Faith comes by HEARING

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

This past year our BSF study was going through the People of the Promised Land 1 (Joshua-Solomon). As part of that study, I was blessed with the opportunity to give the lecture on the book of Psalms.

Before preparing the lecture, I wanted to get the full picture of the Psalms by reading through them at least once and hopefully several times. It was at this time that I learned from my wife the wonderful blessing of LISTENING to God’s Word. Yes, I enjoy reading it, but LISTENING added a whole new element. Interestingly, this is the only way that many people through the years have learned God’s Word as books were not always as available as today. This became my go-to to listen to while driving, and helped to seize every moment for Christ.

When looking to listen I tried out a few audio Bibles. They were OK, but didn’t really draw me into the Word.

Then I found one that did! I felt like God’s Word came alive.

And as an added bonus the best one I found was free!!! That means that not only can I enjoy it, but I can easily point others to it as well.

It is at https://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/.

The specific Bible that I listen to (now thoroughly enjoying Acts as we prepare for next year) can be found at:

https://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/audio-bibles/download/eng/engesvn2da for the New Testament (ESV) and https://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/audio-bibles/download/eng/engesvo2da for the Old Testament (ESV). Or click here for either Google/Android or Apple/iPhone.

These particular recordings are dramatized with music and different voices reading the ESV translation. It is also available in a non-dramatized version, as well as just about every language in the world.

I pray that this may help your enjoyment of God’s Word come alive as much as it has for me.


As an added note, for the study of the Psalms, I had certain Psalms that I listened to (and continue to listen to fairly often) for each day of the month. This is in addition to listening to other areas in God’s Word that I am currently studying.

I consider a month to have 30 days, so listen to every 30th Psalm starting with that day’s date.

For example on the first of the month, I listen to Psalm 1, Psalm 31, Psalm 61, Psalm 91, Psalm 121 and Proverbs 1.

For the second of the month I listen to Psalm 2, Psalm 32, Psalm 62, Psalm 92, Psalm 122 and Proverbs 2.

Notice, just take the day of the month and keep adding 30 until you run out of Psalms.

For Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in the Bible), I sometimes listen to it as scheduled above, or I put it by itself on the 31st day of months with 31 days.

The way that I made this more convenient is that I made playlists on my phone. Everyday has a playlist with just the right Psalms & Proverb. Then, when it is that day, I can just play that playlist. It is ready to go every day, every month.

I download the playlists to the phone so that I can listen on the go without using my phone data.


This gift has been an amazing blessing to me, which is now enjoyed by our whole family as we play it at home. I pray that soaking in God’s Word will be a blessing to you as well, as the Holy Spirit makes the Word alive to you.

Homiletics Post 3 of 3: Examples, Tweaks & Additions

Previous related posts: Part 1 of 3: “My story”, Part 2 of 3: “What is Homiletics?”

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…
Colossians 3:16a

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica;
they received the word with all eagerness,
examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Acts 17:11

In the previous posts, I shared my story and when and how I started learning homiletics. Like me, you may tweak this design or add to it as you get more into God’s Word and see what helps you to draw near to him. As I have done my own homiletics and read more about homiletics, I also have added sections to my homiletics, but still use the above mentioned plan as my base.

I gained a lot from “Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages“ by Haddon Robinson, which was recommended by my pastor as a main book used in seminaries. From reading this book, I added a section to my homiletics which further broke down each Division into a Subject, Compliment, Idea, Application and Principles. I further broke down the Application sections into “What does this teach about God?” and “How does this impact my life?”.This also gives mom and I areas for deeper spiritual discussions and applications as we both love God’s Word.

When I was learning, I know that examples were as, if not more, helpful than explanation. My homiletics for John 2 make for a fairly clear and complete example. More examples, as well as glimpses into what God was teaching me at the time, are available here: Revelation, John. You can also copy my template, which I update as I think of new areas that would be helpful. (Again, mine are not the best homiletics, and I have grown over time. Don’t let mine limit or intimidate you.)


A word of caution & insight

Develop your own style, don’t just copy mine – I encourage you to develop your own style. Part of the growing for me has been in tweaking my homiletics sheet as I learn more about God and His Word and see ways that would help me to focus to know him even more. It’s all about the process!

Viewing others homiletics – I am hesitant to include the links to my homiletics other than one example for John 2. I don’t want them to be something you look at first, but as you are doing homiletics yourself, sometimes it is fun to discuss yours and see others. I also want to have them available for if I am gone, so you can see a glimpse into your dad’s journey before you. I would enjoy seeing your homiletics as well, and to see how the Lord is speaking to you!


Remember, the goal is to draw near to God through His word, not to simply have an academic understanding of the Bible. Pray that God would open your eyes to see Him and His truths and applications in His Word.

