Infographics are a tremendous resource for studying the Bible. They help us picture what we’re reading, and they visualize concepts that may be foreign to us, allowing for much greater understanding. And you’re in luck—the Faithlife Study Bible is full of biblical infographics!
Faithlife Groups is constantly improving. It’s our mission to provide you with the best church-communication tool possible. We listen to our users, and we’re always imagining the future of communication.
One way we push the envelope is with our Faithlife Beta group. Here, you can interact and experiment with new features—before they go live across all groups. If you want to test new features and play an active role in enhancing church communication, the Faithlife Beta group is the place for you. The more voices we hear, the better our understanding of what you, the users, want to see.
Join the Faithlife Beta group today to see what’s coming next—and to help us help you. We want your experience with Faithlife to be the best it can be, and to do that, we want your feedback on new features.
The more people we have in the Faithlife Beta group, the better we can see how well new features are working, and the faster we can get them ready to implement in the groups you use all the time. Right now we’re testing out Faithlife photos, giving you the ability to share private photos with your church or small group without showing your personal life to the whole world.
See Faithlife photos first in the beta group. Join today, and help shape the future of church communication.
Today’s interview is with Mark Prim, the Southeast Michigan Coalition for Men’s Discipleship area director for Man in the Mirror ministries. Prim helps pastors and leaders establish an intentional strategy to reach and disciple men.
How does your family use Faithlife together?
My two older sons started reading the Bible when they were six and seven. They began by reading small portions of the New Testament at a time. Three years later, they’ve read through the New Testament twice and Psalms once.
About two years ago, they both bought Kindles with money they saved from Christmas. The first app I installed was Faithlife. I created a family reading plan so we could all read the Bible at the same pace, and so my wife and I could help answer questions the boys have. With the reading plan, we can be sure we’re familiar with the passages they read so we’re ready to talk about them.
We have recently begun using Faithlife for family devotions, reading the book Experiencing God at Home Day by Day. The boys read a portion of their Bible using Faithlife, then we read the devotional, and they finish with some quiet time of reading and praying.
Why do Faithlife groups work so well for Bible studies and small groups? What features does your group use together?
Faithlife works well for small groups and Bible studies because all members are able to read the same passages and follow along the same reading plan. Not only this, but when members have questions while reading, they can post the question to the group or specifically to the leader, without waiting until the next meeting. The ability to load documents for the group to read is also a great tool when there are additional resources or information for further study. The reading plan and documents tab are the two tools we use the most.
Using Faithlife for a small group can be a little tricky at first. Since not everyone has a smartphone or tablet, it can become a divider when we try to use it as our main tool. The second challenge is that we must use the first session or two just to familiarize everyone with the functionality and power of this free study tool. Not everyone learns at the same pace, so this can become a point of stress, and it takes a little more work when someone new joins our group. However, we can overcome both of these challenges. In my experience, it’s worth it to use Faithlife for small group studies.
When individuals take the time to learn and use Faithlife, studying the Bible together truly becomes a community effort. When people have questions, thoughts, or concerns, there’s no need to wait until the next weekly or monthly meeting. If the people in your small group want to study God’s Word, and they are open to doing it from a digital source, Faithlife is a free resource that’s worth using.
What’s your favorite feature in Faithlife?
I like Faithlife as a whole. It’s a great tool for the kingdom of God! That being said, I think my favorite feature is the reading plan because it reaches across all platforms. If all the features were available across all platforms, I think Faithlife would be more widely accepted and used by churches and small groups.
Many parents are afraid to let their kids create social-media accounts. What makes Faithlife different, and why do you let your sons use it?
Faithlife doesn’t have all the foul language and advertisements. It also doesn’t have the “freedom” that other social media outlets have—the parameters of use are much more controllable. I set up and maintain my kids’ accounts.
One reason I let my sons use Faithlife is because they can study the Bible together. And we are a closed group, so no one else can join unless my wife and I approve them. Another reason is because it makes a great tool for discipleship. I can create specific reading plans based on subjects we need to discuss, and then they read not just for devotional time, but also to gain knowledge and understanding. As they get older, I will teach them more and more about how to use Faithlife.
