Showing posts with label Bible Basics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Basics. Show all posts

Thursday, April 4, 2024

What the Bible is All About: by the amazing Henrietta Mears

 Holding a book

Big Idea: Check out the classic book What the Bible is All About by the amazing Henrietta Mears.

Amazing Bible Influencer

Imagine being in charge of Christian education in your church and growing the program to 4200 people in two years’ time! This was Henrietta Mears’ story.

Henrietta Mears (1890-1963) was a super duper Scripture Spy. Not only did she dig into the Bible passionately, she wanted everyone to become passionate about it too!

Big names she influenced

Here is a starting list of those she impacted:

1. Bill Bright who wrote the well known Four Spiritual Laws tract and started the program now called CRU

2. Dawson Trotman who started the Navigators Ministry.

3. Billy Graham. She prodded him to have the Los Angelas Crusade in 1949 which launched his career as an Evangelist.

4. She started her own publishing company for her Sunday School materials, The Gospel Light (now part of David C. Cook Publishing)

Check out a review of the book about her, Mother of Modern Evangelicalism by Arlin Migliazzo.

Here is a one minute video from the Museum of the Bible on Henrietta Mears.

Her legacy: a book with over 4 million printed copies

Probably her most influential legacy was a thick book entitled, “What the Bible is All About.” It has sold over 4 million copies since published in 1953.

The book is a great resource for someone brand new to the Bible and for anyone serious about Bible study. It has great summaries and excellent background information. It pulls things together.

Here is the publisher’s summary of what the book presents:

· Provide a complete guide to the Scriptures
· Explain how Jesus is revealed in the Old and New Testaments
· Show why the Bible is one book, one history, one story
· Introduce key people in biblical history
· Give historical background for every major event
· Highlight recurring biblical themes
· Provide helpful reading plans, maps, and charts, and other study helps

I never knew of this book growing up. I wish I had! There have been so many printed editions. It is easy reading and very insightful. Find a copy and see for yourself!

The Word of God always comes first!

There are many great Bible tools around! Just be sure studying them does not replace the primary importance of the Bible! The Word of God always comes first!


This series is about Bible study tools. There are many types of Bibles and helpful resources like a concordance or Bible dictionary. Information about their book and their electronic version are included. Cost and “how to use” will be addressed.


Previous: Jesus in Real Life: Resources about everyday life in Bible Times
Up next: How to read the Bible for all its worth: Coffee pot conversations



1. The third bullet point indicates it shows why the Bible is one book, one history, one story. What would that one story be? Reflect on this. Wrestle with it. Pray on it.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Which Bible is Right for Me?

Big Idea: Determine the Bible for you, whether it is your first Bible or by considering how you plan to use it.

This series is about Bible study tools. There are many types of Bibles and helpful resources like a concordance or Bible dictionary. Information about their book and their electronic version are included. Cost and “how to use” will be addressed.

Which Bible is right for me?

Bibles can be expensive. But YOUVERSION at has free access which is useful. It is not hard to find a cheap Bible. It is important to get one and get started!

There are many factors to consider in determining your next Bible.

How will you use your Bible?

  • Is this my first Bible or is it an additional one for further study?
  • Which translation/Bible version will help me?
  • Could I use a Study Bible or just do I need a basic Bible?
  • What type of cover and binding will serve me?
  • What size of Bible is useful and size print?
  • Do I want a physical Bible or an electronic one?

Choosing your first Bible

First Bible? If so, you want an easily readable translation (i.e. New Living Translation or the New International Version). Avoid one with tiny type and flimsy pages. You don’t want your introduction to Bible reading to be hard.

What are others using? Consider what your pastor refers to most in his sermons. If you are in a Bible study, consider what others are using. Ask them why they like one translation over another.

How much does it cost? Cheap or free Bibles can be found at places like Thrift shops, library sales, or from a friend with an extra one. Often the lobby of a church has free Bibles. 

If you are new to the Bible a Study Bible is useful as it has notes and introductions of each book of the Bible. 

But it is important to just get started! Do not delay!

Electronic Bible versus a physical book

The electronic Bible has great usefulness for accessibility. It is with you everywhere you go. YOUVERSION as an app or at for the phone or device has made the Bible of almost all versions and languages free.

You can make the print as large as you want. You can compare different versions. I think it is harder to make notes and underline. YOUVERSION does let you highlight and write notes.

Marking your Bible and learning how to find its references are important skills and useful to find passages quickly. That is an advantage for the physical book. 

Other considerations

  • Need large print? Some publishers like let you look at what letter counts per line look like.
  • Is it heavy? Do you need a small one to fit in a bag? Is a heavy one OK?
  • Need a daily Bible for study that lasts? You may want a leather cover with deluxe binding.
  • Is it for personal study? You want a study Bible with notes? A journal Bible to write questions and observations?
Is your study for personal application, thus devotional or for leading Bible studies or Bible College/Seminary training? If you need it for  deeper study you will want a reliable word-for-word Bible translation rather than a thought-for-thought translation. (More on that next week). 

God’s Word is important for your life!  

People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT


Previous: What’s in YOUR Bible Toolbox?
Up next: The Quest for the Right Bible Translation 


1. Why do you have or want to have a Bible?

2. How do you hope the Bible will help your life?

Thursday, September 7, 2023

3 Payoffs for Regular Bible Reading

money fans Bible

The Big Idea: Reading the Bible regularly is hugely beneficial for my everyday life.

