Bible Reading in 2011 and Operation World

Reading through the Bible is a great way to learn more about the Christian faith. I used the One Year Bible to read it through in 2010, and it was unforgettable and humbling.

I have explored several Bible Reading plans for 2011. Some of the more intriguing printable pdf file plans are here, here, here, here, here, and here. An interactive approach to developing your own plan is here.  I dare you to pick one and try it.

One simple checklist that allows for reading at your own pace and in the place you want to start is here. I think that is going to be my approach this year.

The reason for the truncated Bible reading plan is that I am going to follow David Platt’s suggestion in Radical. I am going to pray through the newly published Seventh Edition of Operation World.

Operation World is basically a book of prayer requests that cover missions in the whole world, country by country. I used the Fifth Edition for a while, and I miss the prayerful interaction with global concerns. Try it yourself. You might like it as much as me.

And Happy New Year!

[1/3/11: Two great posts on Bible reading plans are here and here.]


Quote of the Day – John Newton on Humility

“Whoever is truly humbled — will not be easily angry, nor harsh or critical of others. He will be compassionate and tender to the infirmities of his fellow-sinners, knowing that if there is a difference — it is grace alone which has made it! He knows that he has the seeds of every evil in his own heart. And under all trials and afflictions — he will look to the hand of the Lord, and lay his mouth in the dust, acknowledging that he suffers much less than his iniquities have deserved.” – John Newton


Rosenbladt Sings O Holy Night

Rod Rosenbladt sings O Holy Night here. Great job for a professional theologian.

I had the chance to sing this song at our church a few days ago. I did not do nearly this well.

It’s my favorite song of the Christmas Season.


North Korean Assassin turns into a Minister

Thanks to Brandywine Books for the link to a New York Times story about a North Korean assassin who became a South Korean citizen and a Presbyterian minister (A minister to the largest Presbyterian church in the world no less.).  Follow the link here.


More Education Leads to More Church Attendance

It seems the more education we have, the more likely we are to attend church and have strong families.  (See the post here.)  Who would have thought?


Dorothy Sayers on Doctrine

Dorothy Sayers authored one of my favorite essays of all time. The essay is available here. It drives home the point that doctrine is not boring after all. Here’s an excerpt:

So that is the outline of the official story—the tale of the time when God was the under-dog and got beaten, when He submitted to the conditions He had laid down and became a man like the men He had made, and the men He had made broke Him and killed Him. This is the dogma we find so dull—this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and hero.

If this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore—on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him "meek and mild," and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew Him, however, He in no way suggested a milk-and-water person; they objected to Him as a dangerous firebrand... He was emphatically not a dull man in His human lifetime, and if He was God, there can be nothing dull about God either. But He had "a daily beauty in His life that made us ugly," and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without Him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.

Thanks to Justin Taylor for the link.


Jesus vs. Paul?

Scot McNight writes on the differences between Jesus’ and Paul’s emphasis here.

Michael S. Horton answers him here.


Rosenbladt Talks About a Gift

Quote from a Rod Rosenbladt sermon I found here:

God: I told you. I hate religion. Religion was your idea – not Mine. You have forgotten what Anselm said: “You have not yet considered the depth of your sin.”

Sinner: But I want to show you I have. I really have. I know it is really deep. Talk to me. Teach me sanctification.

God: I told you. You aren’t ready for sanctification yet. You just imagine that you are ready. You are arrogant and you don’t know it.

Sinner: What do you mean? I am ready.

God: You are not. If you were, you wouldn’t be talking like you are talking.

Sinner: Well, what then?

God: Just sit there. Sit there for a long while.

Sinner: And do what?

God: Consider the shed blood. Consider that the blood was enough. Think about the fact that it isn’t your repenting that has saved you. Think about the fact that it isn’t your faith that is saving you.

Sinner: Can’t I just, as you said, just think about my sin and the depth of it?

God: That is a start. But you like doing that. You like it too much.

Sinner: This makes no sense. What are you saying?

God: I am saying that you like atoning for yourself by feeling guilty. And you like atoning for yourself by thinking about your faith.

Sinner: Well, what else is there?

God: There is Jesus Christ – but you don’t consider Him. You are not used to gifts. You don’t think much about them. Gifts make you nervous and tense. You don’t know what to do, so you jump to trying to impress Me. I am not impressible.


Adrian Warnock on the spectrum of Calvinism and Arminianism

Adrain Warnock has a great post on the fact that Calvinism and Arminianism run across a spectrum.

I find myself residing somewhere between the Moderate and Strong Calvinist positions as listed. Personal responsibility is important to me, and I believe it to be important to all biblically consistent five point Calvinists.

An Evangelical Hypocrite

Josh Harris cites the following poem:

Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,

who sins more safely because grace abounds,

who tells his lusts that Christ's blood cleanseth them,

who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell,

for he is saved, who loves evangelical preaching, churches,

Christians, but lives unholily.

A Puritan prayer from the book Valley of Vision.

The thing is, if I am honest, I am exactly that kind of hypocrite. Only the perfect Christian could be immune to the charge, and, alas, I am not him.

I look to Christ to save me.  He's my only hope.


Calvinism Simply Put

Justin Taylor’s blog reprinted one of my favorite quotes on Calvinism:

Some readers will recall the conversation between Calvinist Charles Simeon (1759-1836) and Arminian John Wesley (1703-1791) about their commonality amidst the controversy:

[Simeon] Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

[Wesley] Yes, I do indeed.

[Simeon] And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

[Wesley] Yes, solely through Christ.

[Simeon] But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

[Wesley] No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

[Simeon] Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

[Wesley] No.

[Simeon] What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

[Wesley] Yes, altogether.

[Simeon] And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

[Wesley] Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

[Simeon] Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things where in we agree.

Cited in Handley Carr Glyn Moule’s 1892 biography, Charles Simeon, p. 79f.
Those of us who argue over the issues would do well to remember that exchange.

[1/3/11: More information on Simeon can be found here.]


Do You Have Doubts?

"The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it. How do you know your belief is true? It would be inconsistent to require more justification for Christian belief than you do for your own, but that is frequently what happens. In fairness you must doubt your doubts. My thesis is that if you come to recognize the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs – you will discover that your doubts are not as solid as they first appeared. “ - Tim Keller, The Reason for God, pg. xix


Tim Keller Comments on the Parable of the Prodigal Son

A prominent Christian minister comments on the Parable of the Prodigal Son:

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because its so radical” - Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, as quoted here.


God and Politics

R. C. Sproul has this to say to us as we approach politics:

Yes, we must always work for social reform. Yes, we must be “profane’ in Martin Luther’s sense of going out of the temple and into the world. We do not despise the country of our birth. But in what do we invest our hope? The state is not God. The nation is not the Promised Land. The president is not our King. The Congress is not our Savior. Our welfare can never be found in the city of man. The federal government is not sovereign.

Read the whole thing for R. C.’s take on America’s future.

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