Category Archives: Interviews

Rooted on Theology: Delighting Grace Interviews Brandon Smith

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The word “theology” sometimes drives us to shudder. We know it’s essential but we find it too complex or too boring to discuss. However, we won’t fully know who God is and His way if we don’t sound theology.  Delighting Grace recently reach out to Brandon Smith, author of “Rooted” and talked about theology, his latest book and a new podcast:

Delighting Grace: Hello pastor! How important is theology?

Brandon Smith: Theology is at the center of the Christian life. Theology is about God, the Bible teaches theology, the gospel is a theological message, and the Christian life reflects God theologically. In other words, all of life is about theology.

Theology just means “words about God.” So when we talk about God, we are doing theology. Everyone is a theologian–it just depends on whether you’re a good or bad theologian.

Delighting Grace: What are some reasons why people tend to sway away from theology?

Brandon Smith:  People often think theology is a professional sport or an academic discipline. There is an academic form of theology that’s extremely important, but that doesn’t mean that theology is only for academics (or even pastors). When we say, “God is in control” or “Jesus is Lord,” you’re speaking and believing theology. We shouldn’t be afraid of theology because if you’re a Christian, you’re a theological person.

Delighting Grace: Well said pastor. We believers should not be scared of theology. In your calling, how do theology shapes you as a pastor?

Brandon Smith: Pastors and Christian leaders must know theology better than anyone else. As says, we will be held accountable. False teachers are specifically called out in Scripture. As a pastor or leader, it’s your job to teach sound theology. There should be a difference between you and the Mormon bishop down the street.

So, to answer your question more directly, theology has always helped me be a good pastor and leader. It’s difficult to counsel someone who’s hurting when you don’t know how to tell them the truth about God’s love and mercy and grace, and about how all things work together for good. But remember, theology should shape us all this way. It’s not just the pastor’s job to counsel others with sound truth.

Delighting Grace:  If a pastor wants to teach theology in a church, what advice can you give to them if that’s their first time to do it?

Brandon Smith: Don’t take it too seriously, as if your sermons need to become seminary lectures. Theology is serious business, but every sermon has theology in it. It’s your job not to merely teach theological lessons, but to show people how those beautiful truths matter for everyday life.

 

Delighting Grace:  Wow great advice. You wrote a book titled “Rooted” which according to the book, it’s a primer. So why write a primer when you can write a whole book on theology?

Brandon Smith: There are plenty of 1,000-page theology books in the world. I’m thankful for them, but most people won’t read them. We wanted to write a short, accessible book that anyone could read. Part of why I think people stay away from theology is that they feel intimidated by the size and language of theology books. No one should be intimidated by Rooted.

Delighting Grace:  How’s the process in writing a book? Also how is like J. A. Medders as a co-author?

Brandon Smith:  Writing a book is hard work. It’s not always or even often fun. Rooted took several years of editing and changing and reimagining. I enjoy the process, but most of the time writing the book was late nights with a cup of coffee, forcing myself to get words on the page.

(Jeff) made writing Rooted fun and exciting. I had already written much of the book, but he brought the words to life. He’s one of the most creative and powerful writers out there, and people will keep learning that as he writes more. He’s a writing freight train and I’m just along for the ride.

Delighting Grace:  Your book is awesome pastor. Read it and I learn a lot. So please invite them to check out “Rooted”.  You have a new podcast you and I also enjoy?

Brandon Smith:  Thank you! I love Rooted. It’s like watching a baby grow up and finally go off into the big, scary world. You’re nervous, but you know it’s ready.

Yes, the podcast has been a blast. It’s called Word Matters, and it consists of short episodes in which Trevin Wax and I discuss confusing or difficult passages of the Bible. Each episode is 15-20 minutes long, and we always try to give practical advice about how to preach and teach the passages we cover. We also have guests from time to time!

Delighting Grace:  Any parting words for our readers concerning theology?

Brandon Smith:  Again, don’t be afraid of theology. If you’re a Christian, you’re a theologian. Keep hungering and thirsting for righteousness by reading God’s Word and praying, and your theology will grow along with it.

Delighting Grace:  Amen to that pastor. So guys check his latest book “Rooted” and the podcast with Trevin Wax called “Word Matters”.

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Millenial Motherhood: Delighting Grace Interviews Gloria Furman

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As the millenial or the connected generation slowly marches into marrying age, study shows that they have their own sets of views on having a family. So do want to consider having a full time focus on the family and some has the ideal number of kids which are distinct from previous generation. Being connected in mobile phones and Facebook has also some effects of what they value most. But as believers, no matter what is the trending paradigm, we need God as the center of our lives and reach people with the gospel.  Delighting Grace asked Gloria Furman, author of the new book ” Missional Motherhood” what she thinks of this unique generation and how to engage them with the message of the gospel:

Delighting Grace: What do you think are the challenges of millenials stepping in marriage and motherhood?

Gloria Furman: I think regardless where we live- from the Philippines to the US to the Emirates- the challenges of the millenial women stepping into marriage and motherhood will be to believe God’s timeless Word over the ever-changing culture. 

Delighting Grace: Does these challenges to grab hold on the Word of God differ from the other generations that came before them? I could say that other generations don’t have mobile or internet so it might have a different setting.

