This video has made its rounds on the web since 2011. It is still a great conversation starter even though our students have no idea about Schoolhouse Rock.

When it comes to Bible translations, I’ve typically been an NIV 84 guy. I won’t be using their new version, though – from my vantage point, one too many liberties were taken in the update. I’d like to hear your thoughts on some suggestions on what to transfer over to in the future.

It’s why I like Adam Ford’s clever post on this blog about the different ways you can understand Bible translations:

So while we’re on the topic, which tends to be your personal favorite translation:

  1. For your own study?
  2. For giving to students?

Thanks for your thoughts!

P.S. Like the NIV 84, too? I found a website where you can still use it online:

God is not…

Chuck Bomar —  December 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 10.26.49 AMAs Christians we go to God for a lot of things and rely on Him for a ton … as we should.

But, if we are honest with ourselves, I think we would admit that we have a hard time depending on Him when things are going well. He’s more like a fire extinguisher in our lives. When we have an emergency we go over to the wall, break the glass, pull out the fire extinguisher, point it at the problem and then spray … trying to put out the fire.

This is not God. This is not how a true relationship with God works.

In fact, this idea of God is not focused on God at all. It’s actually focused on ourselves. Rather than our purpose being serving Him, we view it as His role to serve us. This is a massive problem – both theologically and practically.

So, here are 2 really quick reminders to keep this straight:

1. Everything starts with God. Yes, He is Creator, but I’m thinking about more of a relational emphasis here. A relationship with God starts with Him, revolves around His strengths and will ultimately always point back to God. Religion revolves around us, our strengths (or weaknesses) and ultimately points back to us.

 2. He, Himself, defines blessing. Blessing is not about avoiding pain or obtaining material comfort. Blessing is the fact that God, Himself, is with us through it all. Having God with us, personally, is what blessing is.




There are all sorts of ‘hot topics’ in our culture.Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 9.01.42 AM

In my opinion, as leaders, we need to be proactive in addressing these issues.  Unfortunately, many times we tend to just let them come to us rather than proactively leading our people and equipping them to navigate conversations like:

  • same-sex attraction/partnership
  • gay marriage
  • legalization of marijuana

Then there are some other topics that we tend to just let go unaddressed in the church context like:

  • the role of women in the church
  • specific (defers from context to context) spiritual gifts
  • navigating the church and state boundaries

These are all issues that are too often left unaddressed, and therefore, they become “unspoken truths” that leave people to drown in their own assumptions.  This creates confusion.  We tend to think that people will be able to navigate these issues on their own and clearly understand our position as a local church.  Both assumptions are wrong.  And, it’s my firm belief that we must proactively shepherd people in areas such as these.

So, here are 3 general guidelines for being a proactive leader in these areas:

  1. Provide Clarity.  Clearly state your position AND the underlying convictions that drive your conclusions.  Articulating the underlying convictions you have (such as scripture being our standard) are critical for these conversations.  
  2. Provide Framework.  Clearly lay out the expectations you have for people as they dialogue about these types of things.  I recently did a forum for our church on the LGBT conversation. One of the things I set up as a framework is the following statement: “Humility and love, not shame, is our mutual aspiration.”  These types of things set a tone for dialogue and are necessary to “posture” our people to be able to handle these conversations in God-honoring ways.
  3. Provide Freedom.  People need to be given freedom to discuss topics like this in our churches.  Everyone gets super tense when these types of topics come up in conversation and much of this is due to our lack of articulating the freedom they have to do so.

I pray we can all be proactive leaders.



eReading with SYM…

Brandon Early —  October 18, 2013 — 1 Comment

logosSYMMy go-to study tool is my Logos Bible Software.  I wrote about my Portable Study Library here and digital reading here, check these posts out if you are looking to invest in some digital study tools.

I am excited that Logos Bible Software is adding some great SYM books to their library! Great books from Kurt Johnston, Joshua Griffin, Doug Fields, and twenty other authors! The set is available for pre-order and on sale at a 30% discount.

If you are teaching on a regular basis, love studying from your Mac, PC, or iPad then Logos Bible Software is some to investigate. Call my friend David Kaplan at Logos and tell him Brandon Early sent you (800.875.6467).  October is pastor appreciation month… so go appreciate yourself!

- Brandon


Godspeaks - narrativeJust got done teaching a series at Colossae that I called, “God Speaks.”  It was a way of teaching through the different literary genres of the Old Testament.  The point was to show what God is uniquely saying to us through the various genres.  I taught this series for a few reasons:


(1) I wanted to entice people to read scripture more, particularly the Old Testament.

(2) It’s a subversive way of teaching hermeneutics (bible study methods).