May the Word of God dwell in you richly!

Dad

Note to Others: In keeping with the purpose of our site, this is a letter to our kids and grandkids to leave as a legacy if something should happen to us. If you find any benefit, praise God!

Homiletics Post 2 of 3: What is homiletics?

Previous related post: Part 1 of 3: “My story”

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…
Colossians 3:16a

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica;
they received the word with all eagerness,
examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Acts 17:11

So, what is homiletics?

Homiletics is taking you, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit and wrestling through and hashing out what God is saying in a systematic way. Commentaries, while they have their place, are not invited to the party at this time. (As an aside, if you read a Bible Outline, it is basically someone sharing their homiletics. If you listen to an expository sermon, it is likely based on the framework of the pastor’s homiletics.)

There are variations on how to do homiletics. I have no opinion on which is best other than whatever draws you closer to Christ. What I will share below is my story, how I started, that worked for me. I will then briefly mention some changes I have made as I saw what may be useful for me and read about other ideas for homiletics.IMG_20160725_172435040_HDR

Think of homiletics like an hourglass. The whole passage goes into the wide top of the hourglass. It then gets shrunk down until it can come through the hole in the middle, then it expands again.

Part One: Preparation

  • Pray for God to open your eyes to see Him and His truths and applications in His Word.
  • Read the passage several times to just let it sink in and the Holy Spirit to speak through His Word.
  • Have only your Bible, paper and pencil (I do mine on the computer, but have to be careful to shut out other distractions.). NO commentaries, etc.

Part Two: Content

  • Summarize the entire passage in 10 to 20 lines. Give the reference for each line. You are basically taking notes on the passage.
  • This should only have facts, not your interpretation.
  • It does not have to be full sentences.
  • If you are doing a chapter of 20-40 verses, this isn’t too hard. If you are doing multiple chapters, you are really needing to summarize.

Part Three: Divisions

  • Divide the whole passage into two to four divisions. Give the reference for each division.
  • Have a complete sentence summarizing each division.

Part Four: Subject Sentence

  • Write a sentence that uniquely describes the passage. If someone knows the Bible and reads your subject sentence, they should know what passage you are studying.
  • The sentence should be 10 words or less. (Forcing you to really get down to the core.)
  • Have facts, not interpretation.

Part Five: Aim

  • Write one main truth that the Lord is teaching you and that you want to pass along to others.
  • ONE main truth, not several smaller truths.
  • Start with “Cause audience to learn….” or even “Cause myself to learn…”
  • This is starting to deal with application, not just facts.

Part Six: Application

  • These should be in the form of a question. The questions should cause thinking and change, convict and/or encourage and change the heart over behavior.
  • Write at least one application question for each division.

A Word of Caution and Insight

Caution

Homiletics, as with anything, can also become “computerized”, something you do without really processing, or thinking about the words and missing the meaning. The key has always been and will always be, prayerfully coming before the Lord and experiencing the Holy Spirit bring the Word to life. Homiletics is simply a tool in helping to dig deeper into the Word. It may also appeal more to some personalities than others.

Insight

While I love homiletics, my homiletics are not very “good”. As I hear others share from their homiletics, I delight in hearing the ways they make the divisions flow, or the Subject Sentence catch the meaning almost poetically, etc. While I love hearing theirs (and I really do), I love mine more! (sound vain?) The fact is, mine is mine, it is what God spoke to me. The result may not be as beautiful, but it is through the process of thinking through the Word in communion with the Spirit, that real impact is made. It’s the process, not the result that really matters. I hope I am growing in my results as well, but it is growth in the process of becoming absorbed in God’s Word through His Spirit that really matters.

Don’t let comparison keep you from experiencing the depths of God through His Word!!!


To be continued… Part 3 of 3: “Examples, Tweaks & Additions”

Homiletics Post 1 of 3: My Story

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…
Colossians 3:16a

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica;
they received the word with all eagerness,
examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Acts 17:11

Hi Elijah & Isaiah,

This is for my “buddy buddies” :o) who are now five and two.  I love you guys. Hopefully, I will be around to teach and model this for years to come, but just in case… I want to share with you this joy… and look forward to seeing you in the twinkling of an eye. ~ Dad

(In keeping with the purpose of our site, this is a letter to our kids and grandkids to leave as a legacy if something should happen to us. If others find any benefit, praise God!)

God has given us a letter. It is a letter of love. It is a letter of sacrifice. It is a letter of guidance. It is a letter of encouragement. It is a letter of correction. It is all these things, and much, much more. Most of all, it is a letter of God revealing himself to us!!!IMG_20160725_172507316

Do you read God’s letter? (If not, I’ll keep praying for you till I go Home to be with Jesus.)

