Away in a Manger: are the lyrics biblical?

If you grew up in the church, this may have been the first song you ever sang in public. It’s “Away in a Manger,” that Christmastime lullaby.

I’ve been nit-picking my way through Christmas hymns like “O Holy Night” and “Joy to the World“—both of which have been pretty Bible-based.

Now let’s see how “Away in a Manger” lines up. Continue reading “Away in a Manger: are the lyrics biblical?”

Facts about Zechariah (John the Baptist’s Father)

He’s the father of John the Baptist, and although he never shows up in your Nativity scenes, Zechariah is an important figure in the story of Christ’s birth. So important, in fact, that when Luke writes down the account of Christ’s life on earth, he begins with Zechariah.

Let’s get a closer look at this often-overlooked character. Continue reading “Facts about Zechariah (John the Baptist’s Father)”

5 Biblical Facts about the Virgin Mary

She’s at the center of most Christmas stories, and apart from maybe Eve, she’s the best-known woman from the Scriptures. She’s Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus.

Christians have had a lot to say about Mary through the ages. Beliefs about Mary vary greatly. To some, she’s a normal young girl whom God chose to bring his Son into the world. To others, she’s the sinless object of prayer and adoration, who is practically perfect in every way. (Oh wait: I’m thinking about a different “Mary.”)

How about a closer look at some things we can learn about Mary from the Bible? Continue reading “5 Biblical Facts about the Virgin Mary”

“O Holy Night”: are the lyrics biblical?

“We Three Kings” doesn’t have much biblical backbone, but for many, it’s the main source of information about the wise men.

This made me think about the other Christmas hymns we sing. I’m not talking about “Jingle Bells,” “Let It Snow,” or “The Littlest Angel”—I mean the carols in the old burgundy books that sit in your piano benches 11 months of the year.

These are the tried-and-true hymns of the season, but does Scripture support them?

I’ll be taking a spin through some of these hymn lyrics to see how biblically-backed they are. Let’s take a look at the lyrics to O Holy Night. Continue reading ““O Holy Night”: are the lyrics biblical?”

Wise men, wizards, and Nativity-scene myths

They’re the best-dressed trio in any Nativity scene. You’ll hear people singing about them, you’ll see drummer boys tagging along with them, and you might even hear a sermon about them.

They’re the wise men, the magi, the rich visitors who worshiped the newborn King Jesus and gave him gifts.

They’re a Christmas icon, but the Bible doesn’t say very much about them.  Only two of the four Gospels even give the story of Jesus’ birth, and only the Gospel of Matthew mentions this group of visitors.

So what does the Bible say about them—and what has been added to the story? Continue reading “Wise men, wizards, and Nativity-scene myths”

Where’s the best place to read about love in the Bible?

We all know that “God so loved the world,” that “God is love,” and that when it comes to love, nobody exemplifies it better than Jesus (Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:8; Jn 15:13). We’ve often heard First Corinthians’ “love chapter” (1 Co 13) at weddings.

But if you wanted to do a quick study on how the Bible talks about love, where would you go?

Let’s look at the books of the Bible that talk about love most, and then drill into a few chapters that really focus on love. Continue reading “Where’s the best place to read about love in the Bible?”

What “thanksgiving” means in the Bible

The Bible ties a great deal of meaning to the concept of “thanks”—but what if most of that meaning is lost on us today?  To us, thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude. As kids, we’re taught that “please,” and “thank you” are magic words—spells that compel adults to give us stuff. “Thanks!” becomes code, then instinct.

Continue reading “What “thanksgiving” means in the Bible”

12 Biblical Facts about Daniel

Everyone knows Daniel was thrown into a lions’ den and went on some kind of fast. But there’s a lot more to this character than the Sunday school lessons let on!

Few Bible characters have the kind of status that Daniel does. He’s a righteous and wise hero of the Old Testament whose decisions save the lives of many.

You really ought to dig into Daniel with a Bible study and commentary to learn about this character for yourself, but for starters, here’s 12 biblical facts about Daniel that don’t get a lot of screen time in church. Continue reading “12 Biblical Facts about Daniel”

Thankfulness in the Bible: 17 passages about giving thanks

Thankfulness is an important quality for all people, especially for Christians.

Put simply, thankfulness is recognizing good things that have happened to you, and acknowledging the people who made those good things happen.

In the Bible, thankfulness is recognizing who God is and what he has done.

(Usually.)

I’ve written a bit on the topic of thanksgiving: including giving a definition of thanksgiving from the Bible and exploring which book of the Bible speaks about thankfulness most. But I haven’t written a great deal about what the Bible says about giving thanks . . . so let’s change that. =)

So here’s a big list of Bible passages about being thankful. Specifically, I’ve pulled together Scriptures with either examples of people expressing gratitude or outright instructions to be thankful. (I may have had a little help.

I’ll start with a list of biblical examples of thanksgiving, and then follow up with some things the Bible explicitly tells us to be thankful for. Continue reading “Thankfulness in the Bible: 17 passages about giving thanks”

Logos Bible Software 7 review: do you REALLY need it? (Flow chart)

After I reviewed Logos Bible Software 6, they went and made a sparkly new version. So this post is updated to reflect some of the new capabilities of Logos 7, as well as some awesome features that Logos has had for a long time now.

I’ve received a few emails and comments about the tools I use for Bible study, and I need to give credit where it’s due. I couldn’t do this kind of stuff without Logos Bible Software

A lot of research goes into this site, and without Logos Bible Software 7, it would be way out of my league. I’ve yet to find a better, cooler, higher-tech tool for this kind of stuff—it’s the Batmobile of Bible study.

I know a lot of you Bible geeks are doing similar Bible studies yourselves, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Logos. I just want to give you my take on it. It has its pros and cons, but overall, I’m really happy with Logos Bible Software.

How about a tour of Logos?

Before I launch into a full-on review of this Bible software, let me get a few things out of the way.

  • I hate fine print, so I’m telling you up front: I’m an affiliate of Logos. If you decide it’s right for you based on my recommendation, they give me a kickback.
  • Logos Bible Software isn’t for everyone. Like the Batmobile, it’s too expensive and high-tech for most people.
  • But if it is for you, I can get you a sweet discount.

I really think a few of you Bible geeks should get this tool. Like I said, it’s the coolest gadget I own. But remember: I’m calling Logos Bible Software the Batmobile of Bible study—not the Batman. Why? Because like the Batmobile, Logos is a force multiplier. Continue reading “Logos Bible Software 7 review: do you REALLY need it? (Flow chart)”