"Dwell is great for the spiritual disciplines of memorization, meditation, or study of Scripture. The reflection times range from 3 seconds to 3 minutes, giving you plenty of flexibility."
DIsclaimer: I received a free subscription to Dwell. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Dwell (Dwellapp.io) is a superb choice for listening to God’s word. To call it an audio Bible would be an injustice. As an avid audiobook listener and lover of audio Bibles, Dwell has much more offer!
Over the years, I’ve trained myself to listen to audiobooks and bibles because it adds to the quality of commutes, cooking, yard work, etc. There are many wonderful audio bibles out there, but Dwell has immediately become my favorite source for hearing God’s Word. Here are several reasons:
It excels in quality. The 4 voices are unique and well-articulated—and I think more are coming! I especially enjoy Felix’s African accent, but the other voices are excellent as well. The background music is custom made for the app and there are several choices, including no music for those who just want Bible audio. Unlike audio Bibles, the music volume can also be controlled within the app. The interface is well-designed and beautiful to look at—especially the custom playlist and Bible passage covers. Dwell does the small things well, and they’re constantly looking to fix bugs and make the app more enjoyable.
It is highly customizable. In addition to the 4 voices and 4 types of music, the speed of the reader’s voice can also be increased up to 2x speed, giving it the flexibility of podcasts and other audiobook readers. Once you’ve found the right voice and music, you can set a default for each time you open the app.
It has Bible Passages and playlists. It’s like the Spotify of the Bible with its many curated options. There are playlists and Bible passages galore. For example, you can listen to the story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den, sections of Paul’s letters, themes of wisdom from throughout Scripture, or keystone passages like “David’s Last Words”. You can listen to soothing passages of God’s peace and love or key insights from certain biblical authors. There are long listens which would be great for planned times of silence and solitude or grasping the big picture of longer books and sections of Scripture.
There are Bible listening plans. For those wanting to listen to the Bible systematically, there are listening plans that take you through the Bible or chunks of Scripture in set amounts of time. For example, there are Bible-In-A-Year plans, 40-Day plans with a focus on a given topic or book, and shorter topical plans to help you hear what Scripture teaches on that subject. There is also Siri integration for those who are working at being more hands-free with their phones. You can even set up a notification to remind you to listen to your plan at a set time each day!
Dwell Mode. Dwell Mode is incredible. It is definitely my favorite feature of the app! In Dwell Mode, you are able to select a passage, chapter, or book of the Bible to dwell on. After choosing a passage, you listen to it on repeat with reflection time between each repetition. Dwell is great for the spiritual disciplines of memorization, meditation, or study of Scripture. The reflection times range from 3 seconds to 3 minutes, giving you plenty of flexibility.
Pricing is reasonable. There is a free, limited trial of the app, but to access all of its great features, there are yearly and lifetime options. The yearly subscription is $24.99* per year (a little over $2 a month) and the lifetime subscription is $124.99*. That’s a little steep compared to an audio Bible, but the features, updates, and contribution to the future of Dwell are well worth the investment!
Hearing the Word is a great way to increase your Bible intake and get familiar with God's glorious Word—especially the big picture of His redemptive plan. If the price point seems too high, remember that many of us spend approximately $120/year for Spotify or Netflix. What if you took a break from those services for a year to invest in treasuring Christ more and enjoying His Word. Remember that it is sweeter than honey and worth more than gold!
*Pricing as of 9/19/2019
"Something Needs To Change is powerful. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s easy to read but hard to stomach. It’s worth your time, your attention, your thoughts, and your prayers. But remember one thing: when you finish reading it, something needs to change."
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Have you ever been to the Himilayas? Have you ever trekked to the peak of the pinnacle of the world’s mountains? I have imagined looking out at the vastness of the jagged, snow-covered peaks with their icy blue, cloud wrapped splendor, but I doubt I’ll ever brave the days of hiking, sweating, shivering, and struggling it takes to ascend such heights.
David Platt has been up the mountain. Though he didn’t trek to the peak of Mount Everest—a feat that has only been accomplished by fewer than 1000 of the billions of human beings to ever live—he travailed through many of the steep, narrow paths on the Himilayas to see God’s glory magnified in creation (Ps. 19:1). It was every bit as glorious and more, leaving him lacking in sufficient words to describe what he saw.
