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Video: Kristyn Getty on Coming Back to the Bible

WOWM - Personal Story

This video with Kristyn Getty is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.

In this video, singer and songwriter Kristyn Getty shares two passages that have had a big influence on her life and offers some encouragement for those struggling to consistently read God’s Word.

Kristyn Getty on Coming Back to the Bible
from Crossway on Vimeo.

Kristyn Getty, along with her husband Keith, are known for writing and performing songs that transcend traditional church boundaries, uniting the voices of people all over the world.  They divide their time between their native home of Northern Ireland and Nashville, TN.  They have released five critically acclaimed albums including; In Christ Alone (2007), Awaken the Dawn (2009), Joy-An Irish Christmas (2011), Hymns for the Christian Life (2012), and Live at The Gospel Coalition recorded at the 2013 National Conference.

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The Reader’s Bible Experience Using ESVBible.org

With the release of the ESV Reader’s Bible, some have asked whether or not it will be available for e-readers (Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc.). An e-reader version of the Reader’s Bible is in the works, but in the meantime we suggest utilizing the settings within ESVBible.org on your web browser for a similar reading experience. Here is a brief tutorial:

1. Go to ESVBible.org.

2. Navigate to the passage you want to read by typing in a specific reference or book of the Bible in the top right corner of the page.

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3. To enter “Reader Mode”, click on the X-shaped arrows in the right corner of the Bible text box.

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In the resulting Bible display you can turn off headings, chapter numbers, verse numbers, and cross references:

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4. Hover your mouse over the left side of the screen and the following options will appear:

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Reader Mode on ESVBible.org is available to all users, whether or not they are signed in. By creating a free account, users can record their own notes, highlight and share verses, and unlock additional study resources like the ESV Study Bible Online or ESV GreekTools.

July 10, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News & Announcements | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:51 am | 1 Comment »

Why Study the Book of Acts?


This is a guest post by Justin Holcomb. He is the author of Acts: A 12-Week Study in Crossway’s Knowing the Bible study series.

Author and Purpose

Acts is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Both were written by Luke, a physician who traveled with the apostle Paul. Luke’s purpose for writing his Gospel (see Luke 1:3–4) applies to Acts as well: to give an “orderly” account of the early church after Christ’s resurrection. Acts is a historical account of how the resurrection of Jesus changes everything through the birth of the early church.

Geographical Expansion

Acts is the story of God’s grace flooding out to the world. Nothing
is more prominent in Acts than the spread of the gospel. Jesus promises
a geographic expansion at the outset (Acts 1:8), and Acts follows the news of his death and resurrection as it spreads from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and the faraway capital of Rome.

This is why Acts 1:8 is a key verse to understanding all of Acts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”


The preaching of Jesus’ death and resurrection is central in Acts. The Greek verb for “preach the gospel” (euangelizo) occurs more in this book than in any other in the New Testament. About a third of the book of Acts consists of speeches, and most of these are speeches of Peter or Paul proclaiming the gospel. The good news of the salvation accomplished in Christ and applied by the Holy Spirit extends to the “ends of the earth” through preaching.

God is central to the gospel’s expansion. He is at the heart of the gospel message, the news that reconciliation with the Father is now possible through Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit is responsible for the growth of the church and its remarkable expansion.

God’s Passionate Pursuit

In Acts, “grace” is a parallel for “the gospel” or “salvation.” Jesus’ message is summarized as “the word of his grace,” believers are said to have received “grace” or to be “full of grace,” and they are challenged to continue in “grace.” The missionaries in Acts proclaim the grace of God, and it is through this grace that people are able to respond with faith.

Acts reveals God’s passionate pursuit of his people, beginning with his followers in Jerusalem, expanding to Samaria, then to the rest of the world. By the end of the book we see Paul living in Rome “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31).

