Moved By the Holy Spirit

for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21, N.K.J.V.)

The Greek word translated as “moved” in this verse is phero. The word means “to bear” or “to carry.” It speaks of being borne along or carried along by some person, object, or force. It’s the same word that gets translated as “drive” in Acts 27:15 in the story of how the ship Paul was aboard got caught in a cyclonic storm. Because the wind was too strong to allow the ship to head into the wind, the sailors gave up on that plan and just let the wind “drive” (phero) the ship to wherever it might take it.

To be moved by God the Holy Spirit in this way is to completely let go of the reins of control and simply ride the wind of the Holy Spirit. Wherever the Spirit wants to take you, you go. Whatever He wants you to do, you do. Whatever He wants you to say, you say. Whatever He wants you to write, you write.

This is how God’s prophets prophesied. They were merely the vessels for God the Holy Spirit. Did each prophet have an individualized style of speaking and writing? Yes. Did each one have unique mannerisms? Yes. Did each one come from different backgrounds? Yes. But when it came time to prophesy, each one’s whole job was to empty himself of all self will and let the Holy Spirit have total control over him.

In this way, phero is similar in meaning to another Greek word, pleroo. While pleroo literally means “to fill to the full,” the way this filling plays itself out amounts to control. For example, in Ephesians 5:18 Paul contrasts being filled with the Holy Spirit to being drunk with wine. And how does a person being drunk with wine manifest itself? The wine makes the person say things he wouldn’t otherwise say, go places he wouldn’t otherwise go, and do things he wouldn’t otherwise do. In other words, the wine’s wind drives the person and the person is merely carried along by that wind.

Similarly, this is the relationship the indwelling Holy Spirit longs to have with the Christian. He wants to control the Christian from the inside. He wants the Christian to ride His wind. He wants to cause the Christian to say things he wouldn’t otherwise say, write things he wouldn’t otherwise write, go places he wouldn’t otherwise go, and do things he wouldn’t otherwise do. These will all be good adventures, mind you, acts carried out in the will and service of God just as God’s prophets of old spoke and wrote words for Him that were good, truthful, and helpful.

So, with all this understood, I guess the question to ask about now is, “What wind is currently driving you and thereby controlling you?” Is it the wind of the world with its warped ideas and wrong standards? Is it the wind of another person, one who has far too much influence over your life? Is it a demonic wind that has you carrying out the will of some demon to whom Satan has given his marching orders concerning you? Or could it even be the wind of your own logic as you think to yourself, “I don’t need to be borne along by the Holy Spirit. I know where I need to go. I know what I should do. I know what ought to be said. I know what’s called for in this situation”?

Needless to say, if a wind other than God the Holy is driving you, that’s a current from which you need to extricate yourself. You say, “Russell, I’d like to break free from this current but it is too strong.” Then tell God about it and ask Him to help you. Remember that no wind is as powerful as God the Holy Spirit, and when He starts blowing His wind in your life then all other winds must subside because they can’t compete.

Let this be an encouragement to you as you seek God’s will and service. Just as those prophets of old did great things for God, so can you. But you can’t do them until you let the Holy Spirit have complete control of you and start riding His wind current. I can’t tell you where that current will carry you, but I can tell you that it will be where God wants you to go.

Posted in Choices, Decisions, Doing Good, Dying To Self, God's Will, Service, The Holy Spirit | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Did Cain Get His Wife?

Twice in the past few weeks I’ve been asked, “Where did Cain get his wife?” The reason for the question is obvious to anyone who has read Genesis chapter 4. Genesis 4:1-15 speaks of a time when Adam and Eve and their two sons Cain and Abel were the only four people in existence upon the earth. Then Cain murdered Abel (4:1-8) and was sentenced by God to be a fugitive/vagabond upon the earth (4:9-15). But the next thing you know we’re told that Cain went and dwelt in the land of Nod (4:16), which was located to the east of Eden, and that he knew (in the Biblical sense) his wife, and that she gave birth to his son Enoch (4:17). Wait. What? When did Cain’s wife slip into the storyline of the human race?

There is really only one explanation for the origins of Cain’s wife. After Cain killed Abel, Adam fathered another son through Eve. That son’s name was Seth. Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born (Genesis 5:3), and Adam lived another 800 years after Seth’s birth (Genesis 5:4). Furthermore, over the course of those 800 years, Adam had untold numbers of not only sons but also daughters through Eve (Genesis 5:5). Obviously, at some point, Cain married one of his sisters.

