Monday, November 27, 2017

Always Winter....

Below is a post I wrote several years ago regarding Christmas. I think it's one of my favorite things to have written....the type of post I wish someone else had done so that sharing it didn't seem egotistical.

Dearest Friends of Narnia,
I hope this letter finds you well as we approach the celebration of Advent, with its ultimate goal of celebrating the birth of our Saviour. It is truly a joyous time of year, made all the more joyous by its juxtaposition with the darkness of midwinter. In truth, I come close to saying the calendar accuracy is less important here than the spiritual significance. Christ does not come to us in the bright summer of our soul’s celebration but in the bleak midwinter of our need. Of course, that might require celebrating again in June in Argentina, so my apologies for the Northern Hemisphere-mindedness on the issue.

I write to you of a concern which I am so certain you share as to call it our mutual concern. It is of the rising cultural expectation that this is the “holiday” season, or the “winter festival” or even that it is “Christmas” that is celebrated by retail, logistics, and elves. These expectations are typically paired with a downgrading of the observance of the Incarnation, and often abetted by the high-minded theologian who wishes to quibble about the exact date upon which the blessed event occurred. Our mutual concern has often been that we are not able to celebrate, as Free Narnians ought, the Incarnation of the Lord. We have been troubled that the great heritage of feasting, celebration, and song is being muted and overridden by Jingle Bells and balanced presentation.

Now, typically, I might urge that we take inspiration from the band that fought off Rabadash or held back the treachery of Nikabrik and Miraz, polish our swords and fight. By the Lion’s Mane, I do not doubt that we would be victorious if it were put to the question of battle. Failure could only befall us if we were false to one another, or if Aslan Himself was not with us.

I have been reflecting, though, on the state of those who disregard Christmas as the celebration of Christ and the Incarnation. It is of this I wish to speak, for we know of a time in Narnia that mirrors our modern age.

In the time of the White Witch, before the coming of the High King Peter, King Edmund, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy, there was a curse upon our beloved land of Narnia. We often consider the Witch’s power to turn her enemies to stone, or her corruption of King Edmund, or even her addictive Turkish Delight. We consider the curse of the Hundred Years’ Winter, but we have forgotten the second half of that curse: that it was always winter, but never Christmas.

I am deeply indebted to fellow Narnian Joe Rigney for highlighting this aspect of the curse. Winter is a normal part of life, except for you who live in certain climates, but those areas bring certain challenges due to the persistent warmth. Winter can be a time of cleansing and resting, waiting for the newness of Spring, and being trapped in Winter would be devastating.

Yet we know one thing worse than being trapped in Winter, and that is being trapped in a winter with no Christmas. A Winter with no hope, no light, no warmth of celebration. This is Winter marked only by snows and bills, work and worry, obligations and troubles.
It is the Witch’s curse, that curse which sought to undo the good land of Narnia, to suffer through Winter without hope. And rather than see those who see Winter without Christmas as our enemies, I would suggest that we begin this season of Advent realizing what is truly the case:

Those who suffer Winter without Christmas are victims of the Witch’s Curse.

They are not to be fought but to be liberated. We know that now, as then, there are the odd minotaurs and hags who fight on the side of the curse, but many more innocent of treachery and only practice what they have always known. Others fear the evident evil more than embrace an elder hope. Yet know this, fellow Narnians, none of these are our enemies.
Rather, let us, as we best can, be emissaries of hope in the frozen wasteland of lives. Let us drink the cups of joy and gladness in the midst of the snow. Let us take our tea, and offer a cup, raised even to the health of our true adversaries, remembering a courageous squirrel who once did the same.

Let us not forget the true celebration, the joy that Father Christmas reminds us of as he brings the news that He is on the move! Let us celebrate, and encourage those about us, held captive by the Witch, to see the thaw that is coming, and with it, the fullness of hope.
In the name of One True King, bring rejoicing to the cursed lands, and let the Winter be filled with Hope!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book: Your Marriage, God's Mission

Well, it’s book time again. Actually, in our house, it’s always book time. Here on the blog, I try not to overload you with them. Today’s book was provided as part of a blog tour for Kregel Publishers. They sent the book. I write the review. It’s that simple.

Today, we’re going to look at Your Marriage, God’s Mission by Clint and Penny A. Bragg. It’s 226-page book intended for use as a weekly devotional/study book for married couples. Available in paperback or Kindle e-book.

