Learning and Living the God-centered life

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Bible Reading

Coming on January 1 - Bible Reading Plan 2011

Good morning and Happy New Year to each and everyone of you!

Well, January 1, 2011 is right around the corner and that means it's time for our YEARLY BIBLE READING PLAN. This year our community will be following the READING PLAN laid out by the late Reverend Robert Murray M'Cheyne.
  • Robert Murray M'Cheyne (pronounced, and occasionally spelled as "McCheyne"; (May 1813 – 25 March 1843) was a minister in the Church of Scotland from 1835 to 1843. He was born at Edinburgh, was educated at the University of Edinburgh and at the Divinity Hall of his native city, where he was taught by Thomas Chalmers. He first served as an assistant to John Bonar in the parish of Larbert and Dunipace, near Falkirk, from 1835 to 1838. Thereafter he became forever associated with St. Peter's Church in Dundee, where he served as minister until his early death at the age of 29 during an epidemic of typhus.

This may be the most followed and most well known plan within the orthodox evangelical church. You will find that it covers 4 chapters a day, 2 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament. If you should go to the website tomorrow and look under Bible Reading you will see some instructions for using this plan along with the weekly reading assignments. I plan to go over this in some detail when we launch on January 9. Would you pray with me that others join us in our passionate pursuit to know the Lord Jesus Christ by knowing His word?

The following is a helpful article that I posted on our blog site earlier in the month.

1. The goal is not the goal. I used to think that the purpose of setting goals was to achieve those goals. Makes sense, right? But I’m more inclined now to think that the purpose of setting goals is to create forward momentum. Whether or not I achieve the goal specified is almost immaterial. The act of goal-setting is successful if it moves me forward in a worthwhile endeavor.

I read an article in late 2008 by Karl Rove on his yearly book-reading competition with former President George W. Bush. In 2006 Rove read 110 books to Bush’s 95. The next two years brought two more victories for Rove. What stunned me, though, was the sheer number of books each man consumed.

So I brought it up to Kimberly and challenged her to the same. She trounced me in 2009. I might catch her this year, but if I do I’ll be indebted to Kimberly’s pregnancy, which makes reading a tad dizzying for her. My point? I read more books in 2009 than any year previous, and more books this year than last. I didn’t accomplish the goal of reading more than Kimberly, but the goal created forward momentum towards a worthwhile end.

What difference does it make if you complete a read through the Bible in one year? The goal is not the goal. The goal is a means to the goal, namely, glorifying God through an increased knowledge of and affection for him and his gospel through his word. Read More...

Bible Reading Plan advice

If you’re planning to try again in 2011, let me offer a few thoughts that may serve you on your way.

1. The goal is not the goal. I used to think that the purpose of setting goals was to achieve those goals. Makes sense, right? But I’m more inclined now to think that the purpose of setting goals is to create forward momentum. Whether or not I achieve the goal specified is almost immaterial. The act of goal-setting is successful if it moves me forward in a worthwhile endeavor.

I read an article in late 2008 by Karl Rove on his yearly book-reading competition with former President George W. Bush. In 2006 Rove read 110 books to Bush’s 95. The next two years brought two more victories for Rove. What stunned me, though, was the sheer number of books each man consumed.

So I brought it up to Kimberly and challenged her to the same. She trounced me in 2009. I might catch her this year, but if I do I’ll be indebted to Kimberly’s pregnancy, which makes reading a tad dizzying for her. My point? I read more books in 2009 than any year previous, and more books this year than last. I didn’t accomplish the goal of reading more than Kimberly, but the goal created forward momentum towards a worthwhile end.

What difference does it make if you complete a read through the Bible in one year? The goal is not the goal. The goal is a means to the goal, namely, glorifying God through an increased knowledge of and affection for him and his gospel through his word.

2. Read different translations. A friend gave me this idea many years ago. He said that reading a wide variety of versions (from formal to paraphrase) would help me see things in Scripture that I wouldn’t notice if I read the same translation over and over. He was right. The first version I read through in a year was God’s Word to the Nations, a very simple translation. There were many times that the way GWN phrased something would direct me back to other translations and ultimately enhanced my understanding of Scripture. Read More...

Bible Reading Plans

f you’re looking for a systematic plan to read the Bible in the new year, here are a few from which to choose. There’s a wide variety in these schedules: some take you through the whole Bible in a year, some are associated with devotional reading, and one follows the church liturgical calendar.

1. The 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan. This comes from the Navigators who have developed a strategy for beginners, so to speak. The plan takes the reader through the entire New Testament in a year, and requires five minutes a day, five days per week. The third “five” refers to its “five ways to dig deeper”: underline key words, put the passage in your own words, ask and answer some questions, capture the big idea, and personalize the meaning.

