The “Perfect Christmas”

This month on Pastor’s Wives, I share a little about Christmas expectations, contentment, and–of course–Mary.

It goes a little like this… Continue reading

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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

The Weight of Waiting

Imagine Hannah’s heart (1 Samuel 1) as she trudged up the hill to the temple yet again without a child. Imagine her inner struggle as to whether she should continue to believe God.

We’ve all been there: times when we were ready to go but God was ready for us to wait. It’s a unique kind of burden.

This month on Pastor’s Wives, I reflect on waiting and how God expects us to act in the meantime. Continue reading

Obedience is Not My Goal

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time had a particular way of doing almost everything. They had taken the Old Testament laws and dissected them, working out the best methods and restrictions to ensure they obeyed those laws. Their work led to piles and piles of instructions, details, stipulations, and exceptions. They even had a formula for getting dressed in the morning. If, in your morning ministrations, you skipped one of the prayers or started with the wrong foot, you had to go back and start over. There’s a mindfulness to such deliberateness, but it would have been exhausting—always worrying about prescriptive rules and working to remember every. single. thing. Continue reading