Most Christians know that God calls us to read His Word.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV)
But with the various versions of the bible available, which one is the best?
You may have grown up reading a bible and are still using the version that was sanctioned by your church. That’s awesome! Keep up the good work!
I didn’t grow up reading the Bible, per se, but I was familiar with it through the readings I heard in church every week. I also knew the Catholic version of my church differed from the Protestant versions.
So, what are the different options for bibles? The following link to BibleStudyTools.com is a great resource if you want to explore the different options in detail.
According to Wikipedia, the New Revised Standard Version is the version most commonly preferred by biblical scholars. In the United States, 55% of survey respondents who read the Bible reported using the King James Version in 2014, followed by 19% for the New International Version, with other versions used by fewer than 10%. The full article is HERE.
Need a list of Catholic versions? That’s HERE.
A wise religious advisor once told me that one of the most common questions she’s asked is, “What is the best version of the Bible?”
How brilliant and simple!
A free online resource I love is BibleGateway.com. It has a simple, searchable biblical database and allows you to easily select among many bible versions.
Pick one of your favorite bible verses and visit Bible Gateway. Plug your verse in the search field, then select a biblical version. Read the verse from that version. Then select another version and read the resulting verse. Repeat.
(Don’t have a favorite verse? Try using John 3:16.)
This simple method will show you several options quickly. Which version speaks loudest to your heart?
As an example, I’ve tried reading an old family bible that’s been collecting dust on our bookshelves for decades. Instead of feeling a connection, I felt frustrated. The older language just doesn’t work for me. I’m too distracted by the “thee”s, “thou art”s, and “cometh”s. My simple mind needs simple (current) language or else I lose focus.
My New International Version (NIV) Study Bible was a gift and became the first version that my husband and I actually sit and read together (a link to it is at the end of this post). But when I recently picked up my teenage New American Bible (NAB – Catholic) that I retrieved from my parents’ house, my brain said, “Ahhhhh”. The large print and basic language instantly won me over.
So, what version will win you over? Do the comparison at BibleGateway and find out. If you purchase a Bible, consider the size of the book and the print size.
Smaller print size creates a more compact version for easier transport but can strain your eyes, becoming a potential reason to stop reading. Larger print means larger physical size that potentially doesn’t fit on your bookshelf or in your handbag.
These points may seem silly, but they can really make the difference between whether the Word will become part of your daily life or a paperweight that eventually gets buried in your pile of discarded books.
If you’re not reading the Word today, it’s time to find the right one for you.
Browse the current list of Amazon best-selling Bibles to see consumer reviews and descriptions.
The ‘study bible’ I mentioned earlier is one that provide some explanation, context, and background information for particular chapters and verses. Below is a link to the one my husband and I use. Note – the personal size is compact, but the print size is pretty tiny. Also, I’d choose the hardcover version if I were buying it again.
What’s your favorite Bible version and why? How often do you read the Bible? Let me know in the comments.
Losing a loved one is never easy. Although death is a normal part of our human existence that simply must be endured, we can find solace in the Bible to help carry us through the terrible pain and darkness.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16 NIV
We can rejoice in the understanding that even though our loved ones are no longer with us, they’re basking in the glory of everlasting life.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.Luke 6:21 NIV
Jesus hasn’t forgotten you. He knows you’re hurting, He knows you’re suffering and He promises that one day He will turn your tears into laughter.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Matthew 5:4 NIV
Jesus promises to give us what we need. When we’re mourning, He promises what we need – His comfort. Listen to Him. Feel Him with you. He’s there.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.Psalm 119:50 NIV
Jesus promised He came to save us. Let His Word preserve you. Pick a Gospel and read it from start to finish. Allow Jesus’ Word to revive you.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:3 NIV
Jesus is the bandage for your broken heart. He understands everything you’re feeling. He suffered terribly in life, too. Bring Him your pain, your grief, your fears, and your lonesomeness. He will bind those wounds.
My God turns my darkness into light.Psalm 18:28 NIV
In a time of darkness, we can’t imagine seeing light again. Jesus will lead you from the darkness to light. You don’t have to know the path. Just follow Him.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.Psalm 23:4 NIV
The loss of a loved one is a dark valley, but Psalm 23 tells us we should not fear. Jesus is walking the path right alongside you.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.Psalm 34:18 NIV
When we’re brokenhearted, it’s sometimes hard to feel the presence of God. But He assures us, he’s close at hand to help us find our way.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.Revelation 21:4 NIV
God has promised that when we enter His Kingdom, death, sadness, crying, and pain will be no more. Your loved one is already free to enjoy the goodness and the glory of heaven.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 NIV
Jesus will fill you with hope, joy, and peace if you believe in Him and follow Him. It’s a promise worth your eternal happiness and salvation.
