How About a Little Context (Part 3 of 3)

Discovering What Was Happening When the Bible Was Written

Two weeks ago we looked at getting to know the 40 people God inspired to write the 66 books of the Bible. (Check out Part 1 if you didn’t read it yet.) Last week we shifted our focus from authors to the audience? (Here’s the link to Part 2.) In this final, installment, we’ll shift one last time and look at the atmosphere. It’s time to answer the question What was the setting when this author wrote to this audience?

How about a little context? - Part 3

This 3-part series is adapted from the chapter ‘How about a little context?’ in my book Falling in Love with God’s Word: Discovering What God Always Intended Bible Study to Be. You can read reviews or a grab a copy on Amazon. I also cover background studies in my 8-week, online video course Relational Bible Study.

You’ve heard it said many times… Context is king. Nowhere is that more true than when you are reading the Bible.

How About A Little Context? (Part 2 of 3)

Discovering the people who first RECEIVED the Bible.

Last week’s post was devoted to discovering the 40 people God inspired to write the 66 books of the Bible. But what about the people who first read what those 40 people wrote down? (Check out Part 1 if you didn’t read it yet.)

How about a little context? - Part 1

This 3-part series is adapted from the chapter ‘How about a little context?’ in my book Falling in Love with God’s Word: Discovering What God Always Intended Bible Study to Be. You can read reviews or a grab a copy on Amazon. I also cover background studies in my 8-week, online video course Relational Bible Study.

We frequently miss out on some pretty cool stuff if we never think about the different audiences – sometimes vastly different – who were the first readers of what we have as the Bible. For example…

How About A Little Context? (Part 1 of 3)

Discovering the people who WROTE the Bible.

How much thought do you give to the author of a particular book or letter when you are reading the Bible? How about the first readers of that book or letter? Do you put any thought into what they were facing or the surrounding social and political climate?

How about a little context? - Part 2

This 3-part series is adapted from the chapter ‘How about a little context?’ in my book Falling in Love with God’s Word: Discovering What God Always Intended Bible Study to Be. You can read reviews or a grab a copy on Amazon. I also cover background studies in my 8-week, online video course Relational Bible Study.

Instinctively we know the importance of context in other areas of our lives.

For example, think about the sentence “I’ll be back before you know it.” If the person saying it is running to the refrigerator at halftime of the football game, it carries very different meaning than if it was spoken by your child as she boarded a plane bound for her freshman year of college.

It is impossible for us to grasp the big picture for any situation or idea – let alone accurately interpret the details – unless we first know the context. Understanding context can make that same kind of difference when you read a book of the Bible.

When we discover personal details and characteristics of the book’s author, the situations and challenges the author and recipients were facing at the time, and the events occurring in the world around them, we gain an entirely new perspective and depth of understanding for the book.

Taking even ten minutes (or a lot longer if you’d like) to do a background study will provide the necessary context for correctly interpreting and applying a passage to our lives.

There are three basic questions that background studies answer:

  • Who wrote the book? (Author)
  • To whom was the book written? (Audience)
  • What was happening at the time the book was written? (Atmosphere)

Most study Bibles have information at the beginning of each book or in the back of the Bible that provides some context. While this is certainly helpful, I have found this is rarely all the information I want.

Fortunately, you don’t have to own a massive, 300-volume library to do extremely thorough background studies. Do you have access to the internet? (I thought so. After all, you’re reading this.) I won’t go into every resource I use in this post, but you can find lots of amazing – and free! – resources at

The wonderful thing about background studies is that you can dig as deeply as you want to, or simply skim over a few items to bring a general sense of context to the book you are reading. Background studies also don’t need to be done every day. Think of them as “seasoning” rather than the main dish.

This week – and the next two – I’m going to tackle one of the three types of background studies: Author, Audience and Atmosphere.

5 Simple Ways to Connect Your Kids With the Bible As School Starts

With TWO Free Downloads!

Are your kids in school yet? Some of you started almost a month ago. (Sorry.) Our kids started yesterday.

The start of school is always hectic. Here are some simple ideas for making sure the Bible doesn't get lost in the craziness.

NOTE: I have updated and re-posted this each of the last two years. This year, I have included a free PDF – Click Here – that takes these principles and put them into an applicable-all-year-round format so you can use it and share it anytime. I’ve also included a link to my eBook – 49 Identity Messages Your Kids Need to Know – that goes along with #1. I’d love to hear how you’re making the connection between your kids, the Bible, and school in the comments below. Enjoy!

Grab your “5 Simple Ways” Download for FREE!

If I had to choose one word to describe the first month of the school year it would be: HECTIC.

The pace is insane, isn’t it? Here’s a glimpse at life with the Ferrin Five:

  • Two kids in middle school.
  • A third in elementary school (with a different start/end time of course).
  • Three soccer teams.
  • A wife who teaches kindergarten.
  • My busiest travel season of the year.
  • Squeezed in between we all have to eat, clean, do laundry, etc., etc.

As I said…HECTIC. Where does the Bible fit into all this? Especially for our kids?! For me, I can get up early and grab some coffee, my Bible, and a corner of the couch. But I want my kids to connect with God and His Word as well. So…what can we do?

If You’re a Kidmin Leader – or Know One – You NEED to Hear This

My interview with Pat Cimo and Matt Markins about their brand new book - "Leading KidMin"

There are lots of books about doing KidMin. There are very few about leading Kidmin. If you are a KidMin leader – family pastor, nursery leader, volunteer, or anything else in family ministry – you need to read Leading KidMin: How to Drive Real Change in Children’s Ministry.

Leading KidMin Interview Graphic

The two authors – Pat Cimo and Matt Markins – know what they’re talking about. Pat is the Director of Marriage and Family Life at Willow Creek and Matt is the Vice President of Ministry Resources at Awana. Between them, they have over five decades of KidMin experience.