If you are not regularly reading the Bible, this is a great plan to get you started. I also recommend it for parents to disciple their children in this discipline. (My former pastor, Dan Brooks, and his wife found it an effective strategy with their kids.) You can download the pdf here.

2. The Daily Office Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer has guided Christians in the systematic reading of the Bible for centuries. The Daily Office Lectionary offers select portions from all over the Scriptures, with special emphasis on the Psalms, Isaiah, and the New Testament. Crossway has made the Lectionary readings available each day on its website; you can also subscribe to its RSS feed or iCal format (plus Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.).
Read More...

The practice of reading the Bible

Now that we’ve talked about the Word as a means of grace, our inclination to legalism, and some ways to prepare our hearts to read the Scriptures, let’s consider the practice of reading the Bible itself.

1. You don’t need a special place and time. There are certainly advantages to having a designated place and time for Scripture reading and prayer. That discipline is generally good. My problem, however, is that if I don’t get to my special place at exactly the right time, I feel as if it would be unprofitable to read the Bible anytime anywhere. (Yes, here again is the arrogant perfectionist within!) I must ask myself which is the better alternative: to skip reading the Bible altogether because I missed my time or place, or to spend some time somewhere in the Word? As helpful as it is to have a set time and place, the reality is you will have days, perhaps many days, when getting to that place at that time will be impossible. Keep your time-and-place discipline if you desire, but learn to be flexible. Because of the Spirit, God is present whenever and wherever you are.

2. When you see legalism in your heart, repent. When I recognize self-righteous or self-justfying thoughts, my tendency is to work harder to push them out, as if they were coming from without. Far more profitable would it be for me to recognize them as arising from within, expressing the waywardness of my own heart, and take them directly to the cross. Don’t let the possibility of legalism paralyze you; let your sin drive you to your Savior.

3. While you read, see yourself in the sinners of the passage. This is a great strategy to fight self-righteousness. We tend to read the Bible identifying with the heroes. We read the story of David and Goliath and see ourselves as Davids in the world, needing just a bit more faith to be able to face our giants. We read the account of Jacob’s sons and see ourselves as Josephs, being mistreated by those around us and awaiting the day when everything is set right. Reading the Bible this way feeds self-righteousness in our hearts, even if we admit that we’re not very much like David or Joseph right now. At root may lie a belief that if I work hard enough, I can be. Read More...

Preparing to read the Bible

The temptation to self-righteousness is strong, and yet we know it should not keep us from actually sitting down and reading the Bible. So what steps can we take to confront our sin, harness our minds, and hear the Word?

1. Pray Piper’s IOUS. John Piper uses acronyms for a variety of purposes (e.g., APTAT for prayer, ANTHEM for fighting lust). But the one that has been most helpful for me is IOUS. This is a simple way to remember four biblical prayers as we approach the Word:

Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain (Ps 119.36)
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things out of your law (Ps 119.18)
Unite my heart to fear your name (Ps 86.11)
Satisfy me with your steadfast love that I may rejoice and be glad all my days (Ps 90.14)
I’ve found this to be a helpful series of prayers with which to begin a day. They remind me that I’ve awoken (a) inclined towards self-centeredness, (b) unable to see reality, (c) distracted and scatterbrained, and (d) empty–and that the answer to every longing in my heart is found in the gospel. These aren’t magical words, but they verbalize our dependence on God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

2. Sing a song or two. Another favorite preacher of mine, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, said that he would begin each day by singing a couple of hymns in order to “rouse his soul” to worship God. I’ve found this to be an extremely helpful practice, more helpful than simply listening to music while reading. There’s something about internalizing the words of a song and directing those songs heavenward that helps orient my heart with reality. My favorite hymnal for this purpose is Psalms and Hymns of Reformed Worship, from the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. My copy is text-only, but you can purchase one with tunes. Fred Coleman, who first commended this practice to me, plans to release a hymnal next year whose specific purpose is to assist the believer’s personal devotion to Christ. Read More...

Dangers within

This is a series from Matthew Hoskinson on Bible Reading for 2011

Let’s start with our idol-manufacturing hearts. What specific temptations confront us when we approach the Word? Here are a few that I regularly face.

1. I use the Bible like a vending machine. There’s something in the box that I want (peace, joy, emotional release, whatever), so I must put in enough coins (minutes, chapters, devotion) to get what I want. This line of thinking perverts the idea of the Word as a means of grace, similar to the Roman ex opere operato view of the sacraments. It works because it was performed–or, “read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” But the Scriptures are a means of grace when we read it with faith in the One they reveal.The Westminster Larger Catechism puts it this way:

The Holy Scriptures are to be read with a high and reverent esteem of them; with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God and that He only can enable us to understand them; with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them; with diligence and attention to the matter and scope of them; with meditation, application, self-denial, and prayer (Q157).

