Archives For Bible Study

Bible study, theology, exegesis, and hermeneutics

How Much Do Small Places Matter? Wendell Berry Weighs In

Wendell Berry is like grit for my fingernails, a writer who helps me breathe in the thickness of life.

In his stunning essay, “Contempt for Small Places,” this farmer with a prophetic bent writes:

“The health of the oceans depends on the health of rivers; the health of rivers depends on the health of small streams: the health of small streams depends on the health of their watersheds.

The health of water is exactly the same as the health of the land; the health of the small places is exactly the same as the health of the large places...

We cannot immunize the continents and the oceans against our contempt for small places and small streams. Small destructions add up, and finally they are understood collectively as large destructions..."

 Is Berry reflecting on the land or the state of our souls? Continue Reading...

Everything Hinges on Your Ability To Do This One Thing

The loudest voices in our culture herald a consistent message. Go big. Go viral. Get busy.

Get distracted. Ooh! Look at this. Ooh! Shiny, shiny, shiny.

Perhaps you’ve noticed this, too.

The screens and software and computer devices we use are designed to train us to pay attention to them and nothing else. The way they sound, feel, and look are created so they become the center of lives. This isn’t cultural commentary as much as basic brain science.

As the Hugh McGuire observes in this brilliant article:

  • “New information creates a rush of dopamine to the brain, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good.”
  • “The promise of new information compels your brain to seek out that dopamine rush.”

Ever notice—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, text—sets off a rush of dopamine. The rush causes us to develop behaviors that reinforce our behaviors. Responding soon becomes habit.

Start a project. Need dopamine. Check Facebook. Dopamine rush. Check email. Second dopamine rush. Hit refresh. No new emails. Visit Twitter for dopamine rush. Return to project. Repeat cycle again and again.

No wonder it’s so hard not to look at our phones when we feel the vibration or hear the ring or ping. Our brain science urges, “You want this. Just a peek.” Continue Reading...

The Secret to Making this the Best Summer Ever

Maybe you’ve found yourself crying out to God and all you hear is silence.

Maybe you can’t remember the last time you sensed the presence of God.

Maybe you’re wondering why God doesn’t make Himself more real in your life, in your situation.

Let’s be honest. We all go through days, months, even years, when God feels 10,000 miles away. If that’s you, you are not alone.

Tucked into the New Testament, we find the promise:

Come near to God and he will come near to you. —James 4:8

Are you ready to draw near? Continue Reading...

God’s Dirty Nasty Plan For Your Life

Far too many in the church today want to tell you that following God will make you richer, skinnier, more powerful.

Good Friday grounds us in the truth that God does have a plan for your life; it’s just darker and dirtier than you’ve been told.  Continue Reading...

What I Hear When I Press My Ear Against Jesus’ Chest

Like a child holding onto a bundle of cherry-red helium balloons, I celebrated whenever joy was in my grasp, but also recognized the speed with which it could slip away, deflate, or disappear altogether.

I knew better than to outright refuse joy, yet all too often I was making choices that tugged joy away, settling into a life where joy only made an occasional cameo.

That’s when it occurred to me that how we go about laying hold of joy matters.

Our pursuit of joy doesn’t just affect us, but those closest to us, those we love most.

Such were the beginnings of studying, pursuing, and learning to fight back with joy over the last three years.

In Day 37 reading of the #LentChallenge, anchors us in the holy calling to be joy warriors. (Download your free Gospel reading guide, here).

In John 15-16, we eavesdrop on a most mysterious conversation, Jesus’ choice, final syllables before his arrest. This is where he blows on the embers of their faith. Moments later the lights go out for all the disciples. The world becomes as dark as night. But Jesus’ words on this fateful eve aren’t just for them, they’re for us.

Today. Here. Now. Continue Reading...