The gospel draws people in, constitutes them as the church centered on the grace of Jesus, and then sends them out in mission to the world. The new group of believers is marked by the Holy Spirit, who creates such a distinctive community that others are drawn in, experiencing God’s grace. At the same time, they take the gospel message to new people and new lands, making God’s grace known to the ends of the earth.

Barriers, Weakness, Opposition, and Persecution

The gospel spreads despite barriers of geography, ethnicity, culture, gender, and wealth. Many of these barriers appear so inviolable that when the gospel is preached to a new segment of society, riots ensue. But Luke makes clear that no one is beyond the scope of God’s saving power, nor is anyone exempt from the need for God’s redeeming grace.

In Acts, the gospel expands not through human strength, but through weakness, opposition, and persecution. Demonic forces, worldly powers and authorities, governmental opposition, language and cultural barriers, intense suffering and bloody persecution, unjust imprisonment, unbelief, internal disunity, and even shipwrecks and snakes all threaten to slow down the gospel’s advance. But opposition and suffering do not thwart the spread of Jesus’ grace; rather, they only fuel it.

Acts and the Rest of the Bible

Acts shows that the new Christian movement is not a fringe sect, but the culmination of God’s plan of redemption. What was seen only as shadows in the Old Testament, God reveals finally and fully through Jesus Christ. The book of Acts does not primarily provide us with human patterns to emulate or avoid. Instead, it repeatedly calls us to reflect upon the work of God, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, establishing the church by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The gospel’s expansion is the culmination of what God has been doing since the beginning. Acts consistently grounds salvation in the ancient purpose of God, which comes to fruition at God’s own initiative. This reveals God to be the great benefactor who pours out blessings on all people. Even the opportunity to repent is God’s gift.

Justin S. Holcomb (PhD, Emory University) is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology, philosophy, and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He serves on the boards of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments). He also serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.


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Midweek Roundup – 7/9/14

Each Wednesday we share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or helpful. These are often related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting and encouraging break for the middle of your week.

1. Her.meneutics reccommends Women of the Word as one of their picks for summer

On vacation I pause my chapter-by-chapter daily Bible reading and spend the week focusing on one particular passage. This year, I’m looking forward to using Women of the Word to guide my reading. Wilkin is simple, practical, and unapologetic about the plain hard work of Bible study—just what I need to get my head out of those fluffy white clouds.

2.  Jonathan Parnell reflects on when the abortion industry “self-destructs”

When will the rhetoric about women’s health and women’s rights be exposed for what it truly is (since, of course, by women’s “health” and women’s “rights” they must not mean the near 28 million girls aborted since 1973)? What will it take? Where is the tipping point when the truth of their enterprise can no longer be ignored by the popular conscience?

Signs suggest that mind-changing momentum is beginning to build, and to our surprise, it’s not so much from the direct work of pro-life advocates, but from the unmasked mishaps of abortion activists.

3. Paul Tripp offers some advice for sleepless nights

We all struggle to sleep at night, and to be fair, life in a fallen world is harsh and unpredictable. There are many outside factors that make life difficult and provide reason for restless nights.

But I’m deeply persuaded that in the midst of trial, we often abandon our theology. We quit believing that the Bible has the answers for life and we try to take the reins. With the weight of the world now on our self-appointed shoulders, we struggle to get a good night of sleep.

4. Kevin DeYoung calls for clarity with regard to evangelicals and cities

I love cities. I’ve spent time in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Chicago this summer. I love the energy, the opportunities, and the history of our nation’s big cities. I have no desire to discourage any Christian from moving to the city for ministry. Our cities have lots of people, and so they need lots of Christians, lots of churches, and lots of evangelical institutions. I’m all for evangelicals and cities coming together.

But what does that mean?

5. Dane Ortlund shares four reflections on his fourth anniversary at Crossway

4. Content-first publishing. If we don’t make money, we shrink and eventually disappear. But we say no to book and Bible projects that might sell widely but compromise out doctrinal standards, and yes to projects that make an important contribution to the kingdom and the church even if we anticipate modest sales. I love that. Truth trumps the bottom line. Because of #1 above.