For Cain to have done that, several years had to have passed between his murder of Abel and his marriage. The scenario involving the least number of years would have been for the sister to have been Adam and Eve’s first baby girl, her being born next in line after Seth. The girl would then have had to have reached a reasonable age for her to marry and give birth herself. Fifteen to twenty years would seem to provide a low-end ballpark range for how long Cain must have waited to marry and become a father. Of course the time elapsed could have been considerably longer.

And what was Cain doing during those years of waiting? No doubt he was fulfilling God’s prophetic words against him. We find those words in Genesis 4:12, where God says to him following Abel’s death, “A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth” (N.K.J.V.). While Genesis 4:17 does say that Cain built a city, he didn’t build it until after the birth of his son. As a matter of fact, he even named the city for his son: Enoch. Therefore, it seems perfectly logical to assume that Cain played his prophesied role of fugitive/vagabond prior to his marriage, the birth of his son, and the building of his city.

Someone might object to this whole explanation by citing the potentially debilitating effects of inbreeding. In answer to that, I’ll close this post by providing an extended quote from renowned pastor and scholar James Montgomery Boice. In Volume 1 of his excellent three-volume commentary set on Genesis, he writes:

I have taken part in a number of meetings growing out of the work of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, and at a number of them, where the doctrine of the full inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible has been upheld, there have been question and answer periods. I have been surprised to find that at most of these question periods someone sooner or later asks the age-old question: “Where did Cain get his wife?” Many people are interested in that man’s wife.

…Where did Cain get his wife? Well, if you turn over the page of the Bible to chapter 5, you find in verse 4 that “after Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” Could Cain marry his own sister? Yes, he could — in those early days when the race had not yet suffered the pollution of the succeeding centuries. If you were going to drink directly from the Hudson river, would you not rather drink from it up in the Adirondack mountains where it is fresh and pure than down by New York City after it has picked up the pollution of the scores of cites along its banks? It is the same with the human race. Today close interbreeding brings out harmful genes and results in lower IQs, among other things. But in the early days it was no so. Abram married his half-sister Sarah, and before that Cain married his full sisters as did the others born in those days.

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How George Muller Used His Bible

Preachers have been using stories from the life of Rev. George Muller as sermon illustrations for a long time now. Muller was an evangelist and a missionary, but he is most famous for founding and overseeing multiple orphanages and Christian schools in England in the mid-to-late 1800s. Still, while it is estimated that over the course of his lifetime Muller cared for 10,000 orphans and saw 120,000 students educated, the sermon illustrations never focus upon any one orphan or any one student. They focus instead upon Muller’s uncommon faith and the oftentimes virtually miraculous answers he received to his prayers. Muller, you see, was a man who early on in his life made the decision to never borrow money for anything he wanted to start, build, or sustain. If God didn’t provide the means by way of people voluntarily making charitable donations, Muller would pray until God did provide.

In one of the most famous stories from Muller’s life, the children in his orphanage were all sitting down at the breakfast table one morning, but there was absolutely nothing for them to eat that day. Muller, in his typical fashion, had the children bow their heads in prayer and led them in a prayer of thanksgiving. No sooner had he finished his prayer than a knock was heard at the door. It was a local baker who had brought enough bread to feed everyone in the orphanage. God had burdened the baker the previous night to get out of bed and bake bread for the orphanage. But the story doesn’t end there. Even as the baker was unloading the bread, a milk man came to the orphanage door. His milk cart had just broken down right in front of the orphanage and all of his milk was going to turn bad if the orphanage couldn’t use it. Such was George Muller’s life.

While I have heard, read, and (yes) used Muller stories many times over the course of my ministry, I recently came across a personal word from him that I didn’t even know existed. It was entitled How I Use My Bible, and it was Muller’s testimony about how he had once made a significant change in his morning schedule. I won’t restate the entire piece here, but I will provide the highlights of it.

Being the great man of prayer he was, Muller would get up very early each morning, dress himself, and immediately enter into a lengthy time of prayer before breakfast. He kept up this daily schedule for over a decade but found himself becoming increasingly frustrated over how long it took him in prayer to enter into what he called “the holy place” with God. He wrote:

I often spent a quarter of an hour on my knees before being conscious of myself as having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes or a quarter of an hour or even a half hour, I only then began to really pray.

