Archive for the ‘reading’ Category


I read Matthew 27 today in my yearly Bible read-through. Matthew records, among other things, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Shortly after I started reading, I knew I needed to slow down and think about what happened. As I meditated on Jesus’ death, several thoughts came to the fore.

The death of Jesus was voluntary. He chose to undergo horrific suffering, physical punishment, and death for the salvation of His people. He laid down His life because He wanted to do so. That’s amazing!

Even though it didn’t look like it, Jesus was in control of every single circumstance surrounding His suffering and death. Events did not “spiral out of control.” and make Him a victim of circumstances.

While the physical pain of death (in this case crucifixion) can be somewhat understood, the spiritual agony He experienced by taking all of the sins of all of His people upon Himself cannot. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (verse 46) is exponentially more painful than anything else that happened that day.

The rejection and hostility toward the sinless Savior – the embodiment of love – is real and strong. It was then, and it is now. Even in the act of ultimate self-sacrifice, He was mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and rejected.

All of this leads to praise: “Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe! Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow!”

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Katherine Timpf, of National Review, reports that Bloomington, Indiana  is changing the name of Columbus Day and Good Friday in order to “better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace.” You can read the entire article here, but these two paragraphs sum it up well:

As cute as all of that sounds, I really have a hard time seeing how renaming Good Friday in particular amounts to valuing “diversity” or “cultural sensitivity.” In fact, it almost seems like the opposite. Good Friday is an important holiday in the Christian churches, and “Good Friday” is what those churches have chosen to call it. What’s the issue? After all, it’s not like it’s called “All People Except Christians Are Bad Friday.” Suggesting that the name of a Holy Day is some kind of dirty phrase that needs changing is anything but sensitive, and a true celebration of diversity would be allowing a religion to keep the words it uses to describe its own celebrations — even if that religion is different from yours.

Calling Good Friday “Good Friday” isn’t forcing anyone to change his or her beliefs. It’s not offensive or controversial; it’s just calling something what it’s called. The fact is, people have the Friday before Easter off because it is a religious holiday for Christians — and no matter what you name it in city memos, that will still be true. Calling Good Friday “Spring Holiday” isn’t being sensitive . . . it’s being inaccurate.

And if you don’t celebrate it, then so what? You’re still getting paid time off on a Friday – and believe it or not, there are much tougher things out there that you could have to deal with.

Melissa Kruger has some wise words for women (which also apply to men) in her article “Sisters, Jesus Is Not Your Cheerleader.”

Kevin DeYoung makes the case for Christian magnanimity here, using the recent Mike Pence experience at the Broadway play called “Hamilton.”

John Tierney, from City Journal, explains who’s really at war with science. Here’s a spoiler: it isn’t the Right. “The Real War on Science” can be read here. It’s a long read, but worth it.

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On the recommendation of James White (of Alpha and Omega Ministries), I’m going to start re-reading the Francis Schaeffer trilogy. The God Who is There and Escape from Reason were published in 1968, while He Is There and He Is Not Silent came along four years later in 1972. Although Schaeffer wrote these books nearly fifty years ago, the ideas he presented help explain where we are today as a culture.

Our society is coming apart at the seams very quickly. The police-involved deaths, along with the assassination of five police officers (not to mention the reactions), brought it to our attention this last week. None of us could have imagined how much things have changed in the last ten years. Calls for unity (“Can’t we all just get along!”) have very little chance of being answered for one simple reason – we no longer share the same worldview. Almost all Americans, until now, have shared the Judeo-Christian worldview, even if they weren’t believers in Christ. That’s no longer true. Schaefer explains why in his trilogy.

I read these books in 1981 or 1982 when I was a very new Christian and found them fascinating. They should be nothing less this time around. White also suggested reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell to further understand the times we live in.

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For the last several years, I’ve been making a simple plea: make a commitment to read through the Bible this coming year. All of it, from cover to cover, even the book of Leviticus.

Here are two links that will be helpful in reaching that goal, as well as providing reasons for doing it.

  1. Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition
  2. Nathan Bingham at Ligonier Ministries

I prefer the chronological plan, which orders all of the readings in the order in which they took place historically. For example, at one point during your reading of Genesis, you’ll read the book of Job (because the best evidence available points to Job existing during the time of the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). My wife and I used this plan as we read through the Scriptures together this year. e,m

A number of Bible apps have reading plans built into them. If you have one of them, make use of it!


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Here’s a good resolution to make for the new year: read through the Bible!