Gloria Furman: The challenge of believing God’s Word is a old as the garden of Eden. God created man and woman to be His image bearers and managers over His creations, so He gave them words to live by. They needed God’s word, and God’s story to guide their lives. But the Enemy schemed a way to make the story about him. Satan tricked the man and woman to bear his decrepit image, spread his kingdom of hell, and live by his poisonous words instead. This millenial generation will face they very same challenge of submitting to God’s Word and resisting temptation to try and stand in judgment over God and His Word.  

Delighting Grace: Wow that indeed is a challenge. One of the marks of being a millenial is being connected. How does this affect the lives of millenial mothers?

Gloria Furman: Millenials enjoy the privilege of being connected to one another virtually via the internet. The downside though, is the illusion that this virtual connection is indeed true. Living out the Scriptural “one another” commands is something we can try to do online, but is best done in personal relationships in our local church. Millenial mothers are affected by their desire and real need to be connected, but have to find creative ways to facilitate genuine connections with sisters in the body of Christ.  

Delighting Grace: Well said, Gloria How do we reach out these millenial mothers who are in need of the gospel?

Gloria Furman: We share Christ and his cross with joyful boldness. The situation of millenial moms may look complicated and foreign when you read the news from other places in the world, or meet someone on the streets in your neighborhood, but across the globe their deepest need is the same as everyone else’s. They need to be reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is no salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Share Christ confidently and with joyful boldness, knowing that Jesus is going to call His sheep and they will hear His voice. 

Delighting Grace: Yes we need that joyful boldness to preach Christ crucified. You came from the western culture and now ministering an different culture. Are there shifts or adjustments with this?

Gloria Furman: Absolutely. I’ve had to adjust in many ways and am thankful for everything I’ve learned from my Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ. One small way I have adjusted is to learn new words in order to communicate better with people. My vocabulary in English expanded, and certainly my vocabulary in other languages is growing. My Tagalog-speaking sister at Redeemer (church) have taught me to chat with their countrymen and as if they know the “magandang balita” (good news, the gospel). And tell them that “mahal ka ni Hesus” (Jesus loves you). 

Delighting Grace: Haha. Nice. Your learning some Tagalog words. So you have a latest book “Missional Motherhood”. Please tell us the process of writing it?

Gloria Furman: This book was written in the span of about three hours for forty days. This work beautifully to me, as a young woman named Katyln came to live with our family and help me care for my kids and physically disabled during the busy month. She took the kids to the playground and to lunch for a few hours a day so I can write this book and turn it in before we left  for an even busier summer. 

Delighting Grace: Please invite our readers to check you out in your social media and your new book “Missional Motherhood”

Gloria Furman: Yes please! I’m on Twitter: @gloriafurman, and you can find “Missional Motherhood” book over Amazon and The Book Depository. If you’d like to download the intro and the first chapter free, you can find the link on the Crossway page for the book: http://www.crossway.org/books/missional-motherhood-tpb/

Delighting Grace: Thank you Gloria for the sharing your time for this interview. So folks get her book “Missional Motherhood”. Gloria did an amazing job for this book. If you don’t believe me then try the freebie Gloria shared. Warning be ready to get biblically soaked with the excerpts. Please check back this blog for my review of the book. Till next time guys! God bless!

 

Gospel Tract Evangelism: Delighting Grace Interviews Andy Lawniczak of Gospel Tract Planet

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Evangelism is a duty of every Christian. Coming from the very lips of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are to go and win people by His precious gospel. Although we cant change the powerful message of the cross, we can however make a creative way in delivering to it. Enter those amazing money tracts that are eye catching unbelievers and encouraging to Christians. We connected with Andy Lawniczak to talk about these cool tracts and about evangelism:

Delighting Grace: Hi Andy. First off, can you share your testimony on how you got to know Jesus?

Andy: I grew up as a Roman Catholic, but was not very devout myself.  My parents were, and my father still is, going to mass every single day (my mother died in 2004).  I was dating a girl in my late teens that was Nazarene, which was a breath of fresh air from my hard-pewed Roman Catholic days.  However, I didn’t get saved in the Nazarene church.  It wasn’t until I met my wife, (who grew up Pentecostal) when we got married, moved away and became Southern Baptist. (Talk about a crazy religious journey!)  In 2003 I heard a revival preacher speak at our church and realized I had never repented and put my trust in Christ.  That night i did and was baptized soon after. I now understand the reality of my sin and continual dependence on Christ for mercy.

 Delighting Grace: What’s your first time in sharing the gospel? How did it went out? How about your first encounter with a gospel tract?

Andy: Soon after being converted, I was surfing the internet to kill some time one day and stumbled upon the Living Waters / Ray Comfort “Good Person Test.” I loved that so much because it made things make sense.  I emailed it to quite a few people (saved and unsaved) and began researching their ministry.  I saw some “Way of the Master” TV shows, and was hooked.  I bought some tracts and went to the courthouse near where I worked at lunch every day.  It took several days before I could even build up enough courage to hand out a Gospel tract, let alone talk with anyone.  By God’s grace I did it, and felt fantastic after handing out those first tracts and speaking to those first people. Later on, I went to an “Evangelism Boot Camp” and open air preached for the first time.  Was great to get out of my comfort zone.  Currently, i try to hand out tracts as I can, but i don’t get out to open air preach much. It’s tough to balance being a husband, father of 4, and foster father of 2… all that and get out to evangelize, but i hope to get out more in the future.

Delighting Grace: Yes Ray Comfort’s ministry is also an influence to mine. What’s your favorite Bible verse about evangelism?

