Tag Archive for 'Scripture'

Embarrassment About Bible Subjects

D.A. Carson writes about Heart Embarrassment before the Text within his article on Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture in Our Lives in Themelios. He’s writing about preachers, but the scary thing to me is that I could see myself as explaining some things in this way.

Not infrequently preachers avoid certain topics, in part because those topics embarrass them.

In its ugliest form, the preacher says something like this: “Our passage this morning, Luke 16:19–31, like quite a number of other passages drawn from the life of Jesus, depicts hell in some pretty shocking ways. Frankly, I wish I could avoid these passages. They leave me distinctly uncomfortable. But of course, I cannot ignore them entirely, for after all they are right here in the Bible.” The preacher has formally submitted to Scripture’s authority, while presenting himself as someone who is more compassionate or more sensitive than Jesus. This is as deceptive as it is wicked—and it is easy to multiply examples.

Contrast the apostle Paul: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:1–2).

After reading this, I hope I don’t.

The rest of the article is excellent, including a section on Too Little Reading, Especially the Reading of Older Commentaries and Theological Works. It’s hard to imagine anything by him as anything less.


Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System-Everything You Need to Know

C.S. Lewis and Sinclair Ferguson both said that they wish they had read the Bible more.

Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System is a popular and intriguing reading plan where one chapter of each of ten ‘Lists’ of the Bible are read each day. So, List 1 is the Gospels, List 2 is the , another is the historical books, the wisdom books, Psalms is by itself, etc. so that you’re reading ten chapters a day. When you’re done with each list, you start that list over. As each section starts over at a different time, you’re reading different parts of the Bible together the next time you cycle through each list.

Instead of writing more about how the system works, I’ll let you read through the excellent article Professor Horner wrote, and then you can read a little about my experience, if that matters to you, along with a list of resources.

Professor Grant Horners Bible Reading System | Scribd – The Facebook page is no longer there.

I kept my eye on this reading plan, or ‘system’, for a few years. In April of 2015, I started praying that God would motivate me to want to start with it. About two days later I thought, “Why not just start now? You know you want to.” So I started then, very slightly modifying it to nine chapters a day, for about 18 months. It didn’t seem like a year and a half. (And it’s taken me this long to write a blog post about it!)

This system is mainly for familiarity with the Bible. Certainly, we should be praying through the Bible, meditating on it, and studying it. Right now I’m meditating and praying through much of the NT with a study Bible, and also slowly praying through the Psalms. I want to get more motivated to do more studying, which I did much more of in the past. I plan on returning to Professor Horner’s system within a year or two. So this isn’t made to be an all inclusive plan for your Bible consumption. Lately, I’ve only been able to do one aspect of Bible reading at a time. I’ve been spending the same amount of time on what I’m doing now as when I was reading nine chapters a day. Since it never seemed burdensome, I thought I’d keep up the discipline and not lose the mental callouses that have been built up.

Part of the goal of this system, as the article above says, is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. This happens more as we learn more of the Bible. For me, there was much more interpretation going on than I expected. But it wasn’t just Scripture interpreting Scripture. For sure, God was giving me insight into His Word. But I think he was doing that through the discipline of reading a lot of it. It was surprising, because as Professor Horner says, you need to just get through the text and not stop to look things up. The goal is to get to know Scripture better. It is Scripture that changes us in so many ways, and ingesting large doses of it may be helpful in ways we might not realize if we’re not usually spending as much time with it as this requires.

The best way to learn Biblical theology, the best way to get you out of the world’s way of thinking and into the Bible’s is to study the Bible itself. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. Read the Bible. A lot.

–James M. Hamilton Jr., What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and Patterns

If your Bible is falling apart, you probably aren’t.

–John MacArthur, as told to Grant Horner after looking at his tattered Bible (as found in the article above)

There’s a lot more I could write about, but I’ll stop there. I haven’t seen a list of apps anywhere, so I hope these are helpful.

Android Apps
YouVersion – This stops after one year, unfortunately. I didn’t want to start over; I wanted to keep going with the lists where I was.

Bookmarks – Complete Bible Reading Tool – Each of the ten lists are separate, so you could read each of the ten sections at separate paces if you would want to, and also pick up where you left off if you used YouVerion.

Pocket Bible – This has a ‘year 2’. I used both of these after year one of the YouVersion app.

Prof. Horner's Bible Reading System

Traditional (paper) Bookmarks
New Bookmarks: Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System | Nathan W. Bingham

My wife used these and usually read about five chapters a day.

