Archive for year 2013
My son has what I would call an irrational fear of ‘bad guys’ in our basement. Sometimes this fear is so overwhelming he won’t even go downstairs by himself. This fear isn’t based on any prior experience but somehow it’s a very real fear for him.
Whether our fears are rational or irrational they often have the same effect on our lives. Fear both paralyzes us and has the power to veil the truth. Ultimately fear doesn’t save us from danger and actually leads us to death. Fear was present during the temptation that was offered in the garden to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. We certainly don’t know all that was going through Eve’s mind as Satan tempted her but she may have thought:
What if what the serpent is saying is more true than what God has said? What if I don’t eat this fruit? Will I be blinded forever, as the serpent is saying?
Fear can be a powerful motivator and in this case it was used to lead Adam and Eve away from the truth of God, not toward it. Fear didn’t lead them to life; it led them to death.
I’ll never forget the first time I went cliff jumping into the Pacific Ocean. I was living in Hawaii and my small group Bible study guys thought it would be a good bonding experience to hurl ourselves off a cliff into the ocean. As I stood looking down the 40 feet or so into the clear blue waters of the Pacific, with the waves crashing below me, fear took over. As the more daring guys in our group jumped off the cliff into the waters below, my fear should have subsided but it didn’t. Even though I saw one guy after another land safely in the water, my belief that I’d be okay still wasn’t greater than my fear. I could logically see that everything would be fine, but knowledge alone wasn’t enough to make me jump.
Eventually, when I finally did jump, my faith grew and my fear diminished. Sure, I still hesitated a bit on the second jump but now that my faith was greater than my fear, it was easier.
Belief changes everything. When we believe that Jesus is who he says he is than our faith is about more than belonging to a religious club. And so we pray because we believe that God answers our prayers! And we read the Bible because we believe it really is the word of God!
Trusting in the truth of God allows us to respond to the lies of fear and tell them to go to hell where they belong. Faith believes that the one who created us is he is who he says he is. That he is right and true!
What lies have you believed that have paralyzed your life? Where have you allowed fear to keep you from stepping out in faith?
Spend some time with God asking him to speak truth into areas of fear in your life and to fill your mind with the truth of his Word!
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Charles Finney was a descendant of the New England Puritans, and was born in Connecticut. Many are inclined to regard Finney, 1792-1875, as the greatest evangelist and theologian since the days of the apostles. It is estimated that during the year 1857-58 over a hundred thousand persons were led to Christ as the direct or indirect result of Finney’s labors, while five hundred thousand persons professed conversion to Christ in the great revival which began in his meetings.
The New Interpreter’s Study Bible Notes, based on the text of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, blends a devotional and a thought provoking reading of the Old and New Testament and deuterocanonical books ( also known as the Apocrypha). This resource is especially equipped with enhanced features in The Bible Study App. The split-screen mode allows you to read the study notes, outlines, and book introductions alongside the biblical text.
Introductions at the beginning of each biblical book highlight major themes within that book, the style of the author and his writing, and the historical and biblical context of the book. Detailed verse-by-verse notes follow the introductions and book outlines and contain helpful insights into the biblical text.
There are also over 90 excursus that help explain the thematic and theological background of the Bible text.
Students of the Bible will find new depth and insight in this work, whether newcomers to scriptural study or seasoned academics. Check out the New Interpreter’s Study Bible Notes on The Bible Study App. Now through May 13th, you can get the New Interpreter’s Study Bible Notes, the New Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary, and the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Complete Set for half the regular price.
From Olive Tree Staff: Ben Backstrom
I currently lead a Bible study at my church and being an Olive Tree employee, I naturally want to utilize our software to meet the needs of our group as well as my own needs in preparing for our study. Like most of us, I am pretty busy and need to make the most of my time spent on preparing for our meeting. In this post, I’ll walk through the steps I take each week to prepare for the Bible study I lead. Olive Tree’s software makes each step easy.
I use the Android application primarily, since I have both an Android phone and tablet. However, I also use the Windows and Mac applications when available. The screenshots come from my Android phone.
Each week, we go through a chapter or two from a book of the Bible. We are currently studying Acts. We created a Facebook group for our small group so that members can post events, prayer requests, and the like to other members in the group. The first thing I do to prepare for our discussion is to post the week’s passage on our small group’s Facebook page. This is easy with the Android Bible Study App. I simply select the verse number of the current passage and select share. Once I’ve shared, members can read the verses on Olive Tree’s website by clicking the link in the post. I can also choose to add comments to the message if I like:
Now, all group members can see the week’s passage from the Olive Tree website.
My work at Olive Tree includes converting the text of original works so that Olive Tree’s application can display it, so I am blessed with a familiarity of the books we offer. Of these, there are several that I use repeatedly to prepare for the study.
1. Archaeological Study Bible: This resource provides a wealth of knowledge about the cultural background of the Bible. I often use it as a starting point to understand basic concepts about the week’s passage. For our current book (Acts), the maps and images give me something visual to present to the group on my Android tablet.
2. English Standard Version: A great free translation available with the Olive Tree application.
3. NIV Study Bible: Since most of the members in our group use the NIV, I usually consult the Study Bible for insight on why the passage was translated the way it was. The notes highlight specific words used in the NIV translation and why they are significant to the passage.
4. NASB Strong’s: I find myself using this Strong’s Bible most often. A Strong’s Bible is especially useful during group study when someone has a question about a word in the passage.
One of the benefits of having Olive Tree on several platforms is that I can access my study materials anywhere. If I have some free time and my laptop is available, I can use the Mac or Windows app. If I’m away from my computer, I can access the app on my Android phone or tablet.
The ability to sync my notes and highlights makes the app even better. I facilitate the group exclusively from the notes I make in my Olive Tree app. I’m often on the go and can’t sit down at my laptop to study very often. So, it is great to have Olive Tree on my Android phone. I can study a passage and make notes on my phone, then sync those notes to my tablet, which I use at the study.
Those are a few of the ways I use The Bible Study App to prepare for and engage my small group.
How do you use Bible software to prepare for your personal or group study?
A friend of mine overheard her daughter and my daughter talking one afternoon, saying what each of their moms were good at. My friend’s daughter said her mom was good at crafts, scrapbooking, cute hair styles, and picking out clothes. My daughter said her mom was good at “packing things into small spaces” (which turns out to mean backpacking and camping), identifying birds, and general outdoorsy stuff. So I told my friend, “Great! Between the two of us we’re the perfect mom!” Except maybe for cooking. Apparently neither of us shine in that area.
My friend and I are very different in our gifts and interests, so each of our daughters are having a very different experience of “Mom.” In some ways, it’s almost like a marriage vow: for better or worse, in sickness and health, tired or well-rested, crafty or not-crafty, good cook or mediocre, my kids have me for their mom. They won’t get everything, but they’ll get me. And I think that is truly what they need: a connection with another person who loves them for who they are, for who God made them to be. God’s own nature is relational: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. And so it is no surprise that some of our most basic needs are relational also: to be truly known, to be loved, to be accepted, flaws and all.
My favorite Mother’s Day present is a variation of this: breakfast in bed made up of soggy cereal, either burnt or barely toasted toast with globs of butter, and something random like dried cranberries or popcorn. I don’t see the food by itself: I see the love that made it and the relationship that has grown, and is growing, between two kids and their Mom.