What does Faithlife do for you that other communication tools don’t?
Faithlife provides a way for us to interact with God’s Word together. Other communication tools allow you to post different verses back and forth, but with Faithlife we can highlight verses and make community notes that our whole family can see.
Why do you think churches should use Faithlife together?
Like I said before, it makes a great tool for discipleship. With our fast-paced world and our ever-increasing reliance on technology and all things digital, this is a perfect tool to study God’s Word together. If used the right way, Faithlife can also help someone quickly catch up if they miss a small group session.
To learn more about Prim’s ministry, you can head to ManintheMirror.org.
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Logos helps you dig deeper into the Bible. But to take advantage of Logos’ powerful datasets and study tools, you’ll need a Logos 5 base package. And right now, you can get a custom upgrade discount during the Logos 5 upgrade sale—get yours now!
Lexham Press provides resources to help you interpret, preach, and teach the Bible, including digital-first Bible study resources, scholarly works, and Bible Study Magazine. The thousands of explanatory notes in Lexham resources let you study the Bible through the lens of the translators. Lexham Press’ original-language digital editions are morphologically tagged; behind each book is research that capitalizes on more than 20 years of Bible technology.
Whether you’re a scholar or you’re new to Bible study, Lexham Press helps you streamline the learning process and speed up your research.
See what the Lexham Bible Guides can do for you:
In addition to valuable Bible guides, Lexham Press provides unique commentary sets compiled from the works of Christianity’s most influential preachers and teachers, collections of quotes and prayers you can search through and use in sermons or share with friends, devotionals, and fascinating original biblical scholarship.
In the Bible, Jesus performed a lot of miracles. He healed people. He had power over nature. He even overcame death. But what about the miracles he didn’t do? Here are three instances in the Bible where Jesus chose not to do the miraculous wonders he was known for:
1. A miracle without faith
In Mark 6 (and Matthew 13), Jesus returns to Nazareth, his hometown. These people knew Jesus before he started his ministry.
And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him (Mark 6:2–3).
Two verses later: “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them” (Mark 6:5). The NLT says, “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”
While the NIV says Jesus couldn’t do miracles in Nazareth, this isn’t suggesting that faith is some sort of fuel for miracles, and Jesus was running on empty. Most likely, the lack of faith meant that people didn’t ask Jesus to help them—or else, because of their lack of faith, Jesus chose not to. The bottom line is, there was no faith, so in this instance, he didn’t.
2. A “sign from heaven”
After Jesus feeds the 4,000 in Decapolis, he and his disciples get into a boat and head to Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side (Mark 8:11–13).
Miracles are not for our entertainment. They are not a prerequisite for faith. If all of creation testifies about its creator (Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1), why should he have to give us a personal sign from heaven on top of that? If you ask God for a sign from heaven like the Pharisees, chances are you’ll be disappointed like the Pharisees.
3. A miracle that contradicted God’s plan
As Jesus hung on the Cross, his divinity was mocked. Again, people wanted to see a sign from heaven, and their requests for a miracle emerged from a severe lack of faith—they did not believe Jesus was who he said he was, and they would not believe him unless the God of the universe did what they asked, right then and there. As he hung there dying, Jesus, who was fully God, could have come down from that cross. Fully man, Jesus may have even been tempted by the prospect (Hebrews 2:18). But he didn’t come down.
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:29–32).
Jesus didn’t come down because the Cross had a purpose. The miracle of his survival would have undermined the greater miracle of his resurrection.
It’s easy to think about the miracles that Jesus did do. In brief interactions, he radically altered people’s lives. But his ways are higher (Isaiah 55:8–9), and because of that, the miracles Jesus didn’t do are equally important in helping us understand the inexplicable.
This wide-ranging and meticulously researched study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Keener draws on claims from a range of global cultures and takes a multidisciplinary approach to the topic. He suggests that many historical and modern miracle accounts are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.
Creation begins with the separation of light and darkness. Interestingly, God creates light before he creates any sources of light. Some have speculated that God’s glory served as the initial source of light. The FSB study notes point out that the order of creation is consistent with the ancient perception of the universe. An article by Michael Heiser explains this, and this helpful chart is included to illustrate.