2. I use the Bible to manipulate God. This sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it? And yet we fall to this temptation all the time. We think that our consistent devotion merits freedom from fear and want, from sorrow and discomfort.

Steve Johnson, a wide receiver on the Buffalo Bills, received a lot of attention this week for dropping a potentially game-winning pass in the end zone and then blaming God. After the game he tweeted, “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!! AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…”

I don’t mention Johnson in order to castigate him, but to point out that we are all alike. How many chapters of the Bible have been read, how many prayers have been prayed, in a vain attempt to get God to do what we want him to do? We view God the same way Elijah’s opponents viewed Baal. Give him what he wants, and he’ll give us what we want. Let’s pray for grace to identify this sin whenever it arises in our hearts. Read More...

Bible Reading 2011

We at Learning and Living go to the four corners of the earth to find you the best blog articles for spiritual growth and development. Therefore over the next few days I will be posting a series from Matthew Hoskinson that includes the following topics:

  • Reading the Bible in 2011
  • Dangers Within
  • Sitting Down
  • Reading
  • Plans
  • Final Thoughts

With the arrival of December come thoughts about next year and those dreaded new year’s resolutions. A frequent commitment that Christians make is to read the Bible through in a year. Yet many (most?) fail in this endeavor at least once in their lives. Such failure has led some to abandon the practice altogether, perhaps even to write it off as an altogether legalistic practice.

But this post really isn’t about reading the Bible in a year. It’s simply about reading the Bible. Believers recognize that the Word is a means of grace (Acts 20.32), that we cannot live on bread alone but by the very words of God (Mt 4.4). But once we get on a plan, the temptation to legalism is strong.

I’ve wrestled with this issue for most of my Christian walk–and still do! I’ll feel better about myself for sticking to a Bible reading plan and figure that God must hate me when I miss a day. Self-righteousness rises when I’m following a plan (“Oh, those poor Christians who aren’t as diligent as I! If only they knew how important the Word is! I thank you that I am not like them.”). And self-righteousness rises when I’m not on a plan (“Oh, those poor Christians who are legalistically enslaved to a schedule! If only they knew what grace meant! I thank you that I am not like them.”)

So the Scriptures are a means of grace that we transform into a stage for our self-justifying nature. Because of the nature of the Word we would be wise (obedient!) to attend to it, perhaps including a systematic plan for reading it. But because of the nature of indwelling sin we must guard against the Pharisee within. How do we handle this dilemma? Over the next few days I’ll share some thoughts that may serve you as you give yourself to the Scriptures next year.

Are you reading the Bible incorrectly?

From the Resurgence blog site



Two opposite errors exist in approaching the Bible. One is not to read it. The other is to know it so well that you miss Jesus. Jesus pointed out this error: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

Are you surprised to believe this error exists? We constantly talk about reading and studying the Bible as an unqualified good. But clearly, the way we read the Bible is just as important as reading it.

So how can you know if you might be reading the Bible, looking for life, but missing Jesus completely? Here are a few clues: Read More...

Coming Oct 1 - The 90 day Bible Reading Plan



Click on the photo above and you can print this out and use as a bookmark

The Word of God



from Moody’s Handbook of Theology

Countdown to Launch

Preparation for launch

On August 22 we will begin year #3 in our learning and living the God-centered life community. If you have not read our class mission statement recently, then please do so as part of the preparation for the launch.

“We exist as a community to spread a passion for Christ in such a way that His word becomes the food and daily nourishment for learning and living the God-centered life. A life in which we are transformed by the power of the Spirit, by seeing the face of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As in our first two years I will put a strong emphasis on the following 3 basics that are key in order to learn and live the God-centered life:

Bible Reading
Bible Devotions
Bible Study
Read More...

Reading the Bible

From the ESV Study Bible

To read the Bible “theologically” means to read the Bible “with a focus on God”: his being, his character, his words and works, his purpose, presence, power, promises, and precepts. The Bible can be read from different standpoints and with different centers of interest, but this article seeks to explain how to read it theologically.

The Bible: The Church's Instruction Book

All 66 books of the Bible constitute the book of the Christian church. And the church, both as a whole and in the life of its members, must always be seen to be the people of the book. This glorifies God, its primary author.

God has chosen to restore his sin-spoiled world through a long and varied historical process, central to which is the creating—by redemptive and sanctifying grace—of what is literally a new human race. This unfinished process has so far extended over four millennia. It began with Abraham; it centers on the first coming of the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ; and it is not due for completion till he comes again. Viewed as a whole, from the vantage point of God's people within it, the process always was and still is covenantal and educative. Covenantal indicates that God says to his gathered community, “I am your God; you shall be my people,” and with his call for loyalty he promises them greater future good than any they have yet known. Educative indicates that, within the covenant, God works to change each person's flawed and degenerate nature into a new, holy selfhood that expresses in responsive terms God's own moral likeness. The model is Jesus Christ, the only perfect being that the world has ever seen. For God's people to sustain covenantal hopes and personal moral ideals as ages pass and cultures change and decay, they must have constant, accessible, and authoritative instruction from God. And that is what the Bible essentially is.

