What books have I used to write a commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians? [Studies in 1 Thessalonians]

Note: In November 2012 I published a commentary of 1-2 Thessalonians for Zondervan (click HERE). The advice given below is applicable to all preaching and writing projects.

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I used to do business at a local office building. On the wall was an engraved map of the New World from the 1600s. It was a real work of art, but of course it was also grossly inaccurate. Florida was too stubby. Much of the area north and west of the Mississippi was missing. Many of the lands were out of proportion. Antarctica and Greenland were freakish. A modern sailor would love to have a map like this on his wall, but who today would attempt to navigate Tierra del Fuego or the Hudson Bay with that information? (more…)

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How to Teach your Church to Pray: Don’t tell them, show them!

The Twelve learned to pray by asking, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1 NIV). For that they received the Lord’s Prayer, which functions as Jesus intended, whether used as a model or prayed verbatim. In general the North American church fails to teach its people to pray. For some evangelicals the training begins and ends with, “Forget about formal prayers you may have learned. Prayer is talking to God, so just talk to him like you would talk to another person.”

This boggles the mind, when one considers that it is difficult to pray regularly; that it is difficult to pray well, that is, following biblical priorities; that it is difficult to pray with persistence. (more…)

God’s Will and Paul’s Missionary Plans, or, How did Paul know where he was supposed to go?

Let us say then that a Christian believes that God is calling him or her to the mission field. One of the most pressing questions, always, is: I know I’m going…but where do I go? How can I be sure when the whole needy world lies before me? The church does not have the privilege to shrug its shoulders and leave this a mystery, not when we have the New Testament to guide us. When I say the New Testament, I do not mean that we may select out one verse of Scripture, such as the vision of the Macedonian man in Acts 16:9-10, and use that as the one and only word on the topic. In fact the New Testament does not provide a formula, but nevertheless it shows us a range of godly ways in which a missionary should make decisions.

The question: How did Paul, as a Spirit-filled missionary, know where to go? When he was at a crossroads, how did he know to turn to the right or to the left? How did he know hit was time to leave and when it was time to stay longer? (more…)