Overall, the aim here is to help married couples connect with God about their relationship and from there, connect better with each other. Sounds simple enough, right? But if you’ve been married longer than 48 hours, you may have encountered some of the challenges inherent in making that a reality. The Braggs want to help with that.

Clint Bragg served in the Army, and his experiences with military training shaped the structure of the book. First, the Braggs work through an introduction that is intended to see where you are, much like a first-day test at school or military induction. From there, the broad areas of the book cover “Basics,” “Planning,” “Hazards,” and “Checkpoints.” The idea is to move from broad concepts, assuming you are starting from scratch, and then progress forward.

Each section is broken into chapters to address subpoenas, and then within each chapter, you have discussion questions and a guided prayer. It’s a good structure, augmented by video clip testimonies. I understand the desire to communicate that you’re not alone in the daily work, but I really like my books to have all the information in them. Still, the book is more than excellent without the video clips. Which means that, in a few years when the web shifts over again, you’ll still get a good challenge even though the QR codes are dead.

I found the devotionals challenging and the questions more personal than I’m willing to blog about because those answers are for my wife and I. As such, I do highly recommend this book. Ann and I are going to take a much slower look at it across the next 19 weeks and truly consider the implications.

I would also say that, with some guidance, this might become something I work with in pre-marital education for young couples. I have some tools that are good for evaluation, but this will go well with them to help couples start right.

Monday, November 20, 2017

November thoughts

Can you do 100 sit-ups? How about 150? That sounds like a lot for most of us. It's also become a normal amount for me. Now, before you think I'm an excessive fitness nut, there's a catch. I don't do 150 sit-ups at once. On a normal day, I start the day doing as many as I can at once, and then throughout the day, I take a break from being at my desk studying or dealing with administrative issues and do a small number of sit-ups and push-ups. (After I finish writing this, it's time for the next batch!) 

When the day is done, I will have completed far more repetitions than I thought possible just a few short months ago. By breaking down the big number and doing it bit-by-bit throughout the day, I have gotten more done. Alongside the exercise, I have picked up a few more good habits, like eating healthier and getting more water. These have been easier to add because they complement the effort of the work, rather than being things that I tried to do on their own. 

You know this has to go somewhere, right? Because I'm not writing a fitness column, and I'm far from a fit-and-trim guy. It's going here: 

We've reached November. The next to last month of the year, the month where we set aside time for a couple of important days: Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving Day. These are two days, though, that are much like dropping down to do 300 sit-ups at once. We cannot do enough on either one of those days to truly show our gratitude.  

I would challenge us to consider, for example, that Veteran's Day must not be the only day we respect those who have served this country in the Armed Forces. We should consider ways in which we can, every day, show that we are grateful for the freedom secured by those who have served in uniform. Perhaps we could respond more positively when our high school students express an interest in serving. Certainly, we could reckon our liberties as far more precious than many of us do. 

Then, consider Thanksgiving Day, a day that our nation sets aside to give thanks for the blessings we have in general. The heritage is of thanking Almighty God for what we have. But is one day truly enough for that? For the air we breathe and the water we drink? For the fact that, generally speaking, our bodies work?  

And even more, as the Psalmist says, that "his steadfast love endures forever!" (Psalm 107:1)

Gratitude is not a one-time event, but instead should become a habit. As we exercise it, daily, we will find it easier and easier—and easier to make large demonstrations of that gratitude. And with that habit developed, we may just find ourselves also developing a bit more patience and kindness to go with it. After all, one good habit grows another. 

Now, it's time for some more sit-ups. 

Originally published in The East Ender. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Never Equally Returned: 2 Corinthians 9

In Summary:

Whenever we give something away, there is always a concern. What if I need this later? What happens if I run short? This concern may not be completely universal, but it is common enough to see it in action in Corinth. Paul spent 2 Corinthians 8 reminding them about how they should be participating in the offering for the saints in Jerusalem, and now tightens his focus on the motivation for their giving.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that their giving will not go unnoticed. Starting with 2 Corinthians 9:8 and following, he expresses that God is capable of supplying their needs. The Corinthians need not fear that they will not be able to do the work of God if they give in obedience now, because He will take care of their needs.

The Corinthians are also nudged about the idea that a few of the Macedonians are coming with the brethren to carry the offering—and they wouldn’t want the Macedonians to find them unwilling, would they?

A final general note from this chapter: Paul is clearly more concerned in the character of the givers, not the quantity of the gifts. If they are becoming generous and cheerful, then they are doing well. If, on the other hand, large amounts are being given grudgingly and sparsely (in comparison to ability), then they are failing. Keep in mind that a willing, generous dime reflects spiritual maturity better than a grumped million from someone who won’t notice it.

