Link: BibleSEO.com

BibleSEO (Bible Study Exposition Online) is a blog site that provides free resources for both individual and small group Bible study. Unlike many sites that advertise “Bible study” materials only to offer a series of short articles exploring a Bible passage or topic, with no actual involvement or thought required by the reader, BibleSEO offers studies in a question and answer format. Many of the questions include a bullet point list offering “pieces” of the answer to help direct the study in the right direction and to a fuller, more complete understanding.

The site groups its content in a convenient directory listing of “Free Bible Studies, Topics and Ideas” on the right side of the page, as well as offering a search feature. (As the site uses “Ads by Google” to generate income, don’t be confused by the Bible study-related links at the top of each page. They will take you to Google for a search on the topic listed, not to the Bible study pages of the BibleSEO site.) The resource categories on BibleSEO are:

  • Beatitudes Bible Studies
  • Bible Devotionals
  • Bible Study Methods
  • Character Studies
  • Christian Discipleship Studies
  • Christian Life Studies
  • Doctrinal Study Guide
  • Featured Bible Studies
  • Gospel of John Studies
  • Gospel of Luke Studies
  • Gospel of Mark Studies
  • Gospel of Matthew Studies
  • Gospels Studies
  • Inductive Studies
  • Jesus’ Miracles Studies
  • Miscellaneous
  • New Testament Studies
  • Old Testament Studies
  • Small Group Studies

One of my favorite studies on the BibleSEO site, (at least from the ones I’ve looked at so far), is the one on the Cost of Discipleship. The study author does a very nice job of outlining not just what a disciple is and the “costs” involved, but also includes a short list of what a disciple is not, just so the person doing the study is crystal clear upfront.

While there is some overlap in the study categories, being a blog site means that a specific Bible study “post” can appear in more than one category, so you shouldn’t worry about missing a study because you looked in the “wrong” section. Also, as a blog, you are able to subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates (don’t worry if you’re not familiar with RSS) or request to be notified of new posts by email.

In addition to great content, BibleSEO has a clean look and is very easy to navigate, a characteristic which no doubt led to their being a runner-up in the “Best Christian Blog” category in the 2009 Christian Web and New Media Awards.

BibleSEO link: www.BibleSEO.com

[Blog Author’s Note: On the main BibleSEO site, you may notice a directory of posts to the “BibleSEO Blog.” This site is obviously related to the site discussed above, but with only a couple pages of posts, most from February 2010, on a broader range of subjects, this is obviously not their principle source of content for visitors.]

Posted in Links, Methods, Resources | Tagged | 2 Comments

Topical Study: Wisdom

STUDY TOPIC: Wisdom; Being Wise

KEY PASSAGE(S): Various

Today, you hear a lot about people wanting to be smarter, richer, thinner and such. Maybe you are even one of them, and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. But when was the last time you said or someone said to you, “I really wish I was a whole lot wiser?” You’ve certainly never seen a “Get Wiser in 30 Days” infomercial, because the world simply does not value this trait. (Never mind that the world also could never deliver.) The Bible, however, places immense value on wisdom, from the early life of King Solomon in the Old Testament to bold statements made by Jesus Christ himself in the New Testament.

Look up and read the verses below, and then fill in the blanks, as you prayerfully ask God’s Spirit even now to make you wiser in your search for true wisdom.

TRUE WISDOM

  • Psalm 111:10
  • Proverbs 4:7
  • Matthew 7:24
  • 1 Corinthians 12:8
  • James 3:17

What does wisdom sound like? (How will you know it when you hear it?) __________

____________________________________________________________

What does wisdom look like? (How will you know it when you see it?) ____________

____________________________________________________________

In what ways might wisdom be about what a person doesn’t say or do? ___________

____________________________________________________________

How does wisdom differ from intelligence or factual knowledge? _______________

____________________________________________________________

GETTING WISDOM

  • Proverbs 2:6
  • Ecclesiastes 2:26
  • Daniel 2:21
  • Luke 21:15
  • James 1:5

What situations in your personal life require greater wisdom right now? _________

___________________________________________________________

…with your family? _____________________________________________

…at your work/school? ___________________________________________

…in your church? _______________________________________________

PRAYING FOR WISDOM

  • 2 Chronicles 1:10
  • Psalm 90:12
  • Ephesians 1:17
  • Colossians 1:9
  • James 1:5

Write out a prayer to your heavenly Father, humbly asking Him for wisdom in a specific situation or area of life. If necessary, go back and read the above verses again, because before you write the prayer, you must believe that He can and will answer (James 1:6).

