Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014

A multitude of ways to read the whole bible in 2014! By Justin Taylor over at The Gospel Coalition.

Do you want to read the whole Bible?
The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.
(For those who like details, there’s a webpage devoted to how long it takes to read each book of the Bible. And if you want a simple handout that has every Bible book with a place to put a check next to every chapter, gohere.)
Audio Bibles are usually about 75 hours long, so you can listen to it in just over 12 minutes a day.
But the point is not merely to read the whole thing to say you’ve done it or to check it off a list. The Bible itself never commands that we read the Bible through in a year. What is commends is knowing the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and meditating or storing or ruminating upon God’s self-disclosure to us in written form (Deut. 6:732:46;Ps. 119:1115239399143:5).
As Joel Beeke writes:
As oil lubricates an engine, so meditation facilitates the diligent use of means of grace (reading of Scripture, hearing sermons, prayer, and all other ordinances of Christ), deepens the marks of grace (repentance, faith, humility), and strengthens one’s relationships to others (love to God, to fellow Christians, to one’s neighbors at large).
Thomas Watson put it like this: “A Christian without meditation is like a solider without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation the truths of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory is slippery, and without meditation all is lost.”
So reading the Bible cover to cover is a great way to facilitate meditation upon the whole counsel of God.
But a simple resolution to do this is often an insufficient. Most of us need a more proactive plan.
One option is to get a Bible that has a plan as part of its design. For example, Crossway offers the ESV Daily Reading Bible (based on the popular M’Cheyne reading plan—read through the OT once and the NT and Psalms twice) or the One-Year Bible in the ESV (whole Bible once in 364 readings). [For multiple bindings of the ESV Daily Reading Bible, go here.]
Stephen Witmer explains the weaknesses of typical plans and offers some advice on reading the Bible together with others—as well as offering his own new two-year plan. (“In my opinion, it is better to read the whole Bible through carefully one time in two years than hastily in one year.”) His plan has you read through one book of the Bible at a time (along with a daily reading from the Psalms or Proverbs). At the end of two years you will have read through the Psalms and Proverbs four times and the rest of the Bible once.
The Gospel Coalition’s For the Love of God Blog (which you can subscribe to via email, but is now also available as a free app) takes you through the M’Cheyne reading plan, with a meditation each day by D. A. Carson related to one of the readings. M’Cheyne’s plan has you read shorter selections from four different places in the Bible each day.
Jason DeRouchie, the editor of the new and highly recommended What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus’ Bible, offers his KINGDOM Bible Reading Plan, which has the following distinctives:
  • Proportionate weight is given to the Old and New Testaments in view of their relative length, the Old receiving three readings per day and the New getting one reading per day.
  • The Old Testament readings follow the arrangement of Jesus’ Bible (Luke 24:44—Law, Prophets, Writings), with one reading coming from each portion per day.
  • In a single year, one reads through Psalms twice and all other biblical books once; the second reading of Psalms (highlighted in gray) supplements the readings through the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy).
  • Only twenty-five readings are slated per month in order to provide more flexibility in daily devotions.
  • The plan can be started at any time of the year, and if four readings per day are too much, the plan can simply be stretched to two or more years (reading from one, two, or three columns per day).
