Who doesn’t like a good story?  I don’t know of many people who do not like to hear one tell a good gripping story.  I have had the privilege of sitting at the feet of some good storytelling people.  Some were relatives that just brighten up the times together with a good story.  Some were friends who would tell about past adventures.

A good story is priceless.

For some people, storytelling is indeed priceless.  For some people in our world, storytelling might be the only way that they get to encounter the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last night, my wife did a great job of sharing with our church family about mission work done in the Ivory Coast through some of our IMB missionaries.  One of the major ways that the Gospel is shared in the Ivory Coast is through storytelling the Bible.  This is done primarily because the literacy rate is sadly very low.  A great video that tells a little about the work in the Ivory Coast can be seen here.

This got me to thinking…

If we had to share the truths of the Bible with another person in the form of storying, could we?

In our country, it is not uncommon for there to be a copy of the Bible in the home, workplace, hotel rooms, library, or other places we find ourselves frequently.  You can even find the Bible at Walmart!  Even though we have an abundance of Bibles at our fingertips, I am concerned that we don’t know what the story of the Bible really is.

I would encourage you to take that number one best-seller that may be on a shelf close by and take time to learn the story of the Bible.  Don’t just read and listen to the many stories, but take time to see the overall story that goes throughout Scripture.  Then let’s take the time to share that story with others around us.

Know the Enemy Part 2

This week, I am sharing some thoughts from a message that I delivered to our congregation about spiritual warfare.  Every time we seem to turn on the news there before us is another story about the wars going on around our world.  What we do not hear much about is the war that has been waging for centuries… the war between God and evil.  Whether we like it or not, we find ourselves in the midst of this battle.  Thanks be to God that He has not left us abandoned to our own defense, but He has provided the victory through Jesus Christ.  He has also allowed us a peek into how our enemy operates so that we can stand against the Devil and the forces of darkness.  You can read part one of this little blog series by clicking here.

In this post, I would like to bring to light another way in which our enemy, the Devil, works.  He seeks to steal God’s word from us.

We are told in Psalm 119:160 that the word of God is truth, and it endures forever.  Truth is something that is coming under fire greatly in our world today.  The thought that there would be an absolute truth that applies to all people at all times is crazy-talk to many.  The fact is that time and time again, God’s word has proven true.  It is reliable and trustworthy.

As mentioned in my previous post, Satan knows that God’s word is true and brings life.  He will do whatever he can to take it away from us.  In the part of the world that I sit, there are copies of God’s word in almost every house, doctor’s office, and hotel room.  Here in my office, I am looking at twelve different copies of God’s word.  Sadly, in many parts of the world, that is not the case.  There are believers who cherish a couple of pages of the Bible that they have been able to hide from authorities and others.  May those of us who have the privilege of owning a copy of God’s word never take it for granted.

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13 about one who sows seeds.  This seed is the words of God.  In this parable, Jesus refers to some seed that is sown on the path and stolen.  Jesus clearly shows who does the stealing – the Devil (v 19).

Before we shrug this off as some fairy tale, think about it.  When was the last time that you heard the word of God from a sermon, devotion, a song, on the radio, and it sparked something within you?  You thought to yourself, “I have to come back to that.”  When you got to a point where you could come back to that, it was gone.  You couldn’t remember where it was.  You couldn’t quite remember what it said.  You begin to think, “maybe it was nothing.”  You figure that if it was important, you would remember it, right?  So you go back to life as normal.  The truth is that this precious gift has been stolen right from under your nose.

Every word of God is true.  It is a life-giving gift.  Jesus reminded us that man lives on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3/Matthew 4:4).  Today, let’s make sure that we are not letting the very thing that will give us life – the word of God – be stolen from us.

Book Review: “Beat God to the Punch”

Beat-God-to-the-PunchDr. Eric Mason is the cofounder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship.  Dr. Mason’s latest book is titled Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life, and it hit the shelves on September 15th.  I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Dr. Mason’s work for review purposes from BH Publishing Group.

