10 Important New Books for the Spring

jesus-terrible1. Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice – John Thornton – (01/03/17)

So when I first heard that this book was written by a CPA with a Ph.D. in accounting and that it was being published by Moody, I knew it had to be on my spring recommended reads list.  And that doesn’t even address the great title.  John says this about the book, “Jesus’ advice ruined what I planned to write.” He and his wife—both financial experts—had cut their income by 80% to pursue more meaningful lives. Within six years they had two kids, were debt-free, went on several vacations, and doubled their net worth. John was ready to share the biblical principles that made this possible. But he couldn’t. After reviewing Scripture’s teaching on money—over 1,300 verses—he realized he had missed something big.  I can’t wait to read what this financial expert 41mv6tqbaml-_sx322_bo1204203200_has to say and what he discovered.

  1. This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel – Trevin Wax (03/01/17)

Trevin Wax is one of my favorite bloggers and a prolific writer.  His work has done much to shape the thinking and conversations of younger evangelicals.  In this new book he addresses the question of what will faithfulness to Christ look like in these tumultuous times.  How can we be true to the gospel in a world where myths and false visions of the world so often prevail?  What does it mean to be a faithful Christian when “post-truth” and “fake news” are constantly in the headlines?  By analyzing our common beliefs and practices (smartphone habits, entertainment intake, and our views of shopping, sex, marriage, politics, and life’s purpose), Trevin helps us see through the myths of society to the hope of the gospel.  This book will be a must read for anyone who works, lives or interacts regularly with millennials.  I, for one, need to be reminded of the one true story that changed my life and is really true.

51pxpxfdn-l-_sx326_bo1204203200_3. Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor – Kendra Broekhaus (02/28/17)

Kendra is a new voice, a younger author with an important message.  As a new mom, she tackled a really interesting question – how to collide ‘motherhood’ with mission.  In order to do that she prayed for thirty days “to maintain the joy of being wife and mommy amid the daily grind. To see the world through God’s eyes. To live intentionally. To build relationships and share Christ’s love with her neighbors.  Some days it led to actions the Lord gently nudged her to take. Other days it led to reflections the Lord gently whispered into her heart. Every day it led to a single word, one underlying theme that ties all thirty days – all thirty chapters – and their wide variety of topics together: giving.  These thirty days happened at an interesting transition point in her life.  She and her husband had just returned from being missionaries for three years in a foreign country.  I look forward to learning what it means to be mission-minded, no matter where you live or work, being willing to love the people closest to you, people we often overlook.

4. Standing in the Fire: Courageous Christians Living in Frightening Times – Tom Doyle & Greg Webster 41wylngibnl-_sx326_bo1204203200_– (04/11/17)

Tom Doyle is author of four previous books including the much talked about title, Killing Christians.  In this new book, he says that followers of Christ need to relearn what it means to stand courageously for their faith rather than merely survive in a climate of fear. Instead of motivating believers to action, today’s headlines appear to be paralyzing them. Standing in the Fire demonstrates the church triumphant through the lives of people who stood strong and didn’t run away in the face of overwhelming danger. These Middle Eastern heroes of faith fear God more than terrorist groups like ISIS. Supported by Tom Doyle’s commentary on events, the stories included show how these Christians are not living as victims, but victors in Christ.  I look forward to seeing how this book will challenge my faith in a world that seems more and more hostile by the day.

letting-go5. Letting Go: Rugged Love for Wayward Souls – Dave Harvey & Paul Gilbert

Dave Harvey is a best-selling author of the book When Sinners Say “I Do” and board chairman of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). In this new book, co-written with Paul Gilbert, Lead Pastor at Four Oaks Community Church, he deals with a really important subject. How can we believers best deal with loved ones who have strayed? Harvey and Gilbert share stories of pain and hope as they offer help to those coping with unfaithful marriage partners, prodigal children, and wayward friends.  They teach the reader how to offer grace- and truth-based guidance; discern the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation; and so much more.   In a time when so many families are struggling with these issues, this book is a must read.simplest-way

