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Bible Reading Plan for the New Year

I first read the Bible through in 1952-1953. It was the King James Version. I read four chapters in the Old Testament and two chapters in the New Testament a day. This took me through the Old Testament once and the New Testament two and half times in nine months. In 1970 or 1971, I switched to the RSV, and then in 1980-81 I switched to the NIV. I do not remember what my reading schedule was in those years.

For about ten years, I followed a strict schedule with YWAM. For the last seven years, I have been using Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s More Precious than Gold schedule. This program allows you to read the Bible in one or two years. The one-year plan starts with Genesis 1, Ezra 1, Matthew 1, and Acts 1 on January 1. It goes through the Old Testament once, the book of Psalms twice, and the New Testament twice during the year. I have used it with the NIV, with a Jewish Old Testament, the New English Bible New Testament, the Ronald Knox Roman Catholic translation, the New English Bible Old T…

Love Your Neighbor

"Jesus replied: '"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself."'" (Matt. 22:37-39)

In these two commandments there are two objects of love: "the Lord your God" and "your neighbor." You are to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. That is the means.

In what way should you love your neighbor? The same way you love yourself. "Yourself" is an object already greatly loved by you and therefore is the standard by which you are to love your neighbor. Even those who have a low "self-worth" have great love for themselves. They are more concerned for themselves than they are for others; therefore, they are commanded to love their neighbors as they love themselves.

How can we obey the command to love? For a start, calculate how much time you think about yourself. S…

Clean on the Inside

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them." (Luke 6:32)

This kind of love is not a distinctively Christian trait. In fact, Jesus said that "even 'sinners' love those who love them." Many Christians love those who love them or love lovely people and think that they are showing Christian love by doing this, when, in fact, they are loving in a humanistic fashion. In other words, they love the same way every other human being loves.

There is a distinct love that only Christians have. They have it because they received it when it was given to them by the Lord.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) His love for us had nothing to do with our loveliness or our love for Him. It had to do with His nature and our need. When we share this love with others, it should have nothing to do with others' love for us or…

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Many of us know the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. This Christmas season, read the Christmas story to your children from the Bible. You will find the story of the wise men and the star in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and the story of the shepherds and the angel in Luke 2:1-39. However, there are several other short accounts of this event. They are Colossians 1:13-20, Hebrews 1:1-4, Galatians 4:4-5, and Philippians 2:5-11.

Here is the seventh account:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.... He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive hi…

Keeping Fellowship

"Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him." (Rom. 14:1-3)

Romans 14 is a chapter about attitudes towards other believers. The basic premise is that a believer belongs to God, and God receives him without looking down on him or condemning him, and, therefore, we should also receive him in the same way. This is saying that there is something more important than "being right."

God allows us to think we are right; verse 5 says, "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." He allows us to think differently, but He does not allow us to break fellowship because we think differently.

Please read the rest of Romans 14. You will notice that th…

Giving

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.” (2 Cor. 8:1-5)

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12)

We do not normally think of “severe tests of affliction” and “abundance of joy” going together. Nor do we think that “extreme poverty” normally “overflows in a wealth of liberality.” There are other unusual expressions in this passage, like “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the s…

Merry Christmas!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 9-14)This is the Christmas story according to …

Forgiveness

“The LORD said to Moses: ‘If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do—when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering.’” (Lev. 6:1-5)

The quotation is followed by the requirement of the guilt offering and then this wonderful promise: “In this way the priest will make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him guilty” (Lev. 6:7).

Two things were necessary for forgiveness to be given and received: 1) restitution and…

Restitution

One way to may "payments" on our debt of love is through restitution.

In 1932 when I was in kindergarten, I was walking home with a friend after school one day, and he told me that he would teach me how to steal a cookie. He was to stop at the corner store on the way home to buy a pound of hamburger. When he ordered the hamburger, the owner of the store would go to the back room to grind and wrap it. While the owner was doing that, my friend would go to the cookie display and open a small glass door over a bin of cookies. He would remove two chocolate marshmallow cookies, give one to me, and put the other in his own pocket. He would pay the merchant for the hamburger, and we would leave the store. Sure enough, it went just as planned.

