Reading Romans with Douglas Moo |  POD 014

Reading Romans with Douglas Moo | POD 014





Dr. Douglas Moo​ – Guest

Paul Brandes – C0-Host

Bill Gorman – C0-Host

Show Notes

Reading Romans with Douglas Moo

In today’s episode we are diving into an overview of the compelling and complex book of Romans. Our hosts, Paul Brandes and Bill Gorman are joined by special guest Dr. Douglas Moo, who brings his expertise as a renowned scholar and commentator on the book of Romans. Throughout the episode, our speakers reflect on their personal connections with the book of Romans, from their early encounters with commentaries to the challenges and rewards of teaching and preaching from this pivotal New Testament letter. They discuss the significance of Romans in Christian theology, its role in renewing the mind and transforming one’s thinking, and the practical application of its teachings in today’s culture. So grab your Bible and get ready to be inspired and challenged by the power of the gospel in Romans.



The three key takeaways from this episode of theFormed.life are:

  1. The book of Romans is a crucial and transformative text in Christian theology. It addresses complex theological issues and provides a balanced view of the history of salvation, highlighting both continuity and discontinuity. Christians are encouraged to study Romans rigorously and at length to deepen their understanding of the gospel.
  2. Teaching Romans requires finding a balance in pace and depth. It is important to teach the text as a whole and not get overly fixated on specific words and ideas. However, covering too much of Romans in one teaching session can hinder a deep understanding. Pastors and teachers should aim for a pace that allows the audience to grasp the text’s argument and absorb its overall message.
  3. Renewing the mind and transforming thinking are central themes in Romans. The book challenges Christians to critically examine cultural perspectives and align their thinking with a thoroughly Christian worldview. The gospel is seen as the foundation for renewing one’s mind and living faithfully as a transformed individual.


#RomansOverview #TheFormedLifePodcast #DouglasMoo #BiblicalTheology #RenewingTheMind #GospelTransformation #TeachingRomansEffectively #IntegrationOfJewsAndGentiles #UnfoldingBiblicalNarrative #UnderstandingTheOldTestament



Dr. Douglas Moo is a prominent biblical scholar who has dedicated his career to studying and teaching the New Testament. With an emphasis on rigorous exegesis and a focus on the Pauline and General Letters, he has written commentaries on James, 2 Peter and Jude, Romans, Galatians, Colossians, and Philemon. Dr. Moo’s commitment to applying the biblical text to both the church and his own life is evident in his active involvement in his local church as an elder, teacher, and preacher. He has also made significant contributions as a member of the Committee on Bible Translation, which revised the text of the NIV. Based at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for over two decades, Dr. Moo has mentored countless graduate students, guiding them in robust Greek exegesis and encouraging them to consider the ultimate significance and application of the biblical text. His ongoing projects include commentaries on 1-2 Thessalonians and Philippians. A lover of travel and photography, Dr. Moo enjoys exploring the world with his wife, Jenny. They have five grown children and thirteen grandchildren.



“One of the things that Romans accomplishes for us is giving us a balanced view of the history of salvation, bringing together the continuity and discontinuity of that history.”
— Dr. Douglas Moo


“I don’t think pastors should be afraid to join an application that is not as practical and specific as sometimes is the case. So to leave people at the end of the service: “ Now what’s the application out of this text?” Here’s the application. Here is the truth of what God is teaching us. We need to absorb that. We need to think about it. We need to find ways of impeding that on our brains and hearts and not get too concerned about if this word is relevant or maybe making relevance to narrow in its focus. Something that’s practical and can be done, rather than a relevant something. That affects our thinking and attitudes.”
— Dr. Douglas Moo


“The new perspective positively, First of all, has reminded us about this matter of Paul’s own 1st century context. A context again in which the key issue faced in the church was how do we integrate gentiles into the people of God and how do we read the old testament as a genuine Christian book pointing to Chris?. That was the big issue that they faced in those days, and Romans had a great deal to say about that.”
— Dr. Douglas Moo


commentary work, providential invitation, largest commentary, preach, Bible College, excited, hotly debated passages, summarize, compel, study, rigor, Graham Coles, significant, 66 books, complement, teach, continuity, discontinuity, Jewish Christians, Torah, gentiles, spiritual status, rooted, mix, pace, church schedules, congregations, specific words, teaching session, understanding, argument, application, practicality, relevance, narrow, practical, thinking, attitudes, new perspective, integrating Gentiles, Old Testament, Christian book, individual question, right relationship with God, narrative, creation, fall, Israel, Jesus, church, transition, renewing the mind, failure, cultural issues, Christian way, political and cultural perspectives, transformed thinking, transformed activity, frustration, theological issues, gospel, opportunity, providential calling from God, enthusiasm, pastors, preachers, impact, mistakes, tips, favorite professor, biblical theology, tracing themes, missing, unfolding story, redemption, new creation.