Have you turned to Jesus after the loss of a loved one? How did He help you? Let me know in the comments!
Special thanks to Kathleen Fucci Ministries for the recommended Bible quotes. You can find many more in their article. They also offer excellent guidance and resources to help children suffering from grief.
Being Christian is about more than being a good person. It’s even about more than loving Christ. A Christian journey is a never-ending adventure.
Becoming a better Christian involves becoming the person Jesus has called you to be. Jesus loves you as you are, but don’t you owe Him your best self?
We often get lulled into thinking that the Christian we are today is good enough. But a Christian who is truly striving to become the Christian he or she is called to be is never stagnant.
You go to church? Wonderful! You pray? Excellent! You love Jesus? Fabulous! But you shouldn’t think that’s enough.
We’re human, so there’s always something that we can improve. Where are you falling short? This really requires a serious look in the mirror. Only you (and God) really know what’s in your heart.
God requires us to follow His commandments. Are you following them? All of them? Or have you decided that what you’re doing is good enough? Do you keep holy the Sabbath? Are you honest on your taxes? Do you stop yourself from lusting after the hot girl/guy at the gym? Do you keep the green-eyed monster at bay when your coworker gets the promotion instead of you? Are you respectful to your parents – with regular calls and visits? Do you take office supplies home? Do you refrain from using the Lord’s name in vain?
Jesus asked us to love one another as He loved us. Do you? You’d (hopefully) say you love your spouse, your children, and your parents. But do you act like it? Do you show it? Does your temper flair easily? Do you belittle others? Are you impatient? Are you stingy with the needy? Do you call bullies out or join in the jeers? Are you obnoxious on social media? Are you prideful? Do you harbor resentment? Do you leave your messes for others to clean up? Are you vain? Do you own up to your mistakes and apologize? Do you cast stones? Do you silently look down on people? Are you racist? Do you judge people?
You might enjoy my post Love One Another if you want to delve into this topic more deeply.
It’s really easy to be tricked into thinking that because we’re “pretty good” Christians overall, that it’s good enough.
Instead, your goal should be to become a better person today than you were yesterday.
One common misconception we have is that our personality traits are pre-wired and there’s nothing we can do to change them. While that’s true to some extent, it’s also a faulty view and an excuse to stay stagnant.
I’m a textbook case of this. For years, I told my husband that my short temper was “just how I am.” I truly believed it. I couldn’t control the quick fuse – it would pop off before I even realized what was happening. After years of denial, I finally realized that even though it was my nature, it didn’t mean I needed to stay that way.
With concerted effort to improve, I first started analyzing the things that were setting me off. Slowly, I began recognizing the feeling of the volcano lava shifting inside. Now, I’m starting to end a conversation (or walk away if I need to) as soon as the lava moves. My goal is to recognize the signs earlier and earlier, and ultimately change my reactions long before any eruption. I’m definitely a work in progress, but I’m not giving up. Jesus asks me to love. Exploding at my husband (or anyone) is definitely not loving.
I’ve revealed a skeleton in my closet to challenge you to own up to yours. Some people have a difficult time looking in the mirror and seeing themselves truthfully. Jesus sees you truthfully. There’s no fooling Him, so you’d best face any demons you’re trying to hide.
A true Christian’s goal is to please the Father, not try to get away with the least effort possible.
The process of becoming a better Christian is simple in concept, but challenging in practice. Keep taking small steps forward and your reward will be an amazing relationship with Jesus.
Read the Gospels. Decide to live your life following Jesus’ example. He spells out the requirements for living a life pleasing to God in the Gospels.
Evaluate yourself honestly against the Ten Commandments. Challenge yourself to really abide by them. For example, one of my weaknesses is keeping holy the Sabbath. If I go to church for one hour but then spend another seven hours working at my computer or surfing on social media, have I kept it holy?
Take a hard look in the mirror. The only way you can really improve is to make an honest assessment. Do you really know God? Do you have hate in your heart? Does jealousy or self-doubt eat away at you? Come clean about your real weaknesses. Bring them to Jesus and ask Him to help you improve. Work at it – daily. Keep moving your target to push for continual improvement.
Pray. Talk to Jesus. Praise God the Father. Sing along to worship music. Use Jesus as the friend, mentor, and guide that He is. Get to know Him. See and feel Him working in your life.