The corner store was two blocks from my home. In the first block, each of us ate our cookie. In the second block, I could feel the chocolate and marshmallow around my mouth. I licked my lips and rubbed my face. I knew my mother would see my mo…

From the Editor: Debt

From The Hammer magazine, Vol. III No. III

“Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.” (Rom. 13:8)

We all know what it is to have bills. Bills, bills, bills coming persistently in the mail is part of life. Scripture tells us to take care of these debts promptly. When one comes due, it should be paid in full.

But there is one debt that we can never properly pay off, one debt that is incessantly overdue and underpaid. We cannot save up for it. We must pay more than our tight budget allows each month, each week, each day. That debt is the continuing love due to our fellow creatures. It is the debt that remains outstanding day after day, month after month, year after year.

In and of ourselves we lack the resources to pay this continuous debt. But if we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:8), we have access to all the riches of God’s grace and love.

Perhaps we wish the Holy S…

From the Editor: Practical Christianity

From The Hammer magazine, Vol. III No. II.

Christianity is intensely practical. We must live it out in our relationships with people and our response to God. We must not be merely hearers and talkers but doers (James 1:22).

Often it seems that the eager new Christian is anxious to make his Christianity practical by allowing God to revamp the old attitudes and behaviors, but later he begins to get complacent and looks for something “more.” It is as though the old, simple truths that changed his life aren’t good enough anymore. We look for something more complicated, something “deeper.” We fail to apply what we knew at the beginning.

A child learns to walk by putting one foot in front of the other. As adults, we are still applying the same principle. We still put one foot in front of the other. We didn’t have to learn more complicated methods of getting where we wanted to go. It is the same with Christianity. As we mature, we must continue to apply the same truths that we began with, no…

Witness in the Spirit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." (Gal. 5:22)

"He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord." (Acts 11:24)

Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit. He was also a good man. This not surprising, since the fruit of the Spirit is goodness. The text says that a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Barnabas was in a witnessing, evangelizing situation. Goodness is a necessary characteristic of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It is also a necessary characteristic of effective witnessing.

To witness the content of the good news without being good is to contradict with our life what we are saying with our mouth.

"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:6)

If we are going to talk good news, we must walk good news. Witnessing in the Holy Spirit is assurance that there will be no contradiction between our walk …

From the Editor: Compassion

Letter from the Editor, Hammer Magazine, Vol. 3 No. 1, 1984

Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. (Matt. 24:17-20)

Although I have always noticed this passage and Christ’s reference to pregnant women and nursing mothers, I never stopped to think much about it. Only recently did I see something of the gracious character of our Lord in this statement.

How many of us, in the midst of a discourse such as this, would mention the difficulty of pregnant women and nursing mothers? Especially, how many men would refer to it while addressing a group of men (Jesus was addressing His disciples)?

Jesus shows a great deal of empathy and compassion in this brief statement. A pregnant or nursing mother can relate to the difficulty and stress of the moment Jesus des…

Fixed

This was written by my wife Bessie.

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” (Psalm 57:7)

Sometimes when I hear or read a great truth from the Scriptures, my first reaction is “Oh, I want that to be true in my life!” The second reaction is, “But how?” I will deal here with this second reaction.

The quotation above is from the King James Version but is rendered my heart is steadfast both in the RSV and NIV. I like the strength of the KJV because “fixed” suggests a locked-in position, a trusting regardless of circumstances. We read in the caption that David had written this psalm when he fled from Saul into the cave.

A “fixed heart” assumes a confidence in the Lord. It assumes a mind that disregards the circumstances. The impossibility of the situation only drove David to reliance on the Lord to the extent that he said, “I will sing and make music” (Psalm 57:7b).

