Showing posts with label BibleProject. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BibleProject. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ten BibleProject Tips: Get the most out of BibleProject

Big Idea: Ten tips to get the most out of the massive BibleProject resources.

Getting The Most out of The BibleProject

Our mission is to help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus. 
The BibleProject

The BibleProject creates beautiful videos and posters for understanding the Bible better. They have podcasts, classes and articles; all very well done and of practical use.

You've probably seen the informative videos. There’s a lot more! All are available on YouTube too! Here are some tips toward making use of them.

1. Become familiar with videos by category.

Their baseline videos introduce every book of the Bible, telling the culture, theme, shape and main message. The final picture is available as a PDF that you can download for free.

Other categories are the How-To-Read-The-Bible series, Themes, Biblical word videos, and some called visual commentaries. Explore these by list. Try one out. Most are only 5-7 minutes long.

2. How-To-Read-The-Bible series: both basic and deep videos

This series is not just for a junior higher or a brand new Christian wondering what to do with the book. The first couple videos help the most basic need.

But various literary styles are treated such as poetry and apocalyptic literature, giving tips as to how to read them.

Check the list out here.

3. Pair the Book Introduction video with Bible Reading

BibleProject reading plans intersperse introductory videos with the reading of the corresponding book of the Bible.

Whether you are leading a Bible study or personally reading through a book of the Bible, taking time to watch the introductory video is useful.

4. Print/download PDF poster accompanying the Book video

The final sketch of each introductory book video becomes a PDF poster. It can be downloaded at their website for free and printed off. It is legal sized but can also fit on a regular 8”x11.5” paper.

Fold it and keep it in your Bible while you are studying the book, referring to it.

Book of Ephesians Sketched

5. Try one of their Bible Reading plans (30+)

Our church has encouraged the whole church to follow a BibleProject reading plan at YouVersion through the year. There are 365 day plans and much shorter plans. Check them out here.

6. Download the BibleProject App: videos and podcasts you can use anywhere

Like the website the app has all the videos, podcasts, articles and classes on it. You can download anything to your device and listen offline. A friend of mind listens to the podcasts while she rakes leaves, washes dishes, and drives the kids on errands around town. She’s listened to them all.

7. Practice Skill Studies on the App

The BibleProject App is not equal to the website. The website has some additional material like video scripts. But the app has something special. 

A Skill Studies section under the title “Explore” is at the bottom of the app. Some of it is almost like a game where you collect links to themes, and take quizzes when you’ve finished a section.

It has 3 categories: Pattern, Style and Structure. When you choose one they combine videos, recommended podcasts, articles, links and quizzes to walk you through a theme or section of the Bible.

8. Find podcasts by series

There are over 400 podcasts (most over an hour long) that cover books of the Bible, themes, Q&A from listeners, and all manner of questions about the Bible.

If you jump in now, you can subscribe to the one that comes out each week on a podcast app. You could use the search feature for a specific subject.

Or you can go to the podcasts by series and see what interests you. There are over 10 podcasts for each book of Moses, for instance. There are podcasts for themes, like the Character of God.

9. Take a Bible class for free

Tim Mackie, one of the founders of BibleProject, has a PhD in Semitic Languages and Biblical Studies. He is a seminary professor at Western Seminary and loves preaching. He has several 15 hour Bible Classes free online. There are a couple other well qualified teachers as well.

10. Recommend a video in another language (55+)

Imagine having a friend who is an immigrant, or a pen pal by email, somewhere in the world. They may have questions about the Bible and you can now refer them to a BibleProject video in their own language!

On the website, under the Resources tab, is the category Localization. This is where you start for finding which videos have been translated. Some have more translated so far than others because of the need for translators.

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” is addressed.


Previous: How Read the Bible for All Its Worth
Up next: Five Bible Hub Tips for Beginners



1. If you have seen a BibleProject video before, what was your impression? Did you learn something new from it? 

2. Look over the theme videos and choose one to watch. Ask God to to give you insight. Reflect on what speaks to you through it.   Theme video link



Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Exile Pattern

Happy birthday to anyone but me.

