As some of the newer readers to this blog may not be aware of the Children’s Bible Reading plan that I’ve been offering for almost a year, here’s an explanation of what I’m trying to do.
Basically, every Saturday I post a daily Bible reading plan for the week ahead. It’s what I use with my own children and it’s characterized by:
1. Brevity. I want this to be do-able. It is more important to be reading small chunks of Scripture regularly than setting the bar too high and failing. Of course I wish my children wanted to read Scripture more, but if I can get them to spend 5 minutes with the Bible, morning and evening, then I will be happy. And hopefully they will develop a growing appetite for it themselves.
2. Variety. I chose Old Testament in the morning and New Testament in the evening. I also want to vary between narrative, poetry, practical, etc. However as my two girls are only 8 and 7, the emphasis will be more on the stories of the Bible. Sometimes I’ll skip some chapters that are especially difficult for children. They can be read and studied when the children are older and better able to profit from them.
3. Simplicity. The pattern is a few verses for reading, and either a verse to write out or a question to answer in the morning and evening. I’ve added a couple of extra questions for the Saturday reading that are a bit more personal and applicatory?
4. Accountability. Although this system is to help me be more accountable for shepherding my children, I also want to make my children accountable. That’s why I ask them to write a verse and an answer a day. And its also why I ask them to bring me their work at least weekly, and try to have a brief discussion with each of them.
5. Unity. One advantage of this is that we will all be reading in the same part of the Bible (my wife and I included). Whatever else we read, we will all have read these verses as a minimum. That means we can all talk about the same passage of Scripture at meals, etc. I hope this will give our family a spiritual unity as we journey on together.
As some friends felt that twice a day readings were too much, especially for kids going out to school in the morning, I also started posting a second set of Bible study notes that have one reading per day. These will go through a book or two from the New Testament, then a book from the Old Testament, then back to the New Testament, and so on. I’ll also leave some space on these notes to write down matters for prayer.
All this has to be bathed in prayer if it is to be a spiritual blessing to the children (and to me). I don’t want it to degenerate into a legalistic exercise where the daily and weekly routine just becomes a boring drudging “ought-to.” However, God does use the reading of Scripture to make sinners wise unto salvation. My hope and prayer is that eventually my children, and all our children, will no longer read because of external pressure or habit, but because they want to, because they have a passion for the Christ that the Scriptures testify of.
And if you want to explore this subject further, here’s a great post from Brian Croft on pastoring our children.
Aug 19, 2011 • By David Murray • 6 Comments
When a student (yes, you Michael) eventually persuaded me to start blogging just under two years ago, I never expected it to become such a large and enjoyable part of my life and ministry. With such small expectations I looked for a blogging platform that would make it as easy as possible to post regularly with minimal hassle. With its email-to-blog feature, and its simple maintenance interface, Posterous was the obvious answer.
However, as the HeadHeartHand blog has developed and grown, the limitations of Posterous have become more obvious. Also, my Christian film company, HeadHeartHand Media has been growing in parallel over the past year.
I’ve therefore decided to change my blogging software to WordPress and to move it to a new shared site with HeadHeartHand Media.
The blog’s content will remain the same – a mixture of Ministry and Leadership subjects such as Preaching, Counseling, Old Testament, Technology, etc. The only changes you’ll be aware of will be improved presentation and a different location.
As many of you receive the “old” Posterous blog content via RSS or email, I want to “encourage” you to make the change to the new blog by giving a free digital download of CrossReference: The Angel of the Lord to all subscribers to the new blog.
So here’s the deal: anyone who subscribes to the new HeadHeartHand blog by RSS or email, will receive a download code embedded in their RSS feed or email from Monday to Wednesday next week. The only condition is one download per subscription.
I look forward to serving you here and enjoying your valued contributions via the Comments.
And before I go, let me give a big thank you to Nathan Bingham and Cameron Morgan whose technical and design skills made all this possible. Thanks so much, guys; you’re a great team and a joy to work with.
Nathan W. Bingham is a part-time blogger, social media consultant, and a seminary graduate who is training for pastoral ministry. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and three daughters.
Cameron Morgan is a visual print and web designer. He’s particularly interested in the intersection of theology, technology & visual communication as a means to spread the gospel of Christ. He lives in Orange County, CA with his wife and daughter.
Aug 16, 2011 • By David Murray • 1 Comment
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Aug 15, 2011 • By David Murray • 3 Comments
Yesterday I was privileged to hear my pastor, Foppe VanderZwaag, preaching on Job 1. It was a captivating and enthralling sermon with fascinating insights throughout, especially his positive (and persuasive) take on Job’s wife and children.
Aug 12, 2011 • By David Murray • 3 Comments
A large 40 year study, by the American Heart Association, of over 80,000 women in the USA has found that those with a history of depression had a 29% increased risk of stroke.
The researchers also found that women who had used anti-depressants particularly SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) at any point in the two years prior to the study, was 39% higher.
And here’s where our prejudices and presuppositions immediately kick in.
Those who are against anti-depressants will read this as further evidence of “the cure is worse than the disease.”
Those who see a role for anti-depressants in the treatment of serious depression will try to find other explanations for the facts.
For example, in this report on the findings, the BBC found public health and stroke experts to argue against any direct link between strokes and anti-depressant medication.
Dr Kathryn Rexrode, who led the research, said the medicines were more likely to be an indication someone was more seriously ill, rather than a cause of the stroke. She said: “I don’t think the medications themselves are the primary cause of the risk. This study does not suggest that people should stop their medications to reduce the risk of stroke.”
She added: “Depression can prevent individuals from controlling other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension, from taking medications regularly or pursuing other healthy lifestyle measures such as exercise. All these factors could contribute to increased risk.”
That was echoed by Dr Peter Coleman, deputy director of research at the UK’s Stroke Association: “This research appears to indicate that women suffering from depression may be less motivated to maintain good health or control other medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which have an associated increased risk of stroke.”
My takeaways from the research are:
1. View depression as a serious condition with many damaging consequences.
Don’t dismiss depressed people as if they were merely suffering from a common cold, allergy, or a passing bad mood. Wherever depression starts – in the heart, in the brain, or in devastating providences – its ripple (tsunami?) effects are extensive and often life-threatening. Take this seriously, and get help early.
2. Medication alone is never the answer.
Much research into the benefits and drawbacks of anti-depressants take no account of the impact of social support, spiritual counseling, lifestyle coaching, etc.
Some research (usually funded by by talking-therapy advocates) shows that anti-depressants do little better than placebos. Other research (usually funded by drug companies) highlights a drug’s statistical success. But what help are any of these “facts” without knowing much more about the background and situations of these sufferers.
I have never seen anti-depressants work where there has not been a serious commitment to receiving and acting upon counsel about lifestyle, decision-making, social interaction, and spiritual needs. If you think that the sole answer to depression is a pill, you are in for a very long and dark journey – and possibly a stroke!
Having said that, sometimes, in really serious depression, unless there is a willingness to take medication, all the counsel in the world is going to go in one ear and out the other. The information cannot be received or successfully processed.
3. Be aware of our own prejudices and presuppositions when analyzing research.
When we read something that supports our existing conclusions, we are much more likely to believe it as true without any further analysis.
When we read something that challenges our faith, our reason, or our previously adopted public positions, out come our sharpened critical faculties to find the weaknesses and inconsistencies.
Sometimes, our response to research reveals more about ourselves than anything else.