Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category
I’d like to:
- read the New Testament in a year
- take more time over each chapter
- use weekends as catch-up points
- involve friends who have never read the bible
- Use facebook to discuss and post thoughts
Therefore, I’m going to give this bible-reading plan a try. It’s called Project 345, has a number of different ways to customise how you get the text (email/phone/rss feed etc/time of day etc…). The blurb follows:
Project 3:45 is a simple, effective way to read the entire New Testament in one year. The plan involves reading one chapter per day five days a week and uses the weekends to catch up if you missed any days. The plan was named for the average of the three minutes and forty five seconds that it takes to read one New Testament chapter (obviously this time will vary due to individual reading rates, chapter lengths, and etc., but you get the point). It’s never too late, start today!
The above plan will be suited to busy people, especially if you use a smartphone or email a lot during the day. It doesn’t come with notes, so I’d still recommend using A study bible like the excellent ESV study bible which I’ve been banging on about for the last two years, or a commentary or other daily notes.
If you’re interested in joining me in this read-through, please send me an email to email@example.com, or, if you are already connected to me on facebook, message me via my facebook page (www.facebook.com/gregdeblieck) I’ll be posting up my thoughts as a way to encourage a bit of friendly and honest discussion. It will be hopefully more informal than the blog format.
My main aim is to encourage as many people as possible to read as much scripture as possible, so please do give it some thought for yourself in the next day or two.
Other things I’m thinking about too:
I’d also like to have a little extra time to develop my praying, because this is something I’ve felt I really struggle with. I bought a fantastic book called The Valley Of Vision which contains a lot of really rich puritan prayers, I’m going to try to work through that on a daily basis.
A few years ago I tried to learn 52 different “memory verses”, and got about 2/3 of the way through. It was hugely valuable to focus my restless attention on some of the deepest truths of scripture, and I’d like to start that process once again (same verses, but I hope to finish it this time!) It involves reading the verses out loud 10 times, then trying to repeat them 10 times until you can do it without a prompt. Hopefully the shorter daily readings will allow me enough time to accomplish this too.
Thanks so much to everyone who has contributed to the B2Y blog over the last 2 years, and I pray that 2012 will provide many fresh opportunities for you to discover the glories of God in scripture. Along with Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, I pray…
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Of Nahum we know nothing more than is contained in his three chapters, which are entirely focused on the certain destruction which Nineveh and the whole Assyrian empire will suffer because of their cruelty, rapacity and wickedness. Whereas other prophets had stressed Israel’s comparable sins or even regarded Assyria’s oppression as God instrument of punishment, there is nothing of that here. We may presume that he spoke these words of comfort (this is the root meaning of his name) to his fellow-countrymen when Assyria was trampling over everyone and seemed invincible. The message we can take from his graphic celebration of Assyria’s downfall is the assurance that God will ultimately put an end to injustice and oppression, though His timescale will often stretch human patience.
This impatience is in evidence right at the start of the eighth prophet, Habakkuk: “How long, O Lord, shall I cry, and You will not hear. I cry out to You of violence, and You will not save.” There follows a description of the advancing Babylonians (called Chaldeans) and the terrible destruction they left in their wake. Habakkuk takes his stand on his watchtower in the hope of receiving an answer. But God gives him a vision, which he is told will be fulfilled in God’s own good time. Retribution will indeed come, but not in accordance with our time-scale. “The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him”. This verse introduces Chapter 3, which is a poetic description of the appearance of the Lord God in majesty, reminiscent of Psalm 104. The Lord God will come to punish iniquity (vv 13-14) and deliver His people. The devastation of warfare, even when it results in the overthrow of the enemy, can be hugely damaging, but in two magnificent verses the prophet voices his confidence that God will bring us through. These verses (c 3 vv 17-18) have been taken up into our hymn book in Cowper’s lines: “Though vine nor fig tree neither Their wonted fruit should bear, Though all the fields be withered, Nor flock nor herd be there, Yet, God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice, For, still in God confiding, I cannot but rejoice.” The Christian’s hope, of course, extends beyond this life, but Habakkuk’s confidence reminds us that we are no less under God’s protection here and now.
