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Where There is No Vision, the People Misinterpret Proverbs 29:18


Setting up goals for 2015? Don't use this commonly misinterpreted scripture to justify vision boards.

As 2014 comes to a close, many people are reflecting on the year and setting goals for the new year. I’m particularly delighted to see so many Christian women desiring to use the gifts God has given them to glorify Him. However, just as everything else in this world is corrupted, so is our goal setting. And this is where Miss Interpreted comes in.

Miss Interpreted yearns to honor God and makes her plans for the new year accordingly. She reads half a verse from Proverbs that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV) as a reason to set up vision boards and use visualization to make her dreams come true. This is hardly a surprise since Miss Interpreted follows the teachings of celebrity pastors, such as Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, who teach this false interpretation:

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” They can’t focus, can’t reach their goal, can’t follow their dream. An older translation says, “Without vision, the people perish.” I’ve seen it with my own eyes – without vision, people lose the vitality that makes them feel alive.”
-Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership, page 31

(links to Rick Warren’s teachings are found below this article)

Let’s look at other Bible translations, with attention to the words I’ve set in bold:

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint (NIV)

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild (NLT)

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (ESV)

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish (AMP)

Words like revelation, divine guidance, and redemptive revelation of God make it clear the verse is not talking about a vision that we can cast. Likewise, run wild and cast off restraint are referring to rebellion – not a “vitality that makes them feel alive”.

Putting it all together, this verse means that without God’s revelation in understanding His words and obeying them, people will cast off restraint and do what they think is right in their own eyes.

Isn’t it odd that Bill Hybels chose to use the KJV to misinterpret the verse’s meaning? He actually begins by quoting the NASB version, which is a clearer indication of the correct interpretation, but I suppose the accurate meaning doesn’t support his message.


When There is No Vision the People Misinterpret Proverbs 29:18


We’ve only looked at half of the verse so far. It continues: “But blessed is he who keeps the law” (ESV), or “But happy is he who keeps the law” (NASB). It’s obvious by now that this verse is referring to obedience and not to failed dreams or the size of the congregation as Rick Warren would have us believe.

I suppose the faulty interpretation of this verse is attractive to Miss Interpreted, because if she’s following Rick Warren, she is most likely also under the teachings of the Word of Faith Movement/Prosperity Gospel. After all, how much different is casting a vision to “believing and conceiving”? As if this isn’t bad enough, vision casting is really in effect the law of attraction, shamelessly promoted by twisting Scripture. Basically, Miss Interpreted is flirting with the occult. She is putting her faith in her ability to visualize rather than in trusting God to direct her steps (Proverbs 3:6). Deceived Miss Interpreted started off with a desire to honor God and ended up meditating on her own vision boards, thereby sacrificing to demons, not to God (1 Corinthians 1:20).

How can God be glorified if we don’t discern His words? Let’s plan to glorify God by testing everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21), so that our love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment; so that we may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10)

Soli Deo Gloria,


For more information on the occult practice of vision casting, see:





Biblical Stewardship and Goal Planning

Goal planning and Biblical Stewardship


This is the time when many people set goals for the coming year:  vision boards will flood Pinterest, while worldly and godless motivational quotes such as “Believe you can and you’re halfway there!” will fill Facebook’s newsfeed. However, just what are we envisioning and believing? Treasures that can be stored up in heaven (Matthew 6:20)? Or are we storing up worldly things and setting worldly goals? Goals can be good when not man-centered and not driven by selfish ambition. To ensure that we are setting God-honoring goals that have eternal value, here are some points to remember.

God is the Owner of Everything and He is in Control of Everything

God is the owner of our time, our abilities and our resources – we are merely managing these responsibilities. Since it is no longer we that live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20), His desires need to be our desires. So, are we managing what belongs to God for His glory?

Additionally, as believers, we must remember that when things do not go as we planned, that God is still sovereign over our circumstances and our lives.

Verses to meditate upon:

  • The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell within (Psalm 24:1)
  •  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17a)
  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

We Exist for God’s Pleasure

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11 KJV).

It is humbling to know that God created us for His pleasure – to be in a relationship with Him, and to worship Him through His son Jesus Christ. How wondrous it is that He involves us in His purposes! As we discern what these purposes are, what He has given us stewardship over, and what His commands are, we must submit to His will, not ours. Our ambitions must be in submission to His purposes and plans.

We’ll do well to know that the ultimate purpose for believers is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and this includes spreading the Gospel.

Verses to meditate on:

  • Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.(Proverbs 16:3)
  • Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act (Psalm 37:5)
  • Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Many think the verses above mean that God will act favorably toward our plans and the desires of our heart if we commit them to Him. Instead, we are to commit our work, plans, and heart to HIS way first, and then God will favorably act. We cannot simply say, “God I’m committing my goal of buying a 4-storey mansion to You. Please establish my plans and grant me this desire of my heart.”

