Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pastor Paul’s Bible Reading Program

With the New Year approaching it seems like a good time to promote a Bible reading program I have used for a few years now. I have tried many reading programs in my life including the Robert Murray M’Cheyne calendar and Professor Horner’s system. I found both of these helpful, but a little overwhelming. The pace of these programs was like an invitation to failure. I couldn’t keep up. I wanted to enjoy the Lord as I read His Word, not worry about falling behind and blowing the system.

So, I thought through the Bible as a whole and determined to read from each of these five broad categories all the time: Gospels, Pentateuch, History/Prophets, Wisdom and Letters. I made it my goal to read five chapters a day, five days per week. One chapter from each section. And I really liked it!

Here is how things break down.

Gospels - 89 chapters

Pentateuch - 187 chapters

History/Prophets - 499 chapters

Wisdom - 243 chapters

Letters - 171 chapters

If you read five chapters, five times a week for a year here is what you will cover in those 260 readings.
  • You will read the Gospels 2.9 times in a year.
  • You will read the Pentateuch 1.4 times in a year.
  • You will read the History and Prophetic books 1.04 times in two years.
  • You will read the Wisdom literature 1.07 times in a year.
  • You will read the Letters 1.5 times in a year.

As you can see, it is not a perfect system that gets you through the whole Bible in a year, but it is surprising how much you can read if you just stick to it. Plus, if you read more than five times a week, you will end up reading a lot more of the Bible every year.

To help you find your place every day, I have made up five bookmarks you can print off and cut to place in the appropriate section. You can get those here. (You can see a picture of them above.)


Why is this a good system?
The biggest advantage to this method is that you are reading in one of the five major genres of the Bible all the time. And it is amazing to see how things connect. You will start to see things you have never seen before if for no other than reason than you cannot remember what you read in Leviticus seven months ago. Christians need to see how their whole Bible fits together.

Who can do this?
In my church I know of one octogenarian, many adults of various reading ability and a bunch of kids who stick to the program. Anybody can do this.

How fast do you read?
The idea of this kind of reading is not to linger long over every word. There is a place for that kind of  meditative reading, but I do not think this is it. I aim to read at a normal pace and have one goal in mind: to meet with God. I stop when I find something that resonates with my own heart and write it down. All told, this usually takes me between 15-30 minutes. I like to read in the mornings prior to family devotions.

What if you really like to read slowly?
Well, that is fine. But I would challenge you to read at this pace for a while. Plus, with two “bonus days” every week, you can always go back and meditate on those passages that have piqued your interest. I often do this on Saturday and Sunday as a kind of incentive to keep at it the rest of the week.

Do you think the history and prophetic books are less important?
Because it takes nearly two years to read through this section, some have wondered if I think less of that part of the Bible. Hardly! Part of the rationale for this longer section is that there is some repetition especially in books like Chronicles and Kings. Also, so much of the prophetic work belongs with the history that I like to keep them together.

Why do you read the Gospels so much?
Jesus is the answer to everything. The whole Bible is about Him. So, I think it is great to be reading about Him over and over again. Having been on this system and one similar to it for nearly 8 years now, I can attest to never being bored with Jesus.

Is this all you do for “devotions?”
I like to read in the mornings and then journal a few verses. “Journaling” for me is usually copying out various verses that have stood out to me and then jotting down some reflections based on them. I often include a written prayer. These two little actions help to focus my wandering mind. I believe I exist to delight in God to the glory of God for the good of all people. So, my aim in this time is to find my happiness in God. I need Him and He has promised to reveal Himself to me in His Word.

What’s with the bookmarks?
When I tried Professor Horner’s ten chapters a day program I had to make bookmarks to remind me where I was in my reading schedule. You could use a piece of paper and tick off little boxes, but you risk losing the paper. I like my bookmarks! They include all the books of that section and keep everything organized right in your Bible. I am all about removing all my excuses.