Andy: The key verse for Gospel Tract Planet is “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  I love that verse, and decided to use that for the basis of the ministry, as well as the name itself (All the world = the whole planet)

Delighting Grace: How did Gospel Tract Planet started?
Andy: Back in 2006, I had designed a gospel tract for a guy named Marv, who is now the owner of “One Million Tracts.”  He showed the design to someone else, who contacted me to design a Texas-themed tract with Sam Houston on it.  When I finished that, the customer asked me about starting a custom tract ministry.  We prayed about it and decided to partner up and start what was then called “Custom Tract Source.”  Then in 2013, we decided to part ways.  I purchased the other half of the business and changed the name to “Gospel Tract Planet.”  I’ve been running the ministry this way since then, and it has been a huge blessing to me and my family.

Delighting Grace: Can you tell us the process of making a tract? How do you get ideas for a tract and placing the right artwork or images?

Andy: Different types of tracts are done in different ways.  In most cases, people will approach us and have an idea for a tract they want to produce.  They usually have the message written out and just a basic idea of what they want to see.  I take these ideas and create a custom-designed tract.  If we like the final tract, many times we will print them and make them available on our website.

For the design itself, I typically start with a high quality stock photo (or several of them).  There are online sites I use for this, where I pay a nominal or monthly fee for access to royalty-free images.  Then I composite those images into a high quality tract.  Typically these images are the pictures on the money tracts, or the graphical portions of folded tracts, or background designs and such.  Then I lay out the text to work best with these graphics.  Money tracts take 5-8 hours or more to design, depending on the complexity. It also depends on whether it’s a brand new design, or a design that starts with an existing design as a base.  Folded tracts take about 5 hours, and most of the card tracts take 1-2 hours to complete.  For a good example of how a tract comes together, here’s a video with a timelapse of our recent “Thanksgiving Bucks” tract.

Delighting Grace: Can you share with us tips on sharing your faith? How can a Christian shake off their fear in evangelism?

Andy: If you find a way to shake off your fear, please let me know!  I continually battle fear, and I am ashamed that it wins more often than I’d like.  I guess I would say, “let love swallow your fears.” Ray Comfort always says this, and I agree.  The more we love people and realize their eternal state, the more we’ll just do what it takes to get out of our comfort zone and warn them.  If you see a child fall into a swimming pool, you wouldn’t even think twice about jumping in after them, even if you’re not a terrific swimmer.  We should do the same with people’s souls, because even more is at stake.

Delighting Grace: We use your awesome tracts and they are an eye catcher. So please invite our readers to check your tracts.

Andy: Thanks for the encouragement! We’d love for your readers to check out our site and try some of our unique Gospel tracts.  The website is www.TractPlanet.com.  We *always* have something on sale, or some special going on.  In fact, for brand new customers, we’ll give you $10 OFF any order $20 or more.  Just use the code 10off20 at checkout. This is good for in-stock tracts, or even custom tracts!

Delighting Grace:Wow! That’s awesome. So guys please do check his website and I’m sure you’ll love the tracts. And happy evangelism!

The Fiction Factor: Delighting Grace Interviews Author D. A. Chan

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We are fan boys (and girls) of fiction books and we see that as we cheer as our favorite books came to life in movies. There are lots of book based movies recently, one of which is the highly acclaimed “Hunger Games” trilogy. We are clamoring for it ever since it was on its still in its book form. So it begs the question: why do we love fiction? We caught up with an up and coming author, David Anthony Chan to talk about fiction books, his favorite novels and his debut novel “The Kindred Chronicles: Between Two Worlds”.
Delighting Grace: Hi pastor! My first question is why should Christians read fiction?

David Anthony Chan: Well, I wouldn’t say “should.” I DO, however, encourage Christians to include fiction in their literary diet because it helps give them a good idea about the social and spiritual topography of their day. Of course, every reader should be discerning and vigilant in choosing books. There are some really good fiction books out there with wonderful values, and there are less-than-ideal books as well. Discernment is key.

Delighting Grace: All of us are fan of fiction books. So what is your favorite book?

David Anthony Chan: That is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever heard. Tolkien’s LOTR will always be in my fave-list. “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing The Darkness” by Frank Peretti are also very good. I thoroughly enjoyed “I Am Number Four” by Pittacus Lore, and still follow the series until now. There are so many good books that it’s really difficult to answer this question. There’s no one-good-book-to-rule-them-all, but if I were forced to choose, LOTR would take the cake.

Delighting Grace: For you what makes an unforgettable story?

David Anthony Chan: It must be out-of-this-world enough to tickle the imagination, while simultaneously addressing a human condition that everyone can relate to.

Delighting Grace: How about Christian fiction? Is the Pinoy reader ready for this kind of genre?

David Anthony Chan: Absolutely! Now more than ever. With the advent of Wattpad and so many reading devices, I think that Pinoys in general have become more appreciative of the written word, especially Christian fiction. In my opinion, Pinoys have become so influenced by so many different values and ideals that pull them toward opposing directions, that there is a kind of disconnect and anxiety that resides in the subconscious level. Christian fiction addresses this issue quite effectively because it promotes values that many people long for, even if they don’t admit it (initially).

Delighting Grace: What fiction books do you recommend to be read by Christians?