In Focus:

Taking a longer look at 2 Corinthians 9:10, though, there is something important to take note of. Paul uses the image of agriculture to speak of giving. He highlights that the God who provides seed for the sower will also supply the needs of the Corinthians. The concept is that, by giving, the Corinthians are planting a “seed” which God will then multiply into a “harvest.”

Now, if we are not careful, this will go in a very bad direction. What is that direction? The idea of a clear correspondence between the giving of money and the sowing of a harvest in material wealth. It is crucial to read the whole verse in the context of the whole unit (2 Corinthians 9:6-15), and in context of the book and the whole text of Scripture.

The harvest is of righteousness. Paul speaks throughout the passage of the ability to provide for their need for grace (v. 8), good works (v. 8), righteousness (v. 10), thanksgiving (v. 11), and the confession of the gospel (v. 13). While there are areas, such as in 2 Corinthians 9:13, that can (and should) be understood to reference God meeting the material needs of the Corinthians, nowhere does this support a reading that giving some leads to a definite material prosperity. It is instead given that they will be able to grow in generosity—which is not the same as material wealth.

In Practice:

The practical side of this is threefold:

First, the command on the believer is clear: our giving should be cheerful and constant. Just as a farmer does not sow only once in a lifetime, but at all times that the season is right for it, we should give in the appropriate season. When is that? At all times when there is a harvest to reap. What is that harvest? How about the one in Luke 10:2? Here we see that there is a harvest ready immediately—which means it’s time to keep planting.

Second, that the harvest is not automatically of the same category as the seed. Here we depart from the pure agriculture picture: one does not plant rice seed and harvest oak trees, but with God you just may see something like that. One plants, perhaps through financial giving, and then harvests righteousness in your own life, salvation in others, or grace in your growth. From this, we grow onward and are more generous—not only with the same seed but with new seed, drawn from the new harvest.

Third, that it is in God’s good time that we see that harvest. It will be in time to meet the needs He sees.

In Nerdiness:

2 Corinthians 9:7: God loves a “cheerful” giver. Now, with appropriate credit to Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, we need to remember something here. “Cheerful” comes from the Greek word that eventually gives us the word “hilarious.” However, “hilarious” in modern English does not have the same meaning as “cheerful (hilarion)” in the Koine Greek. Therefore, the idea that has popped up from preachers and televangelists, that one should “laugh through their giving” or other nonsense, playing on hilarious, is just wrong. It has no basis in the text. “Cheerful” rather than “morose,” yes, but giving isn’t a knee-slapping manner. It’s one of the clearest ways that the Kingdom of Eternity crashes into the Kingdom of Now, because their economic systems are fundamentally different.

Now, it is easy to try and massage this passage into instructions for the routine, proportional giving that we as believers should be doing to support kingdom work through our local churches. But I don’t see it here—this is about special projects, about tasks beyond the local church. Tithing comes in other places—though we can learn about the character of the generous, the ungenerous, and the God who sees all.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sermon Recap for November 12

Here is what you'll find: after each sermon title, there's an "audio" link that allows you to play or download that sermon's audio file. Then there should be an embedded Youtube Link to the sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/east-end-baptist-church/id387911457?mt=2 for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: http://eebcar.libsyn.com/rss


The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=public



Thanks!

Good evening! Here are the sermon videos for the past couple of Sunday mornings. I could not get the evening video processed from Walter's sermon on November 5, but the audio will be there. Also, last night (Nov 12) didn't really lend itself to video and audio. I think I can extract the parts that will work well for posting, but it'll have to be after I get back from Dallas.

Sunday AM, November 5 (audio)





Sunday PM, November 5 (audio)



Sunday AM, November 12 (audio)




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Acceptable Giving: 2 Corinthians 8

In Summary:
One of the side works of Paul, in his missionary travels, was encouraging the churches to contribute to the needs of the poor, especially in Jerusalem. It is most likely that the primary concern was for those of the church who were in need—the typical social safety net in that era was family, and some families rejected the members who came to Jesus.

2 Corinthians 8 is primarily Paul’s encouragement to the church at Corinth to be generous and give greatly to the offering. He does so by highlighting how other churches had given and then pointing out how he would take good care of the gift, ensuring that it got where it was intended and was used how it was intended. 