However, he encountered far more than just the life-altering, awe-inspiring beauty of God’s created world. He looked in the face of deep darkness that has overtaken humanity since that devastating day that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. In Something Needs To Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need, Platt takes us on a visceral and introspective journey with him as he saw and felt some of the most shocking displays of spiritual and physical suffering on the planet.
Something Needs To Change is not your typical David Platt book. He admits that he has “taken a different approach in writing this book” because he doesn’t think we need “more exposition and explanation” (p. 4). He’s not saying we don’t need Scripture. He’s saying we need to do more than simply hear Biblical teaching and think, “wow that was powerful!” or “what great exposition!” only to walk away forgetting our reflection (James 1:24). He wants readers to apply the rich exposition and explanation of Scripture in real ways that impact the world with the gospel. He’s sharing how he learned this reality firsthand.
What did David Platt encounter in the Himalayas? A region of the world in which, out of 9 million people, there are likely fewer than 100 Christians. That’s 1/1000 of a percent of people in that region who profess to be Christian as compared to 75% of Americans. That level of spiritual darkness should make us weep. Most of the people there are either Buddhist, Hindu, or follow superstitions that have been ingrained in them since childhood. This led Platt to consider the reality of hell and the shocking apathy that he—and millions of professing Christians, including myself—is tempted to carelessly live with.
He also encountered a region of the world where approximately half of the children die. Many of them die of preventable and curable diseases that we blink our eyes at. A bout of diarrhea can turn into death in a matter of hours. Not to mention, the nearest hospital could be days’ journey down the steep and dangerous mountains of the Himalayas. Imagine carting your sick child for days to get to the nearest doctor’s office only to have them die on the way.
He met a man, Kamal, whose eye fell out due to an infection. He encountered a father who lost most of his children to cholera and his wife to suicide. He met a man who spent some of his childhood chained to a barn because of a hateful father’s abuse. He walked through villages absent of young women because they were forced to offer their bodies as sex slaves after being deceived into thinking they were going to help earn a living for their families.
A glimpse of this darkness led David to question his life and the work of ministry he had been doing. Why does God allow this to happen to others while he and his family have it so easy? How could he preach and teach about these realities while living in such ease and not urgently doing something about it? How could he, a pastor and author with seminary degrees and a prestigious position on the International Mission Board, see so much and not prayerfully do more? How could he see the physical needs and argue that only the spiritual needs mattered? As he read and journaled through Luke’s gospel, the Lord used His Word and the suffering of others to give him a new urgency.
Toward the end of his journey, he met people who saw the need for change and trusted God with their lives to do something about it. Of the numerous examples in the book, here is just one that he encountered at a small church in the mountains:
“Before the meeting, the church’s pastor had shared with me that his non-Christian parents died when he was just fifteen. A few years later, someone shared the gospel with him for the first time. He trusted in Jesus and was baptized, but as soon as this happened, the rest of his family abandoned him. His brothers told him to never come back, and he lost the inheritances his parents had left him. But this pastor and his people believe that Jesus is worth it. “Jesus is worth losing your family”. Then he quoted Mark 10:29-30…” (p. 102)
There is hope for the Himalayas. There is hope for our communities. Platt is not calling for us to move to the Himilayas or imitate his lifestyle and convictions. Some of us may need to move. Some will need to stay. All of us need to pray about what God is calling and strengthing us to do because He has created our lives to “count in a world of urgent need” (p. 195).
Platt doesn’t know the answer for how to change what needs to change, but He knows the God who does and he is relying on God’s Word to show him what to do. He doesn’t know where that will lead him or any of us, but he knows that God is calling us to play a part right now where we live.
Something Needs To Change is powerful. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s easy to read but hard to stomach. It’s worth your time, your attention, your thoughts, and your prayers. But remember one thing: when you finish reading it, something needs to change.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Would you consider yourself a strong person? I don’t mean strong like the guys who can curl 135 pounds. I don’t mean strong like the insane (in a good way!) people who can do Iron Man or Tough Mudder competitions. Are you spiritually strong? When temptations arise, do you find yourself able to withstand? When trials come your way, do you meet them with confidence that you’re able to overcome them? Many times, I feel weak. This can be a good thing, if it leads me to humility. However, we’re called to be strong—though probably not in the way we would expect.
