Finding Lasting Peace of Mind


Finding Lasting Peace of Mind

By Pastor Jeff (CMU Contributing Author)

New International Version
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:7)

One of the hardest parts of living the Christian life is having peace in a world that is in chaos. I want to encourage you today and give you some practical advice in how to deal with this. To do this I borrow from both the medical and spiritual realms.

Let’s start with the medical. The brain is the organ of our body that controls our body processes like the heartbeat and breathing. However, the brain is also a mystery in this realm we know as thinking and even the soul. The brain has been shown to be active in different areas under the scan of an MRI during certain thought or emotional cycles. The research tells us today that most cognitive thought takes place in the big part of our brain or cerebrum. This is the part of our brain that we use to make decisions and think about things. What if we could be like Mr. Spock from the Star Trek series that acted from pure logic without emotion, His counterpart Captain Kirk was always arguing with Spock saying that being human is to be emotional.

The emotional part of our brain is the simple brain which lies underneath our cerebrum. This is where emotions are created in our brain due to the chemistry that is created. Have you ever had an emotional experience where you felt like you had little or no control? This has been the experience of many of us. We struggle with the thoughts of being out of control and maybe even feeling condemned. This is the sad barrier that needs to be overcome. We need not be dismayed for much longer. Just keep reading.
The spiritual is also coming into the picture. I would like to bring this reality into the focus of the picture as well. Paul the Apostle said that he struggled with what he wanted to do and found that sin had victory.

“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.”(Romans 7:15-17)

It is pretty safe to say that even the great Apostle struggled with conquering his emotional self. The human condition is no different today that in his time. We have a struggle in the spirit to overcome sin in our body. My experience is that this is really a journey that needs to be taken and not an instant cure for things like anxiety or depression. We also know that Satan preys upon our human weakness through accusation and taking advantage of our humanity through temptation. How do we overcome?

Let me share with you my experience with this. I lost my full time employment about a year ago. I was working for a great company with a lot of promise for the future and upward mobility. In essence I was very full of joy and loved what I was doing. Then unexpectedly everything changed. Now I was out of a job and had all the fear of what to do now. I suffered for many days and nights struggling with the pressure and stress of it all. Then I decided to tackle this big giant like David versus Goliath. But you need to have the right weapon to fight the giant. So this is where I would like to take you as well.

I would pray and things just seemed to get worse and I still did not have any peace. I was really struggling. Well, I did some research and found out that our brains naturally go towards the negative thought processes due to the fight or flight response cycle which focuses on survival. I decided that this part of me could be overcome. Would I ever find the weapon I needed?

They say that prayer is our weapon against the enemy that we read of in Ephesians 6. However, my experience was that even though I was praying, my experience was still fear, anger, anxiety, etc… Praying is the right path but, allow me to share what I believe works. The Bible tells us to be still and quiet before the Lord.“ Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”(Psalm 46:10) So what you do is just sit still and let go of your thoughts and focus upon the greatness of God. This time of silence became a daily discipline for me that I made deliberate time for. What happened next was simply amazing. My thoughts became quiet and the thoughts of fear and anxiety faded. This is because I made God my focal point instead of the problem of being unemployed. Once the fear was gone then I could come to the Lord in a better state of mind. Thus I experienced the peace of God that has carried me through the hard time of life.

Going back the verse at the beginning of this article, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Phillipians 4:7) The peace became a new reality for me and I was free from the simple brain controlling my mind. This is when I could surpass my emotions and think with my cerebrum. This has made it possible for me to fight the giant. We all have giants in our lives that need to be conquered. I know you can overcome because if I can do it anyone can!


Copyright © 2015 Pastor Jeff.

Pastor Jeff is the founder of Worldwide Gospel Teaching Ministry that is dedicated to reaching out to the world through the use of social media with the love of Christ. Join him or get involved at members can also contact him directly @pastorjeff.

No Condemnation: Freed From the Penalty of Sin

Question: “What are the different English Bible versions?”

What are the different English Bible versions?

Question: “What are the different English Bible versions?”

