Friday, April 30, 2010

Reading through the Bible.

Which versions of the Bible have you read?

Over the past 5 years, I have enjoyed reading through the TNIV [twice, which includes "The Books of the Bible: a presentation of Today's New International Version"], the Zondervan NIV Archaeological Study Bible, the New Living Translation [2nd edition], The ESV Reformation Study Bible, The Good News Bible, Australian edition [which is so far the one with the most typos], the New Jerusalem Bible [I began reading the study notes, but they were so liberal, I quit the notes] and the ESV Study Bible [completed yesterday].

Today I've commenced reading through the Contemporary English Version, Australian edition.

This usually takes me about 5 months, but the last one was a massive undertaking, due to all the articles, introductions and notes. I began reading the ESVSB on 3rd Jan 09, and was going quite slowly for a while.

It is a great blessing to be able to read through and get an overview fairly quickly. You can do this by reading a psalm a day, anotehr 4 chapters of the Old Testament and 2 chapters of the New Testament, to keep things proportional.

This all started when a man in our church brought us a guide to reading through the New Testament in 91 days, which was intended to get folk reading through the New Testament before Christmas.

Only a few people took up the offer, but I got hooked!

Do you think it is too much to expect the average Christian to read through the Bible? Not many people of my acquaintance seem to do it. We read the Bible, but we read the same passages over and over. We read soem of the New Testament, some of the Psalms and not much of the rest of the Old Testament.

Do you think God should have got J K Rowling to write the text to make it an easier read?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


This morning I finished my read-through of the ESV Study Bible, which I began on 3rd January, 2009. It is a thick book, with over 250 pages of articles, in addition to the introductions and notes on the 39 Old Testament books and the 27 in the New Testament.

I have enjoyed using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track my progress, and to keep my reading of the Old Testament, Psalms and the New Testament proportional. I found that I needed to read 4 chapters of the Old Testament [including a psalm] for every chapter of the New Testament, because the Old Testament has 929 chapters, there are 150 psalms, but only 260 chapters in the NT.

It has been a wonderful journey and would be richly rewarding to anyone who is willing to allocate the time. I did it by reading for half an hour to an hour for most mornings of the past 15 months.

The highlight [of many] has been Jack Collins stimulating introduction and notes on the Psalms.

For my next project, which I've already begun, I am reading through Psalms in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. Don't take this to mean I can understand it all, but I can understand some and find that reading is a great way of improving my feeble grasp of the Bible languages.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kevin has won me over

We're not talking Kevin 07. Kevin DeYoung, I mean. His article, Tis Mystery All, the Immortal Dies: Why the Gospel of Christ’s Suffering is More Glorious Because God Does Not Suffer, has convinced me that [mutter, mutter ... wash my mouth out with soap] impassibility is biblical. But I wish there were another word.

There really isn't an appropriate synonym and the word is so easily misunderstood.

DeYoung says it means that God
cannot suffer and is incapable of being acted upon by an external force.

This teaching is based on the Bible's assertion that God is unchangeable and sovereign.

DeYoung carefully articulates it so that it doesn't make God out to be passive, uncaring or unresponsive to our needs.

Although the idea that God suffers is popular today, he points out that if God is changeable, this means that he is not dependable and can't be trusted.

It is well worth reading the whole article, typos and all, to appreciate the point and value of this teaching. Phil Johnson's article God without mood swings is also worth chewing over.

I found it hard to swallow this teaching at first, because those who were arguing for it presented little Scripture in support and seemed to be explaining away large tracts of Scripture that didn't fit with the teaching. But DeYoung doesn't do that.

Thanks for helping me to understand what everyone else was going on about, Kev.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vale, Internet Monk

For the whole time that I have been online, I have enjoyed reading Michael Spencer's interesting and thought-provoking posts. This is about 14 years. Michael called himself The Internet Monk. He wrote about all kinds of issues. He was honest and rubbed some folk the wrong way. But you always knew his heart was in the right place.

I don't know why it has taken so long to find out about his passing on 5th April. I saw it in a brief statement by Frank Turk, which he had posted on 6th April, but which I only just spotted.

Michael had a battle with cancer and from 22nd February was unable to continue his internet ministry.

Some folk had silly fights with Michael when he didn't dot all the required "i"s and cross the requisite number of "t"s. Almost all of those squabbles were completely unnecessary.

I miss Michael very much.

It is good to see that his site is going to be maintained. It's well worth checking it out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Great Omission

Thom Rainer says that if we want people to come to faith in Christ, we need evangelists in our churches. What is an evangelist like? He says they have seven characteristics:
1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.

2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.

3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, the more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.

4. They are compassionate people. Their hearts break for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.

5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.

7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week, either formally or informally, for their evangelistic efforts.

Which means I've got a long way to go. How about you?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

This article shows how little we know and how much there is to do in reaching deaf people with the gospel.
The deaf are virtually an 'unreached people group,' but an Illinois ministry is remedying that one video at a time.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The downside

Every other student in the class seemed to get the idea, but when the quite intelligent Harold handed in his assignment, he hadn't done what I had asked, so I sent him home to do the music assignment again.

He returned with it next week, but his essay still wasn't answering the question. I felt sorry for him and, in talking with him, felt sure that he knew what was required and couldn't figure out why he wasn't showing that he understood in what he was handing in.

But, third time lucky! At last!

A few days later, I think I found out why it took Harold three times to do an assignment that everyone else did properly the first time. Because when I went to the local library, there were Harold and his sister and mother. Mum was seated at a table with a collection of books, looking very serious. Every so often, she would send Harold and Jemima off to the shelves to get some more books. She looked like she was working hard at doing some library research.

I surmised that the kids would take their homework to Mum, who would supervise them very closely, if not actually do the assignments herself.

Harold was every bit as smart as I had thought. He always took things seriously in class, contributed to discussions and was up with the rest of the class. But when he went home, Mum would take over. She would tell him how to do the assignments and he would have to comply.

Having Mum in charge of the homework might often produce a good result, but there is sometimes a downside ...

I fall down - but I get up again

Two really good articles in today's Sydney Morning Herald stress the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes.

In her article Helicopter Parents Not Doing Enough To Let Children Fail, Anna Patty refers to Rod Kefford, headmaster of Barker College's comment that
In some ways self-esteem has been the most damaging educational concept that has ever been conceived.
It is only through our failings in the learning process that we learn anything.
He said schools needed to give children the confidence to risk failure to encourage more creative thinking.

In the other article, Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, says Making mistakes and having them gently corrected is one of the best ways to learn.

Twenge, who co-wrote The Narcissism Epidemic, says parents should tell their children that they love them instead of saying you're special and you can be anything you want to be.

Feeling special often means the expectation of special treatment. Your parents might think you're special, but the rest of the world might not. This can be a difficult adjustment, especially in the workplace.

In my second stint as a classroom teacher, [from 1983-99] I noticed that parents were now doing their kids' homework. Students were coming to school with intricate models of cathedrals that they could not possibly have made themselves.

This bothered me, because I knew that if I ever felt the inclination to do my kids' homework [and I never did], I would not measure up. I also wondered why history students were making models and not reading and writing [which was what attracted me to being a Modern History student in my days at school].

I also discovered that even Christians felt it was ethical to do their children's home work for them. In one case, a parent who was also a church worker, would sit at the computer and write the assignment, but every so often, allow his daughter to make a suggestion!

Strange days! Most peculiar, Momma!