Big Idea: The Exile imagery in the Bible describes when God’s people are cut off from all that is familiar, needing to hold on to God alone.

Happy Birthday to Anyone But Me

I moved to New York City straight out of college. I took a day off for my birthday. How does one celebrate a birthday in the largest city in America not knowing anyone yet?

Getting groceries, the entire store sang Happy Birthday to one of their employees. I closed my eyes and imagined it was to me too. But I knew it wasn’t. I stopped at the post office. Someone yelled across the room “Happy Birthday” to the person next to me in line. That evening as I watched a sitcom on TV, you guessed it. Somebody celebrated a birthday on the show.

My birthday all by myself mocked me.

That sense of strangeness and aloneness is part of the Biblical image of exile. Out of my comfort zone with all the familiar props removed, God whispered, “Trust me. I am still here.”

The Exile Pattern

Adam and Eve experienced exile. They second guessed God, getting banished from their paradise habitat. Later in Genesis, the story of Joseph is all about exile. The trigger idea is associated with the phrase going “down.”

    Down into the cistern (Gen 37:24)

    Down to Egypt (Gen 37:15. 39:1)

    Down into the dungeon (Gen 39:20)

We too use the term down when things don’t go well.

    I’m feeling down.

    He’s down with the flu.

    Our portfolio is down.

Exile Happens

Throughout the Old Testament, exile happens, often because one chooses against God’s way. This was not in Joseph’s case, and God had a special mission to prepare for him. He was sent for a purpose into exile. When God’s people go down into exile, God desires it will drive them to Himself. and to use them.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’ Jeremiah 29:13-14 NASB

The New Testament reminds believers this world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), strangers in exile on this earth (Heb 11:13). The longer we know Jesus, the more this world feels like we don’t belong here. We walk through this strange planet feeling alien, strengthened best when driven to Him. He will see us through our Exile.

As Joseph told his brothers,

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT

God is with us in our exile moments. He wants these uncomfortable experiences to draw us closer to Him, depending on Him more than ever.

Check out this BibleProject video on Exile for more insight.

[The four blogs for October are based on the four primary patterns (also known as themes) in the movements of Genesis presented by the BibleProject. Next month's theme will be about how I have learned to be thankful in the midst of physical health issues.]

Up next: 3 Things I Miss Since I Broke My Foot
Previous post: The Blessing and Curse Pattern


1. Does an experience come to mind when a trial or hurtful event was difficult, but later you could see that God used it for good? If you cannot think of something, in quiet prayer ask God to show you He was at work.

2. What Bible verse or passage comforts you when you feel alone, or separated from all that is familiar, for instance, during the early days of the pandemic?

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Blessing and Curse Pattern

Big Idea: Choosing God’s way brings blessing. Choosing willfully against God’s ways brings baggage and consequences that are the opposite of blessing. 

Blessings from a Beggar

Shopping at West African market
It was hot so I waited in the shade to be picked up after shopping at the West African market. Islam, the predominant religion there requires giving to those in need. Those in need ask. After awhile one gets a little jaded when the next open hand insistently reaches out.

I was alone that day and exhausted. A very old woman shuffled to me with graying, matted eyes. She held out her hand, not sure if I spoke the language. She said in Maninka, "White lady, please, I need money for food."

I sighed at the interruption, and reached into my bag. I was exhausted from the sun and a busy schedule.  I fumbled through my colorful bag over fruit and canned goods till I reached my money. I grabbed a bill. It was about 15 cents US equivalent at the time but more than what’s usually given a beggar. The woman took it, sighed and moved it in and out focus. Then she looked startled!

“Why, white lady, you have given me much! I shall eat rice today!”

She poured out Maninkan blessings on me including one of my favorites, “May God pour out His blessing on you!” My eyes started watering up with tears. I wanted to scoop her in my arms with love like Jesus surely did with the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:48). I blurted back “Bless YOU!” but she was already making her way to a rice stand.