[00:02:53] Interest in gospels shifted to Paul’s theology. Invited to write commentary on Romans.
[00:05:50] Romans: Gospel, integration of gentiles, unity.
[00:08:24] Romans is a powerful book in Christianity.
[00:11:07] 66 books complement each other, emphasizing continuity.
[00:15:57] Pace and depth matter in teaching Romans.
[00:20:10] New perspective focuses on integrating Gentiles.
[00:23:57] Inclusive biblical scholarship: diverse paths to salvation.
[00:27:20] Translating mindset in NIV; Excited to read commentary.
[00:30:13] Retreating to Wisconsin, capturing serendipitous deer moment.

Romans Series Overview with Bill & Tom |  POD 013

Romans Series Overview with Bill & Tom | POD 013






Tom Nelson – Guest

Bill Gorman – Host

Show Notes

Romans Series Overview with Bill & Tom

In today’s episode, we are joined by Tom Nelson, our lead senior pastor, for an enlightening conversation about the significance of this powerful letter to the Romans. Bill and Tom discuss the shifting focus of the church over time and how Romans speaks to essential questions like: who Jesus is, how we’re saved, and what it means to be human.



The three key takeaways from this episode of theFormed.life are:

1. The significance of the book of Romans: The episode highlights the importance of the book of Romans in understanding key theological concepts and how they relate to our current cultural context. Romans touches on themes like the identity of Jesus, salvation by grace through faith, and what it means to be human.

2. The process of selecting sermon series: Bill and Tom discuss how Christ Community determines the focus of their teachings, taking into account the needs of the congregation and cultural context. They emphasize the importance of teaching the whole counsel of God and the joy of diving into different genres of literature within the Bible.

3. The transformative power of Romans: The episode emphasizes the transformative impact that studying and engaging with the book of Romans can have on individuals. Through understanding God’s incredible love, the rescue mission of Jesus, and aligning with God’s design and moral excellence, Romans has the potential to bring about personal and communal transformation, restoring God’s worldview in a culture that may be eroding foundational beliefs.

#RomansTeachingSeries #BiblicalExposition #GodsLove #GraceThroughFaith #IdentityinChrist #GospelCenteredLiving #CulturalDiscernment #TransformationalJourney #WitnessesForJesus #RestoringGodsWorldview



“Romans not only tells us what we’re saved from — As glorious that is — praise God, but it tells us what we’re saved for… to be on mission with him in the world in his kingdom.'”
– Tom Nelson


“I think we’ve been compelled from the very beginning of Christ Community that as Paul says, he did not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God.”
Tom Nelson


“So I think we also sometimes can fall into, oh, this is a left brain, logical book, but it speaks to the wholeness of who we are as people.”
– Bill Gorman





teaching series, book of Romans, Christ Community, significance, spiritual journey, childhood story, selecting sermon series, cultural moment, hopes and prayers, faith in Jesus, Holy Spirit, incredible transformation, brilliant book, Kingdom of God, preaching, discernment, precision, core belief, Protestantism, grace, human agency, obedience, different genres of literature, processing information, mind and emotions, transformative power, influential figures, spiritual formation, witnesses and ambassadors


[00:02:49] Romans 8:1 changed life, discussing importance of letter.
[00:05:42] Romans aids understanding of God’s incredible love.
[00:11:38] Teaching scripture through exposition in various genres.
[00:15:12] Seek the Lord, live for Him always.
[00:18:27] Hope: people find faith in Jesus, transformation.

Romans: Real Rescue

Romans: Real Rescue

Where do you turn for rescue? Life can feel like a turbulent storm, tossing us amidst uncertainty and doubt. But deep within our hearts, we yearn for a way out, a glimmer of hope that can rescue us from the challenges we face. 

It is in these moments that the timeless words of the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans come alive, offering us a profound message of rescue, redemption, and restoration. In this book of Scripture, we encounter the truth that God is the ultimate Rescuer. 

We have all fallen short, trapped in a web of sin, and separated from our Creator. Paul’s letter to the Romans reveals God’s incredible rescue plan that has transformed lives and altered the course of history for the last 2,000 years—and it can do the same for you. 

