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Why The Last Five Year Of Your Life Have Disappeared Feel like time is flying by and you’ve got nothing to show for it? There are scientific reasons for that. 

12 Books That Showcase the Grand Narrative of Scripture – Trevin Wax, author of Gospel-Centered Teaching, lists 12 books that are helpful in grasping “the story” of Scripture.

Six Ways Your iPhone Is Changing You – An interesting interview with David Wells and Douglas Groothuis. For a quick look at the six questions that are asked in this interview, check out Tim Chester’s page.

Working From Coffee Shops Could Be Destroying Your Productivity  This is for all the coffee shop folks.

The Bible is First A Story, Not Propositions or Commands – It is no accident that the Bible comes to us primarily by way of narrative—but not just any narrative. Here we have the grandest narrative of all — God’s own story.

10 Steps To Help Seekers Find The Lord – Some helpful thoughts in pointing others to Christ.

The Empty Pickle Jar Movie – Simple truth on managing time.

Looking For A Bible Reading Plan?

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A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a Bible reading plan that I have found both challenging and rewarding. It is Professor Horner’s Bible-Reading System.

Here is how Professor Horner explains the system:

Each day you will read one chapter from each of ten lists. That’s right — ten chapters per day!!! Use ten bookmarks or sticky notes with the individual lists on them to keep track of your locations. Or use the set of bookmarks provided on the last page of this document.

On day one, you read Matthew 1, Genesis 1, Romans 1, and so forth. On day 2, read Matthew 2, Genesis 2, etc. On day 29, you will have just finished Matthew, so go to Mark 1 on the Gospel list; you’ll also be almost to the end of 2nd Corinthians and Proverbs, you’ll be reading Psalm 29 and Genesis 29, and so forth. When you reach the last chapter of the last book in a list – start over again. Rotate all the way through all the Scriptures constantly.

Since the lists vary in length, the readings begin interweaving in constantly changing ways. You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again!

Every year you’ll read through…

-all the Gospels four times,
-the Pentateuch twice,
-Paul’s letters 4-5 times each,
-the OT wisdom literature six times,
-all the Psalms at least twice,
-all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times,
-and all the way through the OT History and Prophetic books about 1 1⁄2 times.

Since the interweaving is constantly changing, you will experience the Bible commenting on itself in constantly changing ways — the Reformer’s principle of ‘scriptura interpretans scripturam’ — ‘scripture interpreting scripture’ IN ACTION!

After you’ve read any particular book once or twice, your speed in that book usually doubles or triples because you’re familiar with it and can move quickly and confidently — because you are no longer merely decoding the text but thinking it through in the context of all of the scripture!

Even an ‘average’ reader, if focusing on moving through the text, rather than trying to figure everything out, can usually do this in about an hour a day – 5-6 minutes per chapter. Many people report moving confidently through the ten chapters in 35-40 minutes. If it is taking you longer, then you are ‘reading wrong’ – stay relaxed, focus, and just keep it moving. Moderate but consistent speed is the key. 

After just a few days the reading gets much easier; in a month it will be a habit, and in six months you’ll wonder how you ever survived before on such a slim diet of the WORD. And then — you’ll tell others to start the system!

I began in 1983 as a new Christian and have now read (most of ) the Bible hundreds and hundreds of times. You also need to get ONE Bible, keep it, and do all your reading in it, so you learn where everything is. I’ve had the same Bible since 1983 and I know it intimately. If you keep switching Bibles, you ‘lose’ this intimacy with the text. Find a translation and format you like and stick with it. THIS IS CRUCIAL.

Your Bible is the only thing on Earth that, as you wear it out, will actually work better and better.

Click here for Facebook page or here for a pdf of the plan.

 

Everything Exists For Christ

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For by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17).

For further clarification of this passage, consider the words of John Piper…

All that came into being exists for Christ–that is, everything exists to display the greatness of Christ. Nothing–nothing!–in the universe exists for its own sake. Everything–from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains, from the smallest particle to the biggest star, from the most boring school subject to the most fascinating science, from the ugliest cockroach to the most beautiful human, from the greatest saint to the most wicked genocidal dictator–everything that exists, exists to make the greatness of Christ more fully known–including you, and the person you have the hardest time liking.

As David Naugle wrote, let us “love and give praise to things according to their worth.” And since Christ is the most worthy, let us place Him supreme in our love, devotion, and affection. For when we do so, our lives will be reordered towards the peace for which God created us.

Reading NT Every 30 Days

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Here’s a plan to read through the New Testament every 30 days. I encourage you to give it a try. It is challenging, but if practiced often enough, you will find yourself grasping the flow of large portions of the New Testament.

Day 1: Matthew 1-10
Day 2: Matthew 11-20
Day 3: Matthew 21-28
Day 4: Mark 1-6
Day 5: Mark 7-13
Day 6: Luke 1-8
Day 7: Luke 9-15
Day 8: Luke 16-24
Day 9: John 1-12
Day 10: John 13-21
Day 11: Acts 1-5
Day 12: Acts 6- 11
Day 13: Acts 12- 22
Day 14: Romans 1-7
Day 15: Romans 8-14
Day 16: 1 Corinthians 1-7
Day 17: 1 Corinthians 8-16
Day 18: 2 Corinthians 1-7
Day 19: 2 Corinthians 8-13
Day 20: Galatians-Ephesians
Day 21: Philippians-Colossians
Day 22: 1& 2 Thessalonians
Day 23: 1 & 2 Timothy
Day 24: Titus 1- Hebrews 6
Day 25: Hebrews 7-13
Day26: James-1 Peter
Day 27: 2 Peter
Day 28: 1, 2, 3 John & Jude
Day 29: Revelation 1-12
Day 30: Revelation 13- 22

Around The Web

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9 Things Rich People Do Differently Every Day – Interesting discoveries of those who are wealthy…not that we should do these things just to be wealthy!