In Psalm 25:15, David expressed this in different words: “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my fee…

Our Hope in Adversity

A post for the Christmas season written by Chris Vlachos, who ran CCM's bookstore in Provo, UT.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manager, because there was no room in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

In this passage, we see a simple but striking account of God’s hand providentially working in the affairs of men to bring to pass His ultimate and glorio…

Results of Responsibility

Besides the wonderful security of having the seal of the Holy Spirit in our lives, there is a security that comes from good relationships in our homes. The major source of security in the home outside the Holy Spirit has been assigned by God to the husband/father. He is the one around whom the home revolves. The wife looks to him, and the children look to him. He is the rock in the home. He is the source of strength and stability. He provides wisdom, decisions, and financial and emotional security.

Raising Sons: Teaching Relationship to Women

Early in his life, a boy should be taught and required to respect and love and be considerate of his mother and his sisters (both older and younger). As he approaches puberty, he should be taught about the female population outside his family. Respect and consideration should again be stressed. Because we are commanded to love our neighbors, he should be taught to love. This is not a command to express affection and love to girls.

He should also be taught to respect, be polite to, and not cut down girls. They will be grateful for the former and hurt if he fails in the latter. They may respond with counter-cuts, which makes them less feminine. Boys should be taught not to touch a girl in any way that would cause physical harm or in any way that would cause her to respond sexually to them, or in any way that would hurt her emotionally.

Masculinity does not have to be proved with muscles, sexual prowess, bragging, etc. True masculinity is established by taking the responsibility that God…

For Raising Sons

Before they get to have authority, men should be under authority. If they have a difficult the submitting to authority, they become petty tyrants when they, in turn, find themselves in positions of authority.

Authority and responsibility go together. If a man has great responsibility but does not have commensurate authority, he is unable to carry out his responsibility. If he has authority but no responsibility, he ends up giving orders when there is nothing to do. Again, he is a petty tyrant.

God built the need for respect into the human race. All men need it as they are growing up. If they do not get it, they ask for it by bragging and boasting. If they do not have anything to brag about, they invent something. They lie and brag.

Both sexes need two things given to them from infancy: love and respect. They need these from both sexes. However, as they grow older, a girl needs love more than she needs respect (although she still needs both), and a boy needs respect more than he needs …

How to Become a Responsible Man

1. Become a Christian. If you need help with this, ask a Christian friend or write, call, or email Community Christian Ministries. You can also request a copy of the gospel of John and the booklet Jesus Said, “Follow Me” from me. If you are already a Christian, confess all known sin to God. Visit the CCM website for a free download of my talk, “Confession of Sin.”
2. Repair your relationship with your parents (Mal. 4:6). See “Relationships with Parents” in How to Be Free from Bitterness.
3. Desire responsibility. "Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task" (1 Tim. 3:1).
4. Humble yourself before God. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time" (1 Pet. 5:6).
5. Follow the example of godly men.
6. Read the biographies of godly men such as Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, James Fraser, R.G. LeTourneau, George Whitfield, and R.C. Chapman.
7. “Flee the evil desires of youth, and …

Taking Action

Assuming you think that God had a good idea in His creation and assignments to men and women, here are a few ways to prepare yourself and your children to be the right kind of husband and father.
The automatic change is a man’s conversion, his salvation. The Bible describes this event in strong terms. Here are a few of them:

• He has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6, Col. 2:20).
• He has risen with Christ (Col. 3:1).
• He is dead to sin (Rom. 6:2).
• He has put off the old man (Col. 3:9).
• He has put on the new man (Col. 3:10).

This conversion determines the necessity and the possibility of all subsequent requirements (see Romans 8:3-4). Because these things are true of all believers, it is normal for a Christian man to be responsible.

Common Excuses and/or Justifications for Irresponsibility

• Pass the buck. “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” (Genesis 3:12).
• I did not wake up in time.
• He disobeyed me, so I lost my temper.
• My wife is not loveable.
• She does not respect me.
• I need time alone.
• I needed that extra Harley Davidson (or shotgun or fishing rod or video game).
• I told her I loved her when we got married. Didn’t she believe me?
• The boss is too hard.
• The boss doesn’t know his job.