Six times in the first chapter of Genesis, God affirms his creation as “good” or in a right relationship with him. This changes a few chapters later when, because of sin, God curses the earth and all its inhabitants.
The first day, and all the subsequent days of creation, close with an expression: “evening and morning.” Ken Ham is a staunch literalist, meaning he interprets the seven days of creation as 24-hour periods of time. But there are several different approaches to the creation narrative. For a quick summary of some ways the creation story is perceived by theologians, refer to the table, “Interpretation of Days in Genesis.”
The FSB study notes point out how Genesis 1 provides a subtle critique of prevailing ancient–Near Eastern beliefs by deliberately avoiding the words for “sun” and “moon” that carried idolatrous undertones. The writer makes it clear that these two bits of creation respectively rule over the daytime and nighttime only at the creator’s divine appointment.
One of the most exciting applications of Genesis 1 for me is the precedent of creativity that God sets for mankind. Trey Boden explains in his devotional article about creativity:
To understand our place in the drama of creation, we should look at how God created us. God made us in His image to give Him glory through service and love to the world. Because we are made in His image, we can assume that we have a likeness of His creative spirit within us. God initiated this sharing in His creative works by giving Adam the tasks of cultivating the garden (Genesis 2:15) and naming the animals (Genesis 2:20). The major difference between God’s creative action and ours, however, is that God has the power to create something from nothing.
The creation story closes in Genesis 1:27’s summary of mankind’s origin:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
The FSB study notes summarize the first chapter of Genesis with this huge infographic (click to enlarge) that depicts the seven days of creation like never you’ve never seen it before.
To explore the creation narrative and the rest of Scripture in a new way, download the free Faithlife Study Bible on your smartphone or tablet today.
In the information age, it’s hard to spend as much time as you want in Scripture. You’re constantly bombarded with more information than you can handle, so you have to constantly prioritize and filter the things that matter and the things that don’t. And that’s what makes Bible study feel like a paradox. You know you’re supposed to see all Scripture as valuable (2 Timothy 3:16). But when you’re dragging yourself through lists of names and types of sacrifices, the treasure of Scripture can feel like it’s slipping through your fingers. That’s because jumping into the Bible without any understanding of context is like diving into the ocean from a helicopter with no equipment. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, it won’t be pleasant. Equip yourself for the dive with Logos 5.
Of course, with the right translation, you can find parts of the Bible that you can read without difficulty. Maybe you enjoy the powerful stories of the Old Testament, or the beautiful picture of love in the Gospels, or the challenging representations of faith in the early church. There are always parts of the ocean that you can swim in, but without the right knowledge and tools at your disposal, there’s still a whole ocean you’ll never see.
In Bible study, these tools are commentaries, key theological texts, Bible dictionaries, and works by popular pastors and Bible teachers. On their own, each of these resources has something to offer your Bible study. For the casual reader and the average Christian, however, the walls of text that often accompany these valuable tools makes them too intimidating. Even if you own one, a Bible dictionary or commentary can make Bible study feel like more work, and you don’t end up reading as much of the Bible. With Logos, that all changes. Logos links all of your texts together, and every verse is linked to every resource you own that references it.
One of the most important parts of reading Scripture is taking the time to reflect on it. Whether you set a goal to read one chapter a day or five chapters a day, what do you gain from it if you don’t take a moment to reflect on what you’ve read? The truths of individual verses can get lost if they don’t stand out to you right away. Important contextual information is easiest to skim over, but it’s some of the most important content when interpreting what that Scripture means for your life thousands of years later. When you read Scripture with Logos, you can spend as much time as you want reflecting on a single verse. Right now, your library could have hundreds, even thousands of references to the verses you read today in your personal devotions. If you wanted to track them down, you’d have to spend hours flipping through books to find what you’re looking for. Even if you’re organized and you’ve carefully sorted your library, you have better things to do than scanning sticky notes, underlines, and margin notes. Logos is more organized than any physical library could ever be. A single search in Logos can save you hours—and that adds up.