5 Specific Prayers For The Unsaved – There are people all around you who need Jesus. He wants to use you to reach them. Here are some of the specific ways you too can pray for people the in your life who need Christ.

15 Benefits of the Word of God – If you’re wondering how to come to the Word today, consider these 15 beautiful benefits of Scripture.

14 Sobering Reminders When Confronting Sin – These reminders keep us serious, humble, and prayerful throughout the process of dealing with sin. 

A Simple Timeline of Acts – This is helpful for those who like to get the “big picture.”

A Surprising Trait In Leadership – The most important character trait of a leader is one that you’re more likely to associate with a dull person than a dynamic leader: predictability. The more predictable you are, day after day, the better. 

Tim Hawkins: Hand Raising and Sanitizer – This never gets old!!

Are You Ready To Give An Answer?

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Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.      -1 Peter 3:13-17

The context of these verses is one in which Peter is encouraging believers who are in the midst of persecution. In verse 13, Peter asks what harm can possibly be done to one who is seeking to do what is right? Who would want to persecute you for being a model citizen?

However, Peter realizes that some will suffer and so he tells them that if one does suffer for the sake of righteousness, he or she will be blessed. And not only should they realize they will be blessed, but they also not fear those who do them harm, but instead “in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy.”

To regard in one’s heart that Christ is Lord is “not merely a private reality but will be evident to all when believers suffer for their faith. The inner and outer life are inseparable, for what happens within will inevitably be displayed to all, especially when one suffers.”[1]

Peter goes one step further however, in his instructions to those who might possibly face persecution. Not only does he encourages his readers to “regard Christ the Lord as holy,” but to also be prepared to give an answer for the hope they have in life. In other words, when persecution comes your way, others will want to know why you seek to place your hope where you do? Why believe in something that could cause ill-treatment?

The word defense or answer that Peter uses is where the term apologetics is derived. Peter probably did not have in mind here the formal discipline of apologetics. Nor is defense meant to imply a formal court case in which believers were on trial though it is possible that some did have opportunity to speak a formal defense. The use of defense here is most likely referring to “informal circumstances when believers were asked spontaneously about their faith.”[2]

By giving such a command to give a “reason for the hope,” Peter assumes that believers can give a solid intellectual defense of the gospel. This does not mean that every believer should be a highly trained apologist, but it is important that Christians be able to articulate what they believe and why.[3]

Giving a defense of the faith will possibly become even more important as today’s culture continues to become more pluralistic and as worldviews continue to collide. Defending one’s faith may also take on some changes as America becomes less familiar with the truths of the gospel. Evangelism and apologetics will need to encompass the entire Biblical story from creation to the second coming.[4]

It must be noted that Peter encourages those who give a defense to do so with gentleness and respect. Peter is not wishing for them to win an argument, but instead to communicate the truth in love. The content of the message may cause one to be offensive, but the messenger should always share in a manner which validates Christ’s love for humanity.[5]

Responding respectfully and in humility puts to shame those who choose to slander and falsely accuse. It is interesting that many times in Scripture those who are faithful to God will not be shamed, but their opponents will be. Karen Jobes writes:

 Rather than being intimidated by whatever opposition his readers encounter in their society, Peter wants them to respond with a positive and effective explanation of the gospel. Instead of allowing fear to drive them to use the same tactics of insult and malicious talk against their opponents, they are to respond in a way that is beyond approach. The humble and respectful testimony of believing Christians defeats the malicious talk of those who would malign the faith.[6]

The questions this passage leads us to ask are: Are we placing our hope in Christ? And, are we ready to give an answer, with gentleness and respect, for that hope?

 

[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman &   Holman, 2003), 174.
[2] Ibid., 174.
[3] Ibid., 175.
[4] See Chapter 28 in Telling the Truth, ed. by D.A. Carson.
[5] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 231.
[6] Ibid., 231.

“God Is Now Weightless”

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Convicting words by David Wells…

It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life. Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in God’s existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers’ sweet fog of flattery and lies. Weightlessness tells us nothing about God but everything about ourselves, about our condition, about our psychological disposition to exclude God from our reality.

(from God In The Wastelands: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams, p. 88)

Around The Web

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Three Tips For Better Bible Reading – One of the ways mentioned here is getting an idea of how long it takes to read certain books of the Bible and then carving out that much time in your schedule. There is actually a chart given to show on average how long it takes to read each book of the Bible.

When A Church Stops Reaching It’s Community – When a church ceases to have a heart and ministry for its community, it is on the path toward death. Whenever local churches are mentioned in the New Testament, they are always exhorted to be other-centered.

In Praise of The Quiet Time – If Jesus expressed and experienced his relationship with the Father through a “quiet time,” if the One who was, in fact, eternally one with the Godhead still took intentional time for personal prayer and Bible study, we would do well to follow his pattern.

The New American Dream: Searching For Spirituality – People are hungry for stories of spiritual discoveries – and for mainstream platforms willing to explore them.

Can You Love Yourself Too Much? – The answer is no. Absolutely not.
The issue is not how much you love yourself. The issue is how much you love yourself in comparison to God.

Five Great Books On Evangelical Christianity – This is for all you history people out there. It’s a list put together by Thomas Kidd, history professor at Baylor. Reading them will give you a great perspective of who we are as evangelicals from an historical perspective.

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