All these excuses are based on one of two things:

• Your own selfishness
• Blaming your actions (or lack of action) on the other guy

This is a partial list. It could easily be much longer. Your response may be, “Let’s be real,” or, “A man would have to be godly to be responsible.” Men who make the second objection should not get married. Does that mean I want him to have irresponsible sex instead of responsible sex? No. A man is not allowed to be immoral just because he does not get married.

Characteristics of a Responsible Man

What are the characteristics of the responsible man?

• He receives orders and commands without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14).
• He stretches and grows into a job he has to do. It does not break him.
• He is not defensive when he is accused, whether the accusation is true or false.
• He does not pass the buck; he does not blame others above, alongside, or below him.
• He is not short-tempered.
• He assumes the burden of supporting his family. Whether by work or by faith, the burden is his. "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).
• He teaches his children to be responsible.
• He provides a secure environment for his wife and children. He will not scold his wife. He certainly will not beat her. He will nourish and cherish her. He will nourish and admonish his children.
• He protects his family from all kinds of evil: physical, spiritual, and emo…

God’s Commands Concerning Responsibility: Principles Taught through Stories & Parables

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

“He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

“The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

“‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities…

How To Confess Your Sins

Here is a good video presentation of my confession of sin graph done by Dr. Mike Lawyer:

God’s Commands Concerning Responsibility: Direct Commands

To the male of the species God has given responsibilities that fit the fruit of the Spirit more than the works of the flesh.

Responsibility comes with the territory. The first territory was earth, and the first man and woman got that responsibility.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:27-30)

It may be that the husband had the p…

Results of Irresponsibility

God built a need for respect into the male of the human race. All men need this respect as they are growing up. God made men incomplete, so He made women to be their helpers. This incompleteness is apparent in men’s need for respect. That is why God requires women to respect their husbands.

Men want to have authority and respect. Is this wrong? No, not in itself. But responsibility comes with authority, and many men have abdicated this responsibility. Authority without responsibility makes men tyrants. If they pass the responsibility to their wives but do not delegate the corresponding authority to them, those wives cannot carry out the responsibility, and the husband will not.

Many of the Christian men I know today (as opposed to fifty years ago) come from families with irresponsible fathers and grandfathers. If they coast (even though they are now Christians), it will be downhill. They will imitate their fathers. They will be irresponsible to their wives and children, and maybe wi…

Attitudes about Irresponsibility (from Both Men & Women)

Today, irresponsibility is no longer recognized as failure. Men and women think it is normal, even a birthright. Men may still want the authority that comes with it, but they do not want the responsibility itself. That compounds the problem. There are two humanist views of masculinity circulating today:

• Muscular, dominant, boastful, sexual prowess, professional performance. One famous athlete said that he had had 24,000 women. Krishna, a fictitious Hindu deity, was supposed to have had tens of thousands of wives and to have committed adultery with 1,000 other men’s wives without the men knowing it. This is the kind of “masculinity” you find in dirty talk and novels for men.
• Thoughtful, kind, tender, irresponsible until he meets a good woman who straightens him out in marriage. This view is found in romantic novels written by women for women.

God made men with testosterone and estrogen. The natural man lives by pleasant sensations that God has given as a means, and he makes them i…

Reasons Some Men Are Irresponsible

There are non-Christian men who are responsible husbands and fathers. There are Christian men who are not responsible. Whatever the initial reasons for this irresponsibility in Christian men are, it should not, must not, continue. Here are a few possible reasons:

• They grew up in broken homes.
• They grew up with fathers who were irresponsible.
• The men they know at their jobs, in their communities, and as relatives are poor examples and teachers.

If a man becomes a Christian out of this kind of background, there is one automatic change and several required changes.

History of Irresponsibility: Real-Life Examples and Evidence

You may argue with or misunderstand the point of this article (that men were designed and commanded to bear responsibility) because your experience was different. It may seem wrong to you because:

• The present culture says otherwise.
• Your mother provided the stability in your home.
• Your mother was dominant, but not stable.
• Your father was not self-disciplined, and therefore over-disciplined the children.
• Your father was dominant, but irresponsible.
• Many other combinations.