6. The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life – Dustin Willis & Brandon Clements (02/07/17)

I love the idea of a book written entirely about hospitality – a subject that is one of the least discussed spiritual gifts.  As a person committed to getting to know people at a deeper level, I am often challenged by the realities of a fast paced and busy life with less margin for hospitality than I would like. In reading this book, I hope to learn how to balance daily responsibilities with my desire to make a difference in the lives of others people. Looking at the information on this books, I was excited to see that Willis and Clements help you be hospitable even if you “don’t have enough space,” show you how to get creative in order to make an impact right where you are, involve your church community, and open up your life while still setting boundaries. For many people, the whole idea seems so intimidating and yet it is often one of the best ways to show the love of Christ.

way-of-the-dragon7. The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb – Jamin Goggin & Kyle Strobel (01/24/17)

Why do many modern-day churches lose sight of their true purpose? According to Goggin and Strobel, many leaders have succumbed to the temptations of power. Painting a rich biblical vision of Jesus’ call to strength through weakness, they gather wise insights from conversations with J.I. Packer, Dallas Willard, Marva Dawn, Eugene Peterson, and others. I can’t wait to dig into this book and read these conversations for myself as I have often wondered about these very issues and what can be done to return to a posture of humility in spiritual leadership.  Jamin Goggin serves as a pastor at Mission Hills Church.  Kyle Strobel is a professor of spiritual theology and formation at Talbot School of Theology and Biimperfect-discipleola University

  1. The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together – Jared Wilson (05/02/17)

This title describes me and most of the people that I know.  Too many discipleship books are written for clean, perfect people who know all the right Sunday school answers. The Imperfect Disciple is for the rest of us–people who screw up, people who are weary, people who are wondering if it’s safe to say what they’re really thinking.  In this new book, Wilson frees readers from the self-doubt and even the misplaced self-confidence they may feel as they walk with Jesus down the often difficult road of life. The result is a faith that weathers storms, lifts burdens, and goes forth to make more imperfect disciples. Jared is a well-known author, blogger and speaker.  His widely read blog, The Gospel-Driven Church is hosted by the Gospel Coalition.

watch9. Watch: Wide-Awake Faith in a World Fast Asleep – Rick James (01/01/17)

I just loved the cover of this new book.  In it, James says that “To be asleep is to be oblivious to being oblivious.” The danger of sleep is the danger of carbon monoxide: it’s colorless and odorless, and you’re anesthetized before you know it—before you ever hit the floor. And for the follower of Jesus, it’s just as dangerous—because the Christian who is “asleep” is spiritually unreceptive. If anything will be our undoing, sleep will. In this thoughtful, engaging, challenging book, Rick James dives deep into the New Testament’s teachings on spiritual wakefulness, calling Christ-followers to defy the darkness and remain awake as they await Christ’s return. Because being awake—continually in prayer, watchful for God’s will, expectant of open doors, cautious of sin, desiring to serve, eager to repent, continuously giving thanks, willing to witness, embracing of humility, overflowing with kindness, persevering in obedience—changes everything.  Rick James is the publisher for Cru, and has spent years in collegiate ministry.

10. Love Lives Here – Maria Goff (03/07/17) love-lives-here

Maria Goff is married to Bob Goff, best-selling author of Love Does.  Together they have done ministry in Uganda, Nepal and Northern Iraq to start schools for marginalized kids.  Given how much I appreciated Bob’s book, I was excited to hear the stories from Maria’s perspective.  She says that “This is a book about discovering what we really need. There are a lot of second-best options, but we weren’t made to live a second-best life. Finding what we actually need is different than what we are often offered. There are many books full of opinions, steps and programs. This isn’t one of them. This is about craving the things that matter. Things that don’t just work, but last.” In a life that may seem to be all fun and games with an endless supply of balloons, she shows how this life is also lived with intentionality, passionate purpose, and a little planning—all of which make a life rich in legacy. But she had to figure out the help she needed first in order to live the beautiful life God wanted for her and wants for us.

