Children’s Bible Reading Plan (68)

Sorry for missing last week’s plan. Didn’t realize so many people were using it! I remember I used to put hours of work into producing a monthly congregational newsletter with articles and news. Then one month, due to pressure of work, I decided to give it a break. I was ready for a deafening clamor of “We want our newsletter!” But only one person ever enquired about it! Humbling. Needless to say I didn’t resume it.

But anyway, as far as the Children’s Bible Reading plan is concerned, normal service has been resumed.

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

The first 6 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

Learning to be a power listener

That headline probably didn’t appeal to you that much did it?

Power speaker – yes!

Power listener? Eh, someone else can do that.

Bernie Ferrari (author of Power Listening) lists 6 archetypes of bad listening.

  1. The Opinionater: Three sentences into your address he says, “Look, let me tell how I see it…”
  2. The Grouch: He may not have the right answer but he knows yours is definitely wrong.
  3. The Preambler: More or less gets the answer he wants by the way he introduces his questions.
  4. The Preseverator: (I didn’t understand this one)
  5. The Answer Man: Eager to please, has the answer before anyone even knows what the question is.
  6. The Pretender: Think I know a few pastors like this!

Ferrari (wouldn’t you love a name like that?) gives helpful and entertaining exegesis here. As he says, we probably all fall into all of these archetypes at times given the right (wrong?) circumstances.

Any more you can think of?

But let’s end on a positive note with three presidential examples from Paul Johnson, to inspire us:

George Washington listened all his life because he loved to learn and because he had no overwhelming desire to speak, unlike most of those in public life. One passion a leader should forgo, if possible, is a love affair with his own voice…Washington, happily, liked the sound of his own silence…When I was writing my book George Washington, I failed to come across any occasion when he had deliberately concealed the truth from anyone who had a right to know it.

Calvin Coolidge…was aptly called “Silent Cal.” He listened courteously to all his visitors but would not be drawn out. He said: “Nine-tenths of a President’s callers at the White House want something they ought not to have. If you keep dead still they will run down in three or four minutes.” So Coolidge would remain mute. Slight twitches of his facial muscles spoke for him. He was described as “an eloquent listener.” When he did speak, however, it was the truth.

Considering all he had to do and say, Abraham Lincoln spoke amazingly little. As he put it, “I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it.” His Gettysburg Address is a classic instance — there is none better in history — of using as few words as possible (261, to be precise) while conveying a powerful message.

Check out

Glory veiled and unveiled
Here’s an interview with my NT colleague, Dr Gerald Bilkes, about his superb new book on Christ’s parables.

Why expostory preaching is the power for pastoral ministry
Michael Milton gives eight reasons.

How to lose friends and alienate Twitter followers
Five social media mistakes.  #1 particularly bugs me.

Young Pastor, Old Member
How should old members relate to young pastors?

A prayer for (and in) Congress
If you had the opportunity to pray with our political leaders, what would you pray? Here’s what Adam McHugh (author of Introverted Church) prayed in the House of Representatives this week.

Reflections on 10 years of ministry
My Pastor gave a wonderful chapel address which I’d love every pastor to hear. Little slow to get going, but the last 30 mins are priceless.


What is truth?

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“What is truth?”

Pontius Pilate’s not the only one who asked that question. I’m sure we’ve all asked it from time to time. It’s certainly a very common question today. And the answers vary hugely.

Many answer, “Science is truth.” They say that the only truth there is is truth that science can prove. The only truth there is is truth that can be empirically verified – it can be seen, touched, heard – it can be demonstrated to be true by scientific experiments.

Others say, “There is no truth.” It doesn’t exist. We can have opinions, feelings, strong sentiments, but there are no such things as “truths.”

More commonly, people say, “It’s impossible to know what’s true.” They are not denying the existence of truth only the possibility of discovering it and knowing it for sure. It may be out there but who’s to say what’s true for sure?

“What’s true for you may not be true for me,” is another response. The idea is that we can all have our own truth, but we must not force it on to others or try to change other’s truths. Truth depends on the person, the place, the time, the situation.

“Everything is truth!” Sounds so ridiculous, but it’s an increasingly popular view. You can have 100 philosophies or 100 religions all saying completely different and contradictory things, and yet these people will say that it’s all true! These are just different roads to the ultimate truth. We certainly mustn’t ever say that something is false!

Or what about “My lie is truth.” OK, no one ever actually says that. But if you think of all the false religions and cults in the world, that’s effectively what their advocates are saying. They are holding on to a lie and yet they are proclaiming, “This is the truth.”

