Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Dec 2008

Bible Reading Plans for 2009

Here we go “Learning and Living the God-centered Life” class with great options to get you started into Bible Reading for the 2009 year. Thanks to Between Two Worlds blog site for this article.

With this plan you read through the entire Bible once. So if not now when, and if not you then who?

The ESV Bible Reading Plans can be accessed in multiple ways:
  • web (a new reading each day appears online at the same link)
  • RSS (subscribe to receive by RSS)
  • email (subscribe to receive by email)
  • iCal (download an iCalendar file)
  • mobile (view a new reading each day on your mobile device)
  • print (download a PDF of the whole plan)
There are about 10 plans available. Go to that link to access each plan in any of the options above.

Here are the three I would recommend:

ESV Study Bible (ESV Literary Study Bible contains the same plan)

With this plan there are four readings each day, divided into four main sections:
  • Psalms and Wisdom Literature;
  • Pentateuch and the History of Israel;
  • Chronicles and Prophets; and
  • Gospels and Epistles.

The introduction explains:
In order to make the readings come out evenly, four major books of the Bible are included twice in the schedule: the Psalms (the Bible’s hymnal), Isaiah (the grandest of the OT prophets), Luke (one of the four biblical Gospels), and Romans (the heart of the Bible’s theology of salvation).

The list of readings from the Psalms and the Wisdom Literature begins and ends with special readings that are especially appropriate for the opening and closing of the year. The list of readings from the Pentateuch and the History of Israel proceeds canonically through the five books of Moses and then chronologically through the history of the OT, before closing the year with the sufferings of Job. The list of readings from the Chronicles and the Prophets begins with the Chronicler’s history of the people of God from Adam through the exile, followed by the Major and Minor Prophets, which are organized chronologically rather than canonically.

I plan to print out this PDF, which is designed to be cut into four bookmarks that can be placed at the appropriate place in your Bible reading. Read More...

7 questions for Dr. John Stott

Here is an article I came across from the Between Two Worlds blog site, which is a 2001 interview of John Stott by Art Lindsley. It's well worth your time. Here are the questions:

1. What are the top three needs of the church today?
2. What legacy would you like to leave with the leaders, with whom you have been involved?
3. Which is the most important book you have written?
4. What are the top five most influential books in your life?
5. How do you shape your devotional life?
6. How have you been so productive in writing?
7. What advice have you for us in learning to communicate across cultures?

Dr. John Stott is considered by many one of the finest theologians of the present era. If you will pay special attention to what has most shaped his Bible devotional plan. Read More...

Bible tour principles #10 and #11

Principle #10 - The first thing to know concerning the Prophetical Books is that the descriptions Major and Minor refer to length and not importance, but the reference to length is inconsistent; thus, the labels are unfortunate as they are prone to mislead.

The 17 Prophetical Books are often split into two groups; the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets.

The distinction has nothing to do with the importance or significance of the content of each book- simply has to do with length. Isaiah has sixty-six chapters, Jeremiah fifty-two and Ezekiel has forty-eight-all Major Prophets-whilde none of the Minor Prophets are longer than fourteen chapters. So it is understandable why the distinction is often made. But, the distinction is a bit inconsistent.

Principle #11 - The second thing to know concerning the Prophetical Books is that there are three major categories: pre-exilic, exilic and post-exilic; through, three Prophetical Books do not fit into these categories.

Please refer to the Prophetic Chart below and note the dates as to the pre-exile, exile and post exile prophets.
Prophet Chart
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To the Northern Kingdom of Israel before Exile to the Assyrians in 722 BC

God called Amos to prophesy against the northern kingdom of Israel prior to their exile to Assyria in 722 BC. After pronouncing judgment on the enemies of Israel, Amos stung the nation with a pronouncement against Israel itself. Because of their sins of dishonesty and oppression against the poor, empty religion, and pompous self-confidence, the nation was doomed to fall to the Assyrians. Like other prophets through, Amos concluded his work with a word of consolation that God would restore Israel to glory and strength. Read More...

A Christmas devotion

It is rare when our immediate family comes together at the same place at the same time. Butner (25) has his own job, apartment, friends and Anna (21) is living full time in Boone, NC. Therefore the opportunity to spend time and just enjoy one another seems to be the exception now and not the rule.

