Freedom from sin and sickness?

I’ve recently been re-reading Christ the Healer by F. F. Bosworth (the second time through in the last three months). An excellent book on healing. Bosworth continuously raises the question, is physical healing part of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross? His conclusion is, yes, Christ died to redeem us physically as well as spiritually. We can experience healing from sickness and disease as well as forgiveness of sin.

Since putting into practice some of the principles he describes, a painful knee condition I’ve been dealing with for several months has just about disappeared. (You may say, “Well it would have gotten better anyway!” but it was noticeable how often when I chose to believe God’s word, the pain went away.)

So I’ve been exploring around the topic.

One of the chief passages about what Jesus accomplished through his  finished work on the cross comes in Isaiah 53.

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. (vv 3-5 NASB)

The words, griefs and sorrows, which come twice here, are the Hebrew words  choli and yagon. According to Strong’s Hebrew Concordance, choli is translated as “grief” three times, but words like “disease,” “illness” and “sickness” twenty-two times.  Yagon is translated as “sorrow” four times, but words like “pain” twelve times.

So it seems that “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief might be equally well (or better)  translated, “A man of pain and acquainted with sickness,” and “Surely our griefs he bore and our sorrows he carried,” as “Surely our sickness he bore and our pain he carried.”

That’s how Matthew interpreted it too.

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)

Makes you think!

Christ the Healer


Why gender equality is good for everyone

I recently came across this fascinating TED talk. For those who are not familiar with this organization, TED  (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a non-profit dedicated to spreading ideas in 18 minutes or less. It’s well worth the time investment.

In this TED talk, Michael Kimmel shares why gender equality is not just good for women. He looks at the impact of gender equality on business, on family life and on men. It’s from a secular perspective, so doesn’t mention the church, but it is definitely both informative and entertaining.


Fashionable fad or God-inspired trend?

In 2007, in the book Small Is Big!: Unleashing the Big Impact of Intentionally Small Churches (originally The Rabbit and The Elephant) which I co-authored with my husband, Tony, and George Barna, I wrote the following under the subtitle, “A fashionable fad”:

Another hazard we face is that of becoming fashionable, the latest phenomenon in church statistics, the trendy alternative to traditional church. There will always be people who hop onto the bandwagon because they want to be part of the latest thing, not because the Holy Spirit is leading them.

That has proved to be very true. When house church, or organic church, or simple church became a buzz word, many people jumped in with all four feet.  But, as I go on to say, if people don’t truly live out the DNA, they will soon find that what they have is only a pale substitute for the real thing.

Thankfully, those days are over. We’re no longer a fashionable fad.

I was very encouraged to read a recent blog post by entrepreneur and author, Seth Godin. (His blog is well worth following. He is able to clarify thoughts, especially about the digital age, in an extraordinary way.) The post is very short, and so I quote it in its entirety.

A fad is popular because it’s popular. A fad gives us momentary joy, and part of the joy comes in knowing that it’s momentary. We enjoy a fad because our peers are into it as well.

A trend, on the other hand, satisfies a different human need. A trend gains power over time, because it’s not merely part of a moment, it’s a tool, a connector that will become more valuable as other people commit to engaging in it.

Confusion sets in because at the beginning, most trends gain energy with people who are happy to have fun with fads, and it’s only when the fad fans fade away (yes, I just wrote ‘fad fans fade’) that we get to see the underlying power of the trend that’s going on.

I believe we have moved from fashionable fad to Holy Spirit inspired trend. Could it be “for such a time as this”?

Small is Big!

Skate Church

What is God doing with simple/house churches in this country?

This past weekend, Tony and I spoke at a simple church conference in Lexington Kentucky. On the way there, I asked the Lord, “Father, what are you doing with house churches around this nation? Are they healthy?” I sensed his reply to me: “Check out what is happening with the people at this conference, and that will be an indication of what I am doing.”

Was I ever encouraged!!!

Simple/house churches are alive and well. Just check out this video that was produced about one of the churches in the Simple Church Alliance network–Skate Church!


On Board from Julia Chin on Vimeo.

