We are so excited that the Swindoll Study Bible is here! I think the only person more excited than us is Chuck Swindoll. Hear what he has to say about why he created this legacy Bible.
Find out more at swindollstudybible.com
Little words can make a difference. Consider Malachi 3:3, where the prophet calls to attention the image of the refiner who stokes the flames and watches the dross burn away until he can see his reflection in a cauldron of pure gold. This old illustration describes how the Lord refines us in the fire. He turns up the heat on our trials until all the impurities, sins, and selfishness comes bubbling to the surface of our soul. And then, like a refiner of gold, God skims off the dross until he can see the reflection of his face in our lives.
One day as I read this verse, one little word caught my attention. It says, “He will sit like a refiner.” What an encouragement the “sit” was to me! It means that God is not going to get up and walk away from whatever trial I’m going through. He’s not going to get distracted or wander off into something else while my trial is heating up. God is going to sit there, carefully tending to the circumstances around me.
This comforting thought encouraged me so much in this wheelchair of mine, because some days it’s so hard. I’m not a plaster-of-paris saint with this disability—sometimes the discomfort takes my breath away. But no pain can match the overwhelming comfort in knowing that God sits over my trial. He will let that discomfort go on for only so long; and my goal is to lean my lesson, confess whatever sin, refocus my faith, or quit wandering off the path—whatever God’s purpose might be. I want to agree with my Refiner, the Perfecter and Purifier of my faith. I want to do everything I can from my end so that God really can see the reflection of his Son in my life.
If you’re facing a trial today, remember that the Lord doesn’t wander away while you’re in pain. He won’t take a vacation; he will sit there, watching over you until your faith is refined like gold. That’s a promise from the Lord, our Refiner.
Taken from the Beyond Suffering Bible, A Word from Joni, p. 1081
Chris Morrison is the bi-vocational pastor of Macedonia Temple of God in Aurora, IL, the church his father started 36 years ago. After earning an MBA from Northwestern University, Chris was living the upwardly mobile life—great job, an apartment on Lakeshore Drive, lots of friends, and lots of partying. A stint in rehab got him to pick up a Bible—which at one point he threw across the room. In time Chris got serious about his faith, and when his father died, Chris took the reigns of the church.
In late spring of 2017, Chris led his congregation through Immerse: Messiah. We sat down with Chris to ask him about the experience.
Macedonia Temple of God is officially the first church to do Immerse. What made you decide to do this?
Like most African American churches, we have a weekly Bible class that I lead. But I knew intuitively that our study of the Bible just wasn’t where it should be. Its strange, new Christians were pretty engaged, but veteran Christians rarely participated. When I would ask questions, they would just look down. When I heard about Immerse I was hopeful of what it might do. The book club model appealed to me.
How did you communicate the challenge of reading Messiah in 8 weeks?
I was pretty straightforward with the group. We’re a close-knit congregation, so I told them that if we were going to do this, they would need to read in advance, or it wouldn’t work.
I wasn’t sure what to expect the first week. I knew that in our previous Bible studies, the faithful might glance at the lesson a half-hour before coming to class. But I was seriously blown away! People had obviously read. People who hadn’t contributed for years started sharing openly. Honestly, I couldn’t get people to stop talking. And the conversations were different. I remember one lady saying, “I’ve read this a thousand times and never saw that!” Another participant said, “I didn’t realize Paul was in jail when he said that!”
I held my breath for the next week. Maybe week one was an anomaly. But weeks two and three were more of the same. People had obviously read and the conversations were lively. Frankly, one of the biggest challenges was with me. I was used to carrying the conversations. I had to quickly adjust to the role of the facilitator. The other challenge—and it proved to be a challenge all eight weeks—we never ended on time. No one was looking at the clock. I finally had to cut it off because the children’s workers were getting frustrated.
Wow! Did this impact the church beyond the weekly Bible class?
It did. After week one, people were coming to me to see if it was too late to start and asked if they could get the book (it was funny, but that’s how everyone started talking about it—“the book”). Then week two a lady showed up who I’d never met. Week four her husband came. As it turned out, he wasn’t a Christian, but picked up Messiah from the coffee table and started reading. When his wife got home, he asked her, “What’s this? It’s pretty good.” We had increased attendance and people starting buying extra copies to give to their friends.
