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Category Archives: Bible

I Read the New Testament for Lent. Now What?!

I remember the first race that I ran as a first grader. When I got to the end of the mile fun run and crossed the finished line, I was a little disoriented. Where do I go now? Where are … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Revelation

Author: John Date: mid-90s AD Audience: Seven Churches Purpose: To give hope to persecuted Christians and declare God’s final victory Christ followers in the first century faced daily choices to trust in Jesus as persecution began to sweep through the … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 1, 2, and 3 John and Jude

1 John Author: John Date: 85AD Audience: Believers in Asia Minor Purpose: To expose false teachings and assure believers of their salvation The disciple John wrote Jesus’ biography in the Gospel narratives, and he wrote a series of letters to … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 1 and 2 Peter

Author: Peter Date: 64-45 AD; 67-68 AD Audience: Churches in Asia Minor experiencing persecution Purpose: To provide encouragement and instruction to the Church The early church faced two significant threats. From outside the church, the threat of persecution grew. Inside … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: James

Author: James Date: 45-48 AD Audience: Followers of Jesus around the world Purpose: To provide practical advice on living as a follower of Jesus. Two of Jesus’ disciples were named James, but it is unlikely that either of them were … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Titus, Philemon, Hebrews

TITUS Author: Paul Date: 64 AD Audience: Titus, pastor on the island of Crete Purpose: To encourage Titus and give him instructions on leading a church Have you ever started a new job or received a job promotion and realized … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: The Third and Fourth Generation

2 Timothy 2:2 “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” From prison, Paul writes his … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 1 and 2 Timothy

Author: Paul Date: 62 AD, 64-65 AD Some place the 2 Timothy as late as 67 AD Audience: Timothy, Pastor in Ephesus Purpose: To provide practical advice for leading a church and living out the calling of a pastor. Timothy … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 1 and 2 Thessalonians

Author: Paul, Silas, and Timothy Date: 51 AD Audience: Church in Thessalonica Purpose: To give hope that Jesus would return and to give instruction on how to live until that time The church at Thessalonica was full of brand new … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Philippians and Colossians

PHILIPPIANS Author: Paul Date: About 61 AD, during Roman imprisonment Audience: Church in Philippi Purpose: To acknowledge a gift the church sent to Paul and to call for unity and celebrate the joy found in Christ. The Church in Philippi … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Ephesians

Author: Paul Date: Around 61 AD, during his Roman imprisonment Audience: The Church in Ephesus Purpose: To explain the purpose and the potential of the Church Paul first came to Ephesus in the winter of 55 AD and ministered there … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Galatians

Author: Paul Date: Debated. Either about 49 AD near the time of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) or around 57 AD during the third missionary journey. Audience: A group of churches in Galatia, a region in Asia Minor Purpose: Salvation … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 2 Corinthians

Author: Paul Date: Around 56 AD Audience: Church in Corinth Purpose: To defend his apostolic credentials and set in order what remained of the mess left by opposing parties. As we have seen, the Church in Corinth was a complete … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 1 Corinthians

Author: Paul Date: About 55 AD Audience: Church in Corinth Purpose: To resolve doctrinal, relational, and practical problems in the church The Church of Corinth was a mess. They wrestled with big egos, divorce and separation, sexual promiscuity, doctrinal fights, … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: The Romans 16 List

As we come to the end of Romans today, I want to encourage you to pay special attention to that last chapter. The one with the long list of names that you can’t pronounce. Yes, that one. Paul was a … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Romans

Author: Paul Date: 56-58 AD, during third missionary journey Audience: Church in Rome Purpose: To introduce himself to the Church and to present a systematic statement of his theological beliefs The book of Romans begins the collection of “epistles” or … Continue reading

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Get on the Boat: Engage the Culture

The movie Noah opens this weekend, and I don’t want to miss the boat of cultural engagement. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I have no desire at this point to get into arguments about its Biblical accuracy, its … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: 450 Miles of Faith

How long does your faith last? For Paul and Silas, it was 450 miles. Today, we read about Paul’s second missionary journey, and I want us to slow down our reading a little bit in order to dig out some … Continue reading

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I Just Like Epic Movies

A lot of people have a lot of opinions about whether or not Christians should go see the new Noah film. There are two reasons I am personally excited to see it. One, I am going to see Noah because … Continue reading

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Favor, Filet, and Fermented Drink- The Fun and Fantastical Truth About Noah

There is a ton of chatter about the upcoming Noah film. The last thing I want to do is jump into the fray of confusion and controversy. But I’m also thrilled any time there is an opportunity to dig deeper … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Acts

Author: Luke Date: 60-62 AD Audience: Theophilus, but ultimately for a larger audience Purpose: This book is a continuation of the book of Luke, to show how the early church spread the message of Jesus Christ through the power of … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: John

Author: John Date: Sometime around 80 or 90 AD Audience: Most likely Christians in Asia Minor Purpose: To highlight the divinity of Jesus John’s Gospel differs greatly in content and format from the other three. Instead of organizing his account … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: The Things That Amaze Jesus

I’ve become hyper-sensitive to the words “amazed” and “confused” as I’m reading the Bible these days; it’s just a function of the reticular activating system, I suppose. The places I find the words are often fascinating. For instance, on Saturday, … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Luke

Author: Luke Date: Around 63 AD Audience: Theophilus, though obviously intended for a larger readership, as well Purpose: To provide a solid historical record of the life of Jesus and to identify Him as savior for all- Jew and Gentile … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Mark