It’s time to leave the safety of the shore

A few years ago, I had the privilege of training a church in India in the principles of church planting. One of the activities we did was to listen to the Lord on behalf of the church. What was he saying to them as a body of believers? They were a wonderful group of people and the Lord spoke clearly. Yesterday, I had an email from them asking me to write some words for their anniversary and reminding me of a vision I had for them while I was there.


The picture I had seemed relevant beyond just their situation.


Here’s what I wrote for them:


“I remember when I was with you that I had a picture of boats docked by the shore. The wind (of the Spirit) was blowing, but the boats had not yet put out to sea. A boat in the harbor cannot catch fish. Until it trims its sails and moves out of the safety and shelter of the shoreline, a sailing boat is land bound and cannot live up to its potential of being like a live creature, responding to every gust of wind and to the direction of the one at the helm.


It’s time! It’s time to hoist your sails. You’ve had plenty of time to get everything ready and bring in provisions for the voyage. You are as ready now as you’ll ever be. The wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing. So experience the adventure and exhilaration of setting sail under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  As you sail under the direction of the Master Helmsman, you will be challenged by the risks of the unknown, and you will learn to rely on the One who will not fail you.


Jesus is not safe or tame, but he is good. As you follow him into the deep, your boat will produce a wake that other boats will follow. As others see your walk of faith, they will desire that same voyage of exploration that you are experiencing.


Go for it!”


Sailing boat

 Photo Credit: Tim Green aka atoach via Compfight cc

Are you on the map?

One of commonest emails I get is this: I live in ____, and I’m looking for a more organic expression of church. Can you help me?


If I’m aware of simple/organic/house churches in their area, it’s a pleasure to refer them, but often I don’t know anyone. (It’s not that house churches aren’t there–they just tend to fly under the radar. If only there were a map…)


I’ve recently been sent information on a new simple/organic/house church tool. Put out by the Adventists, here’s what they say:


The Simple Church Global Network has recently launched a free house church registry to help, connect and serve house churches around the world.  Once registered, your location will show up on the global map  and you will receive practical and proven resources to help you and your house church.


Features include practical resources, training, and coaching.


All of this is free. Serving and strengthening house churches is the goal.


Here’s the link: They are obviously in the early stages of populating the map. Check it out.


Are you on the map?

Are you going to the CBE conference?

One of my driving passions concerns the importance of men and women co-laboring together as equals in the body of Christ. I’ve compiled a book on the topic and written extensively about it here on my blog.

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is an organization that has uncompromisingly espoused these same principles. I’ve long admired their work and from time to time have considered attending one of their conferences.

When notification of their next conference at the end of July came across my desk a few weeks ago, I felt the Lord prompting me. Now’s the time! So I signed up. If any of you are going to be there, I’d love to meet you! Please get in touch and let’s get together.

Here’s some information on the conference.

CBE conference



Simple Grace

One of Tony’s and my greatest current challenges concerns an elderly parent. She’s been a wonderful woman of God, greatly used by the Lord around the world. But dementia has done more than robbed her of her memory. It has shrunk her world, stolen her dignity and changed her personality. It’s been hard to watch.

Amy Grant, (the singer) faced similar issues with both her parents. I recently was asked to review the new monthly devotional magazine, Simple Grace, and was blessed to find an article by her describing how she coped with her situation. With simplicity, grace, and humility, she described her walk with Jesus as she dealt with her parents’ Alzheimer’s disease.

Simple Grace is a little bit like Guideposts–short, inspirational articles on how God has worked in people’s daily lives. The main part of the magazine is a daily devotional, along the lines of  GOD CALLING in that each devotional takes on the voice of Jesus speaking directly to you. It’s not profound theology, but it’s encouraging and inspirational. I believe Jesus will use this little magazine in the lives of many.

Simple Grace

Life in Community: Geneva Two by Russell Smith

In the late 70s and 80s, Tony and I lived in community. We didn’t all live under the same roof, but many families lived in a very small area of the East End of London, which at that time was 92 percent government housing. They were amazing days. We shared meals, tools, at times, cars. You couldn’t walk more than a few hundred yards from our home without meeting another believer. For years, I cooked for about 10 extra people every evening, never knowing who would show up for dinner.

