Quest Study Bible (book review)

I was excited to get my copy of The Quest Study Bible. As I began to leaf through it and notice its unique format, I was suddenly transported back more than 20 years into my past…

“Daddy, what are you doing,” my young son asked, as I bent over some forms spread across my desk. 

“I’m filling out these tax forms,” I explained.

“Why?”

“So that I make sure I’m sending the right amount of tax money in to our government.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want to have to pay any late fees.” 

“Why?” 

“So we can keep more of my hard-earned money.” 

“Why?” 

“Go ask your mother….”

Any parent or grandparent knows that the incessant questions of kids is how they learn. Our youngsters are processing the world around them, asking questions, trying to make sense of how everything fits together. As our Heavenly Father’s children, we still learn about His world in much the same way. 

Some of the best-known catechisms of history have been handed down to us in a question-and-answer format like the Westminster Catechism—Q: What is the chief end of man? A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. 

The Quest Study Bible preserves this Q&A learning format for those of us that are (hopefully) lifelong learners of God’s Word. Each book starts off with the basic Who, Why, When, and To Whom questions that many of us are asking. Then every single page contains the catechism-like Q&As that query the text you’re reading. For example, in the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel we are treated to questions like: “Why give the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah?” and “What’s the significance of calling Jesus the Messiah?” 

To help you more quickly find some of the answers you may be seeking, I also appreciate the quite extensive “Index to Subjects” at the back of this Bible.

If you are looking for a unique way to engage with Scripture—especially if you have an eager-to-learn mind—you will really enjoy The Quest Study Bible. 

I am a Zondervan book reviewer. 

Ordering Your Private World (book review)

You can look all neat and tidy on the outside, you can talk a good game and even have some short-term success. But if you aren’t growing on the inside, all that good looking outside stuff will eventually come crashing down. This is exactly what Gordon MacDonald addresses in his revised and updated book Ordering Your Private World.

MacDonald shares a quote from Ezra Pound which captures the theme of this book: “If a (person) has not order within him, he cannot spread order about him.” Amen!

Here’s what I love about Gordon MacDonald’s heart. This book is a revised and updated version of his original work. The first edition sold more than a million copies! MacDonald could have sat back and collected his royalty checks, but instead, he has kept growing, kept learning, kept on ordering his own private world, and wasn’t content until he could share his ever-growing insights with a whole new generation.

MacDonald is quite candid about the collapse of his own inner world, and how he had to work to restore and rebuild that. Throughout this book you will read more of his personal stories, as well as accounts from historical people (both famous and relatively unknown), and you will learn from numerous biblical examples as well.

Ordering Your Private World will help you reassess your priorities, learn how to take control of your time, help you find the best supports for your inner world, see through a biblical lens, and learn what it truly means to take a rest.

This book will be beneficial for everyone who wants to ensure their inner world is strong enough to support their outer world, but I would especially recommend this book to those in leadership positions. Leaders tend to be much more hard-charging and results-oriented people, and as such may neglect their own inner world. But whoever you are, this book will be a valuable part of your life.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

The Person You Love The Least

Quick… think of the person that you love the least.

Get a good mental picture of him/her.

Got it?

What sort of emotions come to mind as you see his/her face? Are you anxious to give them a bear hug? Or maybe it’s more like a tight hug right around their neck? Do you want to hang out with them at Starbucks? If you saw them stranded on the side of the road, would you stop to help?

Now, with the image of that person still clearly in mind, slowly read this quote:

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” —Dorothy Day

Ouch!

I’m really trying to work on this. Are you willing to try too?

Buster

Every once in a while I need to be reminded of this truth: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Yesterday my plans were set. They were planned down to the minute. Here was my agenda:

  • Leave home early for a meeting in Kalamazoo.
  • Swing by the office to pick up a key.
  • Head to a house in downtown Kalamazoo for a meeting.
  • Complete the meeting in about an hour.
  • Drive to my parents’ house to change into a business suit.
  • Then head to downtown Grand Rapids for another meeting with some key business and ministry leaders in the inner-city.

