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A Tremendous Love Hate Relationship with Reading

You’re doing it now! Perhaps because you saw a link in Twitter or on the WordPress Dashboard, Facebook or maybe you’re a subscriber to this blog. But you’re doing it. You’re reading.

If you keep reading this post, I’m going to give a list of good reasons to come back and read other posts, articles, books, magazines and all. Not all of them will be on this website. Some you will be able to find out here, others will be recommended from someone else.

Is it fair to say, if you’ve read this far that you agree reading is a good thing to do? Whether for learning, leisure or lets see, what’s another “L” word … I don’t know, locating, something? I can still remember what Charles “Tremendous” Jones said when speaking in my College Chapel service in 1990, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for two things: the people you met and the books you read.” Reading books will influence the way you think and the way you live. Not all books are good books, but they will all influence you somehow.

Tim Challies recently posted a list of 4 reasons why Christian men need to be readers. Here are a few excerpts.

Read to Know
There are many people who are intimidated by reading theological works. However, we are well-served with entry-level and mid-range books. It doesn’t matter who you are, there is a book written at your level. One of the problems with allowing ourselves to be intimidated away from difficult books, books that are just a bit beyond us, is that we can begin to believe we’ve got God pretty much figured out. 

If you do not read, you deny yourself a great way to learn who God is and how he acts in this world. There is no study more satisfying and more enlarging than this.

Read to Grow
There are three kinds of growth I want to point you toward: Growth in areas of weakness, in areas of strength, and in areas of responsibility.

If you don’t know where you are weak, read a book on humility. Whatever your weakness, there is almost definitely a book that answers it specifically and well.

… push yourself to grow beyond the basic principles and move to advanced works.

Wherever your responsibilities are, find books that will allow you to fulfill them with greater skill and greater understanding of biblical principles.

Tip: Biographies can be very helpful in each of these areas. A biography of a great leader will allow you to be a better leader; a biography of a great leader who was a terrible father will teach you how to avoid succeeding in one area but failing in another.

Read to Lead
The unavoidable fact is that your convictions determine where you lead and how you lead. You will not lead opposite to your convictions and you won’t lead better than your convictions. Therefore, you need to continually define, develop and refine those convictions. Mohler says “When you find a leader, you have found a reader. The reason for this is simple—there is no substitute for effective reading when it comes to developing and maintaining the intelligence necessary to lead.”

Read to Love
While we tend to consider reading as a personal pursuit, it can also be a means of loving others. Here are three ways to love others by being a reader.

Read to understand. I have already said that we should read in order to know the Lord better, to grow in personal development, and to be a better leader. This kind of reading does not benefit you alone, but also those around you. That is all important, but there is a second kind of understanding I want to direct you to—understanding other people.

Read to recommend. You can love others by recommending books that will help them in their circumstances. This may involve reading books that will apply more to others than to yourself. Reading widely allows you to help people in very directed ways.

Read toward discipling. Even better than reading books for people is reading books with people. When you read books with others, you can let the author be the “Paul” and you and the people you read with can be “Timothys.” I learned to do this from men who took the time to read good books with me.

Conclusion
Reading is a pleasure worth learning to love and pursue, even if it requires some effort at first. However, whether it is pleasure or pain, commit yourself to read to know, read to grow, read to lead and read to love.

Still with me? Where do you start? One place could be the full Challies article above. Do an Amazon search on some of the books he mentioned. Pick one, buy it or borrow it and read it! Alternatively, you might like to read a bit more about reading itself. Check out a book called, “Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books” by Tony Reinke. It will help you think about how to read in a way that will meet the goals Challies listed as well as enable you to be more discerning in what you read to maximise your pleasure and benefit in so doing.

Whether you love it, hate it or hate loving it or love to hate it, you’ll be the same person in five years that you are today…

 
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Posted by on 05/03/2013 in Blokes, Books

 

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Praying for Sydney Mardi Gras

One of the most polarizing events in Sydney’s cultural calendar is the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. What started as a political advocacy and protest march has grown into a major Australian tourism extravaganza. It regularly attracts international celebrity and acclaim. Locally it’s a popularly promoted festival and gives rise to various protests and campaigns in reaction and response from the more conservative, usually Christian, members of the Sydney community (although not exclusively these days), who are concerned about the tone, message and lifestyle mardi gras promotes.