Of course, it had its problems. Personalities clashed. People disagreed. Because of the area we lived in, people had problems of every description. If you’ve seen the PBS series, “Call the Midwife” you will understand some of the issues we faced. We were there 20 years after the TV program takes place, but many of the conditions were still the same. The area has since become gentrified. Back then, God was at work. Over the years, many of Tony’s patients became believers, and we had so many home groups in the area that it was usually possible to find someone who lived within a street or two who could follow them up. Because of the demographics, we saw miracle after miracle as people became believers, were healed and set free. It was also extremely demanding and stressful.

It was with great interest, therefore, that I read Russell Smith’s new book Geneva Two: A Parable of Christian Community and Calling. It is superbly written, and takes a fascinating approach to the subject as a fictional reporter interviews different members of the community. As each person speaks, a composite picture of the community develops with all its warts and flaws as well as its blessings. The settings, conversations and character sketches show the different personalities well.

I’m not sure whether Russell has ever lived in community–he is Senior Pastor of a Presbyterian church. The picture he paints in Geneva Two is unlike the communities I’ve lived in–it feels somewhat unrealistic, but this is probably because of the different culture. However, this is a thought-provoking book that highlights the value of community.

Geneva Two



Does “brothers” mean men only? Guest post by Gary Shogren

Gary Shogren and his wife are missionaries in Costa Rica and professors in a Bible College and Seminary.  Gary  is an expert in the Greek New Testament with a PhD from Aberdeen University. He has written an exegetical commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Recently, Gary sent me a post on the NIV 2011 edition of the Bible and how it has been vilified as an inaccurate translation, especially when it comes to the English pronouns “he” and “she.” He wrote another excellent guest post on a similar topic here. Below is a nugget from his latest post:

Is it an error to translate masculine gender pronouns as generic English pronouns? Not necessarily, and all English translations do so at one time or another, even the King James Version. Here is what we encounter in the Greek New Testament; I will be taking my examples from 1 Corinthians:

  1. Masculine gender words that refer to men. The NIV 2011 translates them as “he”, “him” or “man” in English. For example, 1 Cor 7:18 – “Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.” Only male circumcision is in view, so he’s talking about men, not women.
  2. Feminine gender words that refer to women. The NIV 2011 translates them as “she” or “her” in English. For example, 1 Cor 7:4 – “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband;” 7:13 – “if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.” What we see in Group 1 and Group 2 is proof that the NIV 2011 is not some “unisex” Bible. Women are women, men are men, and (Group 3) people are people.
  3. Masculine gender words that, in context, refer to men and women or both. The NIV 2011 tries to translate them literally into English, that is, making them refer to men and women, boys and girls, without restricting the reference to “man = adult male”. In today’s English, “man” refers to a male, and an adult; the original Greek includes people of both sexes and all ages, for example “if anyone is in Christ”, 2 Cor 5:17. As Mark Strauss, editor of the NIV 2011 states, “A simple definition of a gender-inclusive translation is a translation that seeks to avoid masculine terminology when the original author was referring to members of both sexes.

All the controversy over gender neutrality in the NIV 2011 has to do with Group 3. Every single English Bible version in use today employs “gender neutral translation” to some extent. That includes the ESV, the NASB and yes, the original King James Version, see below. In other words, the difference between the KJV, ESV and the NIV 2011 is a relative difference of degree, not an absolute difference in translation philosophy.

1 Cor 1:10. See also 1:11; 1:26; 2:1; 3:1; 4:6; 5:11; 6:8; 7:15; 7:24; 7:29. Here and in many other verses in the New Testament, Paul address the Christians as “brothers and sisters” rather than just “brothers” or “brethren”. One website insists that this is silly, since everyone knows that the term “brothers” includes women. But is this so? When someone asks me, “Do you have any brothers?” a proper answer might be, “Brothers? Yes, I have one brother.” I would not say, “Brothers? Yes, I have a sister.” It’s as simple as that: “brothers” no longer includes “sisters”, as it did in English centuries ago.

Exegetical Commentary by Gary Shogren