Lists for Printouts
At Scribd, you can sign up for a free month if you haven’t already. Then you can download the documents, as far as I can tell.

Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading Plan Checklist

Grant Horner Bible Reading System – Spreadsheet

Also see:
Quotes On Reading the Bible | Scripture Zealot blog

Photo of a Bible

First five books of the Bible.

Calvin Quote: Adherence to Scripture

For it is not right that the things which God has sought to conceal and whose knowledge he has kept secret himself should be scrutinized in this way by men. Nor is it right that the lofty wisdom which he wished us to revere rather than comprehend, so that we might wonder at his greatness, should be made subject to the human mind or sought out in the depths of his eternity. As for the secrets of his will which he thought good to impart to us, he has borne witness to them in his word. And what he thought good to impart to us was everything which he knew would be relevant and rewarding to us. Once we grasp the idea that God’s word is the only path which allows us to investigate all that we may lawfully know about him, and is likewise the only light by which we behold all that may be lawfully seen of him, it will easily stop us from acting impulsively. For then we will realize that by going beyond the bounds of Scripture we will be straying off into darkness, and will inevitably with every step wander, stumble and trip up.

–John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, pg. 464, 1541 edition translated by Robert White – you can find this in the final version in III.21.1-4

Although Scripture is perspicuous in its basic doctrine, as the scholars say, it’s obviously not an easy book to comprehend in many places. I like reading Calvin because there is so little speculation; everything is based on Scripture. For the most part, the Puritans carried this on. The better we know the Bible, the easier we can tell if someone is speculating or speaking from their own knowledge of the Bible. I don’t see it as being confined, but staying in bounds.

He who looks into the mystery of God
will be overwhelmed with his glory.
Proverbs 25:27 (unknown translation – included in the book)

I have added:

You said, ‘Who is this that belittles my advice without having any knowledge about it?’ Yes, I have stated things I didn’t understand, things too mysterious for me to know.
Job 42:3 GW

My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
Psalm 131:1 NIV

And of course:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36 NIV

Scripture of the Day – God is Our Refuge

Not only is God our refuge, but he wants to be our refuge all the time in all circumstances. God is never bothered and loves us to come to him in every way. Praise God for these things. The more I thought about this, the more Scripture came to mind (John 14:26).

We find refuge through prayer and Scripture.

The name of the LORD is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10*
(I would guess that a two part sermon could be given on this one verse.)

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
Psalm 19:7

the Lord delights in those
who fear him,
who put their hope
in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he cares for those who take refuge in him.
Nahum 1:7

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Ephesians 6:18

pray continually,
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20

*This is the well-known verse where the traditional translations render it “the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” I always wonder if the tower is padded so that they don’t get hurt. “Look at all of those silly Christians lying around, having run into that tower.” At least they’re safe. Whenever somebody says that they ran into an old friend, I tell them that I hope neither of them got hurt. It can be difficult for those of us who are literal thinkers. I could go on about people who don’t stand in the way of sinners, but that’s another story that most of you are familiar with.

Sorry for the diversion. I pray that we will find refuge in God more and more.

A Rambling Prayer

your will be done
Matthew 6:10

According to the risen Lord Jesus Christ,
Help us to do your will and be obedient to you.
Guide us in praying according to your will more and more.
Help us to gain spiritual knowledge and wisdom.
Compel us to highly value it.
Remind us to pray for it.
Energize us to enjoy seeking it.
Convey it to us, realizing that it comes from you.

Help us to meditate on your words in Spirit and in truth.
I confess that I sometimes go the way of my own earthly theories and introspection.
We know you long to bring us back when we go off your path.
Help our thoughts and ideas, private and verbal,
to be confined to those of Christ, the Word of truth.

Then let us continually go back to Scripture,
so that our rambling musings on things of You are always enlightened and corrected by Scripture.

We praise you for your word–for being living and active through it.
Remind us that we can hear you speak to us by just reading our Bible.
What an indescribably great thing!

We Can’t Open Our Eyes

The Scriptures teem with marvels; the Bible is wonder-land; it not only relates miracles, but it is itself a world of wonders. Yet what are these to closed eyes? And what man can open his own eyes, since he is born blind? God himself must reveal revelation to each heart. Scripture needs opening, but not one half so much as our eyes do; the veil is not on the book, but on our hearts. What perfect precepts, what precious promises, what priceless privileges are neglected by us, because we wander among them like blind men among the beauties of nature, and they are to us as a landscape shrouded in darkness!