Sunday, August 13 is the beginning of a new sermon series covering the first five chapters of Romans. Lead Senior Pastor Tom Nelson sat down with Bill Gorman on TheFormed.Life Podcast to discuss how the book of Romans has impacted them personally, what they hope this series will provide to the congregation, and even a little peek into how the teaching series are selected at Christ Community. 

Drunk on Beauty

Drunk on Beauty

It was early in the afternoon, my body was tired, and I was feeling dizzy. My body was desperate to recover all the water and electrolytes it lost during the morning hike through the Amazon jungle. I had been invited on this mission trip to Colombia, and our assignment was to offer personal prayer and encouragement to the ministry staff stationed at the base in Leticia, a city in the southern tip of the country. While there, we also visited the staff in El Puente, a sister base located in the Amazon jungle. Hiking to El Puente was quite an adventure, but what I remember the most is the heat. The Amazon was hot and humid even by the standards of the Puerto Rican sister writing this blog! On our way back to the boat that would transport us to Leticia via the Amazon River, I could feel my body crashing, desperate for even one drop of water. 

I wonder if that desperate sensation, that frantic desire that makes every cell in one’s body scream of thirst and yearn for water, resembles what David’s poetry conveys in Psalm 63.


O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
My flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

Psalm 63: 1

David was desperate, not for water, but for God! According to its title, this psalm reflects a moment in David’s life when he was in the wilderness of Judah, running from either Saul or his own son Absalom. In the arid desert, where water is hard to come by, David must have experienced extreme physical thirst. He was well acquainted with desperation, and allowed his bodily experience to inform his desire and pursuit of God. Isn’t it interesting how our moments of deepest need often point us to the only One who can satisfy it? 

After our hike through the Amazon, another team member brought me a much-coveted bottle of water and a pack of electrolytes. Every cell in my body screamed for joy! But if someone had brought water to David, he would have remained desperate and thirsty because what he wanted (and needed) was not only to quench his physical thirst, but the steadfast love of God, which is “better than life” (Psalm 63:3). As James M. Hamilton, Jr. terms it in his commentary, Psalms, he wanted to be completely “high on God” and wholly satisfied in him. When was the last time we were that desperate? When was the last time we desired God with such intensity and yearning that we sought him earnestly? If the answer to these questions is “never” or “a long time ago,” our most urgent question ought to be why, why are we not desperate for God? Why is our spiritual life stale and stagnant? Before we can answer these questions, we must read further down in David’s poem.


So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.

Psalm 63:2


Gaze on God and drink Beauty

David’s intense thirst and desire for God leads him to stare at God. Other translations render the Hebrew as “So I gaze on you…” which better reflects David’s intent on fixing his attention on God because he is the only remedy for his thirst. This language is reminiscent of another one of David’s psalms, where he communicates his one desire.


One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4


In contemporary vernacular, David’s Gatorade was to feast on the beauty of God. He gazed upon God in the sanctuary, where his presence dwells, in order to see what God does (his power) and who he is (his glory). No wonder David’s immediate response was to worship the object of his gaze! He had no choice. He was contemplating the very source of beauty, the One who is all perfection and excellence. How could he keep quiet? He was drunk with the steadfast love of God, which according to David’s bold claim, is better than life. David was in the desert, surrounded by miles and miles of beige and brown shades, but his spiritual, contemplative life was anything but dull. In David’s mind, there was nothing better than feasting on the beauty of God. In other words, God’s beauty was David’s chief preoccupation. 

Now, let us return to our initial question, why are we not desperate for God? Why is it that some of our spiritual lives are stale and stagnant? Perhaps, the reason why reading our Bibles feels like dragging heavy luggage rather than energetic delight is because we have found something to stare at in our screens and electronic devices that is seemingly more beautiful than God. Perhaps, the reason why prayer feels as dull as talking to a telemarketer rather than talking to a dear friend is because we have exchanged the privilege of basking in the beauty of God for the hurried and frantic journey to wealth, to “success,” to power, to visibility, to…whatever. 

Certainly there are seasons in our Christian discipleship when our relationship with God feels dry and distant. But there is an important distinction between such seasons and the contemporary, distracted, and beautyless journey some of us are on. Whereas the former is characterized by awareness and a longing for things to change, the latter is marked by ignorant “bliss,” distraction, and complacency. The former draws us closer to God, but the latter keeps us at arms length from the One who is Beauty itself. 