The first point is made by bringing up the churches in Macedonia, bringing up that they had been very generous despite being poor. Some sources suggest that this was meant to play on the pride of Corinth, a “don’t let those people out do you” type of appeal. However, I wonder if we are reading modern sales tactics back on to Paul with this. Certainly, he makes the point that the Macedonians were not giving from an abundance of wealth, which would have removed an excuse by comparison. But we should be careful attempting to put our motivational principles into Paul’s context. Remember that Biblical Interpretation requires us to bring an understanding of the original context to the text. Our context goes into the application of the text.

Paul then informs the Corinthians that Titus and the “brother whose fame….has spread through the churches” (2 Corinthians 8:18) will be helping deliver the offering. The idea is that there will be proper care for the gift, that it will be used as intended, and that these named (and unnamed) men will be accountable for it. 

In Focus:
A good focal point comes right in the middle of the chapter: 2 Corinthians 8:12 makes the case that acceptable giving is based on what one has, not what one does not have.

From this, a reasonable extraction is that the Corinthians were delaying finishing the offering because they felt it was not good enough. Perhaps they had a higher goal, a larger amount they wanted to give, but the money just wasn’t there. It’s hard to make a certain statement from what little is here, but it would have been shameful in that culture to broadcast that you were making a big offering and then make a small one.

There’s something to be said for large amounts, but at many points in life, a little bit of real is better than a lot of intention.

In Practice:
Practically applied, of course, you can see where this is going. 

First, it’s true monetarily of your giving: just because your gift is smaller than someone else’s doesn’t mean it is useless. In fact, it takes every type of gift to make a project happen. A person in need of food can be fed by many hands with small gifts as well as by one large one.

Second, it’s also true of any other type of giving to a work of the ministry that comes before you. Do you have only a certain amount of time? Guess what? Giving from what you have is acceptable. Now, that, like with financial giving, comes with a caveat: a person who wastes hours should reconsider how they spend their time, just as one who wastes money should. If you are careless with your time and therefore cannot give to what God commands, are you any less sinful than one who wastes money on sinful pursuits?

And some acts of service require a minimum of time, but let’s stop making excuses based on the exceptions or partial situations. The real question for you and I, dear reader, is this:

Are we giving from what we have, be it time, energy, skill, wealth, commitment, or are we using the excuse that our gifts aren’t large enough, and so we do nothing?

Get going forward, and do that which God has given you to do!

In Nerdiness:
The whole unnamed brother thing bugs me. But it also makes this point: the man was so well-known that he needed no introduction, and now he’s anonymous. What does that make of the celebrity today?


Look at the overall thrust of Paul’s money handling guidelines. If followed, then the offering will be well looked after as well as guaranteed to be spent as intended. While the Macedonians helped support Paul as well (that’s what “gave themselves to me” means), he’s not asking Corinth to support him. Just to give to the mission, and he’ll take nothing. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday November 6

Good evening!

First, if you’re wondering what happened to the sermons, I’m at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and so didn’t have time to get the video and audio processed and uploaded before I left. So, sermon recap, with mine on 2 Peter 1:16-21 from the morning and Walter Wills’ from the evening will be up later this week. Probably Thursday.

Second, I have no words for the sadness coming from Sutherland Springs, Texas. I have pastored churches that size and cannot imagine the destruction that so many deaths will wreak in that small community.

As to the politics of it: First, there should be either an honorable or dishonorable discharge. And if you are booted from the military for abusing your child, then “dishonorable discharge” should be counted as merciful. There’s no way that man should have been able to purchase a firearm. Honestly, there’s no reason that man should be out of prison. He pled guilty to fracturing a baby’s skull deliberately. Wrap your head around that.

Second, here’s the problem going forward: churches, by nature, are open places. We cannot put fortification in the foyer and make it impossible for anybody to get in that isn’t known. Neither can we shoot first and ask questions later. Neither can we be careless with the lives of those who trust us with them. See the conundrum?

Some people come to church angry, even belligerent, in a manner that a high-quality security screen would stop them. But they need to be there, and they actually aren’t a threat. But there are children and innocent people who need to be protected, and it’s foolish to sit idly by and let them be targets.

What do we do? I’m not sure what the answer is for every church. Some are persuaded, fully, that complete passive non-violence is required and that is how they will do. Others will armor up and aggressively address any possible threat. As a pastor and a husband and a parent, I do not know exactly what I will lead our church to do or what I will do for my family. We will consult with those who are more versed in security while also paying attention to being a church and not a bank or military installation.

