A study done by BYU found that siblings might become more different over time as a result of their parents’ beliefs about them and the comparisons they make between them. The study looked at 388 teenage first- and second-born siblings and their parents’ beliefs about them. What they found was most parents believed their oldest…
Well, I completed the challenge of reading through the Bible again in 2010 (except I did not do the New Testament & Psalms twice as stated in the previous blog). Reflecting on this year I am very glad to have held to a daily intake of Scripture considering all that happened! A cousin died, a nephew suicided, my youngest brother had a major heart attack, our pet dog of 10 years died, and our expected twin grandchildren died at 23 weeks when our daughter went into premature labour. This last day of 2010 finds me quite tired and a bit numb emotionally, but still grateful to the Lord who sustains his children. My mother-in-law also moved down from Queensland and now lives with us (this is an extremely positive move that allows our family the benefit of three generations interacting, not to mention how much less lonely grandma now is).
We saw some really great things happen at our church with around 50 baptisms, new Bhutanese & Burmese fellowships coming into being, migrant ministry and youth ministry booming, purchasing a second bus, undertaking a leadership re-structure, making some good forward-thinking decisions, and finally setting up a church website and Facebook site. Personally, I found preaching a sermon series on Finding Jesus In Genesis to be extremely fulfilling, as was discipling new Bhutanese converts, and launching our successful Tuesday night community teas that saw around 100 people of different nationalities enjoying a meal together and studying the Scriptures, praying and praising the Lord together. Fantastic stuff, and absolutely in line with my stated commitment to disciple the next generation over the next 25 years of my life!
I also managed to cycle with a great bunch of guys 4 to 6 times a week at 6am right through the year, including the cold-wet-dark Tasmanian winter! Over the past 20 weeks I’ve averaged around 230 kilometres a week and thoroughly enjoying it, especially the benefits of losing weight and keeping fit.
Even with the heart-aches, watching our children grow and reach toward their potential has been such an encouragement. More than ever I am aware that we need to take a longer term view of life, one that chooses not to sweat the small stuff, one that is prepared to sow faithfully in order to reap the benefits of perseverance toward God-honouring goals. Pain and problems have their special place in this process, and the outcome lies in God’s hands. It was amazing the number of times that the daily Scripture reading (or Don Carson’s thoughtful reflections on the daily passages in his two volumes, “For The Love of God”) had direct bearing on what I was facing, or something that I had been thinking about. Truly God’s Word is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Even though I do not know what 2011 may hold, I do know that the Lord holds me and my family in his hand, and that is very good!
This year I have returned to McCheyene’s Bible reading calendar that will take me through the whole Bible over the course of this year, including the New Testament and Psalms twice. I have been a Christian for 34 years and happily used this plan for years working my way steadily through the Bible many, many times, including using different Bible versions. It is has been quite a few years since I last used McCheyene’s plan though. Having now experimented with a variety of other methods (some quite useful and others not so) I am ready to return to the days of my youth with McCheyne’s plan. It is fantastic having an online version of this plan too, complete with exceptionally well read audio. Check it out at http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/share/rss2.0/one.year.tract/
The value of a daily plan of Bible reading is that it instills discipline by forcing us to encounter what we would not ordinarily choose to read. This year I am using a notebook to record what I sense God is saying to me each day through His Word. In today’s reading from Matthew 5 I was particularly struck by verse 19 that those who do God’s commands and teach others to do the same will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. God really pulled me up through a cross-reference to Romans 2:21 “…you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” Ouch! That is so right! How easy it is to slip into a do as I say mode that does not do as God would have us do! In verse 24 Paul identifies hypocrisy on this very point among the Jews as the chief reason for His name being blasphemed among the Gentiles. This is always the litmus test of discipleship Jesus’ style. Am I a disciple in name only, espousing godliness without living a godly life? Is our Church a place that talks the talk without walking the walk? Do we actually make disciples who are committed to obeying everything that Jesus commanded as per Matthew 28:19-20? I keep coming back to robust, authentic, practical discipling as the crying need of the hour!
Tomorrow is the beginning of the second decade of the third millennium AD and is a great time to begin reading through the Bible. There are many ways to do this, but the most important thing is to begin. Just do it! Allow yourself to get into the rhythm of daily Bible reading by following a set plan. Even better, team up with friends and undertake the challenge together.
The ESV (English Standard Version) Bible that I use caters for this in a variety of ways both on-line (check this out “http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/devotions/”) and with the remarkable ESV Literary Study Bible.
Like The One Year Bible, the Literary Study Bible aims to nurture the habit of daily Bible reading with daily portions marked and introductory comments provided to orient you to what you are about to read. As with the ESV Study Bible, the Literary Study Bible has its own website containing all the content of the printed version plus the option of listening to the ESV! Check it out here… “http://www.esvliterarystudybible.org/”
See also the American Bible Society website’s helpful tips for reading your Bible… “http://www.americanbible.org/absport/news/item.php?id=134”
Something to think about: If Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His disciples are like sheep who hear and heed His voice (John 6:63-69 & 10:1-5), what prevents you from hearing His voice each day?