Finally, there came a point where Muller’s frustration led him to try a different approach to his morning schedule. Rather than get up, get dressed, and begin praying, he would get up, get dressed, and begin reading his Bible. This early morning Bible reading, Muller found, made all the difference to his morning quiet time. In his own words, he described his reading process as follows:

I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse to get a blessing out of it, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for obtaining food for my own soul.

The result I have found to be almost invariable this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession or to thankfulness or to intercession or to supplication, so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.

When thus I have been for a while making confession or intercession or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all as I go into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation.

Did you catch what Muller threw there? He got up each day, opened his Bible to a passage — he says he began with the New Testament but I figure that he eventually started reading from the Old Testament as well — and began reading a passage word for word until something in the passage impressed him to say a quick prayer of confession, thankfulness, intercession, or supplication (asking, requesting). Then, having offered the brief prayer, he moved on to the next word, thought, or verse until something else impressed him to offer another quick prayer, whichever type of prayer was in order.

Two things about Muller’s testimony stand out to me. First, the morning prayers of this legendary man of prayer actually sprang from his reading of the Bible. Rather than see Bible reading and prayer as rivals for his time, Muller found a way to combine them into a singular river. Second, his goal in Bible reading each morning was to be nourished himself by way of God’s word, not get sermon material or preaching points. He wanted to be fed spiritually before he ate breakfast to be fed physically.

So what do you think? Will George Muller’s approach to having a daily quiet time with the Lord still work in this modern era? I’m sure it will. I myself am a night owl, not a morning person, but the important thing is the combining of Bible reading and prayer. That, of course, can happen anytime of day. And maybe, just maybe, whenever and wherever we do that combining we’ll start seeing some of those “Muller style” answers to prayer. I know that I sure could use some of those, and my guess is that you could, too.

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The Snowstorm That Helped Charles Spurgeon Get Saved

This past Saturday night we got a little skiff of snow that created some slick roads and icy parking lots early Sunday morning. Consequently, like some other churches in our area, we cancelled Sunday School and 11:00 p.m. worship service Sunday morning and opted instead for a 2:00 p.m. worship service Sunday afternoon. All things considered, the attendance at the service was pretty good and we had a blessed time in the Lord.

The service brought to my mind the story of the conversion of Charles Spurgeon, the most legendary preacher England ever produced. To make the story even more relevant, it occurred on today’s date (January 6) way back in 1850. Spurgeon himself loved to recount the tale, telling it hundreds of times over the course of the years, enough to make it probably the most famous conversion story in England’s history.

As a backdrop for the story, you need to know that Spurgeon was born into what we would call a Christian home. He was christened as an infant and became a member of the Congregational church. As he got older, he read the Bible and prayed daily. Still, though, despite all his religion, he continued to be feel spiritually lost. He had no joy or happiness about him. He walked around with a gloomy look upon his face all the time. In his sleep, he often dreamed of hell.

Everything changed, however, on that fateful day of Sunday, January 6, 1850. Young Spurgeon was 15 years old at the time, and that morning he was walking in a snowstorm to get to a church in his hometown of Colchester, in southeast England. His route took him up Hythe Hill, but as he ascended that hill he realized that the storm wasn’t going to allow him to proceed much further. He needed to seek shelter somewhere down a local street, and happily he found that the nearby Primitive Methodist Church of Artillery Street was having service that morning. He didn’t hesitate to join them despite the fact that all he knew about the Methodists was that they “sang so loudly that they made peoples’ heads ache.”

The snowstorm had severely affected church attendance that day as there were only 15 or so people there. The minister hadn’t even arrived. As Spurgeon used to tell it, “Snowed up, I suppose.” In the minister’s stead, a layman filled the pulpit. Spurgeon described him as “a very thin-looking man, a poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of that sort.”

The text the fellow read that morning was Isaiah 45:22:

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (K.J.V.)

As Spurgeon listened to that text, he was immediately struck by the potential hope he heard in it. With his interest piqued, he sat there intently listening as the layman proceeded to explain that looking didn’t take much effort, education, or income, but the looking had to be done unto the Lord. Looking unto one’s self would provide no help.