David Anthony Chan: “Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien! I would also recommend “This Present Darkness” and it’s sequel, “Piercing the Darkness” by Frank Peretti. I think that LOTR should be read at least once by every person who claims to be a fiction lover.

Delighting Grace: Do you believe that books, fiction or nonfiction; carry some sort of yearning for something spiritual? No matter how secular it is does it have this “search for God mode”?

David Anthony Chan: Yes I do. Books are simply words printed on paper. These words come from every author’s heart, and out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. In the heart of every person, every man, woman, and child, there is a brokenness. Deep down, we know that we are all broken vessels. No parents teaches his child to lie, steal, or cheat, because it is natural; but we constantly encourage each other to fight the uphill battle against evil, greed, deceit, and a host of other forms of wickedness. And this is the one common theme that you will find in every book: the longing for redemption from this broken state that we’re all in.

Delighting Grace: You wrote a book. Tell us what it is all about.

David Anthony Chan: At the heart of the story is Chris Sayther, revived from the dead multiple times thanks to his affiliation with Tironius, a member of a noble house of a race known as the Kindred. Complicating this relationship is the fact that Chris harbors a steadily growing love for Elline, Tironius’ daughter, who is obliged to be with another. The conflicts inherent in this odd triangle are only intensified by a looming war between man and kindred. As an epic conflict between two species and two worlds ramps up, the bonds between Chris and Elline run into potentially disastrous challenges.

Delighting Grace: Wow that is a great story. Can you share with us the process of writing and publishing your book?

David Anthony Chan: Writing and publishing are two different animals. For writers, the writing part is the easy part because it’s natural for them. Writers love to write. They love words, thoughts, and the process of transferring thoughts on paper. Each writer has a different process. Personally, I am a plotter, which means I think of an idea first, then build on it while taking notes. Then, I write everything, then I polish everything. Others prefer to write a few chapters, polish the chapters, then continue writing new chapters. Others prefer not to plot at all, and just sit in front of a keyboard and let the story “just happen.”

Publishing, on the other hand, is a completely different world. This had more to do with talking to publishers, checking out prices, and figuring out different marketing routes. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process of publishing Between Two Worlds; considering the fact that I dreaded the thought to begin with.

Delighting Grace: What advice or tips can you give a budding writer who wants to write his own novel?

David Anthony Chan: I have three pieces of advice:
FIRST: Read “Writing Fiction for Dummies” by Ingermanson and Economy.
SECOND: Fall in love with what you plan to write. It can be a character, a concept, a story world, a scene… it doesn’t matter which one, as long as you fall in love with one. It is this love that will propel you to finish an entire novel.
THREE: Get it written before getting it right. In other words, accept that your first draft will be terrible. That is the point of the first draft.

Delighting Grace: Thank you for this opportunity to interview you, pastor . Please do invite our readers to check your book and also how do they get in touch with you.

David Anthony Chan: Thank you also for this opportunity to spread the word about my debut novel.
My book is available on Amazon under the title “The Kindred Chronicles: Between Two Worlds” and it has received good reviews (please take the time to go through them). It will also be available in National Bookstore by the end of this year. At the moment, you can order your copies by sending an email to dachanchronicles@gmail.com
Delighting Grace: Again thank you pastor. We hope and pray that you’ll be successful in your career.

On Target Hermeneutics : Delighting Grace Interviews Matt Rogers and Donny Mathis

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You got to love being a subscriber of David C. Cook free e-books. Not only do they fill your Kindle app but they sometimes gives out great books. One of them is Seven Arrows to which I was intrigue to what this book is all about. As I check the content, the book is about hermeneutics, the proper interpretation of Scripture. Finding it very useful for the church, I set to find the author and give it a proper promotion here. So I connected with Matt Rogers and Donny Mathis, authors of Seven Arrows to talk about hermeneutics and much more:
Delighting Grace: What is hermeneutics and why is it important?
Matt Rogers: Hermeneutics is quite simply the technique of interpretation. We employ these techniques in every day life as we try to understand what people are saying to us in conversations or in the emails that we read. If understanding a conversation or an email is important to us, then understanding what the Holy Spirit inspired authors are trying to teach us should be even more important! Evangelical Christians claim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, meaning that everything that it claims with regard to matters of fact and matters of truth are, in fact, true, but the pathway to understanding and knowing those claims begins with a proper method for interpreting the inspired text.