Look forward to future rewards!

It may feel wrong to be motivated to receive rewards; however, Scripture mentions rewards many times. As mentioned earlier, Jesus told us to “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). What are we storing up? What treasures do our hearts desire?

Verses to meditate on:

  • Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
  • Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12)
  • Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).

The Prayer of Jesus

Before Jesus’ death, the Son of God prayed a remarkable prayer to God the Father. In this prayer, He said, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do” (John 17:4). As followers of Jesus, this is a wonderful goal for us, so that by the grace of God we may hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Have a blessed 2016 – and to God be the glory!

Hallowed be His name,



A piece with application regarding self-examination

A New Year’s Motto

Psalm 115:1






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I can do all things through me, myself, and I who strengthen me


How New Thought and the Human Potential Movement are wrongly supported by Christians through inspirational quotes.


Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Him who strengthens me) is used ad nauseam to invoke everything from winning a football game to dealing with crowds of shoppers on Black Friday to baking the perfectly risen soufflé. While God permits us to do every good work (because all good things come from God), this verse is not about being empowered to accomplish what we desire. This verse encourages us to be content in all things despite the circumstances―for example, being shipwrecked, beaten with rods and stones, or thrown into jail for the sake of the Gospel.

To add to the confusion, this verse is often followed by a self-empowered and self-glorifying ‘inspirational’ message such as the ones below:








While there are many ideologies that give rise to this manner of unbiblical thinking, two stand out as having affected the modern church concerning positive thinking and attitude―New Thought and the Human Potential Movement. I will only give a brief overview of each; however, I will include links below the article for further research.

New Thought and Positive Thinking

New Thought has a long history; however, it picked up momentum in the 1800s. This ideology promotes an ‘Infinite Intelligence’ and a divine thought force that can be used for healing. This view claims our mental states manifest our daily living. New Thought can be found in books and the teachings of Chicken Soup for the SoulThe Secret, Oprah Winfrey, Creative Visualization (and Vision Boards), Napoleon Hill, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Yonggi Cho, Kenneth Copeland, and Joyce Meyer.

Got Questions gives a brief history of New Thought and the Word of Faith Movement:

The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin, in turn, studied under E. W. Kenyon and made the Word of Faith movement what it is today. Although individual teachings range from completely heretical to completely ridiculous, what follows is the basic theology most Word of Faith teachers align themselves with.”

Examples of New Thought in the Word of Faith Movement are Joyce Meyer, who says, “You cannot have a positive, exciting life and a negative mind”, and Joel Osteen, who says, “Start believing today that things are going to change for the better. Your best days are still out in front of you.”

Also popular in Christian circles is author Norman Vincent Peale. His most successful book is The Power of Positive Thinking, which stayed on The New York Times’ list of bestsellers for 186 consecutive weeks and sold 5 million copies, making it one of the best-selling ‘religious’ books of all time. This book is a blend of Christian Science, biblical twists, and psychology that teaches that you can have peace of mind, improved health, and that your life can be full of joy and satisfaction through the power of positive thinking.

This is a telling conversation with Peale, as reported by author Walter Martin:

I will never forget my teacher, Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse, told me of a luncheon he had with Norman Vincent Peale, who was then riding the crest of the wave on the power of positive thinking. Dr. Barnhouse chatted with him for a few minutes, and Dr. Peale said, “I would like a candid answer, Dr. Barnhouse. I know you will give me one. What do you really think of what I’ve written on the power of positive thought?”

Dr. Barnhouse said, “Well, I can only tell you what a great many clergy-men have said to me.”

“And what is that?” asked Dr. Peale.

Barnhouse replied, “Paul is appealing, but Peale is appalling.”

Dr. Peale just stopped in the middle of his soup and asked, “What?”

“You have forgotten the most important thing,” Barnhouse continued, “Before anyone can think positively, they must think negatively.”

“What do you mean?” asked Peale.

“Look”, said Barnhouse, “I am a sinner–negative or positive?”

“Negative,” said Peale.

“I am a lost sinner–negative or positive?”


“I am going to eternal judgement–negative or positive?”

“Negative,” Peale repeated for the third time.

Barnhouse said, “Here are three negative propositions without which you cannot think positively. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). But if you do not think the first three, you will never get to the fourth.”

“I never thought of it that way before,” Peale replied.

Dr. Barnhouse said, “You must write a new book: The Power of Negative Thinking!

“I couldn’t do that–it would ruin me!” said Peale.

“Get out the truth,” replied Dr. Barnhouse, “and the Lord will take care of it.”

Peale never wrote the book, but he was told what he should do. The truth of the matter is this: whatever the cost, tell the truth. Speak the truth in love, but for the sake of Christ, we must speak it.”*

Shocking and sad―not just for Peale, but for the millions he has deceived.