Author: John Mark Date: Around 55 AD Audience: Gentile Christians living in Rome Purpose:  To demonstrate that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. The author of the Gospel of Mark was not a disciple of Jesus. Rather, … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: The Last Command

“Go and make disciples.” Jesus’ last command was clear. Go make disciples. Not go build churches. Not go preach sermons. Not go write books. Not go start Bible studies. Go make disciples. Now, I want to be very clear: I … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Amazed and Confused at Jesus

As I’m reading through the book of Matthew during #LentChallenge, I’m struck by how many times the author notes that people were “amazed” at Jesus’ words and actions. It all begins in Matthew 7:28, at the end of our reading … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: A Slow Introduction

“Your introduction is the most important paragraph you will write.” I remember these words from junior high composition class. My teacher would emphasize that a good writer might spend double or triple the time on crafting the perfect introduction as … Continue reading

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#LentChallenge: Matthew

Author: Matthew Date: Around 60 AD Audience: The Jewish community Purpose: To link the person and teachings of Jesus to the Old Testament promises of Messiah The Gospel of Matthew was written by the disciple Matthew– the infamous tax collector-turned-follower … Continue reading

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Pentecost- Amazed and Confused

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit blew across the church and pilgrims from around the empire heard the Gospel in their own languages. Acts 2:12 tells us that bystanders were “amazed and confused.” They asked “what can this … Continue reading

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Paul- Amazed and Confused

In Acts 23-25, we find Paul under house arrest in Caesarea. For two years, he waited for his journey to start again. It’s interesting to note that the Biblical and historical records don’t reveal any activity from Paul during this … Continue reading

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David- Amazed and Confused

In 1 Samuel 16, David was anointed the next king of Israel, but he didn’t take the throne immediately. Instead, he went back to the pastures to tend the sheep. In 1 Samuel 17, David defeated Goliath at the Elah … Continue reading

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Abraham- Amazed and Confused

God promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation. Abraham waited. God promised again. Abraham waited. In Genesis 15, God renewed the promise, and Abraham believed. The Bible tells us “and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his … Continue reading

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The Crossroads

(Editorial Note: Ignore the stupid face I make at the end. I thought the videographer had already stopped the camera. Whoops). Land plays a critical role in the story of the Bible. In fact, land is as important a character … Continue reading

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Another Journey

When you study the Bible in the land where it happened, your surroundings add a new dimensionality to your understanding. The geography itself tells a story. The history and culture give us new frames. And when you go on that … Continue reading

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The Story, Part 3

The third and final installment of The Story is online. Through the New Testament in (a little over) 2 hours. J-Term Small Group: The STORY with Heather Zempel Part 3 from National Community Church on Vimeo.

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The Story, Part 2

Here is the second installment of The Story– covering the Old Testament in 2 hours. J-Term Small Group: The STORY with Heather Zempel Part 2 from National Community Church on Vimeo.

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The Lent Challenge

Lent. It’s a season of preparation, repentance, and anticipation as we move forward to the celebration of the resurrection. Last year, my friend Margaret Feinberg threw down the gauntlet: read through the entire Bible during Lent. I thought she was … Continue reading

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The Story: Part 1, Exploring the Backlot

Every January, we host a mid-size group experience called The Story. Over the course of 3 nights, we take participants through the chronological story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, from Garden to City. We put the prophets into … Continue reading

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The Story: From Eden to Today

From the Garden of Eden to Canaan to Egypt to Jerusalem to Babylon to Antioch to Rome to Wittenberg to Washington, DC. From Adam to Abraham to David to Jesus to Paul to Augustine to St. Patrick to Luther to … Continue reading

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Faith That Stands the Test of Life

“Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” That was the answer the prophet Habakkuk received when he … Continue reading

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Why I Wrote Amazed and Confused

In just a little over eight weeks, my next book, Amazed and Confused, will hit the shelves. I’ve never been this excited or this nervous about a book being released. Excited because it’s the most raw and personal book I’ve … Continue reading

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Wilderness

This weekend at NCC, we kick off our new series, Wilderness. Here’s a preview for the short film we will be showing. Wilderness Trailer from National Community Church on Vimeo.

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How to Read the Bible: Transformation

I’m continuing the blog series from the How to Read the Bible message. Over the past couple weeks, we’ve talked about reading the Bible for story and reading the Bible for study. The last discipline is to read the Bible … Continue reading

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How to Read the Bible: Study Resources

I’m continuing the blog series from the How to Read the Bible message. Last week, we talked about some of the questions you want to answer when studying Scripture. For review, they are: Who wrote this? Who were they writing … Continue reading

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How to Read the Bible: Study Questions

Continuing the blog series based on the message How to Read the Bible. I will do a complete review of everything that has been written later. For the next few days, we’ll explore the tasks and tools for studying the … Continue reading

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How to Read the Bible: Story

Continuing the series on How to Read the Bible. First, we talked about three best practices for reading the Bible: Choose the right translation. Have a plan. Read in community. Now, we will explore three primary ways to engage the … Continue reading

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How to Read the Bible: Community

Continuing the series from the message How to Read the Bible. Choose the right translation. Have a plan. Read in community. In the church, we elevate the concept of a “personal devotional life.” Many of the marks of a growing … Continue reading

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How to Read the Bible: The Plan

I’m posting some notes from my message this weekend on How to Read the Bible. Choose the right translation. Have a plan. Read in community Today, let’s look at having a plan. We rarely get to where we want to … Continue reading

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How to Read the Bible: Translations

This past weekend at NCC, we talked about HOW to read the Bible. It was fast, furious, and nerdy, so I thought I would post a few of the resources that were mentioned for people that wanted to go deeper. … Continue reading

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