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Seven-Day Practical Faith Blog: Fresh Readings of Scripture

Jeremiah 29:11

Like many others, I was moved by Joanie Mitchell's performance of "Both Sides Now" on the recent Grammy Awards telecast. Mitchell took one of her biggest hits, and gave the wonderful song new meaning by singing from the perspective of an eighty-year-old.

I believe scripture can impact us in fresh ways as we grow and have new perspectives. For example, Jeremiah 29:11 has held different meanings for me on various occasions.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Originally a promise for Israelites about to be carted away to Babylon or left behind in Jerusalem's ruins, many people read this verse and map it into their own situations. We believe in the Lord's desire for the best for us.

I remember this verse attained new meaning for me when a depressed person in my home Sunday School class described what it meant from her perspective. Another time, I gave this verse on a small sculpture to a young friend of mine who had life-threatening cancer; seeing her reaction and the meaning it held for her unveiled fresh insight.

I believe that as we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit is by our side, helping us comprehend and apply what we're reading. The Holy Spirit offers the rich dimensions of scripture so that we can apply what we're reading to our situation or we can gain new ideas that grow our faith.

This is why, in our seven-day practical faith journey, we need to keep reading the Bible, even the parts we have read many times, letting the Spirit speak to us anew.

I have authored a book that may have a similar utility for us to learn afresh when presented with crisis, as each crisis is different but has similarities as well. Try this idea with "The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life," an idea I got from a San Antonio church where two members bought the book. Buy a copy for you and your church family. When anyone is in crisis, or processing a past crisis, or preparing for a looming crisis, offer them this book to read. Then keep passing it around to others who may need it, with each person signing the book. This creates a crisis community that can support each other and speak a similar language. You can find "The Next Thing" on my site,, or on Amazon and other online booksellers.

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