The Human Potential Movement

This philosophy arose in the 1960s and teaches that we have unlimited potential for happiness, creativity, and fulfillment. Proponents include Brian Klemmer, Forum (Landmark), Stephen Covey, and Anthony Robbins. Popular in Christian circles is author, speaker, and former pastor John C. Maxwell who often misuses Scripture and endorses New Age teachings despite his vast amount of seminary training. His quotes include:

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”

“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me.”

Terri Savelle Foy is another teacher who promotes human potential disguised in biblical language and misused scriptures. Her purpose is to “teach people how to make their dreams bigger than their memories and fulfill God’s assignment on their lives”. Her quotes include:

“You have to become your own best cheerleader & remember: the secret of your future is hidden in your daily ROUTINE.”

“Do not die with your potential untapped because of something that happened in the past.”

“If you’ll change what you’re SAYING ~ you’ll change what you’re SEEING! (James 3:9)”

She also promotes the use of a vision board to manifest dreams and desires.

Sadly, many women asked Foy about using vision boards, hoping to learn the magical formula to creating the ideal life.

Speculations and Lofty Opinions

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and to take every thought captive to obey Christ. We must do that with these teachings from men, which elevate man and make him sovereign and providential instead of God. At best, these teachings promote faith in one’s ability, and at worst, they practice occult teachings. Everything we need to know has been revealed in Scripture; we should not seek out these secret things taught by men. Secrecy is not part of the Christian faith, as Jesus taught in the open (John 18:20).

We are not commanded to ‘fulfill our potential’, we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). Besides, how would we know what our potential is? Are we the Alpha and Omega who sees all things from beginning to end and Who is able to bring everything together for His purposes? Those are large, sovereign shoes to fill! Is suffering (which is beneficial) or persecution (part of the Christian life) on our vision boards? If we were in charge of our potential, I doubt if the spreading of the Gospel or the glory of God would benefit at all!

Assuming that our wicked and deceitful hearts knew what was best for us, we would not need vision boards, positive thinking, or other methodologies to bring about successful living. It is God alone who fulfills our ‘potential’ (Philippians 1:6). As Proverbs 16:9 states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” God doesn’t need our help to make anything happenTragically, many have forgotten that God alone has complete control, authority, and power:

  • Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? (Lamentations 3:37)
  • Our God is in the heavens; He does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
  • The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:33)
  • Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

Biblical Striving

While I do see value in setting and achieving goals, I sometimes wonder whose goals are being sought. Are we striving for what the world or the flesh tells us to desire? I have a sense that these vision boards would rival Dream Barbie’s lifestyle as opposed to that of Jesus Christ’s.


Instead of striving for worldly success:



Strive for obedience and righteousness:



Friends, search the Scriptures to see if what I say is true. I pray that you will place your faith in your Creator and the Sustainer of life and stay clear of vision boards and the ‘power’ of positive thinking. I would like to leave you with a teaching on biblical thinking in hopes that we might loosen the hold of the world and the teachings of men. May it help us to strive for what is biblical and righteous, such as remaining faithful to biblical convictions, rendering love to others, and cherishing the effects of adversity, all for the glory of God alone.

Soli Deo Gloria,


* Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Occult (Nashville,TN: Jill Martin Rische, 2008), 665-666

Further Resources:

New Thought–A Warning for Christians

The Human Potential Movement and Motivational Seminars

The Pagan Mind Techniques of Paul Yonggi Cho

Norman Vincent Peale

John Maxwell




“Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Narcigesiest of Them All?”

Why we should not interpret the bible by asking, "What does that verse mean to you?"


First off, I’ll concede that “narcigesiest” isn’t actually a word, but since this post is about the subjective interpretation of Scripture, I chose to subjectively interpret the dictionary.

According to the Greek myth of Narcissus, a young man fell in love with his own reflection in a pond, and his desire for himself consumed him. Since eisegesis is a mishandling of Scripture, narcigesis is a brilliant term for those who take Scripture and personalize it. In an article from Apprising.org, narcigesis is defined as

  1. The reading of one’s own life experiences and/or that of another’s life experience into the text of Scripture and the need to make the Bible all about oneself.
  2. An interpretation of Scripture based on the interpreter’s self-authority, particularly driven by self-esteem, self-actualization, mystical experiences and/or the interpreter’s “felt needs.” (See Sola Experientia.)
  3. A personal and/or mystical interpretation of Scripture based on the interpreter’s own ideas, biases, opinions, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, experiences, impressions, dreams, revelations, or the like, rather than based upon the plain meaning of the text.
  4. The reading of one’s own doctrinal theories into Scripture (as opposed to exegesis, which is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of biblical text), particularly as a result of personal experience. (See Sola Experientia.)
  5. Self-centered, self-defined and self-authenticating biblical interpretation, application and counsel.
  6. The reading of one’s own interpretation into Scripture, based upon the egotistical belief that all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; and that only the learned, the elect, or the leadership elite (of which the interpreter considers himself to be one), may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (See Plura Scriptura.)
  7. The egotistical drive to invent new theologies, doctrines, revelations, applications and philosophies about Scripture that often manifest in self-aggrandizing activities, such as book publishing, conferences, setting up organizations and websites, moneymaking schemes and publicity drives.