In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul exhorts Timothy to study to present himself to God as an approved worker, who rightly interprets the word of truth. While this exhortation was made specifically to Timothy, I believe that every Christian, because we have all received God’s Spirit, is called to the same task of seeking understand what God is teaching through his word so that we can receive it, believe it, and live it for his glory. In writing Seven Arrows, we want to give our brothers and sisters in Christ some simple, practical tools to make their reading of Scripture more enjoyable, fruitful, and life-changing.
Delighting Grace: People might say that hermeneutics is not for me, that’s for pastor or theologians only, what is your response to that line?
Donny Mathis: The idea that “normal Christians” are not supposed to concern themselves with matters of theology or hermeneutics seems to be a gesture towards humility. It appears that most people are trying to say that deep matters of theology and of the Bible are for the professional, trained pastors and not the common man or woman. We certainly recognize that there is an important place for godly, trained theologians and pastors to aid the church in discerning matters of theology or biblical interpretation. Their role, while important, need not render the rest of the church passive, however.
The irony of this claim is that while it seeks to demonstrate humility it is, in fact, impossible. Anytime anyone reads the Bible they are doing hermeneutics. Anytime anyone speaks about God they are doing theology. Sadly, they may be practicing inadequate hermeneutics or espousing foolish theology, but they are doing these things nonetheless. Since we cannot read the Bible without seeking to understand its meaning (hermeneutics) or talk about God without some theological underpinnings, it would make sense for us to want to do these things well.
This is our task in writing Seven Arrows. Since people are going to be reading the Bible (we hope) and seeking to understand and apply its meaning (again, we hope), then we want to aid them in doing this well. Without a clear plan for properly reading the Bible it is easy for our good intentions at spiritual disciplines to either discourage us because we don’t understand what we are reading or lead us into inadequate or false theology because we misunderstand what we are reading.
Delighting Grace: There are lots of Study Bibles out there and of course Matthew Henry’s commentary is in the public domain so why do I have to know the proper interpretations when I can get them from those Christian giants?
Donny Mathis: While we as a Christians should be thankful for all of these resources that are available to us in this digital age, they are not a substitute for each of us reading and seeking to understand the inspired text ourselves. First, the only text with no errors is the Bible. No matter how helpful the study notes in our Bible are or the commentary that Matthew Henry gives can be, they all have mistakes! And, we will all make mistakes because we are not perfect either. I am, however, confident that the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures will bless our efforts to understand the Bible with more depth and clarity by making the truth contained in the Scriptures come alive for us.
Delighting Grace: When certain passages in the Bible are interpreted properly, is there an instance that there is no practical applications? How do we deal on those verses or chapters?
Matt Rogers: The whole of the Scriptures are written to help us see, understand, know, and worship the one God, revealed in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For this reason, each passage of the Scriptures is going to play some role in pointing us to that end. Clearly, there are some passages of Scripture that may not have a clear application – meaning the passage does not come right out and say; “now you should go and do this or that.” But simply because a passage does not make the application clear does not mean that it is void of application entirely.
Take the first chapter of the book of Matthew for example. The vast majority of this passage is a list of names and hard to pronounce names at that. What do we make of this text? We know, by virtue of Paul’s claim in 2 Timothy 3:16 that this text is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. This is true even though the text does not make the application immediately apparent.
This is where the Seven Arrows helps tremendously. If I simply read that text and said, “What do I do?” I’d likely be confused and assume that the passage was irrelevant. But if I ask the preceding four questions then I would know that the passage is written to connect Jesus birth with the promise made to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament – namely that there would be a man who would one day sit on the throne of David who would fulfill God’s promises to Abraham by defeating Satan, sin and death. The application then is clear – I should worship a God who keeps His promises to His people and trust that Jesus is the very Son of God.
Delighting Grace: Among Christians what do you think is the most misinterpreted passage in Scripture?
Donny Mathis: Wow. I am not sure how to answer this question. Many passages in the Bible are consistently misunderstood because we do not take the time to figure out how the author is using the passage in his larger argument or whether he is writing in a literal way or figurative way like you would do in a poem. I guess the passage where the misunderstanding frustrates me the most in Philippians 4:13. In this verse Paul explains that he can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me. At least in America, this verse has become a kind of mantra to be repeated so that you can do things that you would not ordinarily be able to accomplish, but in the context of the passage, Paul is not presenting a mantra that will help someone accomplish a superhuman task. He is explaining that he has learned through the hardships and blessings that he has received to be content in every situation because he knows that God has a plan and is teaching him through times where he has abundance and through times where he has very little. In the end, Christ strengthens Paul for every step in his journey to fulfill the calling that God has placed upon his life, and Christ will do the same for us.
Delighting Grace: What is that verse and chapter in the Bible that truly bless you when applied hermeneutics and you got that “Eureka!” moment.
Donny Mathis: One of the GREAT things about the Bible and about having a strong technique for reading it and applying is that those “Eureka!” moments happen almost every day, and the next one is often better than the last because we are continually being stunned by God’s grace and goodness to us. So, this question is REALLY difficult to answer. Let me give just one example.
A few years ago, I was studying the best way to interpret the parables of Jesus and learned that these stories were generally constructed to teach one main point and were not allegories where every line had some type of secret meaning. (I learned these principles in A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert Stein.) So, like most good stories what happens at the end is EXTREMELY important for understanding the point that Jesus was making. This fact became stunning to me when I realized that the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) ended with a confrontation between the gracious Father and the older son who refused to go into the party that the Father was throwing because his younger son was dead and is now alive and was lost and is now found. The way that the parable ends with the older son standing outside of the party meant that the main point of the story was not the forgiveness that the younger son had received from the father. This fact caused me to read the whole chapter all over again, and I realized that all of the parables in this chapter were directed towards Pharisees, tax collectors, and sinners and that they built on one another. Each of the parables demonstrates the rejoicing of heaven that takes place when a sinner repents, but the central point of the final parable is directed towards those who despise the fact that God is gracious to sinners. In the end, the Parable of the Prodigal Son is both a rebuke and an open-ended invitation to the Pharisees and scribes (and to all others like them). As a result, the prodigal was not the son that I had always thought that it was!
Delighting Grace: Tell us about your book Seven Arrows. What is it all about and the processes of writing it. Hows you’re team up with Donny Mathis?
Matt Rogers: I remember listening to a preacher teach a familiar passage on the radio while sitting in my green Ford Ranger pickup in the parking lot at Furman University. I had read the text numerous times since my conversion due to my seemingly insatiable hunger for God’s word. Yet, hearing this skilled pastor proclaim the Scriptures faithfully brought out a depth of meaning and beauty that I failed to see when reading the Bible alone.
Honestly, I was stunned and frustrated. Why hadn’t I seen that? What was he doing that allowed him to notice nuances and complexities of the Scripture that I did not? Would it require a seminary degree, perhaps even a PhD, to be able to read the Bible, understand its meaning, and apply it to my life?