When talking about Logos 5, Mark A. Kellner from Washington Times said, “If studying the Bible is something of professional or personal interest, there is, right now, nothing else that comes close.” Logos 5’s datasets add a whole new dimension to your Bible study and bring lists of names, places, and dates to life. You can’t get these datasets anywhere else. Here’s how Sean Boisen, Logos’ director of content innovation explains it:
Don’t let yourself feel like the Bible is too deep or difficult to navigate. Get Logos 5, and you’ll have all the tools you need to plunge into Scripture. Turn every verse into a diving board and see what depths your Bible study can take you. If you already have Logos, but you don’t have Logos 5, upgrade today and take advantage of your very own custom upgrade discount!
With more than 25 million fatherless youths in America today, this generation has been tragically called the “fatherless generation.” How are we supposed to tackle such a monumental problem? How can we reach out to, love, and disciple this generation?
Recently, I had the privilege of connecting with John Sowers, founder of The Mentoring Project. His heart for loving the “fatherless generation” is incredible. See how this man of God is working hard to bring the love of Jesus to youths across America.
For those who don’t know, can you briefly explain the purpose of The Mentoring Project? Where did the idea come from, and when did you start it?
The purpose of The Mentoring Project is to call and equip the church to respond to the crisis of fatherlessness. Reaching the fatherless generation has been a life-calling to me—it was my story before it became my mission. It’s very personal to me. In 2009, Donald Miller called me to start and lead The Mentoring Project—it was previously know as the Belmont Foundation. So in June 2009, I incorporated it and created the mission and model.
The project seems have really picked up some traction in the last year or two. Why do you think this is?
I think in the past five years the church has begun to examine the issue of fatherlessness. There has been an overall emphasis in service and loving the world, which is great. Still, one of my key roles at The Mentoring Project has been as a herald because it seems people get the international orphan crisis more than they do the local one. For some reason, when we think “mission” we default to another country, when the issue of fatherlessness is in our own neighborhoods or just across the railroad tracks. There is overall traction on the issue of fatherlessness, but still a lot of awakening needs to happen around the idea of “being missional” to the fatherless child right next to us.
The Mentoring Project’s website says there are 25 million fatherless youths in America. What is your grand vision as to how the church will be able to fill this need?
The idea of the church reaching the fatherless generation through incarnational ministry is our goal. To do this, the church needs to adopt a vision for local, community-based mentoring relationships. We want to see the church create sustainable mentoring communities, reaching both single moms and the fatherless kids right in their own context. How many single moms and their children sit quietly in the shadows of our own churches?
What’s one story of mentorship impacting a youth that has touched you personally?
One of my favorite stories has to do with one of our sites in Oklahoma City, where we work with high-risk youth and the Oklahoma City Police Department. At the first of the year, we asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up. They all said, “rappers, ball players, and rich.” After six months of mentoring these kids, we asked them the same question again. They said, “police officers and mentors.” Children aspire to be what they see.
Last year, The Mentoring Project ran a cool Father’s Day promotion called “Don’t Buy the Tie.” What was the reason for that campaign? Do you have anything planned for this year?
We loved Don’t Buy the Tie—and we will do it again this year. We feel like Father’s Day is a great space to say, “This Father’s Day, help a child without a dad—give the gift of a mentor.” We are also working simultaneously with the DC guys for My Brothers Keeper, and may be partnering with them for a Father’s Day event. Last year, we were blessed to send mentors and youth to the White House, and two of them met the president.
If someone is interested in getting started as a mentor or wants to partner with The Mentoring Project, how could they get started?
If someone wants to mentor, we have a cool set of tools called the “Mentor Toolkit,” which help people develop a foundation for mentoring. The training includes three videos and they can be watched alone or with a small group. It also has a field guide and some best practice tips. Our Mentor Toolkit is perhaps our best initiative. We’ve seen thousands of people use it in the past four years. We are rereleasing it this July in an updated and expanded version.
Thanks for sharing about the Mentoring Project. You get to have the last word. Go!
One theme that really has my attention is the idea of masculine initiation. We live in a culture with few elders, with no rites of passage or sense of “coming into manhood.” We don’t have a framework for masculine initiation—we don’t even have a language for it.
