The Best Way I Know to Compare Multiple Bible Translations Side-by-Side

One of the easiest tools to help you understand a confusing or unclear passage of Scripture is simply an alternate translation. Each translation, working from the original manuscripts of Scripture, uses slightly different criteria for translating the original language into English. The translation is actually the first layer of interpretation. So today, I want to show you how to easily compare translations of a particular passage.

The video below is a quick little screen cast in which I’ll show you how to view chapter four of Philippians in the NIV, ESV, and NASB translations, side-by-side.

Grab this FREE Handout with More Tips

Want a handout that provides additional keys for understanding the Bible? Just click on the button below and I’ll send you 7 Keys for Unlocking Life-Changing Truth.

One of the things I demonstrate on this handout is how some commonly used translations differ in their criteria. I find it super helpful when deciding which ones to compare with each other and to help me understand why one group of translators might have made the particular word choices they did.


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Puzzled By the Bible? Look at the Big Picture to Make Sense of the Little Pieces!

This post and the highlighted resources will serve as your "picture on the puzzle box"!

If you’ve ever sat staring hundreds of little puzzle pieces and felt overwhelmed, I bet looking at the picture on top of the puzzle box helped you get your bearings and figure out how to assemble the many pieces into a coherent whole. Well, if the Bible feels like a jumble of stories, people, places, and ideas that you know are somehow suppose to fit together into a meaningful story but you just don’t see it, today’s post will help!

Understanding how a portion of Scripture fits into the overall story of the Bible is important to understanding the text correctly. While the Bible tells one continuous story, this story is conveyed in multiple books by multiple authors. Think of it as a library dedicated to the story of God’s self-revelation and His relationship, plans, and purposes with and for His Creation.

Context is Crucial

What is included in the library is known as the “canon.” Thus, knowing where a particular passage fits in the overall canon of the Bible is known as its “canonical context” and is just as important to properly interpreting the meaning of the passage as is understanding the historical and cultural contexts.

I’ve created a couple of graphics to give you a way of visualizing how the various books of the Bible fit within the overall canon. Also, these two graphics highlight some key info for each book such as its type of literature, author, how it was used by God’s people in Biblical times and other helpful bits of context.

Plus, at the end of this post, I’ve listed three of my favorite resources for helping you understand the big story of the Bible. There is even a special discount offered!

Tools plus Discount

Send me the graphics!

The Big Story is Key to Understanding the Little Stories

When we are aware of the overall plot line and key themes of the story of God and His Creation, we are equipped to see the unchanging gracious and just nature of God, the certainty of His bringing His plans to fulfillment, and our need for Him despite our repeated insistence we do just fine on our own.

Scholars refer to the “big story” as the “metanarrative” of the Bible. There are four critical turning points within this overall plot:

  1. Creation
  2. Fall
  3. Redemption
  4. Restoration

Familiarity with these four themes allow us to recognize the appearance of those same themes within particular smaller stories and segments of Scripture.

So let’s take a brief look at each one of these themes so you can recognize it when you see it.

CREATION

Creation Icon-Green 5763Elements of this theme reveal God is the sovereign creator and sustainer of all things. By his plan, chaos becomes order.

Everything is created by God for His glory and pleasure.

Humans are created in God’s image, are given stewardship over the rest of Creation, and are created to worship and fellowship with God.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”Colossians 1:15-17, NASB

FALL

Fall Icon - 227When humans rebelled against God, demonstrating a lack of trust in Him and a desire to usurp His authority, the relationship between God and humanity was broken.

All of Creation was impacted by the chaotic consequence of humanity’s rebellion against God. The fallout was the introduction of death, disorder, and alienation.

Our holy God is unable to overlook wrong-doing. Sin can not remain in His presence, and apart from God there is no life, only death.

…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”
Romans 5:15, NASB

REDEMPTION

Redemption IconFor true relationship to exist between the Creator and those He created, humanity had to choose to love and obey God.

However, God knew we would choose self over God. Therefore, He planned our rescue and redemption before He set the foundation of the world.