On Christmas morning I took time to read from Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. The previous day I heard a sermon by Erwin Lutzer called “Space, but no room.” In the message he said, isn’t it amazing that the very Son of God comes to planet earth and is not born in a fancy palace made for a king, but in a manager. The fact that when Jesus finally arrives into this world there is not a single room available in the inn. Isn’t that typical for many today in our culture? There is technology like never before, we have time saving devices for which most of the world would marvel, and yet we have little room or time for Jesus. However, we read in the Bible that the world did find a place for Christ. And the very spot in which they made room for Jesus was at the cross. Yes, when Christ confronts us with our sins then we can receive and bow before Him as Lord, or shout as they did back then, crucify Him, crucify Him! Allow me to make the point one more time there was no room for Him in the inn but there was room for Him on the cross.
And yet when you read the words of the Lord Jesus in John 14:1-3 one gets a glimpse of His grace and mercy;
John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
John 14:2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

As a point of interest, the word for place in John 14:2 and 14:3 is the Greek word “topos” which is the same word for room that we read back in Luke 2:7. So now connect all the dots and here the gospel message during this Christmas season. When Jesus comes there is no place for Him. However later on we see that the world does have a place for Christ and it is on the cross. And then we read in Romans 5:10 “...while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” And though we have no room for Him, except for room on the cross, He has a room that He prepares for us. What? How in the world can this be? Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Even though I would never want to make room for Him because of my sinful nature, yet now by His grace, through faith I now turn from my sins and turn to Christ alone. The room I didn’t have for Him is the room that He now prepares for me! Isn’t that amazing grace?

Bible Interpretation

At the front end of this video we see how many Bible studies are done in the home. This is NOT how to do Bible study. Notice in this clip how the facilitator is asking each of those participating how they feel or think about the Scripture that was read. Folks, the question is not what you think or feel but actually what is God saying to us through His word. The cardinal rule for proper Bible study is as follows: The interpretation of any Scripture is equal to what the author meant at the time he wrote it. Therefore it becomes our job through prayer and the Holy Spirit to use good Bible study methods in order to arrive at the author's intended meaning.

Christ, Christmas and a Camera

Nancy, Anna and I went on a trip to New York in December 2007. Anna came home a couple of days before our trip and noticed that I had purchased a Canon (Power Shot) digital camera. It was the same camera that she had researched and actually wanted for Christmas. When I told her the camera had just been purchased she said "Dad do you know what you have in your hands?" Of course I knew, it was a digital camera but I was to find out it was NOT just a camera, but to my daughter Anna it was "the" camera. She excitedly looked at me and said "give me the camera and I will be back in a little while". So with some reluctance I turned the camera over to my daughter and 45 minutes later I was totally amazed. She proceeded to go outside and started taking pictures with detail and color like I had never seen from what I thought was a basic camera. The more she showed me the more excited I became about the camera . Until finally when I could stand it no more I said "give me my camera and be careful this thing is valuable". Ironically before she introduced me to all the features and abilities it was just an ordinary camera. But after going through the capabilities and teaching me all that previously I had been ignorant of, I started taking photos like a wild man. Everywhere we went I took the camera and obtained shots from a distance, close up, used the digital macro feature and various lens settings. Can you believe that what had seemed so common when purchased had now become a commodity of great value?

Later on I was reflecting about Anna’s excitement regarding my camera. The photos were so clear, so vibrant and it gave me a true appreciation for what that camera could do should I desire to learn. And then it hit me as a good metaphor for those in the church who just have a Bible, and those in the church who really read and enjoy the Bible. I pray for you that as we learn these precious truths about God from His word that it would amaze and thrill you like never before! Hopefully as you look at Christ through the lens of His word in 2009 there will be a vibrance and clarity as never before. What if we, like Anna did for me and my camera, started to introduce those around us to the God of the Bible? Oh that we as the people of God would excitedly sit down with others in our sphere of influence and share our reading and devotion times with them. Then it may be, that God would so work, as to allow them to recognize as valuable what before had been very ordinary.

I am reminded of words in Psalm 1:1-2:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

My continued prayer is that we, as a Sunday School community, would have an ongoing desire and passion for God’s inspired word to us. That is would have authority in our lives so that as we understand it, and confidently stand under it. As we read, may we become people who want to know, love and serve Christ with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. So hopefully as we learn, we can teach others to see Him, and know Him as the One who came, lived a perfect life, and died for all who believe in His name. It could be that for many what once was just ordinary can be the very thing that they treasure most in their hearts. And that treasure of course is our Lord Jesus Christ!

Merry Christmas from The Brimberry's

Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The Glory of Christ

This quote is from the book “The Glory of Christ” by John Owen (1616-1683).