Being a good Christian is a lifelong endeavor of improvement. Keep working at it. Don’t be discouraged over your weaknesses. Remind yourself that Jesus loves you as you are, then vow to bring Him your best self.
How are you becoming a better Christian? Let me know in the comments!
What is your Christian Superpower? Are you using it?
“You can be anything you want to be” is a powerful motivational message, but the reality is, we’re each pre-wired with natural strengths. I’ve always felt making the most of the talents we’ve been given allows us to achieve our highest potential (and greatest satisfaction).
Christian superpowers are our innate strengths that are used to keep God alive in today’s world. They’re how we serve Him. They’re the way we live as His disciples.
Here are 5 examples of Christian superpowers. Where do you see yourself?
You know those people who have the gift of gab. The ones that strike up a conversation with a stranger and part as friends. These people are God’s mouthpiece. Once they hone their superpower, the “preachers” love talking about Jesus and find any reason to do it.
Then there are the behind-the-scenes dwellers. The silent-types. But their quiet exterior belies a bustling world taking place within their mind. The superpower for these pray-ers is just that – to pray for others, to ask God to grant healing, forgiveness, blessings, and mercy on behalf of others. To ask Jesus to make Himself present to the lost and hardened. The power of prayer is incredible.
What about those who like to spread a message? Messengers don’t use the spoken word in the way preacher-types do. Messengers reach people using alternative communication methods. They’re social media aficionados, bloggers, podcasters, authors, musicians, and artists.
Messengers find artistic ways of bringing the Good News to others. The platforms they use may be solely dedicated to spreading God’s Word or may be coupled with another worldly objective. In any case, the creative talents they share with the world place a spotlight on Jesus.
The epitome of servant superpower is Mother Teresa, my all-time favorite role model. Servants serve others. Maybe it’s through their profession, like counselors, nurses, educators, and fire fighters. Servants often volunteer, such as little league coaches or non-profit organizers.
Servants exemplify Jesus’ example and God’s goodness to others through their work.
Are you the one who bakes for your sick neighbor, serves at the soup kitchen, visits people in hospitals or nursing homes, or fosters children? Do you find it easy to lend a hand, your heart, or your home? Good Samaritans find any and every way to be the hands of God at work on earth.
Are you the amazingly positive type? People with the sunshine superpower find reasons to smile and brighten up any situation they face. Does your faith bring that smile to your face? Let people know when it’s God’s love and compassion that has you beaming. Give people you encounter a glimpse of the joy that being a Christian brings to your heart.
After reading this list, you may have discovered you have more than one superpower, since we’re usually blessed with multiple talents. Just remember that muscles get stronger as we use them. So too, our Christian superpower. As we flex those superpowers, we get more comfortable serving, we find it easier to reach out to others, and to listen to our calling.
A typical Christian journey involves discerning, then following God’s will for our lives. Once you realize your superpower, it’s time to get busy doing the work God is calling you to do. Answering God’s calling will be one of the greatest thrills of your life.
Now that you see your natural talents can be honed to serve God, it’s time to put them to use. If you’ve been looking for God’s calling for your life, look no further. He’s wired you to do His work with the talents He gave you. What better place to start serving?
What Christian superpower do you have? How are you using them? How do you plan to make better use of them? Let me know in the comments!
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Every marriage can be improved, no matter the current state. Some of us are near wedded-nirvana while others are considering divorce.
Whatever your situation, the power to make change lies in your hands and the serenity prayer is a good reminder of how to keep perspective.
Let’s break it down and see how it applies:
First of all, this is a prayer. The term ‘god’ has come to mean any ‘higher power’, but I’m specifically referring to my Christian God, the One True God, God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
1- Allow God into your marriage. If you don’t know God, get to know Him. This post on Restoring your faith when you’re in doubt might be a good place to start.
2- Pray to God. Thank Him for the blessings you have in your marriage and ask for help to make improvements where you know they’re needed.
3- Pray with your spouse. Have each spouse pick an aspect of your marriage that needs improvement and pray for it together – just one or two sentences will do. Make this type of prayer a regular habit, for example, weekly or even daily.
What are the things you cannot change?
There’s no going back. Did your spouse wrong you? Were you a crappy spouse? Did you make poor financial choices? Did you rush into marriage?
No matter. You are where you are today. If you cannot accept the sins of the past, they’ll drive wedges into your marriage.
The serenity to accept the painful aspects of your history means you put them to bed. You stop talking about them. You stop bringing them up in arguments. Finally, you’ll stop thinking about them.
You cannot move forward while you’re still stuck in the past.