_____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________ Amen!

Posted in Topic Study | Tagged | 1 Comment

Link: Ten Basic Steps

The value of today’s link recommendation is actually two-fold, providing you with a simple overview on the subject of personal Bible study which is actually part of a much larger series of proven study materials designed for spiritual development.

A LESSON ON PRIVATE BIBLE STUDY METHODS

First, there is a succinct stand-alone lesson on “Private Bible Study Methods.” This relatively short lesson is a great starting point for a single class on the topic of how to study the Bible, as well as a nice tool to print and give to a new Believer. The lesson presents four different essential aspects of personal Bible study, including:

  • Proper Attitude for Bible Study
  • Tools Needed
  • Suggested Methods
  • Life Application

I especially like how the lesson author sets the stage at the beginning of the study by quoting Martin Luther, who apparently studied his Bible the same way he searched for apples when he said:

“Search the Bible as a whole, shaking the whole tree. Read it rapidly, as you would any other book. Then shake every limb — study book after book. Then shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters when they do not break the tense. Then shake each twig by a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences. And you will be rewarded if you will look under each leaf by searching the meaning of the words.”

Instead of restating more of the lesson here, I’ll simply encourage you to check it out for yourself.

TEN BASIC STEPS TOWARD CHRISTIAN MATURITY

In addition to the lesson just discussed, the TenBasicSteps.org web site has another 68 lessons total divided into ten different categories or “steps,” all designed to a facilitate growth in the Christian’s life. Starting with an overview of what it means to be a Christian, the ten basic steps studies are as follows:

  • The Christian Adventure
  • The Christian and the Abundant Life
  • The Christian and the Holy Spirit
  • The Christian and Prayer
  • The Christian and the Bible
  • The Christian and Obedience
  • The Christian and Witnessing
  • The Christian and Giving
  • The Old Testament
  • The New Testament

At this point, you, the reader have likely fallen into one of two camps, as it were. There are those of you to whom all of this sounds pretty familiar, as the Ten Basic Steps toward Christian Maturity have been around for awhile. You know that this material was written by Bill Bright and used by Campus Crusade for Christ (which he founded) as a discipleship tool for new Believers. You may have even been trained on some basic concepts using these study guides or maybe used them to train others, so you are already familiar with the value of these tools.

If, however, you are in the camp of not having experienced the Ten Basic Steps materials before, (and depending on your generation you may be in good company), I encourage you to look at the lessons in the different steps, including the one on “The Christian and the Bible” (Step 5) and the last two which present an overview of the Old and New Testaments.

These are all good, proven resources that make a great foundation for both individual and group study, as well as a starting point for Bible study discussions. It’s great to see the entire series be made available for free online.

Private Bible Study Methods link:

Ten Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity link:

[Blog Author’s Note: If you are interested in purchasing any of these books for personal or group study, I encourage you to visit Christianbook.com. You can order “Step 5: The Christian and the Bible,” which includes the lesson on “Private Bible Study Methods” here.]