Ultimately, God’s plan for our redemption was to save us through Christ’s atoning death on the cross. And if you pay close attention as you read the Scriptures leading up to the fulfillment of that plan, you will notice God’s redemptive actions which foreshadow and prepare for Christ’s once and for all sacrifice for our sin.

Our redemption cost God greatly. He endured the judgment for our sin and bestowed on us His righteousness. He redeemed us because of who He is and because of His love for us.

I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
Isaiah 44:22, NASB

RESTORATION

Restoration Icon - blue yellowWe live in the “already but not yet” of the end times. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit and are being conformed to the image of Christ. And at the appropriate time, Christ will return and restore order to creation with a new heaven and a new earth.

Those who have placed their trust in Christ’s redeeming work on the cross will be resurrected and fellowship with God for all eternity. Those who rejected God’s plan for redemption will be resurrected and live eternally separated from Him.

He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him for the administration of the days of fulfillment—to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.”
Ephesians 1:9–10, HCSB

Big Story Themes in the Little Story of David & Goliath

Let’s consider each theme and how it shapes our understanding of what is going on in this particular story found in 1 Samuel 17.

Creation: From Chaos to Order

At the beginning of this story, we see the Philistines and the Israelite armies faced off in battle. Israel is the nation of God’s people, created and called out of the chaos of all the nations (See Genesis 11 and 12). Israel has only to trust and obey God and He promises to take care of them.

Fall: Failure to Trust and Obey

In the big story, the fall happens when Adam and Eve believe the lies of the serpent rather than trusting and obeying God (See Genesis 2-3). In 1 Samuel, we see echos of this when Saul and his army fail to trust in God and instead believe the taunts of Goliath.

Redemption: One Man of Faith Defeats Death

David, in the eyes of the worldly men around him, seems inadequate to face off against such a powerful enemy. Yet, his faith in God, rather than in his own abilities, empowers him to stand in the place of all the men of Israel and carry out God’s will. He uses the enemy’s own weapon to deliver the death blow and bring victory to God’s people.

Hear the echos of the cross from the big story? Jesus, one humble man with faith in God, faces off against those who defy God. The very instrument by which his enemies planned to use to destroy him (the cross), He used to defeat sin and win the victory for those who place their faith in the One True God.

Restoration: An Already But Not Yet King

As the story of David and Goliath ends, David is the victor. Even Saul, the current king, recognizes there is something different about David. “Find out whose son this young man is!” Saul demands.

I can’t help but recall a similar reaction at this same plot point in the big story. When Jesus accomplished the victory on the cross and the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

David had already been anointed king before this battle with Goliath, but the world didn’t recognize him as king yet. In fact, it would be many years before David’s rule would be recognized and established. In the interim, David experienced the “already, but not yet” aspect we see in the big story. The victory was won, his place secure, yet the full realization of the kingdom awaited fulfillment.

And just as surely as God fulfilled his promise to seat David upon the throne and establish his kingdom, Christ will return and establish his everlasting kingdom in the new heaven and new earth.

Some Tools To Help You See the Big Picture of the Bible

If you want to become more familiar with the big picture and the metanarrative themes, here are a few great resources to help you:

Clarifying the Bible

Clarifying the Bible

Clarifying The Bible is a DVD presentation with an accompanying workbook. In less time than it takes to watch the average movie you will be introduced to the Bible like never before. The DVD presentation takes viewers on an exciting journey from Genesis all the way to Revelation.

I recently watched this fantastic program at a training for my church’s adult teachers. AWESOME! I highly recommend you grab either the DVD and workbook or get the digital downloads.

In fact, over the next three weeks, ending on May 17, Mitch is offering readers of my blog a 10% discount on their purchases. Use the coupon code lauranaiser to receive the discount. Note: When you hover your cursor over your cart you’ll see the button Proceed to Checkout. Click that button, then the request for the coupon code shows up in the blue box.

If this resource had been available back when I was serving as the Adult Ministries staff person at a large congregation, it would have been a huge help in equipping my teachers and congregation members. So if you’re a pastor or church staff person, take advantage of this special discount offer and order Clarifying the Bible for your next training.

Get 10% Off Clarifying the Bible!

