Bible Study Tools

I love to read (just take a peek at the number of books I read and reviewed last year). But without a doubt, hands-down, the clear runaway favorite read is my Bible. 

“The Bible alone seems broader, and deeper, and fuller the oftener it is studied. We have no need to look for allegorical and mystical meanings. The fresh truths that will constantly spring up before our eyes are simple, plain, and clear. Of such truths the Bible is an inexhaustible mine. Nothing can account for this but the great fact that the Bible is the Word, not of man, but of God.” —J.C. Ryle

I thought I’d share with you some of the current Bible study tools I’m utilizing—

  • I am reading through the Bible on YouVersion’s plan called As It Happened. This takes you through the Scripture in chronological order. 
  • Along with this chronological plan, I have also subscribed to the daily devotional called Missionary God—Missionary Bible. This comes as a daily email from premier missiologist Dick Brogden, and follows the readings of the chronological Bible.
  • I am reading through the John Maxwell Leadership Bible, where events and characters are studied through a leadership lens. 
  • Since I am presently in the Gospels in the Leadership Bible, I am also utilizing Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey, and Expository Thoughts On The Gospels by J.C. Ryle. 
  • I also utilize the Hebrew and Greek resources almost every day at Blue Letter Bible.
  • And I also love doing shared reading plans with family and friends on YouVersion. 

Please share in the comments what Bible study tools you are using so we can all learn and grow together. 

12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid (YouVersion reading plan review)

Tim Elmore has fantastic insights for those who work with today’s youth. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a youth pastor, or a coach, you are always guaranteed some great content when you study what Dr. Elmore presents. 

YouVersion has a reading plan based on Tim Elmore’s book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid. The reading plan has three advantages over the book—(1) Daily Scripture readings which augment the material covered each day; (2) A video message from Dr. Elmore explaining how we can avoid these mistakes; and (3) A place to have an honest dialogue with another parent/coach/teacher, if you are doing this reading plan as a shared plan. 

There is also one huge advantage the book has over the reading plan—lots more content, including warning signs, and ideas for recovering from past mistakes. 

So the real winning combination is not either-or, but both-and. You should both read the book (you can check out my review by clicking here) and do the YouVersion reading plan along with another adult or two (or three or four…). 

Don’t get blindsided by these 12 mistakes. After all, they are all avoidable and correctable! 

(You can also check out some quotes I shared from the book by clicking here.)

Christ’s Love Has Perfect Timing!

Love Has A Name (YouVersion reading plan review)

I love listening to the Jesus Culture band lead people in worship! Their humble spirits and biblically-sound lyrics are a powerful combination. If you haven’t checked out their latest album called “Love Has A Name,” please do so! And also check out their YouVersion devotional with the same name. 

Love Has A Name is a 10-day reading plan on YouVersion in which the members of the Jesus Culture band have written the devotional for each day. Each devotional is associated with one of the songs on their new album and will take you behind the lyrics to the seed-thought of that song. Then you will also read the biblical passage(s) that were woven into the song’s lyrics. 

Each morning during this 10-day reading plan I read the devotional thought, read the Scripture, and then worshiped along with the song that corresponded with that day’s reading, and then journaled some thoughts. I found that hearing God’s Word sung in such a passionate way was a fantastic way to keep God’s Word in my mind and heart all day long. 

Please check out both the album and the YouVersion reading plan Love Has A Name. 

God’s Silence And God’s Singing

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

I’ve always loved this verse about God singing over me! I noticed something interesting in the Amplified Bible—not only God’s singing, but His silence. He is silent (making no mention) about my forgiven sins, but He sings His love about my future with Him. 

“The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 AMPC)

Kim Walker-Smith wrote, “It’s a love that never stops pursuing us. There are moments when I don’t hear His love and moments when I don’t feel His love, but that does not change the fact that He is always giving His love.” He is always singing His love❣️

The 5 Love Languages For Him/Her (YouVersion review)

Couples that can learn together can definitely grow together! 

A feature I thoroughly enjoy on YouVersion is shared reading plans. When a plan is shared, no one else sees what plan you are reading, and the comments you write at the end of each day’s readings are only visible to the other people in your group. My wife and I have taken advantage of this to use YouVersion reading plans as a springboard to discuss ways to make our relationship even stronger. 