Things get out of whack when I get out of a habit. This summer I have been walking the neighborhood almost every day. If I let a couple days slide, it is so hard to get back into the routine.

Bible reading can be like that. I try to read the Bible in the morning before I check email, look up information on my tablet, or do my daily Sudoku. If I get sidetracked I may never get back to it. The next day it’s easy to forget it altogether. That’s a fast slide!

It is easy to get out of a habit. But it is always beneficial to get back to it. The huge payoffs for regular Bible reading for support in your day –to-day challenges are many. Here are three.

To Learn about God

You could take a university class about God or read an online article. But you are better off going straight to the source: His book, the Bible. He wants us to know Him. What you observe and learn about His character in its pages will lift you up as you lean into Him.

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring. Hosea 6:3 NLT

To Understand Human Life

When I look at the news, the world and what happens in our town I shake my head and sigh. There is so much bad stuff going on.

When I read the Bible, rather than beautiful scenes and platitudes, I see real human encounters steeped in a world bent toward evil. There is a very evil presence that tries to shake us up and take over the world. To say nothing of my personal peace.

But as I read the Bible I see God present, reaching out. He desires to be known, respected and wants to care for us. His absolute joy comes from friendship with us, as we lean on Him.

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. James 1:21 NLT

To Strengthen Your Inner Core

I broke a foot last year. Walking now, I still have to work on my core muscles. Abdominals are crucial for balance and strength.

Reading the Bible regularly builds emotional and spiritual core strength. It is full of wisdom and common sense for life. It is not wrought with sugary platitudes. Sometimes what it says is hard. But it is good for our core. We need these strengthening Words of Life.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Ephesians 3:16 NLT

Over the next 3 weeks we will look at 3 simple ways to read the Bible. Check it out! Bible reading is good for you!


Up next: What-Grabs-You Bible Reading Method
Preview Post : The James Bond of Scripture Spy


1. How are you at keeping good habits such as brushing teeth, exercising, and so on? Why do you develop them or let them lag?

2. Have you ever had a Bible reading habit? Why or why not? Do you agree with the 3 points about Bible reading? What might you add to this list?

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Imagine Not Being Able to Read the Bible

The Big Idea: The Bible which used to be in Latin and Greek throughout the world, was put into our language because of daring Scripture spies who risked everything.

Imagine not being about to read the Bible!

Imagine not being able to read the Bible for yourself! Long, long ago, the average person did not know how to read the Bible, or anything else.

There were very few copies of the Bible available and what existed was in Latin or Greek.

My husband, raised in the Roman Catholic Church, recalls Latin masses. One of his neighbors brought the Sunday paper to church every Sunday and read during the service because he understood nothing spoken or read!

How do I know I’m not cursing myself?

The first 1500 years after Christ were like the neighbor's experience. The 2 ruling churches from the East (Orthodox, favoring Greek) and the West (Roman Catholic, favoring Latin) saw putting the Bible into the language of the people as suspect.

“They don’t have the clerical education to interpret it!”
Churches preached in Greek or Latin and offered communion, conducted baptisms and weddings as such.

But as a Muslim friend of mine puts it, “I have to read the Koran and pray in Arabic. How do I know I’m not cursing myself with the very words I speak?”

The Dark Ages were… well, dark

The Dark Ages (~500-1400 A.D.) had a grip of darkness over mankind. Life was hard and people died too easily. The Viking conquests, the Black Plague, and the Crusades were some time markers.

The Church, instead of bringing comfort and hope to the masses, bickered and controlled Sovereigns and money. And they preached in a language people did not understand.

But God always keeps a remnant! Not silent, God works through humble people with a passion for Him.

The next month we'll briefly look at those who risked even life to make God known. Single minded in their fervor, they tried to get the Bible into the language of the people.

These folks are why we have the Bible in our hands today.

Daring Scripture Spies

As we look at the lives of these Scripture Spies, they share these five traits in varying degrees.

 1. A longing for the average Joe to know God

2. Compelled by God to change people’s lives

3. Challenging the status quo

4. In danger, hunted down, life threatened

5. Instrumental in pointing people to know God 

Bonus: Influencer on thousands through the centuries


Up next: First Prize goes to the Oxford man!
Previous post: The most remarkable after death appearances


1. Imagine you can’t read anything. Imagine everything you hear at church is in a language you don’t know. How do you keep the faith?

2. Does the Bible seem like gobbly-gook sometimes, even when you’re reading it in your language? Have you tried another translation? Compare a couple of verses in different translations (like the New Living Translation) and ask yourself if that enhances understanding for you. (You can find other translations of the same verse from


If you would like to receive Scripture Spy every Wednesday as an email, 
send your email address to

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Why Read Through the Whole Bible?

The Big Idea: Reading through the Bible in a year will give you perspective of God at work.

“Daddy, could I read the Bible through in a year, too?”

I was probably about eight years old. My father made a reading program before it was in vogue for the church to read the Bible through in a year.  Our pastor requested he make bookmarks of his reading plan and pass them around at the New Years Eve service. My father loved the Bible and wanted it to be a relevant part of people’s lives.


Why Should I Read the Whole Thing?