The Psalmist had a measure of spiritual perception, or he would never have known that there were wondrous things to be seen, nor would he have prayed, ‘”Open thou mine eyes'”; but what he had seen made him long for a clearer and wider sight. This longing proved the genuineness of what he possessed, for it is a test mark of the true knowledge of God that it causes its possessor to thirst for deeper knowledge.

–Charles Spurgeon

Psalm 119:18
Uncover my eyes so that I may see the miraculous things in your teachings.

We can’t open our eyes. Sometimes we can’t even want to open our eyes. We might have no thirst. Sometimes we’re afraid to open our eyes and see what God might have to say to us. What falls on us is to pray, whatever it’s for, at whatever level, for whatever thing Scripture says that God will give every believer on some level. Then we wait, because we know the thing is in God’s will. Then through Scripture we will find more and more of it.

Photo of Eyeball

It took me a long time to know what waiting on God is. It’s not waiting to get what we want materially. That can end in disappointment and frustration. It’s not really patience. When we wait for something that is definitely His will as revealed in Scripture, we know we’re waiting for something that He will give us, whether it’s knowledge, wisdom, our eyes being opened or whatever else God shows us we should want. Sometimes it’s waiting for something we’re praying for someone else. Sometimes it comes quickly and sometimes it takes decades. Then as we experience God, we want to experience Him more, in His wonder-land.

Psalms 119 – Treasury of David – StudyLight.org

Psalm119 For Life-Book

Book-Psalm 119 by Bridges
Also on the web

Eyeball Photo © Jeff at Scripture Zealot

Coffee and Scripture: Gifts From God

Coffee Beans
Click on it to see a larger one

This is a wild and woolly home roasted blend of Sumatra, Brazil, Yemen and dry processed Ethiopia Sidamo with berries at the top end, especially strawberry, that I had today. The sun was shining through the window for me right before it set so I took a picture. One of my favorite blends.

Because individuals and co-ops can buy in small quantities from smaller farms in smaller lots, and don’t have to have ‘consistency’ every year, we get the best beans in the world. We call ourselves ‘coffee billionaires’ even though it’s at the fraction of the cost of fine wine (and saves money from nearly any good specialty roasted beans too) with hundreds of flavor components. I thank God for coffee all the time. The flavors he puts in various food and drink is amazing. I could go on and on. The fact that I still enjoy it is remarkable since various conditions have caused many of the things I used to enjoy to wane or I’m unable to do. I have a cup (I can’t drink any more than that) while I review memorized Scripture and it’s very special. Thanking God for this brought me to tears the other day. Two gifts from God at once. My wife was home today so that’s three. And with a cat on me that’s four. Not in that order.

Scripture memory is a whole other story and is obviously much more important than coffee. What a fantastic gift. I could go on and on about it too, but maybe another time. So much has been written about it, I hesitate to harp on it any more than others have.

Let’s remember to thank God for every little thing whether it’s a bean or a furry animal or running water or a special bookmark and on and on. If that’s difficult, remember to ask God to increase or give you a spirit of thankfulness. If it doesn’t come easy, that’s OK for now. It comes from God and you can wait on Him as you strive to thank Him more.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants* and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:11-12

*Coffee beans are seeds.

P.S. the best description of Yemen coffee that I’ve ever seen, although the quality of Yemen coffee has gone down quite a bit and isn’t the same as it was in years past:

coffee from yemen is still farmed much the same way as it was, oh, 1200 years ago: harvested by hand from ancient, often wild, non-hybridized cultivars, dried on local patios, and processed locally before being shipped. while not certified organic, yemens are considered pesticide-free owing to the strong farming traditions which predate pesticide use. one more thing: you might not like it. lovers of clean, snappy costa ricans, or colombians might consider drinking a cup of yemen uncomfortably similar to being picked up by the lapels, shaken, then tossed into a grimy manhattan snow bank. but for some of us, this is the most complex and desirable cup in town.

Blue Bottle Cafe – San Francisco Restaurant – MenuPages Cafes & Coffeehouses Restaurant Search (it looks like Blue Bottle doesn’t have any Yemen in right now)

Scripture of the Day

As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

the Lord delights in those
who fear him,
who put their hope
in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25 (NIV)

Scripture of the Day

It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Psalm 119:71-72

Though he brings grief,
he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
Lamentations 3:32-33

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV

Quote of the Day: N.T. Wright

“I frequently tell my students that quite a high proportion of what I say is probably wrong, or at least flawed or skewed in some way which I do not at the moment realize. The only problem is that I do not know which bits are wrong; if I did I might do something about it.”

