Saturday, December 13, 2014

Struggle to understand

I don't know about you but there are just somethings in the Bible that I just don' t get. Do you ever feel that way? When it comes down to the book of Revelation I have a really hard time. Reading commentaries and the usual study helps don't really help because this is probably the hardest book for scholars to agree upon what it actually means. You get so many different stances on the interpretation that it makes it feel muddled and hard to get through. The best thing I know to do is pray your way through this book and others you are struggling to understand. 
     Ask the Lord for insights into His word, James 1:5 tells us that if we ask for wisdom God will grant it to us. So be bold in your asking of the Lord and see that he will not be bold in answering you! This is not a guarantee that you ask God for just any old thing he is going to give it to you were are specifically referring to seeking wisdom to understand His Word. In the book of Isaiah we are told that God's  ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Isa 55:8. This verse helps bring me comfort at moments like this when I have been struggling to understand what Jesus is trying to teach me through His Word. It is not always easy studying the Bible or being the guys people look to for the answers when it comes to Scripture. I hate to admit it but I have not settled on an eschatological view. I am stuck between pre-mil and a-mil. I am not sure if I believe in the rapture because there just doesn't seem to be enough scriptural support for it in my opinion, so I guess that does mean I have a view huh?
     It is not easy studying to be a pastor and not having answers to the tough questions people want to ask. However, I am always willing to try my best and give a balanced answer. IF you have any questions you would like to ask, please leave a comment down in the comments section and I WILL RESPOND. 

What do you struggle with? Where can I help?

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Was the Pope Thinking?

I wouldn't normally write a post like this but for what ever reason I felt compelled to jot this one down. It is worldwide news that today the Pope has said all animals can go to heaven! That is ludicrous, how can a man with so much influence over so many people (I not being one of them) make such a statement. I don't see how that is even possible because doesn't that take away the exclusivity of heaven? While it is true that God created all creatures, he created humans with a special nature. One like his, what is known in theological circles as the Imago Dei. If just anything can enter heaven does it lessen the effect of what Christ has done to allow humans entrance into heaven? We are told in the book of Genesis that God created them after his own image, (Gen 1:27) it no where mentions animals being made in the image of God. The only thing I can think of that even comes close is when Scripture speaks of the new earth and lion and the lamb laying together. 
     I am not a perfect theologian but I think that the sanctity of the Imago Dei needs to be protected. According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, " In contrast to the animal creation, humankind is made in the image of God in a separate act of creation. Man originates apart from any connection with the animal creation and certainly not from evolution. Also, for the first time in the creation narrative, the divine “let Us” is used in conjunction with the creation act. Added to this, the immediate scriptural context after this introduction of the “image of God” is the additional charge that man “subdue” the earth and “rule over” all of its other creatures (1:26, 28)". That would lead me to think that we will have a heaven while animals will not. We are made to be in communion with God, while animals are made for our benefit. 
     I am curious where you land on this debate, what are your thoughts?

What Makes You Giddy?

    I have to say that there are not very many things that get me giddy, but today was a good day. The blog surpassed 240 unique visitors in a single day. That is the best day we have ever had. I felt like a young kid again at Christmas time. Then I received a book for review I had been waiting upon since last week. For those of you who helped us reach our highest day average THANK YOU! We have decided to hold a contest for all of our Twitter followers that if we can reach 100 followers we are going to give away some books. 
     I also get giddy when I read the Bible and find a new nugget I had never noticed before. Take for example the story in 1 Kings 3:16 about two women who had had a baby and Solomon suggests cutting the child in half. Did you ever notice that it was two prostitutes living together and one of them had a child who died by being rolled over upon. This is just one example of the kinds of nuggets that make me excited as I read the Bible. 
     I often wonder did characters in the Bible get giddy about anything? We know that the NT believers were expectant of Jesus’ return but we don’t know that they were giddy with excitement about it. I can think of one time when giddy is the last thing on Jesus’ mind and that is when he is in the Garden of Gethsemane as he wept blood. He was to a point that he was exhausted and knowing he was nearing his end, he would tell his father, “not my will, but your will be done.” Matthew 26:39. While being one of the most traumatic scenes in the NT of how Christ endured on our behalf it can give us excitement to know that he loved us so much that chose the cross for us. And that should make us all very happy.
     He died for those whom he foreknew, and had predestined before the foundation of the world. While this is a time of year when we generally celebrate the birth of Christ, i think it is important to remember that while he chose to come down form heaven in the form of a helpless babe, he died a suffering servant and a brutal death at the hands of those he created. All because of Love, John 3:16. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

8 Tips for Better Bible Study

Who among us doesn't want to study their Bible better. I know I do, and I'm a seminary student. So I can't imagine how the average Christian may feel about studying the Word for themselves. Over the years there have been a few handy things I have learned to do when I want to get deeper into a particular section of Scripture. There are certain steps that I take that allow me to see more deeply into what is being said besides the mere words written on the page. 