A Blessing

Blessing, what does it mean? It is a common word that we use casually within both the church and in secular society.

As with the Tree of Life, the word is used like bookends from Genesis 1 to Revelation. It carries a developing theme. On the fifth day of creation when the living creatures were created God blessed them. God said to the creatures, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

We tend to think of blessing in terms of plenty. It is indeed tied to abundance. It might be financial, but it might be abundance and goodness of family, spiritual strength and peace and so on. The blessing pattern on the patriarchs of Genesis develops quickly to include responsibility for what God has entrusted to them. They are blessed to be a blessing. They are stewards, a responsible party, for what they are given. We should do likewise!

A Curse

Many might think curses are about voodoo or witchcraft with hexes put on people. Rather God allows people to choose their own way and deal with the consequences. One reads in Exodus 11:10 “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” Pharaoh had hardened his own heart already numerous times. The intent of Exodus 11:10 is that God let Pharaoh’s own hard nature take over, causing its own consequences and difficulties. In the New Testament we have the example of Romans 1:28, giving people over to a depraved mind due to similar stubbornness.

Check out this BibleProject video on the Blessing and Curse for more insight.

[The four blogs for October are based on the four primary patterns (also known as themes) in the movements of Genesis presented by the BibleProject.]

Up next: Exile Pattern
Previous post: Tree of Life Pattern


1. How do you usually use the word blessing? Is it a word you use a lot or not very much? Why?

2. Has this blog given you a new insight on blessing and/or curse as a Biblical pattern? Reflect on this passage from Numbers 6:24-26 and thank God for His blessings offered to you.

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Tree of Life Pattern

Big Idea: Tree imagery throughout the Bible shows people meeting with God, having to make a choice to follow Him or not.

Under the Mango Tree

People in Africa clustered in tree shade
Some of my best thinking and prayer times take place under a tree. Near seminary graduation I felt uncertain about what my future would look like. Headed alone to West Africa to work, I had a lot of questions and concerns. I sat in the shade of a tree, leaning on tree bark contemplating and praying about my future. It was a calming, encouraging moment.

Most villages in Guinea, West Africa have a large town tree. Trees are invaluable in the hot, arid land. Buying and selling takes place in its shade. Village fathers gather at the spreading roots of the tree discussing issues and transactions. After I finished shopping at the outdoor market I would wait for my return ride under a tree making small talk with others waiting too. 

Fast forward to my current life. When looking for a retirement home, I wanted a living room view of trees instead of a subdivision fence. I now fold laundry watching the birds and squirrels play in the trees rather than neighbors on their deck.

The Tree of Life Pattern

In Genesis 2 and Revelation 22 Tree of Life verses are like a set of book ends. Between them God’s plan unfolds to reach out to mankind bringing eternal life to those who respond. That first tree of life reference shows the failure of man to trust God. The last tree of life reference in Revelation shows a new heaven for those who are now a new creation in Christ.

Why study how the tree imagery creates a pattern in the Bible?  In ancient literature imagery and metaphors signal an idea. In our modern era think of Star Wars, when you see the light sabers come out you know it is about more than a light saber. It is about "the Force."

Tracing trees through the Bible is more about what happens by these trees. It shows a meeting which results in testing followed by blessing or a curse. The first pattern starts in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve are tempted at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The testing was not about the fruit, it was about the choice; trusting God at His Word, or not following Him by choosing our own way.

Abraham, Friend of God

Abraham, the “friend of God,” illustrates the tree imagery exceptionally. Multiple times God meets him under a tree and Abraham responds in contemplative, frank conversations, and most importantly, faith. Many of these events are noted on a high place. Similarly the wood for holy worship in the tabernacle and temple were in a high place. Misguided worship in rebellious times was on the high places, and then in the New Testament, redemption through Jesus on a tree, the cross, also on a high place. Jesus who sacrificed Himself on the tree, becomes the vine and we are the branches. He is the buried seed that died and sprang forth to new life.