Where do you go from here? Have you considered doing Immerse: Beginnings?
Actually we’ve already started. Immerse recommends a cycle of two modules a year, but we had people asking “What’s next?” so we started Beginnings right away.
I can’t believe it, but we’ve just finished reading Leviticus. And we’ve had great discussions! One of my favorite observations came from a lady who said, “It’s interesting to me with everything that became unclean, there was always a way to get clean again, to get back into the family.”
Honestly for the first time in our church’s history, the Scriptures don’t feel like a burden.
Why is this happening?
An Ancient-Future Rhythm with the Bible
By Kevin O’Brien, Th.M. Bible and Reference Brand Manager
Let’s face it, there are a lot of Bibles available today. There are a lot of study Bibles available today. IT’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices and to pass by those that don’t seem to be created with you in mind. For most people reading this blog, the Africa Study Bible probably falls in that category. But I hope a second look will change your mind.
Where did the Africa Study Bible Come From?
Believe it or not, the Africa Stud Bible was conceived right here at Tyndale in a meeting with Tyndale board member and founder of Oasis International Ed Elliot. It really got legs in 2010 when Oasis conducted an African tour to explore the idea. The overwhelmingly positive response led to a meeting in Accra, Ghana in 2011 that included Christian leaders from every region of Africa, representing 11 countries and the major languages of literacy in Africa – English, French, Portuguese and Arabic.
Most bibles, especially most study Bibles are written and produced by westerners. Not the Africa Study Bible. The contributors are mostly African and its diversity is hard to overstate. 350 contributors. 50 countries. Tyndale CEO Mark Taylor, Oasis’s President (and son of founder Ed) Matthew Elliot, UMI’s president Jeff Wright and Life Application Study Bible author and Livingstone founder Bruce Barton served as Bible editorial consultants, but all of the major decisions including the final project mandate were made by African leaders.
It’s easy to forget just how big, just how diverse Africa is. The 2015 Scientific American article “Africa is Way Bigger Than You Think” includes an amazing infographic: Africa is larger than China, India, the contiguous US, Japan and most of Europe—combined. And that’s just geography.
There are 1.26 BILLION people in Africa—nearly four times the 320 million in the US. Think about all the different cultures, languages and ethnic groups in Europe, a relatively small space. We know that there are great differences, but do we think that way about Africa? There are 23 officially recognized languages in Europe. Another 60 or so regional/minority yet indigenous languages. Africa is estimated to have 1500-2000 languages.
So the need for an African Study Bible is obvious, but not just for Africans living in Africa.
Here’s something that may surprise you. The African immigrant population in the US has roughly doubled every decade since 1970, with the total being 2.1 million in 2015. And that number doesn’t include the children of those immigrants.
In addition to the African Immigrant population, there are almost 43 million African Americans in the US. If just 1% were interested in both their faith (overwhelmingly Christian of some variety) and their African heritage – that’s almost 430,000 people. Or, how many of us go to a church which has sponsored a mission trip to Africa? What if every person who went on that trip had an Africa Study Bible before they went and in so doing learned a bit more about the thinking of the people to who they are going to minister?
Gaining A New Perspective
One of the things that Matthew Elliot told me about the discussions with the African leaders was that they rejected one of the early recommended taglines- “For Africans by Africans”. And so the tag line became “God’s Word through African Eyes”. The reason was simple, they viewed the Africa Study Bible as Africa’s gift to the global church. The difference is crucial, and one that is all too easy for us, as western Christians to overlook, ignore or otherwise dismiss. We send missionaries to Africa after all, so it can be hard to think of Africa as a source of spiritual wisdom and teaching. But the more I think about it, the more I have come to believe that it is a crucial source for us in the west.
The Africa Study Bible can be of great service to those of us in the west if for no other reason than it forces us to confront the cultural expectations that we bring to our reading of the Bible. And sometimes viewing something from a decidedly different angle helps us to see things in an entirely new light.
In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus gives his famous “Sermon on the Mount”. Verses 13-16 are the well-known instructions for Christians to be salt and light. If you are like me, you have probably heard sermons talking about the preservative and medicinal properties of salt in addition to its taste. The African Touch Point note at this passage offers an interesting, and challenging insight unlike any I had ever seen.
