Tag Archives: youversion

Intentional and Consistent Time in God’s Word :: Friday Feet

Friday Feet with the Word

Normall for my Friday Feet posts, which I know has been a while, I like to take a shot of what I was doing out and about during the day. After being outside for about 30 minutes in this heat I realized I wasn’t going back out again. Something that has been on my mind is this notion of being intentional about spending time in God’s word.

I use to get sick of hearing pastors tell me I should be reading the Bible, that is until I actually started reading it for all it’s worth, then I totally understood what in the world they were talking about. The Christian life, our daily walk, must have some component of daily strengthening in our relationship with Christ.

If praying is God’s way for us to talk to him, God’s word is His way of talking to us. How would our relationship with our spouse or children be if we listened to them as often as we listened to God through reading his Word?

Yesterday it hit me when I read this tweet by D.L. Moody (and The Resurgence). Then after that, still yesterday, I received a video from a friend of mine who basically said everything I was already thinking, so I stole his title and wrote my thoughts down as I tend to do.

While the conclusion Moody was probably making in the tweet may be true, the reality of 1% of men reading the Bible is… alarming, tragic, pathetic, pitiful, ridiculous, or whatever other adjectives you want to use here for us men.

It just made me wonder how can we truly lead our families without being grounded in God’s instruction? This isn’t a condemnation of everyone else, I have struggled with this for years. Every day I pray I have an overwhelming desire to spend time in God’s word.

There is no better time than today, right now, and it has never been easier in the history of the world to read God’s word. We have more access to the Bible and read it less than probably any generation before us. If you are busy, like most of us are, YouVersion’s selection of reading plans is outstanding. As far as online, web, mobile, and Internet resources that give you countless ways to read the bible, YouVersion has no match.

This morning, right before I took the photo above, I finished the Psalms in 31 Days YouVersion plan, which I have read a few times this year. Since going to work for the church in 2008 I had never had a more difficult time trying to stay grounded in God’s word, until I went through a spiritual disciplines study in one of my seminary classes in 2009-2010. Since then, I have been very intentional about spending time in God’s word every day (with a break on a specific routine in Saturday).

This was not something that was a light switch event, it took time, it took effort, and it was far easier to let it slide a day or two here or there, but now it has become routine, and when I miss a day, I really long for that time back. It’s no longer a dreaded, oh now I have to read, it’s a desire that makes me look forward to this time every day. I truly believe this desire to read came from my prayer for God to give me that desire, so prayer to read is important as well.

I am personally a canonical reader, I have a specific personal reading plan to read through the entire Bible each year, and this year I finished that in June, so I decided to just start over. I do this using three different reading plans on YouVersion, one for the entire bible called the Canonical Plan, one for the NT called New Thru 30, and one for Psalms I listed above. I do not use the time frame on the plan, just the order to keep me on track, but there are hundreds of plans to chose from. Trust me, there is one that fits within your schedule. If you don’t want to use YouVersion, there are countless other resources available, just pick one, and create a habit around it.

Anyway, there you have it, I wholeheartedly agree with those pastors who say daily reading of God’s word is important, very important. After all, your wife probably expects you to listen to her today, right? And God is supposed to be ahead of everything. There is no more important time in the day than the time we spend in God’s word. It affects everything else we do throughout the day and into the evening, even if it’s just a short time amount of time at first, it adds up over time.

It may not seem like it at first, but being intentional and consistently spending time in God’s word will strengthen your relationship with Christ, but also with your family, your spouse, your coworkers, and those who still haven’t heard the Good News.

10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

Scott Fillmer on Facebook

I decided to start a series of sorts on social media and how we the people of the church body use, don’t use, or outright diss the majority of the world at this point. I’m hereafter coining this series of sorts as the SMFT (Social Media, Facebook, and Twitter) discussion. Part of the necessity of this discussion comes after reading some of Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet (or @lensweet), which I would highly recommend to anyone, but should almost be required reading for anyone born prior to 1985. I have written on this many times before, but I do so now mainly because there are still some in the church today who continue ignore this medium, which has now become the most powerful tool in the world to connect with other people.