Posted in Links, Resources | Tagged | 1 Comment

Review: Bible Study Magazine

Resource: Bible Study Magazine
Publisher: Logos Bible Software
Resource Type: Bible Study Methods/How-to
Rating: ●●●●● (Excellent)

SUMMARY

A few years back, when Logos Bible Software announced their plans to publish a bi-monthly print-only magazine on the subject of “How to Study Your Bible,” it was met with a fair amount of both confusion and skepticism on their online forum. Many of those offering feedback just didn’t seem to “get” (or maybe a better term is “appreciate”) the benefits of a simple, focused publication like Bible Study Magazine that shows up in your mailbox every eight weeks or so. My take on this disconnect is that many of Logos’ Bible software customers – primarily seminary students, pastors and other ministry professionals – might not feel the need for this magazine which seems to be designed (in my opinion) more for the layperson who is simply interested in new and better ways of improving their personal time exploring God’s Word. If that latter category describes you, whether you are new to Bible study or a seasoned veteran of God’s Word, I encourage you to check out Bible Study Magazine. I personally find it to be an excellent resource with a solid, helpful format and content that is kept fresh, in part, by presenting the thoughts of a different featured “expert” on Bible study in each issue.

To give you a little better feel for the publication, here are some of the different sections you’ll find in each issue:

  • Feature Stories (New ways to connect the Bible with your ministry and life)
  • Bible Study Tips (Just what it says and lots of them!)
  • A New Kind of Bible Study (An ongoing Bible study in each issue)
  • On Teaching (Advice on how to preach or teach the Bible)
  • Tool Box (How-to Bible study guides)
  • Thoughts from the Ancients (Wisdom of the early church—in their own words)
  • Word Studies (Insights about specific words found in the Bible)
  • Did You Know? (Interesting facts about the Bible)
  • Book Reviews (Books to equip you in your study of God’s Word)

To get an even better feel for the publication, you can actually browse page-by-page through their entire March/April 2010 issue online here.

COMMENTS

  • Excellent resource for anyone looking to either strengthen or freshen up their time in God’s Word.
  • Very affordable at $14.95 per yearly subscription (6 issues).
  • Versatile content of practical how-to steps to study, as well as general articles to improve understanding; something here for every “student” of the Bible.
  • Visually appealing; great use of “infographics” to communicate concepts.
  • Featured content in each issue by a different “expert” on the Bible and how to apply it to real life.
  • Many back issues ($2.95 + shipping) are available from the Logos web site.
  • Truly an independent publication on the important subject of effective Bible study; extremely useful whether or not you own Logos Bible Software.

EXAMPLES of FEATURED CONTENT from PAST ISSUES

  • Josh McDowell on “How I Do Bible Study”
  • Plan of Action: Greg Laurie Explains How the Bible is Our Guide
  • Real-Life Make-Believe: Randy Alcorn on Having a Biblical Voice
  • Max Lucado on What’s Taught and What’s Caught
  • Transmitting the Word: John Piper on Consistency and Community
  • Fragile to Fearless: How Beth Moore Conquered Insecurity
  • John MacArthur: Unleashing God’s Truth—One Verse at a Time
  • US Senate Chaplain Barry Black on Impossible Goals: Possible with Bible Study
  • Bible Study Anywhere: Mark Driscoll on Connecting Bible Study to Everyday Life

MORE DETAILS/SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION LINK

Posted in Review, Tips | Tagged | 1 Comment

My Bible Software

As I mentioned in one of my first blog posts, I firmly believe (and am quite opinionated about it, in fact) that the “Key to Easy” when it comes to Bible study is having the “right” Bible study software. By “right,” I not only mean software with a great interface, powerful features and a robust library of books to choose from, but the “right” one for you.

Before, I tell you about the five Bible software libraries I own and how I use (or seldom use) each and why, I want to give you a quick user profile of me.

I’ve been a Christian since making the decision to accept Jesus as my Savior and give Him control of my life as a little kid. After college, (a State college, not a seminary or Bible school), I went into the “mission field” of the business world. While I have been involved in lay ministry off-and-on since college, only recently have I formally made the transition into ministry vocationally, as a Director of Ministry (and Director of IT) at a local church.

So, with that “church-employed layperson, serious Bible ‘student,’ adult Sunday school teacher” background in mind, here are the Bible software programs I own:

WORDSEARCH  (www.wordsearchbible.com)

  • Started With: Their “Discipleship Library,” a selection of Bibles and study resources specifically designed for laypersons. (It was the first Bible software I purchased about 10 years ago.)
  • Since Then: Have purchased many additional resources, primarily through bundled packages and frequent sales of books.
  • Why I Own It: Great interface; Truly makes Bible study easy; Able to build growing library at reasonable cost.
  • How Often I Use It: Frequently; In addition to resources for Bible study, I own and read a number of “Christian Living” books in the WORDsearch format.

