Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

Over the pandemic I reunited with an old friend – Survivor. That’s right, the father of all reality shows and I had been apart for several years when the shutdown brought us back together. I had faithfully watched the first few seasons, but, as it is with many relationships, we drifted away over the years.

I really don’t want to confess how many seasons I’ve watched and since streaming mindless television episodes is not on many people’s list of virtues, I figured I needed to redeem that time with some spiritual application – so here it is.

The premise of Survivor is to gather 20 or so people on some remote location and let them fend for themselves as they systematically vote each other out of the game until there are only 3 left. Those 3 are then voted on by those they had cast out to determine who will win the title of “sole survivor” and the check for one million dollars.  The climax of the season is the final “tribal council” when host Jeff Probst collects all the votes. But instead of revealing the winner then and there, Jeff walks off screen after telling the 3 anxious finalists that the results will be revealed when they are all back in the States for the live season finale. That gap is at least 6 months.

For 6 months the winner has been determined, but not revealed. For 6 months someone is sure to be a millionaire, but no check is cut. For 6 months victory has been determined, but the celebration is delayed. There is a gap between the victory and the celebration.

We are living in the gap.

Christian, the votes have been cast and good has been confirmed the run-a-way winner. Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Satan and all his evil minions have been defeated. It turned out that it really wasn’t even a contest. The devil has been voted off and his destiny is set – the Lake of Fire.

The dilemma is that even though victory has been secured the winner has not been publicly revealed. There is a gap between victory and celebration and during that gap the Devil is still creating doubts in our minds that he has a chance. Since he knows he’s going down he wants to take as many of us with him. That’s how he is. He’s always been that way. He’s always tried to rob victory from us.

But know this - Satan has been defeated and his fate is sure.  As wily as he is, he has been outplayed, outlasted, and outwitted.

We are living in the gap between victory and celebration but don’t doubt that one day the gap will come to a close. One day we will all be gathered together as the final pronouncement is made. One day the Producer will give the orders.

Dim the lights. Cue the celebration music. Set off the fireworks. Release the confetti. Read the results. Good Wins!


Tuesday, October 06, 2020

The NIV Study Bible Review

We are living in a world of mobile Bibles and on-line research. As a minster I have my fair share of Bibles on my devices and, I admit it, I’ll “google” a biblical question every now and then. And I’m thankful for these tools, I really am. But every student of the Bible needs to know the limitations of mobile Bibles and the potential dangers of on-line research. Every student of the Bible needs some reliable tools to dig deep into the biblical text and NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised Edition is without a doubt one of those tools. This study Bible contains the entire text of the Bible with study tools that will get you well on your way to a deeper understanding of the text and a more meaningful application of its truths.

Here are some valuable qualities of this edition:

  • The translation is the New International Version which continues to be my go-to translation. Among the many excellent English translations of the Bible, the NIV has set the standard for textual accuracy and readability. The font is very readable. This may be a concern for aging eyes, but I had no trouble reading the text. The pages are sturdier than I anticipated.
  • Each page of text has a wealth of cross references in the classic middle column style and more than sufficient foot notes offering explanation of the text. I have found these to be fair and insightful and they are all right there – no need to shuffle through other reference books. The researchers for these notes are top-notch scholars. I was privileged to study under one of the contributors whom I’m sure is representative of the scholarship and faithfulness of the group. I am familiar with many of the other contributors through their independent writings.
  • The volume is replete with helpful charts, maps, archaeological notes, and historical references that would take you hours to find on your own.
  • Each book has introductory notes and an outline. These are very well done. Additionally, each section of Scripture has a brief introduction.
  • Maps, indices, tables, and a surprisingly extensive concordance round out the volume.
  • This may not be the most important quality of this work, but the photography and color are simply stunning! I have an older NIV Study Bible that was printed in all black and white. It does the job, but this volume is beautiful to look at!

The downsides to this Bible are all related to its very nature. Before buying just know that you are purchasing a study Bible.

  • It’s big. Almost 2500 pages.
  • The footnotes and cross references are a smaller font. I struggle a little with the size (I’m almost 60). I do believe there is a Large Print edition.
  • The footnotes take up to half the content of some pages which distract somewhat from the readability of the volume. This is not ideal for yearly reading plans.

In all, the NIV Study Bible is a valuable addition to your library. I do not hesitate to recommend and even encourage it to anyone who is looking for a study resource. It takes the place of several resources and it can be trusted for its faithfulness to the inspiration and authority of scripture – not what you’ll always find on an internet search engine.

As a preaching and teaching minister, I will keep it in a prominent spot on my desk and anticipate turning to it frequently.


Available for purchase at the  Faith Gateway Store and other online retail locations.

I received this Bible for free as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid for the purposes of writing this review. #BibleGatewayPartner