A narcigetic reading of Scripture can be found wherever you hear, “What does that verse mean to you?” Usually, this happens when women gather around the Bible to choose ‘life verses’ that ‘speak to their hearts’, or when they want to ‘claim life verses’ for certain areas of their lives. Typically, these women then add these verses to their vision boards (and idea gleaned from a misinterpretation of Proverbs 29:18). This assortment of verses – taken out of context and personalized – results in an idolatrous smash book of Scripture ‘selfies’. The idol? The self, of course. Just as Narcissus failed to realize that he was being entranced by a mere image, many Christian women are similarly held captive by the reflections their false projections create onto the Word of God. Our rebellious nature tempts us to be like God; it makes our desires a priority. The following narcigetic reflections of Scripture clearly underlines my point:

1. Reflections of Carnal Desires

If the world were given an invitation to choose from a host of items to enrich lives, its first instinct would be to choose those things that increase health, wealth, and success. Since we are fallen creatures who are at war with our flesh (Galatians 5:17), it’s not surprising that verses are misapplied in hopes of acquiring worldly comfort. Consequently, when women are taught to ‘claim promises’ from over 31,000 verses, based on what these verses mean to them individually, they have more than 31,000 opportunities to wrench verses out of context. Whether it is the popular Isaiah 53:5 for physical healing, Malachi 3:10 for prosperity, or Philippians 4:13 for job promotion, the rate of mangled verses is high. Scripture is perfect (Psalm 19:7); it is our carnal hearts that see what is not written. Our hearts claim we can have whatever we want because our hearts misinterpret James 4:2 that reads, “You do not have because you do not ask God”, and we ignore the preceding verse that states we do not receive because we may spend it on our pleasures. We must stop following our fleshly hearts; they deceive us. We should submit, instead, to the Word of God – in context.

2. Reflections of Secret Knowledge

The Word of God is truth (John 17:17); however, when we interpret the Bible subjectively, truth shifts to relativism. From there, anything goes and before long, relativism mutates into mysticism, and soon we’ll be chanting the prayer of Jabez while walking in prayer circles. We listen to every televangelist who claims to have a prophetic dream or vision from God because Joel 2:28* apparently applies to anyone who mutters the name of Jesus. False teachings abound with formulas and affirmations that claim to be the keys to unlocking God’s blessings. However, the Bible is not a Book of Shadows to be gorged for hidden knowledge or to be perverted for mystical practices. Everything has already been revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29)**. We must stop looking for signs and mysteries, and rather correctly handle the Word of God to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15).

3. Reflections of Self-Glory

We are fallen and created beings under the sovereignty of God, and as Christians, we need to submit to our Lord and serve Him. Narcigesis appears when we identify ourselves in Scripture as co-creators with God. When we claim we can create our own realities because we misinterpret Proverbs 18:21, (the tongue has the power of life and death), who are we implying is really the Creator and bestower of blessings? When we become the directors of our lives because we misinterpret Proverbs 23:7 (as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; KJV), who is then really Lord of our lives?

Narcissism ignores the fact that Israel is being addressed in Jeremiah 29:11; no, we rather claim that verse as a life verse (and fridge magnets!). Pride reinterprets Acts 16:31 to mean that since I believe in Jesus Christ, God is obligated to deliver salvation to my house; furthermore, love of self implies God loves me as I am, but we forget that we are free of His wrath only because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Narcigesis elevates us as the authors and stars of God’s Word.

Who is the Fairest of Them All?

All Scripture is useful for Godly living (2 Peter 1:3), but should we want to choose verses to reflect upon, may I suggest those that point to our sin and wretchedness (Romans 7:24), so that we may be reminded and be thankful of God’s undeserved mercy and Jesus’ sacrifice for us? Or a verse like Ephesians 4:30, so we can remember not to grieve God with our lifestyles but to rather follow Jesus daily. Are we able to see ourselves as God truly sees us? Forgiven, and loved; yes, but also in need of confession, sanctification, and holiness (James 5:161 Thessalonians 5:231 Peter 1:16).

Friends, the Bible is not about us – it is about Jesus Christ … the fairest of them all.

Soli Deo Gloria


* verse should link Joel 2:28: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

** verse should link to Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Further Reading:

Fighting for the Faith

The End Time



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