Joseph: The Cost of Obedience

How long did it take Joseph to fall asleep that night, after he decided to divorce Mary? I imagine his conscience was clear, but I wonder if his heart still hesitated. Then, in the middle of the night, an angel came, saying, “Don’t do what you were planning to do. Do the exact opposite instead” (my paraphrase). Continue reading

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Joseph: Nine Months before Christmas

It was one of those rock-and-a-hard-place moments. On the one hand, he longed to be faithful to the law. On the other hand, he wanted to be faithful—even gracious—to his future wife.

His wife… Would she still be his wife one day? Could he marry an unfaithful woman? Was the wedding off? It was his decision to make, and he felt like Moses, stuck between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. He couldn’t go forward, but there was no way he could go back. Continue reading

The Alphabet Soup of Bible Translations

Walking into the Bible section at a Christian bookstore is like alphabet soup: ESV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NLT, MSG. What’s with that? Why do we need all those different translations of the Bible?

Bible stack
top to bottom: NLT, ESV, NIV, NASB (c) Carole Sparks

Or maybe your pastor recently switched translations and you’re trying to keep up in the Bible you’ve carried to church for the last twenty years. Hey, I’m not judging. I love an old, well-worn Bible: so much history, so much love, so much spiritual discipline and fruit represented by those weathered pages. What is more, I purposefully take a different version to church so I can compare as we move through the text. But I’m a Bible nerd; y’all know that.

Updated translations help us
understand God’s word better.

Bibles are printed and distributed by publishers who, with the exception of American Bible Society and a few others, are trying to make money (e.g. NIV by Zondervan and CSB by Holman). However, updated translations help us understand God’s word better, so we’ll invest the money…or use BibleGateway!

If you’re looking for a new Bible or just curious about translations, consider these key points first. Continue reading

Lean In, Listen, and Learn

Or Why I Listen to NPR News Even Though I’m Not Liberal and Read Desiring God Even Though I’m Not Reformed

On occasion, I meet a new friend and quickly discover we are much alike. We have the same opinions on major issues, we love God and the Bible, and we parent in similar ways. Such people are easy to love and fun to hang out with. They encourage us to be better versions of ourselves through reinforcement of our values. That’s important.

Other times, I meet people who clearly value different things and have different opinions than me. While they may be entertaining, we don’t “click” like we would if we were more alike. The other person may not respect the Bible or be a Christ-follower. She may have been raised in a different part of the country where people just don’t think like we do here in the south, honey. He may be pursuing an alternative lifestyle.

When I meet such people, I have two choices. Continue reading

The Blind Man’s Been Bluffed

Someone led him to his usual spot on the side of the road in Jerusalem. He made himself comfortable on this Sabbath morning and prepared to do the same thing he’d done every day for years. The same thing he expected to do every day for the next thirty years, maybe longer. It was his penance. For what, he did not know. He groped at his side for his bowl and cleared his throat. “Some alms for the blind? Can anyone spare a half-cent or a quadran?”

Sometimes people were generous, especially on holy days, when more people passed and more of them gave alms. Sometimes a wealthy man would put his hand in the bowl and rattle it but the weight of the bowl didn’t change. Strange that the poorer people never did that sort of thing. Rarely, someone would stop to talk to him; those were the best days. Continue reading