Swedish Method of Bible Study

One of my favorite things to do is teach Bible newcomers how to read and study the Bible.  Therefore, I am always on the lookout for new approaches to this old discipline.  Recently, I ran across a Bible study (and discussion) method called The Swedish Method.  I’m grateful to Peter Blowes and Gotherefore.com for their explanation.

The method was observed by Ada Lum, an IFES staff worker, who witnessed this approach of Bible study used by Swedish students.  It has three simple steps, each coupled with a memorable icon to help remember it.

The steps are:

A light bulb: This should be something that ‘shines’ from the passage—whatever impacts most, or draws attention.
A question mark: Anything that is difficult to understand in the text, or a question the reader would like to ask the writer of the passage or the Lord.
An arrow: A personal application for the reader’s life.

It is assumed that the group has not studied the passage ahead of time and that everyone is given space to explore it during the investigation period.  People are encouraged to write down at least one observation next to each item,  They report this normally takes about 10 minutes. After a reasonable period of exploring, people then get to share their observations.

The benefit of this approach is multifaceted.

First, it teaches people how to study a passage of the Bible.  Many people struggle here, so giving some concrete steps is super helpful.  Second, it counts on the Holy Spirit guiding and talking to people!  That’s a good thing.

It requires to leaders and usually generates a good discussion! Everyone gets to participate and if facilitated well avoids arguments or lengthy disagreements.

Worth a try- right?

Of course, this does not replace more rigorous Bible study with good hermeneutical methods, but there are many times and places where a simple reading and discussion of the text is important and appropriate.

Read the article.  It has a lot more about how to use this method.


Changes at Urbana

I attended Urbana in December, 1993.  It was a bitter cold week held in Champaign Illinois.  I went with college students from my church.

Sponsored by InterVarsity, this conference held every three years, is aimed at inspiring college students into a life of service to Jesus and especially world-wide missions.

Because it is aimed at college students, it often takes on the issues and cultural matters corresponding to college and American society during those years.

For a list of all the past Urbana conferences.

This year Urbana attendance fell dramatically.  Christianity Today discusses what happened and some of the potential reasons why. Urbana had 40% less students attend than three years ago?  What has changed?

It is yet another indicator that the cultural landscape of America is changing rapidly.  Fewer young people are calling themselves “Christians.”  We have most definitely entered a post-Christian era in which it is no longer favorable to be considered a Christian, and even less so a “church attending Christian.” More people are becoming “nones.” For an excellent description of “nones,” see the article from Pew Research.

Every change represents tremendous opportunity.  Followers of Jesus have weathered many changes and cultural shifts in the past, and they will survive this one too.

Time for every Jesus follower and every church to come back to Jesus as the central person we follow, and the gospel as our life changing message.  Those two will never end.

Favorite Books 2018

Inspired by Bill Gates release of his “best books 2018” the CCF ministry staff have come together to release our favorite reads of the year. In our case, some are new and some are old, but all of them have moved us in some profound ways. Here’s our lists with the hope of inspiring some reading in the church.

Brian Boone
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – This is a delicious classic from Dickens. I listened to it via book on tape in the car. Follow Pip in the mid-1800’s through many life adventures. Pursuing Pip’s desire to “become a gentleman,” the book explores themes like wealth and poverty, social class, love, jealousy, and fortune. It is a classic because it does such a good job of dissecting human motivations and emotions.

A Praying Life by Paul Miller– I reread this again this year and it continues to be one of the best books I have ever read on prayer. If you have ever struggled in prayer, read this book. Miller moves way beyond guilt or technique and moves to the heart. He has helped me learn and practice a more prayerful life.

The Great Omission by Dallas Willard – The subtitle is “Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship” and that is Willard’s aim. In the first section of the book, Willard covers why being a disciple of Jesus has been lost in the Western church, and why recovering this is essential. In the second half of the book, Willard covers “spiritual disciplines” we can pursue to be formed into the likeness of Christ. Active discipleship matters!

Eric Malone
The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm with illustrations by Gail Schoonmaker – You may be asking, “What is a grown man doing with a children’s Bible story book?” After multiple attempts to find a Bible that would engage my preschool boys, I came across this great story Bible for kids. This book captures the theme of redemption through Jesus found throughout the Old and New Testament in a compelling way that even children can grasp. While the illustrations may be hit or miss for adults, they are captivating to kids and provide enough wonder so an adult can read aloud the pages without the child losing interest. If you are seeking to instill God’s story and God’s Word in your children (or grandchildren), I would recommend this book!

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof – This isn’t a self-help book. It’s a get-help book. Whether you’re a parent of a 15-month old or a 15 year old, raising kids who genuinely believe that knowing God really matters can be daunting. This book shares 5 Family Values that can maximize the influence parents can have in their children’s lives by intentionally tapping into the influences of the community around you. Parents, this is a book you need to read sooner than later.

Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark – There is no silver bullet that ensures youth will grow and continue in their faith after graduation. In fact, research shows half of graduating seniors have deep struggles with their faith. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t principles we can all apply that have a crucial and positive impact on the spiritual growth of young adults. This book will change your whole perspective on the conversations and relationships you have (or don’t have) with youth and how you can be a factor in their spiritual vitality for following Jesus. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, crazy uncle or neighbor to a family, this book will change the way you see your influence over the little ones around you.