So what is truth? The Bible is the truth. Or, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism 2 says:

The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

What does this answer tell us about the Bible?

First, it tells us that this is Divine Truth

“THE WORD OF GOD which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments… “God has the Truth and He’s made it known in the Bible.

Second, it is Directive Truth.

“The Word of God…is the only rule to DIRECT US.” This is not advice. God’s saying “This is truth. Believe it. Follow it.”

Third it is Delightful Truth

It “directs us how we may GLORIFY AND ENJOY HIM.” There’s delight for God there (we glorify Him), and there’s delight for us too (we enjoy Him).

Fourth, it is Dependable Truth

The next Catechism answer, number 3, states: “The Scriptures principally teach what man is to BELIEVE concerning God…” We are to believe what God has revealed. We are to trust it, depend upon it, lean our whole lives upon it.

And fifth, it is Demanding Truth

“…and what DUTY God requires of man.” The Bible is very practical. It’s not just about what we are to believe but also about what we are to do. God expects us to respond to His Word with faith and obedience.

Thanks again to my son Angus who is filming and editing this series. The previous films on the Westminster Shorter Catechism are:
Introduction: A Summary not a Substitute
Q1: Why am I here?

Check out

Is it right for a Christian to take anti-depressants?
Careful and courageous answer from Dr Moore.

10 encouraging items about the purchase of this new building
Really enjoyed this, and all the exciting memories it evoked of the time my last congregation put up a new Church building.

Email Zero: Imagining life without email
Very, very tempting!

7 Things the church expects from the seminary
What would you add, change?

Hazardous Journeys
Some really beautiful videography here.

Tullian: The Gospel is Jesus
Really enjoyed the Christ-centered answer Tullian Tchividjian gave in the first couple of minutes of this video. Too often we talk of the Gospel as an “it” when it’s really a “He.”

Franklin Graham apologizes to President Obama

Evangelist Franklin Graham has apologized to President Obama for questioning his Christian faith and said that he now accepts Obama’s declarations that he is a Christian. In a statement, issued Tuesday, Graham said:

I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama…I apologize to him and to any I have offended for not better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election — for his faith has nothing to do with my consideration of him as a candidate.

This is the right decision and I admire Graham for doing this. While we are called to compare a person’s profession of faith with the fruits that are evident in their lives (Matt. 7:16-18), I believe that Franklin Graham’s original comments were wrong, and that for the following reasons:

  • It’s one thing to bring your concerns about a person’s faith to that person in private, it’s another thing altogether to raise these concerns in front of millions on breakfast TV.
  • While we can certainly question whether a person’s particular policies and practices are consistent with a Christian profession, it’s a huge step from that to proclaiming that a person is not a Christian.
  • There have been previous Presidents whose lives have been contrary to their Christian claims, yet they have not been treated this way by Franklin Graham or his father. That incongruity is where the unfounded allegation of racism finds its energy.
  • While the seemingly “Christ-less” testimony President Obama told Graham about how he came to faith is very worrying, it was told in private, and should not have been re-told in public.
  • Graham’s criticisms of the President’s faith were not based on Scriptural marks, the fruits of faith,  but on the way he told his testimony.
  • Graham not only refused to say if President Obama was a Christian, he ended up giving more credibility to the allegation that he is actually a Muslim.
  • While saying that he was not in a position to say if anyone was not a Christian, he did just that with President Obama, and then pronounced that Rick Santorum definitely was a Christian.

Three lessons to be learned from this debacle:

1. Train: We have to admire Graham’s bravery for going into the lion’s den and contending for the Christian faith in the public square. But public spokesmen like Graham should also be constantly and thoroughly trained to deal with the tactics of an extremely hostile media. In this interview at least, Graham seemed to walk straight into their trap and, judging by his rambling and defensive remarks, was completely unprepared for the question.

2. Honor: In opposing some of the anti-Christian policies of President Obama, Christians must stand out from the rest of the opposition by continuing to give honor to whom honor is due (Rom. 13:7). And if we honor God in this way, we have the promise that He will also honor us (1 Sam. 2:30).

3. Pray: We should be much more prayerful for men like Franklin Graham, Al Mohler, James Dobson, etc., who have the opportunity and the courage to represent Christ in such a difficult arena. May God give them much wisdom and wise counselors to help them continue to bear witness faithfully and persuasively.

But we should also pray for President Obama and all who lead us that they would all be truly converted to Christ, or that they would follow Him far more consistently.

Here’s the original controversial interview.