What are Your Study Habits?

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When I was a green seventeen-year old beginning my first year of college, I went through an orientation week affectionately called “WOW week” (aka Week of Welcome). In one of our mandatory sessions, the Dean of the College of Sciences asked us the following:

How many hours did you study in high school?

Do you know how to take notes?

Do you know the importance of rest?

Having graduated second in my high school class, I had little concern about my study habits because I knew they were sound. I am not a genius so I had to spend hours (about 30 hours/week) studying, taking detailed notes, recopying my notes as a study method, and prioritizing my projects. I continued these habits in college and managed to graduate cum laude. Persistence really does pay off.

A few years after college, this question was posed to me:

“Do we devote as much time to studying the Bible as we did studying for our chosen professions?” Continue reading

Are you counting on the right safety nets?

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The United States is what I would call a safety-net country. An abundance of government-led programs prevent the widespread devastation of economic crises and natural disasters. In fact, these programs have made many believe they are entitled to invulnerability of any kind.

“Everyone has the the right to eat!” So the government spends billions on WIC, EBT, SNAP and other welfare programs.

“Nobody should lose everything if they are laid off from a job!” So we’ve been given unemployment benefits.

“No elderly person should have to work until they die, or starve if they can no longer work…” So we have Social Security.

“No disabled person should have to beg for food!” So we have disability benefits.

“No person should get abandoned in a catastrophe!” So we send in FEMA

To many, these safety nets are like gods themselves… Continue reading

Why The Resurrection Matters

IMG_3051Some may ask why the resurrection is essential to our faith. Why can’t we just believe Jesus was a good teacher and follow His teachings? Why does it matter whether He had divine power?

If there was no resurrection, what do we have beyond this life?

If there was no resurrection, our Savior has no power to save.

If there was no resurrection, being a Christian is downright crazy.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:17-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus’ disciples walked with Him for 3 years. Show-stopping miracles were a regularity. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The lame walked. Demons fled. The disciples bore intimate witness to His divine power.

And yet, as Jesus was led away by an angry mob, they ran for their lives.

The disciples, like most humans, feared death. Like the rest of the Jews, the disciples believed Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel to earthly power. When He died, their misguided hopes died with Him.

Dark despair hung over the disciples as Jesus’ body reposed in the shadowy tomb.

Sunday morning, the sun crept over the horizon, softening the earth with its gentle warmth and light. At that same golden moment, a brighter, more glorious Son, rose from the realm of death.

Hope crushed despair.

Love conquered death.

Jesus overpowered Satan.

After Jesus’ resurrection, we see the apostles boldy preaching the gospel in the face of inevitable persecution. From the depths of prison to a dusty, blood-strewn road, their voices rose in praise. Death no longer frightened them. Fear no longer controlled them.

What changed?

What made them embrace death without fear? What made them choose lives of sacrifice?

The Empty Tomb.

The Living Savior.

The Resurrection.

When Jesus revealed His resurrected self to the apostles, all doubt vanished. Why fear death when your King has demonstrated His power to vanquish it?

The resurrection is crucial.

Without the resurrection, we have no hope.

Without hope, joy is lost.

Without joy, life is meaningless.

But Jesus has risen, hope is assured, and our lives overflow with joy inexpressible.

Our hope is not in this world or this life. Our living hope is the resurrected Christ. We take up our cross daily, crucifying the old man of sin, dying to self until he returns or we go home.

Today, and every day for the rest of your life, treasure this gift from God. We have an unshakeable hope because Jesus rose and Jesus lives.

How do I read through Leviticus?

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Do you have difficulty reading through certain books of the Bible?

Here is my short-list:

  • Revelation
  • Ezekiel
  • Some of the minor prophets (about 9 out of 12…)
  • Parts of Exodus
  • Leviticus

Prophetic books containing apocalyptic language are an obvious challenge. It takes research into the symbolism, a knowledge of the historical time frame, and a good hard look at the context. You can’t just glide through them like you do through the Psalms or Proverbs where the meaning is obvious and the verses highly quotable.

The book of Leviticus is not apocalyptic, it’s laborious. Twenty-seven chapters overflow with detailed rules, regulations, and instructions. It’s a bit like reading the United States Tax Code, only it makes abundantly more sense.

If you are in the midst of your daily bible reading and find your eyes glazing over Leviticus, try the following: Continue reading

Lessons from a Humiliated Pharaoh

This is Part 2 of the Series “The Effects of Knowing God” For the previous post, click here.

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What effect does knowing God have on your life? What effect did it have on the Pharaoh of the Exodus account?

Picture in your mind Moses and Aaron in the court of Pharaoh…

A line of foreigners, servants and gifts winds between gleaming pillars of alabaster. Pharaoh reclines lazily on his throne, receiving tribute from conquered lands, Occasionally sparing a glance or a nod for these lesser mortals. As he waves two Ethiopians away, two plainly-clothed men approach the throne carrying no gift at all. One is clothed as a shepherd, the other a slave.

The man on the right squares his shoulders and speaks:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'”

Pharaoh jerks his head back in shock, one eyebrow arched menacingly.

Both feet press into the stone floor as he leans forward. The one on the left looks a little familiar, but it’s unlikely. The man to the right, the speaker, bears all the marks of servitude—the slight hunch of the shoulders, the leathery skin, and the eyes that flicker of fear.

Filthy Hebrews. 

Who is this God they’re talking about? If the Hebrews have a god, he’s certainly weaker than Ra…

Weaker than me, he thinks to himself.

Pharaoh’s mouth curves into a sardonic smile. “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (Ex 5:2)

Pharaoh is about to get the introduction of a lifetime… Continue reading