LOGOS  (www.logos.com)

  • Started With: Their “Bible Study Library,” a solid selection of Bibles and study resources specifically designed for laypersons who are “serious” students of the Bible.  (Logos currently offers nine different Bible software library packages.)
  • Since Then: Have upgraded to the “Leadership Library” and purchased many additional resources, primarily through their “pre-publication” discount program and their occasional sales of books.
  • Why I Own It: Their “passage guide” is the most powerful study tool built into a software package, in my opinion; While the rest of the interface was a bit confusing and complicated in places, the most recent version of their software (version 4) has for the most part fixed that.
  • How Often I Use It: Frequently; When I am looking at really digging into a specific verse or passage of the Bible, this is where I start.

QUICKVERSE  (www.quickverse.com)

  • Started With: Their “Deluxe” Bible study library, a good selection of Bibles (except the NIV, which Quickverse charges extra for) and fairly large amount of study resources, although many are “public domain,” meaning I could find them free online.
  • Since Then: Upgraded to their “Platinum” library through a VERY affordable upgrade special offer. Also purchased their “Sermon Builder” software.
  • Why I Own It: When I first bought QuickVerse years ago, it was relatively inexpensive; In the few times I have upgraded, it has been for selected resources, such as books of quotes and illustrations.
  • How Often I Use It: Seldom, as I find the library value limited and don’t care for their “ribbon interface”; When I want to tap into my biggest library of quotes and illustrations, and if/when I want to explore the writings of authors whose work is now in “public domain” and not in my other libraries.

PC STUDY BIBLE  (www.biblesoft.com)

  • Started With: Their stand-alone “Pulpit Commentary Library” product. (Didn’t have that resource and got it cheap off ebay.)
  • Since Then: Upgraded to their “New Reference Library” (again, through a special promotion offer). Also purchased their “Contemporary Christian Classics Collection,” which is a 30-book assortment of the books I read and enjoyed in hard copy in my younger days, including “Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World.”
  • Why I Own It: Essentially just for the ability to have electronic access to the resources highlighted above.
  • How Often I Use It: Rarely; Never for true searching and “study”; used to spend time in selected resources on occasion, but the fact that Biblesoft has still not upgraded their core software to “play nice” with Windows 7 has now made that impossible on my primary-use computer.

GLO  (www.globible.com)

  • Started With: Actually purchased the basic Glo Bible software for my wife, but found it to be a “resource hog” on her machine, so I adopted it.
  • Since Then: Nothing really. Glo doesn’t have add-ons, like the other software libraries, and probably isn’t even “Bible study software” if you want to get technical.
  • Why I Own It: Like I said, I bought it for my wife; I keep it on my machine more for the possibility that I might use it more someday, as it really does do a great job of helping people visually explore and experience the Bible and Bible times through a variety of multimedia.
  • How Often I Use It: Occasionally/rarely; This software has pretty much been limited to helping me better visualize some of my Sunday School teaching topics, when appropriate. That may change with Glo’s partnership with YouVersion (a phone/tablet Bible app) and other new strategic uses.

So, in summary, I personally frequently use, greatly benefit from and truly enjoy both WORDsearch Bible Software and Logos Bible Software. I also own, but use on a very limited basis, mainly for specific needs and projects, the QuickVerse, PC Study Bible and Glo Bible software products. That’s my Bible software story and I’m sticking to it.

Posted in Software | Tagged | 6 Comments

Link: Discipleship Journal

I still remember back in 1981, when Navpress came out with the first issue of their new magazine: Discipleship Journal. It was relatively thin, (in part because, at the time, it contained no advertising), but I found every word of value and the articles on different aspects of Christian living and effective ministry extremely relevant. What also stood out to me was how they consistently directed the reader back to God’s Word whether by verse quotes richly integrated into the articles or via an “On Your Own” mini-study that followed many of the articles. Of course, the articles and special sections on how to make the most of your personal Bible study time, and there were many of those, were some of the most beneficial and most frequently revisited aspects of each issue.

