gen 1:1-2:7. To manage cross references, you will go to the appropriate card or page or database for the cross reference and make an entry. For a Psalm card, page, or database you may start a new line that reads “102:25” then “Were The Days of Creation Literal 24-Hour Periods?” then “see BL-Gen 1:1-2:7.” Next time you are studying that passage, you will refer to your page or card and will see that note and you will discover an article you filed a long time ago!

I’ve personally combined both the index cards with the electronic database version.

I pray this gets you off to a great start of a lifetime of organization!
************

[i] My entire filing system (which has run out of room and needs to expand) would fill two entire traditional four-drawer cabinets. I am only showing you a system for keeping Bible files, which is only a portion of an entire topical system, that I may give some tips on later.
[ii] You may want an additional folder for “Bible, General” as part of this system, but it should actually be in a topical system.
[iii] BL stands for “Bible, Law.” The “Bible”, or “B” designation becomes obviously necessary when considering the topical system.

“No! No ‘Jesus’!”

Walking through the mall can be an adventure because of the many kiosks, each dispensing a wide variety of products (lotions, nail-care, teeny frogs, goldfish, remote-controlled gadgets, etc) onto the world. Some kiosk attendants stand out far enough in the aisle with samples to “grab” people for their sales pitch that contact can be nearly unavoidable. But I come prepared for “malling” (do they use that term anymore?). In my fanny pack (which I sling over my shoulder) I carry any tracts that I cannot fit into my shirt pockets. I also carry business-card sized tracts in my pants pockets.

I find some kiosk-attendants quite bored, so tracts are great boredom busters. Since security guards interpret what I do as “soliciting” (but it is not soliciting because I am not selling anything—tract distribution is “canvassing”) I don’t have many one-on-one conversations with attendants—they are more interested in selling, not conversing. But I’ve discovered that these bored attendants are not part of the same company, and are not as aggressive. I find the tension between what some attendants do and what I do to be intriguing, so I use their spring-board to sales as my own. When I am able (hard to do with family), I walk near the kiosks, so I can be stopped.

And boy, did I get stopped. One young man got into my path with a tray of lotion samples, “the finest in the world.” Now, understand that when one of these kiosk attendants does this, one should specifically listen for the particular accent in speech. This is a major clue that tells me that most kiosk attendants (specifically the aggressive ones) are not American. Most of the products they sell may be imported; nevertheless, I believe this group works for one company though their products may be varied.

Lotion-man offered me a cup with a dot of white puff in the middle. I declined with “thanks for stopping me,” and produced one of my own samples from my pocket—an I.Q. Test, with the gospel on the back. “Here, this is for you.”

“What’s this?” he asks, looking at the card. “Do you have this in another language?”

“No,” I replied, “What language do you read?”

“I am from Israel, and do not read English well,” he explained. As I said before, it does not take long to learn that many people selling from these kiosks are from out-of-town.

“What is this?” he asked.

“On the front is an I.Q. Test, that is just an example to show a person how deceptive the eyes can be—and if you can’t trust your eyes, how do you know if you can trust your heart.” I explained.

“Oh,” he said looking at the card again. “Something to make you THINK! I like!” he smiled back, holding up the card.

I continued. “On the back is the gospel . . .”

He froze. The smile disappeared. “What is the . . . ‘gospel’?”

“This is the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin . . “

He cut me off. “No ‘Jesus’!” One of his co-workers came over with a puzzled look on her face.

"No! No ‘Jesus’!” He repeated this louder.



I reached for my bag, “Could I please give you another gift?”

“No. I am a good Jew. I don’t need this ‘Jesus’ as I do my own my own thing. I believe what I believe and do good,” he explained—but still keeping the card.

I looked him in the eye. “Have you kept ‘Torah’? Do you live by the law?”

“Yes, of course,” he shrugged.

“Do you think you’ve kept the Ten Commandments?” I asked.

He just looked at me. His mouth opened to say something, and nothing came out. The conversation was over. I told him to think about that question and to read the back of the I.Q. Test.

************

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Roman 3:19-20)

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