Reading the whole Bible through helps to see the big picture. We tend to go to our favorite places but the whole of Scripture is from the Lord. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

Have you used Google Map to find someplace and then decided to click on the satellite view? It explains a few things like why a road curves (mountain) or why the street dead ends (river). The bird’s eye view helps us get a better perspective.

So why read the entire Bible through?

  • It gives a clearer view of God and the Bible story.
  • It shows God’s bigger plan of Salvation.
  • It provides background material for characters referred to in the New Testament.
  • It gives fresh insight who God is and His love in a different context.
  • It keeps us balanced in our Christian life rather than have our hobby horses.

At Least Try

I’m embarrassed to admit it has been twenty plus years since I read the Bible through. In 2021 I decided I would. But 2021 has been an intense year health-wise for me.  I didn’t start it till March. I realized I just needed to start and then do the best I can. I am currently in Jeremiah. I tell you this goal adaption because sometimes we quit and don’t start again. We feel defeated. An amended plan is still a plan! I am still getting in to God’s Word! I plan to finish reading the Bible in 2022.


Then and Now

When my father created his program in the 1960s, we knew no other plan. Today so many are out there it can be overwhelming. There are a few things you can do to search for a plan.

  • One of my favorites is the Bible Project plan. An option is to listen to the audio daily.
  • Or check the many plans at and choose one (the Bible Project one is there too)
  • Follow a plan that your church may be using. Doing it as a group provides great support.

 Don’t give up, and don’t settle for doing it just once. My dad read a different version each year and said it was always fresh and new to him!


Up next: What Does Timeless Truth Mean?

Previous post: Shine: The Christ Candle

Note: We have been in the process of going through a Practical Starter Guide of Inductive Bible Study. We will resume this series in January.



1. Have you ever tried to read the Bible all the way through? Did you make it? If not, what happened and what might help you follow through?

2. What do you think might be useful in reading the whole Bible?

3. Take a moment to pray about your time in the Word this year. Ask for God’s help and His guidance. As Him to help you stick with it even if you fall behind.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

IBS-23 Unraveling Figures of Speech: when not to take the Bible literally

The Big Idea: We believe the Bible is to be the literal word of God but what about figures of speech?

When not to take the Bible literally

I studied French for a year conversing, listening to television, reading the paper, etc. I heard a phrase about a moon of honey on the news. I was stupefied till I realized the story was about newlyweds. That idiom is also used in English!

As serious students of Scripture, we take the Bible at its word. It is not a fairy tale. Interpret it literally most of the time believing it is God’s Word to you. The Holy Spirit inspired writers (2 Peter 1:21) who wrote beautiful ancient literature, but no language is sterile. Figures of speech give it beauty and emphasis. Realize figures of speech paint a picture. Sometimes figurative words of another culture sound odd to us. Bible translators apply modern phrases to express the idea for us which explains the difference in comparing translations. Remember that the cohesiveness of the Bible remains in sync with the rest of it. No strange doctrine emerges from a sentence or verse that is counter to the rest of the Holy Word of God.

Figures of Speech

Figures of speech are words and phrases that express meaning that is not meant to be literal but rather descriptive. It is not intended to be misleading but rather to illustrate like a word picture. Examine this chart to see the more common figures of speech found in the Bible followed by an explanation and an example.

Figures of Speech in the Bible

Understanding these language variables help us interpret the Word of God better. It is not intended to be mysterious and hard to understand. The Bible is intended for us to learn how to live abundant life in Christ (John 10:10, Ephesians 3:20).


This is the twenty third in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents

Up next in the series: What Does Timeless Truth Mean?
Previous post: Strange Bible Verses



1. Do you enjoy idioms in your language? Does one make you laugh when you hear it? Do you have a story of a funny misunderstanding talking with someone who was foreign to your language?

2. What is a phrase in the Bible that sounds odd? What do you think it is really trying to say?

3. Does this blog on figurative speech give you comfort of more confusion to trust what the Bible says? Why or why not?

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Jumpstart Reading Your Bible

The Big Idea: Talk to God during your Bible reading. It will bring greater clarity and joy.

Talking to God as You Read

Some days motivation to read the Bible is hard. You know it's good for you. Yet getting into the habit feels like anticipating that root canal. Satan prefers you not  read it either and will offer every excuse not to. The Bible gives peace, wisdom and joy. The enemy of our soul does not want you to find that.

Here are some helpful ideas.

  • Pick a consistent time of day
  • Find a time that works in your schedule
  • Pick a quiet place free of distractions
  • Keep a reading log to watch your progress
  • Read a chapter (or verse) a day sequentially
  • Find an accountability partner


Just a Little Talk With Jesus

There's an old southern gospel song called "Just a Little Talk with Jesus." It was written in the 1930s by an African American pastor in the deep south. The chorus starts like this:

Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry
And He will answer by and by

I suggest you incorporate a little talk with Jesus as you pick up the Bible and read. It centers us back to our Creator who knows us and loves us tenderly.  The Bible is God's very Word to us. This is all about interacting with God and it’s a two way street.

1. Begin with honest prayer.

Don't feel like reading the Bible right now? Tell Him. Angry or feel distant from Him? Tell Him. You won't offend Him. He knows what you are thinking. Confess what is not right between you and God. Humble yourself. Be honest. In a relationship, honesty and authenticity is highly valued. Start with that.