The 10 Day Bible Companion

The 10 Day Bible Companion

 

Dr. Pamela Harrison has guest posted on my blog in the past and has a wonderful book which connects the individual stories and pieces of the Bible into one amazing story.

Pam and her husband, Keith, are the co-founders of High Seas Ministries, a ministry dedicated to serving guests and crew members of the cruise ship industry. She teaches the complete Bible as presented in The 10-Day Bible Companion on ships and for groups on land. (I’ve attended one of her weekend intensives and it was fabulous!)

She presents God’s Word in a way that anyone can understand. And when you sit down with her book and your Bible, you can walk through the big story in ten very interesting sessions. Work through the book on your own or with a group of friends or a Sunday School class. You’ll have a new appreciation for the creation-fall-redemption-restoration themes as you read your Bible.

Order The 10-Day Bible Companion!

Seamless

Seamless-teenI wrote an entire blog post about this Bible study after I participated in it at my home church.

We did the regular version, which is great for a ladies Bible study whether at church or hosted in your home.

Angie Smith also created a version specifically for teen girls. I can’t imagine a better way to introduce your teen daughter and her friends to the beautiful and seamless thread connecting the people, places, and promises of the Bible in a whole new way.

Order Seamless!

Free Biblical Library and Periodic Table Graphics

Free Bible Study Infographics

Also, don’t forget to get the free printable I made you. This full-color handout illustrates how each book fits into the library of 66 books comprising the Protestant Bible. And the Periodic Table of the Bible provides you with some context for how these same books were grouped and used in Biblical times.

Send me the graphics!

Register Now for My New Bible Study

Philippians Begins April 18 (Free child care deadline is April 11)

Would you like to learn the apostle Paul’s secret to being content in any circumstance? Would you like to better understand the mindset of Jesus Christ (and discover how to have it yourself)? That’d be pretty awesome, right? Well then you need to register for my new Bible study on Philippians which begins April 18. Paul will inspire you to press on toward the goal, for the ultimate prize of full knowledge of and communion with Christ. Instead of living with a sense of inadequacy or defeat, discover why Paul is confident God will bring the good work He has begun in you to its full completion.

If you regularly struggle with fear, worry, suffering, or negative thinking, this study will help you walk in joy, confidence, and the strength of Christ. You’ll have a new perspective on your challenges.

You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to immerse yourself in these encouraging and inspiring words from Paul—and the fun, fellowship, and insights of some really amazing classmates!

So Here’s a Summary of What You’ll Get

    • WorkbookCover 300 pxA printed workbook designed to encourage and guide you through Philippians no matter what learning style you prefer. (I’ll hand these out at our first session).

 

    • Extra resources, tips, and strategies to help you anytime you study any portion of your Bible.

 

    • Six weekly group sessions (conveniently located in the heart of downtown Georgetown at Main Street Baptist Church). Morning classes meet 9:30 am and are out by 11 am. Evening classes will meet at 6:30 pm and be out by 8 pm.

 

    • Recordings of class discussions so you won’t miss out even if you have to miss a class.

 

    • Free child care if you register and submit your child care request by April 11! I’m partnering with my home church and thus we can offer a limited number of child care spots for free!

 

    • But that’s not all… I’ve created a couple of amazing bonuses for you.

Get All the Scoop & Register Now!

To learn all the details about the class and these bonuses, click the button below to jump over to my Philippians information and registration page.

The books go to the printer April 7 so if you want to be sure your workbook is ready for you at the first session, you need to register by April 7. Also, the deadline to request child care is April 11. So while you could register later, you may not get a printed workbook until the second class. So, if you live within driving distance of Georgetown, Texas, click the button below and get signed up!

Register Now!

Discover Hidden Treasures in the Genealogies of the Bible

To be perfectly honest, when I used to come to a passage of Scripture that began with So-and-so was the father of Thus-and-such, my eyes would glaze over and I’d just skip the list of who begat whom. BORING! Or so I thought.

Yet when my Bible study teacher pulled hidden gems of meaning out of these endless lists they didn’t seem like such a snooze. In fact, I sat enthralled by the insights that apparently were hidden from unequipped eyes.