Instead, on my way to Kalamazoo, I had the following phone conversation:

“Sorry, but I forgot to drop the key off on Friday. Can I meet you at the house to give it to you?”

“Sure. I can meet you there.”

“I need to ask another favor. I’m running late. Can you just find a coffee shop somewhere and meet me about 30 minutes later than we had planned?”

“Okay,” I said not too assuredly since this was starting to throw off my “perfect” schedule.

I pulled into a McDonald’s in downtown Kalamazoo, right across the street from the Greyhound bus station. I sat in my car for a couple of minutes, and then felt the need for a fruit and yogurt parfait. After making my purchase I had a grand total of $7.94 left in my pocket.

I walked to the restroom.

Just as I walked in, a man motioned to me. He wanted to say something quietly to me. Given the neighborhood I was in, I was expecting the usual “Can you help me out with some loose change” plea. Instead…

“Um, can you help me out,” asked the man that would later introduce himself as Buster.

“Sure. What do you need?”

“I had an accident and I need some clothes to change into,” he said quietly.

“I saw a mission around the corner,” I said. “Do they have clothes?”

“Yea.”

“Okay, c’mon. I’ll walk over there with you.” And I turned to walk out of the restroom.

Buster grabbed my coat sleeve and pulled me back. “Um, he said looking at the floor, “I … I’m HIV-positive.”

“Really,” I said as I put my arm around his shoulders, “I’m Craig.”

Buster smiled.

We walked to the mission and he picked out some sweat pants, a sweatshirt, a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, and a winter jacket. Total: $7.42.

“I’m going to pay you back for this, Craig.”

“No, you’re not, Buster. This is my gift to you.”

As we walked toward the bus station, where Buster could use a restroom to change his clothes, he asked me,

“Do you ever think about dying?”

“I’m not afraid to die, Buster, but I’m not ready to leave just yet. Why do you ask?”

“Last night I got drunk. I was trying to get up enough courage to jump in front of a bus. I’m tired of living.”

“Buster, I think that would be the worst thing you could do.”

“Why? No one cares about me.”

“God does.”

“Really?”

“Buster, I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences. I wasn’t supposed to be at this McDonald’s today. But God rearranged my schedule just so I could meet you. God sent me here.”

Buster slowly nodded his head, “I believe that, Craig. I really do.”

Before I left Buster at the bus station, he asked for my phone number. I walked over to the ticket counter to borrow a pen. After I wrote my number down and turned around, a man was standing right in my path.

“My name’s Johnson. Buster told me what you did for him.”

I smiled and shook his hand.

“Why did you do that?” he asked.

I smiled again, “God sent me here. He loves Buster so much that He rearranged my schedule.”

“Can you help me,” Johnson asked, “but Buster said you used all of your money on him.”

“What do you need?”

He held open his hand with some loose change in it. “I need 50 cents more for my bus fare.”

I handed Johnson my last 52 cents.

King Solomon also wrote, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”

I didn’t understand why my “perfect” schedule got rearranged. But I’m glad it did. I’m glad I got to meet Buster.

Relearning To Pray

I’ve been sharing a series about prayer with my congregation. It’s called Total Access. The premise of the series is that we have total access to the treasure trove of God’s blessings, and prayer is the key which unlocks the door.

One of the things I love about preparing a message for my congregation…

how much more I learn.

One of the things that challenges me about preparing a message for my congregation…

how much the Holy Spirit convicts me.

I feel like I’m having to relearn how to pray.

It’s so simple, yet it is so deep.

I love the words to Kari Jobe’s song The More I Seek You

The more I seek You
The more I find You
The more I find You
The more I love You 
 
I wanna sit at Your feet
Drink from the cup in Your hand
Lay back against You and breath
Hear Your heart beat
This love is so deep
It’s more than I can stand.
I melt in Your peace
It’s overwhelming

It is overwhelming. And at the same time so comforting. I love relearning to pray… again and again and again.

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