Frequently Asked Questions
Bible Study Notes by Email
Why are you doing this anyway?
Why are you doing this anyway?
There is a Proverb that is key to this question: “Teach a wise man, and he will be the wiser; teach a good man, and he will learn more.” (Proverbs 9:9, The Living Bible)
What motivates me, more than anything else is that I love to see people grow in their relationship with God. These lessons are not so much to lead an unbeliever to Jesus, although God has used these lessons for that purpose. It is primarily to help people grow in their relationship with God. The primary purpose of these lessons is to show how the Bible applies to one's life to day. I try not to emphasize Bible-as-History but mainly to show how the Bible applies to our life today. There is some historical teaching, but it is only so one can better understand the passage.
I figured out a long time ago that God gave me two special gifts. One is to write and the other is to explain the Bible. I like to use those two gifts to glorify God and help other Christians grow in their faith.
Here is another principal I use for this study: “But all the while my ambition has been to go still farther, preaching where the name of Christ has never yet been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.” (Romans 15:20, The Living Bible)
The principal behind this verse is Paul didn't want to work where another pastor was already working. There are plenty of ministries out there via television and radio. I have seen very few via e-mails. There is some out there, but none exactly like I do. Therefore, I see a market “niche” for what I do.
I have also found that the best way to learn the Bible is to study it one verse at a time, one chapter at a time and one book at a time. It doesn't matter which book you pick first, because the Bible is designed to work as an intergraded it. There are 66 separate books in the Protestant Bible (80 in the Catholic Bible, with 14 additional Old Testament books), yet each book gives principals and issues that can be cross-referenced (pardon the pun) to just about every other book of the Bible. On any one of my lessons you will find cross-references to other books of the Bible.
These e-mails are not for everyone. If it sounds interesting to you, give it a try for a few weeks. If you don't like it, just send an e-mail to cancel. I have a no-questions-asked policy about cancellation.
Why do you use the NIV version of the Bible?
For those who don't know, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with a few minor exceptions) and the New Testament was written in Greek. There are lots of English translations.
With that said, I don't have a favorite translation. I own about eight of them and have access to many more when needed. For every lesson I usually read through at least four different translations to help pick up the subtleties of the text.
I use the New International Versions (NIV) only because:
Through the lessons I will often quote different versions of the Bible. My goal is to get the reader to understand what the author is trying to communicate. Very literal translations may be the best word-for-word translation, but often it makes it difficult for the reader to understand the point being made. This is why I often use paraphrase versions of the Bible to help get my point across.
There are some people out there who like to argue for the King-James Version only, or argue that the King James is the best. Before you e-mail me with your arguments, let me say that I know the “pro” and “con” arguments well enough I could convince a naïve Christian pretty well on either side of that debate.Before you e-mail complaining about the horrors of a translation you don't like, remember what Paul said to Timothy: “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (2nd Timothy 2:14b, NIV). For what it worth, I pray and strive to study the underlying text and communicate it as best I can to my readers. So before you send that e-mail complaining of the horrors of using the NIV, ask yourself, “I don't agree with that translation, but is he doing good, or harm to the body of Christ by his teaching?” Look over my Statement of Faith and my missionary goals. If this is something you can't stand, spare me the arguments. I keep a “no questions asked and no comments given” to those who cancel. If it is something that you can benefit from, read on. If not, that is ok too.
Are you pushing any one “brand” of Christianity?
I have a strong evangelical view of Christianity.
Under the “big umbrella” of Christianity, most Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and independent churches agree on the major issues and disagree on the minor issues. If you read my Statement of Faith, you will find all the issues I will not compromise on. All others are up for debate. If you read through my writings you will find I often try to give majority and minority opinions on an issue and support them Biblically.
I have many readers on this list with a Roman Catholic background. Many of them are strong enough in their beliefs to peacefully disagree with the ideas that are contrary to Roman Catholic teaching. They are not going to change my mind, and I'm not going to change theirs, and they read and learn what is appropriate.
My main concern is that I give views that are biblically supported, period. There are other views on minor issues that are also biblically supported. In almost all cases I am very aware of those views and know the biblical support. So before you send those angry e-mails trying to convince me to change my view on a particular issue, remember that:
There is something you said I don't agree with
There is a danger to those of us who know the Bible very well. You will never be 100% in agreement with every other Christian who knows their Bible very well. Personally, I believe the world would be a boring place if we all agreed that much! When you read these lessons ask yourself, “Am I benefiting from reading them?” If you agree and are learning from them, keep going, even if you don't 100% agree with everything I say.
If something bothers you so much you can't get past it, first, exhale. Then say, “You know, I just don't agree with that viewpoint.”
I believe Christians can get along so much better if we just learn to peacefully say, “I disagree”. Remember it is not your job to fix me. It is not my job to fix you. God called me to read and study His Word and explain it the best I can. If you are that obsessed over changing my view, keep me in prayer that I “correctly divine the Word of Truth” as I preach it to others. That will do my far more good than to send me an angry letter.
How do you pay for this?
As soon as I figure this out, I will let you know! I have a full time job over and above this ministry. I want to keep it free as long as possible so nobody questions my motivation as to why I do this.
This is a spare time ministry. Therefore, don't expect corrections and e-mail responses to happen quickly. I only have so much time each week for this. I still have a relationship with God, my family and work responsibilities that must be met.
If you want to help financially, please send an Email. There is never any obligation and I want to avoid solicitation as long and as much as possible. The most important thing I ask is that people pray for this ministry. There are many new believers and some non-believers who read this study on a weekly basis.
I can't “click” on where you said to “click”
Some e-mail programs, especially older versions of America On Line do not allow you to click on any given lesson. Here is the alternative way to read the lesson:
If it still doesn't work, make sure you highlighted just the exact “http” information. There should be no empty spaces before or after. Check the spelling if you did it manually.
