Reading the Word of God (A He Reads Truth Bible Review and Giveaway)

The Word of God is living and active. Every, single word of it is God-breathed and useful for equipping us to live the holy life God has called us to.  But for some reason, it is often a struggle to crack open the covers and breathe in the life-giving words God has provided us. There are many reasons why we struggle, but one of the reasons I most frequently hear cited is overwhelm – not knowing where to begin or how to study our Bibles.  There are many tools to help equip you in reading and understanding your Bible, but I’m excited to share with you the new He Reads Truth Bible, which I received to review and give away to one of you, in exchange for this honest review.  The He Reads Truth Bible is filled with many neat features to help you engage with Scripture. It is written in the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB) which I had previously not had much experience with but greatly enjoyed. It is clear, direct, and easy to read. In addition to its beautiful, hardcovered binding, it is full of tools mingled throughout the text to help make Scripture clear and easy to read.  The features include 66 hand-lettered key verses, 17 full-color timelines, 21 maps, 122 charts (including infographics and lists) as well as reading plans (both a one-year reading plan and plans for each book of the Bible) as well as detailed book introductions.  Since this was the He Reads Truth Bible, I decided to get a guy’s perspective and asked my husband for his thoughts on the layout and design. The infographics and timelines were my husband’s favorite part of the Bible. They make it clear to understand different principles (we LOVED the one covering the Beatitudes). The timelines before the books written by the Minor Prophets intrigued me as those books tend to blur together and can be difficult to understand without some historical background.  While simply the Bible is always enough, it is often wise to engage with the tools and wisdom of the others in the Body of Christ. The He Reads Truth Bible is a great way to do that. It is an amazing gift to help any man in your life, any husband, father brother, or friend, read the Word of God more regularly.  You can enter to win a copy of the He Reads Truth…

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What to Expect at the Maundy Thursday Service (And Why It’s My Favorite Church Service of the Year)

When I was in high school, I babysat for one of our pastor’s children. I always enjoyed the conversation with him and his wife because neither of them talked down to me about truth but spoke about theological truths, difficulties of the life, and our Christian faith as if I was an equal, not someone to talked down to in simple terms.  On particular conversation during Holy Week led to them asking if I was going to attend the Maundy Thursday service. I may have attended in the past with my family but typically, Good Friday and Easter Sunday took front and center of our celebrations and I had put very little thought into Maundy Thursday (The pastor and his wife graciously corrected my mispronunciation of “Monday” Thursday by simply repeating the name and telling me of its origin instead of calling me our directly.)  Despite my reservations, their insistence that Maundy Thursday was their favorite service of the year led me to walk into the Church on that Thursday evening and see what all the fuss was about and why this service had impacted them both so much. Despite my reservations, their insistence that Maundy Thursday was their favorite service of the year led me to walk into the Church on that Thursday evening and see what all the fuss was about and why this service had impacted them both so much. I had no idea what to expect at a Maundy Thursday service. I was still in my Easter and Christmas phase of celebrating the Church Calendar. I may have given something up for Lent a handful of times but it was more of an excuse to commit myself to a new diet idea than to discipline myself through fasting. But walking into Maundy Thursday was a turning point, a reminder that there deep Biblical truths that we have forgotten to remind ourselves of through celebration and commemoration.  Good Friday is a somber service, but it is expected to be so. Maundy Thursday is startling, it draws us into the night of Christ’s betrayal, an evening that began with dinner around a table with close friends and ended with sweating blood in extreme anxiety, experiencing deep betrayal by a friend, and walking forward willingly to enduring a torturous death.  The Maundy Thursday services I’ve been to have always followed a similar pattern. It begins in an upbeat, if…

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If You’re Hurting and Wondering Where God Was, He’s Weeping With You

