Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bible Reading Plan that Takes Jesus' Approach to Scripture

Earlier this week, I came across this Bible reading plan by Jason DeRouchie.

Click here to link to where I found it (Desiring God) and to a link where you can download the plan in a PDF format.

Here are its unique features:

1. Proportionate weight is given to the Old and New Testaments in view of their relative length, the Old receiving three readings per day and the New getting one reading per day.

2. The Old Testament readings follow the arrangement of Jesus’ Bible (Luke 24:44––Law, Prophets, Writings), with one reading coming from each portion per day.

3. In a single year, one reads through Psalms twice and all other biblical books once; the second reading of Psalms (highlighted in gray) supplements the readings through the Law (Genesis–Deuteronomy).

4. Only 25 readings are slated per month in order to provide more flexibility in daily devotions.

5. The plan can be started at any time of the year, and if four readings per day are too much, the plan can simply be stretched to two or more years (reading from one, two, or three columns per day).

Monday, May 9, 2011

What About the Books on Brief Heaven and Hell Experiences???

There is alot of talk out there about books such as 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is For Real and 23 Minutes in Hell.

Randy Alcorn thinks through this issus (these issues?) here.

A particularly helpful quote:

"Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily "to see if what Paul said was true." Now, if ever in human history you were going to assume that another person's words were true, not finding it necessary to double-check against the Scriptures, surely it would be with the Apostle Paul. Yet the Bereans were commended for carefully scrutinizing Paul's words in light of Scripture. If Paul's words needed to fall under the judgment of God's Word, obviously mine do, and Don Piper’s do, and Todd and Colton Burpo’s do.

"I do believe that something is seriously wrong if people take more time to contemplate and discuss Colton Burpo’s account of petting Jesus' rainbow-colored horse, or of Jesus wearing a crown with a pink diamond, than they do studying what the Bible actually says about Heaven. The back cover of the book says 'Heaven Is for Real will forever change the way you think of eternity.' I would say, 'Seek to let the Bible alone change the way you think of eternity.'"

Resources to Aid in Parenting with a Gospel Focus

Yesterday morning I mentioned several books that would be helpful for any parent longing to see their children grow knowledge of and love for the Jesus of the biblical Gospel.

Click the links below and you will go directly to Amazon:

Another book that is forthcoming looks like it is going to be outstanding (by a very Gospel-centered and trustworthy author) as well is:

Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

At The Gospel Coalition web-site, they link to this helpful talk entitled "How to Teach Children and Youth the Gospel Story."

Also, tomorrow night (May 10, 2011) Desiring God will be interviewing Paul Tripp (Tedd Tripp's brother) on the topic of "Getting to the Heart of Parenting." I am sure it will be very, very helpful for any and all parents - especially when it comes to applying the Gospel.

FYI: Helpful Resources for Seeing Christ in the Old Testament

The Gospel Coalition has grown to be one of my favorite websites to visit for solid, helpful resources concerning all things evangelical.

One of my favorite aspects about it is its attention to helping followers of Christ to read and understand all of the Bible as Christian. In other words, it helps us see the connections between Jesus and the Old Testament.

Yesterday morning I preached from Luke 24, where Jesus walked with a couple on the road to Emmaus and walked through the Old Testament, making all the connections to Himself. In other words, He showed them how the Old Testament spoke of, predicted, and prepared for the coming of the Messiah. (See Luke 24:25-27)

For helpful resources on how to grow in your understanding of how to read and understand the Bible from this perspective, click here. The Gospel Coalition is doing a tremendous service to the church by making these interviews, articles, workshops, etc. available.

Also, The Gospel Coalition recently hosted a conference where this (Christ and the Old Testament) was the entire theme. Click here to go directly there. Enjoy. May our hearts burn together as we learn the Scriptures with the proper Gospel lens.

Discussion Questions from May 8th, 2011 Sermons

Yesterday morning I preached a message entitled "Enormous Emmaus Emotions caused by the Ever Enlightening Emmanuel" from Luke 24:13-35.

You can watch, listen, and/or download the message here later today.

Here are some questions to enhance your understanding of the text:

1. Why was the couple on the road to Emmaus so sad and hopeless? How can you relate to their hopelessness? Have you ever said to yourself, "I had hoped..."? What about?

2. How did Jesus' resurrection change all of that? Why is His resurrection from the dead such a big deal and what are some of the implications of it?

3. What did Jesus do differently with the Old Testament (from what they were used to doing) that caused their hearts to burn? What does this say about how Jesus expects the Old Testament to be read and interpreted? (See Post - "FYI: Helpful Resources for Seeing Christ in the Old Testament" Later Today)

4. According to this text, what causes hearts to burn for the things of God? What does this mean for your own heart? What does this mean for the hearts you have influence over?

5. What do you think happened that caused the couple from Emmaus to (finally!) recognize Jesus? How is this similar to what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (See Genesis 3:1-11)?
For further treatment on this thought, click here for a very helpful and detailed article by Dane Ortlund.