Now, as a pastor of a local church who writes and preaches regularly, I hear people ask me that question. They share how the word has challenged, convicted, and spurred them on to spiritual maturity. And for that I am thankful.

I am also scared. I am afraid that I may subtly create a chasm between the average member of the church that I serve and me. I am frightened that they may depend on me for too much. I am scared that this may produce passivity in them, thinking that somehow I am doing something that they will never be able to do for themselves. And, I am convicted that my God-given role is to equip God’s saints for the work of the ministry, which most certainly means that I have a responsibility to teach them to feast on God’s word for themselves (Eph 4:11-16). What they do with their Bible will shape the trajectory of their lives.

Lifeway Research has found “reading the Bible is the best predictor for spiritual maturity.” Ed Stetzer writes:

“Perhaps what evangelicals need most right now is a strategy for biblical literacy. We need to reengage the biblical narrative and immerse ourselves in consistent (or daily, if that’s your thing) study. It will help us be more gracious and winsome in the way we communicate. It will help us have a clearer view on controversial issues. It will help us to understand and communicate a clear gospel as laid out in the Scriptures — a gospel of the cross and of the Kingdom. The Word of God is essential to where we are right now.”

 This reality became clear for me during the first year following the planting of a church in Greenville, South Carolina in 2010. God saved a young man in our congregation, and he was filled with questions. Like most new Christians, he wanted to know God deeply and asked me to help him. We met over breakfast once a week and talked about life and faith. Each question led to another series of questions and a quest deeper into God’s word.

His passion was great for the 90 minutes or so that we were together each week. But what was he doing for the rest of the week? I knew that he was reading his Bible, but I also knew that he did not have a plan. He did not know where to start, what to read, or what to do while he was reading. This led to mounting confusion and doubt on his part.
I knew that I had to develop a plan to help him read his Bible effectively. But this could not be just any plan. It could not be overly academic. My friend, while filled with spiritual vitality, was not a theology student. He’d never read the Bible before on his own, much less heard the word “hermeneutics.” If I gave him a thick book of theological “do’s and don’ts,” I knew that it would only heighten his insecurities with God’s word.
I also did not want to give him some other author’s reflections on the Bible. Don’t get me wrong. Devotional guides are necessary and helpful tools for the church. However, my friend needed to start with the Bible rather than training himself to depend on someone else to do the work for him. If I simply handed him another devotional guide I would be doing the same thing that I wanted to avoid in my preaching – I would be teaching him to depend on a middleman to help him read the Bible.

Finally, I wanted to avoid giving my friend something overly simplistic. I knew there were Bible reading methods available, but I could not find one that would actually give them a map for reading that could be used with any passage of Scripture. Sure, they could note things they observed about a Bible passage and how that passage affected their lives, but I wanted him to be able to dig deeper for himself – to not simply scratch the surface but to be able to mine the gem that is God’s word. I also wanted my friend and those who would come after him to have an ordered plan so that they would not just be asking random questions about the Bible but asking good questions and asking them in the right order. This type of tool would allow him to study the Bible on his own for the rest of his life.

I doodled on a dinner napkin the questions I ask when reading a passage of Scripture, and I used directional arrows to illustrate my meaning. Little forethought went into the doodle other than years of personal Bible reading and reflection. I never intended these simple doodles to go beyond than that breakfast table. But they have. Disciples of Jesus are hungry for simple, practical tools to aid them in knowing God and making him known. I have watched disciple-makers in our church use these Arrows to help a new believer grow in faith and understanding. I have watched teenagers read the Bible for themselves and unearth deep and profound truths of God’s word. I have watched missionaries in other countries translate and use these Arrows to aid in mission to unreached parts of the world for the first time. I have seen other churches take these Arrows and use them to shape a disciple-making culture in their church, proving that it is possible for normal church members to be faithful in the tasks of studying the Bible and disciple-making.

This book is an effort to illuminate the path that the Arrows provide.
The answers to these questions often prompt lengthy, academic resources that are seemingly inaccessible to the modern Bible reader. That doesn’t have to be the case though. I have watched our congregation, The Church at Cherrydale in Greenville, South Carolina, grow under the teaching of men like Dr. Donny Mathis. We have worked diligently to take the simple Arrows that I developed and teach our congregation to be effective Bible-readers.
We pray that the fruit of our labor will produce an army of God’s people who will be unleashed on a disciple-making mission, which will lead to awestruck, life-encompassing worship as they are transformed by God’s word.”
Delighting Grace: Wow thank you Matt. Please invite our readers to check your book, blog and social media accounts.
Matt Rogers: I co-wrote a book titled “Seven Arrows: Aiming Bible Readers in the Right Direction”, with Donny Mathis, which is available on Amazon in print and Kindle format.

I also write for a number of evangelical organizations throughout North America and maintains a blog at http://www.equiptogrow.com. You can also follow on Twitter @MattRogers_. You can follow Donny on Twitter @dmathisii and read posts that Donny makes at http://www.equiptogrow.com as well.