What do I do if I miss a reading or partially complete it?
Here is what I love about this program. It does not matter that you missed. Just pick up where you left off last time. That way, if you are suddenly interrupted one morning by a sick kid, your whole program is not off the rails. Even if you read perfectly you will eventually find the chapters do not match each time through due to the different size of each section. This lack of consistent correspondence is partly what makes the method so interesting. It will amaze you to see how much of Bible relates to all its other parts.

Got any ideas on how to improve this system? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How To Treat Fellow Church Members

I got to thinking about this list today and decided to re-organize it by grouping like commands to each other. Can you imagine what your church would be like if every member took these Scriptures to heart? I am trying to imagine what I would be like if I lived these out with greater consistency!

Love One Another
Romans 12:10a
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Galatians 5:13
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Thessalonians 3:12
…and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

1 Thessalonians 4:9
…Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

1 John 3:11
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:23
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

1 John 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 Peter 1:22
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Be Unified With One Another

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with one another.

Romans 15:5
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus…

1 Corinthians 6:7
To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

1 Corinthians 11:33
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—

2 Corinthians 13:11
… agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Teach One Another
Romans 15:14
…able to instruct one another.

Ephesians 5:19
…addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Hebrews 3:13
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Greet One Another
Romans 16:16
Greet one another with a holy kiss.

1 Corinthians 16:20
Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12
Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Romans 15:7
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

1 Peter 5:14
Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Comfort One Another
1 Corinthians 12:25
…have the same care for one another.

2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another…

Galatians 6:2
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Put Up With Each Other
Ephesians 4:2
…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…

Colossians 3:13
…bearing with one another...

Encourage One Another
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Submit to One Another
Ephesians 5:21
…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Forgive One Another
Colossians 3:13
… if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Ephesians 4:32
… forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Think How To Motivate One Another
Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Honour One Another
Romans 12:10b
Outdo one another in showing honor.

Meet With One Another
Hebrews 10:25
…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Confess Your Sins to One Another
James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Be Hospitable to One Another
1 Peter 4:9
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Serve One Another
1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…

1 Thessalonians 5:15
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Be Humble Toward One Another
1 Peter 5:5
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

The "Do Not’s" To One Another

Do Not Judge One Another
Romans 14:13
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer

Do Not Fight With One Another
Galatians 5:15
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Do Not Provoke or Envy One Another
Galatians 5:26
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Do Not Lie to One Another
Colossians 3:9
…Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

Do Not Speak Evil About One Another
James 4:11
…Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.

Do Not Grumble Against One Another
James 5:9
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Preaching - The "Grand Work of the Minister" (Mc'Cheyne)

The grand work of the minister, in which he is to lay out his strength of body and mind, is preaching. Weak and foolish as it may appear, this is the grand instrument which God has put into our hands, by which sinners are to be saved, and saints fitted for glory. 
It pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. It was to this our blessed Lord devoted the years of his own ministry. Oh! what an honour has he put upon this work, by preaching in the synagogues, in the temple, and by the blue waves of Galilee, under the canopy of heaven. Has he not consecrated this world as preaching ground? 
This was the grand work of Paul and all the apostles; for this was our Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel.” 
O brethren, this is our great work. It is well to visit the sick, and well to educate children, and clothe the naked. It is well to attend Presbyteries. It is well to write books or read them; but here is the main thing—Preach the Word. The pulpit is, as George Herbert says, “our joy and throne.” This is our watch-tower. Here we must warn the people. The silver trumpet is put into our hand. Woe be unto us if we preach not the Gospel.

R. M. McCheyne

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Country

It is often difficult to communicate to others what it means to be a Canadian. I was born here and have spent most of my adult life serving in this country, but I always thank God for my 8 years of life in America. There is nothing like being away from home that helps you to see home with new eyes.

Yesterday was a hard day for us. The flagrant disrespect of all the ideals we hold to so happily as a country. The offensive murder of a young man. And the near greater tragedy of a gunman loose in our seat of government. But God in His mercy spared us from so much. And in the process, so much of that Canadian-ness came solidly, and quietly to the surface.

That spirit was caught in images like these.
A woman trying to breathe life into a dying soldier.  Supposedly just a passer-by who remembered her CPR training and ran into a terrible situation.