–N.T. Wright

I’m so glad this isn’t the case with Scripture.

We should approach the Scriptures with humility, and tremble at God’s word. (Isaiah 66:2b) I realize this means respecting what God says, but I think it can go along with this idea. Something I need to keep in mind.

HT: Alien In This Land

This Web Site – Pain

This site has been going down for the last two to three days each month because of going over bandwidth. So I will be switching hosts. I don’t want to say who the current one is because I love them and have used them for 15 years. 🙁 But they have a bandwidth limit of 50GB while most others are “unlimited” (kind of). Hard to believe this blog is going over, especially since I removed almost all of my other stuff like my old photography blog and web design stuff. I think I will go with HostGator or Bluehost. If anyone feels there are others that are better for the price, let me know.

Since I haven’t put anything up in a while I’ll give you a little Scripture.

Isaiah 32:17
“And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.”
via Joni Eareckson Tada – A Verse for Pain

Matthew 6:33-34
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Don’t you love how it all fits together?


In a moment of weakness* I prayed for my NFL team today (they won). If I’m not careful, next I’ll be quoting Scripture as if it applies to winning a championship or a gold medal.

How many times have we heard, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”? (Phil 4:13 ESV) And it’s only quoted by those who are successful of course. This is similar to the non-Biblical, “you can do whatever you put your mind to” except with the Biblical version God will help you be what you think you should be. One reading through Proverbs (or just James 4:13-15) should rectify that.

To make a point, how about a selective quote of:

Philippians 4:12-13 TNIV
I know what it is to be in need. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, hungry [and] living in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

This applies more to the poor and the weak.

Full quote so as not to misuse Scripture:

Philippians 4:10-13 TNIV
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Another confession: When I was the age of these fine young athletes and devout Christians, I also took verses out by themselves and used their apparent meaning for my own purposes and still do on occasion when I’m not careful.

But I would think it’s better to get Scripture out there than not. Would you agree?

*I’m not doing very well right now. If you could pray for me I’d appreciate it. I’d like the comments to pertain to the post though. I’ll remove this when I come out of it.

Every thought backed up by Scripture

Proverbs 30:5-6 KJV
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Add thou not unto his words, because they are pure and perfect. This forbids the advancing of any thing, not only in contradiction to the word of God, but in competition with it; though it be under the plausible pretence of explaining it, yet, if it pretend to be of equal authority with it, it is adding to his words, which is not only a reproach to them as insufficient, but opens a door to all manner of errors and corruptions; for, that one absurdity being granted, that the word of any man, or company of men, is to be received with the same faith and veneration as the word of God, a thousand follow. We must be content with what God has thought fit to make known to us of his mind, and not covet to be wise above what is written; for, (1.) God will resent it as a heinous affront: “He will reprove thee, will reckon with thee as a traitor against his crown and dignity, and lay thee under the heavy doom of those that add to his words, or diminish from them,” Deut 4:2; Deut 12:32. (2.) We shall run ourselves into endless mistakes: “Thou wilt be found a liar, a corrupter of the word of truth, a broacher of heresies, and guilty of the worst of forgeries, counterfeiting the broad seal of heaven, and pretending a divine mission and inspiration, when it is all a cheat. Men may be thus deceived, but God is not mocked.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Matthew 11:25-26 HCSB
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Bible Contradictions

At the risk of offending some people, I think that to look for and believe there are contradictions in the Bible is because of unbelief. I would rather really look into it and find ways of defending the living and active document that God inspired than be suspicious.

I’ve also always believed that there are difficult portions to cause us to trust it by faith as opposed to judging it. Matt Perman has a different take on that idea and writes about the Bible’s “contradictions”.
A Few Thoughts on the Fast Company Article, “What the Bible Got Wrong”

HT: Justin Taylor

Scripture Explaining Scripture

I love it when Scripture explains Scripture. Whether it’s Paul or the other NT writers expositing the Old Testament, one idea completed in another part of Scripture, a verse explaining what went right before it, etc.

I read a version of the latter–Isaiah 5:7 explaining what goes before it in the first six verses. I feel like it’s a bonus.

Isaiah 5:1-7
Now I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard on a rich and fertile hill.
2 He plowed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines. In the middle he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter.
3 Now, you people of Jerusalem and Judah, you judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes?
5 Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it.
6 I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it.
7 The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence.

Comments welcome.