2. Pray for a hunger.

Distant from God? Busy? Too tired? Embarrassed? Ask for a desire for the Word of God. This is a spiritual interaction, not your own wistful efforts. 

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. I Peter 2:2

3. Reflect on His amazing love.

Think of His crazy love for you and mull it over. He wants time with you. Get to know Him. In the moments of silence with Him, be still and reflect.

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Psalm 37:7a

Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. Jude 1:21 (CSB)

4. Ask God for insight.

God is the Word who has breathed Scripture into being through human authors. He is able by the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you through the Bible. Confused or lost? Ask Him to make the Bible clear and meaningful to you. 


5. Pray it matters.

God's Word is living and active. It can make a difference guiding our daily life, giving us strength, comfort and aid when we apply it. Pray for God to reveal the Word to where you live and breathe. To build you up and give you hope in whatever circumstance you are in.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. … 2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT

As you dialogue with God, may you find that His Word comes alive to you. May it fill your heart with peace and give you a longing to know more about Him and His Word. These seasons of longing for God are amazing. Seek this and rest in this.

Up Next: Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study

Previous Post: Trust the Bible Because of these Dead Guys



1. Which of the five suggestions attract you?

2. Have you ever prayed following these guidelines? Do you think it might help you as you read? Why or why not?

3. Write a prayer using these 5 points. Try it out today.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Trust the Bible Because of these Dead Guys


The Big Idea: Five groups of people were especially attentive to keep the Bible copies accurate.

Nitpickers of history checked and double checked Bible copies

The Bible has been around for thousands of years. Could it possibly be accurate, you might ask? Yes! The Bible has a fascinating history. Here are the stories a few guys who had a hand in preserving its accuracy. Perhaps their stories might encourage your confidence in the powerful, miraculous Word of God!

1. The Scribes

After the Hebrew people were taken captive, and saw Jerusalem and the temple destroyed between 500-600 B.C., the Biblical vocation of Scribe emerged. It was critical to preserve the books of the Old Testament accurately. They verified word count, they spoke each word they wrote aloud, there were thirty day reviews. Any inaccurate copies were burned.


2. The Essenes

This subdivision of Hebrews lived in community near the Dead Sea (200 B.C. to 200 A.D.). Archeological finds at the community of Qumran indicate they were highly organized. Concerned that the correct way of Bible interpretation and worship was getting corrupted, they set out to safeguard the pure word of God.  Many of their preserved copies of books of the Bible were discovered in clay pots in 1947, known now as the Dead Sea Scrolls.


3. The Monks

Mont Saint Michel, France

Saint Benedict (480-547 A.D.) was a gentle, disciplined holy man with a passion for the Bible. He  gathered holy men in community to study, teach and write down the Bible, which back in that era, still had to be hand copied. The Rules of Saint Benedict established guidelines for monastic living which monks follow to this day. Monasteries had a Scriptorium, a well lit room for monks to copy the Bible word for word.


4. The Masorites

Jewish scholars, many from the same family, did more than meticulously copy the Old Testament books (500-1000 A.D). They established consistency in spelling, reading and division of passages. They counted words and syllables and made pronunciation marks and grammar guides. The Masoritic texts are guidelines to this day for Bible scholars and translators.


5. Johannes Gutenberg

Books were hand copied until a German named Gutenberg (1400-1468 A.D.)  invented a press about 1450 using mobile type to reproduce books. His first printed book was the Bible. It was a game changer for Bible copies to be a consistent text going out to multiple churches.

These groups of people and individuals are key examples of those who stood guard and made sure that the Bible you read today is extremely accurate. From the time they were originally penned, to each copy that was made, it has been preserved for you and me! The Word of God, this real and active Word from God, is for each one of us to know beyond doubt that God wants to connect with us. Explore the living, dynamic Word today!

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar. Proverbs 30: 5-6


Up Next:  Jumpstart Reading Your Bible

Previous Post: Key Questions to Help you Read the Bible



1. What kind of documents do you safeguard? Why are they important to you or your descendents?

2. Have you ever thought about the day when there were very few Bibles around, and few people could read? What might that have been like?

3. Take a moment to thank God for those who made sure that they Bible was kept accurate through the ages.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Key Questions to Help You Read the Bible


The Big Idea: Use 5 questions to guide you as you read the Bible.

Reading the Bible shouldn't be hard!

Have you ever opened the Bible because you felt you should, but you weren't sure what you were reading or how to study it? Don't you sometimes wish you had a private tutor or that Siri knew more about theology?

The Bible is the living Word of God with words of wisdom to grapple with for our everyday lives. It CAN be relevant when you open yourself to the Holy Spirit's impression on your soul. The Holy Spirit was key, breathing every thought to the human authors what to say, which they then wrote down in their own words.

Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NLT)

First ask God, the Holy Spirit, to speak to you as you read, opening up your mind and heart to understand. Expect Him to do this.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45 (NLT)

A couple key questions can get you on the road to relevancy and understanding.

1. Who wrote this book and to whom did they write?

Often the author's name, audience and a brief explanation is found in the first 1-2 verses of the book in the first chapter. Or you can find an introduction from a study Bible. You Version has an online introduction for each book when you use the New International Version.


2. What is being said about God in these verses?

Do you see something about God's character? Does He reveal more of Himself? Is there a promise He makes to His people? A declaration of truth?


