Developing Our Biblical Vocabulary

part of the "How to Study the Bible" series


Last time we looked at the importance of the meaning of specific words in the Bible. Individual words are building blocks, but we do not discover the rich meaning and truth of God’s word just by looking at individual words. We find the meaning in the statements and ideas that the biblical authors gave us in complete expressions (sentences or groups of sentences). And even those ideas can be grasped only by viewing them in the wider context of the biblical book they are embedded in.

Nevertheless, we have to be able to study words in order to get at the whole meaning.

“A Time for Dignity” on The Eric Metaxas Show

Mel Lawrenz and Eric Metaxas discuss the critical need for us to seek a restoration of dignity in all aspects of life. (audio)

Recently Mel Lawrenz was with Eric Metaxas at the Salem recording studio in the Empire State Building for a discussion about the critical need for us to restore dignity in all aspects of life as described in A Time for Dignity: Crisis and Gospel Today. (Eric Metaxas is the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, a New York Times best-seller, and other books. Access all podcasts of Eric’s daily radio program here.)

Hit the RED PLAY BUTTON below. The interview proper begins 10 and a half minutes in.

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Draw Closer to Christ This Easter Season

Given the uncertainty of our times, it is crucial that we have a full and deep connection with Jesus Christ. People are wondering…

  • Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
  • What does being a follower of Jesus mean today?
  • How can I find an inner peace when there is so much noise in the world?
  • Can I feel safe because of the power of God?
  • Our culture is changing so much, what does stay the same?
  • How exactly does Jesus make forgiveness possible in my life?
  • What does the cross of Jesus mean for real life today?
  • Did Jesus really rise from the dead? And what difference does it make?

The Nature and the Importance of Preaching

first in a series on the ministry of preaching

O Creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you, that I may bring your light to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed.

Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274

The Nature and Importance of Preaching

It is hard to believe that there ever would be questions about the importance of the preached and taught Word in the ministry of the church, but there are. There are objections to preaching from those who fear authoritarianism, or irrelevancy, or traditionalism. Some are even saying that modern people have such short attention spans that they cannot possibly be expected to listen to a string of words that exceeds eight or nine minutes—and church leaders sometimes uncritically accept it all as dogma.


Following decades of preaching all over the world, and witnessing the effects of preaching, John R. W. Stott makes the following comments:

If it is true, as Jesus said, endorsing Deuteronomy, that human beings do ‘not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4; Dt 8:3), it is equally true of churches. Churches live, grow and flourish by the Word of God; they wilt and wither without it. The pew cannot easily rise higher than the pulpit; the pew is usually a reflection of the pulpit…

The Power of Observation in Bible Study

in the series "How to Study the Bible"

Many people love detective stories, and probably for different reasons. I know I enjoy them not because of chase scenes or gunfights or big finales. I appreciate a good detective story when it shows someone who is able to discover the truth of a situation by amazing observational powers. That detective who sees details that no one else sees, who makes connections, and understands inferences. Sherlock Holmes is at his best when he sees what few others see, piecing together clues, finding a larger truth.


I come away from such stories feeling like

The History of Christianity

a course at The Elmbrook Christian Study Center

For the first time in years I will be teaching again in The Elmbrook Christian Study Center. Starting Wednesday night, January 20 and going through May 4 (excluding February 17) I will be teaching a survey of the whole of the history of Christianity. I am looking forward to an eye-opening experience that will help us understand many of the issues we face today in this tension-filled world, and a focus on the gospel proclaimed today.


I truly believe that serious Christians need to understand their roots, their beliefs, and their traditions. Their triumphs and defeats. Their glory and their shame. The 2,000-year story of Christianity is anything but dull. It includes the martyrdom of Christians at the hand of Nero in Rome, the rapid expansion of the faith,

A Thought and a Prayer for the New Year

Only God knows the future, and, more importantly, is the caretaker and Lord of the future. In Christian faith there is a bedrock truth that enables believers to move into the future with assurance: providence. The God of the Bible is above all reality, encompassing in his vision and embracing in his power our past, present, and future. God purchases no calendars, he keeps no schedule on a smartphone, he doesn’t develop project charts. He is never surprised by what happens, but is alternately pleased and displeased by what does happen. God talks us toward a good future, pointing us toward a life goal that no human being would have conceived. The good path is always just the next few steps in the direction of the good end.

A Prayer for the New Year

Lord God

A Prayer for the Christmas Season


Lord God,


In these weeks leading up to Christmas we long to know the meaning, the power, and the mystery of that great mission whereby you came to save us from our sins.