6. What did the couple from Emmaus do the moment they 'recognized' Jesus as the resurrected Messiah? What does this say about what 'grasping' the resurrection should effect in us?

Last night I continued the 'Overview' series through the Minor Prophets ("The 'Not So' Minor Minors"). Last night's message was on Habakkuk. The title was "Habakkuk: From Hacked Off to Hallelujah." Click here (later today) to watch, listen and/or download.

Below are some questions to add to your digestion of the book:

1. Why was Habakkuk so angry the first time? (See Habakkuk 1:1-4) Why was he so angry the second time? (See Habakkuk 1:12-17) Have you ever complained at God for doing/allowing something to happen in your life that you didn't have categories for? What were/are they?

2. How did you handle it when these circumstances entered your life?

3. What were the 4 actions Habakkuk took to move from being 'Hacked Off' at God to saying 'Hallelujah' to God?
Which of these actions seem the easiest? Why?
Which of these actions seem to be the hardest? Why?

4. According to Habakkuk 3:17-19, what happened to Habakkuk through this deal?

5. How does the book of Habakkuk mirror the story of the Gospel?

6. According to Habakkuk 2:14, where is everything headed and why does God do everything He does? How does knowing this change the way we (believers) should look at the world?

7. Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted 3 times in the New Testament. Where are they and what is the thrust of meaning behind each quote?

Monday, May 2, 2011

I CANNOT Believe It's FREE!!!!

For anyone interested....

I learned today that Paul Miller's EXCELLENT book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World is FREE for Kindle.

Click here to get it and/or buy the hardcopy on Amazon.

I also learned today the Tim Challies' new book The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion is available for free as an Audio Book for the Month of May. Click here to download it for free.

Helpful Evangelistic Website

Below is a link to a web-site by Christianity Explored. I have been extremely impressed by resources they have put out in the past related to personal evangelism. They have just revamped their website and it is very 'seeker' friendly related to helping those without Christ understand more about Christianity and what followers of Christ believe and such.

Use it for yourself and reference it to those whom you know and love who are searching for answers related to the things of Christ.

Christians and Osama Bin Laden (UPDATED)

Okay, so this will be somewhat brief...I will link to some additional resources below that I think will be helpful and for further reading.

I have had several request my thoughts on the death of Osama Bin Laden.

I found myself having some very mixed emotions last night, to be real honest.

On one hand, I was thrilled! I mean, a mastermind who was dead set on killing as many as possible was gone?!?! That, to me, was a really good thing.

On the other hand, I was grieved. How could I be happy that someone is dead? Especially someone who is (more than likely) in hell and will stay there being tortured throughout eternity?

Then I checked Twitter. Oh my.

First I read people rejoicing. Then I read others who were rebuking those for rejoicing. Then I read where people were sharing the same mixture of feelings that I had. Then I read Bible verses that countered others who had posted Bible verses. Yikes....made me glad I don't have a Facebook account!!!!

So how should Christians think about this deal?

I read a tweet by J.D. Greear this morning that really helped me balance this thing out some. He, more or less stacked two verses on top of one another and stated (in essence) that we need to wrestle with both truths.

(UPDATE: J.D. Greear blogged some thoughts here)

The first verse he referenced was Proverbs 24:17-18 - "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him."

He also referenced Ezekiel 33:11 which says the LORD takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Amen and Amen.

But he also (this is the part that was helpful) referenced our need to rejoice in the fact that justice was shown AND weep for the loss of life (especially one doomed to hell).

God is just and demands justice. He is a LOVER of justice. Justice was served. One who was responsible for thousands of people dying (and who knows if others were being planned?) was now dead. Rejoice.

But God does not rejoice in the death of wicked. Weep.

I think the biblical response is to balance both: rejoice and weep. Rejoice on the biblical one hand and weep on the biblical other. Both are biblical, thus, both are right.

Does Paul not himself say that we believers live in that world? "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing"??? (see 2 Corinthians 6:10). It is okay to live in that tension. We need to wrestle with it and, at the end of the day, be totally biblical at all costs.

It is a reminder, seeing the people rejoice and the Americans dancing in the streets and such, of all of humanity's struggle with justice. We all want it. We all need it. We all know that if it were practiced on us from the God of the universe then we ourselves would be destroyed. In fact, we cannot understand the Gospel fully until we understand justice. We deserve far worse than Osama Bin Laden got last week from American soldiers (who, by the way, are incredible heroes!!!! Thank you troops!). We deserve to be destroyed by God Himself due to our sin against Him and cast into an eternal hell. Another man, Jesus, was killed in our place. Justice has been served! Our penalty has been another! Hallelujah.

So, at the moment, my counsel would be to wrestle with the tensions of rejoicing in justice and weeping in death.

AND, please Christians, take every opportunity to go to the justice and grace of God found at the cross of Jesus. The death of Osama Bin Laden can be a remarkable way to evangelize! May it be.

Click here to a couple of other posts (notice: I HAVEN'T READ THESE - they just seem to be very interesting and helpful - from a place I trust).

Justin Taylor has updated some links to the above link I posted earlier here.