Once you understand a few principles, you will also be equipped to reveal the riches concealed within these long lists of names.

Genealogy has become a popular hobby in the 21st Century. We have websites like ancestory.com which help you trace your lineage back generations. Send in a DNA sample and you’ll get a report mapping your ethnicity going back multiple generations. You’ll have a good idea from which region of the world your ancestors hailed.

According to the Genealogy Products and Services – Global Outlook Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc, genealogical enthusiasts spent between $1,000 to $18,000 a year to discover their roots.

The Purpose of Genealogies in Biblical Times

Modern researchers place thousands of dollars of value on tracing genealogies when all that depends on the information is satisfying one’s curiosity.

Now, imagine your ability to pursue your calling, live where you desire, determined your taxes, and who you could marry depended on verifying your family lineage. In Biblical times, there was a lot more than curiosity riding on one’s genealogy. [3; p. 1608]

The ancient purpose of one’s genealogy was not to create an exact timeline of who was born when. Rather, the people included in the list and the information given about them was chosen to suit the author’s particular purpose.

Various purposes of genealogies include:

  1. Show relationships and distinctive traits of Israel and her neighboring nations.
  2. Provide coherent and inclusive genealogical system for Israel.
  3. Bridge narrative gaps.
  4. Provide chronological framework of important biblical events.
  5. Census-like function for military or political purposes.
  6. Provide qualifications for an office/role.
  7. Protect the spiritual purity of Israel.
  8. Affirm continuity of God’s people through the exile.
  9. Highlight the sovereignty of God in His ordering and governing of history.[2]

I’ve made you a cheat sheet that clarifies each of these nine functions and gives examples from the Scriptures. If you’d like a copy, just click the button below and I’ll email a copy to you instantly.

Discover Hidden Treasure - Genealogies Purposes

It was accepted practice to use a combination of high profile historical figures, precise patterns, and specific sets of symbolic numbers to convey the author’s larger message about who a particular person was and how they fit into God’s plan. The telescoping of generations was frequently used to obtain numbers, sequences, and patterns which the author used to his rhetorical advantage.

Each roll provides a narrative thread of God’s overall tapestry of redemption. And the outlines reveal not only information about the people in the list but also their God who orchestrated the events chronicles by the names featured.

You may find it helpful to download the infographic versions of the genealogies of Adam to Abram I made for you. Just click here and I’ll email you a copy right away. It will make it much easier to visually follow the flow and notice the little gems I’ve excavated for you.
Biblical Genealogies Adam to Abram LB

Send me the infographics!

Adam’s Line: Cain versus Seth

For example, compare how the author of Genesis handles the line of Adam as traced through Cain in Genesis 4 and through Seth in Genesis 5. If you pay attention, you’ll discover a few theologically significant little jewels.

Did you notice how there were no ages given in Cain’s account?

Yet, when Seth’s line is given, the author carefully denotes the age of the fathers at the birth of the son, the years lived after the son’s birth, and the age of the father when he died.

Do you see the definitive pattern? In Seth’s line, each man’s life is categorized into two era’s: before the child’s birth and after the child’s delivery. [1]

Hmmm, I wonder if that B.C and A.D. pattern might prefigure the significance of the birth of a particular child (Jesus) in a particular family line of a man after God’s own heart (David)? And if you check out the genealogy of Jesus over in Luke 3:23-38, you’ll see that both Jesus and David trace their line back through Seth to Adam. Cool, huh?

When you read through Cain’s lineage the author emphasizes how Cain’s descendants built cities, developed technologies and made cultural advances. All very valuable contributions from a worldly perspective. Whereas the emphasis made in Seth’s story is how his progeny related faithfully with God.

So is it any surprise that Cain’s line is wiped out in the flood of God’s judgment on humanity’s wickedness, while Noah, a descendant of Seth, is used by God’s grace to provide hope for the renewal of mankind.

{Adam to Noah} Compared with {Shem to Abram}

A great example of the use of numerical patterns is seen when you compare the generations from Adam to Noah (including Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 5) with the generations from Shem to Terah (and his sons Abram, Nahor, and Haran, ) (Genesis 11:10–26).

