Today

April 7, 2017

I like the emotional honesty of Augustine’s Confessions. His mother, Monica, had believed in Jesus Christ and prayed for her son all his life. But Augustine was ambitious and lustful. He had pursued philosophy and rhetoric. He had made money. He had satisfied his bodily appetites even having a mistress and a son out of wedlock. He admitted that he had opposed Christian belief “out of malice.” This became his prayer: “I had prayed to you for chastity and said ‘Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.’”*

The words, “but not yet,” tell a cautionary tale. We have another expression “sow your wild oats.” The problem with sowing wild oats is the law of harvest. “You reap what you sow.” “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” I have known some people who sowed their wild oats and came to their senses. The story of the prodigal son has been repeated by many a son or daughter. But sometimes there are painful consequences even when forgiveness is found. David sowed to the wind with Bathsheba, and he reaped the whirlwind of a rapist Amnon and a treacherous, mutinous Absalom. “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). But better is it to learn this lesson sooner than later.

“But not yet” has another danger. There are other prodigals who have simply stayed in the far country. The danger of repentance put off is that sin has way of deceiving and hardening our hearts. “But exhort one another every day … that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13, ESV).

“But not yet” also presumes that opportunities for repentance are unlimited. I deliberately left out part of the quote from Hebrews 3:13 in the above paragraph because it is fitting here: “as long as it is called ‘today.’” Hebrews is reminding its readers that not all the wilderness generation made it to the promised land. The quotation from Psalm 95 sums up the issue and is repeated twice in the chapter for emphasis.

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
Hebrews 3:7-8, 3:15, ESV

Today is the day we have. Maybe we will have tomorrow, and maybe we won’t. As Paul states, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, ESV). “But not yet” is tempting. Yet, repentance and salvation are too important. God will help us say no to our sinful past if we trust him. May all of us seize the opportunity called today!

*Augustine, The Confessions, 8.7


Listening to the Bible

October 16, 2015

I want the Bible to be a regular part of our lives, yet some have a struggle reading. It may be that when they sit down to read, they fall asleep. It may be they have difficulty reading. It may be that they are just more action oriented and have trouble settling down with a book.

God has always intended scriptures to be heard as well as read. The Law of Moses specified that the law was to be read in the hearing of the people every seven years (Deuteronomy 31:10-11). Ezra read aloud the law to the people who came out of Babylonian captivity (Nehemiah 8). Paul wanted his letters read to the churches (Colossians 4:16 and 1Thessalonians 5:27), and Revelation has a blessing on the one who hears the book read (Revelation 1:3). Here are some resources for finding audio Bibles.

Online — biblegateway.com

BibleGateway has a number of audio Bible translations available: ESV, NASB, KJV, NIV, etc. They also have audio Bibles in a number of languages including Spanish. Cost: Free.

Apps (Android and iOS)
Bible.is (produced by faithcomesbyhearing.org) Multiple audio Bible translations are available as well as multiple languages including Spanish. The app allows for audio Bibles to be downloaded to the device so that the user isn’t streaming from the Internet. Cost: Free.

Bible (YouVersion by LifeChurch.tv). Multiple audio Bible translations are available as well as multiple languages including Spanish. The app allows Bible texts to be downloaded, but the audio must stream from the Internet. The app allows the user to vary the speed of the recording. Multiple reading plans are available. Cost: Free.

ESV Bible (by Crossway). The app provides the ESV text for free. The text is downloaded to your device, but the audio Bible must stream from the Internet. The app allows the user to vary the speed of the recording. Multiple reading plans are available. Cost: Free.

Logos (from FaithLife). The app is free, the ESV audio Bible is free, but the ESV text is $9.99. The audio Bible streams from the Internet. The app allows the user to vary the speed of the recording. Multiple reading plans are available.

Downloaded Audio Files
Audible has a number of Bible translations available in their audible book collection (audible.com). mp3 audio file downloads of the Bible can be found at a number of places. Here’s two suggestions.

ESV at Crossway.org
https://www.crossway.org/search/?q=mp3+bible

Bibles read by Max MacLean (multiple translations available)
http://www.listenersbible.com

The Bible on CDs
Cassette tapes have gone the way of the VCR. You may find some Bible tapes around used, but they would be difficult to impossible to find new. Even audio CDs are giving way to CDs in mp3 format. The reason for this is simple. The mp3 format takes less space, so the entire Bible can be placed on about 7 CDs versus 64 CDs in the standard CD audio format. This means there will be a big cost difference between these two formats ($35 for mp3 CDs and about $70 for standard audio format CDs). Most modern CD players will also play CDs in the mp3 format, but check your device to make certain. Audio Bibles on CDs can easily be found for the KJV, ESV, and NIV. They can usually be found at our local bookstores as well as online places like Amazon.com and Christianbooks.com.