I wonder though, how Jesus, friend of sinners, would react and respond to the occasion. I don’t see any precedents in the New Testament that indicate he would be a red-faced, screaming, placard holding protester. Neither, do I see the Son of God off his face at the after party having popped a few of whatever may be the latest party drug or stimulant. I suspect his action would be one of grace, love, compassion and service.

Local Sydney Pastor, (among other things), John Dickson, penned this prayer. I think Jesus would be the one who would model how this prayer is answered and lived out to the glory of God.

For my friends, who are at Mardi Gras tonight, and, well, if you read this at all, are probably doing so late Sunday afternoon or Monday at the earliest, hear the words of this prayer as my prayer for you AND me.

A PRAYER FOR THE NIGHT OF MARDI GRAS – by John Dickson

Dear Lord,
God of the righteous and the wicked,
Have mercy on your people, the church,
for their wickedness:
for allowing biblical convictions about love and sex
to justify unbiblical words and actions
toward men and women made in your image.

As it rains on tonight’s parade,
may this speak not of your judgment
but of your promise to cleanse and forgive
all who turn to you for grace.

And teach our nation,
especially your church,
to follow Jesus, the Friend of Sinners,
that we would learn how to care deeply
for those with whom we profoundly disagree;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

 
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Posted by on 02/03/2013 in church, Culture, Gospel, Jesus, Prayer

 

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Out of the mouth of babes

Psalm 8:2, (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21:16) says

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. ~ (King James Version)

The other day I had a conversation with some Youth Leaders about how much Bible content kids should know after 6 or 7 years of weekly Sunday School lessons. I jokingly said that my 6yro daughter would know more than most 12yro. Now, this was partly a joke and partly a little fatherly boast. However, last night, my daughter surprised me with an acrostic poem she wrote for a school project. It is a Christmas project and she has been a bit nervous about writing the poem as she struggled, at first, with the concept of an acrostic. So we talked about that and I gave a simple example using “Mum” as the inspiration:

Marvellous
Understanding
Mum

Thinking she would do something similar with “Christmas”, i.e. one word per line. I left it at that. This is what she came up with. I’ve typed it out so you can read it as the colours in the photo don’t show up too well. I haven’t modified the content (just spelling for legibility). It’s all her own work. There was no coaching or consultation. This is just the product of her processing what she has heard from us as parents and her Sunday School teachers and School teachers. Which is interesting, particularly on the subject of hell. As, at the risk of incurring the wrath of my fellow Sydney Evangelical tribesmen, this isn’t something we’ve spent much, if any, time on in our discussions with her about spiritual things. Anyway, that discussion for another time. Here’s the acrostic. What would your kids write?

Christmas is the time of year that Jesus has his birthday
He has lots of celebrations, like Christmas, Easter and when he was born
Right around the world, people don’t know about Jesus or God
I believe in God and Jesus and you. Most of the people in Australia love God and Jesus now and then
So if you love Jesus and God and trust God you will be a Christian and you will go to heaven and have all again another life and you don’t you will go to hell
Trust God, love God and if you do, you are a Christian
Merry, merry Christmas to all of you
A Christmas is a birthday party for Jesus
Say a prayer before dinner and breakfast.

 
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Posted by on 26/10/2012 in church, Culture, discipleship, Family

 

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What is the gospel?

It’s good news and if you have just 4 minutes, this video will tell you exactly what it is.

HT: St Ebbe’s

 
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Posted by on 27/09/2012 in Evangelism, Gospel, Jesus

 

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Benefits of Leviticus

I am about to end a 7 week study of the first 7 chapters of the Old Testament book Leviticus. This section of the book deals with the sacrificial system of worship used in Israel from 1446BC when they left Egypt up to about AD70 when the last temple was destroyed.

This book has been ridiculed and attacked because of the strong indictments it makes against purification and ceremonial behaviours that Israel was to abstain from. These seem too harsh for the post modern sensitive eclectic spiritualists and anti-theists. Many Christians have shied away from the book instead of engaging it head on to deal with the counter cultural precepts it has.

My 7 week study didn’t get to the controversial personal purity laws – that comes later on, maybe next year ;) Instead, I focused on the ritual sacrifice ceremonies introduced at the beginning and sought to understand how these fit into the overall story of the Bible and, what, if any, instruction or relevance they have for anyone today.

Why not teach something easier or a little more directly applicable to a modern hearer? Why not emphasise Bible stories or passages that have universal appeal on matters of peace, harmony and personal fulfilment? To answer that, a few months ago, before starting the series, I jotted down a few of the benefits of studying Leviticus. Some of these apply to any book of the Bible and some are specific to Leviticus.