  1. I copy and print out the section of Scripture I want to look at. 
  2. With highlighter in hand, I look for repeated words and concepts. 
  3. Locate important words or theological terms.
  4. Make notes about my observations. 
  5. Then I use a study Bible along with a commentary to help me understand the background of the book.
  6. Re-read the section several more times to see if I missed anything. 
  7. With the new tools I begin to go verse by verse and see what is meant by the author. 
  8. Re-write in your own words what the author is trying to say. 

Now with these ideas/tips I hope it will help you to delve deeper into God's Word. If you need any suggestions on a good study Bible or commentaries please feel free to ask. 

What suggestions would you add to this list to help get deeper into the word? 

Free Download- 5 tools to help you in your Bible study. It is a word document.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Banner Day

We have had a record breaking day today! In honor of that we are thinking of doing a book give-away. Once we reach 100 Twitter followers we will give these or other books away. (We reserve the right to use other books.) If we choose different books they will be just as good or better.

A Special Place

    We all need a place that is special to us. Jesus had a couple of places that were special to him. He would go to the garden, or the mountain top and pray and be alone. Where are you going to be alone? Do you have a special place? I would recommend that you find a place where you can be alone and get refreshed. This should be a place where you feel a special connection with God. For me it was in the woods, sitting in a tree stand during hunting season. I know that is only a few months out of the year, but for me that was my special place. I know some guys who go out on the water fishing to get that stillness that is needed. 

     You may be asking yourself why do I need a special place to meet with God? Because in the Bible there are certain places God showed up. He would meet his people at the tabernacle, and later in the temple. But apart from that there is one meeting in particular when God showed up in the middle of the night to wrestle with Jacob (Gen 32:22-32). Sometimes it takes this place of wresting with the things of God for you to gain the blessing he has in store for you. But you can’t do that just anywhere. God planned on meeting Jacob at this particular spot. According to Genesis 32:30, "So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”"
     There are just certain times in life where you can really sense the presence of God. Some people call this practicing the presence of God. I am not saying that God won’t meet you where you are, let’s make sure that is clear. What I am saying is when you meet him at your special place, you can hope for a more intimate experience. 
  1. Pick a place that is special to you.
  2. Make sure that it is quiet. 
  3. Remember that you don’t have to be alone.
  4. Find ways to encourage others to find a special place. 
  5. Clear your mind of distractions. 
Once you use these quick tips you have set yourself up for a meeting with God.  

Where do you go to meet with God? What suggestions would you add to finding a special place?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's Talk About…

     Let's talk about the Bible for a little bit, shall we. The Bible is an awesome book, it is inspiring, it is helpful and most of all it is the inspired Word of God. That last fact alone should make you excited, especially if you are a Christian. Now I know we all have our preferred versions of the Bible(for me it's the ESV). Yours could be the KJV even though I wouldn't recommend it to anyone personally. That is for another  post. What I do want you to think about is your Bible and how often you are reading it. Not only how often you are reading it, but for how long and how much of it? 

Now lets not become legalist here and say that every person should be reading their Bible for at least a half an hour each day, reading from mall the genres of the Bible. I do not recall anywhere in Scripture where that is commanded. What I do know is David speaking to God says I have hidden your word in my heart (Ps 119:11 NIV). Now how can one hide something in their heart when they don't spend anytime with it. Take marriage for an example, a married couple cannot do well if all they do is live together, then they are nothing more than roommates. We have to take the time to speak with our spouses so we can know their hearts and how to love them well. God is no different in that respect. We cannot know about God if we are not spending time with him in prayer and reading his word. Prayer is our communication with God, while the Bible is God communicating with us. I don't mean to sound like God cannot use what ever means he chooses to speak to us, trust me I always remember Numbers 22 when the donkey speaks to Balaam.
     Why do you think some people become so dogmatic or legalist about Bible reading. I would recommend the habit of reading it everyday even if it is just one chapter a day. You will get through the entire Bible in just about 3 years(give or take a few months). Again nowhere is it written that you have to read the Bible in a year! If that is something you are interested in there are several different programs out there for reading the Bible in a year, they even have Bibles specifically designed just for that goal. My suggestion is to go about it at a pace that is comfortable for you. I personally love the NT and generally read it more than the OT. But of late I have been reading bits from different portions of the Bible. Just as and example I am reading from 1KIngs, Psalms, Micah, and Revelation. I generally read one chapter from each book, except for the Psalms I may read several depending on how i feel at the time. This will usually take me anywhere from 15-30 minutes to read. There are several things you can do to develop a good habit of daily Bible reading. 
  1. Pick a certain time each day to read. 
  2. Have a certain spot you like to read.
  3. Set a plan for what you are going to read.
  4. Decide how long/much you are going to read. 
Like our post from yesterday said, consistency is key to anything. If you want to become good at something you have to work at it. The same goes for Bible study, make a plan and try and stick with it. If you miss a day don't beat yourself up about it just pick back up from where you left off and keep going! 

