Bible study

A Dubious Birthday Gift

lighted happy birthday candles

Photo by on

Sunday I turned a certain number of years old. My birthday is not a big deal to me; I prefer to use it as an excuse to take a nap, really.

Sunday morning we wrapped up worship. I made the after-service announcements and was ready to exit the sanctuary when a member raised her hand. “Pastor, you forgot an announcement!”

Oh?” I ask. This is not an uncommon thing; the congregation is used to filling in the gaps for me.

It’s your birthday!”

I didn’t forget that,” I deadpan.

And like that, the congregation is singing “Happy Birthday” to me. (more…)

Review: Savor, Sip, and Drink Deeply

Savor, Sip, and Drink Deeply
by Deb Burma

Ever notice how a lot of people love coffee? There’s so many varieties and ways to drink your coffee! In Savor, Sip, and Drink Deeply, author Deb Burma uses coffee and coffee culture as illustrations to draw us closer to Christ. We see that he has poured us an overflowing cup that we can indulge in!

I expected this book to be cute and light. It’s billed as “A Bible study for women,” and my experience of such things are usually, unfortunately, fairly shallow. I’m happy to say that while this book is indeed cute, it’s not shallow!

Burma talks about cups and how we fill them,using this as illustrations of how we fill ourselves. Do we use “bad beans” of sin or bitterness, or are we filling up on God’s good promises? We want our coffee mugs cleaned out; do we see that Jesus has cleaned us out? There are so many coffee blends; God has given each individual unique blends of personalities, talents, and opportunities.

In each of the seven chapters in the book, Burma presents at least five “mini” devotions with a lot of biblical meat. However, as the illustrations run throughout, nothing gets overly heavy. I think this would be an ideal Bible study to start a women’s group with for that reason! There’s also a recipe for a coffee-related item at the end of each chapter, as well as ideas for service projects.

I could tell the book was definitely not aimed at me, but as I’m hardly a woman, that doesn’t surprise me. However, if someone wanted to start a women’s Bible group, this is one of the books I’d gladly encourage her to check out!

I lost my Bible.

I lost my Bible.

I lost my Bible.

How does a pastor lose his Bible?!

A little backstory: I love my Bible. It’s an NIV 84 my wife got for me a number of years back. She searched all over for it; I’d already given an identical copy away twice to people who didn’t have Bibles. So, there’s a nostalgia factor for the source of this particular printed copy of God’s Word. Add in several notes I keep in there, and there are factors beyond it being “simply” the exact human words God chose to communicate to us.

Add in that I’ve used this Bible for years. It’s literally the only Bible I’ve used in ministry since I’ve become a pastor. The thing’s falling apart. The binding is shot.

And the memories… (more…)

Elephants in the Bible Study Room

Jesus knows how to take care of souls better than we do. Go figure; he created them. So why is it we insist on taking care of things our own way?

Bible study was more than a little interesting today. I lost my voice due to a combination of cold and being outdoors and shouting all day yesterday. So, I planned a video for Bible study. It was one that I thought should elicit a good amount of conversation. It’s a well-done video that you can find here:


And after the video, I asked: “What did he get right? What did he get wrong?” I expected a conversation following why we need to gather as Christians, condemning legalism, and the like. (And if you want a great response to the video, watch this:  )


OK, so I asked for responses. I got some of the expected basic answers: He was able to talk about the Gospel, how Jesus is the center, how we do nothing, how hypocrisy is bad… And one woman asked: “If we’re supposed to be full of grace… if we’re not supposed to judge… then how can we judge sin? Everyone sins! We shouldn’t be kicking people out of church just because they sin!” (more…)

What shirt do you wear?

Galatians 5:2-6

2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

This week we studied these words in Bible study. And as I explained part of this to the class, an illustration came to mind:

Imagine you’re going out on a date. Your date is awesome. Perfect. But he tells you: “I’ll only go out with you if you wear this one shade of blue. That’s the kind of shirts I love.”

Well, wanting to have a good date, you find that shade of blue. Except… it’s a shade off. And your date clearly sticks his nose up at you. Do you want to go out with this guy again?

That’s what having a relationship with God based on the law is. If you want to follow rules, you can follow rules. But it’s going to ruin your relationship. You’ll be “alienated from Christ.” And that goes with any kind of law-keeping, from “Thou shalt obey!!!” to “I’m just a nice guy.” Ultimately, it will alienate you from Christ.

But now imagine that you go out with a guy, and have a great time. You clearly are meant for each other. He treats you well. And then he lets you know, “I think you’d look really pretty in blue.”

Well, you want to make this guy happy, right? And he’s not forcing anything on you. What are the chances you wear blue next time you get together? A lot higher?

That’s what a relationship based on the gospel is. We long to please God, because he’s kept all his promises to us. Our relationship isn’t based on trying to please him. He did everything for us. How could we not rejoice in him? How could we not desire to please him — not because it gets him to do anything, but because he’s already that good to us?

– – –

I enjoyed the illustration, and it seemed to help the class understand our relationship to the law a little better.

And then we got to verse twelve, and I was amazed at how many people didn’t know what the word “emasculation” means…

Can I just deal with the congregation members that aren’t sinners?

You’d think a Bible study on heaven would just be plain refreshing — if done right.

Sometimes the people that are supposed to be smart are the dumbest of all.

Now, I understand that that’s really harsh. It’s also true.

We had our men’s monthly Bible study this past weekend. I had taken a request and we studied heaven and hell. I started by doing a comparison of what other cultures believe about the afterlife and asked why nearly every culture and belief system has some version of heaven and hell. It afforded a nice discussion on the natural knowledge of God, which then opened us up to asking, “Well, if that’s what they believe, what does the Bible say?”

It was meant to be a fairly simple Bible study: Here’s what the Bible says. That’s all – nothing huge. In between hell and heaven, I made the point of saying that according to the Bible we belong in hell. So how do we get out? “Therefore there is no longer any condemnation for those that believe!” So we also got a strong dose of justification in there.

Except… toward the beginning of the section on hell…

“Pastor, the Old Testament doesn’t have hell.” (more…)

Bible. Bacon. Good.

Men sat around talking about beauty aids. And by beauty aids, I mean beer. Just another Saturday morning at my congregation.

Well, not really. This was new for all of us. Saturday was our first monthly men’s Bible breakfast. The idea is fairly simple: Offer breakfast. Lots of good, terribly food. Have some fun. Have a practical Bible study. Go home fed and nourished in body and soul.

I arrived at the church kitchen, ready to cook my contribution of hash browns, at about seven-thirty. That’s a good hour before we’re supposed to start eating; I figured I’d be the first one there. No dice — I was the fifth one there! Four other men (one of them a teenager) eager to get this party started, already getting going with bacon and pancakes and making sure the eggs will be good to go.

I set up the computer and projector in the center of a U of tables and paused the slideshow on the first image:

The men who were making breakfast were… intrigued. Especially when I told them that the Bible study would concern that picture.  (more…)

We’re not done here .

Mark 1:14-20 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.


We’re not done here.