7 Things I Love About the YouVersion Bible App

9.23.14Several years ago Lifechurch.tv released a free Bible app that has revolutionized how people interact with Scripture. It’s the most downloaded Bible app out there, and there are some incredible features that can strengthen your own walk with Jesus. Here are some of my favorites:

 

1. You can listen to Scripture. On several of the translations available, including the NIV (which is my translation of choice), there’s a megaphone icon at the bottom. If you’re on your daily commute to work, you can listen to Scripture while driving. Listening (as opposed to reading) is a different way to intake Scripture. It’s great!

2. The Bible is always with you. Since I’ve got the YouVersion Bible app on my phone, and my phone is always with me, the Bible is always with me. As much as I still read and use the printed Bible, you’ve got to admit that a phone is a lot easier to fit into your pocket!

3. You can take online notes with YouVersion Live. There’s a “live” button within the app where you can search for churches near you that use the app to communicate sermon notes. Mt Vernon has been using it the past few months and people are loving it. There are several interactive features you can use within the “Live” option to get an audience to participate more than ever!

4. You can follow others. Like most social media sites, you can follow other people on YouVersion. When people read a Scripture or make a note, you get a notification. If you’re separated physically from close friends, you can still share in a spiritual journey together through YouVersion.

5. They have reading plans. A lot of folks want to be in Scripture more but don’t know where to start. YouVersion has a multitude of Bible reading plans that can help you get into the Word on a more consistent basis.

6. You can highlight and take notes. I used to highlight my Bible and take notes in it, which was a great way for me to remember things God taught me through Scripture. The hardest part of replacing a Bible was losing all the handwritten notes. With the YouVersion Bible app, you can take online notes that will stay with you forever!

7. It’s free! Lifechurch.tv could have made a ton of money off of this app, but they made the decision early on to make it free to the world. It actually costs them each year to maintain it and improve it. It’s their way of blessing the world and helping people get into the Word. It’s free (and always will be). Take advantage of it and download it today!

Five for Friday (9.19.14)

5Have a great Friday!

How to Effectively Reach and Retain Millennials – Interested in impacting the next generation for Christ? This article is a great place to start.

One of the Main Ways that the Earliest Christians Distinguished Themselves from the Surrounding Culture – an important historical read with some intense practical applications for today!

 Stop Preaching and Start Communicating – a great reasoning behind why I preach the way I do.

7 Things I Learned in my First Year of Chasing a Dream Full-Time – Ever thought of quitting your day job and chasing your dream? Learn from someone who’s doing it right now!

Why I Think This World Should End. Great spoken word video that will make you think!

Add a Little Crazy to Your Life

This past Sunday at Mt Vernon I told the church to “add a little crazy to your life.” Looking at John 2when Jesus cleared the temple, I talked about how Jesus was so fanatical about his Father’s name and his Father’s honor that when he saw his Father’s house being desecrated, he went off.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17

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To the world he looked a little crazy, but a true fanatic will always look crazy to the world.

As Jesus fanatics, we’re always going to look a little crazy to the world. It’s unavoidable. And that’s okay. Rather than trying to conform and fit in, I think we should be intentional about “adding a little crazy” to our lives. Let the world know how much we love Jesus. Make our devotion to Jesus blatantly obvious to all we encounter.

I asked the question at the end: how specifically can you “add a little crazy” to your life? Through the YouVersion Bible app, our members were able to answer the question personally and submit their answers anonymously. Here are a few of their responses. Here’s how my folks from my church can “add a little crazy” to their lives:

  • Get up with my wife at 5am to study the Word together.
  • Stop drinking and partying and spend more time in the book.
  • Go on a mission trip out of the country. Start a private protective recovery home for girls and women rescued out of the sex trafficking trade.

That’s my kind of crazy!

QUESTION: How can you “add a little crazy” to your life?

My Greatest Teacher in Life

I’ve had a lot of teachers in my life. I remember Mrs. Godbier in 3rd grade, Mrs. Mastroiani in 11th grade, and Dr. Jackson in seminary. They all taught me valuable lessons in life. But if I were honest, I have one constant teacher that helps me learn more than anything I could ever dream of in the classroom. My greatest teacher is failure.

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I hope and pray that my current church members never meet up with church members of my previous churches. It might shatter the illusion for my current church members that I actually know what I’m doing. Looking back on life, I’ve made so many mistakes: professionally, relationally, and personally. I could write a book on how not to run a youth ministry. I’ve burned bridges, dropped the ball, let things fall through the cracks. I’ve failed people, overestimated my own ability, grown too independent of God and paid the price. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in life.