As discussed above, Noah was the man through whom God chose to redeem humankind during the flood. (Genesis 6 – 9) Abram was the man with whom God chose to cut a covenant through which God would ultimately redeem all mankind. (Genesis 12; 15)

Notice when the author outlines the lines of each man there are ten generations from Adam to Noah and ten from Noah to Terah.

Then, the man representing the tenth generation is the father of three sons. Out of the two sets of three sons, God chose one in each set to be the instrument of his blessing and play a key role in the overall redemption story.

Ten is a number used to signify completeness while three often represents the divine. Thus, the author conveys God is at work in the lives of His chosen ones to bring his plan of redemption to completion. There is a divine order and sovereignty to the way their history unfolds.

The Table of Nations

Want to understand the relationships, animosities, and significance of certain nations and individuals in the remainder of the Old Testament?

Then you’ll want to check out the list of family lines known as the Table of Nations (see Genesis 10). FYI, this is also on the free infographic I made you. Also, consult your Number Symbolism Cheat Sheet I made you in a previous post.

Notice the number of nations is no coincidence. Seventy nations is a multiple of both 7 and 10 so it conveys a sense of completeness as determined by God. This account of the nations reflects the perspective at the time Genesis was authored. Thus there is no discussion of anyone the Israelites were not aware of outside their known world of the ancient Near East. [3; note on p. 24]

So don’t skip over the genealogies!

I hope this post helps you see the hidden gems and layers of meaning conveyed within those long lines of “So-and-so” begat “Thus-and-such”. Take a closer look the next time you come across a genealogy in the Bible and see what treasure awaits!

Question: What’s something interesting you’ve learned from one of the genealogies you’ve studies in the Scriptures? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Sources:

  1. Coming to Grips with Genealogies by Robert L. Deffinbaugh, Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary as published on Bible.org.
  2. The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies: With Special Reference to the Setting of the Genealogies of Jesus by Marshall D. Johnson (London : Cambridge University Press, 1989)

  3. NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016)
  4. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2003)

The best bible study I’ve done in a long time…

Seamless by Angie Smith is a study well worth your time!

If you’ve ever felt like the Bible was a bit overwhelming or confusing, you’re not alone. Even those of us who grew up in the church hearing all the various stories are likely to think of the sixty-six books as separate books in a library rather than one seamless story of truth and grace. But that is exactly what the Word of God is: it’s a beautiful story whose plot runs from the first word of Genesis to the last words in Revelation.

Last fall I had the pleasure of participating in a study of Angie Smith’s Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story. In seven weeks and with a delightfully transparent and fun style, Angie guides her readers through the adventure that is the Scriptures.

In down-to-earth, everyday language, Angie helps you see the people, places, and promises of God’s Word as one graceful thread woven throughout the Bible. Seeing the “satellite” view, as it were, helps you get your bearings when you later zoom in and study a particular section of the sacred text.

The seven weeks you spend with Angie will dramatically change how you understand the Bible.

Angie’s tour will bring fresh perspective and a breadth and depth of understanding to the entirety of Scripture.

Simple but Not Simplistic Approach

I found her book to be approachable without being simplistic. She tackles complex theological topics in a style that feels like good friends chatting over a latte rather than a professor in a classroom. Her ability to connect Scripture with messy, real-life circumstances is a true gift!

This study would be ideal for an individual or small group. It lends itself to an intimate discussion and personal reflection. Yet, it also worked wonderfully for our large women’s Bible study group at church.

Teen Version Available As Well

And Angie offers a version specifically for teen girls. What a fabulous way to introduce the young ladies in your life to the the story of God’s truth and grace! You and Angie will equip them with a solid biblical foundation and set them out on a life-long love of studying the Word. The entire Student edition complete with member book and DVDs is on $60 via amazon.

Affordable Video Bundle

There are video lessons available for download from www.lifeway.com/seamless. Lifeway has a bundle price of only $24 if you download all seven sessions at once. Or you can download each session individually. If you’d rather get the DVDs you can buy the leader kit for $70 from Lifeway.