A little earlier in date than Nahum and Habakkuk, Zephaniah, like them, proclaims the destruction of all those whose immoral conduct is incompatible with the sovereignty of God’s holiness: “All those who are settled on their lees, that say in their heart: the Lord will not do any good, neither will He do evil” (c 1 v 12). This includes Assyria, Moab, the Philistines, even Ethiopians (c 2), but also Jerusalem, whose princes, judges, prophets and priests have profaned what is holy and done violence to the law (c 2 vv 3-4). But a faithful remnant will return from all the lands to which they have been scattered and they and all nations will acknowledge God’s sovereignty: “I will make you to be a name and a praise among all the peoples of the earth” (c 3 v 20).
Malcolm Green has been especially supportive over the last two years with his contributions to the B2Y blog, and has helped me out once again (thanks Malcolm!) with the following overviews of the 12 “minor” prophets. I will schedule the remaining 6 for the coming month.
It’s easy to lose perspective when reading the prophets one chapter a day, so I strongly recommend using this post to refresh your memory for what you’ve (hopefully) just finished reading…
The Twelve Prophets that conclude our Old Testament scripture are regarded as one book in Jewish tradition. They had come to be regarded as a single volume during the centuries that followed the downfall of the Babylonian empire and the return of leading Jews to rebuild the Temple and re-establish its worship.
These twelve prophets (sometimes called Minor Prophets in Christian tradition, by contrast with Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, whose collected prophecies are much longer) span a time-scale of some four hundred years, from the reigns of Jeroboam II in Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Uzziah in Judah (the Southern kingdom) in the eighth century to the Persian period in the fourth.
The series begins with Hosea, (more…)
How is your reading going? Is the train wobbling on the tracks yet? I’ve been reading Isaiah, and Carson’s notes and realising that there are some books and passages in the bible that require a different level of concentration, and a different level of academic discipline and awareness. Sometimes I just don’t have the time (or more likely, the inclination) to understand the specifics of his prophecies. It becomes a bit of a homogenous mush in my memory, shortly after reading it. Sorry Isaiah!
I’m reading a book just now called “How To Read A Book” by Mortimer J. Adler. It’s one of many that I’m dipping into on my Kindle. It’s helping me to think about the discipline of engaged reading. He identifies four different levels of reading:
Elementary (recognising the words without thinking about them)
Inspectional (systematic skim-reading to get the gist)
Analytical Reading (“asking many, and organised questions” of what you are reading).
The fourth level he calls Syntopical or Comparative Reading. This level requires the reader to read not just one book but many, placing them “in relation to one another and to a subject about which they all revolve…the syntopical reader is able to construct an analysis of the subject that may not be in any of the books.”
Time constraints, mental disposition, priorities and environment are some of the variable factors we bring to our reading. Sometimes we are simply unable to get anything beyond an elementary reading of a passage because our head is not in the right place, or the passage is simply too complex for us. Our aim is to have at least an Inspectional approach to our reading. If we are skimming through it to gain the main points, we are still engaging with the text to a degree, and it will yield some benefit. But the truth is that we benefit most when we attempt Analytical reading (Syntopical reading is a highly advanced and academic pursuit, and advisable only once we have learned the discipline of Analytical reading.)
Adler describes valuable reading as not a passive activity, but an active discipline: it is “aided discovery”, not just reading for entertainment. To learn, we must think, we must use our imaginations, ask questions. This requires practice. Reading the bible daily challenges us to develop ourselves as readers, it challenges our capacity to learn. And it is the most valuable of teachers.
But in all this, it is important to remember that Bible reading is not just an intellectual exercise (though it is hardly less than this). When we engage with any other text, we grapple with the thoughts and ideas of an author and teacher who is not present with us. But with Scripture, the author is present with us, ready to hear our prayers, and help us to understand. The aim of scripture is that we learn, through reading it, to look beyond it and know its glorious Author.
So if you’re struggling, get the book out again. Try again, don’t give up. It won’t stay difficult forever: just persevere.