Becoming a Bible Hacker

I love reading the Bible. It’s a desire I received from my grandparents. I’d often see them digging around in the scriptures. Unfortunately, I can’t really read my grandmother’s handwriting, so I don’t know many of the notes she wrote, but both of them taught me how to get into the Bible and dig around. I remember calling my grandfather about some verses in Genesis a few weeks before he passed away. They were my go-to people for digging around in the Bible.

In essence, they were Biblical hackers. Grandpa understood scriptures and could maneuver between verses, chapters, and books to drive home his point. Grandma could make sense of verses in her daily reading, and proved it in the notes she wrote for herself in the margin.

There are people in this world who’s life calling seems to be digging around computer systems, tinkering around with them to make things work the way they want it to. These folks are hackers, and while the media tried several years ago to turn the word into a negative, true hacking is as pure as the code the individual works on.

Hacking is most commonly found in the Linux operating system, but is also found in app development for Android and iOS. These hackers can break down code in ways I could only dream of, all in the name of tinkering to make things work better. Facebook made this mainstream with their publicized “hack-a-thons.”

Yet for whatever reason, this sort of digging into the scriptures, to better understand the “code” of God’s word, to make our lives work better, is shunned by more people. They would rather be fed from the pulpit and maybe get a devotional that they can follow. In neither case does the believer actually learn how to handle God’s word. They do not become hackers. They are simply operators. They can sit with a Bible, but they cannot make it work in their lives.

Choose today, dear believer, to become a hacker of God’s word. Do whatever it takes to learn how to dig through the Bible with a goal to learn who God is for yourself.

It’s not difficult, but I would offer the following piece of advice: Get a good commentary to help you out. Even once you become proficient at scriptural study, you’ll need the learned writings to delve deeper into the native languages of the Bible. I value Matthew Henry’s commentary as well as the NIV Application commentary series. John MacArthur’s commentaries are a good place to start as well. My first assistance in the Bible came from the notes in my Scoffield Reference Bible. He’s fallen very far out of favor now days as dispensationalism has moved forward, but it helped me a great deal.

Another recommendation is to have more than one version of the Bible available. This is as easy as clicking a few buttons on your tablet or smartphone now days, thanks to modern technology. I use ESV for most daily work, but quickly switch from that to NIV, KJV, and HCSB to see how different scholars see a word or phrase.

Start with these two tools (a commentary and several versions of the Bible) and get started in hacking today!

MPW #5: Pray for Children

It really is the children who suffer most during the military career. Despite the fact that I have been as involved a father as I know how, I know right now that I’m not giving them what other fathers can. There is a unity that they can’t see between my wife and I, though I try to show them what I can, and there is a presence they can’t always see in their lives. It is a simple fact that there is only so much I can do to show them how involved I am in their lives.

At times I go days without contacting them directly while on deployment. I’m grateful for what I do have, however, as it is so much more than the fathers who deployed before my time. Yet there is more I wish I could do. This career is a minefield of missed opportunities and broken promises. I’ve learned to be careful about making promises. It’s too easy to not deliver.

So we take a few moments today to pray for the children, particularly of deployed service members, but really children of any service member. We pray because the stresses are different, the possible pain is different, and the future is different.

In praying for the service member, we must understand that many times we are praying for a unit, a family man or woman who has a spouse and children. It is those children who need us badly. And so we pray.

Heavenly Father,

Children are some of the greatest gifts you’ve given to us as a people. They bring us joy and they challenge us, but above it all, they are gifts from you. Today we pray for the impact a military life makes on them. We pray that the deployed member will stay present in their lives and remain in communication as best as he or she can. The kids need you, dear Father, and they need their service member. Today we pray they get both!

In your son’s name,


MPW #4 Pray for Homecomings

I will never forget pulling in to port after a long deployment and seeing the throngs of people on the pier waiting to greet us. Family members cheered, sailors waved, and music played to welcome the ship back home. You've probably seen videos and pictures posted on the internet that show you the type of excitement other service branches have when they come home too, whether through airports, on flight lines, or the like. It is an exciting time!

Yet it is also a time of trial as husband and wife reunite and families are put back together. The spouse that was gone has to put himself back into the family and assume former roles. I say "himself" but it works for a woman deploying as well. The roles the deployed member plays must be assumed after deployment, but assuming them too quickly can have it's own set of problems.

In some families, the spouse that stays home with the kids simply survives, keeping the kids in line and getting them to school is about all that can be done. In those cases, a special patience is required. As the deployed spouse returns, and the husband and wife can move forward as a unit to get the family back on track, both will have to be careful not to blame the other for the predicament. Discipline may have faltered in these cases. The returning spouse will need to be gentle in reasserting his/her role.

Even in situations where everything seemed to push through the deployment without a hitch there are minefields awaiting the reunited couple. The couple will need to figure out how to do the money again, as an example. In my own case, it took no little amount of time to get one of my kids to even want to be in the same room as me, much less let me spend real time with her. It takes time and again, patience is required.

As you can see from this post, the minefields are numerous and the potential for an explosion of emotions is always near. We must pray for families as they reunite after a long deployment. We must pray that it remains a happy time of joyful reunion, not a stressful maze of emotions and actions.

As ships come home, as flight lines fill with returning planes, as airports swell with returning soldiers, we pray for the reunions that take place after the deployment. I pray that families understand the need for patience for both the service member and the spouse as they reassert their former roles. I pray for the children as they reunite as well and for the changes that they have gone through in the months since their parent left. I pray for joyful reunions that lean on you. 

In Christ's name,