July 9, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Midweek Roundup,News & Announcements | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

How to Be an Effective Bible Study Leader

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Nancy Guthrie and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.

Have you ever led a Bible study?

If so, you know how hard it can be to manage your group’s limited time and make sure you use that time wisely.

While some participants may be very casual about how the time is used, others in your group are very aware of the time and become frustrated when they feel their valuable time is being wasted. There are several issues, I’ve found, that have a significant impact on using the time allotted for small-group discussion effectively:

Getting Started

So often we run out of time because we are slow to get started. We are waiting for latecomers, or chatting, or enjoying some food together and simply let valuable discussion time get away from us. All groups develop a culture, and members learn whether the group will really start on time or not, and they adjust their sense of urgency in regard to arrival time accordingly.

Certainly you need to allow some time for participants to greet each other and to share their lives with each other, but you will want to determine how long that will last and give the group a firm start time for the discussion. If you set a culture of starting on time regardless of whether or not everyone in the group has arrived, and not allowing latecomers to interrupt your discussion when they arrive, you may likely find that group members become more punctual.

On the first day you meet, be sure to ask members to join the group and enter into the already-commenced discussion as unobtrusively as possible when they arrive after the discussion on the lesson has started. When we stop the discussion while everyone greets the late arriver, perhaps hearing the story of what caused the lateness, it can be challenging to get started again. As the leader, you will need to manage this area with a blend of appropriate firmness and grace.

Prayer Requests

Many times, we want our small-group discussion times to include a time of sharing prayer requests, which is a meaningful way of sharing our lives together and exercising our trust and relationship with God. But we also know that sometimes sharing requests can turn into telling long stories and lengthy discussions as other members offer advice or input.

One way to handle this, if the use of time for prayer requests is a concern for your group, is to provide note-cards for people to write down their requests and share them at the end or simply have members swap cards with someone else. Or you may simply want to determine a time to bring your discussion to a close that will allow for time at the end for sharing requests, praying together over those requests, and praying through the truths presented in the lesson.

Getting Stuck Along the Way

So often we give too much time to earlier questions and simply don’t have time to work our way through all that we want to cover. You might want to look over the content you want to cover before your group time to determine how you will use the time. Mark the key questions and topics you must get to. Make a note beside each question you want to be sure to include, indicating an estimate of how much time you want to give for discussing that question, and then watch the clock along the way to keep on track.

Keeping the Focus on God’s Word

People come to a Bible study for many reasons, from many situations and struggles, and with varying levels of knowledge of and interest in the Bible. Sometimes our groups can easily slip from being a Bible study group into becoming more of a personal support group. Finding that right balance between biblical study and personal support is a significant challenge for every small-group leader.

I’ve sometimes heard group leaders say that when a group member arrives with a significant struggle or sorrow, the leader feels she must set the study aside to listen and give input to that hurting person. Perhaps there are situations where this is the best thing to do, but we must also remember that the Word of God speaks into every need and situation in our lives. It heals, it gives perspective, it instructs, convicts, restores, and renews. Be sure that you do not assume that the advice and input of group members has more power than your discussion of the truths of God’s Word to help that hurting person.

Keep in mind that while some participants may come more for the fellowship and sharing of their lives with each other, many other participants are hungry to feast on biblical teaching and discussion of God’s Word. If, over time, these participants find that the Word is often set aside or given short shrift, they may look for another forum in which to study God’s Word with others.

Ending On Time

Because participants have plans after the study, people to meet, children to pick up from childcare, etc., it is important that you end on time so that participants will not be slipping out one-by-one, or be unable to focus on the discussion because of the distraction of needing to be somewhere else.

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at conferences around the country and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Covenant Theological Seminary. She and her husband, David, are the co-hosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 8,500 churches nationwide and they also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is the author of numerous books including Holding on to HopeHearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, and the five-book Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series.

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