Under the cool shade of a beautiful tree, like the first Adam and Eve, we have the choice. To trust Him, or to doubt Him and follow our own stubborn instincts.

The BibleProject video on the Biblical theme/pattern of the Tree of Life.

[The four blogs for October will be based on the four primary patterns (also known as themes) in the movements of Genesis presented by the BibleProject.]

Up next: Blessing and Curse Pattern
Previous post: The Holy Spirit Pattern



1. Do you have a favorite tree in your life? Why is it a favorite? Or have you had special memories of a tree, such as a first kiss, family time at Christmas, a place of shelter…

2. Why might a tree be a good place to think about God? What kind of decisions might be made at a place of meeting God? Perhaps your place is wood – wood in a fireplace, or a wooden rocker. Take a moment to think about decisions you have made in contemplation.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Holy Spirit Pattern

Big Idea: God’s Spirit, a divine energy invisible like the wind, is revealed from Genesis to Revelation. 

I Heard His Last Breath

I was at a West African hospital with missionaries who had just been in a rollover car accident. As a missionary nurse I collaborated with local doctors and nurses. I found myself by candlelight in the simple hospital room consulting with Dr. Bah, the chief of medicine at the West African town of Kissidougou.

Wrecked car in Africa
I worried about Stephan who was unconscious with bandages wrapping his head. His wife and two little kids were waiting at home. It was unthinkable that God would let this faithful man die. I had seen God miraculously intervene many times and prayed for mercy.

About 2 AM I checked Stephan’s lungs again which had been filling with fluid. He took a deep breath, and then I heard a rattling sound. Then nothing. Dr. Bah came in and examined him. In silence he looked sadly at me, shook his head and left the room.

The Holy Spirit Pattern

From the very beginning of Genesis the Spirit of God shows up.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1;1-2 NLT

Word patterns reoccur throughout the entire Bible. Many of these patterns, also called themes, begin in Genesis, and continue significantly through the entire Bible. One of the first patterns to show up is the Holy Spirit.

The Hebrew Word for Spirit

The Hebrew word from the original language translated spirit, ruakh, is also translated in other contexts as wind, or breath.  It shows an invisible energy from God Almighty. The breath of God. See the Holy Spirit move in the wind. We do not see it but we see its effects (John 3). This energy helps create the world. The Holy Spirit works with the Father and the Son at creation. The Bible states, “Let US create” (Genesis 1:26). The noun for God is plural; not multiple god’s, but God revealed in three persons.

The Spirit that Animates Every Being

This powerful presence of Spirit animates every human being from age to age. God's sustaining breath is not just in believers in God, but all humans and even in every creature. In Noah’s account, the Spirit of God is in the animals too (Genesis 17:15). God is everywhere and God’s power is at work in everything. (see Colossians 1:15-17 Acts 17:28. Romans 11;36. 1 Cor. 29:11-12)

I was never more startled at the animation of breath till I heard my friend Stephan’s last one.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Psalm 150:6

Check out this BibleProject video on the Holy Spirit for more insight.


[The four blogs in October are based on the four primary patterns (also known as themes) in the movements of Genesis presented by the BibleProject.]

Up next: Tree of Life Pattern
Previous post: Links throughout Scripture


1. Have you ever reflected on life seeing a creature breathe, such as an animal, a newborn, or someone near death? Did you ever think of where it comes from or goes? Did you see God in it?

2. The Holy Spirit is the energy that gives all people, even all creatures life. What does that tell you about God? What about those who breathe but don’t realize it is God?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Links throughout Scripture

The Links Title Page

Big Idea: Follow words and key ideas that become links throughout the Bible to track Biblical themes.

Links throughout Scripture

A popular Study Bible called the Thompson Chain Reference Bible has been around for over 100 years. It is a heavy Bible! Dr. Frank Charles Thompson, a pastor, wanted to make a tool for both pastors and ordinary Christians to help them trace key words that permeate the Bible. He said they were like chain links. It is still a sought out Bible for serious study.