I had the chance to sit down with both of them and talk about the state of KidMin – and specifically – how to help the leader stay healthy, last a long time, and lead lasting change.

Simply put: This book is fantastic! Watch the interview, then please, grab a copy today!

Here are the questions they answer in this interview: 

  1. Why did you write Leading Kidmin?
  2. What do you hope this book accomplishes for the reader and the KidMin community?
  3. Tell me about the research that went into this project?
  4. What is your favorite chapter? (BTW…They have different answers!)
  5. What are the practical pieces that will really help the KidMin leader?
  6. What’s this new “KidMin Dashboard” you created (and included)?
  7. Is this for larger churches, smaller churches, or both?
  8. What did you find the most encouraging as your researched and wrote?

Leading Kidmin BuyNow

Question: What’s your favorite book for the KidMin leader? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Next Couple Months…

Hey there. As you may have heard, my wife and I are taking our three kids and spending most of July serving with Children of the Nations in the Dominican Republic. (If this is news to you, you’ll want to check out the video on this post.)

You also probably know that I’m working on a new book about doing a Rapid Bible Read Thru. (And if this one is news to you, you’ll want to check out this post.)  

With the combination of the mission trip, finishing the new book, and taking a short, unplugged road trip in August with the family, I will not be writing a weekly blog post in July or August.

However, as much as possible, I will be updating my Facebook page with pictures, thoughts, and videos while I’m traveling. Depending on how the internet connection is, I might even try to post a “Facebook Live” video. (Wouldn’t that be fun!)

Make sure you like my Facebook page and follow along on our family’s journey!

What Do You Pray When You Are Struggling with Your Past?

A prayer for you...

For some people, it happened in high school. For others, it was a decision made in college. For some, it was a season spanning several months – or years. The circumstances are all unique, but one thing is the same in every case: It won’t let go.

What do you pray when you are struggling with your past

I have been reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians a lot. I was reminded today how Paul’s call to “put on the full armor of God” isn’t only about general spiritual warfare.

What would happen if you and I put on each piece of armor and went to war against the specific past event, decision, or season that doesn’t want to let go?

For today, how about you and I go to war?

No commentary. Just prayer. (Something tells me that’s what you and I need anyhow.)

Armor Piece 1: The Right Mindset

Lord Jesus, Defeater of the devil, Conqueror of death and hell. Help me recognize this isn’t a battle against flesh and blood. This is a spiritual battle against the devil and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The devil has schemes and he is using them to try to convince me that my past defines me. Today, fill me with your Spirit, and help me stand firm, so that in the end, I may stand.

Armor Piece 2: The Belt of Truth

Help me Lord, to speak truth to myself about my past. I confess that I have sinned. I have made choices that don’t glorify You. And yet, these choices, patterns, seasons, and habits are not who I am. While I confess my sin, I profess that what You say about me is true. I am Your child. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. I was bought with a price, the price of your precious blood on the cross. I am being sanctified day after day after day. You, Lord Jesus, are the Truth and what You say about me is true. May Your truth always ring truer and louder than Satan’s lies.

My Publisher is Giving Away My Book – Almost – for the Next 4 Days

Today is unbelievably exciting for me…and I wanted to share it with you! For the first time since my book – How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible – came out last May, my publisher is featuring it in their monthly sale!

Read the reviews or buy my book on Amazon!

They let me know this was coming a few weeks ago – but today through Sunday they dropped the price to $1.99!

QUOTE-The goal is relationshipSince you’re reading this blog, my assumption is that my writing, speaking, blogging, etc. have been an encouragement to you. If you believe the message of relational (vs. informational) Bible study would be an encouragement to others as well, would you help me spread the word? [Insert “pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top” here.]

Here are the two reasons I really need your help:

  1. I truly believe this is the message God has called me to share with the world. It has changed my life (and people tell me it has changed theirs too).
  2. Honestly…I want to write more books and publishers look at the traction that’s generated from events like this to determine whether they want to take a chance on an author’s next book.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Use this link to buy a copy. (BTW…This is the Amazon link, but my understanding is that it should be $1.99 everywhere for the next five days.)
  • Send one as a gift to someone through Amazon.
  • Copy/Paste this link anywhere and everywhere:

Amazon Sale - June 2016 - VerticalYou could also copy/paste this “pre-made” Facebook post:

When it comes to reading the Bible, is the conversation in your head more “should” than “want?” If so, this book from @KeithFerrin will help you make the switch. And it’s on sale for only $1.99 (but only until Sunday).

Or here’s one for Twitter:

If you love to share pictures instead of text, simply hover over any of the three pictures in this post and you should be able to share them with a click on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. In case you want to share them on other platforms (or save them for later), I’ve put the four pictures you see on this page in this public Dropbox folder.

QUOTE-What if God doesnt want to teach you anything today


Finally…would you please pray with me that God would use these next five days to get my book into the hands of those who need it? Thanks heaps!

5 Bible Reading Options Designed for Summertime

Summertime is especially hard when it comes to consistency in Bible reading. Kids are out of school. Vacations are taken. Churches typically don’t have any “structured” Bible studies. Small groups frequently take a break. So…what options are there for a Bible study that fits into a summer schedule and can be completed in eight weeks?

5 Bible Reading Options Designed for Summertime

Here are five options I specifically designed to be completed in eight weeks.

What do you do when things go horribly wrong?

The scene in Genesis 41 is about as bad as you can imagine. Joseph has been sold into slavery by his own brothers. He’s wrongfully accused of rape by his boss’s wife. He’s sent to prison. He’s left there for two years.

You won’t believe what happens next…

Like this video? Want to see more like it? Head on over to the Along the Road Video Playlist on my YouTube Channel.

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