Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Whoever coined that little saying, got it right. Making a plan and working a plan can make all the difference on so many fronts in our lives from the physical to the relational to the spiritual.

For over a decade now I have followed a plan of one sort of another of daily Bible reading that ensures I will read through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation in the course of the calendar year. Elsewhere in this blog I have made my case for this discipline outlining 16 reasons why it makes sense to give oneself to such a practice. You can read that post here.

Rather than repeat myself, I want to direct our readers this year to an excellent post by Justin Taylor called Bible Reading Plans for 2012. It includes motivational, practical, and multiple options on the subject. My favorite link is to The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers, a must for anyone who considers discipline a four-letter word. I considered inserting the link but decided I wanted to make you click through to JT’s blog to do so in hopes that you will read more than just the one option.

I am taking my New Year’s messages on January 1 & 8 from Acts 20:32 which says this:

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

I will argue for our greatest need in 2012 and beyond to be twofold – seeking the Lord in prayer and hearing/reading His word of grace. Why not get a leg up on application for these priorities by settling now on what plan you will pursue in reading through the Bible in 2012?

In choosing a plan we are far more likely to succeed than if we don’t.

The Profile of a Gospel-Centered Person

Every third Thursday of the month I travel down south to attend what’s called a Gospel Cohort. About thirty guys, many of them church planters with the Acts 29 Network, and most of them way younger than I, gather for refresher lessons on the centrality of the gospel in our lives and ministries. It is one of the most important things I do in my schedule to ward of the regular onset of gospel amnesia.

Today’s talk covered the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, what John Stott called Jesus’ manifesto of the kingdom. The presenter described a profile of a gospel-centered person from the opening words of the sermon in Matthew 5:2-12. The first four aspects he referred to as Living at the Foot of the Cross. The second four he called Loving from the Foot of the Cross.

Here they are:

  1. A Gospel-Centered person is keenly aware of their spiritual poverty (v. 3).
  2. A Gospel-Centered person is quick to mourn their sin (v. 4).
  3. A Gospel-Centered person lives a life of meekness (v. 5).
  4. A Gospel-Centered person hungers for righteousness and the One who is righteous (v. 6).
  5. A Gospel-Centered person pursues a life of mercy (v. 7).
  6. A Gospel-Centered person pursues a life of purity (v. 8).
  7. A Gospel-Centered person pursues a life of peace (v. 9).
  8. A Gospel-Centered person pursues mercy, purity, and peace regardless of the cost (vs. 10-12).

The cross is the great equalizer. At the foot of the cross all stand on the same footing and in the same condition – spiritual beggars entirely dependent on God’s mercy. From the foot of the cross, captivated by the gospel and motivated by its mercies, all can live a life of mission in this world characterized by mercy, purity, and peacemaking no matter what the cost.

Are you a gospel-centered person? Live moment-by-moment at and from the foot of the cross and God will make you one.

More Fuel on the Carson Prayer Book Fire

Carson

I really do hope that as many of our adults as possible take advantage of our church-wide  9:30 hour equipping emphasis on prayer starting January 3, 2010.

To throw more fuel on the fire of your motivation I offer an online review by Chris Bruce. Here is how he begins:

Take yourself back almost 2000 years and imagine that you are Luke, Barnabas, or another of Paul’s companions. Imagine spending days and nights in lent homes or on the road, sharing Paul’s concern for the churches, and his joy in hearing of new life and growth among his spiritual children. Now imagine again that you were there when Paul took all of these things to God in prayer. How much would you know about how Paul prayed, and how would that knowledge affect your prayer life?

You might know more than Don Carson, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and you might even be able to communicate it more effectively. But that would be some feat. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation,a study of Paul’s prayers, is a book worthy of reading and re-reading on an annual basis. Carson’s goal is “to work through several of Paul’s prayers in such a way that we hear God speak to us today, and to find strength and direction to improve our praying, both for God’s glory and for our good.” The need is dire, he says, noting “the sheer prayerlessness that characterizes so much of the Western church.”

You can read the entire article here.

Copies of Dr. Carson’s book are available at our resource table on Sundays for $13 or whatever you can afford. Pick up your copy soon and begin reading.

What a way to start the new year! Let us set our sights high for spiritual reformation in our personal lives and in the life our church.