3. What is observed about human nature in this passage?

The Bible is loaded with real people, not heroes that do everything right. People mess up pretty badly in the Bible. You learn a lot reading it about human nature, sin, temptation, frailties and discouragement, mistakes and family squabbles. God still seems to take great interest in us and wants to know us and intervene in our lives for His glorious purposes.


4. Is there a key word or phrases important to this passage?

Often if a word or phrases is repeated over and over, it is for a purpose. The author wants to grab the attention of the audience and explain what is important. What might this word or phrase be about? What does this word mean to you?


5. What is God saying to me?

It's OK if something profound doesn't jump out at you, but it is a good question to ask. What resonates with you from this reading? What surprises you? What brings you joy?


May you find great satisfaction reading the Bible. If you are not sure where to begin reading, check out this blog I posted a few weeks ago. May you discover so much you can't contain your pleasure!


Up Next: Trust the Bible Because of these Dead Guys

Previous Post: Have Problems with the Bible?



1. Is there a question here you never thought of before? How might this question be useful to you in your observation of the Bible?

2. Could you try this with a verse or two as sample, or test? Check out this verse. Remember to pray first for guidance.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Have Problems with the Bible?

The big idea: A response to reasons people give to disregard the Bible.

Why should I read the Bible?

Many find reading the Bible tough. People unfamiliar with it find it challenging for various reasons. Some believers also find a lack desire to read it or questions of its reliability. Recognize any of these?

  • Isn't it full of errors?
  • It's so old! It doesn't seem relevant today
  • I'm not interested in religion
  • It's boring
  • It's mysterious
  • I'm too busy

Let's take a look at these.

1. Isn't it full of errors?

Actually the Bible is very accurate. Doubt of accuracy stems from certain scholars who assume God is not real. They explain its inaccuracy due to its age, wide variety of authors/eras explaining it’s supposed in accuracy at great length. In reality the Bible which was written and recopied had so many checks and balances, the more recently discovered copies (The Dead Sea Scrolls) are remarkably accurate. Recent archeological finds and historical revelations prove more and more accuracy. Check out Ken Boa's helpful article. 

2. It's so old! It doesn't seem relevant today.

The Bible written hundreds of centuries ago to an ancient audience and setting was unlike our world. Scholars find it valuable for historical records and culture. Despite the ancient setting, themes, life lessons, principles and revelation about God, His desire to rescue us and be our friend crosses the ages. It helps to study cultural written periods to understand the intended message, but it is not limited by that. You may find one of my previous blogs helpful on 5 Steps to finding Biblical Timeless Truths.  Read the Bible seeking what you can learn about God and man.

3. I'm not interested in religion.

The book has been a best seller for centuries for both its stories and guidelines for life. Many historical figures many people already know such as David and Bathsheba. The central figure, Jesus, has been hailed by many world leaders and writers as the most influential person ever to walk the earth. You owe it to yourself to explore what the hype is about. The story contained therein is about more than religion.

4. It's boring.

There have been so many movies made about Biblical stories. There is a lot of action in many of the narrative accounts. If you read a very old version of the Bible, it may be clumsy reading for your mind. Try a more modern translation such as the New Living Translation.

5. It's mysterious.

Yes it is. The Bible is brilliant because of simplicity that children can understand, and complexities that challenge Christians who can discover a multitude of applications to a single verse. I have loved a verse from childhood, bringing truth and comfort to me in a fresh new way during various stages of my life. That is the magnificence of the Holy Spirit. We don't understand every detail, but then, we are not God. The first step of comprehension is trust.

The wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 1 Corinthians 2:7

6. I'm too busy.

In the complex era in which we live, life pulls us many directions. Even so, the Bible is more accessible to us now than in any previous era. One can listen to an audio Bible online, or watch a video with word for word narration of the Bible. One can read it in most any language or translation online. Reading one verse a day is how I got started. If you cannot do that, the issue is clearly that you choose not to.

 Up Next: Key Questions to help you Read the Bible

Previous Post: Where do I start?



1. What do you think of the Bible? What has shaped your understanding or lack of interest in it?

2. On a scale of 1-10 how much do you have interest in the Bible? What one thought do you think is a good point that might nudge you toward giving it more honor?


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Where Do I Start?


The Big Idea: Tips for someone new to reading the Bible who wonders where to start.


Like a Mini-Library

Considering reading the Bible? It is not an epic novel. It's more like a mini-library or a magazine.  Some pick it up to read it cover to cover and get bogged down in the book of Leviticus. That reads like a legal document! It's good background material but difficult reading for the novice.

The Bible has 66 books (Old Testament - 39 and New Testament - 27). Written over a thousand year span with varied themes and literary styles. The Old Testament is the back story to the New Testament. The New Testament explains how the Old Testament is fulfilled. Each is important to the other.


Start Here

1. The Gospel of John. It tells about the life of Jesus and His mission to mankind.

2. Genesis. The first book of the Bible is about the first man and woman, first sin, first murder, and so on. It is background for God and His love for people.

3. Ephesians. This writing from the Apostle Paul gives insight for how to live as God's people.

4. Proverbs. Practical advice for everyday life.

The four recommended books expose you to the Old and New Testament. Both are important. The New Testament may be more practical for a beginner. Reading one chapter a day in these four books would take just over 3 months (108 total chapters). 


