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Digital Bibles

digital BibleThe use of digital Bibles as exploded over the last several years. So much so that I know that in many churches the pastor will say in a sermon, “Let’s open our Bibles or your favorite Bible app or website to look more closely at our reading for today.” It seems more common these days for people to read Scripture to me on their phones when we are talking about a particular topic or a favorite verse they want to share.

Biblegateway.com is my go-to digital Bible most of the time. It recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and has 219 Bible translations in 72 languages available to users. I like to use it to get right to a verse I was trying to think of. Like, say, I am looking for that verse about “endurance” and “character ” Type in those two words into biblegateway.com and boom! There it is. Romans 5:4: “Endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Now I can go from there quickly and easily in the flow of writing a devotion or blog or letter to a friend to make my point.

Hard to believe that at one time we spent lots of time flipping Bible pages, looking through concordances and saying to ourselves, “I know it is here somewhere in Romans, but where exactly?”

Digital Bibles do take the guesswork out of finding verses. But the work of the Holy Spirit still needs to happen within our hearts for these words now more quickly found to speak to us deeply and spiritually. Digital Bibles should never be a way for for us to “click it and forget it” and go on to the next verse or the next app or the next website. We still need to be people who “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (Colossians 3:16). What the Bible (digital or leatherbound or otherwise) has to say to us must continue to sink into us and make a difference in how we live, speak and act.

That’s why I do like the “in context” feature available on biblegateway.com. It takes the verse you have found and shows you the verses that surround it, the story this verse is from, the topic that this verse was a part of. It’s easy to “cherry-pick” Bible verses when you are working with a digital Bible and not get the full message being expressed, unfortunately. So taking the extra step to put verses in context is invaluable to our understanding of the Word of God for our lives.

Making the most of the digital Bible you use can help you grow in faith and develop a closer relationship with Christ. In the end that is all that matters, no matter how those precious words of salvation through his cross and empty tomb reach you. See how much “screen time” can involve “faith time” in the digital Word this week!

 

Prayers for Orlando

As the depth of the tragedy in Orlando came to light throughout the day today, our nation’s collective anguish and helplessness seem more pronounced than ever before. We are at a loss to understand why such a devastating and senseless event could occur again on our soil.

What breaks through the mayhem and confusion for me at this moment are the words of St. Paul in Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is in this conviction that I pray for the people of Orlando tonight that the all-surpassing love of God would surround, support and strengthen them during this terrible time.

 

Strong and Weak

Jesus and crossIn Strong and Weak, a new book being published this month, Christian writer Andy Crouch lays out for us an interesting tug-of-war between authority and vulnerability. If you are too firm, you become a dictator. If you are too warm, you become a pushover.

There are so many applications to this conundrum that I see in the workplace, as a parent, and in our role as witnesses for the faith.

The necessity of striking the right balance between strength and weakness when proclaiming the Gospel is even pointed out by Christ himself: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

We should never try to overpower people with the message of the Gospel and demand that they coalesce to our way of thinking, but at the same time we should not just tell people that anything they believe is fine.

We know the truth. Jesus is the only path to our salvation. He is THE Way, the Truth and the Life, not just one of many ways to God. The Scripture records Jesus saying, “NO ONE comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus is, of course, our role model in all of this, displayed most profoundly on the cross. In his ultimate vulnerability, he revealed his supreme authority.

We can show our vulnerability in our witness by acknowledging our sinfulness and our own need for Christ, while at the same time expressing that we have the power of Christ within us because he declared victory over sin when he proclaimed from the cross, “It is finished!”

I am reminded of the experience of Paul who admitted to his frustration that he had a “thorn in the flesh” that God would not take away from him, though Paul had thrice prayed that it be removed. Finally, God provided Paul with an answer to his dilemma. ““My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It was then that Paul came to this realization: “When I am weak, then I am strong“ (2 Corinthians 12:10).

It is God’s grace that is sufficient enough for us, too, to face that combative coworker, that ornery child, that defensive unbeliever with Christlike care. It is God’s grace that allows us to be firm, but loving in all that we do, knowing that God has been firm but loving with us through Christ that we might have life everlasting with him. We have the power within our weak selves to do great things! So, go, therefore, and be weak AND strong!