What Is God's Will? (Video)

, by Christopher D. Hudson

How can I find God's Will?

Video Bible Study

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On Marriage: Choosing Your Battles

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Guest blog post by Kim Kimberling. Kim is a friend and a marriage counselor. He's releasing a book next week and I asked him if I could share this excerpt with you.

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

As we rounded the curve and headed into year four of marriage, we had begun to fight about many things. We fought about what we said to each other and we fought about what we did not say to each other. We fought about what we were going to do and not do.

We fought about the money we were going to spend and the money we were going to save. Some of the fights were short-lived and some lasted days.

Most of the time I could not remember this week what we fought about last week, but the damage remained. Fight piled upon fight, and we grew further and further apart. We didnt know how to choose our battles, so we simply fought them all. Something needed to change.

Choosing your battles is a very good fight strategy, and it goes like this. When something about your spouse bothers you, you have a choice to make. If its worth addressing, you can work to resolve it — right then and there. However, there is a difference between talking it out with your spouse and fighting it out with your spouse. Thats option one.

If its a small thing, you can choose to let go of it. You just choose to not fight a battle. Congratulations!

Instead of holding on to it yourself, you can decide to turn it over to God. Some of you are thinking, “What in the world does turning it over to God mean?” Here is my take on that. I firmly believe in a God who cares about me and my life. He wants my marriage to be great, and His plan for my marriage beats my plan, big time.

God, then, is the filter I pass our conflict through. If something  that Nancy does bothers me, I can say, “Okay, God, what do I do with this? Do I respond? Do I respond now? Do I let go of it? Do I let You take care of it, knowing whatever You do will be good for me and for my marriage?”

This is not an easy step for me, especially if I am irritated or angry (and at this point, I usually am). I would much rather take matters into my own hands and then let God clean up the mess I create afterward. I can be good at this process. Yet, no matter how good that may feel in the short term, it does not feel good in the long term and never accomplishes what I want for my marriage.

If you have never tried turning something over to God, try it now. Pick out something you are struggling with and simply say, “God, I am giving this to You. I need Your help and I need Your answer. Thanks.

Now comes the hard part. Leave it with God. I know. What if He did not hear you? He did. What if He does not act as quickly as you want Him to act? His timing is perfect. What if? Stop. Leave it with Him. I promise you, He will not let you down.

I served as the agent for Kim's book and helped introduce him to my friends at Zondervan. It has been my pleasure to read early drafts of this book and I'm excited to see it release. If your marriage could use a boost, order your own copy here: http://bit.ly/7SecretsToAnAwesomeMarriage
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Did the NIV Delete 64,575 Words?

, by Christopher D. Hudson

I rarely get involved in debates on Bible translation. In fact, I don’t weigh in a lot of debates, as I believe my mission is to challenge people to simply read, engage, and apply the Bible.

As long as people are reading God’s Word, I’m not concerned about varying opinions on Bible translations, worship styles, church denominations, etc. I’m happy knowing we share a faith in Christ Jesus first and foremost, and I hope to walk with my brothers and sisters as we take one more step in the journey with Jesus.

However, I feel I must speak up when trust in God’s Word is in danger of becoming weakened due to someone’s attacks on certain translations of the Bible. A person who solely promotes the KJV (King James Version) and believes that any modern translation is evil undermines the faith of people who choose to read and study God’s Word in a translation other than the KJV.

As personal background, my degree is in ancient languages (New Testament Greek). I have a love for many Bible translations, as they have been helpful to many people (myself included) in their walk with Christ. I enjoy reading regularly from the KJV, NIV, ESV,  NLT and others.

I absolutely love the King James Version (KJV). In fact, I serve as the editor of a KJV Study Bible. God has used the KJV mightily over the centuries, but it is only a translation of the original Hebrew and Greek Bible.

Ultimately, I firmly believe that God’s Word is infallible. But I don’t want to confuse God’s Word (in the original Greek and Hebrew texts) with human fallible translation efforts. God’s Word is infallible. The NIV is fallible. So is the ESV. So is every translation—even my beloved KJV.

There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that God gave special blessing to Martin Luther’s translation, John Wycliffe’s translation, or to King James’s translation.

I don’t say that to undermine the Bible at all. God is perfect, and the gospel is perfect. His Word is infallible. One of the benefits of having so many translations is that we can do our best to understand the text as it was originally written thousands of years ago.