Thompson Chain page from a Bible

BibleProject Videos on Themes

More recently, an organization called the BibleProject began developing informative videos to help people understand the Bible from its original writings to help our lives today. These free tools use multiple electronic formats such as videos, podcasts and online classes. They focus each year on an aspect that helps Bible understanding. They recently put it all together in an app. All the videos, podcasts, blogs and classes remain online. The app organizes them and takes it to a whole new level! (Download at Google Play and the App Store). They organize their tools to correspond together to help you study the Bible better. Their Bible reading program includes information you can click on and apply as you read.

Using the Helpful Skills Page in the BibleProject App

It is helpful to go to bottom of the opening page by opening the heading “Skills.”

The skills section has three headings: Pattern, Style and Structure

: Lists themes in the Bible with videos and podcasts that correspond

Style: Lists literary styles the BibleProject covers, with videos and podcasts listed

Structure: The section guides you through practice in a couple specific chapters of the Bible to look at the patterns and links.

What Thompson Chain Reference Bible calls “chains” is similar to what is called "links" by the BibleProject. The Bible has a lot of specific words and ideas that can be traced, which are key themes throughout the Bible. Most of these start in Genesis from the very beginning and go all the way to Revelation.


One word example is “Blessing.” This word is often connected with other words, such as abundant, fruitful, life, and rest. The way BibleProject puts it, when you see this word later in Scripture, it activates the theme. Look for how it links to what you have already learned about it.

Check out this BibleProject video on Links for more insight.


This is fourth  and last in a series, The Bible in Sync - September 2022

Next Post: The Holy Spirit Starting in Genesis
Previous post: Like a Mosaic


Name a theme you are familiar with in the Bible. How do you see it play out in other parts of the Bible?

Here is an example for you to try

For an all powerful God, He is gentle with us, and we should reflect His gentleness.  


Place the word Gentle in the search. What do you learn throughout the Bible looking at the gentleness of God? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Movements in Scripture

Big Idea: Biblical scrolls are made up of several distinct movements that make patterns that come together like a beautiful mosaic.

Movements in Scripture

Synagogues revere a handwritten Torah scroll carefully kept for special events. The Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) is the first section of the Bible recounting God creating man and laying out what a good relationship with Him looks like.

Handwritten Bible Scrolls Meant to be Remembered

earliest sections of the Bible were made up of handwritten scrolls intended to be read to a community on a regular basis, with memorization encouraged. Word patterns and a flow of ideas had a cadence to it. A scroll contained collections of writings, each with their own distinct message and theme. This was in ancient times before chapters and verses were added to it that we are now so accustomed to.

Example of a Pattern

If you examine Genesis chapter one you see a certain rhythm.

Then God said let there be…

God saw that it was good…

And the evening and the morning was the ___ day.

This is one example of a pattern of words.

The Bigger Picture

When looking at a mosaic you may not notice it becomes a much larger picture till you step back. Patterns might be intricate and small, joining other patterns to make up a larger picture. Check out this mosaic from a collection of pictures in the Canadian town of Amherstburg! Many pieces of artwork are pieced together from the community to form a larger mosaic. An image emerges with a message of community unity. 

The Word of God is like that! It is profound at the deepest, intimate level, and it comes together on a larger scale with a message for the world for all time. In last week’s blog we noted movements of a symphony each with a different style or tone. Some are brisk and breezy and others are slow and reflective, each sharing a common melody. When discerning a movement in a Bible section, look for a common primary theme, a repetition of words, the introduction of a significant word, patterns of words and so forth.

Ideas Throughout Form a Meaningful Whole

The ideas come together in to a meaningful whole. As we study the Bible we want to study the intricacies and the meaning of words. Do not miss the big picture! Ask how one part fits in with the whole message of the Bible. It all points to Jesus!

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.  Hebrews 1:1-3 NLT

For more information on the power of movements in scripture, check out this video from BibleProject.