Sadly, after 171 issues (about 28 years worth), the magazine ceased publication, suffering the fate of so much of print media that was unable to make the transition to a viable online format. Fortunately (and thankfully), the good people at Navpress have kept the Discipleship Journal section of their web site up and running. There you will find:

  • A searchable archive of articles from past issues of Discipleship Journal
  • A cumulative topical index of all 171 issues in PDF format to help you in your search.
  • Over 100 articles specifically on the subject of Bible Study (see topical index), as well as numerous topical Bible studies identified under the different subjects in the index.
  • A handful of “easy-to-fill-out” Bible studies in PDF format on such topics as Spiritual Disciples, The Heart of the Gospel and more.
  • A selection of Bible studies and “discipleship resources” published by NavPress for purchase.

To give you a bit better feel for the variety of “how to” articles in the archive library, here is just a small sample of the 108 articles on the topic of “Bible Study” from the cumulative index mentioned above:

  • Blueprint for Bible Study
  • Digging Deeper in God’s Word
  • Tools for Meditation and Study
  • How to Study Bible Books Chapter by Chapter
  • Firsthand Joy: Understand the Bible on Your Own
  • Do-It-Yourself Bible Study
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Reference Books
  • Bible Study for the Faint of Heart
  • Get a Grip on Scripture
  • How to Find Personal Applications
  • Studying the Bible: As Easy as ABC
  • How to Do a Word Study
  • Open-heart Bible Study
  • Seven Keys to Understanding Scripture
  • The Encounter with Jesus Bible Study
  • Old Testament Study
  • Three Questions to Ask about Bible Stories
  • Personalizing Scripture
  • Reading the Bible for Life Change
  • The Scratch ’n Sniff Bible

So, next time you’re on the Internet, carve out some time to explore one of the rare hidden treasures of Bible study information out there. I promise you that it will increase both the impact and enjoyment of your time spent in God’s Word.

Discipleship Journal link: www.navpress.com/dj

[Blog Author’s Note: If you like what you see online, NavPress has also put the first 150 issues onto a CD for better searching, reading and even printing. The software license even allows you to make up to 100 copies for your church or small group. The Discipleship Journal Anthology CD-ROM, which is compatible with WORDsearch Bible Software (though not required), is available for less than $25 online.]

Posted in Links, Review, Software, Tips | Tagged | 1 Comment

Passage Study: John 4:1-42

A JOURNEY TO BELIEF

PASSAGE: John 4:1-42

READ the text completely through once.

READ IT AGAIN, this time taking note of how the Samaritan woman addresses or describes Jesus:

● verse 9:  J________

● verse 15:  S________

● verse 19:  P_____________

● verse 29:  C____________

● verse 42 (by the Samaritans):  S___________ ____ _____ ___________

BRIEFLY DESCRIBE the woman’s journey to understanding who Jesus really is:

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

HOW MIGHT people make a similar journey today in their understanding of Jesus? Where might they start, where should they end and how might they get there?

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

WHY did the Samaritans initially “believe in him?” (v. 39)

__________________________________________________________

WHY did the Samaritans ultimately “believe?” (v. 42)

__________________________________________________________

BASED ON this example, how important is our role in introducing people to Jesus?

____________ Why?_________________________________________

HOW MIGHT the Holy Spirit, then, make Jesus “real” to the person so he/she believes?

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

PRAY for a friend or family member who has acknowledged Jesus’ existence in history (“Jew”) and may even respect Him as a good man (“Sir”), but doesn’t yet acknowledge Jesus as “Christ” or as his/her “Savior.”Ask that God would give you the boldness and confidence of the Samaritan woman and that, as a result, your friend or family member would experience Jesus in such a way that it makes a personal, powerful and permanent impact.

Posted in Passage Study | 3 Comments