Some who attack the NIV in favor of the KJV openly denounce those who publish and back the NIV. In full disclosure, I am personal friends with the editors at Zondervan who publish the NIV Bible. We e-mail and talk on the phone often. I can assure you they are faith-driven, humble, Jesus-following people. They are actively involved in conservative churches and ministry. I’ve known some of their staff for nearly twenty years; we have challenged each other in our faith and walk with Christ. I have no doubt of their Christian commitment or their passion for preserving God’s Word.

Zondervan is owned by HarperCollins, and HarperCollins is owned by News Corp. As public corporations (headed by Rupert Murdoch), these companies are not “Christian” companies. However, the leaders of the organizations have wisely realized that they will make more money if they allow Zondervan to fulfill its faith-driven, Jesus-centered mission. They know that Christians trust Zondervan, and they’ve intentionally allowed the company to remain staffed with deeply committed, faith-driven, Jesus-centered people. In fact, the head of Zondervan’s Bible publishing efforts has served as a long-term pastor. He and I spoke this week on the phone about our mutual love for Jesus, Christ's teaching, and the truth about the gospel.

Christians have no grounds for criticizing the NIV based on its publishers. Even though the parent company, News Corp, is a secular corporation looking to turn a profit, it doesn’t interfere with the Christian editors who are preserving God’s Word at Zondervan. I believe that God has blessed Zondervan’s efforts so that they are among the most profitable divisions of HarperCollins.

An accusation has been made that the translators of the NIV removed a remarkably large number of words from the text of the NIV. This may be one of the most ill-informed and unfounded arguments against the NIV I’ve ever heard. I’m guessing the person who made this accusation looked at overall word count of the KJV and the NIV and saw a difference. Or maybe they counted all the “thees” and “thous” that the NIV doesn’t include? Actually, I can’t figure out how they would have come up with that number.

So, did the NIV translators remove words that are in the KJV? Yes. Their goal was to translate the original intent of the biblical writers in fewer words. Did they undermine or take away from the biblical meaning in doing so? No. (Translating between languages is always dynamic and never just word for word. The best translator in any setting can communicate the literal meaning with fewer words.)

Some people have criticized the NIV due to the removal of the term “Holy Ghost.” That’s just silly. NIV translators used “Holy Spirit,” which is essentially the same term. Personally, I believe that “Holy Spirit” is probably a better translation and more accurate for a modern-day reader. (Is it better to tell children that God is a Ghost or that God is a Spirit?) Anyone who uses this change in wording as an argument against the NIV shows they are trying to be inflammatory and not being intellectually honest.

Not at all. The NIV gets attacked a lot because it is the most popular translation. However, very similar translation philosophies are followed by translators of the ESV and the NLT. If you throw out the NIV, you need to throw out virtually all modern translations that follow similar translation philosophies.

Another factor in the debate on Bible translation is the Hebrew and Greek texts these translations came from. I believe that the Greek and Hebrew texts used by modern scholars for recent translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, etc.) are more accurate.

The KJV was published in 1611 from a collection of Greek texts, which has become known as the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus is an excellent collection of manuscripts, and reading from them (or a Bible translated from them) can properly teach people about God, Jesus, and the gospel. However, there is no Bible verse that says the Textus Receptus is inspired. I believe the only inspired versions are the original copies written by the original authors.

The problem lies in that for over a thousand years, people hand copied the Bible word by word. And while these outstanding scribes were 99.99 percent accurate, occasionally they made a mistake. To me, what is remarkable is how accurate these scribes remained while playing a gigantic game of “telephone” (each copying a previous person’s work).

As language scholarship and archaeology has improved, we have been able to get back to manuscripts that seem to more likely resemble the original autographs written right after the time of Christ. As we’ve gotten closer to the original, we have found that there were a handful of problems in the Textus Receptus. While none of these problems really violate the gospel, they offer subtle changes.

As an example, it appears there are about 45 verses that the New Testament writers did not actually include in their original work. Well-meaning scribes seemed to have added them in over the centuries to help clarify a verse or passage in order to help readers understand.

However, none of those 45 verses change any core belief of the gospel. They are almost all clarifications. My faith is solid in God, Jesus, and the atoning work of salvation even if those 45 verses aren’t there (or if they are, it doesn’t change anything). Modern translations (including the NIV) are often criticized for removing the 45 verses. Actually, they have done a better job of maintaining the original Bible text since it looks like the 45 verses were not in the original. (Also, the 45 verses really haven’t been removed from the NIV at all—each of these verses is still present in every copy of the NIV and can be found in the NIV footnotes.)