Answer: Depending on how one distinguishes a different Bible version from a revision of an existing Bible version, there are as many as 50 different English versions of the Bible. The question then arises: Is there really a need for so many different English versions of the Bible? The answer is, of course, no, there is no need for 50 different English versions of the Bible. This is especially true considering that there are hundreds of languages into which the entire Bible has not yet been translated. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with there being multiple versions of the Bible in a language. In fact, multiple versions of the Bible can actually be an aid in understanding the message of the Bible.

There are two primary reasons for the different English Bible versions. (1) Over time, the English language changes/develops, making updates to an English version necessary. If a modern reader were to pick up a 1611 King James Version of the Bible, he would find it to be virtually unreadable. Everything from the spelling, to syntax, to grammar, to phraseology is very different. Linguists state that the English language has changed more in the past 400 years than the Greek language has changed in the past 2,000 years. Several times in church history, believers have gotten “used” to a particular Bible version and become fiercely loyal to it, resisting any attempts to update/revise it. This occurred with the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, and more recently, the King James Version. Fierce loyalty to a particular version of the Bible is illogical and counterproductive. When the Bible was written, it was written in the common language of the people at that time. When the Bible is translated, it should be translated into how a people/language group speaks/reads at that time, not how it spoke hundreds of years ago.

(2) There are different translation methodologies for how to best render the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into English. Some Bible versions translate as literally (word-for-word) as possible, commonly known as formal equivalence. Some Bible versions translate less literally, in more of a thought-for-thought method, commonly known as dynamic equivalence. All of the different English Bible versions are at different points of the formal equivalence vs. dynamic equivalence spectrum. The New American Standard Bible and the King James Version would be to the far end of the formal equivalence side, while paraphrases such as The Living Bible and The Message would be to the far end of the dynamic equivalence side.

The advantage of formal equivalence is that it minimizes the translator inserting his/her own interpretations into the passages. The disadvantage of formal equivalence is that it often produces a translation so woodenly literal that it is not easily readable/understandable. The advantage of dynamic equivalence is that it usually produces a more readable/understandable Bible version. The disadvantage of dynamic equivalence is that it sometimes results in “this is what I think it means” instead of “this is what it says.” Neither method is right or wrong. The best Bible version is likely produced through a balance of the two methodologies.

Listed below are the most common English versions of the Bible. In choosing which Bible version(s) you are going to use/study, do research, discuss with Christians you respect, read the Bibles for yourself, and ultimately, ask God for wisdom regarding which Bible version He desires you to use.

King James Version (KJV)
New International Version (NIV)
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
New King James Version (NKJV)
English Standard Version (ESV)
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Century Version (NCV)
New English Bible (NEB)
American Standard Version (ASV)
Good News Bible (GNB) / Today’s English Version (TEV)
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Today’s New International Version (TNIV)
New English Translation (NET)
Revised Standard Version (RSV)
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
God’s Word Translation (GW)
Common English Bible (CEB)
New International Readers Version (NIrV)
Easy-To-Read Version (ERV)
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Bible in Basic English (BBE)
21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
What is the Modern King James Version (MKJV)?
What is the Modern English Version (MEV)?
World English Bible (WEB)
Revised English Bible (REB)
Jerusalem Bible (JB)
New American Bible (NAB)
The Living Bible (TLB)
The Message (MSG)
Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
The Bishops’ Bible
Douay-Rheims Version (DRV)
Tyndale Bible
Geneva Bible

Recommended Resources: How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions by Gordon D. Fee & Mark L. Strauss and Logos Bible Software.

(Article reproduced from by permission from (

Article © 2014,

Father’s Day

Father's Day

Father’s Day

by John Bollow.

He would begin his days in a circuit that bisected Chicago, driving a beat up Chevy company car, averaging over a hundred miles a day. After calling on clients, he would then return to the machine shop, darting about, directing orders through to fabrication and shipping. On days like that he would say, “I feel like a mosquito in a nudist camp, I don’t know where to strike first” — one of his many bon mots. And if the order didn’t get done, I would see him finishing it in his basement workshop at home.

His word was his bond. His standards were impeccable, yet he could never bring himself to buy a decent pair of shoes. And until the day he retired, he wore godawful clip-on ties that he ripped off after meetings and would pile up in his backset like linguini.