Finally, the layman ended his short talk by saying for Jesus, “Look unto Me; I am sweating great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hanging on a cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend: I am sitting at My Father’s right hand. O, look to Me! Look to Me!”

It was then that the layman looked squarely at the visiting Spurgeon and said, “Young man, you look very miserable. And you will always be miserable — miserable in life and miserable in death — if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then the man shouted at Spurgeon, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ!”

And did young Spurgeon look to Jesus? You bet he did! As the close to this post, I’ll let Spurgeon tell it in his own words. He said:

I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said — I did not take much notice of it — I was so possessed with that one thought. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could have almost looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness was rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.”

Posted in Belief, Church Attendance, Faith, God's Omnipotence, God's Timing, God's Provision, God's Sovereignty, Salvation, Scripture, The Bible, The Gospel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pet Verses

Why are there so many different denominations, groups, cliques, and movements, with each one claiming the title “Christian”? It is because they all have “pet verses” to which they give favored preference over other verses from scripture. Allow me to offer five examples from a list that could surely provide many more.

Example #1: The Church of Christ denomination as well as The Christian Church (The Disciples of Christ) denomination both believe that water baptism is an essential requirement for salvation. Their pet verse is Acts 2:38, which says:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (K.J.V.)

Of course, one verse these two denominations don’t say much about is 1 Corinthians 1:17, where Paul says to the Christians of Corinth:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (K.J.V.)

It certainly seems strange that Paul, who desperately wanted to lead people to salvation in Christ, would say, “Christ sent me not to baptize” if baptism is a requirement for salvation.

Example #2: While Calvinism is not itself a denomination, it is a doctrinal system that pervades various denominations such as Presbyterians, Primitive Baptists, and Reformed Baptists. Also, various congregations that are aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention are Calvinistic in nature. One of Calvinism’s pet verses is Ephesians 2:1, which says:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,… (N.K.J.V.)

In reference to an individual making a decision to believe in Christ as Savior, Calvinists use this verse to teach that salvation is wholly and completely an act of God, an act in which the individual essentially has no free will. To the Calvinist, if God has chosen an individual for salvation from eternity past, He will do a work inside that person to make sure the person places saving belief in Jesus. As the Calvinists say concerning an individual making a freewill decision to believe in Christ, “A dead man — one dead in trespasses and sins — can’t make any decision, even one to believe in Christ as Savior.”

There are, however, many verses that flatly contradict Calvinism. One of them is John 5:40, where Jesus says to a group of lost Jews:

“But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (N.K.J.V.)

Notice that Jesus didn’t say to those Jews, “You can’t come to Me because God the Father didn’t chose you for salvation from eternity past.” No, what He said was, “You aren’t willing to come to Me.” If, as Calvinism contends, those Jews had absolutely no possibility of coming to Jesus for salvation because they were all dead in trespasses and sins and dead men can’t make decisions, Jesus’ words would have amounted to Him taunting them concerning their eternally lost state and powerlessness to do anything about it.

Example #3: Like Calvinism, the teaching that a Christian can potentially lose his or her salvation is one that is prominently featured in various Christian denominations and groups such as Catholics, Freewill Baptists, and Pentecostals. One of the pet verses used to support this teaching is John 15:2, where Jesus says:

“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (N.K.J.V.)

On the flip side, however, besides the fact that the Bible doesn’t offer even one example of anyone getting saved twice, there are numerous verses and passages that can be used to teach the eternal security of the Christian. One of those verses is John 10:28, which is another quote from Jesus:

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (N.K.J.V.)

Example #4: Many denominations (Southern Baptists, Independent Baptists, Freewill Baptists, Pentecostals, etc.) teach that any and all consumption of alcohol is a sin. One of their pet verses to authenticate this teaching is Proverbs 20:1, which says:

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is no wise. (K.J.V.)

Is drunkenness always a sin? Absolutely. But before we start outlawing any and all drinking, regardless of the amount and the setting, we might want to remember that Jesus turned the water into wine, not grape juice. And then there is 1 Timothy 5:23, where Paul says to Timothy:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. (K.J.V.)

Example #5: The Seventh Day Adventists teach that Christians should meet together for weekly worship on Saturday rather than Sunday. This teaching stems from the fact that the Jewish Sabbath officially lasted from sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening. As might be expected, one of the pet verses the Seventh Day Adventists use to promote this teaching is Exodus 20:8:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (K.J.V.)