We all know that God speaks to us through the scriptures, but we often lose sight of the fact that He speaks to us in different ways through the scriptures.  He’s telling the same story, but we learn different things about Him and ourselves through the various literary genres.  So, we went through the following messages:

  1. God Speaks, Through Narrative.  God chooses specific historical events to reveal who He is and who we are in light of Him.  I taught through Genesis 1-6 in this message.
  2. God Speaks, Through Law.  We learn about our complete inability to be perfect and thus it leads us to a full recognition of our moral failure in God’s eyes.  We taught through Leviticus 16.
  3. God Speaks, Through Poetry.  We learn ways we can worship God regardless of our emotional state – no matter how high or low we get.  I taught through Psalm 77 for this message.
  4. God Speaks, Through Prophecy.  We see how God is inviting His people into the blessing of depending on Him.  I taught through Joel 2 and Jeremiah 7.
  5. God Speaks, Through Wisdom.  This is where God reveals the hindsight of others so it can become our foresight.  I taught through an overview of Ecclesiastes.

What are ways you’ve tried to entice people to read scripture?

definitionsSome phrases or words or topics are commonly used in the Church:

  • “We need to grow spiritually
  • “We want to make sure everyone is being discipled…”
  • “We need to train people in evangelism
  • Spiritual disciplines are important for every Christian”

But using these phrases often doesn’t mean people actually understand what we’re talking about.  People might be able to use the terms in the right context and in the right ways, but if asked to define these things most would have a hard time doing so.  Well, I’ve realized more than ever we have to make sure these types of things are defined clearly and simply.  If not, all we do is train people in Christianese – a language we use that nobody really understands.

So, I thought I would do is provide the definitions I use in our church.  You might already have your own definitions that are concise and effective.  If that’s you, then maybe mine can just be something you compare/contrast yours with.  If you don’t have these defined concisely, I would recommend doing so immediately.  Leadership requires us to be clear.

The first word or phrase I will define in this series is: spiritual growth.

This phrase is tossed around a lot, but nobody really knows what we mean.  So I have defined it.  It may not be a perfect definitions, but I believe we can say we have grown spiritually

if the time it takes us to read scripture and embrace it is less than it used to be. 

This definition does a number of things other than just providing a definition:

  1.  It leans on Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 that says the goal of our teaching people about him and his ways is obedience.  We cannot feel like we’ve grown spiritually simply because we can regurgitate scripture.  Reading the bible makes us Christian as much as reading People Magazine makes us a celebrity.
  2. Implies that we need to be growing in our understanding of scripture.
  3. It insinuates actions need to be taken after reading.

How do you feel about that definition?  See any holes in it?  Any other benefits you see it having?  If you have defined it for yourself and ministry, please share it so we can all learn.

Pushing Paper: Revisited

Geoff Stewart —  November 28, 2012 — 6 Comments

More than a year ago, I wrote a post called Pushing Paper where I laid out a case for encouraging students to bring a “real” paper Bible and to not rely on using one the many great App based Bibles for their phones. I felt my case of bulletproof, signed sealed delivered and the jury would be unanimous. Of course it was not that easy and lots of people had some well thought out arugments for and against the case that I laid out for using paper Bibles over electronic:

Status: I may seem obvious but in most cases, a student’s cell phone is the most expensive thing they own, its their treasure and something they have worked very hard for. I respect how important the phone is to them but I ask them to respect or request to put it away in place of a paper Bible. We do allow phones and have had students text in questions, but for the most part, we ask that they be present and resist outside distractions, allowing them to focus on God.

Less Distractions: I don’t often find students thumbing through Leviticus instead of listening to my Sermons but I know that there are tons of distractions on iPods and cell phones and if I were honest, I would be working my way through Angry Birds some nights. Limiting distractions is helpful to keeping students focused, and help to not be a distraction to those around them. After all paper Bible ddoesn’t get texts, tweets, instagrams, tumblr, facebook or any other sort of digital distraction and the battery never seems to die on my NIV either.

Bibles are Cumbersome: This is a good thing! I love seeing a student walk in with a Bible under their arm. They are distinct and beautiful, many decorated with stickers, duct tape and they are unmistakable. Carrying your bible around is a statement, it’s a stance, it shows that it is something you value and that you are willing to tote around this obvious symbol of that.

So I am bringing the issue back for your consideration because a few weeks back, I messaged our leaders and asked them to please bring their paper Bibles to youth group and refrain from using their phones. For most of the team, it was business as usual and they understood the rationale and were more than happy to not use their phone Bible App.  But one my leaders; who often asks good questions, asked me if I was simply delaying the inevitable and that paper Bibles were a thing of the past and why not just accept it.

So my question is: Is my paper Bible going the way of the Commodore 64 / Blackberry? Am I just being a thirty-year-old fuddy-duddy? Is this a hill worth dying on?

geoff -@geoffcstewart