Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bible Reading Plans for 2016

Here's some Bible Reading Plans for 2016 from Ligonier Ministries. Surely one of these will work for you! Let's do it in 2016.
Many Christians take the beginning of a new year to evaluate their Bible reading habits, and then change or begin a Bible reading plan.
For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of Bible reading plans for you to choose from. Maybe in 2016 you will read more of the Bible each day. Perhaps you’ll slow down your reading and instead spend more time considering what you read. Whatever it is you’re looking for in a reading plan, you should find it below:
52 Week Bible Reading Plan
Read through the Bible in a year, with each day of the week dedicated to a different genre: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Gospels.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan
Read through the New Testament in a year, reading Monday to Friday. Weekends are set aside for reflection and other reading. Especially beneficial if you’re new to a daily discipline of Bible reading.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

A Bible Reading Chart
Read through the Bible at your own pace. Use this minimalistic, yet beautifully designed, chart to track your reading over 2016.
Duration: Flexible | Download: PDF

Chronological Bible Reading Plan
Read through the Bible in the order the events occurred chronologically.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan
Four daily readings beginning in Genesis, Psalms, Matthew and Acts.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

ESV Daily Bible Reading Plan
Four daily readings taken from four lists: Psalms and Wisdom Literature, Pentateuch and History of Israel, Chronicles and Prophets, and Gospels and Epistles.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

Every Word in the Bible
Read through the Bible one chapter at a time. Readings alternate between the Old and New Testaments.
Duration: Three years | Download: PDF

Historical Bible Reading Plan
The Old Testament readings are similar to Israel’s Hebrew Bible, and the New Testament readings are an attempt to follow the order in which the books were authored.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

An In Depth Study of Matthew
A year long study in the Gospel of Matthew from Tabletalk magazine and R.C. Sproul.
Duration: One year | App: Accessible on YouVersion. Download the app.

Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System
Reading ten chapters a day, in the course of a year you’ll read the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters four to five times, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, the Psalms at least twice, Proverbs and Acts a dozen times, and the OT History and Prophetic books about one and a half times.
Duration: Ongoing | Download: PDF

Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
Read the New Testament and Psalms twice and the Old Testament once.
Duration: One or two years | Download: Website

Straight Through the Bible Reading Plan
Read straight through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

Tabletalk Bible Reading Plan
Two readings each day; one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF
App: Accessible in the Ligonier App (iPhone / iPadAndroidKindle Fire &Windows Phone) and YouVersion.

The Legacy Reading Plan
This plan does not have set readings for each day. Instead, it has set books for each month, and set number of Proverbs and Psalms to read each week. It aims to give you more flexibility, while grounding you in specific books of the Bible each month.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF

Two-Year Bible Reading Plan
Read the Old and New Testaments once, and Psalms & Proverbs four times.
Duration: Two years | Download: PDF
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What Need I Fear

"Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way;
What need I fear, when thou art near,
O king of night and day"

- St. Columba (521-597)

HT @lensweet

Top Bible Reading Plans From 2015

Each yeatr about this time I post about Bible reading plans, as an encouragement to my readers to read the Bible through in the new year. Bible Study Tools published this list of Top 10 Bible Reading Plans of 2015. Maybe one of these will work for you in 2016.
It's essential for all of us as believers to spend time in the Word, and we are overjoyed that so many people were able to do so through the Bible reading plans found at We offer more than 15 different established Bible reading plans on both our website and mobile app, making it easier than ever to stay engaged with Scripture every day.
So, what plans were you using in 2015? Here are the 10 most popular Bible reading plans! Any of these would be perfect to work through in 2016, too!
10. 71 Days in Isaiah (71 days)
Carefully work your way through Isaiah in 71 days to experience the full impact of the prophet's words.
9. New Testament in 90 Days (90 days)
Read straight through the New Testament in 90 days.
8. Prof. Horner’s Reading System (365 days)
A unique and challenging system where you read 10 chapters a day.
7. Ninety-Day Challenge (90 days)
Read the Bible all the way through in only 90 days. It's a challenge well worth taking.
6. Old Testament and New Testament (365 days)
Read one passage from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament each day.
5. Thematic (365 days)
This Bible reading schedule is thematic or connective in nature. The goal is to make as many associations as possible between the different parts of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish.
4. Chronological New Testament (92 days)
In only 3 months you can read the New Testament in the order that the events happened.
3. Classic (365 days)
Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.
2. Book Order (365 days)
Read 3 passages each day, starting with Genesis, Psalms, and Luke. From the original Bible Study Tools reading plan.
1. Chronological (365 days)
Read the Bible in the order that the events happened.
Tips on Reading the Bible Daily
1. Start reading the Bible today -- there is no better time, and there's no reason to wait.
2. Set aside a specific time each day. Set your schedule and then stick to it. Mornings are great, but feel free to use any time that works consistently for you.
3. Read the Bible for the sake of learning, not simply to accomplish your next reading. Say a short prayer to God before you begin, asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding, then be refreshed by the words you read!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