It didn’t matter. His sales chops, his natural timing, his charm, and his winsome way with people made up for the mail order shoes and the damn neckties. He always treated everyone in his company with wit and an even-handed way that didn’t care what their station was.

He went through his days with a twinkle in his eye, often coming into the office and saying to his fellow salesmen with a raised arm, “No saluting men, not necessary.” Yet he carried himself with a humility that could admit when he was wrong. He never talked business with clients at lunch, but would ask about their lives, their children, making them feel at ease. If asked, he would share what his lapel pin signified. It was rounded silver triangle, with a diamond in the middle. “Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” he’d say, “That’s the Trinity.” His other favorite lapel pin was an American flag, and he did not wait for an invitation to talk about that or the country he loved. He never did forgive Jane Fonda for Hanoi.

Home from work, he’d finish his day reading to us, then reading his beloved history, usually of the Civil War or World War II, but if I remember him saying anything it was, “I don’t know of anything more stupid than war.” His stack of books on his nightstand was two deep and a foot high but he couldn’t stop buying them. His weekends were filled improving the house, teaching us how to mow the lawn or snow- blow the driveway, or hosting a friend who might drop in for a kitchen-table talk over coffee. His work ethic, loyalty, and principles were without equal. His clear-eyed sense of right and wrong is a compass I still carry in my heart.

One day, I hope I’ll be able to tell my sons, when they ask about him, that my dad was a little like me. Or more correctly, that I’m trying to be at least a little like him. Like him, I’ve been inspired to walk precincts during a campaign. Like him, I keep a stack of books on my nightstand and can never get through them. Like him, I rationalize my career fulfillment for the sake of my kids. Like him, I try to come home every night on time and hug the mother of my children close. Like him, I’m already taking them to airshows and history exhibits.

One of my most cherished memories as a little boy is laying next to him, watching his hazel eyes as he would read to us; they would move, just slightly, left to right, following the words across the page. Today, his hazel colored eyes belong to Finley, 4, and like my father, I read to the boys at night. And like my dad, I call him “my big guy” and like my father have a nickname for Sam and Cooper, too. My father never met anyone whose name he did not lengthen, or shorten, into an original nickname all his own. I have the same affliction.

God I miss him. Like me, my children will not know their grandfather. Like me, they lost their father’s father before they were born or could recognize him. Sam was just six weeks old the night before Dad died and we laid him in his arms.

There are still so many things I want to ask him about fatherhood, about life, about his ancestors, about the convertibles he owned before I was born. But even now, some things drift back and embody my days with inclinations I cannot take credit for. I seem to intuitively know, without even thinking about it, how to be with my clients. I put out the flag like he does, and make a point to introduce my sons to veterans when we see them. I try to put my wife first like he always did. But I still have a long way to go to live up to his stature.

His quintuple bypass in 2007 was a bitch. They broke the sternum to get in and do all they had to do. His rehab was slow but he went, treading a treadmill for all he was worth. One day, another gentleman in his seventies showed up and they recognized each other; my father had bought an acre of land from Mr. Stanciu in 1970, where my dad built our second home. They started catching up; one of Stanciu’s daughter’s went to my dad’s church. Another one had dated me in college. Dad invited him to church. Stanciu demurred. But Dad wouldn’t let up — it’s like he knew that neither of them had much time. Weeks went by. One day, Stanciu showed up at Dad’s church, telling one of the pastors that he finally relented just so he wouldn’t have to hear it anymore. He asked where we could find my dad, but he wasn’t there. Dad was slipping away by then, a stroke laying him low. At Dad’s memorial, we heard that Stanciu had become a Christian several weeks later, just before they both passed away.

When he’d drop us off somewhere, for a sleepover as kids, or many years later at college, he’d say: “Remember, as you go through life, you’re the greatest.” To this day, it is a phrase that is mysterious to me, just like his other beloved phrase, “Keep the faith.”

But I cherish that benediction like nothing else I’ve ever heard in my life. It is at once a compliment, an affirmation, an exhortation, a call to live up to something. I tell it now to my boys all the time, most recently when I’d dropped Sam off at kindergarten over this past year.

