I am part of a men’s group which has been meeting for a Bible study each Saturday for years. Beginning the end of February we decided to try something different than our normal book by book studies. We decided to read through the entire Bible in a year, taking a chapter or two to talk through each Saturday morning over coffee. I have read through the Bible at various speeds, in different ways, and with different resources over the years, and each one has been beneficial. I have read through it in the normal order we find our Bibles today, at other times chronologically, one time extremely fast, and other years one chapter at a time.
With our men’s group we are reading through it chronologically, but I have paired it with some very helpful resources which I would recommend to every person interested in reading through the Scriptures. This plan has been very beneficial and worth starting this week if you are unsure of where to go next in your reading.
• We are following the YouVersion chronological plan (free app).
• After reading the Scripture passages, I then read any articles for the passages in Hard Sayings of the Bible.
• At the beginning of each book, I also read the corresponding chapter in Leland Ryken’s excellent resource, Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible.
• I also frequently watch the corresponding video from BibleProject, or read their entry in the book, Bible Project Coffee Table Book.
This format does not add much time to the daily reading, but yields some great results. I have benefitted from it greatly and would encourage you to try. I would also like to hear if you have any other similar resources you regularly use. Anything you could recommend?
This is a helpful look at the role the Psalms ought to play in both our individual and corporate worship.
Neste, Ray Van, and C. Richard Wells, eds. Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Academic, 2012.
The analogy between manners at the breakfast table and the life of faith is fairly straightforward. Left on our own, there are all sorts of things we would never choose to say to God. “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” are near the top of the list. Thus, the reason worship leaders should challenge us to say and sing words we are still “growing into” and may not “feel” presently is that this is a potent means of spiritual growth.
In the American church Christians have traditionally categorized worship services as either “traditional” or “contemporary.” But the longer I work in the field of worship, the more I am convinced that a much more telling and instructive dichotomy is between worship that is merely expressive and that which is both expressive and formative.
One of the main functions of Scripture is to instill in the people of God a proper grasp of the world’s true story.
The psalms employ rhetoric to achieve their end of shaping the worshippers’ inner life. Rhetoric is the way someone presents his ideas, in a way that moves people to feel the way he wants them to. In the hands of the unscrupulous, rhetoric can be a tool for manipulating; but in the service of virtue, it can move its audience to do what they know to be right.
Seek Christ in the psalms and then measure everything else by what you find there. When selecting and writings songs, we should ask, Is it psalm-like? An honest answer will enable you to rise above the inappropriate and tread on the high places of the earth.
The psalms are lyric poems that obey the ordinary rules of lyric poetry about which we learn in high school and college English courses, and whatever other use we make of such poems, we should at least read and ponder them in our private, devotional worship.
God’s psalms have a robust, rough-hewn character that can give backbone to a person’s faith, as well as muscle tone and stamina.
The biblical psalms are not “nice.”
Singing imprecatory lament psalms is dangerous activity because it is not innocent “special music” or a concertized solo testimonial. Psalm-singing is quoting God back in God’s face, invoking God’s presence to do justice on our troubled earth. No self-righteous, naïve persons should apply. But when a communion of repentant sinful saints covered by the blood of Jesus Christ chooses to do it because they are deeply disturbed by Incorporated Evil and the principalities in the world laying God’s creatures to waste, then we can come to know a little of the depth and riches the Lord has provided for us in God’s Word.
In the psalms it’s as if we pass on the glory of God from one generation to the other. As one of the psalms itself declares: One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. . . . My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Ps 145:4–7,21)
Here are some quotes from the book: Mohler, R. Albert Jr. The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2018.
Prayer is never an isolated event. When we pray, we convey our entire theological system. Our theology is never so clearly displayed before our own eyes and before the world as in our prayers.
In Scripture it is unthinkable that a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ would not pray.
The Lord Jesus, because he is fully God and fully man, is the only one truly qualified to teach us how to pray. As the second member of the Trinity, Jesus gives us God’s perspective on prayer. In Jesus Christ, God himself is teaching his people how he wants us to approach him. But as one who is fully man, Jesus is also able to instruct us in how we as humans are to approach prayer. Jesus engaged in and experienced a life of prayer. Because he is fully human without any taint of sin, Jesus led a life of perfect prayer.
One of the besetting sins of evangelicalism is our obsession with individualism. The first-person singular pronoun reigns in our thinking. We tend to think about nearly everything (including the truths of God’s Word) only as they relate to me.
The Lord’s Prayer, however, is doctrinally robust, theologically deep, and anything but serene. The Lord’s Prayer is anything but tame. Regrettably, our familiarity often blinds us from seeing just how radical, even subversive, this prayer is. It is for those who hold firmly that Jesus Christ has inaugurated a kingdom, has risen from the dead, reigns at the right hand of God, and is coming again to judge the living and the dead. The Lord’s Prayer is for revolutionaries, for men and women who want to see the kingdoms of this world give way to the kingdom of our Lord.
As J. I. Packer noted, “Here more clearly than anywhere the purpose of prayer becomes plain: not to make God do my will (which is practicing magic), but to bring my will into line with his (which is what it means to practice true religion).”
C. S. Lewis observed the same phenomenon in his classic work The Screwtape Letters. As Lewis explained, humanity is prone to two extremes when it comes to thinking about demonic forces. There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.1
If Christians truly embraced biblical teaching on demonic powers, we would come to church with a tremendous sense of the fact that God has rescued us from the domain of darkness.
While listening to G. K. Chesterton’s book, The Man Who Knew Too Much, I came across this thought provoking statement:
“It was like daylight behind stage scenery.”
Sometimes one small question or observation can unsettle the comfortable feeling of my constructed reality.
Various friends introduced us to our valley throughout our first year in Spain. We were invited, encouraged to visit, and physically taken to villages and sites around our amazing valley, El Bierzo. This photo book includes photos from 25 of those villages and sites.
Let me introduce you to our valley…
PDF (free): Un Año En El Bierzo
iTunes iBook (free): Un Año En El Bierzo
Kindle ($2.99 due to Amazon.com rules): Un Año En El Bierzo
As always, leaving a review is helpful in spreading the word.
Please don’t underestimate the transformative impact of rereading a good book.
What books have you, or do you, reread?
I just finished listening to:
There were many helpful suggestions in the book. Here are some questions I need to ask myself during crucial conversations:
- What do I really want?
- Am I engaged in silence, violence, or dialogue?
- How can I make this conversation safe?
- What stories am I telling myself about this person that are skewing my perspective?
- What is the common ground we share on this topic?
Perhaps you have read it, or another book similar to it. What would you add?
Book: Livermore, David A. Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence. Updated. Baker Books, 2012.
(For a full review, click on title above)
Point: Short term missions needs to be evaluated, not because we should abandon the idea, but because we have drifted from the central purpose. That purpose is to properly love God and love others.
Favorite Quote: “How does our lack of cultural intelligence diminish our attempts to love God and love others? That’s the heart of the matter” (Livermore, Seeing, kindle 2560).
Stars: 4 out of 5
It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:
- Is leading a missions trip
- Has been on missions trips
- Wants to interact with other cultures right at home
Other books along this theme would be:
Lanier, Sarah. Foreign to Familiar; A Guide to Understanding Hot- and Cold- Climate Cultures. McDougal, 2000.
Lingenfelter, Judith E., and Sherwood G. Lingenfelter. Teaching Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Learning and Teaching. Baker Academic, 2003.
Livermore, David A. Expand Your Borders: Discover Ten Cultural Clusters. Cultural Intelligence Center, 2013.