Help us to focus on the good news that has caused great joy for people around the world and across the ages. We are in awe that the coming of the Lord Jesus has shaped the history of the world and has changed untold millions of lives. We need this gospel in troubled times lest we become cynical, doubtful, fearful, or vengeful. Strengthen our faith during challenging times.

Is God a Moral Monster?

One of the most-often asked tough questions in the Christian faith is whether the God of the Bible commanded immoral acts in the harsher parts of the Old Testament, for instance. In the words of author and apologist Paul Copan, for instance, the issue is whether or not God is “a moral monster.”

Here is an interview with Paul Copan on the question.

And here is a video lecture he gave on the question.


Books for Christmas Gifts

Books can change lives. What better gift to give someone you care about? Here are some book recommendations for Christmas giving in 2015. Christ has come!




The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, Timothy Keller

What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey

A Time for Dignity: Crisis and Faith Today, Mel Lawrenz

How to Understand the Bible: A Simple Guide, Mel Lawrenz

College Edition of How to Understand the Bible, Mel Lawrenz

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible (brand new), D. A. Carson, editor

Faith Through Aging Eyes (devotional thoughts for senior adults), Roselyn Aronson Staples

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How Scripture Examines Us

in the series "How to Study the Bible"

I had left a large evangelistic rally in our city one day when I was 21 years old, and was surprised to see the speaker, Leighton Ford, walking across the parking lot where I happened to be. Seeing an opportunity talk to the great man, I introduced myself and told him that I was going to seminary the following year because I believed I was called to be a pastor. Ford stood several inches taller than me, and had piercing but kind eyes. I will never forget what happened next. He took his large black Bible and held it over the top of my head. That got my attention. He said, “Young man, when you’re in seminary you are going to be studying the Scriptures, but always remember this, you must never place yourself over Scripture, but you must increasingly place yourself under its truth and authority.” That thought and that image remained with me for the next three years, and many years of ministry afterward.

The Power of Gratitude and Thanksgiving

thoughts for Thanksgiving Day from Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

1 Thankfulness lessens our anxiety (“do not be anxious”).

2 Thankfulness reframes every situation we find ourselves in (“in every situation”).

3 Thankfulness puts us in a posture of prayer and submission to God (“by prayer and petition”).

4 Thankfulness authorizes us to ask God for what is good (“present your requests to God”).

5 Thankfulness imparts peace (“and the peace of God”).

6 Thankfulness orients us toward the transcendent (“which transcends all understanding”).

7 Thankfulness protects our hearts and minds (“will guard your hearts and minds”).

8 Thankfulness keeps us connected with Jesus Christ (“in Christ Jesus”).

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

(written originally for Thanksgiving Day after 9/11)

Dear God,

You have invited us to give you thanks, and this is what we wish to do. We live in a time in which there is great anxiety, but you have offered us a way out of anxiety. We long to know your loving care. We pray to you because there is no one so good, so high, so holy, and so merciful as you.

Thank you that you have invited us to bring our petitions and our requests to you. Who else can we go to for wisdom, or for hope, or for guidance? We pray for the victims of violence wherever they may be found. We pray for those in authority, that they would seek and find the wisdom that comes from above.

We pray for peace in the world. And we pray for peace in our own hearts, a peace that proceeds from your forgiveness, the wholeness that comes from your restorative touch.

We thank you for creating a world you called “good.”

We thank you that despite the evil that has entered the world and still wages war in our own souls, your own goodness is undiminished.

We thank you that we have seen

honor that is bolder than shame…

mercy that is wider than cruelty…

truth that is straighter than deception…

faith that is stronger than treachery…

hope that is deeper than desperation.

We thank you for the ordinary things: the bread we receive today, the breath by which we live today.

And we thank you for the extraordinary things: the strength we didn’t know was possible, and the discovery of truths we didn’t know we didn’t know.

We thank you for the immeasurable grace shown to us in the coming of Jesus Christ, the hope of the world.

In His Name,


Foretaste of the Future

Day 30 of RECONCILE, a 30-day devotional


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Revelation 7:9

Writing from the island of Patmos to seven churches, the elderly apostle John is both pastor and poet. He writes metaphorically, allegorically, apocalyptically, and in everyday terms. The book of Revelation is mysterious and often confusing! But John’s letter is grounded in the history of the early church’s expansion, the realities of persecution, and in his deep and abiding love for Jesus.