There’s a difference, and that difference is going to result in churches always being an easier attack than other locations. It’s the reality. I don’t like it. I can’t imagine anyone who does, but even being a gun-loving guy like myself, I know the church cannot become an armed camp.

Now, societally? We’re reapoing the harvest of our neglect of the value of human life. Take away the guns? Let’s think for a minute: do you think any of these mass shooters would have turned in what firearms they possessed? Really? Nonsense. If you think the answer to this is in legislation, then your legislative solution has to deal with the reality that you will have massive non-compliance with gun surrender laws. Ban the sale, but there’s 400 million guns out there. Look at the amounts of ammunition typically owned—ban the sale and you still stop nothing. A legislative solution will require also empowering law enforcement to search every private residence, multiple times, every vehicle, all at any time, just to search and seize firearms. Is that going to work? Not likely.

The real problem is the same fundamental problem that has driven the sexual assault epidemic, the violence epidemic, the resurgence of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment: we are a culture that believes that survival of the fittest matters more than anything else, and we are going to do everything in our power to be the fittest. Other life is irrelevant, and we’ll stomp it out if need be. Look at our entertainment: what sells? Sex and violence. Claim that it only reflects society and doesn’t shape it? Fine, but what does it reflect?

Who does it say we are? As a people, who does it say we are?

Want to fix it? Go love your neighbor. A lot. Take some cookies to the local fire station. Take a pizza to the nursing home for the CNAs. Volunteer at the local school.

Do something for the people you live with day by day, and rebuild who we are.

As a Christian, I will do these kinds of things because they bring glory to God, and doing so will bring honor to Christ while improving the situation right around me. I would challenge you to do the same—even if you do not share the same primary motivation.

As long as our response is about the larger political question and whether this helps or hurts “our side,” we’re going down. Because “our side” is the human race. Let’s get it together.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Don't Start Believin': Joshua 9

In Summary:
At this point, the Israelites have destroyed two major cities on the western side of the Jordan, Jericho and Ai. These were destroyed after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. Before that, the main kingdoms on the eastern side of the river, led by Sihon and Og, were also destroyed.

So Joshua 9 gives us two responses. One of them will not be resolved until the next chapter, but it is introduced in Joshua 9:1-2. The kings of the region gather together with the intention of destroying the incoming Israelite invasion. As we consider this, it is important to remember that a “king” here may rule only over a city (and a small one, at that,) and answer to the king next door. There is no reason to dismiss the label of “king” because he did not rule a large territory. That’s an anachronism.

The inhabitants of Gibeon, though, decide that they are not interested in the combat coalition being put together. Instead, they hatch a plan to get themselves out of harm’s way. It’s a simple plan, really, which takes advantage of the cultural expectations of hospitality and oath-keeping. If the Israelites will take them in as weary travelers and make a peace treaty with them, then the Gibeonites will be safe even after the Hebrews know they are local enemies rather than distant ones. 

Joshua and the rest of the leaders of Israel realize their mistake. They determine that the Gibeonites will be taken as slave labor for the people of Israel, but since the nation had bound itself with an oath to the Lord God, they determined that they should keep it. It’s a difficult position that they found themselves in: having a made a promise that should not have been made, they must now honor it anyway. 

Generally speaking, that’s a bad spot. And there are times when your only option will be to break your word and move forward, but I would suggest those situations are rarer than we want them to be. There are times where the life of another is at stake, for example, or even your own life—a marriage vow to an abuser is an example—that one must break out of an oath. 

But that’s life issues, folks, not inconvenience, embarrassment, or financial challenge. We need to not conflate those issues.

In Focus:
Let’s put in focus where the fault is typically laid in this passage: Joshua 9:14. The leaders of Israel conduct their own investigation and do not inquire of YHWH about the Gibeonites. Let’s read that again, just to be certain that’s what it says: Joshua 9:14 (ESV). Indeed, they did not inquire of the Lord God.

Here they are, in the Promised Land, guided by the Lord God, YHWH, to it. He has given them passage through the Red Sea, manna in the wilderness, and victory over Sihon and Og. He brought them through the Jordan River rather than over it, then brought them through the walls of Jericho instead of over them. Yet they think that, at this point, they can handle it.

As a result, they set the stage for their own disobedience to His commands by making a covenant with the people of the land. The Gibeonites become the first of the undefeated Canaanites, and in due time, the Israelites will go astray following the Canaanite gods.

It starts with not seeking YHWH here, in the afterglow of the victory over Ai.