While rediscovering and reinstalling old links following my computer crash I discovered this gem from the American Bible Society. If you are even half serious about getting to know the Bible then this will be a good site for you. Enjoy the set of useful tips on how to read the Bible… “http://www.americanbible.org/absport/news/item.php?id=134”
Merry Christmas and happy Bible reading in 2010!
I’ve been busy setting up a new laptop after my old one’s graphics card crashed and burned only 3 and a half months beyond its 2-year warranty! With the card being soldered to the motherboard it left me with no alternative but to enjoy an unexpected early Christmas present, a new ASUS laptop that hums along beautifully. I am adjusting to the 16″ 16:9 LCD screen with its lessened height but greater width – great for DVD’s and Logos Bible study software (requiring several resources open side-by-side), but not so good for word processing. Anyway, I’m back online for Christmas after reinstalling and customising programs to my taste, restoring favourites, blog settings, feeds, and links, etc., and doing a full back-up – a very time-consuming process! I’m happy.
Something became glaringly obvious through this whole process though; namely, how difficult it was to focus on Jesus Christ in a vital and life-giving way whilst chasing up the replacement notebook over the web and around town, then staying up late downloading, reinstalling and setting everything up to my liking amidst my usual family and ministry responsibilities. I failed miserably in my discipleship at this crucial point. As I reflected on this disappointing reality I was confronted by what it must it be like for people with disabilities, for whom daily tasks take longer, where simple things are not straight-forward, and the added costs associated with their disability squeeze the life out of their bank account! What grace must be required! What courage and perseverance! What discipline and restraint! What fortitude of spirit must it take to die in pain and great weakness while remaining steadfast in faith looking to Jesus! Lord, help me to sanctify you in my heart amidst disappointment and setback, through adversity and costly mistakes. “Lord, be my vision supreme in my heart, nought be all else to me save that Thou art. Thou my best thought by day or by night, waking or sleeping Thy presence my light!”
There is a mystery about prayer that we must take on board in our faith. Whilst God is not our servant who does our bidding whenever we pray, neither is he a kill-joy who fault-finds all our petitions. James 4:2 says that “You do not have, because you do not ask.” Listen to what John Piper has to say about this… www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s9S20HlA2Y&feature=player_embedded
I love Aiden Wilson Tozer. This man died in 1963 yet what he said nearly 50 years ago rings in my ears with astonishing relevance today…
Faith and morals are two sides of the same coin. Indeed the very essence of faith is moral. Any professed faith in Christ as personal Saviour that does not bring the life under plenary obedience to Christ as Lord is inadequate and must betray its victim at the last. The man that believes will obey. God gives faith to the obedient heart only. Where real repentance is, there is obedience. 4
To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience. 13
God will take nine steps toward us, but He will not take the tenth. He will incline us to repent, but He cannot do our repenting for us. 8
A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to “accept” Christ without forsaking the world. 4
Tozer, A. W. (1979). Gems from Tozer (50–51). Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.
Meeting Felt Needs or Teaching Timeless Truth–What Lasts? How is it that thousands of individuals who supposedly became Christians fell away and proved that they never genuinely believed to begin with? Ajith Fernando offers a penetrating answer that, if taken to its logical conclusion in the life of the church, would radically alter Christian outreach and education. Ajith has been Director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka since 1976 and, with his wife, has been very active in the life of a local church for more than 20 years. In addition to his YFC responsibilities, he supervises its drug rehabilitation ministry, is on the translation team of a new Sinhala language Bible, and preaches worldwide.