In Beat God to the Punch, Dr. Mason encourages readers to “beat God to the punch” by submitting their lives t the lordship of Jesus Christ and living a grace-filled life.  The punch that Dr. Mason refers to is the judgment that will fall one day upon all of creation that chooses not to recognize Jesus as He truly is: Lord of all.

There are some really good things to this book.

  • First, it is a quick read.  The book is a whole 108 pages long (including the notes).  In our fast-paced lives and busy schedules, not many have the time to sit and devote a great deal of time to reading.  Dr. Mason has done a good job of making some great points in a short amount of time.
  • Second, this work is saturated with Scripture.  Dr. Mason is quick to share his thoughts but truly leans on the word of God to validate the points that he intends to make with this work.  There is hardly a page in the entire book where a Bible verse is not mentioned or eluded to.  This goes a long way with me.
  • Third, the movement of focus to the grace of God.  Dr. Mason moves the focus quickly from the coming judgment to the grace of God.  It is not so much about missing the coming judgment as it is living life in light of the wonderful grace of God.  Dr. Mason does a terrific job in bringing the reader’s focus to this point.

Recommendation Grade: B-

I have been told by BH Publishing, that a copy is available for a giveaway.  If you would like a free copy of Beat God to the Punch, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog telling why you would like a copy.  One winner will be chosen on Friday, September 26, 2014.

What Translation Do You Use?

As a Christian and believer that the Bible is vital for a Christian’s walk and growth, having an understanding of God’s word is important. One key factor in this is to use an English translation that is helpful.

In today’s world, there are so many English translations to choose from. You can choose a “word for word” translation such as the New American Standard (NASB) or a “thought for thought” translation like the New Living Translation (NLT). There are even some that are somewhat a mixture of the two listed above.

As a pastor, I am continuously looking at what translations people are using. I have a copy of just about each one under the sun. I use various ones in study and sermon prep. For devotion, I primarily use the Holman Christian Standard (HSCB), English Standard Version (ESV) or New Living Translation (NLT). Here is a post that I wrote a whole back talking about why I use certain translations.

What I am wondering is what Bible translation do you primarily use and why? If you are a teaching minister (pastor, youth pastor, teaching pastor, etc) which translation do you use for teaching/preaching and why?

(Please leave your comments in the blog comment section.)

5 Questions For When You Study the Bible

We are starting a journey through Acts from the New Testament at the church where I serve as Pastor. Before we jumped into this journey that I’m really pumped about, I thought I would share with our congregation some useful questions to ask when we come to study God’s word. I think it is important that Christians know the Bible as it was given to us to show us more about our great God. Here are the questions that I shared with our congregation to help them in Bible study.

1. Who wrote the text? I know that some are wanting to share 2 Timothy 3:16 with me right about now. The ultimate author of the Bible is God. He did chose to use men to write it down though (2 Peter 1:20-21). When we know who wrote the particular passage, we can also know a little about what is intended by the certain use of wording.

2. When was it written? The date of the writing can tell you about some things that were going on. This may take a little extra digging to find, but it will help to understand some passages when you know the context of what was written.

3. Why was it written? This has to do with the purpose of the book/letter. This might be one of the most important questions to keep you on the right path and not wandering into alternate interpretations that have nothing to do with the real purpose.

4. To whom was it written? I don’t know where it started, but many think that the Bible was written to them. Hear me closely: the Bible was not written to me but it was written for me. This is to say that though the letter of Galatians is not addressed to me, I can still learn much from it about what God desires in my life.

5. What am I to take from this passage? When you have asked and answered the first four questions, you are ready to ask the fifth and see what God has for you. It might be a promise. It might be conviction to repent. Each time we come to the Bible, God has something for us to take with us.

I hope that these will help you in your study of the Bible. What other questions have you used in Bible study? I’d love to hear them in the comments section.