This area of textual criticism is an area I studied extensively. My faith is in God and the God of the Bible. My hope is in Jesus. If I can’t trust the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, I can’t know that my faith is firm. After much, much study, I came to the conclusion that the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts are very accurate. They accurately record Jesus’ words and teaching. As such, my faith is secure.

It’s easy to throw rocks, and I’m afraid those who vehemently oppose and attack the NIV (or any other translation) do so in a way that hurts Christians and their faith. Thankfully, Jesus is bigger than our human attempts to win an argument. I pray he’ll continue to be exalted even while some Christians—perhaps well-meaning ones—continue to tarnish the love and gospel of Christ in their efforts to preserve what they believe is the truth.

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FORGIVENESS: 5 Day Video Bible Study

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Understanding God's forgiveness can release you from guilt and free you from shame. If you need to better understand God's forgiveness--or if you need to take a step toward forgiving someone else--then subscribe below. 

This free series lasts 5 days. Each day you will receive a link to a 2-3 minute video and a PDF to a Bible study that can be completed in 10-15 minutes. This study will cover the following topics:

Day 1: Sin, Confession, and a Holy God
Day 2: What is True Repentance?
Day 3: No Condemnation
Day 4: Stop Trying to Earn God's Forgiveness!
Day 5: How Can I forgive Others if I Don't Feel Like Forgiving?

What's the catch? There is none. Like forgiveness the study is completely free and made available to anyone who needs it. 

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Abba, Father

, by Christopher D. Hudson

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
(Galatians 4:6)

Because bad dads get a lot of press these days, it’s difficult for many to view God as a father. In our society of fractured families, far too many grow up with weekend-only fathers—or no fathers at all. Since even the best earthly dads have moments when they get impatient or preoccupied, the idea of God as “Father” takes a good bit of imagination—and even more faith. So it helps to remember that God is a perfect Father, a Father unaffected by human frailties. He is 100 percent love and motivated by His glory and our good 100 percent of the time.

As the One who gave the world a thirty-year “show-and-tell” of who and what God is (John 1:18), Jesus made it clear that our heavenly Father fanatically cares about us. He actually keeps up with the tiniest details of our lives (Matthew 10:29–31). He invites our conversation (Matthew 6:9) and is always eager to hear about our needs and concerns, both mundane and significant. Unlike finite and flawed earthly fathers, our heavenly Father is never too busy, never stressed out, and never self-absorbed.

And like the best and wisest dads, He disciplines (that is, He corrects, not punishes) us when we need it. He knows what we were created for, where we need to go, and where our character flaws are. With all that in mind, He trains us in a way of living that will directly benefit us in the long run (Hebrews 12:9).

God the Father is protective. He wants to shield us from evil and keep us safe. He is tender. We can count on Him to make our hard situations better. He is strong. We can run to Him and hide in His arms, confident that everything will be all right.

Mostly, our heavenly Father wants to have an intimate relationship with His children. He wants us to know and trust His heart. He wants to celebrate the joys of life with us, and to hold us while we grieve.

If you grew up with a father who was consistently there for you, let that earthly dad point you to the Father who is beyond good.

And if you grew up without a good father, let that experience drive you to Abba, the One who perfectly meets the deepest needs—and desires—of our hearts.

God, help me work through any “daddy baggage” in my heart so I may see and embrace You as my perfect and loving heavenly Father. Amen.


The above article is adapted from 100 Names of God, which will be released in the October of 2015. Pre order your signed copy.
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God of My Life (El Chaiyai)

, by Christopher D. Hudson

"At night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.

By day the Lord directs his love." (Psalm 42:8, NIV)

If you’ve had a loved one die, whether in human or furry form, you know the pain of grief, and you’ve also brushed up against the great mystery of life. What is this immaterial essence or spirit that animates us? Where did it come from? And where does it go when we’re gone?

The Bible tells us. God, in creating humanity, did much more than bringing together assorted body parts, tissues, and organs. He did do that, but Genesis 2:7 says that He took that lifeless creature and "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” From the opening pages of Scripture, we see that God is the source and giver of life.

And God doesn’t just animate us physically; He also desires to see us come alive spiritually. He wants, by His grace and through our faith, to give us eternal life (i.e., a life that consists of knowing Him through Jesus Christ, see John 17:3). Jesus insisted He came to offer His followers "life abundantly" (John 10:10). The idea should evoke imagery of a life impossibly full, incredibly rich, and sloshing over with blessing.

This is not to say that a life in God or a life with God is easy and trouble-free—far from it. We live in a broken world full of broken people. We face hardships and endure suffering. Many of the psalms—not just Psalm 42—suggest this. One day God will make everything right, but in the meanwhile, we will experience trouble and tears. And so we must make the choice to live in God’s presence and to rely on His promises.