Tips to Begin

1. Choose an easy-to-read Bible version. Electronic Bibles give options. The New Living Translation (NLT) is recommended. Whatever hard copy Bible you have works. All of the Bible is valuable. The King James version reads like people talked 200+ years ago. It's beautiful but some words are difficult to understand. Find one you love.

2. Find a consistent time to read each day. Choose a time when you can focus. That might be first thing in the morning, at a lunch break or night time after the kids are tucked in.

3. Find a comfortable place that is not distracting. Have a pen to jot down or underline what touches your heart or raises questions.

4. Decide where to start reading. Will you read one chapter a day? One paragraph? One or two verses? Or just read till something touches the need of your heart?  You can also listen to an audio Bible.

5. Ask a friend to join you. You can read the same passages separately. Then talk about your experience together.

6. Pray first and pray last. Before beginning, ask God to guide you and give you understanding. When done, pray, asking God to help you to live by His Word and for His strength.

May this give you courage to dig in!

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Previous Post: Why Read the Bible?



1. Are these suggestions helpful or overwhelming? Why? If overwhelming could you take baby steps and start somewhere?

2. Which of the four books to read excites you most?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Why read the Bible?


The Big Idea: No matter what your belief, you should read the Bible. 

Why read the Bible? The skeptic needs a different reason than a Christian who has followed God for decades. No matter what, it is a worthwhile read. Here's why.

To the Skeptic

1. Best Seller: The Bible has been a non-fiction best seller for centuries. It was the first book printed in 1452 on the Guttenberg Press.

2. Influential: The Bible has influenced and inspired world leaders and many top literary minds in world history.

3. Moral Compass: The Bible gives moral and ethical guidance. It is basic. It is profound. It grounds us on what we know in our gut to be right.

4. Big Picture: The Bible gives big picture perspective. It introduces the higher power. It provides comfort and hope.


If You’re Just Beginning

The Bible is like a library with various literary styles like poetry/wisdom, stories, history, law, and apocalyptic writings. Some of the Bible is not exciting or inspirational. But it has purpose just like the tiny type in contracts. Be aware of this when you read it. Next week will be about how to begin reading.

1. The Encyclopedia. The Bible contains information on many different subjects. It contains history, Old Testament laws, and compendiums about wisdom.

2. The Cookbook. Some parts of the Bible read like a cookbook. Proverbs has recipes for young man to keep pure, and about business women contributing in both home and community. The New Testament has guidelines for marriage,etc.

3. The Storybook. The Bible has vivid stories of people who are not perfect. Some turned to God and it changed their life. Bible characters are not superheroes or villains. Ordinary people encountered God and made their choices.

4. The Spiritual Guide. The Bible is a spiritual book for the soul. It teaches how to get along with God and man. Our bad choices effect us and it shows how to choose a better way to live.


What Christians Believe

1. God's Word: We believe the Bible is the very word of God. The Holy Spirit has breathed the words through those who wrote the words down in different eras and places. It is surprisingly in sync as a unit.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16

2. Active: The Bible is living and active. Though it was penned long ago, it is dynamic, not static, and continues to be relevant no matter what the culture or era.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12

3. Trustworthy: You can trust God's word to be true. God's promises throughout the Bible can be trusted as we rely on Him.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:1

4. Life Changing: God's Word teaches us how to be right with God. God wants to rescue us from the pit. Words like: rescue, save, restore, redeem, fulfill are about God's ability to change us from darkness to light when we trust Him.

Stand by me and set me free. Give me life again because of Your Word. Psalm 119:154 (TLV)

 I close with a quote from an Athiest Book Club discussion from Goodreads.

I happen to be an Athiest who has read the Bible from cover to cover more than once. Some may ask why I, a non-believer, would want to read the entire Bible. They should be asking why so many believers do not.


Open the Bible and explore it! 

Next week the topic will be on where to start reading.

Up Next: Where do I Start?
Previous Post: Watch the Bible


1. Have you read much in the Bible? If not, why not? OR if you read the Bible now, what was your excuse before you actually began.

2. Do you agree or disagree with my reasons for reading the Bible?

3. Are you willing to read something, even one verse, in the Bible each day this week? Try finding verses in the Psalms.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Instruction Manual Fiasco


The Big Idea: The Bible is a good "How to" manual for the Christian life.

When my husband was deployed for six months with the military, my office chair gave out. I found one at an Office store for a great holiday sale. It came in a box that did not look at all like a chair. "Some assembly required," it read. How hard can it be, I thought? I know how to read instructions.

I pulled the instruction manual out. It was bigger than I thought till I saw the manual was in about 10 languages. My son and I got the parts spread out and read the instructions very carefully. They were not well written, and not always in good English. Finally I got the bright idea to see if someone made instructions for it on YouTube. YES!!! Show-and-tell finally allowed us to get the office chair correctly put together!

Good instructions do not always accompany a product! But instructions are necessary for so many things we try to do. I seem to consult the manual every time I get my sewing machine out! I have a manual file on my computer for PDF manuals for my stuff.

An Instruction Manual for Life

Did you know the Bible is likened to an instruction manual for life?