What things would you suggest for making Bible study easier to keep up with?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Consistency is Key!

How many times have you heard that in your life? Whether it is in child-rearing, work, hobbies, or whatever. Consistency is key! That rings true as a bell through the air when it comes to journaling and/or praying. I have found that the more often I do something the more I want to do it. If you look at the life of Jesus he spent a lot of time in prayer. It did not have to always been long periods of time he was praying like when he asked the disciples to keep watch for him. (Matt 26:38-46). Then there are the times he had what Dave Earley in his book Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High Impact Leaders calls arrow prayers. These are prayers that get right to the heart of God. A great example of an arrow prayer is when Jesus blesses the five loaves and two fish, or another time when he teaches the disciples to pray the Lord’s prayer (Matt 6:5-15). 
     I have recently been trying to write for my blog more than before. In just the last week I have posted something at least once a day. I believe on Friday I had several post, along with today. I am trusting that this is what the Lord would have me do to bring glory to HIs name. While it is easier for me to journal than it is to blog I hope to do both on a regular basis for the rest of my life. At the advice of Michael Hyatt I have been using Evernote, as my new journaling program. It has been rather helpful instead of using Pages on my Macbook Pro. With Evernote it is searchable, by date keywords, tags, all kinds of cool stuff. I can easily add pictures to it. I mention this because the level of comfort you have with something will also help determine how well you stay with it. I mention in another post how I engrave glass. If I started with the hardest piece and failed I probably would not have kept up with it. I have had to slow down because I have run out of room to store my pieces and there hasn’t been too many more people willing to buy them. ( I have however sold several pieces in the past.)
     All of that to say don’t become discouraged if you are starting something new take it easy at first, don’t think you have to do what everyone else is doing in order to feel like you are doing it right. If it is something the Lord has laid on your heart, you will get through it because he wants you to. 

I would love to hear what you are doing to be consistent. What are some things you could work on, and what are you doing well with?

     It is my hope that you all have been enjoying reading the material that is being produced. If you are would you mind signing up to any of our means of keeping you up-to-date on what we are producing. If you look down the right side of your screen there is a plethora of options on how you can keep in touch with us. We would also love to hear from you, your ideas and opinions. So we have added Disqus as our new commenting system. If you would like for your comment to be more discrete we have a contact us form at the bottom of the page. We look forward to a great month as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and a blessed New Year. 
Life is hard, but God is good,

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bible Software Prefrences

     I know that there are tons of different Bible software out there. But for me I prefer one over all the rest, Logos Bible Software. I also have WORDsearch Bible software which is not bad, but it does not offer some of the same great functionality Logos offers. For instance if I highlight something on one computer in Logos or on my kindle, it is highlighted everywhere. In Wordsearch I do not have that same option. Which has made some of my studying for school rather difficult. There are some who prefer programs like Bibleworks for original language studies. I do not have any experience in that program so I do not know if it is any better or not. I do know that the exegetical guide in Logos with its interlinear translation has helped me to pass many a paper. 
     I have been using Logos for several years now and have found it to be extremely helpful. For the longest time I was not using the program to the best of my ability or the best it was meant for. I was a casual user who was able to do basic things with the program. It wasn’t until I came across these videos that I learned what this program was really capable of. I am not going to sit here and try and explain all of the videos, just know that if you are using any version of Logos since #4 these videos are free and worth your time. You can also got here for some shorter videos on how to use some of the new features of Logos 6 (L6). 
     One of the best new features of L6 has to be the Psalms explorer,  it gives you a visual filter of all the Psalms and allows you to sort theme by theme and genre. You also have a similar tool for the proverbs just not with the pretty interface that you have fro the Psalms. I have found both tools helpful in my personal study. There is another cool feature where you can visualize some ancient sites and slide the image to see it in modern times. This is just a scratch of the surface of all the new features offered in L6.

What software do you prefer to use?

Top 10 Post over the Last Month (Nov-Dec6,2014)