This is third in a series, The Bible in Sync for the month of September 2022

Up next : Links
Previous post: Like a Symphony


1.Take a look at the mosaic picture again. What are some of the smaller pictures you can make out? Why might it fit in with the whole? Could you tell the bigger picture at first glance? Why or why not? Do you think the Bible is a bit like this picture? Why or why not?

2. Can you think of a theme in the Bible? What is it? How does your theme fit in with God’s message of love and rescue of His creation?

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Like a Symphony


Big Idea: The Bible’s many stories weave common patterns together similar to a grand symphony with different sections but the same repeted melodies.

Like a Symphony

Symphonies, though they can refer to an orchestra, can represent a single body of work, such Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Most symphonies have four movements each with a distinct style (lively, slow, robust etc). Usually there are melodious patterns that emerge that show, in spite of variations, that they all belong together.

Movements in a Biblical Scroll Useful

The BibleProject likens the Bible to the movements and patterns of a symphony and that resonates with me. The book of Genesis heard in the original Hebrew has four distinct movements. The Bible as ancient literature in a non-literate society was intended to be listened to in community. Memorization was encouraged so it was written with recognizable word patterns to aid memory. There were no chapter and verse markings at that time. Those were inserted later to help those of us reading it to find our way back to a section.

Beautifully Crafted Patterns and Links

I can’t read the original Hebrew but I have learned a lot about God from reading my Bible in English. However it is intriguing to learn about the original intent of the Biblical authors. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, it has been beautifully crafted with movements and patterns. That is true for the individual books, but it is also true when you examine all 66 books of the Bible. The patterns emerge and are unified, culminating in the Life of Jesus Christ. These patterns then continue in the New Testament church. 

Patterns are also called Themes

Another word describing patterns is themes. Examples are, blessing, eternal life, Sabbath, etc. When we learn how to trace key words throughout a book of the Bible, and even the entire Bible, we discover key themes God wants us to know. Like putting together a puzzle, it is amazing to tie several sections of the Bible together and see a unified theme.

Sample of Bible Project Themes
I am excited to explore this concept of movements and patterns further with you in the next couple of weeks. As always, if you go to you will find a lot of excellent information.

You might find this video from BibleProject on Design Patterns in Biblical Narrative to be useful.

This is second in a series, The Bible in Sync for the month of September 2022

Up next : Like a Mosaic - Movements
Previous post: One Story, One Spirit


1.Have you ever played an instrument in a group playing a piece with multiple movements? What do you recall about the continuity of the piece? Perhaps you have been to a classical concert with that sort of structure. Did you notice any similarities between the various parts of one piece?

2. Have you ever noticed or had a pastor or Bible study leader tie together various parts of the Bible? How did that impact you?

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

One Story, One Spirit

Big Idea: Through the Holy Spirit, the Bible always ties in to one main story that ultimately points to Jesus.

Syncing Your Bible

In our technological world to “sync our devices” means our phones, computers and tablets can link bookmarks, apps, emails and other documents. Similarly the 66 books that make up the Bible are “synced” by the Holy Spirit to present the same message. They all point to God, specifically Jesus the Son.

Written over 1000 year Timespan

The Bible was written over a period of more than 1000 years by many contributing authors who came from diverse backgrounds. They included shepherds, kings, prophets, a doctor, a tax collector and others. Numerous writing styles and literary genres are used such as storytelling, poetry, prophecy, apocalyptic writings, and so on. How is it that all 66 books are telling the same central message? God the Holy Spirit orchestrates this, and the message points us towards God the Son, Jesus Christ.

All the Stories Ultimately Lead to Jesus  

The BibleProject, an organization using animation with simple Biblically sound explanations states it like this: “The Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.” Even when Jesus is not mentioned directly, the stories tie in to Him. They give us background information on God’s plan through His Son Jesus to rescue us from our sinfulness.

This month’s series, The Bible in Sync, is based on how the Bible Project explains the connection of stories using patterns and themes throughout the whole Bible.