FAQ On Reading the Entire Bible In 2016

This time of the year I always promote reading the Bible through in the new year. Here are some ideas from Reading the Whole Bible in 2016: An FAQ by Justin Taylor at TGC
Less than 10 minutes a day.
(There are about 775,000 words in the Bible. Divided by 365, that’s 2,123 words a day. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. So 2,123 words/day divided by 225 words/minute equals 9.4 minutes a day.]
If you want to listen to a narrator read the Bible (which you can do so for free at, they are usually about 75 hours long total, which means at 12 minutes a day you can listen to the whole Bible in a year.
(For those who like details, here’s a webpage devoted to how long it takes to read each book of the Bible. And if you want a simple but beautiful handout, where every Bible chapter has a box, go here.)
No. What is commends is knowing the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and meditating or storing or ruminating upon God’s self-disclosure to us in written form (Deut. 6:7; 32:46; Ps. 119:11, 15, 23, 93, 99; 143:5). It is compared to bread and water—not nice things to have when there is time but that which is essential for survival.
The point is not to check off a list or punch in your time but rather to meditate on the Word in such a way that your mind, heart, and actions are transformed in a godly, gospel-drawn way.
As Joel Beeke writes:

As oil lubricates an engine, so meditation facilitates the diligent use of means of grace(reading of Scripture, hearing sermons, prayer, and all other ordinances of Christ),deepens the marks of grace (repentance, faith, humility), and strengthens one’s relationships to others (love to God, to fellow Christians, to one’s neighbors at large).
Thomas Watson put it like this:

A Christian without meditation is like a solider without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation the truths of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory is slippery, and without meditation all is lost.
So reading the Bible cover to cover is a great way to facilitate meditation upon the whole counsel of God.
Simple resolutions are often well-intentioned but insufficient. Most of us need a more proactive plan. As John Piper has written, “Nothing but the simplest impulses gets accomplished without some forethought which we call a plan.”

Monday, December 28, 2015

Praying Ugly

Does God welcome our "ugly" prayers? Check out Go Ahead: Pray Ugly by Kelly Trujillio:
Sometimes my prayers are ugly—uglier than the ugliest ugly cry you can imagine. Because sometimes I’m a mess. Sometimes I’m overcome with rage or filled with tension or shaken by tragedy. Sometimes I’m just not in worshipful-prayer shape. In fact, sometimes I’m such a mess that I’m not sure I can pray at all.
Thankfully, God, in his grace, accepts us in our brokenness. God welcomes my ugly prayers—and yours too. Scripture is full of examples of raw, honest prayer that was anything but sanitized and exemplary. Have you ever prayed like this?
• “God, don’t you see?!” Have you ever wondered why God hasn’t stepped in to rescue you from ongoing struggles? “O LORD, why do you stand so far away?” the psalmist prayed. “Why do you hide when I am in trouble? . . . Do not ignore the helpless!” (Psalm 10:1, 12).
• “I am so ashamed.” We may be burdened by shame over personal failures or the wrongs we see in our community. “Wash me clean from my guilt,” David prayed. “It haunts me day and night” (Psalm 51:2, 3). And Daniel prayed on behalf of his people, “Our faces are covered in shame” (Daniel 9:7).
• “I’m so angry!” When injustice infuriates us, we may come to God in rage. Consider what may be the ugliest prayer in all of Scripture: “Happy is the one who pays you [Babylon] back for what you have done to us. Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!” (Psalm 137:8–9).
• “I wish I were dead.” “I have had enough, LORD,” Elijah prayed in 1 Kings 19:4. “Take my life.” Another biblical prayer ends by saying simply, “Darkness is my closest friend” (Psalm 88:18). Even when everything in you just wants to give up and life feels utterly hopeless, you can turn to God in your desolation.
I think prayer is both the simplest and most difficult of the spiritual disciplines. It’s simple because it’s what our souls need and are naturally drawn toward: communion between creature and Creator. Yet it can be difficult when we’re too distracted, when we lack the will to pray, when we’re unable to muster up any words of our own, when it seems God isn’t answering our desperate pleas.
Are you wondering why God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers? Read this issue’s cover story in which Diana Stone reflects on how tragedy redefined her understanding of prayer. Struggling to find the words to pray? Consider Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence’s exploration of the value we can find in praying the words of others. Stuck in a rut? Dive into Joy Beth Smith’s collection of creative prayer ideas.
We may come to prayer worshiping or wordless, full of gratitude or ugliness. But whatever shape we come in, God welcomes us.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Incarnation: The Key of Hope