“It may be true that not many people today come to Christ primarily because of a conviction about the objective truths of the gospel. In my informal surveys, I have discovered that most people come to Christ attracted by the fact that he meets their felt needs—things like Christ’s love and concern for individuals…When people come to Christ in search of an answer to a felt need, they will be on an unstable footing unless they are quickly grounded in the truths of the gospel. They will find that Christ may not immediately answer a felt need the way they expected him to. He may not heal them at once from sickness or remove a difficult problem….I have come to the conclusion that most people come to Christ in order to have their felt need met, but they stay with Christ because they have come to believe that the gospel is true….If people are not aware of the foundational factors of the gospel, so basic to Christianity, they are headed for a warped Christian experience and will experience problems in weathering the storms of life. Those who see Christianity primarily as an answer to personal problems will find it difficult to continue in the path of obedience when they see no immediate solution to their problems. By contract, one whose life is founded on the eternal realities of the gospel knows that even in the darkest night, those realities remain unchanged.” (Ajith Fernando, Acts NIV Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998, pp. 113, 146) . Ajith Fernando (08/20/2009) Read more of Ajith’s blog at http://www.christnotes.org/christian-blog/meeting-felt-needs-or-teaching-timeless-truth-what
Recently six of us from Gateway Baptist in Launceston went to Thailand where we visited several Burmese refugee camps. The conditions under which these people live are truly heart-wrenching. One highlight for us occurred when we visited a make-shift refugee school crammed with 138 Burmese children who clearly did not know what to make of us. Attempting to communicate with them only met with shy reserve or withdrawal. Our hearts ached for them, especially that we did not seem able to convey to them the depth of our genuine love and concern. As we were about to leave one of our team offered a boy an “aeroplane ride.” Perhaps this little guy was bolder than the rest, but he actually agreed. That is when the transformation happened. Click on the YouTube link to my very amateurish grainy video of the event and what it unleashed. We were amazed at the transformation in the children when we actually did something with them that they could relate to and enjoy. It overcame all language barriers and reserve… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK0B5ucoHOg
It strikes me that this was the very essence of Jesus’ miracles. People who did not comprehend through Jesus’ teaching who He was and the depth of the Father’s love in sending Him into their world actually “got it” when they saw His miracles! “Surely this man is the Son of God!” they exclaimed. Similarly, His followers are to be living letters of godly recommendation known and read by all who meet them because of how they live (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). Paul put it this way: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14-15). Love is a verb, a doing word, a visible demonstration of the Spirit of God, where who God is (Love) becomes abundantly clear in the lives of Jesus’ followers! This is how the church is meant to let her light shine. The world will know that we are His disciples as we love one another.
We presently have a 49-year-old Christian lady in our church who is on death’s door with liver cancer. Her biological family is being profoundly affected for the kingdom by how her Christian brothers and sisters have rallied around her and helped out. As love is made real through godly actions then faith begins to work through such visible love precisely as God intends (Galatians 5:6). This is the kind of Christian discipleship that I’m seeking to promote!
Here is an interesting article by J I Packer (celebrating the 1st anniversary of the release of the ESV Study Bible) in which he makes the point that the ESVSB is essentially a catechetical tool (teaching by question and answer). Here is the link http://www.crossway.org/blog/2009/11/esv-study-bible-a-word-from-j-i-packer
I have entered the world of blogging because I want to extend my involvement in discipling, especially with younger Christians. Consequently, I am seeking to become adept at interacting in a variety of new ways, including blogging. I believe that blogging will also help me to connect with others of like mind and heart for Christian discipleship and discipling. Hence today’s beginning. Through this blog I aim to stimulate discussion, provide links to articles and matters of interest, and generally promote godly Christ-centred thinking and living. I don’t expect to be blogging daily, but who knows what may happen in time? Certainly, if I have something that I know is worth sharing I can blog it.
2009 has been a good but difficult year for me. During the year I broke through to a place of real forgiveness towards people and circumstances in my past. Like many others, I am on a journey with Christ into the land of grace, mercy and peace. As a result I feel compelled to commit the next phase of my life (God-willing) to the ministry of discipling the next generation. The world is changing rapidly, and not in a godly direction! Today men especially are being destroyed through pornography, alcohol and illicit drugs, destructive relationships, and aimlessness. For Jesus’ gospel to mean anything it must transform and offer hope to men, women and children of all walks of life. I plan to do all I can to see that this transforming gospel is modelled, proclaimed and lived out in today’s world. Surely we have an obligation to the younger generation to mentor and disciple, model and encourage, and by all possible means to make sure that the good news is obvious in our lives, family relationships and churches, so that they can see with their own eyes that it actually works. If blogging is one way for me to influence others to walk the slow but sure road of apprenticeship to Jesus then I will do it. Along the way I hope to give lots of encouragement, honest feedback, and good resources.
I am deeply indebted to the ministry of John Piper (Bethlehem Baptist Church & Desiring God Ministries) for his insights into God being most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The writings of A W Tozer and Oswald Chambers also inspire me, as do those of C H Spurgeon, J I Packer, Eugene Peterson, and the commentaries of John Stott and Gordon Fee. I love the ESV Bible, but not in a one-eyed way (I appreciate aspects of other versions too). Over the years I’ve read through the entire KJV, NKJV, RSV (I think), NIV, and The Message Bibles. Last year I read the ESV Literary Study Bible, and this year I am using The Books of the Bible (TNIV) for devotional reading. There is something useful to be found in most versions of the Bible, but I love my trusty ESV Personal Size Reference Bible and the ESV Study Bible. The ESV is my mainstay for reading, study, preaching, reflection and memorization.
Feel free to offer your suggestions and comments about the design and intended purpose of this site. Above all, please pray for the success of my venture, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will be praised, magnified and glorified as he so greatly desires and so richly deserves!