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Our One Thing

11403097_10152803544981261_8425750206336868906_nEvery family is different.  My family was different for lots of reasons.  We were missionaries, we lived overseas and we went to lots of different types of schools.  If, however, you asked us what was the one thing that distinguished us most in those formative years of childhood, I think we would all agree – it was that we did life together.  This was not just the result of being thrown together in strange circumstances in foreign countries, it was the result of the intentional efforts of our parents.  Whether we were building suitcase forts with blankets for walls or riding bikes, it was not OK to leave anyone out.  Our family dinners did not start until everyone was seated around the table and family devotions were an interactive experience with all of us participating in one way or another, even if we didn’t want to.  Family vacations often involved hours (and I mean hours) of board games and adventures together.  When my mother decided to start a neighborhood Bible study in our home, we were her little recruiters and we helped to lead aspects of these events as well.

Over seventy-five years ago my grandfather started a literature ministry that was a lot like a small family and they did life together as well.  In the early days, this meant that the workers actually lived together all in one big house and ate meals and shared their joys and sorrows together.  But, just like my family, the organization began to grow, and one day they had to leave the nest.  Some left to start the ministry in other towns in England and others went to start the work in far flung places around the globe.  Not surprisingly, these early literature pioneers and missionaries worked hard to be sure that the ministry responded to the needs of local believers and those seeking to understand faith for the first time.  Quickly, as the ministry grew, this meant adapting to local cultures and circumstances and ensuring that local people became a part of this big international family.  Today, CLC International is a huge family of people drawn from over fifty nationalities working to accomplish the very same purpose.

Like a lot of families, however, it is really easy to forget the past and imagine that the circumstances and situations you face are unique.  In the Bible, we are reminded how quick the people of Israel forgot the God of their fathers.  Today, our ministry is at a crossroad again.  In the beginning, we faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles to start a literature ministry in the midst of World War II.   The giants in the land are very different for our generation, but in many ways they seem no less daunting.  So many big questions face us – Will people still be reading books in twenty years?  Will people still need bookstores?  In an increasingly secular world, can Christian books still be relevant and effective?  How do we meet the needs of people in emerging and developing nations when our resources are so limited?

As I have contemplated these questions lately, I have been driven back to a core distinctive of our ministry.  Despite all the problems we face, we still have Our One Thing.  We have each other.  We are a big global family made up of passionate literature evangelists and disciplers who have the same goal – to make evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people come to faith and maturity in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nobody else has our global presence and purpose.  It is our unique calling and one that still excites me every day.

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Top 10 Reasons Why I am Excited About 2017

clc-antigua1. I will get to visit the islands of Antigua and Dominica for the first time in January.  These countries fall under my new responsibility as Regional Director for North America and the Caribbean. I look forward to being an inspiration and encouragement to our small local teams who serve so faithfully.

img_34602. Our team on the island of Barbados celebrates their 60th Anniversary in March and I get to join them for the festivities.  This island is near and dear to my heart as I spent my early teenage years growing up there and growing in my faith.  Pastor Willy Cuke (now deceased) had a big impact on me and was a direct instigator of my decision to surrender all of my life to the Lord Jesus Christ at 13 years of age.11200601_656997377764749_7351391215524212091_n

3. Our team will take part in helping to install a new Print-On Demand system in Sierra Leone this Spring.  This is culmination of many months of fundraising and working with the local team to get things in place to make it possible. Mark Ridenour will be travelling to help with the set up and training on the new equipment. This system could be a “game-changer” in making Christian books more accessible in this war torn and impoverished nation.

car-44. Dr. Tony Hart (a dear friend and member of the CLC USA Advisory Council) will be traveling to Liberia in June to host a training conference for pastors in the interior town of Ganta.  This is in direct response to a “Macedonian Call” that we received this past March when a similar week of training was done in Monrovia.  It is really exciting that the local CLC team, led by James Cooper, will be able to provide an extensive book table now that they have a new bookmobile and entire container of books that arrived from the USA this past yearafrica-study-bible.

