Reading Through the Bible

Do you like using one year bibles to read through the Bible each year?  At Cherokee Baptist Church we are reading through the ESV Study Bible one year plan for 2013.  If you would like to join us you can check out our church blog each day (Monday through Saturday) where we post devotionals that correspond with the reading for that particular day.  Each day features a different blogger so while we certainly hope that the Scripture speaks louder than we do, you are bound to find unique perspectives each day.  I hope you will consider joining us.

Mining for Gold

With a fresh new year underway I find myself, as it seems to have become custom for me now, embarking on a new one year Bible reading plan.  This years plan is that found in the ESV Study Bible and breaks each day into four different sections (the Psalms and Wisdom Literature, Pentateuch and History of Israel, Chronicles and Prophets, and Gospels and Epistles).  Now I don’t know about you but as I read through the Bible I find that there are some books that I absolutely love reading, yet others are absolute drudgery to get through.  While I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment, it bothers me to feel this way for as Paul told Timothy, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching – 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV”.  So this is what I have tried to do.  Whenever I find myself board with a particular book I make it my mission to find a new appreciation for that book.  I read synopses in study Bibles and commentaries.  I spend extra time in those particular books looking for a bigger picture.  And, I look for things I’ve never noticed before.  I post this today because, as I said before, I don’t believe I’m alone in my sentiments.  Perhaps there are books that get you  bogged down every time you try to complete a one year plan.  Maybe there are books, or sections of books, that you simply always skim over.  I would encourage you this year to mine those books and passages for the treasure that is just waiting to be found.  You might gain a new perspective that you would have otherwise never have found.

Pointing to Other People

I read a very interesting blog last night by Adrian Warnock about the value of pointing your twitter followers towards others.  The premise of the post was that while one would think that people who shared much commonalty in their thoughts and beliefs would also share an overlap in those that follow them, it just isn’t the case.  In fact Warnock believes that many of the people that follow you may not even have heard of some of the people that you follow.  Therefore, he suggests that one of the most beneficial things you can do is to point people towards others.  Being inspired by this thought  I decided I would write a post about some of the people that I am most influenced by.

  1. John Piper – I have often said that John Piper is the Kevin Bacon of my personal library,  and with very few exceptions the same can be said about my twitter account as well.  If you have never heard of John Piper you should really check him out.  Follow him on twitter, subscribe to podcasts  of his sermons via iTunes (Desiring God Sermons Audio), or read any one of his amazing books which you can find at desiringgod.org, Amazon, or christianbook.com.  Better yet, read all of them 🙂
  2. David Platt – Author of the books Radical and Radical Together, I find David Platt to be one of the most inspirational pastors of our day.  I have read both of his books.  I follow his blog.  And, I follow him on twitter.
  3. Matt Chandler – Pastor of The Village Church in Texas, Matt Chandler is also the author of the book The Explicit Gospel.  I love listening to podcasts of his sermons,  which while edgy in approach, are very sound doctrinally.  His commitment to presenting the Gospel in it’s truest form is very inspiring.
  4. David Sitton – Having spent many years as a missionary to Papua New Guinea,  David Sitton has a passion for reaching the unreached people of the world.  Author of the book Reckless Abandon he also inspires and exhorts through his twitter account on a daily basis.  Follow him on twitter and definitely check out his book.
  5. R.C. Sproul – R.C. Sproul is yet another pastor that has influenced me tremendously.  Through Ligonier Ministries Dr. Sproul has maintained an unwavering commitment to the communication of sound doctrine for many years now.  He is another pastor that I have enjoyed listening to via podcasts (Dr. R.C. Sproul Sermons).  Combining a passion for the Bible with remarkable oratory skills, Dr. Sproul has and uncanny ability to put you inside the stories of the Bible.  I also follow a twitter account that bears his name, even though it is not directly affiliated with him.  And, I’d be remiss not to mention that R.C. Sproul is also the author of many books which you can find at ligonier.org as well as other online bookstores.
  6. Burk Parsons – Editor of Table Talk Magazine, Burk parsons is one of the people I re-tweet the most.  Unfortunately, I have no additional information about him except that Table Talk Magazine is a publication of Ligonier Ministries.
  7. Joshua Project – While not an individual person, the Joshua Project is definitely an organization you should follow.  In their own words “Joshua Project is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the least followers of Jesus Christ” Through the use of  facebook & twitter the organization highlights a different unreached people group everyday.  This gives you the chance to think about specific people groups as you pray for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

Who Would You Like to Meet?

For a long time now I’ve had a fascination with the connection between modern day Christians and those who came before us.  That is to say, I love reading the works of great minds that came before me.  I love learning from them as a pupil learns from a teacher.  I love identifying with what God was doing for the advancement of  the Kingdom, through another life and in another time.  That being said, I was very intrigued by a question posed to David Platt on the Radical.net blog yesterday, “Who in church history would you most like to meet?”  That’s a great question for God’s Kingdom is timeless.  As I said before, I believe it’s important to identify with those saints that came before us.  It’s important that we learn from them.  We must understand that God was working through the lives of others before our time.  It didn’t start with us.  Therefore I’d not only like to answer the question myself, I’d like to pose it to you as well.

Outside of the Bible, I would most like to meet Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, and C.S. Lewis.  For me, each of these men represents an unwavering commitment to thinking deeply about the things of God.  However, their commitment did not end with their minds, in that their thoughts led to an overflow of emotion in their feelings for Him as well.  And, all this was expressed through their great literary skills which they used so beautifully unto the glory of their Lord.  If I had to be more specific, I’d say I am particularly grateful for the word pictures drawn by Edwards and Bunyan.  While Edwards has given me a much deeper understanding of who God is, Bunyan has painted an amazing picture of how life with Him looks.  Lewis has taught me about the nature of worship and the roll of thinking in the Christian life.  Some of the books that have particularly inspired me by these men would include:

  • The End for Which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards
  • An Essay on the Trinity by Jonathan Edwards
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses by C.S. Lewis

What about you?  Who would you most like to meet from church history (outside the pages of the Bible)?  And why?

Who’s Side Are You On?

“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’  And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?‘  And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” – Joshua 5:13-15 (ESV)

I have been particularly drawn to this passage over the past several weeks.  I’ve been drawn to it for aside from being a cool story, it reveals a very serious theological implication that is often overlooked.  It reveals the point that we mustn’t ask God to be on our team, we must ask to be on His.  He is the Lord Almighty!  Oh that we might grasp that fact and humble ourselves before Him.  You see, He has His own story, a story that is far grander than any of ours could ever be.  In fact, His is a story that has been unfolding since the dawn of creation.  Let us seek to be part of His story, not to try to make Him part of our own.  Let us seek to glorify His name in everything that we do and with every breath that we take.  Because, in the end one must be on one side or the other.  Which side are you on, His side or your own?

~Matthew Wynne~