I said it to Finley the other day and he said, “You’re the greatest, too.” Oh, I don’t know about that, sweet boy. I’ve seen the standard. The bar has been set high. Maybe one day, maybe one day.

Copyright © 2014 John Bollow.

John Bollow is a creative director and author living in Pasadena, California. He and his wife, Lori have three boys. He is currently capturing the humor and agony of that in a book on fatherhood he plans to publish next year. You can follow him on Twitter @AdDaddy

True Love image

How Service Work Made Me A Better Person

True Love image
How Service Work Made Me A Better Person


As a teenager, I had the most incredible opportunity. I was offered the chance to join a group of volunteers in service work in India. We would travel to a small town in rural South India called Thiruvannamalai, to work at a hospice run by a Christian missionary charity that cared for orphans and the terminally ill.


Little did I know how much organizing and preparation would be necessary. The weeks passed in a whirl. There was paperwork to wade through, visa formalities to arrange, and vaccines to be taken. Fortunately the logistics of booking tickets and arranging accommodation in India were handled by our organizers.


Finally, one bright and sunny morning in March, we landed in India and drove around 300 miles to our hamlet which would be home for the next three weeks. That afternoon, we visited the hospice for the first time. It was an experience I will never forget.


We are conditioned to think about our circumstances based on our past and present. Coming from a developed nation meant I had certain preconceived notions about what amenities and facilities are taken for granted, what lifestyle is considered normal, and even the definition of deprivation, poverty and want.


All those things changed in a hurry.


Seeing the squalor and lack of even basic requisites of life that this under-privileged population struggled with every day totally transformed my worldview forever. And at the heart of this change was a young man named Prabhakaran.


Suffering from a serious heart condition, abandoned by his family because he couldn’t work or earn his living, the young man had been crippled and bedridden for a month. Even breathing was difficult, and he gasped as he sat hunched up in bed, the injections and medicines he received daily doing little to alleviate his misery.


I spent hours at the hospice, taking care of the inmates and doing little chores to ease their pain and suffering. Whenever I could grab a spare moment, I would talk to Prabhakaran. We were about the same age, and shared similar dreams, hopes and desires… except that he knew he would never live to see them come true. Still, we enjoyed some good times, even laughing together as I shared anecdotes and stories from my life back home.


All too soon, it was time for us to return. We had an early morning flight. That evening, as I said goodbye to my new friend, he had tears in his eyes. His wasted fingers gripped my hand as he gazed intently into my face, as if to burn every detail in his memory. Then his fingers touched the watch at my wrist, and he looked down at it.


“Can I ask you for a favor, please, Elena?” he said. I nodded. “Will you give me your watch, so I can remember you by it?”


I hesitated for barely a moment. The watch was special, a birthday gift from my mother the year before she died. Along with the bracelet I wore on my other hand, they were constant reminders of her love and affection. But that’s exactly the same reason why Prabhakaran wanted it. And he had little else to look forward to.


On the long flight back home, as I thoughtfully fingered my bracelet, I remembered the young man back in Thiruvannamalai who was fighting to live who now had my watch to remember our friendship. I felt a warm glow inside. I had a newer, deeper perspective on life and love. I felt glad about volunteering for this service mission in India. It made me a better person.

(Article by Elana Williams)

Article © 2014 Christian Faith-Based Community, Inc. All Rights reserved.

Who Can Stand against God’s Chosen?

Who Can Stand against God’s Chosen?What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31, King James Version)


We are taught as young children never to answer a question with a question. The Apostle Paul does exactly that is verse 31 of Romans chapter 8. The book of Romans is actually a letter that Paul wrote to the Church in Rome and he spent a great deal of time and effort making some powerful points to the believers in Rome. When the truth expressed in this short verse is clearly understood it provides confidence to the believer that no matter what they are facing, their relationship with God insures that they will emerge victorious. This brief lesson will provide the insight necessary to truly understand exactly what the Apostle Paul was attempting express to his readers.


Chapter 8 was filled with encouraging truths as Paul revealed the reason for hope for the committed believer. Many have painted God as a harsh ruler who looks for any reason to punish or destroy His creation, but Paul revealed that God is full of love and desires to have a close relationship with His people. The chapter begins by revealing that those who are in Christ (having accepted Christ has their Lord and Savior) no longer fall under the condemnation associated with sin. This is important because it removes the weight of the burden that comes with the guilt of failing God.