These instructions are not empty words—they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life in the land you will occupy when you cross the Jordan River. Deuteronomy 32:47

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. Psalm 19:7

Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me. Isaiah 8:16

These three verses let us know that God's Word, God's "instructions," are trustworthy. They are not irrelevant words. They are perfect! They give us a life well lived. When it says "they are your life" the passage actually implies the eternal life available to us in Jesus. We know this when we do cross references and cross checks with the rest of the Bible... "Scripture interpreting Scripture" it is called. And it revives, restores our very soul.

These words of God are not a poorly put together instruction manual like my chair manual was. It is an outstanding, perfect book that gives us satisfying, peace giving life long instruction! It is the very words of God penned with the Holy Spirit guidance.

Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophet s were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. 1 Peter 1:20-21

This word used in our in the Old Testament passages above is sometimes translated as "law," but it is also translated as "instructions." As Deuteronomy says over and over, these are instructions for life - for a good life. They are told to tell them to their children too so they will live a long life, knowing the Lord.

When Life Throws you a Curve Ball

There are times life throws us a curve ball. Even though there is not a specific verse in the Bible on how to put together an office chair or repair a sewing machine, there are life stabilizing principles that help us deal with anything we face. We learn to know God and trust Him. We learn to lean on Him by prayer, praise, and time dwelling in His Word.

This year, commit yourself to read the BOOK every day. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what you need for your life today, each time you open it up.

My father taught me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.  Proverbs 4:4-5


Up Next: Scripture interprets Scripture
Previous Post: Connoosseur of the Word



Do you need some guidance for your life? Explore His Word to see how it can help you for what you are facing TODAY!

Do you need to pass on to your children and grandchildren the value, the critical importance in life, to love God's Word and daily dwell in it? Tell them!

Do you have a plan in place to intentionally go to God's Word every day? Make a plan to take time to read and reflect on the Bible, even if it is a short one today.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Connoisseur of the Word


The Big Idea: Sometimes we read the Bible like we take out fast food, and occasionally have a good feast. It's OK. Just don't live only on fast food. 

Happy Meal Bible Readings

Did you hear about the guy who ate McDonalds only, every day for ten days? It was a science experiment for his dad, a professor. After about three days he started turning gray and feeling awful. It was not a good plan for his health and well being.

The nice thing about fast food is that it is so easy. Go through the drive through. Ready-to-eat meals are a big part of grocery store business now compared to fifty years ago. Of course for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, as a mom and hostess I can slave over a meal for five hours and it is consumed in about fifteen minutes. It doesn't seem right somehow. Yet you probably agree the home cooked meal is so much better for you than eating convenient pre-packaged meals all the time.



Have you ever thought about how studying the Bible is like the way we eat food? Jesus quoted the Old Testament where it states:

"People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3b

We live by the Word of God. It is our sustenance as a Christian. If you read your Bible regularly, day by day, it will help you grow in your faith. Would you give your child nothing to eat for days on end? No, of course not. Why not? It is not good for their health and stamina. In the same way, we must take in God's Word every day for our spiritual health and stamina.

At times it is useful to grab a quick meal. At times we need a good solid meal of healthy food. In the same way, it is okay to grab a quick ready-made spiritual meal, such as a short devotional guide. These quick sources of spiritual food we grab are not bad in themselves. In fact, it is so much better to get in the Bible even in these devotionals But after awhile, it will do little more than sustain you. If you want to grow, you need a more meaty diet!


The New Testament writers liken the Bible to spiritual milk for the new Christian.

Peter the Apostle: "Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment." I Peter 2:2

Paul the Apostle: "I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready." I Corinthians 3:2

Hebrews author: "You need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food." Hebrews 5:12

Perhaps you can read what I surmise in these verses, that milk is good for a child, but eventually if you want to grow you need to add solid food.


If you stop to think about it, the weekly sermon is like a carefully made meal our pastor makes for us to spiritually consume. It is fine teaching and good for us spiritually. You can read books about what the Bible says about one subject or some theme relevant to your life. Great! I applaud your efforts to learn more about the Bible and your Christian walk! There is a lot of great stuff out there.

However, I would plead with you to learn to take in God's Word for yourself. It is like learning to prepare your own well balanced meals. There is a place for using a devotional guide for a daily quiet time with God. There is a place for reading good books on the Christian life. But please learn to study and apply God's Word on your own, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you.



Learn the recipes for Bible study. Examine the Word and dig in! There are many tools and methods to do this. I decided to create this blog, Scripture Spy, to teach people how to investigate and explore God's Word on their own. This blog site has a lot of different ideas. Try checking it in the magazine view. You will also see the information in blog posts organized at my website,

This year I plan to systematically present a variety of ways to study the Bible in personal Bible study. There are times when one method resonates more than another. An example is a character study; what the Bible says about a Biblical character. Another example is a survey of a book of the Bible as a book study. There are numerous others such as a thematic study, a chapter by chapter method, and other styles to try. You may find one works best for you or you may want to insert some variety once in awhile.

We all realize we should not eat a big Thanksgiving meal every single day. But we do need food every single day. Likewise there are times when we need to grab the quick morning bite in the Word of God and save an hour of deep Bible study for later in the week. What needs to happen? Be intentional about getting into God's Word.

"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." Joshua 1:8

Let's Eat!


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Previous Post: The Eyes of my Heart



1. Do you have any regular time in the Bible? If not, how might you start incorporating that into your routine? Do you have a devotional you could start using? There are many available on You Version.