Okay, so is there a verse that can be used to contradict the teaching that Christians should meet for worship on the Sabbath (Saturday)? Yes, there is. That verse is Colossians 2:16, which says:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (K.J.V.)

Can you see how, if we couple that verse up with other verses such as 1 Corinthians 16:2 — which indicates that the early Christians met for worship on Sunday — we can understand why the vast majority of Christians meet for worship on Sunday rather than Saturday?

In conclusion, what I’m trying to get you to realize by way of these five examples is that it is unwise to build your doctrine around a handful of your pet verses. The Bible is a highly complex book that can wrongly be used to teach just about anything, and a ton of time and effort are required to do the studying necessary to get at what the book actually teaches. That’s why cherry-picking a verse here and there to back up what you already believe just won’t get the job done. Instead, you must embrace the totality of scripture, from Genesis to The Revelation, and compare your pet verses with other verses that might be used to contradict them.

This, then, is my challenge to you: Whatever you believe, give the teachings of other denominations, groups, cliques, and movements a fair investigation. Hear them out concerning their pet verses and their comebacks to your pet verses, and keep an open mind about things. After all, everybody thinks they have “the truth.” (I’ve never once heard a preacher stand in a pulpit and say, “Today, I’m going to teach you a pack of lies.”)

The fact is that everybody uses certain portions of scripture in their attempts to back up what they believe. Obviously, though, everybody isn’t right. How can they be when there is so much blatant disagreement? Someone has to be wrong, and you don’t want that someone to be you. As for God, He doesn’t do pet verses. He considers each and every word of the Bible to be inspired by Him and, as such, equally important. Therefore, that’s the attitude that we must have as well if we want to stand a chance of being right in our beliefs.

Posted in Alcohol, Baptism, Bible Study, Calvinism, Church Attendance, Discernment, Election, Eternal Security, God's Word, Scripture, The Bible, Truth | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resolution or Repentance?

Little Johnny’s mother plainly told him not to eat any cookies before supper. As soon as her back was turned, though, Johnny ate some cookies. When the mother discovered what he had done, she asked him, “Didn’t you know it was wrong to eat those cookies?” Johnny answered, “Yes, mamma, and the whole time I was eating them, I was asking God to forgive me.”

Sadly, this story sums up how many of us — including many of us Christians — deal with our sinful conduct. We keep on sinning and keep asking God to forgive us. Over and over again the pattern repeats itself: sin-ask for forgiveness-sin-ask for forgiveness-sin-ask for forgiveness. It’s like we’re stuck in a loop, and I don’t guess I have to explain why that loop will never result in any real change.

Genuine repentance, on the other hand, is much more serious. The Greek verb that gets translated as “repent” in our English translations of the Bible is metanoeo. Interestingly, this verb doesn’t primarily involve actions. Any change in action only comes at the end of the process. First and foremost, the verb involves the mind. In his famous Word Studies in the New Testament, Greek scholar Marvin Vincent explains that metanoeo is the combination of a preposition that means “after” or “with” alongside a verb that means “to perceive.” Thus, he says, “…the whole compound means to think differently after.” We find this same basic definition in Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,” which defines “repent” as “to perceive afterwards.”

The point is that there is a distinct process that works itself out in regards to repentance. First, you commit the sin, either once or a hundred times. Second, somewhere along the line after you have committed the sin, you realize that what you did was wrong and you are actually sorry that you did it. Your sorrow shows that you are now thinking differently about the sin and see it as a problem. Third, now that your thinking has changed concerning the sin, you have the inner motivation necessary to stop committing the sin.

By understanding this process, you can understand why repentance has been defined as “a change of mind that leads to a change of action.” Also, you can understand why the apostle Paul said, “For godly sorrow produces repentance…” (2 Corinthians 7:10, N.K.J.V.). Admittedly, the specific context for those words from Paul has to do with the salvation, but the link between feeling sorry for your sin and repenting of that sin always applies.

This explains why high-pressure tactics, threats, and even emotional pleas don’t produce repentance that lasts. If someone badgers, threatens, or begs you enough to get you to stop committing a particular sin, but deep inside your mind you don’t feel sorry for having committed the sin in the first place, you will almost certainly eventually return to the sin. Why? It’s because your repentance was not produced by a change of mind and what Paul calls “godly sorrow.”