I started journaling about this idea the night my twin girls were born. I was thrilled but also felt exposed as a man. This is both a cultural and generational phenomenon—a generation of men without place. These journal entries became a book called The Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart—which comes out May 13.
At the root of most fatherlessness is the issue of fidelity. I believe if men can understand who they are as men and find their identity hidden with Christ in God, the fatherless pipeline will shrink. This is my hope for the book—to be a word for a generation of men who are trying to find the wild masculine, and in a divine sense, claim their mythic ground.
I believe we are all mentoring someone, whether we know it or not. The Mentoring Project is just asking people to be intentional. And if anyone is interested in connecting further, check us out online at TheMentoringProject.org or on Twitter @tmproject.
To learn more from Sowers, check out his book Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story.
For some women, Mother’s Day is an uncomfortable reminder of their singleness or their lack of children. Kids and perhaps even some adults assume that because they are a woman, they are also the mother of a child. Every time someone says “Happy Mother’s Day!” it can stir up a sense of inadequacy, or possibly reopen the scars of relational wounds. As followers of God, we are called to honor our father and mother, but as Christians, we are part of a much bigger family.
God’s probably not asking you to write “Happy Mother’s Day” on a card for every woman or to start calling them “mom,” but take a look at these two verses in Mark:
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10: 29–30)
When we leave ourselves behind and join the body of Christ, we become part of a much larger family, and we gain relationships and experience the generosity of our spiritual family. But that’s not all Jesus has to say about this new definition of family. In John, we read this:
. . . but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25–27)
In the moment Mary lost her son, she gained another—a spiritual son who cared for and honored her just as a biological son would have. This relational model is perpetuated through women of faith in the church.
So who are our spiritual mothers?
Not everyone is blessed with a biological family that shares in the joys of their faith. For some, Mother’s Day is hard because it feels like a mandate to honor someone who has hurt them. Someone who abused them emotionally, physically, or spiritually. For them, it’s important to remember that despite our pain, God does not make exceptions. We are all called to honor our father and mother (Matthew 15: 4–6). For others, Mother’s Day is yet another reminder of the people they have lost.
The Bible provides us with exceptional models of the ideal mother. One of the most prominent is in Proverbs 31:10–30. Mothers care for their families by emotionally, spiritually, and physically providing for them. In the body of Christ, we are surrounded by women who pour wisdom and love into our lives and devote their own time and finances to care for us. These are our spiritual mothers.
Even for your biological mother, getting a card and saying happy Mother’s Day probably isn’t the most meaningful way to show your appreciation for her. It’s the act of lifting her up and pausing everything else going on in your life to remember her and love her that shows your honor for her. This Mother’s Day, let’s honor the mothers in our immediate families, but let’s also take a moment in the body of Christ to lift up the women of faith who don’t have kids, but love and care for us all the same.
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Get an animated look at Proverbs 31, and see why it really applies to all women.
They all use Reftagger.
Reftagger is both powerful and simple. It recognizes Scripture references on your website and tags them automatically; when a visitor hovers over the link, they see the verse text displayed in a subtle popup window. Like this: Ephesians 2:8–9. It’s even smart enough to recognize abbreviations like Eph. 2:8–9.
All told, Reftagger has tagged more than 25 billion Bible verses: that’s more than 16,000 every second since it was launched. But it’s not just Reftagger’s power that’s made it so popular among the internet’s largest and most influential faith-based websites—it’s its simplicity. Reftagger gives your website additional functionality without making your visitors (or you!) work any harder.
We love Reftagger. It not only saves our team tons of time by automatically linking Bible verses, but also gives readers a better experience on our site because they don’t have to leave the article to read the linked verses.
—The Resurgence team
Having experimented with each of the available Bible verse link programs out there, we have found Reftagger to be the most feature rich, stable, and easy to use.
—S. Michael Houdmann, CEO of GotQuestions.org
We were so excited to discover Reftagger! . . . the hover and click functions of this plugin are perfect for our site.
Available in 17 translations and every color of the rainbow, Reftagger integrates perfectly into your site.