Bible Posts

Bible Reading Plan

Bible Reading Plan

Are you one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions each January? If so, you might have considered attempting to read the Bible more strategically this year. For most people that try it, it’s hard to know where to begin and how to tackle it. People usually just pick a plan and then dive in. Depending on which plan you choose, you may get bogged down in some Old Testament section or fall behind in your reading. Either way, you often end up giving up altogether. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been there before. (I see those hands).

I’ve tried tons of different reading plans over the years (and even finished some of them!). Here’s a key lesson I’ve discovered: developing a habit of studying the Bible is more important than completing it in a set amount of time.

I’ve enjoyed different aspects of different plans over the years. Some were more intensive than others. For the first time, I’m offering you a plan I’ve created myself. It’s a variation on one of my favorite plans I’ve done in the past (see: Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System). I love the premise of his plan but it requires reading ten chapters a day. That’s a lot. So I’ve created a modified version that does five chapters a day using his as a starting point.

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Easter Reflections

Easter Reflections

I’ve always been a fan of words. The right words communicate subtle nuances in addition to the obvious message. But we can also arrive at misunderstandings through words as well. Consider a popular expression which Christians use at Easter (you’ll likely hear it this weekend if you attend a church service): “He is risen.” To which the reply is, “He is risen indeed.”

It’s worth noting the language the New Testament writers used when describing the resurrection. They often describe how Jesus was raised to life. Depending on the context, it might read as “be raised,” (Mt. 16:21, 20:19; Lk. 9:22, 24:7) “was raised,” (Jn. 2:22, 21:14)  “been raised” (Mt 17:9, 27:64), or specifically that “God raised” (Acts 2:24, 2:32, 3:15, 3:26, 4:10, 5:30, 10:40, 13:30, 13:34, 13:37). Those are just the examples through the book of Acts.

The point is that Jesus didn’t do it Himself. We might imagine Jesus naturally rising from the dead on His own timing and power. Like it was the inevitable reaction to His dead body lying there for three days. “Oh look, He is risen!” Yet that’s not how the text reads. The Father raised Him to life through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s actually a beautiful picture of the Trinity. Consider a couple of passages that highlight this aspect:

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Does God Exist Outside of Time?

Does God Exist Outside of Time?

“Yes!” If that’s your default answer to the title of this post, you’re not alone. In fact, I would have even answered this way until just recently. A handful of years ago I was exposed to the open view of God and the idea that parts of the future could be open to possibilities (see: God of the Possible). Therefore, those parts of the future were also open to change and to the effects of our free will. Obviously, not everyone is comfortable with this view of God’s foreknowledge as it appears at first glance that He’s lacking something. Yet we also have to acknowledge that Biblically, as with stories of people like King Hezekiah, God sometimes changes His mind and what He intended to happen (see: 2 Kings 20:1-6). That doesn’t fit well with the typical Christian’s theology.

Now there are a number of ways I can explain how the open view of God makes the most sense to me. Yet I always did that with a shared assumption that God existed outside of time. I’ll admit this makes it trickier to understand how God’s created timeline could somehow be clouded or open to Him. What I hadn’t considered until just recently was that this very assumption is worth challenging.

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Bells Rung Simultaneously

Hebrew ThoughtI’ve been reading through a book called Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. Not likely to become a best-seller anytime soon but this book is loaded with interesting perspective. This is particularly interesting for a Christian since the Old Testament is written in Hebrew and the New Testament is written in Greek. One of the passages that stood out to me comes from John 1. The first three verses begin by explaining Jesus.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

In the Hebrew thought “word” is “deed.” As the book unpacks it: “‘Word’ and ‘deed’ are thus not two different meanings… but the ‘deed’ is the consequence of the basic meaning…”

In the Greek thought “word” is “meaning.” As the book unpacks it: “The deepest level of meaning in the term ‘word’ is thus nothing which has to do with the function of speaking… but the meaning, the ordered and reasonable content.”

If we consider both the Hebrew and Greek understanding of this idea we find that Jesus is literally the deed of God and the ultimate meaning of God’s intent. Words have meaning, and this one especially so. This word shows us God Himself. I love that it doesn’t matter what language or culture you pick between the two. Both expressions show us that in Jesus we see the fullness of God.

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The Spirituality of Wine

The Spirituality of Wine

Recently I read through Gisela H. Kreglinger’s book, The Spirituality of Wine. I was already familiar with most of what the Bible says about alcohol (I include a discussion of alcohol in chapter five of my book Redeeming Pleasure). Yet this book explored more nuanced aspects of it that I enjoyed (such as the quote below about Noah). She does a great job connecting wine with aspects of the Christian faith as well as offering ways to enjoy it from a healthy, balanced perspective. In Christian circles alcohol quickly becomes a divisive subject, yet this book approaches it from an objective and cautious perspective.

Here are some of my favorite quotes about how wine connects us to Jesus:

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The Irony of Evil

The Irony of Evil

If you’re anything like me, you quickly get overwhelmed and even physically exhausted by story after story of evil happening in our world today. Previous generations lived without knowing the extent of evil worldwide while today our social media feed brings every encounter to our doorstep. It’s too much. Michelle and I talk about this often because we have enough examples of evil just through the people directly connected with us in life and what happens to them. Let alone the evil done across the globe.

It’s easy to lose sight of the goodness of Jesus in the midst of this. It’s even easy to doubt God’s sovereignty, although we rarely give words to those thoughts. Instead, we wonder why God continues to allow stuff like that. I read through Psalm chapter seven this week and found encouragement in the way King David addresses evil.

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