Bible/Scripture browsing by tag


December 11

Monday, December 11th, 2023

One of the most “passed over’ sections of Scripture is the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. I mean, let’s face it: who in their right mind would say, “Oh boy! A genealogy. I get to read a bunch of ‘begats’ and “father of’s”? Sounds good if you want to put your child to sleep or even yourself. But to be excited to read it? Nope.

But Jesus’ genealogy is filled with interesting characters.  My devotions this week will take a look at some of them- 4 women, one outlier, and one man.  Let’s take the first in the list in this devotion:


The whole sordid story is told in Genesis 38. Tamar was married to Judah’s oldest son, Er. The Bible simply says “he was wicked in the sight of the Lord and died.” We aren’t told what it was, but it must have been bad. She then married his next brother, Onan, but he failed to consummate the marriage correctly and he too died.  Hmmm. Two up. Two down. What is Judah to do with the next son, Shelah? I can tell you what he didn’t do!  He promised him to Tamar when he came of age, but then reneged on that deal.  Tamar waited; he failed to deliver. So she took matters into her own hands. She pitched a tent; dressed as a prostitute; seduced Judah; took his staff and ring for collateral; revealed her pregnancy and who the father was; and gave birth to twins, Perez and Zerah.  All three are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.

Tamar was a deceiver, who dressed as a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law. Even in our seeming “everything goes” age that would raise a few eyebrows.  It is hard to believe she is in Jesus’ lineage…but she is. Along with the others whom we will look at over the next few days, several lessons pop out at us. One I will cover more later: GRACE. But one that is highlighted in this genealogy is the imperfection of all of us and the ability of God to change it all and to use the weak. His ability to use broken people is on full display.

I’m a perfect example of that. Broken but usable.


I will be reminding you over the next couple of days about my other blog, Cycleguy’s Spin. I have recently revived it with a totally different approach. Today I review Glynn Young’s series of books on Michael Kent-Hughes (a fictional character) whom he developed over a series of five books. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please visit me there at this post.

December 5

Tuesday, December 5th, 2023

There are some amazing moments in the Bible. There are some AHA moments. There are some puzzling moments (like, why did he/she do that?). There are some funny moments. There are some “raise your eyebrow” moments. And there are some euchatastrophe moments.

Eucha what?

Euchatastrophe.  That is a word coined by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is a combination of words combining the Greek word “eu,” which means “good” (as in good taste or good feeling) with the word catastrophe. Tolkien defines a eucatastrophe as “the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears.” (Source: Limping with God by Chad Bird).  It is like you are reading a story or watching a movie and you are so taken by the plot or twist that you find your eyes leaking! 🙂 For example, I recently finished reading the 5 book series by Glynn Young on Michael Kent, the Dancing Priest, and found moments I had to stop and blow my nose. {An aside: review coming}. And dare I say I had to walk out of the room to wipe the dirt out of my eyes while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie with Jo? (Yeah…I know. Turn in my Man Card right now!). I’m sure you have had eucatastrophe moments also.

How about Jacob when he hears Joseph is alive? How about the Resurrection? How about the elation of one healed by Jesus? How about the two on the road to Emmaus? How about Joseph and Mary? Long trip. (Very) pregnant wife. No vacancy. An animal shelter.  Sheep and oxen. Alone.  A new baby’s wail livens up the shelter environment and the sleepy town. Pure elation for Joseph and Mary. A EUCATASTROPHE!

That simple moment in time became the hinge upon which the story of humanity and our world turns. That eucatastrophe has truly become a world-changing event.

That’s enough to bring tears of joy to anyone’s eyes.


For years I had another blog called Cycleguy’s Spin. It was my go-to blog since February 20, 2008. I have used it sparingly over this past year, largely because I was posting daily devotions here. But I have decided to repurpose it and bring it back to life. My plan is to post reviews of books and music; do some commentary; post some thoughts; have guest posts, etc. Yesterday, I posted a review of Memorable Loss by Karen Martin. May I ask you to check out that post and to subscribe to receive an email when I post there? There is no charge, of course. And may I also ask you to spread the word about Cycleguy’s Spin and this one, Living in the Shadow? Thanks.

November 21

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

I’d like to follow up on my devotion from yesterday.

There is another rule of interpretation/Bible study besides the one from yesterday (“Let Scripture explain Scripture”). The one for today is “A text without a context is only a pretext.”  Interpreted: the failure to see surrounding verses, historical narrative and setting can lead to a whole lot of problems.

Yesterday’s passage was from Matthew 7:1-5. With that I presented the very common comment, “You have no right to judge me, to tell me that I’m wrong, or that my behavior is unacceptable in God’s eyes.” That is used in defense of sin: adultery, homosexual activity, “white” lies, and just about any other sin we want to justify doing.

