This Christmas season as we think about making donations consider gifting a Bible to a Christian organization. Chris Morrison, pastor at Macedonia Temple of God in Aurora, IL, shares how his church’s love for others spurred them on to start giving gifts to warm the body and soul.
“Several years ago my wife proposed that we begin giving away winter coats to those in our church and community who couldn’t afford them. We started by asking people to donate coats. By our third year, the number of people coming to get coats had risen to a level where donations alone couldn’t meet the need, so we decided, as a church, to just buy new coats to give away.
By the next event, it was clear that we hadn’t purchased anywhere near enough coats. The event was to last from 11-1; we were out of coats by 11:45, and we had purchased over 200 coats. It was heartbreaking to have people show up hoping to get a winter coat for their children, and we had nothing for them. So, we upped our purchase to 450 coats for this year. We still ran out of the larger adult sizes!
We had also started using Immerse in our church this year, and the results were amazing. A contributing factor to that success was the format of Immerse. It didn’t read like a “normal” bible, and the packaging of it most closely resembles a book. So, we thought that it would be a good idea to offer Immerse Messiah (the New Testament) at our coat give-away. The population we’ve served most during these coat give-aways is predominantly Spanish, so having Immerse available in Spanish was a big plus. We had purchased some New Believer’s Bibles previously, and we put out the copies of that also.
We never wanted to make anyone feel obligated to do anything in order to get a coat for themselves or their children. That being said, we are a church, and we wanted to offer something they could take with them that would last long after their new coat had served its purpose. So, we simply laid out the Bibles, and as they were leaving with their bag of coats, we told them they could also have the Bible of their choice.
We ended up giving away 110 Bibles—with Immerse Spanish being the most chosen option. That number is a little over 25% of all the people who received coats. I’m sure we’ll continue to have a Bible option for this event in the future, and our hope is that we need more and more Bibles, just as we’ve needed more and more coats!”
The #1-Selling Bible for Coloring & Creative Journaling is Welcoming a New Member Into the Family!
The all-new Inspire PRAISE Bibles are here! You will start seeing them on shelves soon at your favorite bookstores! To celebrate, we would like to give some Bibles away in a contest! Whether you’ve been creative Bible journaling in your original Inspire for a long time or are just now hearing about it, you’re invited to participate in this contest! We’ll be giving away 10 Inspire PRAISE Bibles. Each winner will get to pick their favorite binding: the Hardcover LeatherLike Purple or the Silky LeatherLike Purple Garden.
The new Inspire PRAISE Bible has lots of new features! Check them out at InspireBible.com/Praise.
You can purchase your own copy at Tyndale.com – click here.
There are several ways to enter (US residents only):
Use the Gleam form below to complete one of these tasks:
- Tell us how you have been INSPIRED by Inspire.
- Let us know what you are most excited about in the new Inspire PRAISE Bible.
- Color a page and post it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest using #theinspirebible. Submit the link to your post in the Gleam form. Print out a page HERE.
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.