Things You Might Not Have Read Yet, but Probably Should…

One of my goals on this blog is to help direct you to helpful content that I find on other’s people’s blog or scrolling through Twitter feeds.  There is so much content available on the web today, especially in the “Pseudo-Christian/Church Market”.  Quite honestly, much of what I see people sharing on their Facebook or Twitter feeds concerns me. When I see pastors and Christians sharing mostly content about supporting their particular presidential candidate or tabloid fake news stories, while sharing very little about walking in Christ, sound theology, or advancing the gospel, it saddens me.  So, here are some articles I have read this week that might be of interest or help to you:

  1. Evangelicals should be deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s attempt to mainstream heresy by Michael Horton – 2016 saw the most contentious election in my lifetime.  It also exposed that there are some very troubling and deep-seeded currents running through contemporary evangelicalism.  For a long time, I have heard some who have warned that one of the most troubling traits lacking among contemporary evangelical believers is a spirit of biblical discernment.  In no place is this more evident than by the proliferation of prosperity gospel peddlers.  Horton does a great job of exposing the history and the danger of some of President-elect Trump’s “evangelical” inner circle.
  2. Don’t Make Resolutions, Make Commitments by Paul Tripp – The new year always brings about a slew of “resolutions” to lose weight, eat better, read the Bible more, etc.  Many of these are good things.  In this article, Paul Tripp gives seven very practical and gospel-centric commitments that all believers in Christ need to incorporate into their daily spiritual lives.
  3. One Sentence that Pastors and Church Staff Hate to Hear by Thom Rainer – The world of church leadership and ministry is a world where nobody really has any idea of the stresses and challenges until you work in it.  Thom Rainer has done so for many years and does a great job speaking about issues that most pastors and church staff members want to say but often cannot.
  4. 5 Reasons You Should (Probably) Leave Your Attractional Church by Jared Wilson – Wilson has quickly become one of my favorite writers and bloggers.  He not only understands the gospel clearly.  He also understands the dangerous trends in the church to forsake the gospel for trends and methods that play well to draw a crowd, but really don’t develop biblical disciples.  “Atractional” churches have been “growing” for some time and get a lot of publicity.  But, in some cases (not all), the foundations they are built upon really don’t produce long-term gospel fruit.  Wilson’s article should give anyone attending an attractional church something to think about and evaluate.

Just Read the Bible

Just Read the Bible

It’s the first day of 2017!  I always love turning the page to a new year because it offers so much promise and potential.  It’s an opportunity to get a fresh start and measure your progress in tangible ways.  Sometimes we get so tied up into keeping “resolutions” that we forget that God is more interested in this moment in our progress than our perfection.  The gospel declares to God’s children that we have already been given the righteousness of Christ by our faith in Him.  So, that means that we have already been perfected in God’s ledger book.  Now, the process of Christian growth means becoming more in practice what you already are positionally before God.

This is why I think sometimes it’s more beneficial to think of setting goals for the new year than resolutions.  For some people, the traditional approach to “resolutions” sets them up for failure and disappointment.  But, if we just think about setting a few tangible goals that will make us healthier physically, spiritually, and emotionally, that might be a more achievable process.  Make the goals clear, measurable, and realistic.  For instance, instead of saying “I am going to the gym more this year”, say, “I will spend 30 minutes of the day at the gym at least 3 times a week”, and then put it on your calendar.

One of those new year commitments that all of us could benefit from is to spend more time with God.  But, to make it a clear goal, let’s commit to reading an achievable Bible reading plan and supplementing it with a healthy, gospel-centered devotion.   I would highly recommend Bible.com (also known as “YouVersion”) and the accompanying apps for your smartphone or tablet.  They are loaded with Bible reading plans you can browse through.  My preference is to pick a plan and read it with my actual hard print Bible and then track my progress with the app.  This allows me to spend time actually looking at the page and the Bible in print, highlight important passages, and write in the margin.  But, you can read on the electronic device and do some of these things as well.

What type of plan should you use?  Well, that’s really up to you.  Here are a few that I would recommend.

  1. Reading God’s Story: One Year Chronological Plan – This has been a favorite I have recommended to people who want to read the Bible in a different way.  It is organized chronologically, or as the stories unfolded according to the biblical timeline. This plan gives you readings for six days a week and then you can catch up on the seventh or go back and read something again.
  2. Life Journal Reading Plan – This plan was developed by Wayne Cordeiro and is designed to help you read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in a year.  It has Bible readings for each day.
  3. Discipleship Journal’s 5x5x5 Plan – This is a great plan for beginners.  It’s designed to get you to read a chapter a day and get a good overview of the Bible.  It’s 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, with 5 ways to dig deeper into the Bible.

There are hundreds of other plans that are available.  Just find a plan that works and start!  As you do, remember two things:

  • First, the goal of a Bible reading plan is consistency, not completion.  Most of the time, most people get off base within a few days or a couple of weeks.  That’s ok.  Remember that the gospel declares that Christ has already secured righteousness for you himself.  God is not measuring your performance.  He’s measuring your heart.  Don’t get so caught up in checking off a box that you don’t take time to allow God’s word to check your heart.  If you get off track, just restart.  Don’t get discouraged.
  • Second, you will not succeed without intentionality.  You must do more than just want to read the Bible.  You must intentionally create margin to do so.  Whether that’s setting a new time to wake up earlier, or turning off the TV and shutting down the computer or tablet from mindless surfing.  Most likely, to be successful in a new good habit, you will probably have to give up an older, less profitable one.

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Finally, supplement your Bible reading with a good gospel-centered devotional.  This year, I am asking people at Sixth Street to read with me through Paul Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies“.  It’s the best gospel-centered daily devotional I have ever picked up.  If you have already read through that and are looking for something else, I would recommend Scotty Smith’s “Everyday Prayers” or Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest“.

So, God has given you a new year.  What are you going to do with it.  My encouragement to you is “Just Read the Bible”.  I look forward to the journey with you.

Time to Write Again

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So, I have decided that it’s time to get back to writing and the only way to get better at writing is to write.  For that reason, one of my goals for 2017 was to write consistently and to start a new blog.  For several years, I blogged random thoughts on a personal site I set up in 2007.  It started out as just a forum to post about my kids and about ministry.  But, the more I wrote, the more I felt like I wanted to write about something deeper.  Then, I got in the middle of working on my doctoral project and my excuse was, “I’m too busy doing research and writing on my project to blog.”  But, after I finished my D.Min in 2014, truth is that I never really got back into the habit of writing.  So, my other blog has remained untouched since January 2015.  Rather than trying to revitalize it, I just decided to purchase a domain name and launch a new endeavor.

Welcome to my new site!  My goal here is to write frequently here about the Bible, the gospel, and the mission of God.  I hope to write 2-3 posts per week.  Sometimes I will just post links to interesting articles I find online.  Sometimes I will review a book that I just read.  Others times I hope to tackle issues related to gospel purity and church leadership.  I hope that my thoughts and words will encourage you and edify you to be a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. I do not suppose that you will agree with everything I write all the time.  If you do, then one of us is probably not thinking critically enough.  My hope is not for full agreement, but open dialogue as together we seek to be missional disciples of Jesus to the world He has sent us into.

My theme verse for my ministry and for this blog is Colossians 1:28-29, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”  

So, join me on this journey.  If you find something that edifies or encourages you, please feel free to share it in a tweet or a Facebook post.  If you find something that you want to dialogue further about, feel free to drop me an email.  I would love to hear from you.