“The revelation made of Christ in the blessed Gospel is far more excellent, more glorious, more filled with rays of Divine wisdom and goodness than the whole creation, and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or apprehend. Without the knowledge hereof, the mind of man, however priding itself in other inventions and discoveries, is wrapped up in darkness and confusion.

This therefore deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shall consist in living where He is, and beholding of His glory; what better preparation can there be for it, than in a constant previous contemplation of that glory, in the revelation that is made in the Gospel unto this very end, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory.”

How to use a study Bible

Dr. Al Mohler who is the current president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky gives some good tips on using a study Bible.

How should a study Bible be used?

1. Read the text of the Bible first. Meditate upon the text and read it with care. Apply your own knowledge of the Bible in order to understand the particular text within its context and place in the biblical story-line. Consider and note other texts that come to your mind as directly related to this text. Read the text with full attention and conviction.

2. Look carefully at the cross-references that the study Bible links to the text you are reading. Do not look only to the citations, but read the actual passages. This assistance is still the main contribution of a study Bible -- making related and parallel passages more accessible. A first principle of interpreting the Bible is to interpret the Bible by the Bible. In other words, to allow the Bible to interpret itself text by text.

3. As a third step, take full advantage of the notes, articles, and other helps printed alongside the text. In some cases, short articles will help in understanding contested issues or matters that might otherwise require a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia. Where appropriate, maps can be very useful, along with tables of measurement and similar points of reference. The very best of the study Bibles will also offer some level of commentary within the notes.

Of course, it is the Bible itself that is inspired, inerrant, and infallible -- not the study materials included in study Bibles. Therefore, judge the notes by the biblical text, and never the other way around. Where possible, use more than one study Bible in order to maximize this learning process.

Old Testament Prophet Chart

This chart will give you an overview for the prophets from Isaiah-Malachi. Remember in our study that these prophets fit within the story line of the Old Testament which is contained in the first 17 books.

Prophet Chart
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Bible tour principle #9

Next in our tour of the Bible we come to the 5 poetical books in the Old Testament. Remember this is not an exhaustive but rather a thumbnail sketch of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Again I am borrowing much of this basic material from Mitch Maher’s seminar called Clarifying the Bible. I will add my on modifications as we go through the material but do want to give Pastor Maher credit for material that provides an excellent overview.

PRINCIPLE #9 can be summarized as follows. Job is about suffering, Psalms about worship, Proverbs about wisdom, Ecclesiastes about meaning and Song of Solomon about marital relationships.

Job: The book of Job records the suffering and shaping of a man named Job. This man suffered much, the loss of his wealth, his children, and his health. After receiving counsel from his wife, three friends and Elihu, Job finally heard from God. Rather than giving Job all the answers he was looking for God pelted him with questions to establish the important truth that God is sovereign over all of life. Job’s responded well and submitted himself and his life to his wise, powerful and loving God.

Psalms: The book of Psalms is a collection of poetical songs spanning nearly nine centuries of Israel’s history used for both personal and corporate worship. The book is divided into five smaller books;
Psalm 1-41
Psalm 42-72
Psalm 73-89
Psalm 90-106
Psalm 107-150
Each of which ends with a doxology.
Plunging the depths of human emotion, these Psalms reflect the wide range of experience as one walks with God. Their intention is to capture readers’ hearts and lift them to praise and worship of the Lord.

Proverbs: The book of Proverbs is a collection of saying designed to give readers wisdom. They are arranged in almost paragraphs-of-thought in chapters 1-9, short, pithy maxims in chapters 10-29, and then paragraphs again in chapters 30-31. These Proverbs address issues related to friendships, work, finances, sexuality, family, lziness, anger, the words one speaks, and so much more. They clearly set forth the consequences of both foolish and wise behavior.

Ecclesiastes: The book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s summary thoughts on man’s search for meaning in life. Recounting his own personal quest, he said the deepest longings of his soul were not found in life without God-learning without God, money with God, pleasure without God. No, true meaning and lasting joy can only be found by viewing life as a gift from the Creator and living in obedience to Him. Life with God does not mean all of life’s mysteries will be understood, but that humble trust and simple submission is the path to a satisfied soul.

Song of Solomon: The Song of Solomon is a collection of love poems celebrating marital love and romance. In this book, through beautiful, picturesque language, the romantic love between man and woman finds full expression. The various poems celebrate the couple spending lingering time together, praising each other’s beauty, expressing their mutual desire, and even consummating their love. The book is a clear reminder that God created romance and wants His children to enjoy it fully in the context of marriage.