In this psalm, I hear both a word of admonition and an invitation. David’s desperation for God and our lack thereof confronts us with the reality that many of us have deemed other things better and more beautiful than the steadfast love of God. We are walking around like Christian zombies, numbed by wealth and dulled by constant scrolling up and down the screens, unaware of our dead walking. But, there is good news! Things do not have to be this way. David invites us to get drunk on Beauty by gazing on God, by looking intently upon his awesome deeds and attributes. 

Friends, the compelling and tempting pictures we see in our computer screens, tablets, and phones have nothing on the One who sits on his throne in heaven surrounded by brilliant light, listening to the unceasing worship of the heavenly creatures who cry Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8). Michelangelo could never paint anything remotely close to God’s beauty, and the cleverest of song writers will always be without sufficient words to describe him. He is like jasper and ruby (Revelation 4:3), wholly other and yet so near to us. Yes! The preacher’s pen will never run out of material! Let us hear David’s invitation to get drunk on Beauty, for only in him will our deepest longings be satisfied.    


My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
And my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

Psalm 63:5


Meditate on God’s beauty 

By now you may be thinking, “Ok Nydiaris, I get it. I ought to stare at God.” But how does one do that? How does one gaze on one whom we cannot see? David was clear on his method; he meditated on God. 


… when I remember you upon my bed,
And meditate on you in the watches of the night…

Psalm 63:6


Meditating is remembering and dwelling on what God has said in his word. Lean into the beauty displayed on page after page, chew on his words, read it again, think on it, journal about it, put a Post-it note on your desk, tell Siri to read it to you and Alexa to repeat it, and… PRAY God’s words back to him. If we make this a habit, we will be held captive by his beauty, completely enthralled by his excellence, alive to him and his work in the world. Let us make the beauty of God and his presence our chief preoccupation, everything else can wait, for his faithful love is better than life.


Let the beauty of God ground you

Gazing at God and saturating ourselves in his beauty fills us with confidence. Note David’s assurance in God’s deliverance in verses 8-11.


“My soul clings to you;
Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life
Shall go down into the depths of the earth;
They shall be given over to the power of the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
All who swear by him shall exult,
For the mouths of liars will be stopped. 

Psalm 63:8-11


Hamilton’s commentary notes that David’s gazing and meditating filled him with confidence because the contemplation of God’s beauty reveals his character and power. He knew that as he fiercely clung to God, the strong arm of the Lord would sustain him. He knew that the God he contemplated was all powerful and kind, zealous for his glory and defender of the lowly. He knew that what God had done for his ancestors in the past, he could do again. Thus, even in the midst of the desert while being hunted down by his enemies, David could confidently declare that “those who seek to destroy my life shall go down to the depths of the earth.” His confidence flowed from God’s beauty, not arrogant self-reliance; he was grounded in the truth that gazing at God’s beauty had planted and rooted in the depths of his soul. 

Unless we make it a priority to be God-gazers and recover a sense of the excellence and goodness of God’s love above everything else, we will be like chaff in the wind, without roots that hold us steady in the hurricane force winds of culture and the trials that followers of Jesus will surely face. Grounding ourselves on Beauty protects us from questioning God’s care and goodness every time a difficult situation arises. The beauty of God, deeply rooted in our hearts, is a scaffold that protects us from falling apart every time we lose a material possession, watch the market crash, or the car breaks down, because we know that the object of our gaze holds the universe (and us) in the palm of his hand. So, let us drink deeply from the beauty of God, starting with prayer. 


Let us pray…


We confess we have been distracted, deceived into thinking that other things are better and more beautiful than you. Forgive us for letting our imaginations be held captive by worldly narratives of “beauty” and success. Resuscitate us with your beauty oh Lord! Breath life back into these dry bones and awaken our souls to your love, for it is better than life itself. Lord, let that truth be tattooed on our hearts and let us be satisfied in your faithful love, so that we are spoiled for lesser things. Stir our spirits, make us desperate with longing for you, move us to read your word with delight and to pray with fervency. Make your beauty our chief preoccupation. Earnestly we seek you! Hear our cries of thirst. Amen.   

Introducing the Christian Standard Bible

Introducing the Christian Standard Bible

At Christ Community we treasure the Bible—it is one of our five church values. Starting on Sunday, August 13, 2023 we will adopt the Christian Standard Bible (the CSB) as our primary Bible translation, in place of the ESV (English Standard Version).

Over the years, we have recognized and celebrated the abundance of exceptional Bible translations available in English. We have encouraged our congregation to engage with any number of these translations for personal reading and study.