And yet, for every mistake, I learned something. Mostly what not to do, but I learned something. The difference between successful people and failures in life isn’t that the successful people don’t make mistakes. Failure is unavoidable. The difference is that the successful people learn from their mistakes. Learning from your mistakes takes gut-wrenching honestly, painful humility, and a willingness to adapt and change. None of these are easy.

But if you’re willing to honestly reflect, willing to admit your mistakes, and willing to grow from them, you have access to the best lessons in the world. They’re painful lessons. They’re costly lessons. But failure can be the best teacher available to us all.

The question is, are we willing to learn?

QUESTION: What life lessons have you learned from failure?

“Why Did Someone Give Me Away?”

Try answering that question for your seven-year-old adopted son. By all other accounts it was a normal conversation and a normal trip to school. Zeke had just met one of his reading goals at school and I was building him up, really trying to encourage him in his reading. And then Zeke asked the question that is always bubbling below the surface for an adopted child, “Why did someone give me away?” To him it was a normal question. So I appeared normal and answered in the same tone of voice I’d answered his previous twenty questions about reading and frogs and ninja turtles. On the inside though, I was crumbling. My heart broke for the simple reason that my son will always have to wrestle with that question, “Why did someone give me away?”

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Robin and I made the decision early on that our adopted children would know the truth from the beginning that they used to live in another mom’s belly. There’s no way to keep adoption secret for life, and if a child is a teenager or older when they find out, we’ve seen it have traumatic effects. But this is the downside, having to answer questions like this, not taking it personally, hurting for Zeke as he wrestles with his identity in this.

Here’s how I answered him this time (I’ll have many more opportunities to talk with him about it in future conversations). I told him that his birth mom didn’t give him away, she wanted to make sure that he had the best home possible. She wanted him to have a home with a mommy and a daddy, so he became a part of our family. She did what she did because she loved him and wanted the best for him. And his mommy and I thank God every day that we get to be his parents.

And then it was time for school. Watching the sprouting seven-year-old get out of the car and walk into school like he owned the place, all I could think of was a chunky, square-headed baby named Zeke the first time I met him, trying not to get emotional in the process. In the end I’ll take these occasional uncomfortable conversations. They’re a small price to pay for the honor of raising him as my son.

 

The Best Thing About Mondays

I posted this blog at 7:00 am, but there’s a good chance you won’t read it before 10:00. It’s Monday. That day. The day of dread. You dragged into work this morning exhausted (or hungover) from another weekend. Now it’s five more days of work before you can enjoy yourself again.

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Most folks would avoid Mondays if at all possible. You’re physically and mentally tired, and your heart’s just not in your work. You back into Mondays. You lounge longer than you need to around the coffee maker. You spend the first hour and a half catching up on the weekend with others. Once you finally sit at your desk, you spend another hour looking at every (legitimate) website you can because you’re just not ready to work yet. By the time you look up, it’s getting close to lunch, too little time to get a project started. Better wait until the afternoon (or at least until the post-lunch coma is over). Before you know it, Monday is gone, lost in a sea of inaction and unproductively. Maybe Tuesday will be better.

Here’s the best thing about Mondays: it’s an opportunity to jump ahead in your work. When the default mode for many seems to be to slack off as much as possible and work only when necessary, Monday becomes the third day of the weekend, which crams five days of legitimate work into three (Fridays are gone too since you spend all day planning out your weekend or just fantasizing about not being at work). Stress levels get higher, the quality of work sometimes suffers, no one wins.

Here’s a crazy thought: put in a full day’s work today. Your body would like another day off. Decide to not give it one. Put your mind to work. Refuse to embrace the laziness that’s calling your name. Work hard today. You’ll find yourself way ahead for the week, leaving you nothing but good options for the next few days. Your work matters. The way you work matters to God. Jump ahead in your work today.

Five for Friday (9.12.14)

5Happy Friday! Before you rush head long into the weekend, take a minute and check out these great articles by other writers.

Truett Cathy and a Life Lived Well – great article about a great man.

10 Ways to Pray for Your Husband – read this ladies!

The Church and Violence Against Women – important words regarding the reality of domestic violence.

8 Ways Your Church Can Be More Welcoming to Guests – I wish everyone in our church would read this. Great stuff!

The Osteen Predicament – Strong words by Al Mohler on the Victoria Osteen controversy.