Much of the premise behind Viral is to bring the older generations of believers (that is those born prior to about 1985) into the fold of understanding in the world we live in today. It is far easier to say “I’m not part of the world, the culture, the depravity of our society,” and ignore everything our world has become, even though we do still live in the world. We are supposed to be the salt and light to the world, not to be just the salt and light to the baby boomers. Many of us do ignore the power of social media in our calling as Christians to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

How in the world can we make disciples if we don’t know and understand the different forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter? So you say I’m on Facebook, got that covered… well, I would say Facebook is the most closed, the least evangelically available social media tool there is. You can close yourself off in Facebook by locking every aspect of your Facebook account and never be heard from again, what type of witness is that? Did you know that most younger generations are moving away from Facebook at this point (partly because we are now on there). It’s extremely important to get beyond Facebook and into other areas like Instagr.am, Pinterest, Foursquare, FlickrSpotify, YouVersion, Kindle Books (yes it’s social), blogging, texting, and various avenues on Twitter.

[On a side note... if you are only on Facebook, you are not a part of the social media revolution, this is basically pseudo social networking at best. I say this because Facebook is close to reaching saturation levels. Facebook has become like the telephone or cable TV of the 80's. Once everyone is on there who wants to be on there it's growth is all but flatlined. I don't mean if you aren't on there yet, you shouldn't get on there, and fast, but If you are only willing to get into one single social site, I would not recommend it be Facebook, I would first make it a smart phone, where you can learn how to access everything the world now takes for granted.]

So, if you are a believer, and think this social media thing is going to go away, I’m sorry, it’s only going to get more and more ingrained into the very fabric of the world we live in. In another 5-10 years it will encompass the world’s population, except for those who ignore it’s existence. For us the church to ignore social media is akin to the church ignoring electrical power and the car when they were invented, choosing instead to stick with candles and horses.

10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

  1. Jesus would have used this media (this is a later post, but I will show from Scripture why this is the case)
  2. We are called to disciple the world, and the world is connected via social media
  3. If you don’t learn the basics, instead of you teaching your kids, your kids will be teaching you at some point
  4. By the time you are ready it will be too late (it’s already quite late as it is)
  5. Your target audience are all sitting right there waiting for your witness
  6. How many people in your neighborhood have your talked to (witnessed to) lately?
  7. Door to door is dead. Buried… and greatly frowned upon in our society. Social networking is the norm.
  8. The disciples used every tool to their advantage (they wrote books and distributed them)
  9. The Bible is the greatest social media tool every created, it’s meant to be socially shared
  10. Because there are lost people who do not know Jesus and you may be their only connection

So there you have it. That’s just a start. I didn’t put a lot of references, or other specifics as to where my ideas came from, I will put those in future SMFT posts, and those 10 reasons are just off the top of my head, I’m sure there are a ton more. I beg the church body to not let itself become irrelevant in such an overwhelming way as to not be able to reach our world today. We make disciples by investing in people’s lives, and more than any other time in the history of the world, we have access to more people, to discuss the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with more people, than any generation who ever lived before us.

Though Your Sins are Like Scarlet Only Christ Can Atone :: Isaiah 1:18-20

Book of Isaiah

I am in the middle of reading three different reading plans from YouVersion (I rotate reading from one particular plan each day), and today in the Canonical Plan started the book of Isaiah. I put off starting the book for a week or two because of its depth and heaviness, but today was the day. This is one of my favorite Old Testament books, probably because it is one that I understand the least, but three verses really stuck with me, Isaiah 1:18, 19, and 20.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

At first I just read that above and moved on. I love that “let us reason together,” but if we stop there we miss the point. There is a decision to be made for that statement to come to pass on our lives, and it’s from verse 18, “if you are willing and obedient,” and verse 19, “but if you refuse and rebel.”