Trent Hunter’s “The Bible-Eater Plan” is an innovative new approach that has you reading whole chapters, along with quarterly attention to specific books. The plan especially highlights OT chapters that are crucial to the storyline of Scripture and redemptive fulfillment in Christ.
For those who would benefit from a realistic “discipline + grace” approach, consider “The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers.” It takes away the pressure (and guilt) of “keeping up” with the entire Bible in one year. You get variety within the week by alternating genres by day, but also continuity by sticking with one genre each day. Here’s the basic idea:
Sundays: Poetry
Mondays: Penteteuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
Tuesdays: Old Testament history
Wednesdays: Old Testament history
Thursdays: Old Testament prophets
Fridays: New Testament history
Saturdays: New Testament epistles (letters)
There are a number of Reading Plans for ESV Editions. Crossway has made them accessible in multiple formats:
  • web (a new reading each day appears online at the same link)
  • RSS (subscribe to receive by RSS)
  • podcast (subscribe to get your daily reading in audio)
  • iCal (download an iCalendar file)
  • mobile (view a new reading each day on your mobile device)
  • print (download a PDF of the whole plan)
Reading PlanFormat
Through the Bible chronologically (from Back to the Bible)
Daily Light on the Daily Path
Daily Light on the Daily Path – the ESV version of Samuel Bagster’s classic
Daily Office Lectionary
Daily Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament, and Gospels
Daily Reading Bible
Daily Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms
ESV Study Bible
Daily Psalms or Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch or the History of Israel; Chronicles or Prophets; and Gospels or Epistles
Every Day in the Word
Daily Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs
Literary Study Bible
Daily Psalms or Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch or the History of Israel; Chronicles or Prophets; and Gospels or Epistles
M’Cheyne One-Year Reading Plan
Daily Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms or Gospels
Daily Old Testament, Psalms, and New Testament
Outreach New Testament
Daily New Testament. Read through the New Testament in 6 months
Through the Bible in a Year
Daily Old Testament and New Testament
You can also access each of these Reading Plans as podcasts:
  • Right-click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) the “RSS” link of the feed you want from the above list.
  • Choose “Copy Link Location” or “Copy Shortcut.”
  • Start iTunes.
  • Under File, choose “Subscribe to Podcast.”
  • Paste the URL into the box.
  • Click OK.
For those looking for some books to have on hand as “helps” as you read through the Bible, here are a few suggestions:
As you read through the Bible, here’s a chart you may want to to print out and have on hand. It’s from Goldsworthy’s book According to Plan. It simplified, of course, but it can be helpful in locating where you’re at in the biblical storyline and seeing the history of Israel “at a glance.”
Goldsworthy’s outline is below. You can also download this as a PDF (posted with permission).
Screen shot 2009-12-23 at 10.34.55 PM
Taken from According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy. Copyright(c) Graeme Goldsworthy 1991. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515 ( and Inter-Varsity Press, Norton Street, Nottingham NG7 3HR England (
Creation by WordGenesis 1 and 2
The FallGenesis 3
First Revelation of RedemptionGenesis 4-11
Abraham Our FatherGenesis 12-50
Exodus: Our Pattern of RedemptionExodus 1-15
New Life: Gift and TaskExodus 16-40; Leviticus
The Temptation in the WildernessNumbers; Deuteronomy
Into the Good LandJoshua; Judges; Ruth
God’s Rule in God’s Land1 and 2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-10; 1 Chronicles; 2 Chronicles 1-9
The Fading Shadow1 Kings 11-22; 2 Kings
There Is a New CreationJeremiah; Ezekiel; Daniel; Esther
The Second ExodusEzra; Nehemiah; Haggai
The New Creation for UsMatthew; Mark; Luke; John
The New Creation in Us InitiatedActs
The New Creation in Us NowNew Testament Epistles
The New Creation ConsummatedThe New Testament