“... without the incarnation, Christianity isn't even a very good story, and most sadly, it means nothing. "Be nice to one another" is not a message that can give my life meaning, assure me of love beyond brokenness, and break open the dark doors of death with the key of hope.

The incarnation is an essential part of Jesus-shaped spirituality.” 

― Michael SpencerMere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

Always Christmas

In Narnia it was said that the White Witch made it always winter and never Christmas.

For all who are in Christ it is always Christmas, no matter the season. May the spirit of the season stay with us all year.

Merry Christmas to all! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Heaven Drew Earth Up

"'He came down from heaven' can almost be transposed into 'Heaven drew earth up into it,' and locality, limitation, sleep, sweat, footsore weariness, frustration, pain, doubt, and death are, from before all worlds, known by God from within. The pure light walks the earth; the darkness, received into the heart of Deity, is there swallowed up. Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?"

` C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

The Body Glorified

“For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul she says that will rise but the body, glorified.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Near to the Lowly

Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”

No Vain Display

The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.

― Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Brothers of All

And in the Incarnation the whole human race recovers the dignity of the image of God. Henceforth, any attack even on the least of men is an attack on Christ, who took the form of man, and in his own Person restored the image of God in all that bears a human form. Through fellowship and communion with the incarnate Lord, we recover our true humanity, and at the same time we are delivered from that individualism which is the consequence of sin, and retrieve our solidarity with the whole human race. By being partakers of Christ incarnate, we are partakers in the whole humanity which he bore. We now know that we have been taken up and borne in the humanity of Jesus, and therefore that new nature we now enjoy means that we too must bear the sins and sorrows of others. The incarnate Lord makes his followers the brothers of all mankind.

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship


The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.

― Frederick Buechner, Faces of Jesus

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Mind-Boggling Fact

The virgin birth has never been a major stumbling block in my struggle with Christianity; it’s far less mind-boggling than the Power of all Creation stooping so low as to become one of us.

— Madeleine L’Engle, A Stone for a Pillow

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Central Miracle

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this. Just as every natural event is the manifestation at a particular place and moment of Nature’s total character, so every particular Christian miracle manifests at a particular place and moment the character and significance of the Incarnation. There is no question in Christianity of arbitrary interferences just scattered about. It relates not a series of disconnected raids on Nature but the various steps of a strategically coherent invasion—an invasion which intends complete conquest and “occupation.” The fitness, and therefore credibility, of the particular miracles depends on their relation to the Grand Miracle; all discussion of them in isolation from it is futile.