One of the hardest questions we wrestle with as believers is where God is when tragedy strikes our homes. If we believe in the sovereignty of God, then we know in our hearts that He could have intervened, could have stopped the accident from happening, the cancer from spreading, the company from going under, the marriage from collapsing. Because our God is the true miracle-worker, but sometimes, we are left asking why we were standing there alone when we stood, expectantly waiting for the Miracle-Worker to arrive and save the day.  And sometimes, He shows up in big, remarkable ways where we can do nothing but exclaim, “Look what God has done!”  But then there are days when we are left, standing empty-handed, crawling into the arms of God asking Him where He was when we needed Him. But then there are days when we are left, standing empty-handed, crawling into the arms of God asking Him where He was when we needed Him.  These are moments of great confusion. Feelings of betrayal well up into a lump in my own throat as I try to reason with myself why a good God would allow His people to undergo such heartache.  My temptation is to simply try and stuff down those feelings quickly by trying to claim some deeper theological understanding of God’s goodness exceeding my own. And while I know His ways are above my own, I think this desire to move past the heartache and confusion, to pretend that all is well even when it feels that I might burst into a million pieces, it misguided.  When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. – John 11:32-35, ESV This passage has often been nourishment to my weeping soul. Because Jesus listened when we Mary knew he could have healed her brother before He died and wondered why He hadn’t shown up when they needed Him. She believed and felt let down by Jesus.  And instead of pushing it aside, she confronted those icky, complicated feelings and told…

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I’m Offended. Now What? How to Deal with Sin Biblically

Too often, I am offended. Sometimes it is intentional, sometimes it is unintentional, and sometimes it’s simply because I need thicker skin. It hurts. Whether the wounds are from a friend, an enemy, or someone in between, it burns deeply. Jesus knew we would deal with offenses. He urged us not to lash out and seek revenge, but to turn the other cheek. But within the Church, He also provided clear guidelines on how we should handle being offended by another’s sin. Sometimes, the best way to preserve peace is to protect the purity of the Church by calling out sin in love and encouraging one another to repent. Instead of simply cowering and sweeping it under the rug or lashing out in a public, holier than thou attitude, Christ calls us to confront sin with compassion and confidence.  Christ urges us to address sin, not simply hurt feelings.  “If your brother sins against you” is the qualifier for if this applies to your situation (Matthew 18:15, ESV). We shouldn’t stir up problems in the church by creating problems over misunderstandings. Our own motives need to be examined. Are we seeking to protect the purity of the Church or to justify our hurt feelings (and maybe our uncharitable responses to those feelings)? As you evaluate whether or no you need to confront someone over an offense, put yourself in their shoes and try to evaluate if there’s truly sin that needs to be repented of or simply a misunderstanding. If it is the latter, try to extend the grace you would want extended to you and overlook it.  Start by addressing it privately  Avoid giving in to the sin of gossip by addressing directly what is happening directly to the offending party. Don’t try to justify gossip by trying to hide it in the form of asking several people for “advice” in the form of venting your anger. Be directly, but loving go to the person who offended you and tell them the fault you see. This not only is a compassionate way of allowing them to make things right privately but also allows for you to see if there was any way you were in error. Speak the Truth in Love If we are trying to urge another member of our Church family to repentance from sin, we need to be motivated by a place of love.  Rather, speaking…

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Reminders for When I’m Unsure of What God is Doing

I’ve been in a season of confusion. I feel like one of the psalmists. The surety I had even a year ago has been replaced by me alternately looking around in confusion and waving my hands, trying to get God’s attention as if I need to remind Him I’m still here, needing Him to guide me.  Because I’m desperately unsure of what God is doing. Plans that God laid on my heart seem to be lost through new obstacles that He is not removing. Everything feels smaller and less possible than it did a year ago when I felt God calling me to big plans and bigger dreams. So where is He now?  Is God still working in this mess? Did I misunderstand what God was wanting me to do or is this simply a trial of faith where I need to stand, trusting in a power not my own? My mind scampers down rabbit trails, frantically trying to control the world around me instead of trusting in the One who holds all things together. Even if I have failed, He does not. So in times of confusion, I remind myself of who I am and who my Savior is.  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  – Romans 8:26-27, ESV Even when I am confused and unsure of the path ahead, the Holy Spirit works on my behalf, praying according to God’s will and interceding for me. My ways are not God’s ways. Even my prayers falter because of my broken human nature.  Instead of living based on the assumption that all relies on me, I need to remember that God recognizes my brokenness. While I should strive to honor Him in all I do, in time I confusion I need to dwell upon the truth that God already knows I will not pray as I ought and is working on my behalf.  Especially when I am confused and uncertain of the road ahead, I need to trust that the Holy Spirit is praying for me in ways I cannot comprehend. My own strength is not enough,…

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