With each e-mail, I send it two different ways, one is the standard “http” version, and the other is the Adobe Acrobat® version. This is the version that ends with “pdf” at the end of the line. The advantage of using the Adobe Acrobat® version is that the fonts are better and it is much easier on the eyes. In order to use that version, you must download the free version of Adobe Acrobat. It is available from Adobe. Download the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. With some computers, you need to have the Reader® open on your computer in order for this to work. On others, the Reader® should automatically open when you click on this option.
If all that does not work, send an E-Mail, and I'll see what I can do. I can't promise an immediate response, but I'll eventually get to it.
What about your grammatical errors?
I read, I proof and I proof and I read. There are still errors to be corrected. I know the grammar police are lurking out there, and they do catch me every now and then. Remember, this is a spare-time ministry. Every now and then I do go back and fix things based on a reader response. Please don't expect immediate corrections, but they will eventually be fixed. When you E-Mail, check the “I want to send FEEDBACK” box, and then put “grammar” in the top portion of the comment box, so I know where to categorize your e-mail. Please specify the lesson and the specific reference. For example, “This is in regards to to the Genesis 10-11 notes, 3-a-ii.” Thank you for your help and I will eventually get to it.
Can I choose what Bible book to study? Why do I have to do this one?
It would be too much for me to have separate lists of past books. I have written verse-by-verse lessons on many books of the Bible, and God-willing, I will do many more. If there is a particular book of the Bible you would like to study and would like to read my notes at your own pace (i.e., no e-mails), then simply go the Archives page and read at your own pace.
Someone put me on this list and I don't want to be
Somebody may have forwarded this e-mail to you without you knowing it. There is nothing I can do about that. Look at the source of the email, and you will find the culprit. If you see the word “Fwd” in the subject line of your e-mail, or if you see a lot of “>” in front of the e-mails like this:
I designed the method to officially join the list by getting you to respond to an e-mail. This cuts down on unwanted people on the list. It still happens, but I promise you I am not guilty. If you are on the official list and don't want to be, just E-Mail and I'll take you off.
What if I can't keep up with all that you write?
I write about 10-13 pages per week. I usually figure it should take about an hour to read those notes. For some it is longer, for some it is less. It's ok if you are a slow reader. If you are interested but can't keep it, I might recommend the following:
Cancel when you get to the last lesson of a particular book. For example, let's say I'm teaching 2nd Timothy. When you get to the lesson on the last chapter, then cancel the subscription for a while. All my e-mails have the links to the previous lessons just on 2nd Timothy. That way, you can catch up on your own. You can always rejoin later.
I know my Bible pretty well. I noticed a topic you didn't cover.
One of my prayers each week before I write is “Lord, show me the things you want me to learn, and show me the things you want me to pass on”. One can write very long exhaustive commentaries on individual books and chapters. I have to cut off the issues somewhere. I simply can't cover every possible topic and application.
In preparation for these studies, I read lots of commentaries and study the passage over and over again. There are many things I could add, but I need to summarize in order to limit the lessons to the size that they are.
Has the Holy Spirit given you additional insight to a lesson that I didn't mention? Praise God. That is His job. Do you feel compelled to share that with me? Well, if you must, please do so in a nice way. Please keep it positive and upbeat. Consider also the fact that I learn a lot more than what I write, and can only say so much in a given week.
I signed up for the list, but I haven't received anything.
The e-mails are sent out every Wednesday. Sometimes I take time off to do research on my next project or just take a break. If you signed up, the e-mails are going and you still haven't received anything, send an E-Mail.
What about viruses?
When I first started this list, I used to send my notes on an attachment. I use anti-virus software on my computer. All outgoing e-mail is screened for viruses. The danger of viruses is always from attachments. I have never once heard of getting a virus from clicking on a link. It is only from downloading attached files where the danger comes in. If you receive any suspicious e-mail(s) and you don't know who sent it to you, never open any attachments to the e-mail. That is where the danger comes in.
To anyone reading this list, I strongly recommend getting anti-virus software. Not because of my lessons, but just as a precaution. Think of it as the cheapest insurance policy you can get on your computer. There are evil people out there who are very smart and send e-mail viruses just for the purpose of seeing if they can get away with it. I am not one of them.
What are your sources for your lessons?
First and foremost, a function of the Holy Spirit is to show me the principals and applications that He wants me to teach that week. After that, I read lots and lots of commentaries. I try to keep in mind that the commentaries are man inspired and not God inspired. There are wonderful commentary books out there on every book of the Bible and a lot of good applications and history have come from these books.
I teach the Bible one book at a time. On the last page of the last lesson of any book is a list of all my sources for that book. Whenever possible, I also give a web link to those sources for further reading.
Can I forward these notes to others? Is this copyrighted?
First of all, I encourage passing these notes on to others, assuming those others are cooperative. I know of bible study groups that read these notes and I am humbled that God uses them in that way. I don't have a problem with sharing these notes with others, and I encourage that concept. These notes are copyrighted 2004 by Straight to the Point Ministries™. If you wish to quote anything on this website, I ask that you do so in context and reference me and the 2004 Copyright as well as the website. Please e-mail if you have any interest in using any of the material for publication, as written authorization is needed.
I read all of these questions and answers and I still have a question.
Fair enough. I try to answer all questions as best I can. To those who really need help or are just curious about an issue please send me an E-Mail.
If you just want to argue about a certain point, I can't promise a response. There are plenty of places on the internet to debate Christian viewpoints. This is not one of them. I can usually tell the sincere inquiries from the debaters, but not always. When in doubt, I will probably answer the question.