—C.S. Lewis, Miracles

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Power of Imitation

Never underestimate the power of learning how to think right - The Missing Strand in Much of Our Discipleship by Trevin Wax:
If you are a disciple-maker, you should want people to think like you.
I realize that statement may come across as counter-cultural in our day. In our society, we praise non-conformity and consider expressing one’s own unique essence to be the purpose of life.
To say you want people to think like you is to cramp their style and squelch their originality. It is “indoctrination” in the negative sense of the word, a way of rubber-stamping your identity onto someone else instead of letting their uniqueness shine through.
But here, I’m afraid the non-conformist impulse in our culture clouds our vision so that we are unable to see a very important aspect of disciple-making.
Followers of Jesus are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, demonstrate the mind of Christ, and discern, with biblical wisdom and guided by the Spirit, what it means to live faithfully in the 21st century. It follows, then, that our responsibility to those we disciple includes an element of getting them to reason a certain way.
3 Strands of Disciple-Making
1. Informing – What We Believe
Part of disciple-making is helping people understand what they believe. It includes the inculcation of information, the teaching of biblical facts and Christian doctrines.
2. Instructing – What We Do
Another part of disciple-making is helping people adopt the practices that make up the Christian life. We walk alongside others, modeling for them what it looks like to live the way of Christ.
3. Imitating – How We Reason
But there’s a third part of disciple-making that is necessary, something a full-orbed vision of “imitation” gives us. This strand refers to helping people reason like Christians who have been formed by “what we believe” and “what we do.” The imitation of reasoning is especially needed on issues where clear instructions are not present in Scripture.
The Missing Strand

If you only focus on the first two elements (informing and instructing), then you wind up with people who are not fully equipped to respond to the conundrums they encounter in life.
What does your disciple do when he or she confronts an issue that isn’t resolved by the checklist of doctrines to believe, or the common practices of the Christian life?
Here is where your disciple needs biblical wisdom. The information of Bible doctrine and the instructions of Christian practice aren’t enough. Discernment is required. The believer must apply the wisdom of Scripture to a new situation and discern the way forward.
When the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him, he was not telling them to join him on his missionary journeys. The context for his command comes within a section of the letter in which he was applying biblical wisdom to a new situation. Apparently, one of Paul’s goals was to help his disciples reason the way he did.
When Paul called others to imitate his Christian walk, he was saying more than simply “Take the same steps I do.” Paul wanted the people to follow the same reasoning process that led him to such actions. In this context, “Follow me as I follow Christ” means more than “do what I do.” It also means “think like I think, so you can reason with me to the same outcome of wise and faithful living.”
The Need for Biblical Reasoning

So, back to the statement I kicked off this article with: Disciple-makers should want their disciples to think the way they do. It’s not enough to hope that they will believe the same things, or behave the same way; we want to see them reason forward as Christians.
Inculcating Christian doctrine and imitating Christian behavior only takes you so far. If that is all you strive for in discipleship, you may wind up with mindless mimicry instead of thoughtful imitation.
Discipleship includes helping people learn the “mind of Christ” (Phil 2:5). The mind of Christ helps us to respond to new circumstances with the humility and wisdom of the Savior who indwells us by His Spirit.
Imitation in the Christian life includes the cultivation of wisdom from within a biblical framework, wisdom that leads to the right decisions when the circumstances are difficult. Passing on the capability of wise reflection is an important aspect of discipleship. Ignoring this responsibility is disastrous for the future of the church.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Possibility of Fundamental Change

