On the use of Study Bibles

to be honest I don’t really use them, that much. 

In fact, I only have maybe two or three of them and rarely do I actually look at them.  This is not to say they are not useful or beneficial to the church.  They are very useful and very beneficial to the church – probably one of the most useful aspects of them are the introductions and the outlines. 

I once embarked on an inductive study of 1 John and spent quite a bit of time just reading through it over and over noting key words and phrases and making notes on a chart  and things.  When I was done I decided to look up 1 John in my NIV Study Bible and to my amazement, the outline and thoughts I had come up with was virtually identical to the NIV notes.   And this is probably how it should be.  If you study a book in depth and come up with something completely different than what is commonly stated you should probably be worried and maybe go back over some things.   My comparisons with the NIV Study Bible notes only confirmed I was going in the right direction – and perhaps this is really the biggest benefit of Study Bibles – they can help us be sure we’re going in the right direction with regards to how we are understanding the Bible text.

That aside, I have an MDiv (not that that makes me more special than anyone else), I have the tools needed to be able to write the notes most of the folks do who write the notes for the Study Bibles.  Well, of course they are more learned than myself but don’t miss my point – for pastors and teachers, who should have the training, Study Bibles shouldn’t be their main resources.

Who are Study Bibles most helpful for?  They are most helpful to those who don’t have the training and want a good resource for getting the needed guidance for properly understanding the biblical text.

But for those who have the training, I am not sure they should be used that often if at all.

What say you?

still here

i’ve just been offline while we move into an temporary living arrangement while we work on replacing our home that got over run by mold.   i trust all is well for you.

We had a gal present on her missions work in Northern Asia yesterday in our service  and I was pretty moved by it – I ended up blubbering in front of those were there.  I was especially deeply moved by the fact that there is no translation of the Bible in any language of the various peoples of Tibet – none.

If you are young and looking for some way to make an impact in the Kingdom of God – I say go to Tibet, pick a people group and spend the rest of your life getting them a translation of the Bible, even if it is just the New Testament – this is the work of the Kingdom – to bring light to the lost – to be a light in the darkness – and Tibet is a dark dark pace desperately in need of the light and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who has heard the voice of the Lord and whom shall he send??!  Will you go?  Go now!

Be Blessed.

Tim Keller on Preaching

Pastor Tim Keller has a blog post he put up recently called Preacher – onlys aren’t good preachers.    He makes some really good points that I too have been thinking about with regard to the the pastoral ministry and church life and that is this:  preaching isn’t everything.

In other words, there is more to the pastoral ministry and church life in general than preaching, even the oft praised expository preaching.  Much more.   Now this isn’t to put down preaching or to say that there isn’t a need for good preaching but if that is all you do in the church then you are only fulfilling a very small part of your pastoral calling and vocation, if not neglecting it altogether.  In fact, you are overdoing it.

What are the other aspects of the pastoral ministry?  Keller writes in part:

I have often seen many men spend a great amount of time on preparing and preaching lengthy, dense, expository messages, while giving far less time and energy to the learning of leadership and pastoral nurture. It takes lots of experience and effort to help a body of people make a unified decision, or to regularly raise up new lay leaders, or to motivate and engage your people in evangelism, or to think strategically about the stewardship of your people’s spiritual gifts, or even to discern what they are. It takes lots of experience and effort to know how to help a sufferer without being either too passive or too directive, or to know when to confront a doubter and when to just listen patiently. Pastors in many of our Reformed churches do not seem to be as energized to learn to be great leaders and shepherds, but rather have more of an eye to being great teachers and preachers.

I am sorry to have to say this and sorry to hurt some pastors ears but again, there is more to the pastoral ministry and church life than just the preaching – there is the ministering of the ordinances, there is pastoral care and nurture, shepherding, leadership issues, and so on and on and on.   And in the end what does all this do?  Make you a better preacher.  Why?  Because you’ve been interacting with people, dealing with daily life issues and problems and successes and so on.

I was surprised to see he gets in about 15 hours of sermon prep time – and advised that newer or younger pastors only get in about 6 – 8 hours.  I remember once hearing John MacArthur telling a church board he was interviewing with that he was essentially demanding 30 hours for sermon work – to me, when I heard this, I thought that was massive overkill.   I fall in the 6-8 hour range, I just don’t have a lot of time for sermon prep – though I try to follow certain methodologies to be a s effective as I can be in the time I have (ie: diagramming, word studies, some background research and the like).  But 30 hours?  Man that is just too much.

So, don’t over focus on the preaching prep – make sure you put in time being a pastor too!  😉

Go here for more thoughts on preaching.

the latest

I missed a lot of blogging lately because we’ve been pretty busy.  A couple days this week we had a minister’s renewal for the AZ District of the Assemblies of God and it went well.  Mark Batterson and Bob Rhoden were our speakers.   Mark did a lot of the speaking though and he is good.  He mostly addresses leadership issues but they are all well grounded in the Scripture.  He pastors National Community Church in the D.C. Area and shared a lot about that experience as well.  He has a couple of books out too: Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.  He has a new one coming out in December call Primal that sounds like it will be pretty good as well. These are not biblical studies books per se but more leadership and personal growth/development books (something that is just as needed as the other). 