We have also always had a primary translation, a specific translation that serves as our primary source for preaching, teaching, and writing. Our decision to update the primary translation is not driven by trends or fads. In fact, in the over 30-year history of Christ Community, we have only made a few updates to our primary translation. This will mark the third change in 34 years. 

Our commitment to the highest view of Scripture as the inerrant, inspired word of God guides us in this process. When Christ Community launched in 1989, the New American Standard Bible (NASB) was our primary translation. Then in the early 2000s when the English Standard Version (ESV) was first published, we updated our primary translation to the ESV. Now two decades later, we are adopting the Christian Standard Bible, first published in 2017, as our new primary translation. 


Why update our primary translation?

As language evolves and new and improved translations become available, it is essential for us to assess the landscape and consider whether there might be a translation that is not only accurate in its scholarship and handling of the original languages, but also more readable and reflective of contemporary English style.

While the ESV has served us well with its excellent scholarship and accuracy, we asked ourselves if there might now be another translation that could provide a high level of accuracy while also offering a more contemporary English style. After careful consideration, we believe the CSB accomplishes just that.


Why the CSB?

All translations exist on a spectrum from formal to functional. Translations on the more formal (sometimes called “word for word”) end of the spectrum focus on the meaning of individual words and seek to preserve the word order of the original as much as possible. Translations on the more functional (sometimes called ‘thought-for-thought”) end of the spectrum focus more on the meaning of the phrase, sentence, or thought that is communicated by the individual words, and then render that phrase, sentence, or thought as clearly as possible in the target language.

Here’s a chart that shows where various translations fall on the spectrum.



The translators of the CSB have taken a mediating approach between formal and functional which they call “optimal equivalence.” Here’s how they describe their approach: 

The CSB uses optimal equivalence as its translation philosophy. In the many places throughout the Bible where a word-for-word rendering is understandable, a literal translation is used. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is used. The Christian Standard Bible places equal value on fidelity to the original and readability for a modern audience, resulting in a translation that achieves both goals (from CSB Introduction).

New Testament scholar Mark Strauss who reviewed the CSB for the theological journal Themelios lauds this “optimal equivalence” approach. He writes: “This mediating approach helps to maintain readability and clarity without sacrificing important formal features, such as metaphors and word-plays.”

Let’s take Amos 4:6 as an example. The metaphor “cleanness of teeth” in Hebrew indicates a lack of food—not dental hygiene. One’s teeth are “clean” because there isn’t any food to eat. Here’s how different translations approach this verse:

As part of their “optimal equivalence” philosophy, the translators of the CSB have taken what they call a “gender accurate” approach They write: 

Recognizing modern usage of English, the CSB regularly translates the plural of the Greek word ἄνθρωπος (“man”) as “people” instead of “men,” and occasionally the singular as “one,” “someone,” or “everyone,” when the supporting pronouns in the original languages validate such a translation. While the CSB avoids using “he” or “him” unnecessarily, the translation does not restructure sentences to avoid them when they are in the text.

This example in Romans 8:12-14 highlights how these different versions translate adelphoi (which can mean simply brothers or brothers and sisters depending on the context) and huios (“son”). 


The ESV translation “under translates” adelphoi as “brothers” only. The CSB and NET recognize that Paul is writing to a congregation of men and women and therefore accurately translate adelphoi as “brothers and sisters.” However, they both retain the “sons of God” because of the theological significance of sonship.

The NASB20 also recognizes that Paul is writing to a congregation of men and women and therefore accurately translates adelphoi as “brothers and sisters.” However, it takes a mediating approach to huios. It retains “sons” but adds “daughters” in italics. The italics indicate that this word is not found in the original language but is added for clarity of meaning.

The NIV11 also recognizes that Paul is writing to a congregation of men and women and therefore accurately translates adelphoi as “brothers and sisters.” However, it makes the more gender-inclusive (in contrast to a gender-accurate) move of translating huios as “children of God” making the “sonship” concept more opaque. 

Reading level and reading aloud

Another important factor in Bible translation is reading level. The CSB is designed to be readable for grade 7 and above (ages 12 and older) making it more accessible to our children and students as well as those in our church family for whom English is a second language. 

Additionally, in our conversation on TheFormed.Life Podcast with Dr. Coover-Cox, who serves on the CSB translation oversight committee, she noted that CSB translators also paid particular attention to the sound of the translation when read aloud. They wanted to produce a translation that was not only beautiful to the eye but to the ear as well. 


How did we approach the process of updating our primary translation?