You Are Not Enslaved To Your Past by John Piper
Christianity means change is possible. Deep, fundamental change. It is possible to become tender-hearted when once you were callous and insensitive. It is possible to stop being dominated by bitterness and anger. It is possible to become a loving person no matter what your background has been.
The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness the Bible says, “Put away malice and be tenderhearted.” It does not say, “If you can . . . ” Or: “If your parents were tender-hearted to you . . . ” Or: “If you weren’t terribly wronged or abused . . . ” It says, “Be tender-hearted.”
This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible. It frees us from mechanistic views that make our backgrounds our destinies.
If I were in prison and Jesus walked into my cell and said, “Leave this place tonight,” I might be stunned, but if I trusted his goodness and power, I would feel a rush of hope that freedom is possible. If he commands it, he can accomplish it.
If it is night and the storm is raging and the waves are breaking high over the pier, and the Lord comes to me and says, “Set sail tomorrow morning,” there is a burst of hope in the dark. He is God. He knows what he is doing. His commands are not throw-away words.
His commands always come with freeing, life-changing truth to believe. For example: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other [that’s the command], just as God in Christ also has forgiven you [that’s the life-changing truth]. Therefore be imitators of God [command], as beloved children [life-changing truth]; and walk in love [command], just as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma [life-changing truth]” (Ephesians 4:32–5:2).
There is life-changing power in the truths of this text. Ponder them with me as you pray for that power to change you.
1. God adopted us as his children.
We have a new Father and a new family. This breaks the fatalistic forces of our “family of origin.” “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, he who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).
I once heard a young man quote Hebrews 12:10–11 with tears of deep conviction and great joy because they assured him that he was not doomed to think of God in terms of his abusive earthly father: “They [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we share his holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
They did this . . . but he does that. This is a life-changing truth. We can know it, believe it, and be changed by it, no matter what kind of earthly fathers we have. God reveals himself in his word to revolutionize our thinking about his fatherhood. We are not cursed to think in the old categories if our upbringing was defective.
2. God loves us as his children.
We are “loved children.” The command to imitate the love of God does not hang in the air; it comes with power: “Be imitators of God as loved children.” “Love!” is the command and “being loved” is the power.
3. God has forgiven us in Christ.
Be tender-hearted and forgiving just as God in Christ forgave you. What God did for us becomes the power to change. He forgave us. That opens a relationship of love and a future of hope. And does not tender-heartedness flow from a heart overwhelmed with being loved undeservedly and being secured eternally? The command to be tender-hearted has more to do with what God has done for you than what your mother or father did to you. You are not enslaved to your past.
4. Christ loved you and gave himself up for you.
“Walk in love just as Christ loved you.” The command to walk in love comes with life-changing truth that we are loved. At the moment when there is a chance to love, and some voice says, “You are not a loving person,” you can say, “Christ’s love for me makes me a new kind of person. His command to love is just as surely possible for me as his promise of love is true for me.”
My plea is that you resist fatalism with all your might. No, with all God’s might. Change is possible. Pursue it until you are perfected at the coming of Christ.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Test of Disappointment

For those undergoing disappointment (in other words EVERYBODY) Please check out When God Leaves You Waiting: How God Uses Disappointment to Test Us by Joshua Roberie at Relevant:
Have you ever noticed how you have to set an appointment whenever you want to see a doctor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the doctor is going to keep it? You may be on time, but left in the waiting room wondering if it is the doctor that has the scheduled mixed up.
In those situations, the waiting room can be more painful than the actual time spent with the doctor.
I have had similar feelings in my relationship with God. I know it may sound like a lack of faith to say so, but to be honest, there have been times when I felt like I was on time, but God missed His appointment with me.
Maybe you can relate.
During the season that I stopped working in full-time ministry, I seemed to have a number of “missed appointments” with God. The first was when we found out that my wife’s dad had cancer just as we were making that transition. Shortly after that, my father-in-law went to heaven.

As painful as all of this was, we know God used this season to transform our hearts, character and understanding of His faithfulness.

The second “where were you God?” moment was when our house wouldn’t sell. We ended up leasing our home and moving out on the day of our fifth anniversary. We wouldn’t have a place of our own for another two years. In fact, over three years later, we still don’t have a house.
So many “missed appointments” became disappointments during this time of our lives. The thing is, as painful as all of this was, we know God used this season to transform our hearts, character and understanding of His faithfulness.
This doesn’t mean God causes or initiates the problems in our lives. He is not looking to bring loss and suffering in order to teach us to appreciate His blessing. It’s just that He is so good and merciful, that even our darkest moments can highlight His love and faithfulness when our hope is placed in Him.
Have you ever felt like you were in God’s waiting room for an appointment that He missed in your life? Maybe you thought things would go one way, but they ended up going another. You may have thought, “If God would have done His part, then things would be different.”
Having these types of thoughts and emotions can leave you frustrated, doubtful and even feeling guilty. But God is not afraid of these types of feelings or questions. If He were, why would He include so many similar examples in the Bible?
Our part is to not figure out His path for us, but to trust Him while we’re on it.

Mary and Martha thought Jesus had missed His appointment with Lazarus. Jesus’ friend, and their brother, had died. If only Jesus had been there, none of this would have happened. He had healed and helped others. He certainly could have done the same for a close friend.
Once He finally arrived, it seemed too late. Only it wasn’t. A few days later, after their “missed appointment,” Jesus rolled the stone of their frustration, doubt and grief away.
Then out came Lazarus, and God received the glory for raising the dead.

Sometimes what God does in the waiting room of our lives is more important for our future than what we hoped He would have done in one of our “missed appointments.” Our part is to not figure out His path for us, but to trust Him while we’re on it.

