A Classic Bible Reading Plan

For the last four years, maybe more, I forget, Marcy and I have been reading through the Bible together each year. We had installed OliveTree Bible Reader on our cellphones which had a reading program. I learned that it helps me to check boxes so that’s what I did. When the next year came around Marcy suggested unchecking the same boxes and that worked as well. The phones were Windows Mobile phones and were soon outdated. They kind of gave out as cell phones are wont to do. The great thing about this reading program was that you could start on any day of the year. Sometimes we miss a day or two but always manage to catch up. The trick is not to always be reading to study. Read it to enjoy the most wonderful and influential ancient text in the history of mankind, the Holy Bible.

Next time around we tried Android phones which were great. We got hooked on the Android operating system and bought Android tablets. We use both the phones and the tablets all the time. Fortunately, OliveTree has a program for Android. Unfortunately it didn’t have the same Bible reading plan; at least we couldn’t find it. When we finally did find it you could not start on any day of the year, you had to start at the beginning. We didn’t want to do that as we were half way thorugh the year already.

I wanted to share the reading program with my Mexican friends so I went through the whole list, wrote down the passages and made up an Excel file with the reading program in Spanish. Eventually I even managed to convert it to a pdf file as a form with check blocks that can be saved and used again and again. In the process I discovered that this reading plan dates from the 19th century and was designed by a well-known Scottish Reformed pastor, Robert Murray M’Cheyne. From the OliveTree version comes this explanation:

Robert_Murray_McCheyneThis unique reading schedule created by Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a 19th Century Scottish minister, guides readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. IN M’Cheyne’s reading schedule, four readings are offered each day. M’Cheyne considered the first two readings of the day to be “Family” readings, to be read aloud in family devotions, while the final two readings were labeled “Secret” or “Private” readings, intended to be read and meditated as part of one’s personal devotions.

We didn’t know it but had been reading through the New Testament and the Psalms twice a year plus the rest of the Old Testament once a year. I think I’ve learned as much about the Bible in the last few years just reading it as I did in seminary and for a lot less money! If you are not reading the Bible through at least once a year, may I suggest you try this? I guarantee you will not be disappointed, even when you have to read what seem to be interminable genealogies.

You can read a biography of M’Cheyne for free on your Kindle from Amazon.com. Find it here: The Biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by his close friend Andrew A. Bonar. What struck me about the biography was the following quote from the introduction:

“The Great Head had a purpose of blessing for the Church of Scotland. Eminent men of God appeared to plead the cause of Christ. The Cross was lifted up boldly in the midst of Church Courts which had long been ashamed of the gospel of Christ. More spirituality and deeper seriousness began a few years onward to prevail among the youth of our divinity halls. In the midst of such events, whereby the Lord was secretly preparing a rich blessing for souls in all our Borders, the subject of this Memoir was born.”

Two things caught my attention in this quote. First, that God had a purpose of blessing for the Church of Scotland, that is a purpose to make the church a blessing to the nation, “a rich blessing for souls in all our Borders.” Second, that it was a youth movement. Can we not pray for such a blessing for our homeland as well as for all the nations of the earth? This is God’s purpose in history and the purpose of this webpage, to glorify God and bless Mexico by building the intellectual foundations for the future Christian civilization in Mexico. Have we given up on this possibility for the United States? I hope not. Christ controls history and He will not be stopped.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was born on May 21st, 1813 and died on 25 March 1843, a mere 29 years. He died during an epidemic of typhus. The book was first published in 1844. The English is typical of that age, a little romantic for our cold and crude ears. I figure reading it might civilize and gentle us a bit in an age of cynicism. It was reprinted in 116 English editions within 25 years and it was thought that by 1910 there were half a million copies in circulation including versions in other languages.[1] The story has been influential in the lives of many Christians over the years including Charles Spurgeon, John Stott, Luis Palau, and John Piper.

You can get a copy of the reading plan in English for your Kindle Reader here M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan for $2.99. Or you can download the pdf I made here for free. It is in Spanish but you can probably make out the names of the books. Download it Here

May God richly bless you through the reading of His Word.