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Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 30 something blogger who wears many hats. But his passion is to preach the gospel and make God know to all men. He blogs at Delighting Grace (https://delightinggrace.wordpress.com). You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

Study The Book: Delighting Grace Interviews Jacob D. Gerber of 19Baskets

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Recently read Jacob D. Gerber’s “5 of the Best Free Bible Study Tools” which is very helpful. His websites http://www.freedailybiblestudy.com articles and podcast are superb. I got the chance to meet him over Tweeter and asked a few questions about Bible Study.

Delighting Grace: What is a Bible Study and how important is it to a Christian?

Jacob D. Gerber: At its most basic, a Bible study is when we open up God’s word in the Bible to read it, ask questions about what we are reading, seek out what God is telling us in his word, and then respond to what God has spoken through prayer, faith, and obedience. 

Since Christianity is first of all a relationship with God through Christ, then studying God’s word is of primary importance. Put simply, we cannot know God unless we listen to him speaking. Just like I cannot have a relationship with my wife (or, at least, not a good one!) unless I talk with her—both listening to her and speaking to her—so also we cannot have a good relationship with God unless we listen to him and respond to him.

Delighting Grace: How do you conduct a Bible Study?

Jacob D. Gerber: A Bible study can happen with an individual, but it’s a very beneficial thing to study God’s word with other people in a group. That way, we can help each other to better understand what we are reading, and we can also help encourage each other to apply what we are learning to our lives as we seek to follow Jesus as his disciples.

To conduct a group Bible study, then, here are a couple of quick tips. 

First, make sure that at least one person prepares to lead the discussion. It’s much better if everyone can prepare, but it’s hard to study the Bible deeply if everyone is reading that passage cold for the first time when you meet together.

Second, work hard to get to what God is actually saying in his word rather than on your own thoughts and feelings. This can be difficult, but it’s important to keep in mind that God has actually spoken, and that we are more interested in what he has to say than what we have to say.

Third, don’t forget to pray, and especially to pray that God himself would guide you into truth by his Holy Spirit. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth and to bear witness about Jesus (John 15:26–27, 16:13; 1 John 2:20, 5:6–12), so ask God to be faithful to keep that promise as you study his word—he loves to keep his promises!

Delighting Grace: If you’re conducting one for unbelievers, how do you place the gospel in every Bible study you do for them?

Jacob D. Gerber: I think that the two most important aspects of doing a Bible study with unbelievers is (1) to make sure that you explain difficult concepts as you go, and (2) to keep Jesus Christ as the center of your conversation. And frankly, I think that these two factors are important even when your Bible study is filled with believers!

First, always make sure that you aren’t going too fast or using jargon words in your Bible study. I once did a Bible study with an unbeliever who stopped me to ask what all the numbers on the page of the Bible he was using meant! I hadn’t even considered that someone might not understand chapter and verse numbers, but it was a good reminder not to take anything for granted.

Second, keep in mind that the Bible isn’t merely a collection of stories to entertain us or rules to legislate us but that it’s the unfolding revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything in the Bible points to him in one way or another, so if you get through a Bible study and never talk about Jesus Christ and him crucified, then you’ve missed the point! Again, pray that God would illuminate the gospel of Jesus Christ as you study his word.

Delighting Grace: What should the participants expect in a Bible study?

Jacob D. Gerber: Participants should expect to study the Bible seriously. That means that sometimes ideas may get challenged (although we should always challenge ideas with kindness, love and zeal for the truth!), and that we may not have time to talk about every bunny trail, distracting idea that pops up. Instead, we want to see Jesus as we open God’s word together.

Delighting Grace:How do we prepare for Bible study?

Jacob D. Gerber:Ideally, participants would prepare for Bible study by reading the passage ahead of time, and especially by praying. I confess that I always have to remind myself to stop and pray because there is a part of me that really believes that I’m smart enough and spiritually sensitive enough to read the Bible on my own. 

God teaches in his word, though, that only the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as we read God’s word (2 Cor. 3:7–4:6), so we need to pray that God will do just that!

Delighting Grace: For you what book or verse in the Bible should we study first in a Bible study?

Jacob D. Gerber: This really depends on the needs and maturity of the group, but it’s great to start with Jesus. Maybe begin with the Gospel of Mark, and then the Gospel of John. Then, I also think that 1 John is a fantastic book to study to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus as a disciple (I’ll say more about that in question #9).

If you want to start at the beginning of the Bible and work your way through, you may enjoy the daily Bible study meditations I write. You can subscribe for free at http://freedailybiblestudy.com/

Delighting Grace: How does a Bible study differ from a worship service or Sunday school class?

Jacob D. Gerber: A Bible study and a Sunday School class are pretty similar—both of those events involve studying God’s word in a group to learn more about Jesus.

A worship service is different, though, in that God meets with his people in more ways than through simply the reading of his word and prayer. In a worship service, God’s people still read his word and pray, but we also worship God through giving, through hearing God’s word preached, through the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and through singing. A worship service is a dialogue where God speaks and then we respond in more ways than in a Bible study.

Delighting Grace: What is 19Baskets and how do we benefit from it?