5. This is a big year for the advance of the gospel in Africa as the Africa Study Bible will be launching for the very first time.  This unique study Bible with notes written by Africans for Africans will be made available in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya early in the year.  The CLC team in Kenya will be the launch partners for this project which will likely result in thousands of Bibles being distributed all over the country.  We hope to have launch events in Liberia and Sierra Leone later in the year.

500th-anniversary6. 2017 is also the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  I am so grateful to be part of a literature movement that exists, in part, because of those courageous events.  Today, we are making Christian books and Bibles available to people in over 50 countries so that they can discern God’s word and will for themselves and not depend on a priest or church to interpret it for them.

guayaquil-27. In September, our leaders from all over North and South America will gather in Guayaquil, Ecuador for a time of planning, fellowship and fun.  These events take place every two years and are deeply impactful in the life, health and growth of our ministry.  This will be my first time co-hosting the event with my South America Regional Director partner and to visit this coastal town.

8. Right after that event in Ecuador, I will be traveling to England to be the keynote speaker at the UK Christian Retailers & Suppliers Retreat.  This invitation came as the result of the publication of my first book this past year.  I had hoped it would be an encouragement to Christian retailers in the USA, but did not have any idea how it would impact people in other countries as well.

museum-of-the-bible9. In November, a wonderful new Museum of the Bible will be opening in Washington, D.C.  It will be located right on the historic “mall” where all of the other major museums like the Smithsonian are located.  This should be a fantastic place for people to discover the power and impact of God’s word.  Millions of dollars have been invested by the Mart Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian Stores).  I can’t wait to take a group of our CLC USA team members to visit.

10. With Gerardo Scalante moving to Fort Washington and Amanda Lutes arriving later in the year (Lord willing), our team will be welcoming the International Office to be a part of our ministry here in the USA.  It has been many years since the last International Director, Bob Gerry, lived in the USA.  We look forward to a collaborative partnership and seeing how we can help each other to advance the gospel and our kingdom purpose of making evangelical Christian Literature available to all nations.

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2016 – A Retrospective

2016As you get older it sometimes seems like time is speeding up.  When I was a child, a year seemed like forever and now the years pass all too quickly.  As I reflect on the events of 2016, so many things occurred that were a long time coming.  It truly was a year of celebration and completion.

I welcomed in the New Year of 2016 with several thousand young people from all over the United States and various countries of the world.  The Urbana Student Missions Conference was in St. Louis again and the party they throw every urbana-2015three years in support of world missions is worth the wait.  What a joy it was to watch so many college students pledge their lives to serving God wherever he might lead.

Not long after that, I made my first trip with Gerardo Scalante to the islands of Trinidad and Barbados in preparation for taking on a new role later in the year as Regional Director for North America and the Caribbean.   So much has changed in the years since I went to school and grew up on these islands.  Little did I know that one day I would return as an adult to continue the ministry that my parents were so heavily involved in for so many years.

In March, I traveled to Liberia for my fourth time and helped to host CLC’s second major Pastor’s Summit for well over photo-10250 pastors who attended.  It was a really gratifying week to be with Dr. Tony Hart as he led the training sessions again.  Many of the attendees had come to the first summit in 2014 and commented on how the New Living Translation Life Application Study Bible and the CLC Bible Companion (that they received upon completion) had transformed their ministry in the past two years.  I was able to travel with Gerardo Scalante again and introduce him to Africa for the first time.  After our time in Liberia we went on to Sierra Leone where were able to counsel and encourage the local team.

In April, we began a yearlong celebration of CLC International’s 75th Anniversary at our team conference where our author Matt Mitchell was the keynote speaker.  This celebration also involved a very special event where we were able to honor my father and mother for 49 years of faithful service to CLC as they officially retired.  Quiet unexpectedly, my brother was able to fly in from Panama to attend the event and surprise my parents, who were not only genuinely surprised, but delighted.