Many Styles With One Common Denominator

Though there are many styles of writing, this community of authors had one critical thing in common. They were all influenced (“carried along” I Peter 1:21) by God’s divine guidance in the form of the Holy Spirit. It was God’s divine word through ordinary human beings. This is how these diverse styles and stories became in sync. (See chart below on God’s goodness).

For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 1:21 NIV

The BibleProject explains this synchronization of Scriptures in this introductory video.

This is the first in a series, The Bible in Sync for the month of September 2022

Up next (New Series): Like a Symphony
Previous post: How to make a Bible Passage worksheet


1.Do you believe the Bible is one unified story? Why or why not? Have you researched the subject yourself? How would you go about that?

2. What would it mean to you that the Bible has one main purpose and story, being about Jesus?

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 10, 2021

IBS-22 Strange Bible Verses: writing styles in the Bible

The Big Idea:  Knowing the style of literature you are reading is useful to interpreting what the Bible says.

Writing Styles in the Bible

Thanks Cuyler Black!
Playing the popular game, Jeopardy, one chooses a category for a question. Players typically know some categories better than others.

You may favor a genre of books of Bible. Many spend more time in the New Testament reflecting on Jesus. I love the comfort of Poetry books (i.e. Psalms, Proverbs). Our son gravitates to Apocalyptic books (i.e. Daniel, Revelation). I asked him recently if that is because he enjoys Sci-fi. He says “I like to remember God wins in the end.”

Types of Biblical Literature

The Bible has sixty six books altogether, written between 1400-2000 years of time. Some are easier to read than others. It helps to understand what genre of literature you are reading. Reading a cookbook is different from reading a murder mystery novel or a textbook on history.

How are the books of the Bible categorized? They are categorized by their main writing style, though one book can have multiple styles in it.

History – Often written in a descriptive narrative style telling a story of what happened and what God did. Example: Acts of the Apostles.

Law – This writing sounds like a legal document, about worship procedures or a covenant relationship between God and man. Genealogies are in this category. Example: Leviticus.

Poetry and Wisdom – Descriptive creative writing. Ancient Middle Eastern poetry and wisdom literature doesn’t rhyme but it shows emotion and action more than a description. It gives advice comfort and/or warning. Example: Psalms.

Prophecy – Prophetic writing is a persuasive style. Prophets are the mouthpiece of God saying what God wants people to know. They remind or warn us of God’s guidelines. Sometimes comforting. Sometimes frightening. Example: Isaiah.

Gospel – The word Gospel means “good news.” The Gospels contain historical narrative to introduce and show Jesus’ life and ministry as good news to man. Example: Matthew

Letters – The New Testament letters written from spiritual leaders of the early church write to encourage those following Jesus. Their writings are expository. They are referred to as Epistles. Example: Philippians.

Apocalyptic – Similar to prophecy as it is a message from God to man with a future urgency regarding the last days on earth. It is marked by a lot of symbolism much like poetry. Example: Revelation.

Why Genre Matters

  • · Knowing the communication style of a confusing passage can bring clarity and peace. We don’t have to understand everything, but we can work with it.
  • · It helps us understand the original Biblical world and culture in which it was written as we seek its core timeless truths.
  • · We understand how two books different from each other may have similar themes.
  • · We appreciate the creativity and brilliance of God communicating through so many different authors and styles.
  • · We look at poetry and figurative apocalyptic literature to see beyond the imagery to the message.

I posted a blog last year on literary styles of the Old Testament. Check it out!
You might also find this video from The BibleProject helpful.


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



1. Can you think of a saying or section of the Bible that seems odd to you? What is it? Does it help to know it might be poetic or an ancient storytelling style?

2. How might you seek to find out of which style a book of the Bible is written?

3. Have you considered praying to ask God for wisdom to find clarity to a confusing passage? Could you also talk it over with someone else who studies the Bible a lot? It is useful for us to talk together about His Word.

As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. Luke 24:14-15 NLT

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

10 YouVersion Tips


The Big Idea: Many use the YouVersion Bible App but aren't aware of some great features.