Of the various audio Bible formats available, those online and in apps are easier to navigate to particular books and chapters. With mp3 and CD Bibles the track names are often not helpful in finding a particular Bible location. They may however be easier for some users, and if you are listening through the entire Old Testament or New Testament, the navigation issue may not be a problem.

Some people like to listen to the Bible as they do other things (like doing chores or driving to work). Others enjoy listening to the Bible with the text in front of them. Regardless, recordings of the Bible are a great way of immersing ourselves in the Word. Given all the things that we listen to in our world, maybe it’s time for us to include listening to the Bible.


The Value of Jesus

August 28, 2015

The aroma of very expensive ointment filled the house. While Jesus reclined at table, a woman had poured the ointment on Jesus’ head. It was a lavish gift. The anointing of a guest’s head with oil was customary, but not like this. The expense was extraordinary. One gospel placed the value of the ointment at 300 denarii – the pay of a common laborer for 300 days (Mark 14:5).

The objections came. It could have been sold and given to the poor. But Jesus said it was a beautiful thing. She had prepared Jesus for burial. We don’t usually sit at the dinner table, while the undertaker prepares us for our funeral. Jesus’ words would have struck them just as odd. The cross unspoken lingered like the aroma of the expensive ointment. Yet, he said to them that her deed would be told to the whole world wherever the gospel is proclaimed.

Judas, one of the Twelve, plotted with the religious leaders, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” The price was thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32). The betrayal price set in motion the events that led to the cross. It was a large amount, but not nearly as large as the expensive ointment. How odd those thirty pieces of silver gained was a terrible loss, and “wasted,” expensive ointment was a wondrous gain!

It is as if the woman in the story said, “Jesus, I love you so much that I give you this ointment and so much more, I give you myself.”

It is as if Judas said, “Jesus, I don’t love you enough to pass up thirty pieces of silver.”

Two juxtaposed stories (Matthew 26:6-13, 26:14-16) both contain something of value. In both the valuable things say something about the participants and reveal spiritual priorities. Both stories foreshadow the cross.

Wherever these stories are told, an uncomfortable truth follows. We must make the same sort of decision. We will either be like the woman and say, “Jesus, I love you so much that I give you this and this and even my very life,” or we will be like Judas and say, “Jesus, I don’t love you enough to pass up this or that” as we name our price: jobs, family, possessions, pleasures, or thirty pieces of silver.

We all put a price tag on Jesus either to follow or reject. In your life, what’s the value of Jesus?


Real People

May 1, 2015

Lawrence Mykytiuk writes, “… at least 50 people mentioned in the Bible have been identified in the archaeological record. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.” This list includes kings of Israel, Mesopotamian rulers, and lesser-known figures.1

Mykytiuk illustrates with the famous Tel Dan inscription discovered in 1993. The inscription was found on a basalt stone in secondary use in the lower part of a wall. It was written in Aramaic and dated from the ninth-century BC. The inscription was commissioned by a non-Israelite king mentioning his victory over “the king of Israel” and the “House of David.” Prior to that time, some skeptical scholars had considered David to be mythical because his name had not been found in inscriptions. But this find indicates that David was still remembered as the founder of a dynasty a century after his death.

You may wonder why there are not more than 50 people known from archaeology. Archaeologist Edwin Yamauchi explains the fragmentary nature of the evidence. Archaeology deals with materials remains: buildings, inscriptions, and objects like coins, lamps, and tools. Of the material remains from the past, only one-tenth are still in existence. Six-tenths of that has been surveyed, one-fiftieth of that excavated, one-tenth of that examined, and one-half of that published. This is not to minimize archeology but to interject some humility into discussions about what moderns know about the past. We have only .006 percent of the evidence from the past in archaeology.2

Yet, the findings of archaeology have confirmed my faith. As I read my Bible, I know that I can turn to an atlas and find the places that I’m reading about on a map. The events don’t take place over the rainbow or in Neverland. I can look at pictures of objects from the past that illustrate customs and lifestyle, and I can imagine real people going about their lives.

As I read my Bible, I meet people who are all too familiar. Human nature isn’t different just because several millennia stand between them and us. The Bible provides me with noble examples to imitate as well as warning examples to avoid. Archaeology adds to my knowledge. In the pages of scripture, I meet the true God and real people.

1http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/
2 Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 159


Real People

May 1, 2015

Lawrence Mykytiuk writes, “… at least 50 people mentioned in the Bible have been identified in the archaeological record. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.” This list includes kings of Israel, Mesopotamian rulers, and lesser-known figures.1

Mykytiuk illustrates with the famous Tel Dan inscription discovered in 1993. The inscription was found on a basalt stone in secondary use in the lower part of a wall. It was written in Aramaic and dated from the ninth-century BC. The inscription was commissioned by a non-Israelite king mentioning his victory over “the king of Israel” and the “House of David.” Prior to that time, some skeptical scholars had considered David to be mythical because his name had not been found in inscriptions. But this find indicates that David was still remembered as the founder of a dynasty a century after his death.