2- Your spouse
You cannot change your spouse. You cannot change your spouse. Let me remind you again. You cannot change your spouse.
It can be hard to accept this, and I attest to that. But remind yourself that no one’s perfect, that we’ll always have to deal with differences in personality, differences in priorities, and differences in likes and dislikes.
You married your spouse as he or she was. If you married a porcupine, don’t expect a cuddle partner, but be grateful you have an amazing protector. If you married a work-horse, don’t expect a spouse who’s home for dinner, but be grateful for the nice lifestyle it affords. In other words, your spouse has attributes that you love and others you don’t love so much.
But if you loved your spouse enough to say “I Do” then the things you loved outweighed the things that drive you bonkers.
Remind yourself of those things you love.
What can you change?
You can change you. You can change your reactions to your spouse. You can change your mindset about your marriage and your spouse. You can change whether you see the good in your spouse or only the things that irritate you.
Your spouse may very well not change, although the changes you make may motivate your spouse to change, too.
Change is hard. Breaking established patterns is very hard. Giving up the way you’ve always done it can be scary.
Your courage to do it even though it’s hard, even though it’s scary, and even though it makes you vulnerable, can open the door to the unity, peace, and contentment in your marriage that you’ve always desired.
Each of us have a choice to make when we choose to take vows. One choice is to bring our best self to the marriage and work to improve ourselves for the betterment of our spouse and family.
But when things are getting off track, we need to set reasonable limits and expectations. There’s no room for abuse in any relationship, let alone a marriage. Being submissive doesn’t mean being a doormat. Love doesn’t mean tolerating abuse. Sometimes relationships are irreparable – at least until one spouse undergoes serious behavioral change.
You have the wisdom to know what a good marriage is and you either choose to improve your actions and reactions or you’re choosing to stay stagnant.
Apply the Serenity Prayer to your marriage. Pray it together. Use it as a tool to help you both work toward a better marriage. Be open and honest. Improving your communication opens the door to improving your marriage.
If you’re looking for a good book about creating a God-centered marriage, The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way may interest you. (Note: the book is based on the biblical marriage of Adam and Eve, and thus, is written for husband and wife couples only.) You can see my full review HERE:
Do you include God in your marriage? Do you and your spouse pray together? Tell me where God fits into your marriage. Fill up my comments with your insights!
My 3 amazing ‘answered prayer’ experiences came in three different forms, yet were all undeniably God. He answers, we just have to listen.
There are many times we pray for things that don’t really require an actual answer from God. We either get the outcome we wanted or we don’t – for example, praying for someone be healed (they either are or they aren’t), or passing an exam, or finding the right spouse.
But I’ve had three experiences in my life where I really needed an actual answer. After asking God to help me, I received an answer in each case. They all came in very different ways, but they were all undeniably God giving me the answer I sought.
I hope my examples will encourage you to open your communication with God. If you listen, you will find Him speaking to you.
The first time I made a plea to God for an answer, it was a doozy. I was in the middle of a medical crisis for my breast cancer treatment and needed to make a decision about my surgery. To make a very long story short, I was struggling with where to have my surgery. I had an appointment with my local hospital but wondered if I should explore my options at a larger hospital that was three hours from home. Family members weighed in on my decision, confusing me even more. I had the appointment at the larger hospital but had finally decided to cancel it after meeting with the local surgeon. But I was torn. Was I making the right decision? It could possibly be a life or death decision and certainly could affect whether I ended up with breasts or not. It wasn’t a decision I could take lightly.
With my appointment approaching, I finally turned to God for help. “Lord, please help me decide what to do. You know I can be dense sometimes, so please give me a big and bold answer so I’ll be sure not to miss it.”
The next day, I carried on with life as usual and got caught up in my work. It was lunchtime before I thought about my plea, then drifted back to the daily grind. A couple of hours later, my phone rang and it was my regular call from the nurse at my local hospital. Kathy had been assigned to help me navigate through my diagnosis and treatment.
As I gave her my latest update and told her some people were giving me a hard time about cancelling my consultation at the larger hospital, she stopped me in my tracks with her answer. “Why would you cancel it?” she asked. “I think that would be a bad decision. You need to go.”
Kathy was suggesting I seek a consultation at a hospital other than her own? I was astounded. “Go see what they have to say,” she said. “You want to be happy with the decision you make. No regrets.”
Talk about a big and bold answer! I hadn’t asked Kathy what I should do. I was telling her my decision. She didn’t have an ounce of hesitation as she insisted I was making the wrong choice about not getting the second opinion.