Drought is common in the Kalahari Desert region of southern Africa. Some residents there use salt to their advantage. The monkeys always know where the water is but they don’t let the humans know. People trap a monkey and feed it salt until it is extremely thirsty, then it is released. It runs straight to the water and the people follow, finding water. When Christians are salty we make others thirsty for the living water that is Jesus.
The Africa Study Bible is a very unique study Bible. It is different than any other Bible on the market. When you see the tagline “God’s Word Through African Eyes” you can be sure that this is not hype, not spin or exaggeration, and it has something to teach all of us. I know that I have learned a great deal from it already and I’m sure you will too if you take a second look.
Get your copy here – click here.
The Life Application Study Bible is today’s #1–selling study Bible. The notes not only explain difficult passages and give information on Bible life and times but go a step further to show you how to “take it personally,” speaking to every situation and circumstance of your life! This is the one Bible resource that incorporates today’s top scholarship in answering your real-life questions. It includes nearly 10,000 Life Application notes and features designed to help readers apply God’s truth to everyday life.
Learn more here – click here
Life Application Study Bible Giveaway
Enter to win one of the new bindings of the Life Application Study Bibles! Fill out the Gleam form below. Follow the directions to earn extra entries and we’ll chose 2 random winners to get a free Bible. We’ll choose the winners on 9/17!
Here are the Bibles you can win:
If you were disappointed to find out that one of the popular Inspire Bible Creative Journaling Workshops wasn’t going to be coming to a town near you, fear not! We have the perfect solution!
Sign up for our online event!
This two-hour Inspire Bible Creative Journaling Workshop offers you the opportunity to explore God’s Word creatively and experience a fresh approach to Bible reading. Amber Bolton will guide you through hands-on activities to inspire creativity in your daily walk with the Lord. This workshop is designed to focus hearts on Christ as you learn to color, paint, draw, and letter your way through God’s Word.
To learn more about the Inspire Bible TOUR, and to find a workshop near you visit: InspireBible.com/Tour
Register for the Inspire Bible TOUR Online Workshop on Saturday, August 29th – click here
Download a free coloring page to share with your friends and family – click here
Want to help us spread the word about this event and get a chance to win something in the process? Fill out the Gleam form below. Follow the directions for sharing about the event to earn extra entries. We’ll choose 3 winners to get a free copy of Inspire: Proverbs and one lucky winner will get a free digital registration for Tuesday’s Online workshop (Open to US & international participants)! We’ll contact the winners on 8/28.
My daughter loves to be afraid. She rides the craziest, twistiest, highest roller coasters; has bungee-jumped headfirst off a 300-foot tower; and skydived out of an airplane last week. She reads scary novels, watches horror movies, and loves a ghost story around the campfire on a moonlit night. She’s not alone. We’re a culture who loves fear. Zombie movies, Stephen King novels, 3D amusement park rides—all best-sellers. We simply love to have the wits scared out of us.
Why is that? In a world that offers its fair share of worry, why would we seek out fear? According to Ilya Leybovich in his article “Scary Science: Why We Like Fear,” when our brains know that our fear is in a controlled situation, we enjoy the rush. The adrenaline rush is actually good activity for our brains, according to Men’s Health Magazine, which says that when we train our brains with controlled fear and stress, we teach our bodies to cope with the real stress that life brings. When we meet real fear, our response is “fight or flight.” The adrenaline we release when we are scared causes “a faster heart rate, quickened breath, pupil dilation to enable better vision, an increased metabolism to boost energy and more focused attention for faster decision-making.” Our survival relies on this adrenaline rush. We either put up our dukes or leave a puff of smoke behind us.
While we like the adrenaline that controlled fear brings us, none of us likes the real fear in our lives. The phone call about your teenager out with the car; the summons to the physician’s office after the MRI; that rumor about the forthcoming layoff; the letter from the bank about the loan payment you haven’t been able to make; the “thanks for coming to be interviewed but we’ve hired someone else” email. Many of us experience anxiety, paranoia, and angst on a daily basis. It doesn’t help that the media heaps on large doses of war, natural disasters, and crime, or that advertisers tell us we haven’t saved enough, exercised enough, or given our children what they truly deserve. We feel guilt, regret, and shame, all forms of innermost fear.