Here is a little sample overview video:

Just wanted to share this wonderful resource with you.

FYI, if you purchase through the amazon.com links, you’ll be helping support my ministry because I’ll receive a tiny referral fee—and by tiny I mean 4% so obviously that ain’t why I’m recommending this study;)  Any referral fees will be put towards covering my costs of running the website. There is no affiliate connection via Lifeway.

If you try Seamless (or if you’ve done the study already) I’d love to hear your thoughts on this study. 

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Quick & Easy Overview of Number Symbolism in the Bible

Get a free printable of the infographic!

Have you ever noticed how certain numbers sure do seem to show up a lot in the Bible? Well, there is a very good reason. In the ancient culture of these texts, the rhetorical use of numbers was accepted cultural convention. Using extremely large numbers of soldiers, for example, was a hyperbolic way of communicating the strength of a king’s army or kingdom. And certain numbers had specific concepts associated with them.

Familiarity with the concept of number symbolism will help you notice important ideas conveyed in the biblical text.

However, I want to caution you: Be sure to consider the context (literary genre as well as the general context of the particular passage) before assuming a number is used symbolically rather than literally. You can check the notes in a good study Bible or commentary to help you assess the deeper meaning (if any) of a particular number in a particular passage of Scripture.

I’ve made you an infographic cheat sheet of some of the most common numbers. Again, these numbers are not always symbolic but being aware that they can be communicating additional ideas will help you get the intended message from the text.

The infographic is really long, so I’m not sure how it will work on mobile devices.

However, you can get a free copy that is designed to print on letter-sized paper if you click on the image of the infographic (or click the button below it). The printable is actually nicer as I was able to create it using my InDesign software rather than Photoshop.

I hope this information is helpful to you as you study the Word. If it is, please consider sharing this post with your friends and social media networks.

My mission is to help as many people as possible see how God’s truth and grace intersect with their real lives. You can help by sharing my posts using the share buttons above (and in some cases below) each post!

Send me that Infographic!

FYI, if you want to look up the passages mentioned in the graphic, I recommend using BibleGateway.com! It makes it super easy and fast to find a specific passage or look at multiple passages.

Number Symbolism Actual Graphic

You made it through that long image!

I hope you learned something helpful. If you want to look up the passages mentioned in the graphic, I recommend using BibleGateway.com! It makes it super easy and fast to find a specific passage or look at multiple passages.

I listed my sources but wasn’t sure how to make an active link inside the graphic itself. If you’re interested in those here are active links:

Dr. Bob Utley (http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/special_topics/symbolic_numbers.html)

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (ISBN: 978-0-8054-2836-0)

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (ISBN: 978-0-3104-3158-9)

NIV Bible Commentary (978-0-310-22020-6)

Get a printable version!

Send me that Infographic!

Question: What would you add or change to the infographic? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why It Isn’t Enough to Know the Bible; You Must Know the Word

What good does it do us if we know the Bible but don’t know the Word—Jesus. Not just know about Jesus but really, personally, practically know him? One can be at church every time the doors are open and still not relate in a personal way with Jesus. Actually, I know from my own experience that one can literally have the keys to the church and be able to open the doors whenever you like and still not fellowship with Christ.

John 5:39-40, NIV

In John 5:39–40, Jesus is making this same point to the religious leaders of his day. They knew all the rules, traditions, and could quote the Scriptures like nobody’s business. But they did not have the love of God in their hearts. They had a religion but they didn’t have a relationship with God.

If you can quote the Bible and have all the church traditions and rules down pat, but you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, you are missing out on the abundant life he offers. That’s because Jesus is not a religion but a person. You don’t have a relationship by knowing about a person; you have a relationship by knowing a person, personally.

So, how do you get to know Jesus and develop an intimate friendship with him?

Continue Reading »

9 Insights Inspired By My Day with Beth Moore

I’m fired up, let me tell you! I mean, the “so excited I can’t stand it” kind of fired up. That’s what happens when one comes expectantly into the Lord’s presence open to whatever he wants to give you. This is a big week. Saturday I spent the day at the simulcast of Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live (LPL) event. Tuesday we kick off this semester of Women’s Bible study at my church. And tonight, I get to go to a class on Revelation I’ve been looking forward to for months. You want to get this girl excited? Just give me some good solid time in the Word! Today, I want to share the insights and ah-ha moments I received during the LPL event.