Below are Goldsworthy’s summaries of each section.
Creation by Word
Genesis 1 and 2
In the beginning God created everything that exists. He made Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of Eden. God spoke to them and gave them certain tasks in the world. For food he allowed them the fruit of all the trees in the garden except one. He warned them that they would die if they ate of that one tree.
The Fall
Genesis 3
The snake persuaded Eve to disobey God and to eat the forbidden fruit. She gave some to Adam and he ate also. Then God spoke to them in judgment, and sent them out of the garden into a world that came under the same judgment.
First Revelation of Redemption
Genesis 4-11
Outside Eden, Cain and Abel were born to Adam and eve. Cain murdered Abel and Eve bore another son, Seth. Eventually the human race became so wicked that God determined to destroy every living thing with a flood. Noah and his family were saved by building a great boat at God’s command. The human race began again with Noah and his three sons with their families. Sometime after the flood a still unified human race attempted a godless act to assert its power in the building of a high tower. God thwarted these plans by scattering the people and confusing their language.
Abraham Our Father
Genesis 12-50
Sometime in the early second millennium BC God called Abraham out of Mesopotamia to Canaan. He promised to give this land to Abraham’s descendants and to bless them as his people. Abraham went, and many years later he had a son, Isaac. Isaac in rum had two sons, Esau and Jacob. The promises of God were established with Jacob and his descendants. He had twelve sons, and in time they all went to live in Egypt because of famine in Canaan.
Exodus: Our Pattern of Redemption
Exodus 1-15
In time the descendants of Jacob living in Egypt multiplied to become a very large number of people. The Egyptians no longer regarded them with friendliness and made them slaves. God appointed Moses to be the one who would lead Israel out of Egypt to the promised land of Canaan. When the moment came for Moses to demand the freedom of his people, the Pharaoh refused to let them go. Though Moses worked ten miracle-plagues which brought hardship, destruction, and death to the Egyptians. Finally, Pharaoh let Israel go, but then pursued them and trapped them at the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds). The God opened a way in the sea for Israel to cross on dry land, but closed the water over the Egyptian army, destroying it.
New Life: Gift and Task
Exodus 16-40; Leviticus
After their release from Egypt, Moses led the Israelites to Mount Sinai. There God gave them his law which they were commanded to keep. At one point Moses held a covenant renewal ceremony in which the covenant arrangement was sealed in blood. However, while Moses was away on the mountain, the people persuaded Aaron to fashion a golden calf. Thus they showed their inclination to forsake the covenant and to engage in idolatry. God also commanded the building of the tabernacle and gave all the rules of sacrificial worship by which Israel might approach him.
The Temptation in the Wilderness
Numbers; Deuteronomy
After giving the law to the Israelites at Sinai, God directed them to go in and take possession of the promised land. Fearing the inhabitants of Canaan, they refused to do so, thus showing lack of confidence in the promises of God. The whole adult generation that had come out of Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, was condemned to wander and die in the desert. Israel was forbidden to dispossess its kinsfolk, the nation of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, but was given victory over other nations that opposed it. Finally, forty years after leaving Egypt, Israel arrived in the Moabite territory on the east side of the Jordan. Here Moses prepared the people for their possession of Canaan, and commissioned Joshua as their new leader.
Into the Good Land
Joshua; Judges; Ruth
Under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites crossed the Jordan and began the task of driving out the inhabitants of Canaan. After the conquest the land was divided between the tribes, each being allotted its own region. Only the tribe of Levi was without an inheritance of land because of its special priestly relationship to God. There remained pockets of Canaanites in the land and, from time to time, these threatened Israel’s hold on their new possession. From the one-man leaderships of Moses and Joshua, the nation moved into a period of relative instability during which judges exercised some measure of control over the affairs of the people.
God’s Rule in God’s Land
1 and 2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-10; 1 Chronicles; 2 Chronicles 1-9
Samuel became judge and prophet in all Israel at a time when the Philistines threatened the freedom of the nation. An earlier movement for kingship was received and the demand put to a reluctant Samuel. The first king, Saul, had a promising start to his reign but eventually showed himself unsuitable as the ruler of the covenant people. While Saul still reigned, David was anointed to succeed him. Because of Saul’s jealousy David became an outcast, but when Saul died in battle David returned and became king (about 1000 BC). Due to his success Israel became a powerful and stable nation. He established a central sanctuary at Jerusalem, and created a professional bureaucracy and permanent army. David’s son Solomon succeeded him (about 961 BC) and the prosperity of Israel continued. The building of the temple at Jerusalem was one of Solomon’s most notable achievements.