The decision is for Christ, and without Christ, verse 18 will never come to pass. The word from the Lord is a simple, yet a profound, if-then statement. Our sins will be forgiven if we trust and obey. This of course is not a full and complete exegetical look at verse 18-20, but at the start of this Holy Week, the incredible fact of Isaiah and the rest of Scripture is it all points to the saving work of Christ, done on the cross, which we traditionally observe starting on Thursday with a Maundy Thursday prayer vigil (see last year) followed by Good Friday.

Ash Wednesday Breaking Routines with a Lenten Reader

It’s already that time of year, Lent is here. Today is Ash Wednesday (see also history), marking the beginning of the season of Lent, which then takes us to the Passion and into Easter. There are many things our church does that I really like and producing a Lenten Reader for the past few years is one of them. It is such a great tool, especially how we use it in our particular church, where it ties each day of the week to the message being taught on Sunday.

If your church doesn’t put out a Lenten Reader there are plenty of other options, YouVersion has two great Lenten Reader plans, Lent For Everyone and 40 Days of Lent. A Lenten reader is more than just a daily devotional, it is intended to be a meditation, a call, to pull us out of our daily routine and refocus our lives back to Christ and His sacrifice. Lent is more than a time of self-denial, it is a time we can use to get back to the spiritual disciplines like worship, confession, meditation, fasting, study, and prayer.

In our culture of busyness to excess, these disciplines become the most expendable. When time is short, these are either the first to go, or denied their proper place at all, and a Lenten Reader is a great way to pull ourselves back into the fold. Our American culture seems to have no problem celebrating the over indulgence of Fat-Tuesday, (see a great post by Beeson titled, Fat Tuesday And We’re Running Out of Options) but there is rarely a mention of the ashes of repentance on Wednesday. Ultimately, even though the world may not take notice, we do, and we look through this season of Lent, and the next 47 days, to celebrating the greatest event even known to history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

5 Great Thought Provoking Daily Devotionals for the New Year

I started looking around for a new daily devotional for 2012, and I ended up coming across too many. I came across some really good ones I haven’t read yet, but now have always had all intentions to read. This list, to some, may be a little too high church for them, but the wisdom put forth into these devotionals is pretty amazing, written by some pretty amazingly committed Believers.

I will state the obvious that none of these below will take the place of reading the inspired Word, the wisdom placed into God’s own book far outweighs any of the books below, so if there is only time in the day to read one book, for only a short period of time, make it the Bible instead of any of these books below, and I’m sure each of the authors below would agree with that. With that said, the best online Bible reading plans are located on YouVersion, so check those out as well.

The list below is all linked over to the Kindle version on Amazon, but each has a corresponding paper version. I just gave up on trying to have books shipped, the availability, and usually lower cost, of Kindle books just far outweighs the hassle of paper now, to me, for the most part anyway (see Printed Books vs iPad or Kindle eBooks and the Future of Books from back in March, or this I wrote back in 2009).

  1. The Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
  2. I decided to choose the “updated version” of this classical devotion since it is better annotated on the Kindle version at this point than the “traditional” version (first published in 1935). I think there is a lot of value in the original language of the traditional version, but having read neither in full, I decided to go with one that has a little easier language to start. Oswald Chambers was gifted with extracting the essence of biblical principles and condensing them into potent, thought-provoking, and life-changing devotions.

    They don’t take a lot of time to read, but they can infuse you with the timeless truths of the Bible. In this edition of My Utmost for His Highest, you get updated-language daily devotionals that have become an enduring favorite because Oswald Chambers used his spiritual gifts so wisely and generously. Compiled from lectures given at the Bible Training College in London, to nightly talks in an Egyptian YMCA during World War I, My Utmost for His Highest will lend a powerful spiritual dimension to your walk with God. (some excerpts via Amazon)

  3. Disciplines, a Daily Book of Devotional by The Upper Room
  4. The Upper Room is a publication that is, in part, produced by the United Methodist Church. The Upper Room is a global ministry, which is technically interdenominational, dedicated to supporting the spiritual formation of Christians seeking to know and experience God more fully. While they now produce far more than The Upper Room devotional, this devotional publication has stood the test of time more so than many other devotionals. For more information about their ministry you can visit them at upperroom.org.