1. All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable. Full stop. Period. c.f. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If the reliability and authority of the Bible is impugned by Leviticus than the rest of it is worth kindling. So, it is a worthwhile exercise to wrestle with this book, in an honest way, to understand it through historical and grammatical interpretation to find the original authorial intent and the original audience expectation (as much as may be possible with available internal and external evidentiary sources, references and support).

2. Psalm 119:130The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” i.e. through the reading and study of one part of the Bible we will improve and increase our understanding of other parts of the Bible. Instead of quoting one or two selective verses from the book of Leviticus and making a biased criticism about how it is out of date, irrelevant, oppressive, sexist, discriminatory and contradictory, why not read all of it and see how it integrates with the rest of the Bible and perhaps resolves some of those concerns about the way some controversial topics are handled.

3. Leviticus provides an example of liturgy and right worship (by ‘right’, I mean both worshipping rightly and worshipping the right object). Leviticus shows that worship includes fear, confession of sin, death of a substitute in the place of the sinner, rescue and redemption of the sinner, praise and thanksgiving.

4. Leviticus reinforces the covenantal patterns of how God relates to his creation. In the process of creation, destruction and recreation we have vivid instruction that leads to a fuller understanding of life, death, resurrection and glorification.

5. Leviticus fills out our understanding of many of the theological terms used in the New Testament. e.g. sacrifice, atonement, forgiveness, sin, guilt, offering, peace, priest, purification, holy, unholy etc.

6. In contrast to Israel who approached their worship with trepidation, we enter God’s presence boldly through Jesus who has perfectly completed all the types, symbols and ceremonies of the Law. He is our righteousness, peace, sanctification, sacrifice, atonement, heavenly bread, high priest, scapegoat and retribution for our sin.

7. Leviticus points us to Jesus as the ceremonies and rituals anticipate one who is greater that will forever satisfy the justice and share the mercy of God.

What other benefits have you enjoyed from studying the book of Leviticus?

 
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Posted by on 05/09/2012 in Bible, Hermenutics, Jesus, Preaching, Theology

 

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AG:

 

This article, originally by J. C. Ryle, is an excellent and practical approach to reading the Bible.

 

Originally posted on The J.C. Ryle Archive:

1.Begin reading your Bible this very day. The way to do a thing is to do it; and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it! It is not merely meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it , which will advance you one step. You must positively read. There is no royal road in this matter, any more than in the matter of prayer. If you cannot read yourself, you must persuade somebody else to read it to you. But one way or another, through eyes or ears, the words of Scripture must actually pass before your mind.

2.Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it. Do not think for a moment, that the great object is to turn over a certain quantity of printed paper, and that it matters nothing whether you understand it or not. Some ignorant…

View original 806 more words

 
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Posted by on 12/08/2012 in General

 

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Because he built it, he will fill it

Is the world around us a mistake or an accident? If God made the world and everything in it, did Adam and Eve somehow upset everything and cause God to revert to “Plan B”?

The kingdom of God on earth started in Eden with the days of creation in Genesis 1. God sets the universe in motion and provides a template of forming and filling used during the entire Bible story.

The first stage of the 7 day pattern relates to new life. It starts with God speaking and his Word gives life. The way we receive faith and start our spiritual life is through God’s Word. (Rom 10:17, 1 Pet 1:23)

The seven day creation consists of 3 days of forming parallel to 3 days of filling*. In the same way you would build shelves in your house. First you erect the frame and then you fill the shelves with your belongings. The belongings don’t replace the shelves, they fill them. The New Testament did not replace the Old Testament, it filled it. (Matt 5:17-19, Heb 3:1-6)

The final day of Creation is a day of Rest, it anticipates our future and the rest that God desires to give us. (Matt 11:28-30, Heb 4:9-11)

Forming (by dividing)

Day 1 – Light & Dark

Day 2 – Firmament – Divided Waters (Sky & Sea)

Day 3 – Land & Sea, Grain & Fruit plants

Filling (with multitudes)

Day 4 – Sun, Moon & Stars

Day 5 – Swarms of Birds & Fish

Day 6 – Land Animals & Man

Future

Day 7 – Stop, Rest, Hallow & Enjoy

Note:
(*Bull, Bible Matrix, pp.46-47)

 
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Posted by on 10/04/2012 in Bible, Hermenutics

 

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