Millions of people have already discovered the totally free YouVersionBible App. That might be you too! But did you know there are a number of options available in the app? Check out this list and see if there is something new for you to try! God's Word is worth the effort!

1. Listen to an audio version of the Bible

Not all translations have an audio version, but quite a few do. Some foreign languages do too but not all. Listening to the Bible is a fresh way to take it in. My husband is listening to the Bible as his read-through-the Bible in a year.  Another friend of mine caring for someone in her life, finds she is awoke often in the night. She listens to the Bible while helping her family member, and often falls back asleep to the Bible. As you scroll through the list of translations, you will see a sound icon next to versions available in audio. 


2. Side by side Bible translations

There are times when it is useful to look at two different Bible translations at the same time for comparison. For instance, your pastor may preach using one translation and you may appreciate to compare the verse in the version you usually read. Translation comparison can be a passage on a tablet or on the computer. It is only available by verse with a cell phone.


3. Enlarge the font for a large print Bible

If you are getting older or have poor sight, you can enlarge the type very easily. It is lighter weight than a ponderous large text Bible, and available in all translations, even with other languages.

4. Find a ready-made Bible reading plan

YouVersion has partnered with many organizations to provide Bible reading plans. There are plans available to read the Bible through in a year, with numerous options.  Some are chronological. Some have shorter passages with a devotional thought. You can start at any time, not just on January first.

Of course there are also shorter plans. Some are one month long, a week long, and anything else that fits for you.

5. Read the Bible focused on a topic or issue

Above is a sample list of emotions with readings that address whatever you might feel a need for. If you are struggling right now, this is a great way to kick start getting back into the Bible to see what God has for you today. Many plans have a devotional thought included. Some are short. Some are long. Some have links to useful websites.

There are very specific groups addressed. Men. Women. Teens.  Going through a divorce. Addiction.  Losing a job. Finance.  Parenting littles. Parenting teens. So many options interesting to scroll through.


6. Watch a Bible Video enhancing understanding

There are Bible Videos that are word for word passages re-enacted, such as the Gospel series by LUMO. Each episode of the Chosen is available though it is not word for word Scripture. There are tools for better understanding such as the BibleProject videos for each book of the Bible, themes, key words, and so on. The Spoken Word videos are dramatic, meaningful readings. There are lots more video series. Additionally there are teachings by well appreciated  Bible teachers under the category "Discovery". Check out your options.


7. Use the highlights, notes and sharing features

You can copy verses to import into another program if you are a Bible study leader or preacher, and make your own notes for future study. You can also add notes to a verse as you are taking sermon notes.  There are fewer choices online than with the tablet and cell phone apps. You can edit your notes, bookmarks, images, etc. when you click on the wheel at the upper right corner of the app for settings.

8. Prayer resource

Your tablet and cell phone version has an option that the computer app does not have, to form a prayer. It even coaches you through ideas what to prayer for. You can send it to a friend or just leave it for your own journaling memory. You find the menu on the left when you click on the More category at the bottom of your screen.


9. Make verse art of a verse

The tablet and cell phone version let's you underline a verse and then choose to make an image. You can use their images or import one of your own. You can then download it to your phone and use it as a lock screen or share with friends.


10. Subscribe to the verse of the day

The home page always shows you the featured verse of the day. You would be surprised  how often  you will tell yourself how much you needed to hear that! In the settings page you can change the version you would like for this feature. Make your own image with the verse or use one they have already made from it. A daily scriptural reminder is always a good thing! Take a moment during the day to pray the verse for your life or reflect on its meaning for you. It is a mini-devotional moment that will honor God. He likes it when you take time to reflect on His Word!

I hope this detailed list of ideas for YouVersion was helpful for you. Leave a comment on how you use the YouVersion Bible app. Inspire others with your suggestion.

Up Next: Watch the Bible

Previous Post: My 5 Favorite Bible Apps



1. How do you feel about an electronic Bible? Do you like it or avoid it? When might it be helpful to use?

2. Is there one feature you were not aware of that you might like to experiment with or try out to enhance your reading of God's Word?