Christmas Party 2008

It was fellowship, food and fun and not necessarily in that order, but all were present last night at the Christmas party. This short video features singing led by Tony Pangle and then Kay Jones giving the results from a survey that we took as the evening ice breaker.

Below is a copy of the survey I received. It was my job to ask questions and find a person that I could place beside the item on the list. You were not supposed to list anyone more than once.
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Quote for the day

THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents. - Anonymous

Tour of the Bible

Here is a review of the basics which we have covered on our tour of the Bible.

If you were given a test to date how would you answer the following:
  • Write out principles #1 through #8
  • Describe the books that make up the 5-12-5-5-12 grouping in the Old Testament
  • What are the 9 categories that make up Principle #8
  • What are the 5 Christ centered divisions that make up Principle #4
  • Can you give a brief audio synopsis from Genesis through Ester?
  • Give a working definition for the glory of God
  • List some verses that emphasize the glory of God

This is your homework assignment for this week. Please keep in mind we are not trying to be informed but rather transformed. And this process happens as we get to know Him, through knowing His word.

Sunday School Community may I exhort you with every fiber of my being to grab up your Bibles and read, devote and study the living word of the living God! Because as you do, it will be true, that you become in life the very thing that you behold in your heart and mind. Therefore I appeal to each of you to make the coming year the most radical ever as it relates to getting back to God’s word, so that when you bump up against someone in life you bleed Bible.

Review Sunday December 7

We are in the most hectic and busiest time of year from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. Therefore the visits to our blog site and homework assignments will be more limited from now through the end of the year. Yesterday we were able to get through the first 17 books of the Old Testament which we have labeled as “historic narrative.” In our review time we looked at Genesis 3:1-7 and Exodus 12:21-32. Did you notice in Genesis 3 how the serpent first questioned the word of God and then declared it really did not mean what God said? Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is why we are in this class going back to the basics of the Bible. One of the key attacks today within the evangelical church is the very questioning of God’s word and then a declaration that we can’t know what it means. This kind of thinking, writing, teaching and preaching is a lie from the pit of hell itself. Folks, not only is the Bible inerrant, infallible, inspired but it is also clear in it’s meaning to us. This is known as the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture. Satan has a strategy within the church that has some questioning and then reinterpreting the word in light of the culture! Again our class stands on a cardinal rule of Scripture that has been the churches historic position which is, the interpretation of any one Scripture is equal to what it meant at the time that the author wrote it. Therefore it becomes our job to bring sound principles of Bible study in order that our interpretation and application will be in line with the Scriptures.

In part 2 of the review from Sunday, I took us to Exodus 12 in order to highlight the Passover. Allow me to repeat the illustration that I used yesterday.
Two families from Israel that night within their homes. Family A have little faith and are very scared when they hear the death angel passing through Egypt. And Family B is of great faith and are confident that they will be safe. Which of the families in this case is safe from God’s punishment. Both are, because God is not looking at their faith but at the blood on the doorpost of the home. Remember and this will be true throughout the entire Bible, justification if by faith alone, through grace alone in Christ alone. It is not your faith that saves you, it is Jesus Christ that saves you. Christ is external to us and the object of our faith. Just as with the Israelites that night (Exodus 12) it was the blood on the door post that caused the death angel to pass over the home and not the faith that resided in those inside the home.

It seems between those two major points I had to rush a bit to get the rest of our teaching to get us through Ester. In the power point slides below you will find brief descriptions of each of these books. My recommendation is that you allow this to spur you on to greater study. May these notes be an add on to your own notes this year as you read through the Bible. We are simply taking a broad brush tour through the books of the Bible. The goal is to allow you to be familiar with the Bible as a whole.

This coming Sunday the plan is to cover the remaining 22 books starting with the 5 poetical books:
Song of Solomon
And then ending with the 17 books of prophecy which cover Isaiah through Malachi.
I know this is a lot of information coming to you in a short period of time. Again the goal is to get an overview summary of the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament. My hope and prayer is that when we are done you will a solid outline to help you think through the entire Bible.
Sbs Class December 7 2008
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A Bible reading plan for 2009

For those who have joined since our class started or who have not yet committed to a Bible reading plan, may I encourage you to do so in 2009. One of the goals of this class is to get people back to the word of God so the word of God can get back into them. What better way to start the year but with a renewed interest and desire to read through the Bible. So for your convenience I have listed 4 options for you to consider. Two of the options are hard copy books and the other two options are online sites that are designed to get you through the Bible. This would be an incredible present for yourself and those God has place within your ministry sphere of influence. I can promise you that it will be the most life transforming thing you can ever do. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Option #1 - We used this in our church and had many people give positive feedback with this particular method. Each week you are reading in:

Option #2 - This is what I am personally did this past year and would very much recommend it. You start with a survey of the book and then each day some insight on what is going to be covered for that particular day. I think you can find this at either Barnes and Nobles or Borders bookstore here in Charlotte.