He moves on to reveal that all believers are grafted into the royal family of God through spiritual adoption. Spiritual adoption has powerful implications. When Paul wrote this letter children who were adopted had more rights in their adopted families than children born into it. Biological children could be disowned, whereas children that were adopted could not. This reveals the permanence of the relationship between God and his people.


Paul also told the Romans that he considered the sufferings that they were currently enduring unworthy to be compared with the Glory they would produce. Suffering is sometimes unavoidable, but God always has purpose for it.


Paul goes from one truth to the next until he arrives at verse 31. He then asks the recipients of this letter what conclusion could they draw from what he had told them. Paul immediately turns around and answers his own question with a question. Paul is saying to them that with God standing with them there is nothing that they could not overcome. There would be attacks from the enemy. There would be struggles and disappointments. There would be long delays in the pursuit of visions and dreams, but with God, victory is certain.


Despite what many have taught, God has never promised that there would not be hard times in the life of the believer. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that there would tribulations (John 16:33). It is not in the absence of struggles that the believer advances, but despite them. Paul doesn’t paint a portrait of ease and comfort for the Romans, but he does masterfully paint one of victory.


This verse of scripture reveals that regardless to what adversity you may face, with God on your side you will emerge triumphantly. The Christian way of life is not about comfort or ease. It is about believing in God to do the impossible in your life. When believers trust God, even in their difficulties, it provides the opportunity for God to use those moments to show Himself strong on behalf of those that are loyal to Him.


If God is for you, there is no obstacle that can stop you from fulfilling your destiny. With God on your side, even the most devastating forces will not destroy you. There is no force that can withstand the power of God.


Try to imagine the worst thing you can ever endure. Think about the thing you fear most. Then realize that not even that horrible thing has the power to destroy you. God will neutralize all negative forces that come into your life. You can’t avoid all the bad things, life does not work that way, but you can deal with every struggle knowing that God is in control.


Paul told the Romans that God’s love for them was so powerful that nothing in the world be able to separate them from it.


As you attempt to grasp the depth of what this scripture has to say, you find it impossible. Your minds cannot go beyond God capability. Anything that you can think of cannot create a situation that God is incapable of handling.


So, when you find yourself in a scary situation, remember that God is aware of what you are going through and He has promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you. He has promised to stand with you through it all. With God standing with you, there is no problem that you cannot overcome.

(Article by Dr. Rick Wallace)

Article © 2014 Christian Faith-Based Community, Inc. All Rights reserved.

No Condemnation: Freed From the Penalty of Sin

No Condemnation: Freed From the Penalty of Sin

No Condemnation: Freed From the Penalty of Sin“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1, King James Version)


It is important when studying the Word of God to understand a few simple principles. One of the most important principles of Bible study is to consider the context. This means that we must not isolate scripture from its text when attempting to interpret its meaning. The above scriptural verse can only be understood in light of its surrounding text.


The text that supports this scripture is rather broad; it begins with chapter 3 and ends with chapter 8. Most people believe that the beginning of chapter 8 is the conclusion of what Paul wrote in chapter 7, but it covers all of what Paul had written from chapter 3 forward to this point.


In chapter 3, Paul established that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). In chapter 6 he revealed that the punishment for sin was death (Romans 6:23). In chapter 7, Paul pointed to the natural impulse of humans to do what is wrong in the sight of God; the presence of the sin nature (Romans 7:15-25).


Chapter 8 is where Paul explains how God, through grace (God’s unmerited favor), provides all that is necessary for man to overcome his fallen state. Verse 1 of this chapter introduces the neutralizing force of God’s grace. To this point, Paul had pointed out that “man” (all of humanity) was in a hopeless position. Sin was not acceptable to God. In fact, the punishment for sin was death (both physically and spiritually).


Before moving on, let’s take a look at death that comes as a result of sin. In order to do this we need to take a look into the book of Genesis.