I’ve always loved that illustration about the little boy who was told to sit down but wouldn’t. Finally, his mother walked over to him and manhandled him by picking him up and plopping him down into a chair. As the little fellow sat there stewing, he said, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!” That, my friend, is why so much so-called “repentance” doesn’t last in our lives. Even as we are outwardly doing the right thing about the sin, inwardly we are still thinking wrongly about it. We are rationalizing it, minimizing it, or attempting to explain it away. Like that little boy, we are still standing up on the inside, mentally. And what will that mean in the long run? It will mean that at some point, sooner or later, we will run back to the sin. It’s virtually inevitable.

Therefore, as we begin this New Year let me say that repentance is infinitely better than resolution. While resolutions are typically barely skin deep, repentance goes way deep, penetrating even to the inner recesses of the mind. Accordingly, show me a person who says, ‘I’ve got to change my way of doing,” and I’ll show you a person whose attempts to stop committing his pet sin won’t go the distance. On the other hand, show me a person who says, “I’ve got to change my way of thinking,” and I’ll show you a person who has an honest-to-goodness chance of laying a pet sin in the dust once and for all. You see, the battleground is the mind, not the body. If you can get the mind turned around, the body will naturally follow.

Posted in Backsliding, Change, New Year, Repentance, Sin | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Year-End Report (2019)

The Disciples Road is hosted by Word Press, and Word Press does an excellent job of providing in-depth statistical analysis for the blog. Anytime, night or day, I can click on “Stats and Insights” and get all kinds of information regarding the blog’s views for the day, the week, the month, the year, or all time. I can find out which posts are being viewed the most, which referrers (Search Engines, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)  are bringing people to the blog site, which countries are reporting views, and a whole lot of other info that I don’t even need. Needless to say, Word Press makes it easy for me to provide a year-end report regarding what’s going on with the blog.

And just exactly what is going on? Well, it’s all good. For the first time since I began the blog in 2009, the total views for the year exceeded 40,000. Right now they stand at just under 45,000, and that’s with most of a day to go. That breaks the previous year’s record, last year’s 36,830, by over 8,000 views. When the final numbers are posted, the end result will be a betterment of approximately 700 views per month.

November’s 5,182 views and average of 173 views per day made that month the year’s best in terms of views. October’s 4,878 views and average of 157 views per day ranked second in both categories. The fact that these months fall late in the year indicate that the blog’s views are trending upward. Admittedly, December’s views fell back to just under 4,000, but December — with everything that goes on that month — always sees a decrease in views.

While a blog’s number of views typically serves as the primary indicator in regards to readership, the number of visitors to the site is a big deal as well. Just by way of a reminder, one person visiting the site registers as one visitor, but if that person views two posts the number of views comes in at two. For 2019, 27,190 people visited the blog, and the average number of views per visitor was 1.65. Both of those were increases from 2018’s 23,260 visitors and 1.58 average number of views per visitor.

As for the posts that received the most views this year, there were some changes from the 2018 list. For each of the past several years, Does God Want Everyone to Get Married? has held the top spot as the most viewed post, but this year it fell to #3, with a current total number of views of 1,724 for the year. Ahead of it on the list were What a Bird’s Nest Can Teach Us About God’s Will (currently at 1,756 views for the year) and The 10 Times Israel Tested God (currently at 3,713 views for the year).

Those 3,713 views for The 10 Times Israel Tested God were an increase of over 2,500 views from that post’s 1,151 views last year. Did I see that coming? No way. When I wrote that post in 2018, I never dreamed that it would do much more than get its share of views as the new post on the site and then fade into obscurity as I wrote more posts to push it further down the list of the latest posts. Boy, was I wrong.