You should do it for the following eight reasons (even though there are many more!):

  1. You’ll avoid falling into the trap of only reading your favorite passages. You need  all of the Bible, not just bits here and there. “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
  2. You need to understand the whole picture of the Bible, thus enabling you to better understand the parts. “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose (or counsel) of God” (Acts 20:27).
  3. You can never outgrow the Bible. “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word” (Ps 119:15-16).
  4. You’ll be better able to interpret Scripture. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
  5. You will develop a habit of being in the Word, and getting the Word into you.
  6. You’ll be spiritually nourished. Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4).
  7. You’ll be better equipped to minister to others – to strengthen and encourage them. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).
  8. You’ll glorify God (the best reason)!

How can you do it? Here are two links that will give a number of different plans. Pick the one that suits you and start on January 1st!

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(This is the third of three posts on How To Read the Bible.)

In this short series, we’ve looked at how to read the Bible superficially and how to read it for familiarity, based loosely on Mortimer Adler’s book called How To Read A Book. There are different ways to read a book and there are different ways to read the Bible – the Book of books.

Reading the Bible for mastery is precisely what it sounds like – reading in order to master its contents. When we master a subject (whether it be Civil War history, another language, gardening, sports trivia, computer code, or Lithuanian literature), we know it. We know it well and we’re able to share that knowledge with others.

When we make it our aim to know the Bible, or at least one of the books of the Bible, like that, we’ve mastered it. We know it well and can share it with others. This is the most intense level of the three. Reading the Bible in order to master it is more difficult and time-consuming than reading it for superficiality or familiarity. Reading the Bible for mastery is reading with a laser beam, not with high-beams.

There are two keys to mastering the Bible – reading repetitively and reading carefully.

In order to master the Bible, we have to read it. Then read it again. And again. And again. Repeatedly read the Bible, in other words. One of the best ways to put this into practice is to read one book of the Bible over and over again. James Gray recommends reading a particular book of the Bible – in one sitting – until you’ve mastered it. John Mac Arthur has modified Gray’s method by saying that a book of the Bible should be read every day for thirty days. John Mitchell, founder of Multnomah University, recommended reading a book straight through fifty times in order to master it. If you have a case of “sticker shock,” it’s understandable, but the book of First Peter can be read through in no more than twenty minutes (it’s only five chapters long). Reading the same book over and over again gives you a familiarity, and ultimately mastery, that you won’t get if you read it in small sections or single verses at a time.

The first step to implementing this is to choose a book that lends itself to being read in a single sitting. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First John, Ruth, Jonah, First Thessalonians, or Galatians. Longer books can read in the same way, either in one sitting (the Gospel of John takes approximately 90 minutes to read), or broken up into smaller chunks (John 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-21 for example). The second step is simple – read it over and over again. Read it repeatedly.

In order to master the Bible, we have to read it carefully. When you read the Bible, pay careful attention to it. This might involve taking notes and writing out your reflections, thoughts, and questions. You might make an outline of the book you’re reading and studying. Look for the purpose of the book and then it’s structure. Find the flow of thought and logical argument of the book. Ask questions such as who wrote it, to whom was it written, and what were the circumstances of the writing? What does the book teach about God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, man, salvation, the church, or the end times. Make sure to  think about how you can apply what you’re studying, too.

If you read repetitively and carefully, you’ll master the contents of the Bible.

There are two things we need to remember: we can master the contents of the Bible, but the ultimate goal is for the Bible to master us; and the point isn’t to become a Bible trivia expert, but rather to know the true and the living God.

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Taking a page out of Mortimer Adler’s book How To Read A Book, I’d like to take a few blog posts to explain how to read the Bible. These are meant to be general thoughts, not exhaustive; good ideas, not iron-clad rules. Hopefully, they will help you in your reading of God’s Word, the Book of books.

The first way to read any text or document, including the Bible, is superficially. Reading in this way means that we look through the contents in order to get an overall view or flavor. It’s a bird’s-eye view, if you will. The point of superficial reading is not to read every single word, but to get the basic idea and format.

How it’s done:

  • Read the Table of Contents.
  • Thumb through the individual books, looking to see the number of chapters and divisions.
  • Look for the different literary genres.
  • If your Bible has short introductions for each book, read them.
  • Take a good look at the maps in the back of your Bible.
  • Read some selected passages, like Genesis 1, Genesis 3, Exodus 20, Psalm 1, Isaiah 53, John 3, Romans 8, Revelation 21-22.

Even though I’ve called this type of Bible reading “superficial,” I’m convinced that most people have never done any of the things I listed. (I find it especially galling that skeptics of the Bible-and who will quote it repeatedly-don’t even have a superficial knowledge of it in most cases.) If you have a superficial knowledge of the Bible (which I think everyone should), your level of knowledge will be greater than most people.

Having a superficial knowledge of the Bible is a good thing. But it’s a starting point, not a destination. The two other levels of reading depend upon it.

As St. Augustine heard in his garden so many years ago, “Tolle Lege!” Take up and read!

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