[1] From Amazon.com introductory paragraph Memoir and Remains of R.M. M’Cheyne.

 

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On Being Single

A young lady who is a missionary with CTEN (Commission to Every Nation) wrote a very good take on being single in today’s world on her blog. You can see it here: 24 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response. It is a response to this article titled, “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23. It’s a good response. I recommend you read it. She came up with her own list of 24 things to do instead of getting married before you’re 24. It’s a good list.

married-singleHer response is well written, a takeoff or application of Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount, “But above all pursues His Kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33. Nevertheless I did pick up on two things that merited attention: 1. the societal pressure to get married and 2. Her commitment to read least 3 New York Times articles per week.

About the pressure to get married she says, “I think this author has a point that some people get married because it’s the thing to do, societal expectations, or whatever crazy reason:

It is a way for young people to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own. It’s a safety blanket. It’s an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own; thus, you now have someone that is legally obligated to support you till one of you dies or files for divorce. (quoting the article, “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23.)

Marriage is only a societal norm because it is part of the creation. To say otherwise puts an evolutionary interpretation of marriage over the authority of Scripture. God made us to be married, that is the majority of us – Gen 1:28; 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7; Hebrews 13:4. That said, in our Corinthian culture these days being single has it’s pros. Certainly don’t be in a hurry or as you said, make an idol of being married but do look at it from a Biblical perspective that the desire to be married and have children is from God, not society.

Spoken from the perspective of going on 44 years of marriage, wanting to be married and have a family is a noble desire. The answer is not to try to kill the desire. That’s another religion, not Christianity. Try Hinduism or Buddhism.

As for reading the New York Times, if it were me I’d look for someplace else to get my news. It is the anti-Christ in print. That’s hyperbolic but nevertheless true. There is no such thing as neutral reporting, it’s a myth. All facts are interpreted and our depravity affects how those facts are interpreted. At least read another point of view.

There are lots of options to at least get some balance. I go to http://americanvision.org/, http://townhall.com/ and http://teapartyeconomist.com/ for a more conservative viewpoint. American Vision and the Teaparty Economist are Christian Reformed. The Teaparty Economist is a bit curmudgeonly but you never miss the author’s point. Give it a try. It’s worth it.

You can also sign up to receive notice of what is posted on our webpage, https://www.visionamericalatina.com to keep up with what we are doing and we hope be blessed!

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Vision for Mexico

Building the intellectual foundations for the future Christian civilization of Mexico”.

Welcome to vision-mexico.com where we hope to encourage you with the infectious hope we have for the future of Mexico because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this site is to build the intellectual foundations for the future Christian civilization in Mexico. The purpose of the English section is to tell the story and invite you to join us.

Building the intellectual foundations: Ideas have consequences. A people’s way of life, how they vote and spend their money, the laws of a nation, are ultimately built on the intellectual foundations of the dominant worldview of that people. The job of making disciples of the nations is an educational task, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  (Matthew 28:20).

The future is ours. As Christians, we alone have the hope of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-58). We alone have the hope that when we pass from this world before the resurrection we will be face to face with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). And we alone have the assurance that the future in time is ours, “…whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” (1 Corinthians 3:22, 23) Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10) This is a multigenerational task.

The Christian civilization of Mexico. Is this possible? What will it look like? Should this be the thrust of our missionary effort? How do we do this? These are questions we hope to answer over the course of time in a series of articles about our work in Mexico. Our answer to the questions is this possible and should we be doing this is an emphatic yes. The question is not if but when.

A people crying out for peace and salvation. Mexico is in trouble. Social unrest, violence, corruption, oppressive taxes, the disintegration of the family, and a struggling economy characterize these times in the history of Mexico. The people, especially the growing Christian community, want relief. Sometimes they are unsure about what change they should be praying and working for or if such is possible in time. This remnant is who we hope to reach with a Biblical faith for all of life.

What are we doing about it? We can’t take credit for being so strategic in our planning. By a series of unexpected coincidences driven by the providence of God we find ourselves involved in three principle activities.