In Practice:
What fools they were, we look and say—but we have the benefit of hindsight! Consider our own lives and whether or not we have ever promised foolishly! It has happened before, and it will happen again.

It happens in our personal lives, where we vow and promise without consideration. It happens between churches and other organizations, and it happens between Christians in a society and political leadership—we make promises and commit support without really asking what the Lord says about it! So, what do we do?

1. If we do not know what the Lord says about life in general, how in the world will we know what He says about an alliance? Get your Bible out and read it! Understand the character of God, understand the holiness of God.

2. Be wary of stories that look too good to be true—especially when God has given clear instructions about an issue. Can you picture the leaders of Israel making their covenant with the Gibeonites? “Gee, Jehoahash, it’s a good thing these guys aren’t local, we couldn’t make this deal!” “Yep, Earl, that’s the case….” Guess what? If there’s only one thing wrong with the plan, then look twice at the one thing.

3. Be aware that temptation comes hard on the heels of victory. The Israelites are feeling good about the situation in the Promised Land, having seen the victories at Jericho and Ai. Never let victory lead to complacency, never let success breed apathy—always view each situation afresh, applying the same principles and passion to sorting it out as the last one required.

Don’t start believing everything you hear, especially when God has you on a mission!

In Nerdiness:
1. Question: vv. 1-2 say the kings of the cities formed an alliance…then v. 3 says the “inhabitants” of Gibeon set up this plan. Did the Gibeonites rebel against their king while he was off making the alliance and try to make their own peace? It makes Joshua 10 make even more sense.


2. So, does v. 23 reflect the upcoming worship center or is “house of my God” a reference to the kingdom of God? And do the Gibeonites, in due time, come to worship the God for whom they are hauling wood and water?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Book: She Reads Truth CS Bible

Today's book is a two-pronged reviewed. We're taking a look at the She Reads Truth Study Bible, which uses the new Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. So, we'll take a look at the She Reads Truth study notes and pass a little judgment on the CSB while we're at it.

First, a few observations on the CSB in general. It's an update from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), reflecting many translation revisions and some changes in underlying text choices. The translation revisions are unfortunate in places, as the HCSB had used the Divine Name of Yahweh in some places but not others, while the CSB returns to the traditional use of a small-caps Lord in all places where the Name occurs. Going to a standardized usage was a good idea, but I would have preferred the name. A more fortunate change was returning to servant for the Greek "doulos," where the HCSB had used slave. Current English does not really have a good answer for that translation: the "slavery" of the Roman Empire was substantially different from the "slavery" of recent centuries, so slave brings up the wrong connotation, but many of us picture Alfred, Batman's "servant" when we see servant, which is far too weak.

In all, while it has some difficulties in translation, I'm finding myself a fan overall of the CSB. I still find the NASB a stronger translation for seeing the underlying language, but the CSB does use slightly more readable English. I've switched over to CSB for my preaching/teaching, so that shows if I think it's good enough translation.

Now, on to the She Reads Truth study add-ins found here. First, they are drawn from the authors of the book, She Reads Truth, which, in turn, came from a blog with the same title. Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams (yes, her middle name is "Bible") are primarily responsible for the extra content, though other authors are involved.

The first note to make is that this is more of a "devotional" Bible than a "study" Bible, though there are some good study helps like book introductions, maps, and timelines. The typical study Bible has verse-by-verse commentary, which is not present here. Instead, there are devotionals written and placed with their relevant passages of Scripture throughout the text. These are of excellent quality and do well as challenges to the reader.

We've got the hardcover version and I am surprised that the pages are a bit thin compared to most hardcover Bibles I have. They are closer to the thinness of leather-type Bibles, but you are trying to put a rather large amount of content inside a manageable cover. You can either make the print too small to read or make the paper thin.

In all, I like this Bible. The artwork included is nice, but I'm not a Medieval Era monk who is just dying for an illuminated text, so I can live without it. The content, while geared toward women, is not too hard to stretch toward men as well--though I did snag this Bible for my wife. She's enjoying it much more than a previous "Study Bible for Women" which she felt was too watered down and simplistic.

I did get one free from Lifeway to review. I also bought 5 as gifts for others, but technically, the first one was a freebie so I'll disclose it while asking this question: was I influenced to review well by the free one if I went out and bought five?


Sermon Recap from October 18

Good evening! Here are the service and sermon replays from Sunday, October 18. Audio replay for sermons first: Video (Both videos from the 9...