Nick Marnejon
12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke – Do you control your phone, or does your phone control you? This is the question that Tony Reinke seeks to answer in 12 Ways. In a powerful, measured, and convicting way, Reinke dives deep into the hidden world of the human heart that so easily loves age-old sins packaged in a shiny new way. Not sure what to think about your kids’ smartphone usage, let alone your own? Pick this book up as a starting place and then never look at your phone in the same way again.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD – Sleep when you’re dead? No. Sleep, or you’ll be dead. This is the maxim, I’m sure, that Matthew Walker, one of the world’s leading sleep scientists, has adopted for his talks about sleep. Walker brilliantly shows us the benefits of sleep, and the horrors of not getting enough sleep, by supporting it with cutting-edge contemporary science. You will see God’s magnificent handiwork in the science of sleep and, hopefully, you’ll come away wanting to get your 8 hours of sleep tomorrow night.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry – Ever long for a simpler and slower life? This book will send you into that longing and make you never want to leave it. Berry, the celebrated philosopher, poet, author and farmer, teases out the implications of our ever increasingly mechanized world by contrasting it with the life of a small-town single man who abandoned the call of ministry for a barber’s life. Filled with theological nuggets and valuable insights into rural American life, this book will give you new perspectives on community, love, church, and what it means to belong.

Lumo Project

The JESUS film was filmed in 1979 and became the most viewed and translated film in all history.  Based on the Gospel of Luke, the film told the story of Jesus telling the Biblical story verbatim.

I can still remember showing the film in barrios of Panama in 1985.  We showed the film on bed sheets in public squares. People loved seeing Jesus on the “big screen.”  Many came to know Jesus as their Savior and many more affirmed the film that told his story so well.

Yet films need to be updated.  The JESUS film has certainly shown its age over the years.  Cinematography alone has improved so much.

Enter the Lumo Project.  With the partnership of dozens of Christian agencies, all four gospels are now filmed in gripping and realistic cinematic settings.  Quality all the way.

Check out the famous passage from Luke 15 where Jesus tells the story of The Prodigal Son.  In my opinion, the best short story ever told!

I commend the Lumo project to my church and friends.


Museum of the Bible

Since it opened in November, 2017, I have wanted to visit the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.  Denise and I are planning a trip to see it from April 1-8, 2019.

We would love to have friends join us.  Of course, while in DC we will also see lots of other cool sites.

See details for the trip on this page.

July and Le Tour

As July comes to a close, so does one of my favorite sporting events of the year, the Tour de France.  Le Tour is a three-week slugfest of elite bike riders who spend about 5 hours a day on a two-wheeled machine going crazy fast.  Riders must face different road conditions from asphalt to cobble stones, and lots of country roads.  Through corn fields, traversing wineries, and stunning coast lines, it is a feast for the eyes.

37695364_1747095825339789_4118934028399149056_oRiders travel 2100 miles! That’s almost Seattle to New York.   Many of those miles are up imposing mountains in the Alps and Pyrenees.  Sometimes they face three major climbs a day with 12-17% grade.  This is not for the faint of heart.

Riders travel in teams, the elite team this year was Team Sky.  It is impossible to win the tour without help from your teammates.  There is tremendous efficiency in having someone ride ahead of you.  Riders called domestiques “spend themselves” for you.  The domestiques know their role, it is to take care of their team captain so that he has energy to win the race.  Perhaps I like this so much because it reminds me of Jesus who spent himself for us; He gives himself that we might win the race.

Large groups of riders form a pack.  This is called the peloton.  Riders who stay in the peloton get an efficiency of up to 30%.  Think of geese who fly in formation!  So the peloton makes up the power engine each day churning out the miles.  But there is always a group of riders, called the breakaway, that think they can beat the peloton.  So it is a cat and mouse game.  The riders break off with high hopes until the power of the peloton catches them.  But sometimes, the breakaway wins the stage!

The overall winner of the race is the man who finishes with the lowest time over all 21 days.  This year there was some drama.  The three-time winner, Chris Froome, had a teammate that rode better.  We watched the team captain role switch from Froome to his next in command, Geraint Thomas.  Some teams implode under that, but Sky took it in stride.  Froome ended up taking third overall.


Le Tour is a big plunge for July.  Here and gone!  And we wait another eleven months to do it all again.  The sport continues to fascinate me.

Why I Love Young Families

young familyYesterday at church, we dedicated eight children and welcomed on stage six young families.  It was an electric day.  Parents wrote special messages to their children and read them before the entire congregation.  I had the opportunity to pray over each child dedicating them to the Lord and calling upon the church to raise these precious ones to know God and Jesus as their Savior.

I love young families.  And God has blessed our church recently with quite a few new families who have found CCF as their home church.

I love families because they are full of energy.  Never a dull moment.  Whether it is the new couple just starting out or the family that welcomed their third child, life is full of action.  And for me, it takes me back to those electric years in my life!

I love young families because they are open to new things!  I hate to admit it, but getting older means that we sometimes close ourselves off to new experiences.  Young families are still pretty wide open.  And as a result, they introduce me to new things.  I had the most fascinating conversation recently with a man at my church who is starting a crypto currency!  Don’t hear that every day!

I love young families because they represent the future leaders of our church and God’s kingdom.  And so many times, I find very capable people!  I love giving them responsibility and seeing them “run with it.”

I plan to fill my life with more young families.  And I continue to pray that God will make me a blessing to them.