If you have ever heard anyone talk about his/her “love language,” they are more than likely talking about Dr. Gary Chapman’s outstanding series of books on our five basic love languages—words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, acts of service, and physical touch. When we can discover and speak someone’s love language to them consistently, it fills that person’s “love tank” and strengthens the relationship. 

YouVersion offers two 5-day reading plans that leverage Dr. Chapman’s insights on our love languages, and support his insights with passages from the Bible. These plans are The 5 Love Languages For Him and The 5 Love Languages For Her. 

I would highly recommend married couples to read these plans together. It’s not necessary for you to have read The 5 Love Languages book in order to glean some very helpful insights that you can immediately apply to your marriage. These reading plans will help you and your spouse to be able to dialogue about both what’s struggling and needs to be fixed, and what’s going right and needs to be amplified. 

Your marriage will benefit from this 10-minute investment you make for just a couple of weeks. 

10 Marriage Tips For Guys

Guys, here’s how to add heat to your marriage (regardless of its current temperature)—

  1. Let the Holy Spirit continue to develop His fruit in you—this is the only way to become a truly exceptional lover.
  2. Pray for your wife, and pray with your wife.
  3. Say “I love you” every day. 
  4. Learn her love language and speak it regularly. 
  5. Hold her hand. 
  6. Compliment her privately—not just for how she looks or what she does, but for who she is. 
  7. Praise her publicly in front of her friends, family, and coworkers.
  8. Find ways to assure her that she is your #1 priority. Every single day.
  9. Take her out on a date that you have planned. 
  10. Repeat steps 1-9.

“The most joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, trustworthy lovers are Spirit-empowered lovers.” —Craig T. Owens

Got any other ideas? Share them in the comments below so we can all benefit from them.

Strengths-Based Marriage (reading plan review)

Normally on Tuesdays, I post book reviews here, but I’ve been reading a couple of YouVersion reading plans with my wife this summer that I felt I must share with you. Both of them are by Jimmy Evans—One: A Marriage Devotional and Strengths-Based Marriage. 

If you are unfamiliar with YouVersion Bible, there is both a web-based site and a mobile app that you really should check out. I spend a lot of quality time in the Scripture using the app on my iPhone each day. One of the cool features YouVersion has recently introduced is the ability to read devotional plans with friends. This offers:

  • accountability with your reading partners 
  • a set schedule of reading assignments
  • access to all the biblical texts that correspond with the day’s devotional reading
  • a place to share your thoughts just with your reading partners, and inaccessible to anyone else on YouVersion

Strengths-Based Marriage focuses on exactly what the title leads you to expect—the strengths in you and your spouse. Instead of trying to “fix” something in your spouse, Jimmy Evans turns your attention toward the God-implanted strengths in your spouse, and then gives you some practical counsel for calling out those strengths. 

For example, in one of the devotions he wrote, “Each of us is remarkably unique, and to minimize that irreplaceable uniqueness is to rob the world of a contribution that cannot come any other way.” And in another devotional he says, “You cannot separate your treasures from your passions. In other words, you will always be most passionate about the people, pursuits, and places where you are investing the best of your life. Your passions will always follow the investments of your time, energy, and strengths.”

One: A Marriage Devotional is a much more daily nuts-and-bolts approach to our marriages. In this devotional he shares relationships principles, and then gives us a “Talk It Out” and a “Walk It Out” assignment to put into practice. 

In one of these devotionals he writes, “God created marriage to operate as the most important human relationship in our lives, and it only succeeds on that level. … Priority must be proven daily in real terms and not just in words. Good intentions mean very little in marriage. The only thing that matters is what you do and continue to do consistently. For your marriage to work, you must establish it as the first priority and be willing to protect it against good or bad things that try to distract you.”

Whether your marriage is in need of urgent attention, it could use some minor improvements, or it’s already pretty great, both of these devotionals will give you practical tips, time with your spouse in God’s Word, great conversation-starting questions, and some highly practical tips you can use right now. 

10 Quotes From “Legacy Leadership”

I just finished an outstanding reading plan on YouVersion called Legacy Leadership by Dr. J. Lee Whittington. For anyone interested in the biblical concept of servant-leadership, I highly recommend you check out this reading plan.

Here are a few quotes I especially liked…

“Legacy Leadership is a process of intentional influence that takes place in the context of a relationship.”