On another front, we’ve discoverd we have a pretty heavy duty mold problem in our house and will have to pack it up and get a new one – it will cost too much to salvage it – there is a 25 sq ft area under the kitchen area of the house that is all full of mold – according to the inspection it’s probably been there since even before we lived here (2 years now) so it’s a problem.   It explains a lot – why mercy has been in the Dr’s office at least once a month since we’ve been here, low energy, other sicknesses, and so on.   Thankfully, we’ll be getting a lot of help from those in our district. 

a thought for the day: I have been thinking about the title of Gordon Fee’s book Listening to the Spirit in the Text and I wonder if and hope that is what I do – do I listen to the Holy Spirit as I read and study the Bible or a particular passage when preparing for a sermon – do I listen to the Holy Spirit and then follow through or do I simplylet my own presuppositions and or personal agenda influence how I read or interpret the Bible?  I know many of us hope we are listening to the Holy Spirit but tray as you ca to press in and hear from the Spirit.

a lost blog

Mark Stevens has officially retired his blog – no more blogging.  He writes in part:

However, ultimately, as my good friend Simon Clemowreminded me recently the GREAT BISHOP, said in his “Mark For Everyone” Commentary of Mark Mark 9:38-50, “The second thing, within that [that being that discipleship is difficult, and demands sacrifice], is that sometimes what we are asked to give up is not something that is sinful in and of itself…We should be prepared to reject something which is good and God-given – as hands, feet, eyes and [blogging] are! – but which, at the moment at least, is leading us down the wrong path.”(p.127-128). therefore I might best describe this as an act of obedience and personal in nature. You may not agree with it, but I do ask you try to understand and respect it.

It’s been really great getting to know Mark – he is a great guy and he had a lot of great things to say on his blog – but I know too it wasn’t always an easy or smooth ride and I know some of the blogs of which he notes he will not miss, and I know the ones that he will miss.   All I can say is shame on those bloggers who’s blogs he will not miss.

But his point is well taken that sometimes following the Lord means even giving up good things to take on better ones (which is is why he says this is personal and not universal).

In a lot of ways I can relate to Mark’s situation – it’s pretty hard to keep up blogging consistently when you have small children and a job and the like – I now have two small children (a 2 yr old and a 2 month old), plus I more or less have three jobs: the church (voluntary – no pay) and two part-time jobs (paid) on the side, plus the need to have personal time, family time, time with the Lord, time to read, time to deal with church issues, and on and on the list goes, which is why I have slowed down a bit in blogging, and dropped off the top-50 list and so on.   So, I can relate.   Though I hate to see he retire his blog, I can understand and respect why he is doing it.

Grace and Peace.

Bill Mounce will do work on the 2011 NIV

so he says.  There are plenty of others who have blogged on this issue so I will not belabor the issues.  I’ll admit though that because he was the NT Chair for the ESV Translation, and he says he is a proponent of various translation philosophies – I hesitate to be optimistic and have an open but cautious view at this point.   Anyways, here are some other blog posts with more thoughtful and articulate responses:

Mike Aubrey (Mike was among the first to break the news)

Rick Mansfield

Mark Stevens

Peter Kirk

T.C. Robinson

Chuck Swindoll on Pastoral Leadership

Chuck Swindoll, when accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at Catalyst 09, offered 10 Leadership Lessons Learned in 50 Years of Leadership :

1. It’s lonely to lead.  Leadership involves tough decisions.  The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2. It’s dangerous to succeed.  I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.

3. It’s hardest at home.  No one ever told me this in Seminary.

4. It’s essential to be real.  If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders.  Stay real.

5. It’s painful to obey.  The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice.  Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6. Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7. Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8. Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.

9. God’s way is better than my way.

10. Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

HT: Justin Taylor


most of these points resonate with me.  one that is challenging me the most is #8 because I am so not about image, I see myself as almost the complete opposite of “the hip pastor.”  more importantly is the heart and its willingness to be made willing and shaped into the image of the Chief Shepherd. 

anyways, I hope a lot of younger / newer pastors see this list by Chuck Swindoll (its on several blogs) and take the lessons to heart – now is the time to receive and learn, not later.  work on “getting it” now, not when it is too late.

Oswald Chambers on 1 Cor 5:21

“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Sin is a fundamental relationship; it is not wrong doing, it is wrong being, deliberate and emphatic independence of God. The Christian religion bases everything on the positive, radical nature of sin. Other religions deal with sins; the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ faced in men was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the Gospel that the message of the Gospel has lost its sting and its blasting power.

The revelation of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took upon Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took upon Himself the heredity of sin which no man can touch. God made His own Son to be sin that He might make the sinner a saint. All through the Bible it is revealed that Our Lord bore the sin of the world by identification, not by sympathy. He deliberately took upon His own shoulders, and bore in His own Person, the whole massed sin of the human race – “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin,” and by so doing He put the whole human race on the basis of Redemption. Jesus Christ rehabilitated the human race; He put it back to where God designed it to be, and anyone can enter into union with God on the ground of what Our Lord has done on the Cross.

A man cannot redeem himself; Redemption is God’s “bit,” it is absolutely finished and complete; its reference to individual men is a question of their individual action. A distinction must always be made between the revelation of Redemption and the conscious experience of salvation in a man’s life.