I was reading an email the other day from a minister that encourages preachers and teaches preaching styles. The author in a list of his essential books for preaching said about his second choice: "It is a repository of the greatest thoughts in Christian history. I’m talking about the preacher’s secret weapon. I’m talking about the one book that many of you are not using as much as you should. I’m talking about the one book that you need to have after you have a Bible. I’m talking about the Hymnal. Yes, the Hymnal."

Singing hymns about the Word (James Steidl)You might remember those... a book with lyrics and music of the great hymns of the church, now sadly replaced by big screens. And now not every Christian home has one, as was the norm. My generation has hymnals, though, and I have plenty of them. "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns [Gk: humnos] and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19 NKJV).

Paul knew the power of singing hymns: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns [Gk: humneo] to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened" (Acts 16:25-26 ESV). Glory!  Read More 

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys” (Song of Solomon 2:1).

Christ is often likened unto the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys — common flowers of the field. This expresses His presence with us in our common problems and the fact that He is easily accessible to each of us.

When faced with an overwhelming problem you may be tempted to ask, “Where is God when I need Him?” The answer is, “Right in the middle of your problem.” Jesus and your needs belong together.  Read More 

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15 ESV). Every worker needs the right tools for the task at hand, and with the right tools enjoys creating masterpieces or restoring damages, for example. "Rightly handling" literally means "correctly cutting," so the Amplified Bible reads "correctly analyzing and accurately dividing," and the Concordant Literal Version reads "correctly cutting the word of truth" (see also Darby's 1889 Bible.)

Carpenter at work (Sergey Nivens)To conclude this series on enjoying your Bible, I want to suggest some tools that are lifetime investments. I will deal with books first, and then digital products. First you need an essentially literal translation, and there's plenty to choose from. In this category there is, in no particular order, the KJV, ASV, NASB, NKJV, HCSB and the ESV, the ESV being my current preference. However, there are more tools available for the good old KJV than any other translation. I prefer just a plain Bible with large type so you can make your own notes above the words and in the margins.  Read More 

Some people wonder why I am so strongly encourage people to read God's Word in an essentially literal translation and think about what they read. The answer is really quite simple. Since God is perfect, His Words, like all His works, are perfect. There is no higher authority for the Christian believer. Yet so many treat the Bible as optional and relative rather than essential and absolute.  Read More