  5. A Year with C. S. Lewis by C. S. Lewis
  6. This devotional is a fascinating find to me. It is a publication that C.S. Lewis never put together himself, but editors have taken pieces of his writings to place them in one daily reader. This book of daily readings, culled from C.S. Lewis’s major nonfiction writings like The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, Miracles and A Grief Observed, might be called the thinking Christian’s devotional: it is deeper and meatier than most other devotionals on the market.

    With 366 entries (including one for Leap Year) that are typically one or two paragraphs each, Klein has managed to distill some of the most memorable passages from Lewis’s famous corpus. Interestingly, she includes a bit of Lewis trivia for each day of the year, and often pairs the reading with the biographical information: for example, we learn that on March 21, 1957, Lewis married Joy Davidman Gresham, and the entry for that day is about their marriage. Three separate indices list the sources by book, by day and by selection title or theme. (some excerpts via Amazon)

  7. I Want to Live These Days with You: A Year of Daily Devotions by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  8. This is the classical Bonhoeffer daily reader. Bonhoeffer put together this set of devotionals upon the closing of his seminary, Finkenwalde, when it was declared illegal and closed by the German Gestapo. The treatise contains Bonhoeffer’s thoughts about the nature of Christian community based on the common life that he and his seminarians experienced at the seminary and in the “Brother’s House” there. Bonhoeffer completed the writing of Life Together in 1938. Prayerbook of the Bible is a classic of Christian spirituality. In this theological interpretation of the Psalms, Bonhoeffer describes the moods of an individual’s relationship with God and also the turns of love and heartbreak, of joy and sorrow, that are themselves the Christian community’s path to God. (some excerpts above are from Amazon)

  9. Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This collection of inspirational writings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer is drawn from his many works and presented here as a series of daily meditations to last throughout the year. Organized under monthly themes, these prayers, sermons, meditations, letters, and notes offer readers a new glimpse at how Bonhoeffer understood the meaning of faith and discipleship. Featuring selections from classic works such as The Cost of Discipleship and Letters and Papers from Prison, this set of writings follows the church year, making it ideal for year-long devotional use by readers seeking to be challenged and enlightened by Bonhoeffer’s call to find God at the center of their lives. (some excerpts via Amazon)

I guess this is where it gets really high church, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of value in this book. This book, especially this highly annotated copy on Kindle, provides everything from daily prayers to events on the Christian calendar. The Kindle TOC (table of contents) in this book is so extensive, making it quite an impressive Kindle book, and it’s price can’t be beat at only $2.99.

This is the Episcopal version of the Catholic Missal (which is absent on Amazon Kindle in the same version as above), and the book that the Episcopal Church uses in its services. I have only recently been introduced to this book, and it has an amazing amount of wisdom. This Kindle version contains both versions from 1979 and 1789, which contains The Book of Common Prayer, Administration of the Sacraments, Other Rites, Ceremonies of the Church, and The Psalter or Psalms of David. Worth the read no matter what your denomination.

Top 10 Best Apps for the iPhone or iPad iOS 4.3

Since the new iPad2 and the Apple iOS 4.3 was released last week I have had several people at church ask what “Christian” apps I would recommend for their iPad or iPhone, and I finally just decided to do a blog post about it. Since there really was only one app I would call a “Christian” app that applies to a lot of people that I would highly recommend (YouVersion), I have included an overall top ten I would recommend for people just starting to use an iPad or iPhone instead.

This list can easily apply to anyone wanting to get a lot of good use out of their new iPad, I say that above only to show that this app list is from a Christian perspective on currently available apps and I would consider all of these safe to download, and would also provide some productive value in your daily use of these two devices.

If you are new to the iPad or iPhone App Store then these might be a good place to start. For those who have been around the iPad for a while now these may seem old news, but I still like to evaluate the apps I use periodically to determine if they are still worth keeping. Most of these below I have used now for more than a year. I tend to find a good app and stick with it while the developers continue to improve it’s performance and features.