What are the signs of an irresponsible man? The primary evidence is selfishness or self-centeredness. All of the characteristics listed below are subsets of this selfishness. There are many signs of irresponsibility in the male of the species. Unfortunately, this includes many Christian men, or at least men who think they are Christians.

In general, men want the privileges of being male without the corresponding responsibility. What are these privileges?

Sexual gratification:

• Marriage
• Free sex (pro…

Dead and Alive

Dead and Alive: Obedience and the New Man is now in print. You can purchase it on the CCM website. There is a 15% discount for orders through December 1; enter code OBEDIENCE at checkout to get the discount.

This book was written primarily to help new Christians anticipate an obedient, victorious life in Christ. It was also written to encourage defeated Christians who think defeat is normal.

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." (Rom. 6:8)

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3)

This is the key. Christ’s death and resurrection go together. Because of them, we who have trusted in Jesus have received forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Him. Is there something more than “forgiveness” and “a place among the sanctified”? There is. This book is about that “something more,” which is the third result of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our faith in Him…

History of Irresponsibility: Biblical Examples

This is the first post in a series on responsibility.

Men were designed, created, and commanded to bear responsibility. So what happened?

It all started with our first parents. They were given responsibility and commensurate authority. This assignment was removed and then reduced after they failed their first responsibility.

Adam was given responsibility. He not only failed the responsibility; he blamed his wife and God for his failure (Genesis 3:12). Adam was not a responsible husband.

Noah got drunk and lay naked in his tent. His youngest son saw him and told his older brothers. When Noah awoke from his drunkenness, he cursed his youngest son’s youngest son. Getting drunk and cursing someone not responsible was not being a responsible father or grandfather (Genesis 9:20-27).

To save his own life, Abram had his wife lie for him and let the king of Egypt take her. He was not a responsible husband (Genesis 12:12-16). He did it again with Abimelech (Genesis: 20:2). Abram listened to hi…

The Father

A few biblical expressions about the Father:

John 3:35: The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.

John 6:32: My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

John 14:6: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.

John 10:15: Even as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 16:3: These things they will do because they have not known the Father or me.

John 16:23: Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you.

John 17:5: Now, Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.

John 10:30: I and the Father are one.

The “Father” is mentioned 105 times in the gospel of John. This is in addition to the word “God,” which occurs about 90 times in the gospel of John.

Matthew 6:8: Our Father who is in heaven…

Ephesians 3:14: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father from whom all fath…

The Application Test

This is a follow-up to my last post on meditation; it is written by Roy Knecht.

"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out in to the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him." (Luke 8:16-18)

This teaching of Jesus comes on the heels of the well-known parable of the sower and the seed. After the parable, the Lord’s disciples did not understand its meaning. They approached Jesus and asked him for an explanation. Jesus replied that there are four ways of hearing the Word of God: three bad and one good.

The one good hearer is set apart by 1) his noble and good heart, 2) his ability to retain what he heard from God, and 3) his response to what he hears, w…

Meditation and Imitation

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

There is a kind of Bible study that goes beyond reading, Bible memory, group Bible study, Old Testament references in their context, and subject studies. Meditation is more mystical and practical. That may sound like a contradiction.

Let me tell you what meditation is not. It is not looking for some deeper, hidden meaning. It is not numerology or looking for a codified arrangement of the text. And it is not saying that the plain meaning of the text that we got from our previous reading and studying is not the correct meaning. We probably got the right meaning, and we can repeat it back. We know the text!

What, then, is this kind of Bible study? It does not have to do with our understanding; it has to do with where we understand it. Do we understand it in our heads, or do we understand it in our hearts?

Most study results in head knowledge. In other words, if we were given a practical lab examin…

An Open Letter to Mormon Missionaries

This is a letter I wrote several years ago after conversations with Mormon missionaries at the Moscow Farmers' Market.

Thank you for the three booklets you gave me at the farmers’ market. I have read them with interest. They are The Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Plan of Salvation, and The Family, a Proclamation to the World.

Who Jesus is:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-5, 14)

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, even t…