But remember the context quote? Check out Matthew 7:15-16- “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.”  (NLT) That section ends with verse 20 saying, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

Question: how can we identify a wolf in sheep’s clothing if we don’t (ahem) judge them? It is called discernment. But here’s the thing: it is not discernment based on our bias or personal opinion. It is based on…wait for it…what the Bible says. Every thought, every opinion, every decision, every judgment we form or express MUST BE and MUST FIND its source in the Word of God! If what we say or do does not find its root in God’s Word; if it does not find its anchor in God’s Word, then its a pretty fair assessment that it is false.

We need to be “fruit inspectors.” (Matt. 7:16-20). Last I looked a fruit inspector has to form a judgment and decide whether the fruit is good or not. The Apostle Paul wrote, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (ESV)

So, judging/discerning is an absolute must. Always compare what you are being told and taught to the Word of God.

November 2

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

A little bit of housecleaning first: in yesterday’s devotion, I used the phrase “Jesus is Lord.” After looking again it is actually “Jesus is Honored.” So P-L-A-C-E won’t work. Plus, there is a tendency when dreaming of things to get a little too “cute.” I decided to go with the original of “Jesus is Honored” and not try to get too cute. That was confirmed by my study class last night when I mentioned “Jesus is Lord” vs “Jesus is Honored” and mentioned about being too cute. Several said, “Right” and liked the original version better.

Okay, now to today’s devotion. One of the “old” parts of the church’s Vision statement was Revealing Jesus Clearly. I’d like to share with you what I said Sunday morning. But first, this…

Today’s church culture is being assailed by forces designed by the enemy as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Let me explain. On one side is the progressive side. No conviction. No positive stand. Jesus is whomever you make or want Him to be. Jesus is a feel good, smile-all-the-time guy (maybe) who won’t condemn anything except bigotry, or anyone against BLM, environmentalism, or some social justice issue.

On the other side is the legalistic, fundamental side that sees God as a God of wrath, judgment, nationalism, and one-sidedness who tolerates nothing and wields a divine whip and sword.

Those two, to be honest, are anathema to me.  They are too radical for the Christ-follower in me. However, I do believe a stand needs to be taken about who Jesus is and His character. With that in mind, I shared the following on Sunday morning about Jesus and how we will not compromise these truths:

Mark 1:1 tells us Jesus is the Son of God. Mt.16:15-16 teaches us Jesus is God in the flesh, the one and only virgin born Son of God. John 1:1 tells us He is co-equal with God-“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God.” He was fully human and fully divine. He lived a perfect, sinless life; died on a cross in our place, for our sins; rose bodily from the grave; ascended into heaven; and will return to take us to be with Him for eternity and judge the righteous and unrighteous (You lose Satan). He is fully God and fully man; our Savior; the Great I AM; the Lord of all; the King of kings; the only way to the Father; our Redeemer; and the coming King.

Those truths about Jesus will stand. One cannot compromise who Jesus is. To do so is a slippery slope on greased tracks. Compromise on one and another will follow until the picture of Jesus is nothing like the real Jesus of the Bible. In fact, He almost becomes a cartoonish representation of His true self. Jesus does not change. Never has, never will…no matter our attempts to liberalize or pigeon-hole Him.

Who is Jesus to you?

October 11

Wednesday, October 11th, 2023

Spoiler Alert: longer than normal post.

I paid a price last night. The price? At 10:00 I was left writhing in agony as my left hamstring seized up and went into a violent cramp that lasted 5-10 minutes.

But I have no one to blame but myself. Here’s why: I decided to ride yesterday and even though I only rode 14 miles, it was a hard and quick ride. I pushed myself. To compound the issue it had been about a week since I last had a chance to ride due to my crazy schedule. My original plan was to ride, go home to shower, then celebrate a belated birthday meal at Texas Roadhouse (probably #1 in my eating book). But that changed while I rode when I received a “kind” word that neither of the other two of my meal cohorts wanted to venture to the town where TR is. So I suggested several alternatives and they accepted the one that had us staying in town. That gave me 2 hours before picking up the pizza, so I stayed at the office and did some work. It was cool yesterday (60s) so I didn’t think I had really broken a sweat that much, i.e. lost electrolytes. I was wrong so I FAILED TO EAT PROPERLY in those 2 hours. I had a recovery drink but I failed to replenish the electrolytes I found out later I had lost.

Hence, the seized hamstring. I was able to make it to my ManCave where I used some CBD cream and a massage gun. I also took some ibuprofen to calm the muscles, sat in my chair and massaged the muscle, then ate some peanut butter-filled pretzels (my go to snack) and drank a 32 oz Zero Gatorade.  Fortunately, I was able to calm the muscle down, climb back in bed about 10:30 and sleep solid (like never moved) until my normal wake up time of 3:30.