2. Are you at a point in your Christian life when it’s time to add more substance to your study of the Bible? Pray about how to do that. Is there a Bible study in your church or community you could join?

3. How do you feel about studying the Bible for yourself? If you’re willing to try, how might you begin? Be sure to check my Scripture Spy website for ideas.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

My Go-to Bible Versions

The Big Idea: I have favorite Bible translations that have helped me at different times in my life. What is different about each of them?

Diane's favorite Bible Translations

I grew up in a home with parents who loved the Bible and wanted me as a child to understand it.  Back in the 1960s my father made up a schedule how to read the Bible through in a year before other people were doing so. He would read the Bible in a different translation each year. One year about 1970, the pastor of the church asked my dad to create bookmarks to give to people in church at the New Year's Eve Service with the reading schedule he made. I still have mine.

I can recall sitting with my parents at a Wednesday night prayer meeting when the pastor was teaching on Philippians. He said, " It says, 'Be careful for nothing' in Philippians 4:6. What does that really mean?"

I, as a 7 or 8 year old, squeaked out, "That's what it says! 'Be careful for nothing!'"

All the adults laughed. I was indignant. I was sincerely trying to follow what the pastor was saying. I found the King James English just a little confusing. He explained how it means to not fuss and worry about anything. I remember vividly I desperately wanted to understand what the Bible meant. Why would they laugh?

While I studied the King James Version at church, (the version most Churches were using at that time) our family devotional time had easier-to-understand versions of the Bible so we, as young children, could clearly understand. I recall times when my dad came home excitedly with a package under his arm with a new translation to try out in his reading. We had the Phillips translation, then the Living Bible portions and the Good News New Testament.


When I was a teenager my parents gave me a Living Bible, "The Way." I started underlining it with colored markers. Sometimes I lost track of time reading the Word of God. It changed my life that year by softening my teenage heart full of angst to hunger for God and want to serve Him as a missionary.

In college I bought a heavy New American Standard Study Bible with all kinds of helps like cross references, maps, and so on. It was a very accurate Bible, good for serious Bible study. A few years later, I switched to a New International Version. I was now training to be a missionary and speaking in churches on occasion. Many Evangelical churches were using the NIV and it was very easy to listen to and understand.  And it was what the people had in the pew. I stuck with the NIV for many, many years. 


In the past 10 years or so, so many translations have come out it is challenging to keep up with the latest translation. Now apps let you cross check different versions, with charts to understand the perspective and orientation of a version. I check the background of recent versions new to me. It is good to be aware of the premise and methodology for a new Bible translation.

So what do I read today? It depends on the situation.


I find myself gravitating more and more to the New Living Translation (NLT). It is similar to the ease of communication as the older Living Bible I loved as a teen, but more reliable to the original languages the Bible was written in. I am often impressed when I study the original words used in a text how faithlly the New Living Translation expresses it. And if I am writing or talking with people new to the Bible, it is very understandable to them. I use it often in this blog because I expected my audience to be people experienced deep in Bible study, but it tends to be people just starting to study the Bible.


If I am studying seriously I usually go to the English Standard Version (ESV) now. If I am studying Precept Bible Study lessons I use New American Standard Bible (NASB) because that is the version we chose for most of the lessons we have obtained in the past. These two versions are very literal and true to the original language. Right now a Bible Study Series I am teaching, Engaging God's Word, uses the ESV as their base, so I use that in that class.


When I speak at an Evangelical church I check ahead of time if there is a preferred version used a lot in that church so I can be in sync with what people are used to.  It is often the New International Version (NIV). It is easy to read and very familiar to many. I know a lot of verses by heart in the NIV.


I will check either one of these versions for more nuance of a text. The Message is very colloquial but it often gives a fresh look at a passage. The Amplified Bible is such a delight because it writes in parentheses with amplified explanations, word choices and meanings given in the text. It is a rich

experience to check on both of these versions. I even find myself gravitating to my Complete Jewish Bible on occasion for the perspective on Hebrew background.



Now with the advent of eBibles I find myself trying to use the same translation a teacher or preacher is using. It is so easy to do on my ipad Bible app. Often I find myself curious about something in the message and I will check a Study Bible on the app with cross references, maps or original language notes.


I recently obtained a very nice black leather Christian Standard Bible (CSB) which has a lot of nice notes and references in it. It has a bit larger print for a Bible. It is big and it is heavy. It is now my read and study around the house Bible. It is always wonderful to have a Bible you treat like a best friend. One you love, where you know right where the verses are you want to find. It is sweet to see a dearly loved Bible that is starting to look a little ragged on the edges because it is used so much! I hope this will become my beloved Bible in time.

If you have been looking for a definitive idea of the best translation to use, this blog will have been of little help. You may also find a previous blogs on Bible versions useful. Choosing a Bible Translation If you find yourself switching translations for different usages, you might feel better about doing that after seeing my eclectic reading. I just want you to know all these versions are God's Word and have something useful to offer. They do not confuse me but contribute to my understanding of God's Word. God's Word is like a beautiful multi-faceted diamond with so much to see from various sides. I LOVE THE BIBLE. If you do not, I hope someday you will too! Greatest book ever! The very words of God.

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Previous Post: The Great Bible Project