The Fading Shadow
1 Kings 11-22; 2 Kings
Solomon allowed political considerations and personal ambitions to sour his relationship with God, and this in turn had a bad effect on the life of Israel. Solomon’s son began an oppressive rule which led to the rebellion of the northern tribes and the division of the kingdom. Although there were some political and religious high points, both kingdoms went into decline, A new breed of prophets warned against the direction of national life, but matters went from bad to worse. In 722 BC the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the power of the Assyrian empire. Then, in 586 BC the southern kingdom of Judah was devastated by the Babylonians. Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, and a large part of the population was deported to Babylon.
There Is a New Creation
Jeremiah; Ezekiel; Daniel; Esther
The prophets of Israel warned of the doom that would befall the nation. When the first exiles were taken to Babylon in 597 BC, Ezekiel was among them. Both prophets ministered to the exiles. Life for the Jews (the people of Judah) in Babylon was not all bad, and in time many prospered. The books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel indicate a certain normality to the experience, while Daniel and Esther highlight some of the difficulties and suffering experienced in an alien and oppressive culture.
The Second Exodus
Ezra; Nehemiah; Haggai
In 539 BC Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian empire. The following year, Cyrus the king allowed the Jews to return home and to set up a Jewish state within the Persian empire. Great difficulty was experienced in re-establishing the nation. There was local opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. Many of the Jews did not return but stayed on in the land of their exile. In the latter part of the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire. The Jews entered a long and difficult period in which Greek culture and religion challenged their trust in God’s covenant promises. In 63 BC Pompey conquered Palestine and the Jews found themselves a province of the Roman empire.
The New Creation for Us
Matthew; Mark; Luke; John
The province of Judea, the homeland of the Jews, came under Roman rule in 63 BC. During the reign of Caesar Augustus, Jesus was born at Bethlehem, probably about the year 4 BC. John, known as the Baptist, prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus. This ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing began with Jesus’ baptism and lasted about three years. Growing conflict with the Jews and their religious leaders led eventually to Jesus being sentenced to death by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. He was executed by the Romans just outside Jerusalem, but rose from death two days afterward and appealed to his followers on a number of occasions. After a period with them, Jesus was taken up to heaven.
The New Creation in Us Initiated
After Jesus had ascended, his disciples waited in Jerusalem. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon them and they began the task of proclaiming Jesus. As the missionary implications of the gospel became clearer to the first Christians, the local proclamation was extended to world evangelization. The apostle Paul took the gospel to Asia Minor and Greece, establishing many churches as he went. Eventually a church flourished at the heart of the empire of Rome.
The New Creation in Us Now
New Testament Epistles
As the gospel made inroads into pagan societies it encountered many philosophies and non-Christian ideas which challenged the apostolic message. The New Testament epistles shows that the kind of pressures to adopt pagan ideas that had existed for the people of God in Old Testament times were also a constant threat to the churches. The real danger to Christian teaching was not so much in direct attacks upon it, but rather in the subtle distortion of Christian ideas. Among the troublemakers were the Judaizers who added Jewish law-keeping to the gospel. The Gnostics also undermined the gospel with elements of Greek philosophy and religion.
The New Creation Consummated
The New Testament
God is Lord over history and therefore, when he so desires, he can cause the events of the future to be recorded. All section of the New Testament contain references to things which have not yet happened, the most significant being the return of Christ and the consummation of the kingdom of God. No clues to the actual chronology are given, but it is certain that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. The old creation will be undone and the new creation will take its place.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Free eBook! The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer

If you have never read this book, you must download and read it.  I have read it several times; a must read.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"The Holy Spirit has, with admirable wisdom and care for our welfare, so arranged the Holy Scriptures as by the plainer passages to satisfy our hunger, and by the more obscure to stimulate our appetite." ~Augustine

Monday, December 23, 2013

When God Breaks You

This post by Mike Adams was originally published on his blog The Accomplished Sinner

down_is_the_new_up_broken_parachute_album_cover_by_blackdwarfdesigns-d6bti46I had made theology my pursuit, my goal, my aim, my identity. And I was pretty good at it too. I could go toe to toe with the best and I was proud of that. Don’t get me wrong. Good theology is necessary. But theology apart from a heart captured by the gospel is reduced to dangerous information. It’s ammunition to win an argument. It’s fodder for a blog. It’s food for one’s pride. Theology not rooted in grace and removed from the gospel makes us hard, indifferent, proud, cold, and right all the time.
Something else that became my identity was my ministry. In almost 40 years in the faith, I had been on the pastoral team of several different churches and my identity was wrapped up in being a pastor. I became proud of the fact that I was a pastor. Proud to be a servant. Go figure!
Then one day, the structure I had built my idols on began to collapse. The building fell with me still in it and everything crumbled in the ashes. Destroyed. Brought to nothing. And all I could do was watch it tumble. I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what was going on, but I could feel my heart changing.
That collapse was almost 5 years ago. I see more clearly now what I couldn’t see then. The Holy Spirit was being merciful to me as He began to show me what had slowly happened to me over the years; who I had become. It was an intervention. A badly needed rescue. I had become hard, indifferent, proud, cold, and… right all the time. My identity was wrapped up in me and my theology and ministry, not Jesus. Grace and the gospel had become theological categories to be mastered, taught, and filed away. My spiritual growth and progress in the faith (whatever that means!) was independent of Jesus and the center of my world. I only gave Him lip service. My assurance was up and down like a roller coaster ride because my eyes were fixed on my performance and my own spiritual navel.
Sometimes God breaks our legs and once we’re immobilized, He begins His gentle work of rebuilding, restoring, and restoration. He rebuilds and renews our hearts with His unending grace. He takes damaged goods and makes all things new. He takes us in directions we never saw coming and would never have imagined. But most of all, He keeps loving us! Even in our foolishness He is full of rich mercy and grace.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Subtle Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:10-12 ESV)

What then is the battle? Who is fighting against us? And what are we to do about it?
Paul clearly supposes that the forces of evil that put Jesus on the cross have been seriously upset by the victory of the resurrection. They are now positively panic-stricken at the thought that the message of this Jesus is everywhere challenging their power and authority, and that communities loyal to Jesus as Lord and king are springing up, bringing together peoples and communities in a new unity, a new humanity, that shows evidence of the creator’s sovereign power and hence of their own imminent destruction. They are therefore doing their best to oppose this gospel, to distract or depress the young Christians, to blow them off course by false teaching or temptations to anger or immorality.
Sometimes this attack will take the frontal form of actual authorities in towns and cities who try to prevent Christians from spreading the message. Sometimes it will take the more oblique form of persuading Christians to invest time and energy in irrelevant side-issues, or to become fascinated by distorted teaching. Sometimes it will be simply the age-old temptations of money, sex and power: But in each case what individuals and the whole church must do is, first, to recognize that attacks are coming; second, to learn how to put on the complete armour which God offers; and, third, to stand firm and undismayed.  N. T. Wright, Paul For Everyone: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, 66-7.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Radically Different American Dream