As it turned out, the consultation introduced me to a state-of-the-art surgery option that was not being performed at my local hospital and I opted for that surgery. (They have since established the procedure at the local hospital.)
After our conversation, I told Kathy that she had been an answer to my prayer and referred to her as my angel. I’m absolutely certain that her call that day was in direct answer to my prayer. Her insistence couldn’t have been more unexpected or bigger or bolder.
My sister encouraged me to write my breast cancer story to try to help other women. You can check out Losing the Girls HERE.
When my father passed away, I was fortunate (or unfortunate) to be present. What I hoped was to be a peaceful passing was anything but. He fought it like a warrior. “Is he a stubborn man?” the hospice nurse asked me. “You have no idea,” I said.
I watched in amazement as my father opened his cloudy, lifeless eyes long after he’d become incoherent and looked into an upper corner of the room and raised his hand. I was elated to think either my grandmother or Jesus was guiding Dad to his eternal home.
But he continued to fight for his life. Why? It haunted me for days afterward. I know someone he loved had come for him. He should have wanted to go. But he didn’t.
I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
I needed to know my father was enjoying the eternal peace and joy of heaven. “Please, God,” I prayed. “I need a sign that Dad’s okay.”
A couple of weeks went by and I still didn’t have my answer, although I continued to ask for it.
One day I realized I’d had a song playing on repeat in my mind for some time. You know when one gets stuck there until it almost drives you bananas?
It wasn’t a song from my era, so I only knew the refrain. But I’d been singing those few words for probably two weeks before it struck me.
“Daddy’s home. Daddy’s home. Daddy’s home to staaaaaaaay.”
I’d been singing the answer to my prayer without realizing it. “Your dad is home,” God was telling me. That’s all I needed to know.
The past few years I’ve been really trying to find and follow God’s will for me. Writing has been the path I’ve felt called to serve and after writing two adult books to highlight amazing women doing God’s work, I was stuck.
I had no traction on my writing and had hit a wall. I enjoyed the children’s books I’d written and my husband had encouraged me to write more. So, even though it’s one of the most competitive genres, I decided to ‘write for Jesus’ and dive into Christian picture books. It seemed to fit what I thought God wanted me to do.
A plan fell in place. I’d write books about the parables, beginning with The Good Samaritan. As I do, I plowed ahead and started plotting in my mind. The parable would serve as the foundation, but I couldn’t make the idea work.
After two weeks of brainstorming different ideas, I hadn’t found a cohesive plot. This story had existed for over two thousand years, but I still couldn’t make it work on paper.
One morning, in utter frustration, I took it to God. “God, if I’m supposed to write children’s books, I need your help, because what I’m doing isn’t working. If you want this, you have to help me.”
I actually said that prayer while I was making my morning coffee and by the time I sat down at my computer, I had a completely new book idea. The concept morphed into a storyline as I made my breakfast and by early afternoon, I saved my first draft of Heaven is Better.
The ideas continued to flow and I can’t wait to introduce Daysa the daydreamer to young Christians, beginning with Heaven is Better. And yes, The Good Samaritan is also in the line-up for Daysa’s daydreams, although I still haven’t finalized the plot!
The only way I can describe God’s answer to me is a ‘knowing’. I didn’t hear an actual voice, as some people do. I had a fleeting vision that I knew to be heaven and then the rest of the idea just trickled into my mind.
This experience was the opposite of my big and bold answer. It was soft and subtle. I know if I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have probably missed it.
The answer can come in many ways
My three heavenly questions were answered through three totally different avenues, but all were distinctly God. Mine came through another person, a song, and an idea, but God can speak to us in countless ways.
A common experience that people have is getting a message from God through a dream. Although I’ve never experienced a clear sign through a dream myself, I want to share an experience in which I was contacted by a classmate whom I hadn’t seen for eons.
Sandie knew through social media that I wrote books and she wanted to know if I could coach her as she wrote a book. During our chat, she described God’s calling for her to write about her spiritual journey – but she’d been ignoring the nudging. When she finally decided to accept the request, she was faced with a daunting task of writing a book, that she knew nothing about. She turned to God for help and that’s when she saw my face in her dream.
So, although I didn’t experience this first-hand, I know for certain that God sent Sandie to me to help her bring her story to the world. He answered both of our prayers through Sandie’s dream.
These experiences inspire me to listen to God more closely, even though I’m still a work in progress. I hope they give you help and hope for opening your mind and ears so you can hear your messages from God, too.
How has God spoken to you? Let me know in the comments.
Would you like to see the books God’s led me to write? You can find them HERE.
Daysa the Daydreamer is coming! Be the first to know by signing up HERE!