In the fall of 2022, the senior pastor and campus pastors tasked me with conducting an in-depth study of available translation options, thoroughly examining their strengths and weaknesses.

I then presented my findings to them for initial evaluation. After gathering their input and feedback, the Elder Leadership Team reviewed the information. In April 2023, the elders voted to move forward with the CSB as our new primary translation. 

We firmly believe that the CSB is an outstanding translation choice for Christ Community. While no translation is perfect, the CSB manages to bring together the best of both translation approaches—word-for-word and thought-for-thought—into one translation that is not only ideal for study but also a delight to read.

If you’d like to learn more about the CSB check out these resources.



Three Resources for Connecting with Jesus Daily 

Three Resources for Connecting with Jesus Daily 

At Christ Community, we want to be a local church that helps you connect Sunday to Monday — a church that helps you follow Jesus more faithfully where you live, work, and play every day. 

As a follower of Jesus, I’ve found that setting aside time each day to read the Bible, pray, and listen for God’s voice is the keystone habit that shapes my life more than any other. 

But it’s not easy. I find myself wondering what I should read in my Bible next or thinking I want to pray but feel stuck in a rut. 

Whether you’ve been connecting with Jesus for years or just getting to know him, I wonder if you’ve found yourself stuck in similar ways. 

Here are three resources (plus a bonus) that have helped add depth and new life to my times of connecting with Jesus each day.



TheFormed.life website and the companion journals available at any Christ Community campus provide a daily framework for reading the Scriptures, prompts for prayer, and practices for connecting with God and serving others. TheFormed.Life is tied to the current sermon series, so you have the benefit of connecting with God individually and gathering and connecting with others on Sundays who are focusing their attention on the same texts and practices.  


Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship

Have you ever had the experience of needing to write an important email, paper, or proposal and found yourself paralyzed by the “blank page”? You stare at that empty word-processing screen with the cursor winking at you, not knowing how to start. Sometimes our moments of connecting with Jesus can feel the same way. 

A bit like a conversation starter at a gathering of friends or family, a resource like Be Thou My Vision can serve as a jumping-off place to get the “talk” going. It is arranged in a monthly cycle of Scripture, prayers, and historic creeds. It has been a regular companion for me since it was published. I don’t always have time to do every element included each day. But it is a gift to sit down with my coffee, open the book and start with prayers and Scripture right in front of me on the page.


Teach Us to Pray: Scripture-Centered Family Worship through the Year

This tool is similar to the previous resource but designed for families to use together. It has a two-page spread for all 365 days of the year that allows you to open the book with absolutely zero preparation and use it with your kids around the dinner table or at bedtime. 

It employs wonderful pedagogical techniques and is developmentally appropriate across a wide span of ages. My 4, 6, and 9-year-olds enjoy it but it is also interesting and encouraging for my wife and me.


Bonus: When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer

This last resource isn’t like the others. It isn’t a daily resource but provides a beautiful and compelling picture of the “why” behind connecting with God. I highly recommend this resource if you find yourself wanting to pray or not feeling drawn to God in prayer. Maybe there was a season in life where you “felt” God and connected with him easily but now feel he is distant or that you don’t desire him as you used to. 

Early in the book, the author, Jan Johnson, who worked closely with Dallas Willard, warns of the danger of conflating devotion to tools (like the three listed above) with devotion to God. She writes,

Eventually we develop a devotion to the tools. Persistent and regular use of certain activities becomes a guarantee for so-called success. For example, people say, “Read your Bible and pray. You’ll be fine.” So we push ourselves to finish today’s reading plan or at least get to the bottom of the page of a reading, instead of seeing the goal as to meet with God today and Bible reading as a means to that end. Essentially we are trusting tools and our human efforts to use them well, instead of trusting a loving, self-giving God who listens attentively to us and is eager to do whatever is needed to draw us deeper into a discipling relationship with the Trinity. Differentiating between devotion to God and devotion to spiritual tools may seem trivial, but this was a primary difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.


When I read that I immediately recognized myself. There have been many times in my life when completing the reading plan or working through each page of the devotional, liturgy, or journal became the functional goal. What’s the result then? When I succeed, I feel good about myself. When I’m failing, I feel bad about myself. In both cases, I end up focused on myself rather than enjoying Jesus enjoying and loving me. That’s the goal of all these tools. They are to be a means to the end of knowing and being known by the One who made you and gave his life to rescue you.

My hope is that these resources will help you find deeper joy in knowing and being known by the Triune God of the universe. He loves you and he is waiting for you. Go to him today.