That wonderful event was followed by some very challenging days for my mother who got very sick from food poisoning and ultimately ended up in the hospital for 11 days followed by a number of weeks of recovery.  Her sickness did have one side benefit in that she and my Dad chose to stay in Fort Washington with us as she recovered rather than travel back down to South Carolina where they live.  What a blessing to watch her gain her strength back little by little each day.

In May, I published my first book.  This project, entitled “The Bookstore that Matters” was a labor of love and took two years to complete.  It contains tales of my time as a bookstore manager in CLC and is filled with stories about the tbtm-frontcvrmiracles that God did.  It was designed to encourage current Christian bookstore managers and to inspire a new generation that might be considering this as a ministry calling.  I was very humbled to receive many compliments about the book and was asked to speak to several groups as a result.

In June, all of my siblings, my parents and Deb headed to Cornwall in England for the trip of a lifetime.  We spent most of our time in and around the little fishing village of Porthleven where my maternal grandmother had been born.  Given that she was one of twelve children, it was not surprising to find that we have many cousins to visit.  While my parents and two of my siblings had been to Cornwall before, it was a first for Deb and I.  The beauty of the place and the warmth of the people was simply overwhelming and we often had to pinch ourselves to be sure that we were not dreaming.

The other main reason that I traveled to England was to participate in CLC International’s official celebration of its 75th Birthday at our quadrennial leadership meetings.  Leaders from over 40 nations gathered together for a week of fellowship, planning and fun.  How inspiring it was to be with such a dedicated group that are carrying on the work that my grandparents began so long ago. It was during those days in England that I was officially ratified as the Regional Director for North America and the Caribbean and began a four-year term of service.

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Coming back from England, I was delighted to see that plans for a major merger of our CLC USA ministry with another organization, Multi-Language Media (MLM), were well under way.  Jim Pitman, my colleague who joined CLC with his family the very same day that Deb and I did twenty years ago, led the effort.   This merger resulted from the retirement of the founding couple of MLM, Jay and Jean Krause and their gifting of the entire organization to CLC USA.  They had been located in Ephrata, PA and it took quite a team effort to move all their assets to Fort Washington.  The transition and temporary closing that was supposed to have taken two weeks actually took only two or three days and we were able to start meeting the needs of customers from all over the United States.  How exciting to see this long term dream come to fruition.

CLCintl-MLM blue logoThe autumn was quite busy with trips to Canada and Colombia and major ministry events like our annual Clergy Breakfast and our Donor Banquet.  In the middle of October, I led a small team that hosted a major book table for the Thriving Frequency Conference right here in Philadelphia.  The conference has been groffice-renoowing over the years and moved to the Convention Center in 2016.  As a result of this partnership, we were able to provide books to hundreds of urban pastors and church planters that attended.

As the year came to a close, we completed a project that was in the works for quite some time.  In June, Gerardo Scalante, was elected to serve as CLC’s next International Director and decided to reside in the United States rather than moving to England where the International Office had been located.  Instead, he decided to move to our HQ campus in Fort Washington and work out of our main building.  With this being planned, we decided that it was high time for an office remodel.  The work was finally finished in December just in time for Gerardo’s arrival and it gave the building just the makeover it needed.

Another chapter has been completed in the story that God is writing through my life. I can’t wait to turn the page and see what He has in store next.

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Abundance and Overflow

glass2A few years ago we were working on a book cover and our designer came up with a great idea.  We were trying illustrate the concept of a blessed life and he decided to use a variation on a familiar image.  He creatively placed a glass of water on a mirror and then poured water into it until it overflowed.  The final cover showed this beautiful picture of a glass that was so full it could not contain all the “blessings” being poured into it.  It was a metaphor for a life that was so blessed that it could not help but bless others.