A Gospel Foundation
After laying out the rich doctrinal truths found in Ephesians 1-3 about God’s gracious and saving work in the gospel, Paul called the Ephesian church to respond in faithful obedience. He lists 41 imperatives for them to heed and obey by faith. These imperatives range from “speak truth to your neighbor” (4:25) to “be imitators of God” and “walk in love” (5:2) to “children obey your parents” (6:1) and parents“bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (6:4).
Finally, Paul says to the whole church “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (6:10). With all of the gospel he had already preached and the vast array of imperatives on how to be the church, Paul’s final section of gospel application begins with be strong in the Lord. I
If you’ve heard the gospel message: “for by grace you have been saved through faith” (2:8-9), then you know you’ll need the Lord’s help to obey His commands. If God had demanded that we obey His words in our strength, Paul would have never prayed that you and I “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being” (3:16). We wouldn’t have a shot. Thankfully, God is strengthening us for the fight of the faith. Paul’s reminder to be strong in the Lord makes perfect sense.
What does it mean to be strong in the Lord?
First, it means that we are reliant on the Lord. This is God’s work upon us, not a command to strengthen ourselves. Paul is not saying, “look deep inside and find strength for this fight”. He’s about to shed light on our fiercest enemy—the devil (6:11). If you and I are going to have a fighting chance to remain in the faith and engage in spiritual warfare, we better look away from ourselves! The “ancient serpent” (Rev. 2:20) who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden is more crafty, more ferocious, and far more powerful than any human being could ever be (except Jesus, of course). Left to ourselves, we would be better off defending ourselves against a mother bear robbed of her cubs. We know that usually doesn’t end well.
God didn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. Paul is pointing us to a power greater than our enemy to strengthen us. He is pointing us to the Lord. He uses a passive form of the verb “be strong” because the strengthening is not from ourselves. We aren’t going to the spiritual gym benching 300 pounds, chugging protein shakes, and strengthening ourselves. If we are going to be strong at all, we will have to be strong in the Lord. That’s encouraging for the children of Adam because we know how often we follow in his footsteps and eat of the forbidden fruit. We know how easily we buy into the allure of satan’s temptations. We know how weak we are. Without the Lord, we’re hopeless.
Second, it means that we have to actually be in the Lord. Being strengthened by the Lord comes from being “in the Lord”. 22 times in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the saints being “in Christ” or “in him” because he deeply valued the reality of union with Christ. In Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray states that union with Christ is “the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation”. He’s not overstating the case. This union with Christ connects believers with the Triune God in such a way that we have access to the “Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead” because He dwells in us (Romans 8:11). It is through this union that we have continual communion with God. We draw our strength from that communion.
The key here is that we are only “in the Lord” if we have turned from our sin and believed the gospel message Paul spent the early chapters of Ephesians proclaiming. This union with God is unquestionably rooted in God’s election, but the Ephesian saints (and believers since the beginning of time) believed when they “heard the word of truth, the gospel” of their salvation (Eph. 1:3-14, Hebrews 11). By grace, through faith, we are saved. These are gifts from God, and through those gracious gifts, we are able to respond to the message of the gospel by professing that Jesus is the risen Lord and Savior. By grace, we can live a life of repentance in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we can turn to God for the strength and trust that He will provide.
Cultivate a Dependent Heart
Being “strong in the Lord” reveals our neediness. Unlike God is who is completely self-sufficient, we have to rely on Someone outside of us to sustain and uphold us. Is there anything we have that has not been given to us? Put simply: we are called to be dependent, prayerful people. This is a continual battle to see ourselves as we really are—as God see us.
How do we cultivate dependent hearts? Here are a few suggestions:
Are you strong in the Lord?
"Being strong in the Lord reveals our neediness. Unlike God is who is completely self-sufficient, we have to rely on Someone outside of us to sustain and uphold us. Is there anything we have that has not been given to us?"