Anyway, here are the top 10 most viewed posts for 2019:

  1. The 10 Times Israel Tested God (3,713 views)
  2. What a Bird’s Nest Can Teach Us About God’s Will (1,756 views)
  3. Does God Want Everyone to Get Married? (1,724 views)
  4. How Does a Worm Get Inside an Apple? (1,380 views)
  5. How Would You Describe Your Walk With the Lord These Days? (1,111 views)
  6. “Lord, Why am I Having to Wait?” (863 views)
  7. Lessons From Habakkuk (800 views)
  8. What Satan Did to Joshua: Accusation (613 views)
  9. About the Author & the Blog (546 views)
  10. The Importance of Spanking a Child (380 views)

It’s significant that the bottom 5 posts on that list are different from last year’s bottom 5 of: What Will Life Be Like in Christ’s Millennial Reign?; Should We Pray Silently to Keep Satan From Hearing?; Why God Hates Gambling; The Old Testament’s General Teaching on Prayer; and the Mayonnaise Jar. That indicates that the site is getting even more healthy as a wider selection of posts are finding increased traction with readers. In other words, the site’s numbers aren’t just being driven by two or three popular posts.

Here now is the updated list of the posts that have been viewed the most all time on the site. That list currently reads as follows:

  1. Does God Want Everyone to Get Married? (17,860 views)
  2. How Does a Worm Get Inside an Apple? (7,461 views)
  3. The 10 Times Israel Tested God (4,862 views)
  4. What a Bird’s Nest Can Teach Us About God’s Will (4,495 views)
  5. Oral Roberts & “Seed Faith” Giving (2,079 views)
  6. How Would You Describe Your Walk With the Lord These Days? (1,193 views)
  7. What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce & Remarriage? (1,857 views)
  8. The Importance of Spanking a Child (1,530 views)
  9. Should We Pray Silently to Keep Satan From Hearing? (1,528 views)
  10. The Importance of Individuality in a Child (1,354 views)

Now let me say a word about how God is using the blog around the world. In 2018, the blog registered at least one view from 174 different countries, and this year’s number matched that number perfectly. 2019’s top-10 list of countries that registered views for the site currently reads like this:

  1. United States (32,227 views for 2019) (134,734 views all time, #1)
  2. India (1,437 views) (3,319 views all time, #5)
  3. South Africa (1,302 views) (3,735 views all time, #4)
  4. United Kingdom (1,310 views) (5,129 views all time, #2)
  5. Canada (1,105 views) (4,612 views all time, #3)
  6. Nigeria (938 views) (2,322 views all time, #8)
  7. Philippines (898 views) (2,947 views all time, #7)
  8. Australia (607 views) (2,958 views all time, #6)
  9. Kenya (531 views) (1,136 views all time, #10)
  10. Singapore (390 views) (1,329 all-time views, #9 all time)

In closing, about all I can say is “THANK YOU” to each one of you out there who has ever registered a view on the blog. And for those of you who are regular readers, I hope it goes without saying that you have my undying appreciation. Many of you I know personally. Others of you I’ve never met. Either way, though, without you this blog’s scope and influence would be a shell of what it is. As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t allow any advertisements on the blog. (If you see one, I didn’t put it there.) Also, I don’t promote the blog other than sharing a short paragraph on Facebook or Twitter whenever I publish a new post. That means that much of the work to grow the readership comes from God using word of mouth.

As always, I have no plan concerning the blog. I just write new posts, on average three per week, and launch them out onto the internet. I have no agenda, no long-range goals, no plans to rule the world. My entire approach is simply to write what God lays on my heart to write. I’m pretty good at grammar and punctuation, but a true expert could find enough errors to hurt my feelings. And typos? Let’s just say they come with the territory.

In the end, though, I trust that you can hear my heart by reading my words. Even more than that, I want the Lord to use my stuff to help you not only learn the Bible but also learn how to better walk with Him and serve Him. As I’ve explained before, the word “disciple” literally means “learner,” and that’s why the blog is called The DISCIPLE’S Road. I myself am still learning, and so when I write about a topic, that is me writing myself clear about that topic. You, the reader, receive the overflow, and hopefully that overflow is a help to you. That’s how this blog thing has been working and how it will continue to work.

So, as we stare down the gun barrel of 2020, my prayer is that God will continue to use this blog in great and mighty ways, and that each person who clicks on the site will be genuinely blessed by doing so. If you want to pray something for me, please pray that I’ll be encouraged in the work. In case you don’t know, life is hard and serving Jesus can make it harder because it puts you on the radar screen of the devil and his demons. That’s why it’s so encouraging to read a year-end report like the 2019 one for the blog. For that, again I say, “Thank You.” I really don’t have the words to adequately express the full measure of my appreciation but just know that the measure is plenty deep and plenty wide.

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