Assuming you do, you may be like I was for years even after going to a strong Bible teaching church, Christian college and being involved in participating and leading Bible studies. I really didn’t know how to study the Bible (though I didn’t fully realize it). I would read the Bible, which was good. I would see what it would say, which was good. If I saw application, I would try to apply it, which was good. I may have a Bible Study guide, which was good (but can pull away from actually reading the Bible). I sometimes looked at commentaries for ideas, which was good (but again can be a distraction).

But I still didn’t really feel like I knew how to study the Bible. I thought about my pastor and others who teach the Bible. How do they study the Bible? Is it just reading, reading some commentaries and getting practice and putting a message together… or is there a way to really study the Bible that I am missing. (I sure felt like I was missing something.)

Then I joined Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), which was amazing. The BSF format is four fold: 1. Study on your own with some guiding questions, but no other resources. Just me, the Holy Spirit and the Bible. 2. Discuss our week’s study with other men (or women for mom) to hear other’s insights (still no commentaries, just prayerfully allowing the Holy Spirit to open His Word to us). 3. A lecture from what we had already been studying on our own. 4. Reading notes/commentaries to gain additional insights (after we already put the first focus on God’s Word). I love it! It spoke to my heart and brought the Bible to life. I love it!

But… then I became a BSF group leader and was introduced to a whole new world of Bible study… the joyous introduction to homiletics. (Mom mentioned and I agree that this is the 5th fold of the BSF study method, the other “folds” in our minds being in the area of prayer and fellowship with strong believers and their insights into God’s Word.) The Holy Spirit used Homiletics to bring the Word to life in my life and sharpen its sword to pierce my heart, give limitless hope, reveal God and show me what His Word says about living life.

I love homiletics and have seen it impact my life, family and walk with God!  

To be continued…
Part 2 of 3: “What is Homiletics?”
Part 3 of 3: “Examples, Tweaks & Additions”

 

Called to Go, Willing to Stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (2)

In celebrating the one year anniversary of 10/10 moving day, I will count just 10 blessings in different categories. We believe many more are still to be unfolded as God always has a bigger plan for His children.

Before I start counting the blessings, here is the house-before according to the real estate description:

Home is being sold ‘as is’! Spacious Bungalow in need of complete rehab! Cash buyers/Investors only! Not bank owned or short sale!Home has lots of potential on a nice lot!

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We bought a house, debt free! God is so good!! Praise God, the city didn’t fine us for the too-tall grass though there was a fine sign on the door knob. 🙂

I will just leave it as it is and allow it to sink in a bit for your imagination. We were so busy cleaning out the house, training the big boy to live at a “construction zone” as we called it, taking care of the baby, that we didn’t have time or mood to take many pictures. Perhaps, it’s a good thing we don’t remember much detail of the messy situation then. The human brain is blessed to blur the bad memories and allow the sweet ones to stay. But, definitely, our home had and still has “lots of potential” and my heart is transformed along with the house.

With gratitude and joy, I can’t wait to give my Lord all the glory for the 10 blessings in various areas as following (in no particular order):
Continue reading

Called to Go, Willing to Stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (1)

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. —2 Cor. 5:1

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Camping in the backyard! The tents came with the house. 🙂 We are grateful!

One year ago, Oct. 10th, 2014, we moved out of our rental house after four months of waiting. The reason why I could recall the date so easily is that our landlord graciously extended ten more days for our rent, which turned out to be a tremendous help for us to get everything sorted out, packed, and ready to go! As much as we tried to have advanced planning when looking for a house, we didn’t expect two-weeks of waiting would turn into four-months of waiting with “two more weeks” reply each time due to some complicated juvenile court case issues. Eventually, we started to refer to our house as a “maybe” house to our 4-year-old son as our faith dwindled bi-weekly. If you have been through some trying waiting period, you probably can relate to the anxiety involved and understand how the uncertain circumstances can push you to prayer. Continue reading

Grandma Elizabeth and reflections on passing away

This past Sunday, July 12, 2015 my Grandma Elizabeth passed away. This brings memories of when my mom’s dad passed away in 2011 and when my dad’s mom passed away in 2008. Talking with my sister Julia, who is currently in Asia as part of an 11 month missions trip especially brings back when I was in China when my Grandma passed away. The wrestling of whether to try to come back, investing in my family, being there for my dad, finding closure, etc.

At that time, I couldn’t make it back, so I took part through writing instead. Here are my reflections from that time. (It is a long post as it was written to collect my thoughts, not as a blog post.)

Continue reading

6 Ways to pray for our new home.

After months of working to get the house ready, and even safe, to have guests, we were excited to have a time of prayer and dedication in June 2015. This house is God’s, and we are grateful that friends who helped and prayed for us during these months of preparation were able to come and pray with and for us for Christ’s cleansing and filling of our new home.