This is why, as well as equipping everywhere a class of teachers who will give their lives to inculcating Bible truth, the church now seeks to translate the Bible into each person's primary language and to spread universal literacy, so that all may read and understand it.

Week #26 in Bible Reading Plan

May I have your attention please? If you are traveling with us through the Bible this year we have reached the halfway point in our journey. As we continue there will be stops along the way to reflect on more Scripture. If you haven’t started it would be a great place to begin and allow this to be your day number one. What is the difference between those who can’t read the Bible and those who don’t read the Bible? Answer, nothing because both parties are functionally illiterate. So if you aren’t reading or haven’t starting may I appeal to you to pray for a passionate desire to read, and study the word of God? Read these words from the Lord Jesus in John 8:31“...“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” For those who are at week 26, I want to exhort you to continue running the race, keeping the faith and fighting the good fight!

Reading through the book of Proverbs

We are presently reading through the book of Proverbs on Thursday. My Bible training always seems to take me from the big overall picture down to the small where one can examine the details. For those of you that want to look at a good overall review of how to read Proverbs I have included this LINK from Christian Focus. In this particular article I have attached some of the visual charts that are included in the Adobe download.

Also when reading through Proverbs:
1. Watch for parallelism - Ask; how does the second line of the proverb explain, illustrate or elaborate on the first line
2. Watch for the two ways to live (check out the charts) - Ask; how does this proverb show us the right way or warn us against the wrong way?
3. Watch for Jesus Christ - Ask; How is Jesus the fulfillment of wisdom in this proverb?

This comes from C.J. Mahaney at Sovereign Grace Ministries. Should you want to see the entire article then click on this LINK.



Reach new heights reading through the Bible this year!


We are on week #22 of our Bible reading plan for the year. If you haven’t started yet then
grab your Bible and allow the Spirit to show the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!
It’s the greatest view in all the world.

The Bible is NOT boring

If you were in class a couple of weeks ago I went through 7 key reasons that people give as to why they don’t read the Bible. One of the reasons is “the Bible is boring.” In this short audio clip Pastor John Piper is talking about the word of God. I wonder how many people in the church today really think the Bible is boring and don’t realize the problem is not the Bible but the problem is them.
To listen simply click on this LINK.

Website management and Devotions

Yesterday's class had a two fold theme. First, many people within the church today simply don't read God's word consistently. Second, part of the design of our class is to provide tools to encourage and educate people on how to do it. Pat and I have learned a valuable lesson over the last year as it relates to those in our class. Many don't understand nor have they been utilizing the tools available though the website. Please don't hear this as a criticism of the class but an observation that we came to at the conclusion of 2009. If anything I am being critical of myself in only pointing people toward the website but not providing the "how to" in taking advantage of this resource.
At the end of our class yesterday here are a sampling of comments from those who talked with me;
"I had no idea that the website provided these tools"
"Would you take more time to show us how to utilize blueletterBible.org and how we can look up and understand Greek verbs"
"Thank you for again offending me with your exhortations to get back to God's word"
"I have gone to the website on a casual basis but now I am starting to understand how to use if for Bible study"
This kind of immediate feedback just reaffirmed the need for those in our to know how to access the tools in our website that can aid them in Bible reading, study and devotions.

The Bible reading for Saturday was Mark 9-10. I combine my Bible reading with my Bible devotion time. Therefore when I got to Mark 9:14-29 I started to slow down and have a time of devotion. It doesn't take long but one of the most helpful things especially in the gospels is to go and read the parallel account of the event from other gospel writers.
In this case I went to Bible Gateway and utilized the "lookup multiple passages" option. And I plugged in the following verses;
  • Mark 9:14-29
  • Matt 17:14-19
  • Luke 9:37-42
Here is an observation from just looking at those multiple passages.

The context for this particular text is Jesus is coming down with Peter, James and John from the mountain where He has been transfigured. And when they come to the bottom of the mountain a father confronts Jesus with his demon possessed son. Now I want you to notice what Matthew indicates the father says in each of the accounts;
Matthew 17:16 "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him."
Luke 9:40 "I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not."
Read More...

Review from January 3

This morning we launched in the 2010 year with a up close and personal look at the tools available for Bible reading, study and devotion. Pat and I have talked over the past year about how to encourage people to visit and use the class website. We both agreed it would be a good investment of class time for me to give a detailed tour of how to utilize the tools we have available. Also I took the first part of our class time to explore “WHY PEOPLE DON’T READ THE BIBLE.”



If you want to print out the notes from a pdf file then simply click on this LINK