Jacob D. Gerber: 19Baskets is my publishing company, and the name derives from the leftovers of the two feedings that Jesus gave: when Jesus fed the 5000 (Matt. 14:13–21), his disciples gathered up 12 baskets of leftovers, and when Jesus fed the 4000, his disciples gathered up 7 baskets of leftovers (Matt. 15:32–39). The theme verse of 19Baskets is John 6:12: “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

Accordingly, the goal of 19Baskets is to help pastors and Bible teachers to gather up the fragments of their teaching ministries into a more permanent, written form. So, in my case, the book I wrote about discipleship according to 1, 2, and 3 John was a gathering up of the fragments of a sermon series I had preached.

My hope is that 19Baskets can help ordinary pastors to write solid, valuable books for the benefit of their congregations and beyond for years to come, rather than allowing their sermons to be lost in time.

Delighting Grace: Can please tell about your book and invite our readers to check it out?

Jacob D. Gerber: Absolutely! My book, That You May Know: A Primer on Christian Discipleship is a close, careful study of 1, 2, and 3 John. It’s written to serve as a helpful devotional commentary for an individual’s study of God’s word or for a small group of people. In it, I’ve tried to avoid being so topical as to neglect the text of Scripture itself, and I’ve also tried to avoid getting mired in technical details that only a handful of Bible scholars would find interesting.

I want it to be helpful and beneficial for the average Christian who wants to know what God’s word says about following Jesus.

You can download the first two chapters of the book as a sample here:

http://freedailybiblestudy.com/sample-that-you-may-know

And you can get the book on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/That-You-May-Know-Discipleship/dp/0692292632/

May God bless you richly in Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit as you study his word!

Delighting Grace: Thank you pastor. God bless you!

(Jacob D. Gerber is the Assistant Pastor of Preaching and Teaching at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Lincoln, NE. He lives in Lincoln with his wife, Allison, his daughter, Evelyn, and his son, Zachariah. You can find him on Twitter @jacobdgerber)

Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 30 something blogger who wears many hats. But his passion is to preach the gospel and make God know to all men. He blogs at Delighting Grace (https://delightinggrace.wordpress.com). You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

The King’s Comics: Delighting Grace Interviews Art Ayris of Kingstone Comics 

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Finally, Kingstone Comics hits the Philippine shores with gorgeous artworks and unforgettable stories that teaches the Bible. We are praying and looking forward for the impact of these great graphic novels that it may shed biblical and eternal perspective to its readers. We recently chat with Kingstone comics founder and CEO, Art Ayris,and we talk more about Kingstone Comics:

Delighting Grace: What sets Kingstone graphic novels among other Christian comicbook companies and their products?

Art Ayris: We are alike in that we all want to reach people with the gospel of Christ. Maybe what sets us a little a part is that we have a passion to become the Marvel of the faith market.

Most of our artists have worked with Marvel and DC so it has a decidedly western comic style flair.

Delighting Grace: How is like working with Randy Alcorn and Ravi Zacharias? Can you tell us the process on getting them aboard in a different format of their works?

Art Ayris: Both men are top shelf individuals whom God has used to reach multitudes of people with the gospel of Christ. Randy Alcorn actually came to our booth at a Christian retail show and we found out that he was a comic book fan! We told him we had a passion of doing a comic on heaven and hell and who better than Randy Alcorn?

When he has an opening in his writing we did a project together and he and his team have been a  joy to work with. With Dr. Zacharias, one of our investors supports his ministry and connected us.We actually did the licensing agreement with random House and then Dr. Zacharias was with us at the International Christian Retail Show. He is a brilliant communicator and we look forward to doing more projects with him.

Delighting Grace: What is your favorite comicbook of Kingstone?

Art Ayris: The Last Convert of John Harper by Kingstone Comics

Delighting Grace:  Who is your favorite superhero?

Art Ayris: Probably Captain America

Delighting Grace:  What is the hardest part in producing a comicbook with a Christian story?

Art Ayris: Trying to get the right artist on the right project. When you hire an artist it Is very much like hiring a director for a film. You have to trust they can really deliver the goods.

 Kingstone has rosters of writers and artist that worked for comicbook companies like Marvel and DC.

Delighting Grace: So whats the difference between working for your company and the secular ones?

Art Ayris: A lot of the ones that work with us are believers (thought not all). The believers see their work having a more eternal impact through Kingstone. One of our top guys who was a top guy at Marvel said he thought his current project was the most important he had ever done.

Delighting Grace:   If you are given a opportunity, which secular comicbook title would you love work on?

Art Ayris: Don’t really have a passion and vision for that. All the vision we have is within Kingstone. We are a very focused team.

Delighting Grace: Can you tell us a typical working day on Kingstone?

Art Ayris: We start at 6:00 for prayer time, 7-8:30 for answer e-mail, fulfill orders  9-5. I work as a pastor 6 to 11 to answer e-mails, edit and write comic books, sales etc. Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 PM each day. Sunday we  worship and relax.

Delighting Grace:   Please invite our readers to check out Kingstone and what are other projects to look forward from you?

Art Ayris: The Kingstone Bible is coming out over the next six months, The Apostle and the Revelation in about 2-3 months. Love to have people follow us on @kingstonecomics and @artayris and to like Kingstone on Facebook. We are very happy and excited to have our comics there in the Philippines.

Delighting Grace: Thank you pastor. God bless you and Kingstone Comics

Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 30 something blogger who wears many hats. But his passion is to preach the gospel and make God know to all men. He blogs at Delighting Grace (https://delightinggrace.wordpress.com). You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.