I love what David Platt has to say and his book, Radical, and the impact it has had on me and many in our church.  Here is another story of one impacted by Radical and the impact he is making.
Small Group Photo (640x424)
Ask anyone what the word radical means and you are likely to receive a myriad of different responses. Merriam-Webster defines it as being “very different from the usual, even extreme.” The sandy-haired surfer from Southern California uses it to describe his experience landing the latest death-defying stunt upon the rolling Pacific waves. Frequently, the term radical appears in headline news, characterizing terrorists who exhibit dangerous behavior as an extension of their devout, often extreme beliefs. But, after the 2010 release of a little orange book — aptly titled Radical — climbed to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, the etymology of the word has begun to evolve.
Radical author Dr. David Platt, pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, has become a prominent proponent of Jesus in the modern-day Gospel resurgence. Platt’s biblically centered teaching and writings have been used as an instrument by the Holy Spirit to awaken hearts to the Gospel and its inescapable implications on believers’ lives. In response, some have forsaken the fleeting joys of the American dream to thrust themselves onto the front lines of kingdom advancement among unreached people groups of the world — becoming radical. Others have heard the call to maintain their current living situation while leveraging their resources and reorienting their lives within their present context to fulfill the mission of Christ — becoming radical. No matter how you look at it — Platt’s book Radical has wildly affected today’s Christian culture.
The overwhelming success of Radical catapulted Platt into national recognition. As more and more people got their hands on the book, the number of pastoral inquiries and requests for speaking engagements skyrocketed. Just a couple months prior to releasing the book, Platt had felt the need to establish a stand-alone ministry focused on making disciples among all nations. Little did he know that this new organization would be providentially in place to facilitate the new attention brought on by the book. After receiving wise counsel from peers who had previously partnered with pastors and authors in similar seasons of success, Platt was encouraged to steward well this new outward facing influence. The creation of the non-profit organization Radical allowed him to do just that.
With the establishment of any new non-profit organization, a business-like architecture of staff and directors must be constructed to ensure efficiency and accountability. To facilitate this initial growth, Platt knew that he would need to build a core team of trustworthy, kingdom-focused, and business-minded individuals who shared the Radical vision. These fellow leaders and peers would share the desire to provide Gospel resources birthed out of a local church to support disciple making in local churches throughout the world. As a result of much consideration, Platt asked a friend with years of business experience to be on the founding board of directors. This friend was Jim Warren. 
A Great Businessman
Jim Warren grew up in small-town America; Evergreen, Alabama to be exact. There he was drawn into the entrepreneurial way of life as he watched his dad manage the local Ford dealership. Given the opportunity to work at a local bank for his first “real” job, Jim discovered a love for numbers and financial analysis. He then decided to pursue a degree in accounting. Jim viewed accounting as a low- capital venture where he might be able to grow his own business one day. After college, he took a job with a public accounting firm in Montgomery, Alabama before moving up to Birmingham where he accepted a position with another public accounting firm. Within seven short years of taking this position, the founders of the firm each decided to make career changes. Jim and his fellow officemate, Randy Averett, soon found themselves as senior members of the firm with their names now on the front door. Warren Averett, CPA, was officially established in 1984 and has steadily grown since then to become one of the nation’s top financial firms. Jim had the great privilege to serve as CEO and Managing Director of Warren Averett for 30 years. These years were laden with hard work, devotion, and great success.
Following a Great Savior             