Beth had seven amazing points she made over the course of the day. I’ll summarize those for you in a second. But, what I really want to share are the the other thoughts I found so powerful.

Continue Reading »

3 Reasons You Need to Know the Basics about the End Times

Begin with the end in mind. That’s the second of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And it is a great approach to living effectively as Christians, too. Understanding the essential biblical beliefs about the end times and becoming familiar with the various perspectives on the areas of disagreement has real life implications in how we live out our faith today.

Unfortunately, discussions related to eschatology (end times) usually are mired in debates over a seemingly endless stream of nonessential elements, while the core beliefs—over which there is little disagreement across the centuries and denominational lines—are neglected or ignored. That weakens the church and the faith of individual believers.

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com © Archbob

I have to admit I’ve never felt compelled to focus on end times doctrine. I’ve always figured we are probably all about as off in our interpretation of the details of how God will fulfill the prophecies related to the Second Coming as the Pharisees and Sadducees were in how they thought God would fulfill his prophecies of the First Coming.

So, why spend my time and energies on eschatology? I found my answer when I read Christian EndGame: Careful Thinking about the End Times.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples speak. Ken is a senior research scholar with Reasons to Believe, and an adjunct instructor of apologetics at Biola University.

After his presentation I sprinted to the book table where I loaded up on several of his titles.

One of the respondents to my Reader Survey requested a post about the end times. So, when I saw his book, Christian EndGame, I snapped it up.

In a mere 80 or so pages, Ken gave a thoughtful, reasoned, and well researched overview of the five areas of agreement and three main areas of disagreement among Christians regarding eschatology.

After reading it, I realized there are three reasons every believer should have a sound understanding of the essentials of eschatology.

3 Reasons You Should Learn the Essentials of Eschatology

Continue Reading »

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty If You Don’t Have a “Quiet Time” Everyday

For years I felt guilty because I was so sporadic about setting aside early morning quiet time. I always felt like I was a slacker with God because I didn’t get up every day at 5:00 a.m. and formally pray, read a devotional book, and study my Bible first thing in the morning. I felt inadequate because I thought a crack-of-dawn quiet time was required to be considered a serious Christian. This mistake in my thinking kept me feeling guilty and prevented me from recognizing the real and special relationship I did have with Jesus.

Photo courtesy of SXC.hu © Joerg Rudloff

Through Jesus, God associates with us in a personal manner. While our fellowship with him has many characteristics common to everyone’s, much of how God relates with us is in keeping with the unique person he created each of us to be. He offers us a custom-made relationship. So why in the world are we so quick to settle for an off-the-rack faith?

An Ah-Ha Moment

One day, as I beat myself up for the umpteenth time over not being an early-bird believer, I took stock of how I interact with the Lord. I realized I talk to God before my feet hit the floor each morning, then chat with him throughout my day. I sing to him nearly every time I am in the car (it’s not a beautiful noise but it is joyful), and I hurry through my daily responsibilities so I can dive into my Bible study. And most nights I read the Bible just as a kid would read a bedtime story.

“I’m not a slacker Christian,” I concluded. I have a serious and special fellowship with the Lord—just not a dry, forced, regimented one. It might not look like someone else’s idea of a serious relationship with Christ, but it works for me and Jesus.

My relationship with God is similar to how I interact with my husband and children. I think about them all day. I talk to them and do things for them throughout the day. I enjoy cuddling with them before turning in for the night, and I love to greet them each morning. And just like the give-and-take I enjoy with my husband and kids looks and feels different from the way you interact with the significant people in your life, how I abide with Jesus will look and feel different from how you abide with him.

But What About Them?

Many believers make the mistake of comparing their walk with Christ to another believer’s journey. The apostle Peter loved Jesus and had an authentic, passionate faith in him. But even Peter made the mistake of comparing his faith journey to that of another.

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