The New Testament expands on this idea. We serve a God—more importantly, we are loved by a Savior—who not only sustains our lives, but, as the apostle Paul asserted, “is our life . . . ” (Colossians 3:4).

This is the life of faith. Clinging to Christ as if He is our oxygen—our invisible, but indispensable source of life. Seeing Christ as our life is recognizing our need for Him every moment and depending on Him at every turn. And it is not a life of fear-filled desperation but a life of loving devotion.

This faith focus on Jesus won’t make our problems disappear, but it will put them in perspective. Our God is the source and sustainer of life . . . and not just a “get by” life, but the life we really want.

The life God offers us is—in quantity and quality—beyond our wildest dreams.

The above article is adapted from 100 Names of God, which will be released in the winter of 2015. Pre order your signed copy.

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The Holy One (El Hakkodesh)

, by Christopher D. Hudson

“For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy, ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” (Isaiah 57:15, NIV)

Government agencies are lenient regarding impurities in our food supply. For example, in peanut butter there may be thirty or more insect fragments and one or more rodent hairs per 100 grams. Shocking, isn’t it?

It’s even more shocking to realize that God has no leniency whatsoever for moral impurity. That’s the idea behind the divine name “the holy one.” The Hebrew word holy means sinless and free from imperfection. God is without error or fault. He is absolute purity and light. This attribute of holiness sets God apart, and makes Him distinct from everything else in a fallen world. Try as we might, we sinful creatures have a hard time comprehending God's blinding holiness, which is referred to in Scripture as “terrible” or “dreadful” (see Nehemiah 1:5, Psalm 68:35).

In the same way that an epidemiologist seeks to isolate those infected with a deadly disease, or a surgeon insists on a germ-free operating room, God demands that extreme, even harsh measures be taken to quarantine and eradicate sin.

Consider the consequences of sin in contrast with a holy God.
• The payment for offending a holy God? Death. (Romans 6:23)
• The punishment for following another god? Death. (Leviticus 20:3)
• The consequence of getting too close to God's presence? Death. (Exodus 19:12)

Such dire consequences for sin reveal the extent of God's holiness. Like the north and south ends of a magnet, holiness and sin cannot coexist; in fact, they violently repulse each other.

Thankfully, Isaiah 57:17 expands the holiness of God to mean there’s not only an aversion to sin, but also a desire to seek out, save, and revive the lost. God’s holiness drives Him to seek and find us. In His perfection, God seeks to restore the world to its original holy and perfect state.

It is God's purity that will not allow Him to discard us, though He has reason to. His holiness, rooted in love, compels Him to save. He sent His one and only Son to turn sinners into saints.

God's holiness means that God hates sin enough to deliver sinners from it.

The above article is adapted from 100 Names of God, which will be released in the winter of 2015. Pre order your signed copy.
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The Great God (El Haggadol)

, by Christopher D. Hudson

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” (Deuteronomy 10:17, NIV)

Certain names have been associated with greatness. There was Alexander the Great. The Great Gatsby. Boxer Muhammad Ali was known as “the Greatest,” and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky as “the Great One.”
We typically reserve this word to describe a unique accomplishment or status. To call someone “great” is to say there is only one—there has never been, nor will there ever be, another like him or her.
The Hebrew People who heard Moses speak the words of Deuteronomy 10:17 had heard often of Yahweh, the God of their forefather Abraham. But by that time, they had also lived for four hundred years in Egypt, where multiple gods were worshiped. And now God was leading them to a land where they would be surrounded by other polytheistic peoples. What made Israel’s God unique from the rest? What, if anything, caused Him to stand out from all the others?
Moses argued that God deserved the Hebrews’ full devotion because He is “the great God.” The Hebrew word “great” is gadol. It means distinguished, important, large, grand, magnificent. And why is God uniquely deserving of this title? Because, Moses says, He’s mighty. He’s powerful and awesome. There’s nothing too hard for Him. Not only this, but unlike the petty gods of the surrounding cultures, the God of Israel is just—He is fair and gracious. That’s another reason He’s great: He doesn’t play favorites or accept bribes, like a crooked earthly judge.
God is great, Moses says elsewhere in this same chapter, because He owns the universe (14). He’s great because He graciously set His affection on the Hebrew people (15). He’s great because He cares about the helpless (18). He’s great because He alone does awesome wonders (21). He’s great because He blesses undeserving people (22).
What other god does such things? Only Yahweh, Israel’s God, the one true God is able to hold the title of “great.”
It is blasphemous and tragic to treat anything as being greater than God. Do people give their hearts to other gods? Of course. But there is no god like “the great God” of Israel.