I will have an in depth review of a few of the apps listed below in upcoming blog posts, it was just too long to list right here. In the mean time, here is the brief overview of each of the top 10, plus four extras that almost made the cut:

Top Ten Best iPad / iPhone Apps

  1. YouVersion – Bible app
  2. Rating, 9/10 :: Best bible app available, period. It’s free, has tons of translations and is constantly updated. Most heavily developed app (possibly ever), has both iPad and iPhone formatted versions, and you can download some translations for offline reading. Access to live events, post to Twitter, Facebook, SMS, and email, loaded with features and still be developed. The best of the best. Price, free. (app info)

  3. Official Twitter app – Social Networking
  4. Rating, 8/10 :: If you are on twitter this is the first (but not only) app to have. Price, free. (app info)

  5. Facebook – Social Networking
  6. Rating, 4/10 :: Still included because of it’s siginificance but no official iPad app available, only iPhone app, which is awesome. Still, you can bookmark the Safari homepage but surely Zuck is working on an iPad exclusive app for Facebook. After almost a year, we still only have impostors available. (app info)

  7. MaxJournal – Journaling or Diary
  8. Rating, 6/10 :: Best journaling app available for iPad (no iPhone) but has room for improvement. If you’re not a big fan of MaxJournal, try iJournal for $4.99 with a higher rating but has less features. MaxJournal has far more features and options like fonts, import-export abilities (though somewhat limited), and the ability to create multiple journals. Price, $3.99 (app info)

    UPDATE: According to the developer they are possibly handing off this app to someone else, best to keep an eye on development if you are a heavy users of this app. Hopefully they will work it out. Another option (a few here too) is to use MacJournal from Mariner, which has a long running desktop app to sync with. They then added an iPad/iPhone app, so it’s not just a mobile app developed, it’s full fledged. The reviews are all over the map but I have used MacJournal Desktop app for years and love it.

  9. Amazon’s Kindle app – eBook Reader
  10. Rating, 8/10 :: Best eBook app reader, recommended over iBooks, Nook, and several others. I picked Amazon’s Kindle app over all the others for 3 reasons; (1) total books available, (2) price of available books, and (3) features. In depth review coming soon. Another GREAT feature of Amazon’s Kindle app is that you can access your highlights and bookmarks via the cloud at https://kindle.amazon.com/, that alone got me to switch from iBooks. Price, free. (app info)

  11. The Daily – Daily News and Current Events
  12. Rating, 8/10 :: New to the app store but has great content, always updated, highly interactive. This is the future of newspapers or online news in general. Complete review available, see Pros and Cons of The Daily app for iPad. Price $9.99/Mth or $40/year (app info)

  13. USA Today – Daily News and Current Events
  14. Rating, 9/10 :: Best overall rounded source for news with a dedicated app for the iPad. Not as feature or design rich as The Daily but more in depth news and constantly updated. Price, free. (app info)

  15. Pandora – Music
  16. Rating, 9/10 :: Best music streaming app available, at least until Spotify can get out of the UK and over to us here in the United States. If you like music I would highly recommend the paid version at $35/year, you get commercial free music with higher bit rates. Price, free. (app info)

  17. Evernote – Notes/Archiving of All Kinds
  18. Rating, 8/10 :: Best app for saving and archiving notes of all kinds, syncs across all platforms including a desktop app. This is the archival app, scan, scrape, email, text right into a cloud based note program that integrates with a host of other apps and programs. They offer a free service but once again I recommend the premium version of their service (app is free) as they give you much more for a small price. Price, free. (app info)

  19. Netflix – Movies
  20. Rating, 7/10 :: Online steaming movie app for both iPhone and iPad. Title selection needs improvement but it’s getting better every month. Most new releases are delayed and not all titles are available for streaming, some you still have to get the DVD mailed to you. Netflix has led the way in movie streaming and I suspect delays in titles or other issues like that are not their doing but the movie industry. Price, app is free but service will cost $7.99 per month. (app info)

Other Apps That Almost Made the Cut