Recently, I was thinking about that image and realized perspective really matters when you are looking at pictures.  For some people, a cup running over portrays abundance and for others it portrays waste and overflow.  In some parts of the world, having more than enough is hard to imagine and yet you will still meet people in these places who live lives of abundance and their generosity spills out on everyone they meet.  While perspective matters, it is really all about the attitude of the heart.  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Airplane travel is a great place to see these principles on display.  Many people these days come prepared for whatever they might need on the flight given how little is offered for free by the airline.  Some come with full course meals in their bags and some just have candy.  It is interesting to watch those that are naturally inclined to share and those that are conspicuously concerned about eating it all themselves.  More often than not, the sharing people end up in interesting conversations.  On the same plane, space is often at a premium and people are likely to get bumped.  It is amazing to see what comes out of a mouth when a shoulder is inadvertently nudged in close quarters.

One of our best family stories happened one Christmas day in the late 1970’s on the island of Trinidad where we were mans hand using door knocker on wood effect upvc door cold calling householdliving at the time. It was Christmas morning and we were gathered around the Christmas tree to open presents when we heard someone knocking on our front gate.  Who could possibly be stopping by on this morning of all days?  My parents quickly discovered that it was another missionary working for the Operation Mobilization ship program who had arrived early and had no place to stay.  Somehow, he had our name and address and showed up hoping for a kind reception.  My mother is a person of great creativity and a heart of abundance and quickly got to work making him feel right at home.  Amazingly, she also found a way for us to put a present or two for him under the tree.  For a family of modest means, this was a little like Jesus with the fish and loaves.  As children, we were learning that giving from little can result in joy unlimited.

As an adult, I must confess that I do not always live from this perspective.  It is far too easy to be concerned about whether I have enough than to think of others that have so much less. One way that I have begun to change this perspective is to always have a book on hand to give away.  I got this idea from George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization, who has probably given away more books than anyone alive today.  It is especially gratifying to give away a book that has touched my life in some meaningful way and to see how it blesses others.  This Christmas I will be striving to allow the Holy Spirit to change my heart of stone into a heart of love that flows out to those I encounter every day.  You never know who might knock on the door this year.

 

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The Element of Surprise

img_3748Allen had a problem.  As the new manager of the CLC Bookstore he lots of ideas for improving the customer experience and wanted to implement them as quickly as possible.  One of the biggest changes he envisioned was replacing bookshelves that had been built many years before for a store twice the size.  These old shelves, while quite functional, were also too tall.  There were no sight lines from the front of the store to the back and things felt crowded.  His first suggestion was to simply make the old shelves shorter by taking them apart one by one and cutting them down to the right size.  He even took the time to try it out on one of the shelves.  While this could have worked, it would have taken a lot of time and energy – and God had other plans.

At the beginning of November, we were approached by a local church who had closed their bookstore and had beautiful fixtures.  Ironically, those very fixtures had been in storage for a year in the building right next to our bookstore.  Before disposing of the fixtures, they wondered if we could use them.  There was only one catch – we had to get them out of the storage and into our store by the end of the month.  Always up for a challenge, Allen quickly agreed and began moving the shelves into our store and putting wheels on each one so they could be moved easily for events that needed the floor space.  By the end of the month, the bookstore looked like an entirely new place with bookshelves that cost us nothing except the time to move them and the wheels to put on them.  What an answer to prayer.

Some surprises, like getting new book shelves are wonderful and easy to celebrate, others not so much.  Nearly a decade unwanted-giftago, pastor, speaker and author, Tom Elliff, experienced one of those not so nice surprises when he learned that his dear wife Jeannie had cancer.  Tom and Jeannie had a wonderful marriage, an impactful ministry that spanned decades and a deep belief in the goodness of God.  This news would impact their lives in ways they could not anticipate and ultimately resulted in a book that Jeannie insisted that Tom should write entitled The Unwanted Gift.  After nine years of battling with this disease and going in and out of remission, Jeannie went home to be with her savior.  On her deathbed, Tom promised her he would finish the book and this past October, we had the privilege of publishing it.  This terrible surprise is being used by God to help many other people deal with their persistent, perplexing problems.