Option #3 - Last year a young man that I was able to disciple used this particular Bible reading plan and he would give you this as his recommendation. I call this either the "turbo" Bible reading plan because it covers the whole Bible in 90 days. I want to encourage you first to read through the whole Bible as quickly as your schedule and time will allow. You will see in coming weeks how the "unity" of the Bible will play a major role in how we learn to interpret Scripture in an accurate manner.
This also is the Bible reading plan of my wife, Nancy.

Let me reemphasize that you as a Christian don’t read the Bible and get God’s approval. But rather you already have God’s approval and therefore you want to read the Bible! Does that describe you? I am looking forward to our time together this year as we get close to God’s word which means we get close to God.

Option #4 - The last option is another well known site from the internet. This site gives plenty of options for Bible reading during the year.

P.S. And if you act today here is our special offer. Pastor B. will come to your house with milk and cookies and read you a devotion for one consecutive month. As an option he can also bring marsh mellows, hot chocolate and his guitar while performing that popular hit “kum-by-ya.”

A life shaken for God's glory

This past Sunday, the title of Dr. Poplin’s message was “Shaken, a view from the inside.” In his message Romans 8:28 was one of the main texts he used which says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” In view of how God is sovereign in our lives, even through the shaking, I thought it would be appropriate to let you hear Steve Saint’s testimony. Normally I would just include this as part of our class downloads but I have included it in the main feature section of the blog.

On January 8, 1956 there were five missionaries Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian who were killed by a tribe known as the Huaoranis.
These five brave men are credited with sparking an interest in Christian missions among the youth of their time and are still considered an encouragement to Christian missionaries working throughout the world. After her husband's death, Elisabeth Elliot and other missionaries began working among the Auca (Huaorani) Indians, where they had a profound impact and helped bring many people to Christ.

The son of Nate Saint whose name is Steve Saint wrote a book that was turned into a movie called "The End of the Spear." Below is an audio of Steve Saint’s testimony regarding the sovereignty of God in a life that was shaken from the inside. Also as a point of interest Steve speaks of the god father of his first child which happens to be the very man who killed his dad.

I have upgraded this to a homework assignment, so grab a cup of coffee, tea, and listen to this moving story of God’s marvelous and glorious work in and through the life of a genuine “saint.”

Steve Saint’s story - To play click on the button below:

Let's get back to God's word!

The battle cry of the Reformation was ""The Holy Word, nothing but that Holy Word, the Whole Word of God." However it seems the new cry with the post-modern evangelical church is, nothing but the Holy Word as to what it means to me and what it means to you." Have we lost our evangelical and Biblically rooted minds today? What is going on out there anyway? When I talk to Christians and ask them what they are reading and studying I rarely hear about Bible doctrine or books of the Bible. Instead it is the latest book by this author and some hot topic subject. It will be a curriculum about marriage, finances, how you can have real change in your life. I have a novel suggestion, how about us investing time in just pure Bible reading? Hey folks, let's put down the trendy books, and courses like "how to plant azalea bushes as a Christian" and let's dig down into God's word. At last count there were 66 books that break out in the following way:
39 Old Testament Books
27 New Testament Books

How about a goal of knowing the theme and plan for every book in the Bible within the next 5-7 years. Now somebody might be thinking OK Bert but do you realize I am 65 years old and 5 years from now I will be 70. And to that I say if you don't get back to some serious study of God's word then how old will you be in 5 years. The point is, you will still be 70, either back into God's word or back into the culture and all of its dangerous thinking and influence.

Folks this is the very living word of the very living God! When is the last time we showed up at a friends home with Bible in hand just to read and pray over God's word? How are we encouraging and correcting one another today? The latest episode of Oprah or a new line of counsel from Dr. Phil, the hottest new Christian book or the very word of God.

If you go to a Strong's Concordance and do a word search on the following Greek words for doctrine, which means instruction, teaching or teacher there are 4 primary numbers, 1319, 1320, 1321 and 1322. A search in the New Testament with these numbers will bring up over 200 occurrences for this particular word. And should you want but a small sampling of the importance of knowing God's word just read these verses, as always in context. Read More...