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Why do you use the New American Standard Bible?

The NASB is the most accurately translated Bible.  That is important to me as a teacher and as a student.  It is also very readable.  I also use the NIV a good bit of the time because it is even easier to read and close in accuracy to the NASB.  The NIV is written in everyday language but is still a translation rather than a paraphrased Bible.

What is the difference between a translation and a paraphrase?

Let’s say you speak French and I am your English translator.  As a translator I try to substitute the exact English words for the French words you speak.  Each word is meant to mirror what you say.

By contrast, I may be your interpreter rather than a translator.  An interpreter would be like a paraphrased version of the Bible.  I would take the ideas you speak and phrase them in English but in my own words.  Instead of producing an English reproduction of what you said, I would restate the ideas and concepts in English but in my own way.

How do I let go of fear and worry? Is it really possible?

In truth, it is very difficult to release all fear and worry when difficult times come.  I particularly like Psalm 32: 6 for this question, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.”  This Psalm teaches us that we have to build ourselves up when there is no flood.  In other words, your confidence in the Word and in God is built in those times when there is no emergency.

However, even when you have meditated in the Word day and night (Joshua 1: 8) there are still times which “try men’s souls”.  My favorite tool for those times when I keep laying down my burden and then turning around and picking it back up again is a visualization exercise that God showed me some years ago.  Imagine an “Inbox” like people used to have sitting on the corner of their desks.  Now picture God’s name on the inbox.  Write your problems on a piece of paper and watch yourself go place that sheet of paper in God’s inbox.  Every time you are tempted to pick that problem back up, see yourself putting it back in God’s box.  Sometimes I will even say aloud to the Father, “You have mail.”  That helps me to let go.

When is the best time for me to spend time with God?

This really is a personal question because of our differences but let me give a few thoughts.  First, whatever actually works for you is best.  If you try morning and it doesn’t work, shift to afternoon or night.  If, however, you decide to have your personal time with God at night but find you rarely get around to actually spending time with Him you may have to adjust to morning.  Psalm 32: 6 says, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found.”  This has to do with when you are most able to hear Him so the answer will depend on what works best with you specifically.

However, I noticed, while doing some research some interesting passages.  I will highlight two for you.  1 Samuel 1: 19 reads, “Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord.”  2 Chronicles 29: 20 is similar, “The King Hezekiah arose early and assembled the princes of the city and went up to the house of the Lord.  My point is this, although this is a decision which does depend on each person, the default position may be towards morning.

I am not a morning person so I have personally struggled with this but I find my whole day flows better and I seem to feel better emotionally and spiritually when I begin my day with God.  Ultimately, though it is hard to get up a few minutes earlier, I find that life goes better when I do.  It takes a little getting used to but try it out.  Make sure if you are not a morning person that you have some sort of structured design to begin with, perhaps a devotional.  This will help you in those early moments when you may still be a little fuzzy minded.

How do I spend time with God?

This may be the question of the age.  There is no formula and on different days, the answer may be different.  Let me offer a few suggestions though.  Think of these as an a la carte menu and piece them together as seems appropriate to the moment.

One very good way to start your special time with God is with a devotional.  I prefer a devotional which has a Bible verse in it.  That gets you started in God and can even lead you into further Bible discovery.  A devotional can be a great jumping off place for your God time because it can stimulate your thinking and your heart in a multitude of directions.  You may just meditate on the verse, on what the author wrote or it may lead you to look up other Biblical connections.

That leads us, of course to one of the greatest ways to connect with God, the Bible.  You can find God in every book of the Bible.  You may read a section or a chapter and then just stop and talk with God about it.  Maybe some questions occur to you.  Sometimes that leads you into talking with the Father, sometimes it leads you into further study.

Praise and Worship, singing, making music – all of these are fabulous ways to get the world off of your heart and mind and help you to connect with God.  Singing a praise song is one of the surest ways I know to put the world behind me and help me to focus on the beloved.  Music moves us.  Many times this is a good way to begin your God time.

Meditation is a tremendous tool for connecting with God.  I didn’t know how to meditate and so I just began mulling over scriptures, or pondering certain questions.  Lo and behold, I was meditating and didn’t even know it.  Sometimes the quietness is the loudest part of your God time.  Give your body, mind and your spirit the opportunity to be very still and quiet.  Then listen to the thoughts which cascade through your mind.  You may just “get the idea” to pick up your Bible or a song might just float into your mind.  You may even find you are singing it internally.  Give it voice and you are on your way.

Prayer.  I almost hesitate to list this because there is so much misunderstanding about prayer.  Our time with God should most certainly be about communicating with Him but, we should communicate as we would with a friend.  Obviously that involves two-way dialogue.  You have to be connected with God in order for you to really dialogue with Him so that is the focus of my answer.  Once your spirit is connected with the Holy Spirit, you will automatically be engaged in conversation with God – prayer.  Incessant one way chatter is probably not the best use of your time though.  That is why I am careful to recommend prayer as our method for spending time with God.  Communion with God is not showing up with a laundry list of wants and needs yet that is what prayer has become for many people.

There are two types of prayer I do suggest for your God time, intercessory prayer and praying in the Spirit.  Intercessory prayer, prayer for another, is a good way to get out of your own mind and connect with the Kingdom of God.  Second, if you pray in tongues then I would absolutely encourage that for your one on one God time.  Again, praying in tongues gets you out of your head.  You can completely let go of all cognitive thought while you pray in tongues.  It is your combined prayer with the Holy Spirit so by definition you are connected with God which is what this one-on-one time is about, right?

The most important thing is that you follow your heart.  God time is not the same for me every day and it likely won’t be for you either.    This time really is about connecting with God.  Sometimes you will feel God all around you, sometimes you may not.  He is there regardless, so don’t let feelings rule you.  Let your faith sustain you and the Holy Spirit lead you.  Although we are talking about that one-on-one time with God, I encourage you to talk with Him all day long.  If your God time is in the morning sometimes that facilitates taking God to work with you and that is a really good thing.

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

This is a great question!  The short answer is, He doesn’t.  The explanation is two-fold.

First, Psalm 115: 16 says, “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, But the earth He has given to the sons of men.”  God has given humanity authority and dominion over all the earth (see Genesis 1: 28).  We certainly do not want to take credit for the state it is in but it really is we who have allowed the earth to fall into decay and ruin.  The pristine nature of the earth is now corrupted, which means that it doesn’t work the way it was designed to work.  There are some bugs in the system.  This is why bad things happen.  The world has destruction in it.

Also, sometimes we set into motion things which have a logical and natural conclusion.  It is like the guy who asked, “Why did God let me go to prison?”  He didn’t.  It was just the natural result of having committed the crime.

This world has become a dangerous place to live and there is bad in it.  Sometimes the bad finds its way to us.  However, God has provided refuge and we need to run to it every day because, as Jesus said, each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6: 34).  We need Jesus and we need to hide ourselves away in him.

What is your favorite New Testament Book?

The Book of John is my favorite.  There is something intimate and relaxed about this book.  Also, John conveyed more about the Holy Spirit than the other authors.

What is your favorite Old Testament Book?

I love the book of Isaiah.  Again, there is an intimacy and familiarity there that is uncommon in the Old Testament.  Isaiah had a big revelation of Christ.  He knew him, saw him, and understood his coming and his mission.  I see Jesus all over that book. I see myself too.

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