As a person who normally does not like surprises, I have come to an important realization in recent years.  The Christian life is not predictable and God does not promise us the status quo.  In many cases, He asks us to trust Him when we can’t see what’s coming around the corner.  Recently we woke up to one of those foggy morning that happens when the seasons are changing and it was hard to see anything out the window.  It is easy to get depressed and frustrated by our circumstances that seem like a deep fog in our lives.  Somehow though, just like the fog, things constantly change.   Ultimately it lifts and there is bright sunshine again or a persistent rain comes and washes away the mist.  The key that I am learning is to trust the one who makes the rain, fog, sunshine and snow.  He loves me deeply and has my good at heart even if my circumstances say otherwise.

 

 

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The Teaching Bible

life-applicationIt was after lunch on Friday and I was helping to fill in at our Center City store doing what I love best – serving customers – when he walked in.  He was a middle aged man with a question written all over his face and he was walking towards the Bible section.  I walked over and greeted him and before I could ask a question, he looked at me and said, “Do you have one of those teaching Bibles?”  It took me a minute to grasp what he wanted, but it soon became clear that he needed a Study Bible.  His pastor had suggested that it might be time for him to begin teaching and preaching from God’s word, but in order to do that effectively, he needed a “teaching” Bible.  Just like me, he had one other problem, he needed glasses to read and wanted to see if the Bible would come in large print too.

After learning that he wanted a King James Bible, we began looking for options.  What a blessing to be in a store that has so many Bibles to consider.  We could have chosen a Thompson Chain, a Scofield or a plain old King James Study Bible, but we settled on the Life Application Study Bible in the end.  For my money, nothing beats the Life Application Study Bible in any translation for its use in helping people to understand God’s word and to apply it – which is the essence of teaching.  I suggested that we look at one of his favorite passages together and he quickly turned to a parable in Matthew.  As I explained how the notes worked, his eyes lit up and he began to get excited.  Maybe teaching the Bible would not be so daunting after all.

As we finished the conversation and he purchased his teaching Bible, I could not help but think about how many places in Africa where this would not have happened.  Someone might have stumbled into a Christian bookstore or the Bible society and been looking for a teaching Bible too.  In all likelihood, they would have found would have been a small selection of reference Bibles with no study notes as study Bibles are often too expensive for anyone to afford.  It is no wonder that the pastors in Liberia in 2014, treated my gift of the New Living Translation of the Life Application Study Bible as if it were gold.  For many, that Bible would be there only reference library and their primary source for studying God’s word.

Fortunately, some of that is about to change in 2017 with the launch of the Africa Study Bible from the courageous teamafrica-study-bible at Oasis International.  They say that the Africa Study Bible will combine the clear, accurate text of modern translations—beginning in English with the New Living Translation—with study tools that reflect uniquely African insights and experiences.  This Bible was created because hundreds of millions of Africans know and love Christ. However, most Bible resources come from a Western perspective—cultures far removed from the reality of life in Africa.   I first met Matthew Elliott, President of Oasis, on my trip to Africa in 2008 and caught his passion for Christian literature for the growing church on this vast continent.  How excited he must be to see this dream becoming a reality.

I look forward to the day when these Bibles and many other study tools will be available to my African brothers and sisters at reasonable prices.  One thing I know for sure, they will greatly appreciate a Bible with teaching tools written from an African perspective that will help to explain and apply God’s word to a church that is growing by leaps and bounds.  Much like the Ethiopian man mentioned in scripture, there are millions of Africans today asking the same question – “What does this mean?”.  How exciting that in the years to come there will be many pastors using this new tool to help teach the Bible just like Philip did so many years ago.  What a great day it will be when I can serve alongside our teams in Liberia and Sierra Leone and help someone get one of these new Bibles –Thanks Oasis for making this possible.

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