As well as praying specifically for each room, here are 6 general areas where we are asking God to work in us, our home and all who visit.

  1. Seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first. (Matt 6:33; Hebrews 13:14)

    • Truly walking in fellowship with Christ in daily life and all decisions

  2. Love, Joy & Peace at this home. (Gal 5:22; Eph 5)

    • Demonstration of His deep sacrificial love

    • Joy in drawing near to him as a family

    • Peace of spirit through faith in His presence and intimate work in our lives

  3. Growing wisdom in building a home (Psalms 127:1; Matt 6:21; Matt 19:5)

    • Spiritual growth in Christ and His word leading to life and discernment

    • Growing marriage as we seek to live in unity of purpose and action

    • That our children would not just perform and obey, but to have hearts after Christ

    • Financial Wisdom and Generosity to see everything as Christ’s

  4. Dwelling of His Spirit so the evil spirits will not have any strongholds. (Psalms 84; Phil 2:1-11, Matthew 12:43-45)

    • Freedom from any strongholds previously in this house

    • Moving forward in growth in Christ’s Spirit to make us more like Him

  5. Christ’s Spirit to be moving as we have guests at our home (Matt 18:20; Col 4:5-6; Hebrews 13:15-16)

    • Christ’s Spirit to touch lives and draw people to Himself

    • Connection among all who come to visit

    • Protection, that no one would have injury

    • Joy and Perseverance reaching out to others

    • Especially for currently planned group events

  6. Continued and growing Missionary perspective (2 Corinthians 5:20; Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)

    • To live intentionally in all areas of life to walk with Christ and thus to have Him glorified

    • To be driven to see people discipled in Christ

Grass is cut finally:-)! See what it was like here.

Grass is cut finally:-)! See what it was like here.

All in!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Col 3:17

Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  And Jesus said to him, Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” – Matt 8:21-22

I like sports but am not a fan by any standard. This ignorance of what game is going on can be embarrassing at times. For example, I would never consider the sports season when dressing my baby before coming to the States. Culture shock is an interesting thing, while the culture can seem like the air you breath when it is what you know.

When I was at college studying English in China, one of the professors strongly recommended us to read the Bible and Shakespeare’s works to have more language sense and culture background. God definitely used her recommendation in my spiritual seeking of the Truth. However, she didn’t mention another very important element in the American culture, that is, … You guessed it, GAMES.

Being culturally sensitive, we do see sports and games as a great outreach tool in the U.S.. There is always some sort of game going on, football season, basketball season, baseball season, the seasons of the year. It makes a natural conversation starter, ice breaker. A lot of idioms and popular phrases are based on games, such as “home run”, “have a rain check”, “touch base”. Feel free to share more for my English improvement. As it is right now in the Cleveland area, it is definitely “ALL IN”!

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This passion to support the local team or a favorite star is contagious. Commercials are everywhere and you can’t miss the message. People feel excited to be a part of a great event. No matter the outcome, they are “ALL IN”. We are created to follow, to have a purposeful mission, to be fulfilled in something bigger than ourselves. What if there is a greater game? An invincible star? A guaranteed victory? Am I in? Are you in?Are you all in? Not only in the spectators seat, but actually playing game? The game is on! Again, am I all in? Are you ALL IN?

Why “no comments”?

All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. -1 Corinthians 6:12

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” – Eph 5:4

Rob and I decided to turn off the “comment” function for our blog pages. Anything pulling me away from worshiping my Lord should be removed. This can mean different things to different people at different seasons in life. For this season of my life, I simply don’t see myself having the time or energy to manage people’s comments in a second language. As a people-pleaser, I also see the potential distractions and temptations the “comments” can bring to my life. Positive or negative comments can feed my mind with people’s thoughts or fluctuate my emotions due to dwelling on what others are thinking. Instead of turning off this feature when we have to in the future, we decide to choose to set the boundaries from the get-go. The older I get, the more I appreciate various boundaries in life as a protection and wisdom. We started this blog not for high hits (read “Why this site“).

However, this does not at all mean that we are shutting down communications. We would still love to hear from the readers through the “Contact Us” page, other forms of social media, or even better in person. The “comment” feature is like allowing strangers into my house. We will either have no control over what people might say, or need to spend time managing messages that would be more meaningfully invested elsewhere. We know most comments would be delightful and encouraging. However, it’s the minority that is hard to predict and even positive comments can bring distraction. Another blogger can always link to us as a way to bring more thought-provoking discussions on topics of interest.

In conclusion, we see “no comments” as a way to encourage more meaningful communications rather than monologue.