  1. The Learning Center is a kind of homeschool coop. We have 90 children from preschool to high school. Public education is so bad in Mexico that people are looking for alternatives. What better strategy to build the intellectual foundations for the future Christian civilization in Mexico than to start with the next generation?
  2. Translation of reformed literature.
  3. Distribution of written materials primarily electronically. This web site, vision-mexico.com, exists for this purpose.

We are planting mustard seeds with the confident hope they will grow and bring a harvest. That harvest will probably be beyond our lifetimes. Psalm 71:17, 18 has become the theme of our retirement years.

“O God, you have taught me since I was young,
and I am still declaring your amazing deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
O God, do not abandon me,
until I tell the next generation about your strength,
and those coming after me about your power”.

 

The State of the Union – an Expat Missionary View

Some time ago we subscribed to Sky just to keep up with what‘s going on at home in the USA. We chose Sky principally because it offered Fox News in English; you know the “fair and balanced” cable news channel. At the time Bill O’Reilly was a conservative commentator where we were most likely to get the straight skinny on what was going on north of the Rio Grande. Good luck with that. We’ve about given up on television altogether. We get more news and sane entertainment from the Internet.
As well as keeping you informed about what we are doing in Mexico I want to comment occasionally on what we observe from afar about our country, the land of the free and the home of the brave, maybe not so much anymore. You think? We also want to share resources that have been helpful to us in making sense of the history we are living on both sides of the border. The lens through which we will evaluate these chaotic times is this: Jesus Christ controls history. He is sovereign and active in what we are living right now and he intends to win. What He intends He will do. We get to be a part of it.
There is no such thing as fair and balanced in the way Fox News uses the phrase. There is no neutrality, either you are for Christ or you are against him. Fox News worships at the shrine of man’s reasons as much as CNN and all the other so called major media. At best, Fox News is a neo-conservative news channel. Fooled once, shame on them, fooled twice, shame on me.
What does conservative mean anyway? What do conservatives conserve? Maybe the liberals are the new conservatives, they are fighting hard to conserve the progressivism that took over the federal government in the administration of Teddy Roosevelt and whose intellectual roots are now crumbling under the weight of spectacular historical failure. And Teddy Roosevelt used to be one of my heroes.
If you stay with me, at times you may think I’ve gone radically mad. So be it. That’s what Israel said about her prophets. I’m writing to the faithful remnant, the 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. The future is ours because we are Christ’s (1 Corinthians 3:22, 23). Let’s take back the future for our King whose birthday we celebrate every year at Christmas.
A blessed Christmas to you all. A King is born to us of a virgin. The government is on his shoulders and his name is Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, Prince of Peace.

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Who is the Fool – Bill O’Reilly vs. Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family on the A&E network. If you don’t know about them you should, they are a cultural phenomenon and Christians. Check out their testimony on I Am Second.

If you weren’t before by now you are probably at least aware of the Robertson’s and the show, Duck Dynasty. Phil did an interview with GQ in which he used correct medical terminology to pull the mask off euphemisms like gay describing what homosexuality is really about. He quoted Scripture showing it to be an abomination to God and that those who practice these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The homosexual lobby reacted as expected pressuring A&E to fire Phil Robertson. A&E suspended Phil. The family Robertson responded in kind and quit the show. At least this is as much as I have read so far. Some other perspectives here, How to bust A&E for sacking Phil Robertson, here Duck Dynasty vs. A&E: Money vs. Principle and here Duck Dynasty: A&E Commits an Act of Symbolic Bestiality.

That it sparked a firestorm is an understatement. Apparently it has caused the most vocal reaction against homosexual bullying in 40 years. It appears they overplayed their hand and are scrambling to figure out what to do next. We learned about it from our news sources all the way down here in Mexico. The other night in a stupor of exhaustion from finishing the semester in the Learning Center we were veg’ing in front of the TV flipping the channels and happened across the Bill O’Reilly show. We decided to watch it because he was going to discuss the Phil Robertson controversy.