Ten minutes of sheer agony followed by 20 minutes of doing what I should have done after the ride trying to alleviate that agony and refuel my empty body. All because I DIDN’T DO WHAT WAS NECESSARY to recover in the first place.

Two things stand out to me. One, the importance of taking time to eat (which I did not).  We are admonished in the Scriptures to grow in our faith. The problem, according to the Hebrews writer is that the people weren’t growing and they “needed milk not solid food.” (Heb.5: 12-14). We are also told by Peter in I Peter 3: 2-3 to “long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Take away: eating is essential whether speaking physically or spiritually.

The second take away is the undeniable truth that there are consequences  for failing to eat properly. Screen time, phones, gaming, and mindless watching of the tube are often the cause of the failure to properly “feed” on God’s Word. I failed to refuel properly after my ride, i.e. expending much-needed electrolytes. I paid the price. Failure to take time to slow down and have what I called an Encounter Time also brings consequences.  You see…the one who fails to come apart will eventually come apart.

Take time to be alone with God. Take time to replenish your spirit. Come apart. Set time aside where you unwind and relax and listen. But remember to refuel as you do so.

October 3

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023

I was watching a video yesterday at the request of someone and the man the video was about was asked by a reporter (as they were riding in his horse-drawn carriage. And no, he is not Amish), how he hears the voice of God.  That was an interesting question, one I’m sure the non-believing reporter was sincerely curious about.

I’ve given some thought to that same question. Here are some common, and I’m sure, not all the answers:

“I follow my heart.” That is a very familiar one today. I could give you the name of a very well known movie and entertainment company whom I think has sort of adopted that moniker as their modus operandi. I’m going to be very open and honest here: I am really, really tired of hearing this same old drivel time after time.  But it also is not new. I can remember a song back in the ’70s with the lyrics: “It can’t be so wrong; it feels so right.”

“I hear His voice.” Now…hearing His voice has a connotation that I’m uneasy with. If speaking about hearing His voice audibly, I have a real problem with since I don’t believe God speaks through a burning bush type of approach today.  Many are waiting to “hear from on high” and for God to speak out loud before they make a decision or move ahead.  Why do I have problems with this?

“He speaks through His Word.”  God’s Word, the Bible, is His voice today. The psalmist says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path.” 

Granted there are other answers to this question people give. We have to be careful what voice we listen to. Our culture will tell us that what used to be wrong is no longer wrong but acceptable. The Bible is out-dated and old school. Or possibly even worse, people will make outright attempts to reinterpret Scripture to make it mean what they want it to mean.  They deny what is clearly defined as wrong and will either hedge on it or completely misfire because it doesn’t fit their narrative.  That is why “follow your heart” is so troublesome. The Bible says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB2020)  Long story short: our heart cannot be counted on to make or decide the right thing to do. Emotions enter the picture and convince us of what is not the truth or changes our view.

Don’t follow your heart; follow the Bible. Don’t allow our culture to convince you that the Bible is old and dusty and out of tune with today’s world. The Bible is the truth and it still stands. Jesus once said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will never pass away.”  I’ll stake my claim on His words and His Word.

September 21

Thursday, September 21st, 2023

One of the knocks against the Bible is that it is so hard to understand. “I tried reading the Bible once. What’s with all the begots and begats? I mean, like who in today’s world uses those words or talks like that that?”

Or here’s another: “I tried reading the Bible once. Who in the world can understand words like justification, sanctification, propitiation, and redemption?”

Granted, sometimes there are some places where the begats and begots get tiring (such is the way of a lineage). And it is true there are some big words used that we don’t understand or use very often (if at all) in 2023.

{Side note: Choose a more modern translation to use like the ESV (English Standard Version), the NIV (New International Version), the NLT (New Living Translation), or the NASB2020 (New American Standard Version 2020) and move away from the KJV (King James Version) with its more archaic language. Just a personal opinion}

But sometimes the Bible is very plain. John 3:16 is one of those verses. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” doesn’t get much plainer.   My favorite chapter in the Bible is Psalm 37. Four words stand out at the beginning and they are as plain as the nose on your face:

  • Trust (v.3)- Have faith
  • Delight (v.4)- Find joy
  • Commit (v.5)- Practice surrender (Lay it down)
  • Be still (v.7)- Be quiet (Learn patience)

There is more in that chapter! I’d encourage you to dig deeper.  Check out, for example, the first three words of verse 8. Or the reality of verse 16. See the refreshing encouragement of verses 23-24. Not only those, but you will find so much more in that chapter.

It is true that there are places the Bible is a bit difficult to understand or to grasp. Archaic words and language are tough to wade through. But the “dig” is worth it. There are so many riches to mine. Start digging!