“There is a recurring pattern of affirmation and exhortation in Paul’s leadership. He provided a dynamic balance between challenging his followers to grow and acknowledging their progress. He was affirming, but never content.”

“There is a growing trend to attack, criticize, and resent anyone who has talent or achievements that sets them apart from others. This tendency extends to those who resent the efforts of leaders who challenge the status quo. Opponents of change initiatives often attempt to marginalize leaders by attacking their character and questioning their motives. If the messenger is flawed, then the message and vision they offer cannot be trusted. As disappointing as it is, these challenges come with the territory of leadership.

“If I am to lead with integrity, I must always confront my own lack of integrity. This demands a willingness to constantly reflect on my motives and the courage to confront my own hypocrisy. It also requires me to allow myself the discomfort of inviting the scrutiny of both the Lord and others who care enough to confront me about my motives, my attitudes, and my behavior.”

“The most effective leaders are able to exert influence without asserting their formal authority. … Paul deliberately chose to forego the legitimate, reward, and coercive power inherent in his position. Instead, he leaned into another base of power: referent power. Referent power is based on respect and admiration. When this is present, the followers identify with and want to emulate their leader. This power base does not come from the leader’s position or control of resources. Rather, it is based on the leader’s character and integrity. Referent power is based on who the leader is.”

“Legacy Leaders do not lead from a distance. They imitate Jesus who said, ‘I am among you as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27). They are comfortable sharing their lives with their followers.”

“The best relationships between a leader and their followers are those that are characterized by a great deal of mutual trust and shared information. The responsibility for creating this type of relationship rests squarely on the shoulders of the leader.”

“Authentic leaders have a seamless link between their values and their actions. But the congruence between values and attitudes is just the starting point for authentic leadership.  From the perspective of scripture, a leader’s attitudes and actions must be anchored to God’s standards. When a leader’s enacted values are in congruence with their espoused values, and those espoused values are in turn anchored to God’s principles, the leader had moral authority.”

“It’s easy to critique the authenticity of others.  But, if we are really serious about developing our own authenticity, we must focus on ourselves. I read this statement several years ago: ‘If we are to be people of integrity, we must constantly confront our lack of integrity.’”

“Legacy Leaders embrace the principles of servant-leadership and understand that the conscious choice to lead comes after the desire to serve. This inclination is not natural. It must be energized by continuous reliance on the empowering presence of God’s Spirit.”

God’s Design For Sex

gods-design-for-sexI recently completed a reading plan on YouVersion called God’s Design For Sex. This plan was put together by the staff at Focus On The Family, and was an excellent study! Here are six quotes that caught my attention.

“Pornography represents a departure from God’s design for sex in that it depersonalizes real people, strips them of their dignity, and turns them into sexual objects.”

“Sexual immorality inhibits us from focusing on our truest Lover, the Lord. … Chastity, then, is first and foremost a spiritual discipline. Like prayer, fasting, study, silence, charity, and giving, it’s something God asks us to practice, not because it will get us into heaven, but because it will help transform us into new creatures.This kind of purity is not the mere absence of illicit sex, but an active conforming of one’s body, soul, and mind to the image of Christ.”

“As theologian George Weigel explains, when we view God’s directives for our sexuality in this way, ‘the first moral question shifts from ‘What am I forbidden to do?’ to ‘How do I live a life of sexual love that conforms to my dignity as a human person?’ Sex, then, rightly understood and practiced, is in a very real sense fundamental to mankind’s function, purpose, and destiny within the miracle of God’s creation.” 

“Most critics and skeptics of Christian chastity argue that the Bible has ‘nothing to say’ about pre-marital sex. The problem, they say, is nothing negative is ever mentioned ‘condemning’ the practice or suggesting a ‘thou shalt not.’ But the Bible expresses its perspective on this matter primarily in positive terms.”

“It’s vital to add that God wants us to reserve sex for marriage not because it’s ‘bad’ or ‘dirty,’ but precisely because it’s such a unique, exclusive, and wonderful thing. Sex is a holy mystery. It’s a powerful bonding agent that shapes and affects the relationship between a man and a woman as nothing else can. To take sex outside of marriage is like taking the wine consecrated for Holy Communion and using it for a drinking party at a frat house. This is why the writers of Scripture so often compare idolatry to the sin of fornication or adultery.”

“All the best research indicates that the most sexually satisfied people in modern society are not the adventurous swingers, but rather faithful, monogamous married couples.”

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