What a microcosm of what is wrong with our country it turned out to be! The show was loaded with irony and hypocrisy. Like Caiaphas’ statement, “It is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish” that was a prophesy he didn’t know he was making (John 11:49, 50), I’m quite sure the talking heads did not realize the irony of what they were saying. In the war between God and his enemies there is no neutral ground.

I don’t know all the details of the controversy but I do know what I watched on O’Reilly. The debate was about whether Phil Robertson has the right to be a fool in public or not. Not one of the talking heads agreed with Phil Robertson’s biblical assessment of homosexuality. Bill O’Reilly went so far as to give an exegesis of Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:37 and John 8, the woman caught in adultery, scolding anyone who would call homosexuality a sin. He said it would give license to do physical violence to homosexuals.

Really? So we shouldn’t call corruption in public office sin because someone might be motivated to do violence to a politician? Well, the thought may occur to them I suppose. According to the polls, there are few kind words for politicians these days. How about a thief who breaks into O’Reilly’s house or a plagiarist who steals his copyrighted words? An embezzler? A rapist? A child molester? What if it’s a man molesting a boy?

The great irony is that later in the show O’Reilly interviewed a husband and wife, parents of a child who had been homosexually molested by a teacher for three years from the time the boy was 12 years old. The teacher did to a 12-year-old boy what Phil Robertson described in graphic medical detail and Bill O’Reilly was irate that such horrible violence could be done to a child by a teacher. He should be but he has no basis for condemning the teacher based on his flawed analysis of Jesus’ teaching.

According to the talking heads Phil Robertson’s great sin was condemning another human being. Their response was to soundly condemn him. What’s wrong with this picture? You can’t have it both ways. Either it is sin to condemn another human being or it isn’t. It isn’t consistent to condemn Phil Robertson for condemning. But then, since when are fools consistent? Without God, nothing makes sense. Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart there is no God” is not an evaluation of one’s IQ but a moral judgment.

This had to be one of the most irrational discussions I have ever heard by a bunch of men dressed in $5,000 suits. The makeup crew gives them an air of gravitas but a lie is a lie no matter how you dress it.

Bernie Goldberg went off on anyone who believes in the moral standards in the Bible. He used a flawed analogy to make his point saying he receives emails from people who believe the earth is only 6000 years old because Bible says so. He responded saying he didn’t care what the Bible said or even what God said, the earth is 4 ½ billion years old. He doesn’t care about what God says? Isn’t that revealing? It is the clearest admission of what is wrong with us that I have ever heard.

First of all, bullying, intimidation and ridicule do not an argument make. Nothing Goldberg said proves anything. Secondly, if it is science it has to be subject to disproof. He said it like it’s a known confirmed fact beyond disproving. It isn’t. It’s an axiom that is needed to support the theory of evolution which in turn supports the contention that man is god which in turn eliminates the moral demands of the God of the Bible. Any evidence to the contrary is overlooked with studious duplicity and there is evidence to the contrary. Third, the age of the earth is a factual question, homosexuality is a moral question. Goldberg is saying that he doesn’t care what God says about anything, especially not morality. Morality is what he says it is and according to him homosexuals are moral and Phil Robertson is immoral for condemning them. We are calling good evil and evil good.

In an ironic slip of the tongue either Bill O’Reilly or one of his guests commented that slander is in the list of sins in the passage Phil Robertson cited and that all the slanderers were in the news media and in Hollywood these days. I agree. Phil Robertson was slandered. If the Robertson patriarch was quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 10, and I think he was, the word is reviler from an older English which means verbally abusive, somewhat stronger than slander. I’d say guilty as charged.

So, who is the fool, Bill O’Reilly and gang or Phil Robertson? You be the judge, God forbid I should fall under the condescending wrath of Bill O’Reilly!

This absurd insanity is God’s judgment on the nation. He has turned us over to suffer the consequences of our own perverse desires (Romans 1:24). The controversy has revealed the depth of the conflict and that there is no compromising with evil. It also should give us great hope that the future is ours. This will not go on forever or even until the Lord returns. He is governing history for his own purposes and glory right now. Count on it. “Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay” (Romans 12:19 quoting Deuteronomy 32:35)…and He is.