You may wonder why there are not more than 50 people known from archaeology. Archaeologist Edwin Yamauchi explains the fragmentary nature of the evidence. Archaeology deals with materials remains: buildings, inscriptions, and objects like coins, lamps, and tools. Of the material remains from the past, only one-tenth are still in existence. Six-tenths of that has been surveyed, one-fiftieth of that excavated, one-tenth of that examined, and one-half of that published. This is not to minimize archeology but to interject some humility into discussions about what moderns know about the past. We have only .006 percent of the evidence from the past in archaeology.2

Yet, the findings of archaeology have confirmed my faith. As I read my Bible, I know that I can turn to an atlas and find the places that I’m reading about on a map. The events don’t take place over the rainbow or in Neverland. I can look at pictures of objects from the past that illustrate customs and lifestyle, and I can imagine real people going about their lives.

As I read my Bible, I meet people who are all too familiar. Human nature isn’t different just because several millennia stand between them and us. The Bible provides me with noble examples to imitate as well as warning examples to avoid. Archaeology adds to my knowledge. In the pages of scripture, I meet the true God and real people.

1http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/
2 Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 159


Real People

May 1, 2015

Lawrence Mykytiuk writes, “… at least 50 people mentioned in the Bible have been identified in the archaeological record. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.” This list includes kings of Israel, Mesopotamian rulers, and lesser-known figures.1

Mykytiuk illustrates with the famous Tel Dan inscription discovered in 1993. The inscription was found on a basalt stone in secondary use in the lower part of a wall. It was written in Aramaic and dated from the ninth-century BC. The inscription was commissioned by a non-Israelite king mentioning his victory over “the king of Israel” and the “House of David.” Prior to that time, some skeptical scholars had considered David to be mythical because his name had not been found in inscriptions. But this find indicates that David was still remembered as the founder of a dynasty a century after his death.

You may wonder why there are not more than 50 people known from archaeology. Archaeologist Edwin Yamauchi explains the fragmentary nature of the evidence. Archaeology deals with materials remains: buildings, inscriptions, and objects like coins, lamps, and tools. Of the material remains from the past, only one-tenth are still in existence. Six-tenths of that has been surveyed, one-fiftieth of that excavated, one-tenth of that examined, and one-half of that published. This is not to minimize archeology but to interject some humility into discussions about what moderns know about the past. We have only .006 percent of the evidence from the past in archaeology.2

Yet, the findings of archaeology have confirmed my faith. As I read my Bible, I know that I can turn to an atlas and find the places that I’m reading about on a map. The events don’t take place over the rainbow or in Neverland. I can look at pictures of objects from the past that illustrate customs and lifestyle, and I can imagine real people going about their lives.

As I read my Bible, I meet people who are all too familiar. Human nature isn’t different just because several millennia stand between them and us. The Bible provides me with noble examples to imitate as well as warning examples to avoid. Archaeology adds to my knowledge. In the pages of scripture, I meet the true God and real people.

1http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/
2 Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 159


Real People

May 1, 2015

Lawrence Mykytiuk writes, “… at least 50 people mentioned in the Bible have been identified in the archaeological record. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.” This list includes kings of Israel, Mesopotamian rulers, and lesser-known figures.1

Mykytiuk illustrates with the famous Tel Dan inscription discovered in 1993. The inscription was found on a basalt stone in secondary use in the lower part of a wall. It was written in Aramaic and dated from the ninth-century BC. The inscription was commissioned by a non-Israelite king mentioning his victory over “the king of Israel” and the “House of David.” Prior to that time, some skeptical scholars had considered David to be mythical because his name had not been found in inscriptions. But this find indicates that David was still remembered as the founder of a dynasty a century after his death.

You may wonder why there are not more than 50 people known from archaeology. Archaeologist Edwin Yamauchi explains the fragmentary nature of the evidence. Archaeology deals with materials remains: buildings, inscriptions, and objects like coins, lamps, and tools. Of the material remains from the past, only one-tenth are still in existence. Six-tenths of that has been surveyed, one-fiftieth of that excavated, one-tenth of that examined, and one-half of that published. This is not to minimize archeology but to interject some humility into discussions about what moderns know about the past. We have only .006 percent of the evidence from the past in archaeology.2

Yet, the findings of archaeology have confirmed my faith. As I read my Bible, I know that I can turn to an atlas and find the places that I’m reading about on a map. The events don’t take place over the rainbow or in Neverland. I can look at pictures of objects from the past that illustrate customs and lifestyle, and I can imagine real people going about their lives.

As I read my Bible, I meet people who are all too familiar. Human nature isn’t different just because several millennia stand between them and us. The Bible provides me with noble examples to imitate as well as warning examples to avoid. Archaeology adds to my knowledge. In the pages of scripture, I meet the true God and real people.

1http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/
2 Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 159