17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17, King James Version)


Although physical death was partly implicit here, it was not the primary focus. This can be understood by the fact that neither Adam nor Eve died the day that they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So what type of death was implied? Spiritual death was implicit in God’s command here. Spiritual death can best be explained as total separation from God. It is the inability of man to have a relationship with His creator. The Bible reveals that God is a Spirit and all who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. Being spiritually dead severs the connection between man and God.


Since Adam was the corporate head of humanity (meaning he was the representation of all humans before God), when he sinned God accounted that sin to all of humanity (Romans 5:12-17). It is important to understand this. All humans are born spiritually dead because the sin of Adam is applied to the account of every individual. Long before actively committing your first sin, sin had already been accounted to you.


Romans Chapter 5 verses 12-17 reveal that Adam was the first representation of humanity and through him sin entered into the world. This passage further reveals that Christ was the second corporate head of humanity. Through Adam, sin entered the world and through Christ sin was taken away.


So, when verse 1 says that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ, it is saying that what you were unable to accomplish on your own, being sinners, Christ executed on your behalf. Only one that has not sinned can take upon Himself the sins of all. Christ was the perfect, unblemished sacrifice.


Bible scholars have often called the eighth chapter of Romans the crown jewel of the Bible. This is because it is loaded with doctrines (centralized teachings) that reveal God’s grace to mankind. What makes verse 1 of chapter eight so important is the fact that it frees the believer from having a guilt complex, based on their natural proclivity to sin. This does not mean that sin isn’t judged and that it has no consequence, it simply means that sin no longer has the power to separate the believer from God. Spiritual death has been eradicated from the equation.


Why is understanding the truth revealed in verse 1 so important? It is important for a couple of reasons. The first thing is that is provides the liberation from the burden of sin that can weigh down the believer. The burden of guilt can be quite a load to carry; verse 1 takes away that burden. When a believer carries guilt because of past mistakes and failures, it can cripple them and render them incapable of fulfilling their designed purpose as they carry out God’s plan for their lives.


Secondly, the apprehension of verse 1 provides the clarity necessary to understand verses 5-14. Paul has taken the time to lay out these doctrinal truths with great accuracy and detail. One truth lays the foundation for a greater truth. Because Christ has paid the price for your sin, they can no longer be charged or held against you as a means of destroying your relationship with God. This verse provides the confidence necessary for the believer the carry out their mission here on earth.


The eighth chapter of Romans presents a number of powerful truths, such as the fact that believers have been grafted into the royal family of God through spiritual adoption. It reveals that God works everything that happens in your lives (good and bad) together to achieve what is ultimately best for you. It also reveals that you have the power to conquer every obstacle that you will face in your lives. All of these things are presented upon the foundation of your freedom from condemnation.

(by Dr. Rick Wallace)

Article © 2014 Christian Faith-Based Community, Inc. All Rights reserved.

Amazing Grace – The Story Behind the World’s Most Famous Hymn

(U2 performing “Amazing Grace”)

Amazing Grace – The Story Behind the World’s Most Famous Hymn
by Greg Hanson


“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” So begins the most famous hymn in the world. You would be hard pressed to find a hymnal printed in the past 200 years that does not contain the music and lyrics to “Amazing Grace.”


Recorded by such music superstars as Elvis Presley, LeAnn Rimes, and Whitney Houston, “Amazing Grace” has become the hymn most identified with the Christian Church. It has been featured in movies ranging from Coal Miner’s Daughter to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn and has even appeared on The Simpsons. With over 7000 known recordings, “Amazing Grace” holds the world record as the most recorded song in history. The simplicity of its music and the honesty of its lyrics has made the hymn a favorite of millions worldwide, both within and outside the Church.


“Amazing Grace” was originally written in 1772 and published in 1779 by John Newton, a former sailor and slave trader. According to Newton, one day during a storm while aboard his slave-trading ship, he encountered the grace of God and his life was drastically changed as a result. This conversion eventually led to Newton, who no longer wished to participate in such a vile occupation as slave-trading, leaving the business to study theology and later become the curate at a local church in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.


While serving in that church, Newton considered the transformation he had undergone and realized how utterly bankrupt his life had previously been. Considering the despicable nature of his former profession, he was in awe that God would still extend grace and forgiveness to one such as him. Out of that sense of wonder and brokenness flowed the words to “Amazing Grace.” (Newton’s concept of God’s grace would also come to influence William Wilberforce, the English parliamentarian who successfully led a decades-long fight to put an end to the slave trade throughout the British Empire.)