After identifying their God as “great,” notice the response Moses urged from the people: "Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him." Because of God's unique position, He is worthy of reverential fear and faithful service.
The above article is adapted from 100 Names of God, which will be released in the winter of 2015. Pre order your signed copy.
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What Happened on Good Friday and Easter?

, by Christopher D. Hudson

What happened on Good Friday and Easter? Below  is an excerpt from my book The Most Significant People, Places, and Events of the Bible.

The Events of Good Friday
Shortly after Peter professes that Jesus is the Messiah of God (Luke 9:18 – 20), Jesus again tells his followers that he must suffer, be rejected by the church leaders, be killed, and then be raised to life on the third day. He then explains that anyone who wants to be his disciple must take up his or her cross and follow him (Luke 9:21 – 23).

Jesus’ crucifixion begins with a brutal beating, wearing a crown of thorns, and carrying his own crossbeam through the city to the place of his execution. While Jesus

is dying, the land becomes supernaturally dark. Around three in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in Hebrew, quoting from Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45 – 46, NIV). At this moment, Jesus is taking upon himself all of humanity’s sin, as well as all of God’s wrath, mysteriously experiencing complete separation from the Father.

In John’s account of the crucifixion, he records Jesus’ last words as “It is finished,” after which Jesus “bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28 – 30
, NIV). These words signify the accomplishment of the Father’s will in reconciling humanity to himself. The cross of Christ, the blood of the Lamb, now provides direct access to a holy and loving God.

When Jesus dies, the earth shakes, rocks split, tombs open, and the massive veil in the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple is split from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51 – 52). Jesus is then placed inside of a cave-like tomb secured by a large boulder and guarded by two Roman soldiers (Mark 15:42 – 47; Matthew 27:62 – 66).

The Miracle of Easter

On the third day after Jesus’ death, an angel with an “appearance like lightning” and “clothes as white as snow” appears at the tomb. The guards are so afraid, they become “like dead men.” To the women at Jesus’ tomb who had come to tend to his body, the angel says, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5 – 6, NIV). 

The angel then tells the women to go and tell the disciples the news: Jesus “has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him” (Matthew 28:7
, NIV). As the women report this news to the disciples, Jesus appears to them. They fall at his feet and worship him (Matthew 28:9). Jesus, the Author of life, now holds the keys of death and hades (Revelation 1:18).

For more on The Most Significant People, Places, and Events of the Bible, watch the 30 second video trailer here.
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What You Need to Know About Heaven

, by Christopher D. Hudson

The following is an excerpt from What You Need to Know About Heaven.

Let’s imagine the impossible. Let’s say a person is born, lives a full life, and dies without violating any of God’s commands. Let’s say the person never utters a falsehood, never harbors a millisecond of ill will toward another person, and never gives God less than 100 percent devotion. Let’s say the person’s every thought, attitude, word, and deed honor God. 

In the context of eternal life, such a sparkling résumé would still fall immeasurably short of the standard required for atoning for sin and restoring the relationship with God. Even if no sin were committed, the person would still have an inherited sinful nature to answer for. No one born of man and woman could offer the perfect sacrifice that God requires for the atonement of sin. 

A person conceived by the Holy Spirit and delivered by a virgin, on the other hand, would have no inherited sinful nature. If that person could manage the impossible—live a sinless life with absolutely no offenses against God—he would be a fitting candidate to bring about atonement. 

Of course, this perfect candidate would have to agree to endure unprecedented agony—the kind of torture and death that would be unimaginable to anyone else. This innocent, blameless specimen of perfection would be subjected to the totality of God’s holy wrath and judgment for the sins of the world. The suffering and pain we deserve would instead be heaped on him. He who knew no sin would, in effect, become sin in God’s eyes—and be punished accordingly. 

Only One could satisfy those demands. But in order to do that, he had to leave his idyllic existence in heaven for a life of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal on our sin-ravaged planet. He had to give up his autonomy and become a helpless baby. He had to lay aside his perfections and make himself vulnerable to pain, sickness, and exhaustion. He had to submit to physical limitations, such as hunger and thirst. He had to squeeze his infinite presence into a container of flesh roughly five-and-a-half-feet tall. 

Only Jesus could have bridged the gap between God and humanity. Only Jesus did. 

The above article appears in What You Need to Know About Heaven, which is on sale where magazines are sold within the United States and Canada.
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