The Bible is full of stories in which people are scared. In fact, one of the most popular phrases in the Bible, showing up over 300 times, is some form of “Be not afraid,” indicating that people must have been pretty scared! God says it. Angels sing it. Psalmists write it. What usually follows “Be not afraid” is good news: the angels speaking to the shepherds, or God’s instructions to Moses, or the psalmists’ words of comfort.
I’m comforted to know that I never have to be afraid. My life is in God’s hand. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “ ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ ” These words in Jeremiah are a form of “Be not afraid.”
Maybe you’re afraid of the upcoming college year or your child moving to a different state or a secret being revealed. The words of Psalm 91 should be of comfort to you. Read it each day this week, and feel God’s presence beside you in whatever journey you are on.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
Ron DeBoer is a writer and educator living near Toronto.
Learn more about the New Living Translation, enjoy inspiring articles, sign up for free edevotions, and find your next Bible at www.newlivingtranslation.com.
They said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4
Most of us spend our lives trying to project an image of beauty and competence.
Certainly, we want others to think highly of us, but one of the things I respect most about people is their ruthless honesty—about themselves and their situations.
Nehemiah had a plum job.
He was working closely with the king, and he lived a life of luxury.
His heart, though, beat in unison with God’s heart.
He cared about the things God cares about, and when he heard that the people in Jerusalem were suffering, his heart broke.
He didn’t minimize the problem, and he didn’t fly into a panic of mindless activity.
Instead, he let the brutal truth sink in, and he responded appropriately: He sat down and wept.
Nehemiah had a courageous conversation with the messenger, then he had a courageous conversation with God.
Only courageous people are known for their honesty.
It’s a lot easier to look the other way when we see needs in our lives or in the lives of people around us.
We can give the excuse that we’ve tried as hard as we can or that we don’t have time to help a person in need.
But excuses don’t cut it.
Like Nehemiah, we need to let the truth sink into our hearts so we can respond with genuine compassion.
This is just the first part of Nehemiah’s story.
He then took bold action to gather resources, inspire the people, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Successful action, though, starts with ruthless honesty about the need.
What are some needs in your own life and in the lives of those around you?
How would being honest about those needs become a springboard for change?
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth. But most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.” Winston Churchill
From The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar by Zig Ziglar and Dwight “Ike” Reighard
Labels:Live it Now, Courage, New Living Translation, The Key to Courageous Conversations, Zig Ziglar
I remember some years back when I was just starting out in youth ministry, I was working at a church that liked to handle decisions for Christ in an altar-call sort of way. You know, where someone up front asks people to raise their hands and then perhaps come forward to pray and accept Jesus into their heart. Well, in the youth meetings I was working with, we did a similar thing, except we pulled people quietly to the side so as not to embarrass them, and took them off to a different room to explain the deal, and pray the prayer. After one of these sort of clandestine conversion moments, one of the girls who had just gone and “prayed the prayer” came up to me and said, “So how do I actually become a Christian?” The whole altar call, praying the prayer thing, hadn’t answered her deep heart questions about what it meant to follow Jesus.
As a young youth leader who had grown up in this tradition of altar calls and decisions for Christ, I remember being more than a little disturbed that it hadn’t really “worked.” And yet, the older I get and the more I think about it, the more I realize that the decision to follow Jesus is a process, and the decision to continue thinking about what it means to follow Jesus is a process, and this whole “life with Jesus” thing is a process that won’t be complete until we graduate to the next life.
The idea that someone wanted to follow Jesus but didn’t really “get it” was disturbing to me, and yet now I realize that none of us will ever completely get it, because we are talking about a relationship with God here. God is a great deal bigger than we can ever get our finite minds around. As we follow him, and learn more about his heart and his will for our lives, we will see more and more of him revealed, but there will always be more that we don’t understand.
And that’s okay.
As I read through the Gospels, I find myself struck by Jesus’ willingness to work with the disciples who didn’t get a lot of what he was trying to tell them. In fact, it took them almost three years to get the idea that he was God, and then they still had no clue what he was doing by allowing himself to be crucified. And yet, while Jesus continued to teach them and while he wanted them to understand more and more about himself so that they could experience the abundant life he had come to offer (John 10:10), the most important thing was that they had made the rather improbable choice to follow him, and that they continued to do so even in the face of all the stuff they didn’t understand.
Learn more about the New Living Translation, enjoy inspiring articles, sign up for free edevotions, and find your next Bible at www.newlivingtranslation.com.