Over the years, “Amazing Grace” has connected with singers and listeners alike. Though not everyone shares Newton’s history of selling people as property, most people recognize significant deficiencies in their lives. Whether they identify it as sin, moral failure, skeletons in the closet, or some other synonym for personal inadequacy, each person has an area of regret and shame, either regarding a past activity or a current condition. The concept of a God who can extend grace even to the worst of offenders offers freedom and hope to those who otherwise would feel trapped and hopeless.


The hymn by itself is powerful, but an understanding of the back-story adds to its impact. In an era when popular music styles change regularly, “Amazing Grace” continues to touch hearts and inspire hope. As it has done for well over two centuries, it will continue to convey the message of God’s amazing grace to all who feel unworthy of receiving that grace.

– by Greg Hanson

(U2 Video courtesy of Vimeo: Eugene Cho – please also check out Ugene’s non-profit organization at
Article © 2014 Christian Faith-Based Community, Inc. All Rights reserved.

The Book of Genesis – Bible Summary

snakeThe book of Genesis is all about beginnings and the origins of space and time. It is the first book of the Pentateuch and is ascribed to Moses. Genesis is a book of records. It tells us about the earliest moments of the heavens and the earth, of plants, animals and certainly human life. It establishes the role of humanity and sets the tone for the rest of the Judeo-Christian experience. It is broken into five parts: the creation of all things, the fall and redemption of mankind, the seeds of early man from Cain to the flood times, and finally a period of time from the flood to the Tower of Babel.


There are undeniable similarities with Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian mythology about the beginnings of time and certain events that predate written history. Certainly these stories predate the Mosaic account. The creation of the earth and the Great Flood of Noah’s generation are glaring examples of this correlation as variations of these stories are found on monuments and tablets all over the ancient world. Some might think these similarities serve to invalidate Genesis. Yet in actuality, the prevalence of these myths only add credibility to the book of Genesis, offering comparison texts and points of reference from outside the biblical account. As told in Genesis, these traditional tales take on a more historical tone and read more like reference than mythology. The book of Genesis, its characters and events are authenticated by history, time and time again. The more we uncover about our past, the more we realize the truth, clarity and importance of the Bible’s first book.


Genesis covers a time span of more than two thousand years. Its linear timeline has been the subject of some debate, but to quibble over dates would be to ignore the true purpose and importance of the text itself. There are several main themes introduced in this book. God as a singular deity is introduced in Genesis. The first words of the Bible state, “In the beginning God” and recognizes the self-realization of God. It shines a bright light onto the character of God, how He sees Himself as well as humanity.


In Genesis, God makes several agreements or covenants with mankind, four in this book. In the beginning, we are introduced to two iconic individuals Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Eden and Adam covenants are most certainly related. In the Eden covenant, Adam is charged with dominion over the Earth and all its creatures, setting up a relationship that endures to this day. After Adam eats the forbidden fruit of knowledge, the second covenant, the Adam covenant is formed, by which grand punishments are handed down upon mankind. The third covenant in Genesis is the Noah covenant, whereby God promises to never wipe out the creatures of Earth again with a catastrophic flood, revealing the first true accounts of God’s grace and mercy. The final covenant of Genesis is the covenant with Abraham, arguably one of the most important in history. Abraham becomes the father of a great nation, known as Israel and God promises to bless Abraham’s seed for all time. He grants the seed of Abraham specific lands to rule over and promises to bring redemption and blessings upon them. These covenants are of profound importance to the rest of the Bible and establish the framework by which God’s will is to be interpreted going forth for all eternity.


Whereby the beginning of Genesis is quite glorious and divine, the latter portions of the book deal with earthly, flawed individuals that possess qualities we can all identify with: suffering, heartache, pride and defeat. There are characters that would rival any modern day soap star’s rise and fall from grace, such as Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and Rachel. The book of Genesis ends with the death of Joseph, an important figure for Israel, whose familial hardships set up the dramatic experiences to take place during the Israelites’ time in the land of Egypt.

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