• Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Spirituality

    Some Niche Study Bibles Worth Considering

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about study Bibles and offering some recommendations. A good study Bible is a helpful, even essential, resource for anyone desiring to dive deeper into Scripture and grow in their knowledge and understanding. However, since the Bible publishing industry has about a bazillion choices it can be overwhelming trying to decide which study Bible is the best for you and why some study Bibles may be more helpful and informative than others. That’s where this series of articles comes in. As a dedicated student and teacher of Scripture over many years, I currently have 19 different study Bibles and have had others. That…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Spirituality

    Some Great Study Bibles to Consider

    In a previous post, I explained how a good study Bible can be a valuable tool for anyone that wants to dive deeper into Scripture. I also suggested three key questions for helping make an informed decision on which study Bible to choose. Specifically, I suggested you first consider your purpose and intention for your study Bible. Are you looking for something that’s devotional and geared more towards practical application? Or are you looking for something that’s more academic and informed by rigorous scholarship? Perhaps you’re looking for more of a niche study Bible whose notes and study aids specialize in a certain topic like archeology, spiritual formation, or addiction…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Spirituality

    How To Choose A Study Bible

    A quick perusal of my library before I started writing this piece revealed that I have 19 different study Bibles. Yes, you read that correctly. I have 19 different actual physical study Bibles on my bookshelves. I suppose that’s a lot. Probably more than I need. It’s definitely more than I regularly and consistently use nowadays. I’ve had more study Bibles over the years and have given several away or donated them to Better World Books or Goodwill. Why so many you ask? Ten years of being a full-time pastor that wrote and delivered a weekly sermon and taught the Bible regularly in various other contexts, as well as being…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    The Scandal of the Savior’s Birth

    We’ve all probably seen a children’s nativity play. But even if you haven’t, you can perhaps imagine the gist. They’re usually a creative conflation of the two different stories we have about Jesus’s birth from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. There’s the setting in a manger at night, of course, with shepherds and angelic choirs, from Luke’s version. There are the Magi — the three wise men from the East — from Matthew’s version, though Matthew reports that the wise men showed up sometime after Jesus was born, not the night of his birth. And there is, of course, Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, the central characters of…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    When God’s Vengeance and Recompense Are Good News

    I heard a lot about God’s wrath and judgment as a kid growing up in the church. God hated sin and I was a sinner deserving God’s wrath and judgment. That’s why Jesus came — to take the punishment I deserved. The implicit theology I learned was that Jesus, who was loving and merciful, saved me from God, who was mean and angry. This was something to be thankful for. Because of Jesus, I’d get to go to heaven instead of hell when I died. But there was also the end of the world to be concerned about. In the church and all the TV preacher programs that provided a…

  • Bible,  Theology

    The Prophets Were Preachers Not Prognosticators

    Recently someone asked me if I thought there were still Old Testament prophecies that needed to be fulfilled. The question is a familiar one that I was asked many times when I served as an ordained minister and lead pastor for 10 years. It’s a sincere inquiry, revealing a desire to be discerning of the times, faithful to Scripture, and seeing how the Bible may be speaking to our world today. Unfortunately, the question also reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the biblical prophets and their prophecies. The biblical prophets were primarily preachers, not prognosticators. They were concerned about their immediate context — their time and place in history, not the…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    The Way of Jesus Is The Way of Love and Inclusivity

    I think love and inclusivity are the central virtues of Jesus’s kingdom vision. I’ve thought this for quite a while. And it’s a significant reason why I resigned from my post and surrendered my ministry credentials after 10 years as a lead pastor in a conservative evangelical denomination. I reached a point where I couldn’t be the pastor I believed that God called and gifted me to be, the pastor I wanted to be, and I couldn’t love people — all people — the way I believed Jesus’s central kingdom virtues demanded. The denomination was fond of saying that we welcomed all people. But we really didn’t. We welcomed them…