Bible reading for 2014 – enjoy it!

It is the time of year when once again people resolve to read the Bible more consistently – often declaring they will read the Bible in one year.

Personally I think for many people reading in one year is very hard – reading in two years is far more realistic, at least the first time you do it.

With that in mind I was delighted to see this two year reading plan on the Gospel Coalition website (which includes some very useful catch up days)- it can be downloaded as a pdf or simply printed from the link above.

Another tool you might find useful is the website howlongdoesittaketoreadthebible.com – which gives you an idea of how long, depending  upon your reading speed, it will take you to read the Bible in one year (or other time period you specify. One of the beauties of that site is the link to a test which helps you to gauge your speed of reading

There are many different plans to help you get into regular Bible reading. This page on the Gospel Coalition site has many for you select from.

My personal advice is that whatever you decide in terms of Bible reading for 2014 you need to try to be consistent and disciplined in it. Be wise in what you aim for initially as after a few weeks you can  assess your performance and choose to read more or less. Although I usually read the whole Bible in a year this year i have decided upon a change and in my daily devotional times will only be reading the New Testament at a slower pace than usual.

Finally, and very importantly, I would encourage you to enjoy your reading. Reading your Bible is not about the amount you read but about meeting with the Living God as you read. Think, question, meditate and take time to enjoy the scenery as you travel through the scriptures.

What did your heart search for in 2013?

I suppose one of the easiest ways to take a snapshot of the world we live in is by seeing what people use the internet for, and within that what they search most for. (Please note I did say easiest not most accurate.)

It is tempting to pass comment on the lists, I shall not. However, I did wonder what my top 10 list would look like – and more importantly if I could somehow reach into my mind and heart, what would the list of what I thought of most look like.

Were I a man who compiled a list of New Years resolutions (I am not), I should find such a list helpful in helping me determine the course I need to set my heart and mind for in 2014.

This is the definitive list of the top Google searches for 2013, followed by those for events and people,

 

End of year review

Regular readers of this blog will know I have posted monthly questions aimed at helping you to asses how you are performing as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let me stress this is not legalism, it is simply a way of looking in the mirror, helping you to be honest about your walk with God and with other believers.

We are now at the end of 2013 and many people will be encouraging you to examine and give thanks for the past 12 months. Additionally they will encourage you to look ahead, to set faith goals.

In order to help you I am posting (below) some comments made by Geoff Surratt about a growing disciple. My suggestion is that guided by each statement you take time to repent for the areas of failure in 2012, give thanks for the goodness and grace of God over that time.

Very importantly, prayerfully set faith goals for the coming months. Ask the holy Spirit to illumine some area where growth is neededMake sure these are realistic. For example, it is unlikely that you can go from praying for 5 minutes a day to 30 minutes a day within the week – so set growth stages over a period of one or two months, there is then a greater chance that you will be obedient to the change God has called you to.

I think there are six vital areas that point to a growing disciple:

  • Serving in a local church. Church attendance without service does not grow me as a disciple. To grow I have to serve generously with my time, talent and treasure.
  • Praying consistently. This is so obvious that it seems to get overlooked. A growing disciple follows Jesus’ pattern of consistent, heartfelt prayer.
  • Reading the Bible daily. Separate studies by the Willow Creek Association and Lifeway on discipleship came to the same conclusion; the single biggest factor in growing as a disciple is reading the Bible every day. It’s the magic pill of discipleship.
  • Engaging in biblical community. Discipleship throughout the Bible is always in context of community. Being in a small group does not guarantee discipleship, but not being in biblical community prevents it.
  • Actively involved in missional outreach. Biblical disciples engage in Kingdom transformation in their home, their community and their world.
  • Developing other disciples. Jesus final command was very clear, Go make disciples. Every growing disciple of Christ develops other disciples.

Tony Morgan on growing churches

Tony Morgan recently posted this list of 36 trends he saw in growing churches. Reading it many of the trends sound obvious, gloriously simple and biblical.

  1. Priority in pointing people to a relationship with Jesus
  2. Bible-centered teaching that addresses real life topics
  3. Empowering leadership cultures
  4. Big, clear vision for the future
  5. Intentional strategy to reach people outside the faith
  6. Artists released to leverage their creative gifts
  7. Focused discipleship strategy with clearly-defined next steps
  8. Staff-driven leadership with lay leader advice and accountability
  9. Welcoming, friendly environment for first-time guests
  10. Healthy systems around core next steps
  11. Unity
  12. Disciplines to plan for the future
  13. Willingness to change
  14. Simplicity rather than complexity in ministry programming
  15. Ability to capture and share stories of life change
  16. Disdain for mediocrity
  17. Path for new believers to take their first steps
  18. Distinctives from other churches
  19. Written and well-executed communications strategy
  20. Children’s environments and programming that attracts young families
  21. Routinely say “no” to initiatives that would divert focus
  22. Generosity is valued and modeled
  23. Balance doing ministry and maintaining healthy souls
  24. Volunteers empowered to lead and use their gifts
  25. Strong senior leadership teams
  26. Grace prevails allowing people to come as they are
  27. Appropriate conflict and biblical conflict resolution
  28. Culture that encourages people to invite their friends
  29. Clear next steps at the conclusion of every message
  30. An aversion to religion and religious people
  31. Intentional focus to encourage healthy marriages and relationships
  32. Missions and evangelism aren’t programs–it’s a lifestyle
  33. Metrics to measure impact
  34. Expect the ministry to reproduce itself through multi-site and/or church planting
  35. Boundaries are established to protect corporate and individual integrity
  36. Execute on their plans

Time to encourage your pastor

Too few Christians work hard at encouraging their pastor. If you have said (or thought?) the things on this list provided by Thom Rainer then possibly you aren’t encouraging enough.

The list is meant to be both humorous and serious. And I bet almost every pastor has heard all of these in the course of a ministry. Enjoy. But do not repeat (at least to your pastor).

  1. I wish I had a job like yours, where I would work only one day a week.
  2. What do you do with all the free time you have?
  3. Can I have a couple of minutes before you preach?
  4. I love you pastor, but _______________________________ (fill in the blank).
  5. I like your preaching, pastor, but I really like ____________________________ (fill in the blank with television or podcast preacher).
  6. Can your wife play piano?
  7. Your kids shouldn’t behave that way. After all, they are pastor’s kids.
  8. Your low salary is good for you. It keeps you humble and dependent on the Lord.
  9. I bet you don’t spend any time preparing your sermons.
  10. Pastor ________________ (predecessor pastor) didn’t do it that way.
  11. You don’t have a real degree. You went to seminary.
  12. How much longer do you think you’ll be at our church?
  13. Did I wake you up pastor? It’s only 1:00 am.
  14. Did you hear what they are saying about you?