The waiting room where God performs heart surgery is normally not a physical place, but a lingering season that follows a disappointment. These situations often leave us with only a few tough options. We can focus on regret, run away from our problems by ignoring them, or we can look forward to the resurrection that is going to take place in our lives.

We will never have the opportunity to cross the bridge of hope without a valley of doubt underneath. Faith is not ignoring the valley or refusing to cross; it is trusting the bridge God has placed before us.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Humble Theology

There can be no such thing as a truly Christian thinker who is not humble. I loved this piece from The Gospel Coalition - Theology Is For the Humble by Brandon Smith
Christians need theology like we need to breathe. And like breathing, it’s so integral to who we are that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We can’t avoid theology, nor should we. Without theology, our faith is a corpse.
Not every Christian is a professional theologian teaching in the classroom or from the pulpit. But every Christian does theology. Theology, simply put, is attempting to explain and tie together truths mined from Scripture. Any time we make statements about truths from Scripture (Jesus is the Messiah; God is sovereign; humanity is sinful; salvation is by faith alone; etc.) we do theology.
According to the Bible, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). In order to be saved—to truly live—theology must be involved. It’s unavoidable.
In the oldie-but-goodie Doing Theology in Today’s World, J. I. Packer writes an essay on the importance of doing theology with humility, quoting Martin Luther at length. Here’s just a snippet of Luther’s points:
"Firstly, you should know that the Holy Scriptures constitute a book that turns the wisdom of all other books into foolishness. Secondly, take care that you do not grow weary or think that you have done enough when you have read, heard, and spoken [the Bible’s words] once or twice, and that you then have complete understanding. Thirdly, [learn] not only to know and understand, but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God’s Word is, wisdom beyond all wisdom.
Working at a Bible college for three years and spending seven years (so far) as a student in biblical and theological training, it’s always said that doing theology is a humble person’s task. Pride puffs up, leaving the theologian with nothing but Spirit-less fodder for intramural debates. Humility, on the other hand, allows for God-exaltation to happen in one’s life and work."
As a person grows in knowledge of Scripture, pride creeps into our hearts like a quiet mouse in a dark kitchen looking for a feast. We want to be right and to show others we’re right, and so we begin to forget that none of this is about us. We forget that the only reason we can even attempt theology is because God graciously revealed himself to us. And if we don’t turn on the light of the gospel and remind ourselves of God’s glory and beauty, pride will set up shop in our hearts for an extended stay. Theology will become about us.
Learning God-Talk
Theology literally means words about God. God-talk. So doing theology is no small thing! We’re attempting to describe the character, acts, and will of an infinite, perfect being with our own finite, imperfect language. So in order to even attempt doing theology humbly, let me encourage you to consider three things.
1. There is no such thing as a presupposition-free theology.
We all bring contextual baggage to the text, interpreting through particular lenses and with predetermined biases. We do all we can to be objective, but we must understand that we don’t read the Bible in a vacuum. This means we need to be aware of and honest about our blind spots.
2. There is no such thing as a perfect theology.
Nobody, nowhere has it all figured out. The reason there are seemingly endless theological systems and nuances is because nobody’s theology is inerrant. The mantra “always reforming” should be actually true for us. This means we should always be willing to be wrong and to learn from others, since we’ll never “arrive.”
3. There is no such thing as a “personal” theology.
Theology is not kept to ourselves and shouldn’t be kept to ourselves. First of all, our words and actions reflect our theology. Good theology creates good ethics. You can’t hide bad theology. Second, if theology is about God, then it should be shared. As ministers of reconciliation, messengers of good news, we shouldn’t hide our theology under a bowl. Rather, our theology should convict and drive us toward a lived-out faith. This means we need to be careful what we believe and how we speak as we imperfectly point toward the perfect One.
Sharing the Gift

Every Christian should care about theology. Doing theology is seeking to know and love God better, and using that knowledge to know and love others better. When we tell someone, “You are a sinner, but Christ loves you and died for you,” we should do so humbly. Christ has been gracious to involve us in his mission, not only exhorting us to “go” but promising he “will be with us always, until the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20).
We didn’t invent theology—we don’t own it. We don’t deserve theology—we receive it as a gift. We don’t hoard theology—we share it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Man's Maker Made Man


Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.

– Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1)