As a product of the deep South, Jim was indoctrinated with good morals and a thorough understanding of how to “do the right thing.” By the standards of culture, he considered himself a Christian. He knew about God and Jesus; he always strove to do the right thing. Yet, it wasn’t until he and his wife started attending The Church at Brook Hills in 2006 that he realized he had substituted his “doing the right thing” for true salvation. Though he knew of Jesus, Jim wasn’t trusting in Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection alone for salvation. Consequently, when it came to following the commands of Christ, Jim saw that he was failing and stood in condemnation before God. But by the grace of God and the biblical teaching to which he was being exposed, Jim heard the hope found in the Gospel; the hope that tells sinners that though their good works will never measure up, Christ’s work on the cross is sufficient to bring salvation. Upon hearing this, Jim decided to fully surrender the lordship of his life to the one true God. He began to understand that being a Christian means to follow Christ wherever you currently are. In doing so, Jim reoriented his time, work, and life around the mission of making Christ known in all the world.
Disciples Who Make Disciples
As Jim continued to grow in what it meant to follow Christ and to make disciples who make disciples, he and his wife felt lead to open up their home to begin leading a small group Bible study for young married couples. In the first night couples gathered at the Warren home, the statement was made that if everyone currently there was still there five years later, the group would have failed in their mission to make disciples. With the Lord’s plan and purpose at hand, this original group exceeded all expectations. In the last six years, Jim and his wife Betty, have sent out nine groups. Most of these new groups have also multiplied while one group has dissolved. Amazingly, the group that dissipated only did so because the majority of the members have been sent out to make disciples both in the U.S. and around the world!
As God continued to grow Jim in his personal life, the Lord also moved him to make changes professionally. Jim felt that he was being led to step outside of the business world and into a ministry role. As Radical began to grow in their scope and vision, Jim saw an opportunity to further use his entrepreneurial skills by leading the team that now comprised the Radical staff on a part time basis, sharing his time between his firm and the ministry. In 2011, Jim fully transitioned to lead the team as full-time Executive Director.
Truth Saves…
This is not a story of ungrounded, reckless, radical abandonment. Rather, this is a story of radical, sometimes incomprehensible obedience. When Jim was exposed to the gospel and its call for followers of Christ to come and die, he chose to take up his cross and walk into the good works that the Lord had set before him. What would cause the CEO of one of the Southeast’s most successful businesses to step away from such a position of prominence? A right understanding that this world is not about man climbing a corporate ladder of worldly success, but rather about the Creator God of this world humbly becoming man, bearing the wrath of God against our sin upon the cross, and demonstrating his power over sin and death in his resurrection so that he might become the ladder by which man can get back to God. How does one obtain such an understanding? By being exposed to the truths found in God’s Word as revealed by the Holy Spirit. And that’s exactly the mission that Jim seeks to guide Radical to accomplish: equipping the church to make disciples of all nations through the spreading of these truths, namely the Gospel, all for the glory of God.
When we hear a story like Jim Warren’s, let us not only be encouraged by his truly radical steps of faith, but more importantly, let us be drawn into the worship of our great God; the same God who chooses to use helpless sinners in His great plan of redeeming a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.
Want to read more about people passionate about sharing the Gospel in every aspect of their life? Shattered isn’t just a blog! Shattered is a beautiful, hard-copy magazine published quarterly featuring real stories from people who have found the true purpose of their lives by focusing on an eternal perspective! Your story, His glory! To subscribe and have a copy of Shattered delivered to your door, click [here].
Mitch Eubank
Mitch Eubank is a mechanical engineer by trade, a Missional Community leader by the grace of God and an Urban Emphasis Cub Scout leader by sheer surprise. He enjoys playing the guitar and singing with friends, exploring urban downtowns and spending his Friday afternoons in local thrift shops. He resides in Huntsville, AL where he is a part of the faith family known as Summit Crossing Community Church. Follow him on twitter at @mitch_eubank