And by the way: what did you learn from Psalm 37?

June 8

Thursday, June 8th, 2023

We will often use or hear used a saying: “I really have to walk a fine line.” We use that phrase when we are trying to describe the “fineness” between choices. Some might use it to describe the slim difference between right and wrong. Or we might use it when describing whether to say or not, whether to do or not do something.

One of the struggles the church faces-and it has always been this way-is the battle between truth and love. Someone has put it this way: “All truth without love is legalism (and I might add harshness); all love with no truth is mere sentimentality.” It is a fine line between being repulsive to the world because of our stand, and yet be attractive to the world because of our love and care.

See the point? There are those who are hard-liners…no bending whatsoever. “You must stand your ground even if it offends” and I agree we should not compromise. But that ground should be stood with love in our hearts not belligerence.  That is the fine line. How much “stand” vs how much love?

There is a battle going on between isolation and assimilation. Do we withdraw or do we just drift with the cultural? You have probably heard this quote in some form: “The boat is to be in the water, but its bad news if the water gets in the boat.” That is the constant struggle. And while we are debating the rights and wrongs of things, the world has wormed its way into the church. For example, while we have debated the rightness and wrongness of say, same sex attraction (and for the record I do believe God is very clear that He created us male and female), the church has become inundated and has allowed false teachers who tell people God owes them special blessings because they are people of God to infiltrate our defenses. Seems like the classic example of misdirection by the enemy. Get them to focus on this and I’ll slip in under the radar with this.

We do walk a fine line between acceptance and love. Love and truth always go together. It’s a fine line but one we need to thread and navigate carefully.

November 2

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

As I sat down at the table this morning to have my Encounter Time, I prayed, “Father, let Your Word come alive to me this morning. Let me find something this morning that I will be able to learn from and use today.”

The point of this devotion is not to say, “Here is what I learned today” and then write about it. The point is the prayer. Not my specific prayer, but the point of my prayer.

I think many people do read their Bible. I do think some even try to read it on a daily basis. But, for many, that is all it is. Just reading. Almost like “I can now say I read the Bible today.” We sit down to read God’s Word as though it is just another book. We read it like the latest novel.

Now, please understand, I’m not knocking even this type of reading the Bible. We are told His Word will never return void so anytime a person opens the Word to read, there is a chance it might penetrate the heart. In fact, I count on that, especially if I’m not in a listening mood (for a myriad of reasons).

But God’s Word and my reading of His Word is so much richer when I pray for open eyes and an open heart.  You see, when you or I spend time in God’s presence, when you or I have been with Jesus and grow spiritually, we will become more like Him.

Romans 8:28 is a favorite verse of many (take a moment to read it). It is one of those go-to verses people use. But that verse does not and should not stand alone. Verse 29 must come along with it, but how many know it? The purpose Paul says of things working together for our good is so that we might “be conformed to image of His Son.” Reading God’s Word shapes and conforms us to Jesus and that is what people will see when they look at us.

Pray for open eyes and an open heart. Then read. Meditate on those words. And anticipate being changed into His likeness.

October 6

Thursday, October 6th, 2022

I teach a class on Wednesday night I call “66.” You might see that it is a shortened version of Route 66, which is a survey of the 66 books of the Bible. Last night we finished up I & II Kings. 2 Kings ends with the exile of the Jews to Babylon. 136 years before, the northern tribes (10) called Israel, were taken captive by Assyria. The 2 southern tribes called Judah were now over.

As I closed I asked who was exiled to Babylon. The answer of course is Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (among thousands of others). To further complicate matters, I & II Chronicles is next. Then Ezra and Nehemiah who returned from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem. Ezra, the priest, concentrated on the spiritual; Nehemiah was the builder.

The point I made is while the Bible is a cohesive collection of books, totally inspired by God revealing His will and His character, it is not in order. Genesis through Nehemiah flow naturally. And they should, they are history books. But the rest of the books are not in chronological order. Otherwise, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon would be interspersed with I & II Samuel and I Kings. Talk about huge books! And you would also have to split up Psalms for when they were written. Isaiah would be broken up into little fragments throughout Kings and Chronicles. The same could be said about the other prophets- major and minor- as well. 

The Bible is God’s divinely inspired, written word. It is not a product of human ingenuity infused with divinity. It is not a self-help book with a few God-things or God-words added for good measure. It is a divine gift produced as men were moved by the Holy Spirit. Every word, sentence, chapter, book, and syllable was originally given by God’s divine inspiration. God’s Word, as we have it, is complete.

To sum it up: God’s Word is authoritative, sufficient, infallible and inerrant (without error) and is all we need to know how to live a life that honors God.

So…what is the Bible to you?