Monday, December 17, 2012

The Kids in Newtown

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.

Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.

"This is heaven." declared a small boy. "We're spending Christmas at God's house."

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.

He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

And in that moment was joy that only heaven can bring,
those children all flew into the arms of their King.
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.

And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."

Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe

Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"

Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."

Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of this darkness, I am still the light."


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What is the Best Study Bible?

If you're looking for a great study Bible for yourself or as a gift to someone else, I would suggest one of these:

~Life Application Study Bible (in the NIV or NLT)

~NIV Study Bible

The Life Application Study Bible is the one I recommend the most times because it's goal is to help you understand what you are reading and help you understand how it applies to your life and helps you today. It features over 10
,000 application notes and outstanding introductions on each book of the Bible that are written to help you understand the overall theme and emphasis of each book in the Bible. Also included are over 100 "character sketches" on some the most notable personalities of the Bible, in-text maps, charts and diagrams (in-text means on the same page with the chapter and verses you're reading) and helpful indexes to all the wonderful features of this Bible.

The NIV Study Bible has been around since the early 1980's and it has undergone some major revisions (the latest was in 2011 and is the one I would recommend, so look at the copyright page) that has placed it - in my opinion - back as one of the best study Bibles available today. It has lots of features including in-text maps and charts plus nearly 20,000 study (commentary) notes on the Biblical text. It also includes book introductions and outlines, archaeological information with full-color in-text pictures of ancient artifacts and cities.

Either of these study bibles are EXCELLENT and would be of great help to anyone wishing to understand God's word. I use both of these Bibles on a regular basis as they bring unique, helpful perspectives on each passage in the Bible. So if you're buying for yourself, you may want to splurge and get both!

Another thing I like about both of these study Bibles is that they remain theologically neutral. In other words, they have less theological bias than other study bibles. They try and present multiple views on "tricky" passages and allow the reader to formulate their own opinion. At times the study notes in the NIV Study Bible will, after presenting various views, will indicate perhaps what they believe is the most preferable view. The Life Application Bible does the same kind of thing, but then it will back up to the 30,000 foot level and draw out a principle that applies to everyone regardless of what view they take.

Well, I hope this info proves to be helpful for your studies!

Psalm 19:7-8 NIV
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How Can I Pass My Faith Along to My Children?

Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

How do we raise our children "in the training and instruction of the Lord"? There may be many answers to this question, but one that isn't often spoken about is perhaps the simplest. It goes back to a pattern of life in Jewish culture, when the primary way of passing along their faith was through stories. They called it "oral tradition." Very few people had access to printed copies (i.e. handwritten) of the scriptures and so the way they passed along their faith was by telling and re-telling the accounts of how God had moved among his people.

This brings questions to my own mind: what kind of stories about God's love, faithfulness, power, etc. am I telling my children? Not just the stories we find in the scriptures (though certainly these), but what has he done in my life? What has my experience been with God? How have I experienced his movement in my life? His deliverance? His help? His faithfulness? These are the stories that my children will remember and these are the stories that will perhaps be more personal and real to them.

So, let me encourage you to think about how God has moved in your life through your struggles and triumphs. Those are stories to which your children will be personally drawn. These stories will help build their faith and confidence in God; it is a story of their family, their parents.

This is important for parents, but it is also important for Grandparents. Children are mesmerized by the stories of their grandparents.

"We have heard it with our ears, O God; our ancestors have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago. With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them." Psalm 44:1-4 (NIV)

So parents and grandparents, share your stories and in so doing you will inspire faith in the hearts of your children and grandchildren. Teach them of God's love, faithfulness, provision and power.