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elected Homecoming Queen: An Exceptional Story

A great story about sin and redemption.

Molly Anne Dutton shouldn't be here today. Not according to the opinion polls. Even many pro-life Christians make an exception that would have snuffed out her life.

Her mother survived every woman's nightmare: sexual assault. But then her agony was compounded with a positive pregnancy test. As if the situation could get worse, her husband told her to get an abortion or sign the divorce papers.
With the help of Lifeline Children's Services in Birmingham, Alabama, Molly Anne's mother chose to carry her to term and give her up for adoption. Due to their service on Lifeline's board, Molly Anne's adoptive parents knew of her situation and decided to adopt her.
Two decades later, Molly Anne was elected homecoming queen this fall at Auburn University. Her "Light Up LIFE" campaign sought to educate women about their options when faced with unplanned pregnancy. The horticulture major told me her story, how she understands her adoption in light of the gospel, and why all children made in the image of God deserve a home. Thank you to Betsy Childs for helping me generate the questions.
How and when did your parents tell you the story about your biological mother?
molly-anne-duttonI discovered my story and the story of my birth mother by stumbling upon my adoption papers one afternoon in the attic. I was around 14 at the time. I have always been mesmerized by photos of our family throughout the years; little did I know that my adoption papers were tucked in between the papers of our family history.
Since then, my mom and I have discussed the circumstances surrounding my adoption. In saying that, a great question to then ask is how did I receive the news. I truly believe because I sat as a believer whose hope in Christ, I never saw the details of my birth as a shameful event. What the enemy has intended for harm, the Lord has and continues to use for so much good (Genesis 50:20)
Have you always been comfortable sharing your story?
I love this question. Yes, I have always felt comfortable sharing my story. I am honored to carry this story. Yes, it is unique because my life sounds out the voice that this world does not get to hear often. I know there is power between each space in my sentences and tucked beside each dotted "i" and crossed "t." There is no power in it because of my words, but it drenches with beauty due to this being the exact picture of our own adoption in Christ. Josh Caldwell, manager of involvement and partnerships at Lifeline Child Services, describes it so perfectly. My adoption might have started as a tragedy, but didn't our relationship with Jesus also start with a tragedy? That tragedy was dripping the bloodshed of the cross. Today, we stand as sons and daughters in his very kingdom.
Have you thought about what you would want to say to your biological mother? 
My mind, body, and soul are full of gratitude. I'm so unbelievably thankful to God for knitting me; thankful for my parents who so lovingly carried me out of Lifeline in their arms; and I'm speechless before a woman who was courageous to break through confusion and fear to give birth to me. In her womb she carried me, and by her heart she chose to give me a chance to walk and spread the good news of the gospel. Little did she know that her hope would become wrapped up in truth and power.
Your story greatly encourages so many of us, and we're proud of your fellow students for recognizing you with this honor. But not every adoption has a conventional happy ending. Many adoptive parents take on great challenges with children born with genetic defects and mental disabilities. Why do you think it's still worth parents taking this risk to adopt even if they don't know their children will grow up to be like you?
We all need love, and we all deserve a family that loves us, no matter our disabilities. In a lot of cultures, anyone with a genetic defect or mental disability is considered an outcast or unworthy. However, as these children's parents, men and women get a unique opportunity to pour truth onto the buffet of lies. Yes, the children are worthy. Yes, they are valued. Yes, they too are offered the love of Christ. Obviously, many challenges are presented with a a family walking down that road. However, God has a heart for all. He will bless son, daughter, father, mother alike.
Tell us about Lifeline Children's Services and what makes their work worth supporting.
Through this campaign, I know there are so many intangible victories that my eyes will never witness while on this earth. In saying that, we all get to witness Lifeline's fruits. God produces an abundant harvest through Lifeline. The fruit is in every birth mother who walks through the door, every child placed in foster care, and it is in every cry of a newborn child. Lifeline's heart is in the hope of the gospel. It has and will continue to serve as vessel of righteousness—serving to display the Lord's splendor. I am honored to support Lifeline, because Lifeline supported me through her availability, through her foundation of the Word, and through her counseling with my birth mother 22 years ago. For information about Lifeline Children Services, check out

Collin Hansen serves as editorial director for The Gospel Coalition. He is the co-author of A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir. He and his wife belong to Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School. You can follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Help the Family of Slain Teacher Ronnie Smith: Buy His Excellent Book – The History of Redemption

From Trevin Wax.
article-2519421-19E8796D00000578-262_638x484Last week, the evangelical world was rocked by the death of Ronnie Smith, formerly a teaching pastor at the Austin Stone Community Church, who moved with his family to Libya to teach at the International School of Benghazi. On Thursday morning, gunmen shot and killed him as he was jogging near the U.S. consulate.
I never met Ronnie, but a couple years ago, a mutual friend gave me his excellent book, The History of Redemption. It includes passages from the Bible, arranged in chronological format in order to show the story of God keeping His promise to send redemption through His Son. The illustrations by Christopher Koelle are stunning, and the book comes with an audio CD.
If you want to help Ronnie’s family, you can make a donation here or purchase The History of Redemption. All of the proceeds benefit his family.
In response to the shooting, John Piper encouraged Christians to take up the mantle and continue the mission:
I call thousands of you to take Ronnie’s place. They will not kill us fast enough. Let the replacements flood the world. We do not seek death. We seek the everlasting joy of the world — including our enemies. If they kill us while we love them, we are in good company. Jesus did not call us to ease or safety. He called us to love for the sake of his name. Everywhere. Among all peoples.
Below is a news report about Ronnie’s death, including clips of Ronnie in 2010 preaching on the grand narrative of Scripture.