The news that a scepter-carrying, traditionally-dressed, 58-year old retired police officer shot and killed the murderer with his 9mm. Who would have thought the Sargeant-at-Arms was actually armed?

Peter Mansbridge. He should be given a medal, then shipped down to the United States for one year to read their news for them. On every US network. Peter was like a wise father in a major crisis, speaking calm to the nation even when it was not clear we should be calm. And he refused to speculate or deal in anything that was not a verified fact. That took a different kind of courage.

The Prime Minister. Poor Stephen Harper is always getting criticized for his lack of emotion, but that emotion was clearly seen in his calm and deliberate speech to the nation on television and even more so in his parliamentary address today.

Kevin Vickers. That same retired RCMP officer who had never shot his gun at any human before was back at work today carrying his scepter and donning his funny hat. How remarkably Canadian to watch him humbly walk into the House of Commons to a thunderous, three-minute standing ovation.

My country is not God’s country or the perfect country or the best country or any nonsense like that. But it is my country. And I am proud to be her citizen today.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Let Dad Rule By Love

One of the requirements for any elder is that his children love, respect and follow him. In one sense, most guys can get their kids to do what they want when they are little, but eventually those little people will be big enough to fight back if they want.

How does a man raise his kids in a "dignified manner" so that they, in turn, love and support their dad?  I know this list is not exhaustive, but it covers some basics.

  • He does not dominate his children by force and intimidation, but leads them with love.
  • He does not shrug off the blatant disobedience of his children, but disciplines and instructs them in love.
  • He does not complain to others about "the lousy job the wife is doing with the kids," but he takes responsibility in his home to model and teach love.
  • He is not the typical absentee father, lost in his career, but he cultivates relationships with his kids so that they know, no matter what, Dad loves them.
  • He does not allow his home to be ruled and run by the loudest and meanest of his kids, but makes his home one ruled by love.

I think a dad that is able to get these five principles straight and worked out the majority of the time in his home will be go a long way in raising children that will not cause him shame in his later days. How we need the enabling grace of God!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Under the Book

We like to “interview” normal members of our church once a month in our Sunday evening service and I am still pondering a comment made by one of my sisters a couple of weeks ago.

Pastor Tim noted how her life displayed a strong commitment to the Word of God and a faithfulness to read it and to talk about it with others. He then asked something like, “Where does that come from in your life?”

She replied, “As a young woman, I was faced with the choice of whether or not I would live my life under the Book. And I decided, by God's grace, to do that.”

Now, she spoke to us as a woman of proven character. We know her life, including her trials and sorrows, and we could immediately testify, “Yes, she did and still does that very thing. She has put her life under the authority of God’s Word.” And she has proven that again and again.

Under the Book. That is where I want to be, too.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

He Will Hold Me Fast

We have really enjoyed learning and singing this hymn over the summer. It is an older hymn text set to new music written by Matt Merkel of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. (Matt also wrote the stellar third verse of text.)

In my mind, this text fills a void in most of our song repertoires and allows us to re-assure each other (and ourselves) with the promises of Christ. Most saints I know are deeply aware of their faults and failings. This text takes our eyes off us and puts them on Jesus who refuses to let us go.

If you are not singing this yet, then you should be! Go to this page to get free downloads of the music, lyrics and an audio file of the hymn being sung at CHBC.


He Will Hold Me Fast
Lyrics vv. 1-2 Ada Habershon (1861-1918), Public Domain;
Alt words vv.1-2, lyrics v.3, and music: Matt Merker, © 2013

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold;
He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Saviour loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

Those He saves are His delight,
Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight,
He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost;
His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost,
He will hold me fast.

For my life He bled and died,
Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied;
He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life,
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight,
When He comes at last!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It is Good to Be Near God

But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
(Psalm 73:28 ESV)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
(Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV)

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?
(Deuteronomy 4:7 ESV)

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
(Psalm 145:18 ESV)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
(James 4:8 ESV)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
(Revelation 21:3 ESV)

The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, ‘The LORD Is There.’”
(Ezekiel 48:35 ESV)

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
(Revelation 22:3-5 ESV)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.      

(1 John 3:1-3 ESV)